Did you walk out of Terminator Genisys with a ton of questions about the plot? It’s a time travel movie, so it would be kind of crazy if you didn’t. Thankfully, we asked the film’s two writers and its director some mega-spoilery questions, and now you can read their explanations for the latest Terminator movie’s insane twists.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW
Who sent the Terminator back to 1973 to protect a young Sarah Connor?
This question is purposely left unanswered in the film, but would potentially be answered in a sequel, if that happens. However, writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier did confirm they know the answer.
Who killed Sarah’s parents?
In 1973, when the young Terminator arrives to protect Sarah, she’s just witnessed the death of her parents. The movie mentions “liquid metal” in the scene but the writers confirmed it was the same T-1000, played by Byung-hun Lee, seen later in the movie who was there. “So when she kills that thing in the acid, she’s killing the thing that killed her parents,” said Kalogridis.
“When we started the movie, I don’t think anybody thought that was the case,” director Alan Taylor added. “And after a while, it was decided ‘Oh yeah, I guess it’s the same guy that’s been hanging around all these years.’ So then we sort of put in references and dialogue to the fact that basically Sarah’s been living off the grid precisely for that reason. They’d basically gone underground ever since and are only coming out now because they know that tonight’s the night that Kyle arrives and we have convergence between all these stories.”
But wait. If that’s true, who sent the T-1000 back? “There’s an answer to that too,” Lussier teased.
How does Kyle Reese see into a past that doesn’t yet exist?
The crux of the whole movie is the moment Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent from 2029 to 1984. At that moment, Skynet (Matt Smith) begins to transform John Connor (Jason Clarke) starting a new timeline.
“Once John is attacked, things immediately begin to change and for Reese, the second he was in the sphere and traveling his brain started to fracture,” explained Kalogridis. “Technically, he’s in a quantum field. That’s what the magnetic field is. He’s in the field when he witnesses a nexus event. John is of such massive historical importance that everything changes when John is changed.”
So, for a brief instant, Reese is straddling at least two timelines, hence the crucial visions.
“Witnessing Skynet taking over John in that moment Reese is in a place where he’s essentially trapped in between one timeline and the next. That’s why he has access to the memories of both timelines,” said Kalogridis. “If he had seen it outside of the sphere, or if he had traveled in the sphere without seeing it, he wouldn’t have had those memories.”
When the movie starts when did Judgment Day take place?
We know from Terminator 2: Judgement Day that Judgement Day itself first happened in 1997. But Terminator Genisys poses that Skynet destroys the world in another timeline in 2017 as Genisys. So, when the film begins in 2029, how long have John Connor and his people been fighting? The writers confirmed that, at the beginning of the film, Judgement Day once again happened in 1997.
Where does the Matt Smith Skynet come from at the beginning of the movie?
“So, in the beginning of the movie—and for a lot of reasons it was a little sliced down—but when Skynet says ‘I’ve come a very long way to stop you,’ Skynet is not from this timeline,” explained Kalogridis. “That is not the Skynet from this timeline. And although that’s not made clear, that’s in no way really a spoiler, because that’s what that line means. The thing that changes is an alternate timeline Skynet. Skynet from another dimension shows up. That’s what changes. This is where it diverges and branches into a different one, because an agent of change comes from another place.”
The writers confirmed if more movies get made, we’d see where this Skynet came from. My guess is it’s the ultimate result of the tease at the end of the credits.
Why can T-800 Pops build a time machine in 1984, but the T-3000 John Connor can’t in 2017?
In the film, the older T-800 Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) builds a time travel machine in 1984 that sends Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and Kyle Reese forward to 2017. However, when they get there, the John Connor Terminator Hybrid, aka a T-3000, is attempting to do the same thing and can’t. He’s literally the most advanced Terminator ever. but is struggling to do something an inferior model did 33 years before. It doesn’t make much sense and writer Patrick Lussier’s explanation is equally vague:
“[Arnold’s T-800] is building time travel from plans someone else made,” Lussier said. “In 2017, in John’s world, those plans have not been made. They’re trying to find the secret of those plans but because [Arnold’s T-800] knew who sent him there, he has that answer, John, in 2017, doesn’t have that answer. The answer hasn’t been written yet. So it’s about finding the writing of it.”
So, basically whoever sent the T-800 back to 1973 to protect a young Sarah, told the Terminator how to do it.
What is Arnold at the end of the movie?
While trying to destroy Genisys, Arnold’s T-800 melds with liquid metal to form a whole new Terminator. Basically a classic T-800 with T-1000 abilities. This Terminator is so new, not even the writers knew what it is. Here’s their exchange when I asked:
Kalogridis: I don’t think we even have a name for what he is now.
Kalogridis: I don’t know. I don’t think we actually came up with…because the models are Cyberdyne design and he’s not a Cyberdyne design now.
Kalogridis: The organizing principle is his CPU, that’s what makes the liquid metal obey what he tells it to be.
Lussier: He’s a prototype now.
Kalogridis: I guess he is. An unintentional one. But yeah I think.
What’s up with Myles Dyson’s kid?
A major character that doesn’t get a lot of exposition is Danny Dyson (Dayo Okeniyi), the son of Miles Dyson (Courtney Vance), a famous character in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (when he was played by Joe Morton). He’s one of the primary architects of Genisys, but his story never gets wrapped up. “We would want to see that character become very significant going forward if we get to go forward,” said Kalogridis.
Why is it called “Genisys?”
Out of all the things they could have named the false Skynet software in the film, why did the writers choose “Genisys,” both as the name and the title of the film?
“If you think about it, so much of John Connor, who he is, he’s the savior of humanity,” said Lussier. “And he’s co-opted. He’s co-opted and he’s changed. He becomes the savior of the machines. And in Biblical terms, the beginning of Biblical history being Genesis, the genesis of new things, a new world, a new order, a new gambit that the machines have, it all sort of came out of that. The idea of John being this sort of fallen angel that was here to protect and guide mankind into the future, is now co-opted to be this Luciferian figure who will guide the machines.”