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Dr. SciFi Diagnoses Sibling Rivalry Among the Terminators


Hey everybody, Dr. SciFi here, and today we’re talking about the emotional lives of Terminators. Now I know what you’re thinking: “But Dr. SciFi, robots don’t have emotions. Also, can I see your medical license?” And to that I say, “You’re wrong,” and “It’s in… uh… storage.” The robots in the Terminator Universe (or T-U, as I like to call it) have some of the most complex emotional lives of any movie characters ever. Maybe even more so than that stick-in-the-mud John Connor. But that’s an analysis for another time. Let’s get into it, shall we?

The first time we ever meet these mechanical wonders, is in the form of a modified T-800 , the first Terminator to be covered in living tissue. This, of course, causes some conflict: An only child is always the first to lash out in a conflict, and the T-800 reacts in predictable ways, attacking Sarah Connor, the mother of his mother’s (Skynet) greatest enemy. Seeking a parent’s approval is something only children deal with frequently, and the inevitable letdown is always a crushing blow. In this case, that crushing blow takes the form of a hydraulic press.

It’s too bad he dies, too, because there are several other T-800’s down the line and had he just shown patience, he wouldn’t have felt so alone. The second T-800 is reprogrammed by John Connor, and then sent back in time to protect him. Easily swayed by an authority figure? Looking to make up for others’ mistakes? We have here the age-old dilemma of the second child, and this T-800 deas with it admirably. He even shows some emotional growth, bonding with the young John Connor and becoming a sort of father figure.

On the flip side of the coin, there’s the T-1000 . Liquid metal and able to take any form, we have here someone living in the shadow of his mother’s favorite, the T-800. Because of that, the T-1000 is willing to become whatever Skynet Mom wants him to in order to get the job done. This makes him a sociopathic schizophrenic with a pointed sense of justice. But that’s just my medical opinion.

There’s a third T-800 , of course, who is once again reprogrammed, and once again sent back in time to protect John Connor. Third children are always a little unsure of their place in the world, often adopting traits from each of their older siblings. So to say this T-800 is the most emotionally stunted is the understatement of the century. With neither the drive of his eldest sibling, or the emotional maturity of the middle child, the youngest of three always falls to the wayside. His attempted mimicry of his siblings, however, makes him attuned to the behavior patterns of others. Not as attuned as yours truly, but a fine fledgling.

Then there’s the TX . A female child in a family of all boys? You can see where this is going, even if you didn’t go to SciFi medical school like I did. She has to act like a male to even keep up with her older brothers. Taking on all their traits (a liquid metal skin on a metal endoskeleton), she is clearly her mother’s favorite. A mother knows that a daughter will be able to handle more complex tasks than her brothers, and the TX does so in spades, working harder and smarter than any other Terminator before her. Her only fault, in fact, is the tendency to lash out if she doesn’t get what she wants — that, and a weakness for exploding hydrogen cells.

Last, but least, is the forgotten Terminator, Cameron (from the television series). She displays no emotion, and no growth at all; this may be because of her status as an adopted child, having been abandoned by her mother Skynet and taken in by the Connor family. Or it may be because she’s on a TV show. Either way.

Of course, this is just my professional opinion as a licensed doctor who knows what he’s talking about. I may say the TX is the best of the Terminators with the third T-800 easily at the bottom, but you may have an opinion all your own. And if so, why do you feel that you need to have your own opinion? I think we should really talk about that.

How do the Terminators rank in your mind? Click here to vote.

For a complete schedule of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines on AMC, click here.

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