The first trailer and images for Paramount/Skydance’s Terminator: Dark Fate, the sixth film in the franchise (that’s opting to pretend like films three through five never happened), have introduced yet another version of the iconic title terror. Since the T-800’s arrival in the form of a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 1984, the franchise has churned out all manner of Terminator models. From the “original” T-1 tank created by Cyberdyne up to and including the T-Meg / T-1000000 cooked up by the sentient Skynet in order to take down the pest problem known as humankind, Terminators have appeared in just about every conceivable form and function. But now that Terminator: Dark Fate is going to mess with the timeline a bit, the opportunity for new Terminators has arisen once more.
Enter the Rev 9, the designation for the new model of Terminator in Dark Fate, played by Gabriel Luna. The first thing that should grab your attention is the change in name designation: The “T” series is apparently no more, or at least this particular Terminator stands apart from that lineup. The second thing to note is how the Rev 9 is a sort of mash-up of the first Terminator seen on screen (the T-800) and the super-cool liquid-metal version, the T-1000, played expertly well by Robert Patrick in the first sequel. But there’s a lot more going on here, so we’ll break it all down.
Our first glimpse of the new Terminator comes courtesy of this scene in the first trailer, a highway battle between franchise newcomers Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire), Natalia Reyes (Birds of Passage), and Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages), and their pursuer, the Rev 9. We can see Grace (Davis) chuck pieces of rebar through the truck’s windshield, impaling the Rev 9 and pinning it in place … temporarily. The first cool reveal comes when the Rev 9’s ectoskeleton (its liquid component) flows away and reforms on the hood of the truck, leaving its endoskeleton (its solid metal frame) in the driver’s seat. The endoskeleton (seen here with a bit of a creepy/goofy grin) is able to act independently from its ectoskeleton, and vice versa. There’s probably some pretty cool cloud computing going on here to allow the entities to exist separately from each other, but the design also limits the weaknesses of either of the Terminator’s previous models on their own: The endoskeleton can still take some punishment, but its robustness limits its flexibility, while the ectoskeleton can self-heal, morph its own deadly weaponry, and flow just about anywhere, though it may still be susceptible to extremely low temperatures. It’s really the best of both worlds for the hunter-killer. A quick note on the Rev 9’s name: It could just be a stand-in for “Revision 9”, say, the ninth attempt at a new model of Terminator inspired by the T-800 and T-1000. Or it could be inspired by the Biblical verse of Revelations 9, which has this cheery beginning:
The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
How fun! The passage continues to list out all sorts of apocalyptic imagery, which may have served as inspiration for whatever’s about to befall our heroes in Dark Fate. But wait! There is hope yet!
Davis’ character isn’t a damsel in distress who’s saved by the arrival of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) at the last minute. Well, okay she kind of is, but she’s got some badass in her DNA, too. We’re not sure if Grace’s assertion that she is human is entirely accurate, but it’s clear that she’s hiding some secrets beneath the surface, literally. Under her skin is a sort of metal armor, which is either an implant from the Rebellion who, presumably, sends her back in time to protect Dani Ramos (Reyes), or an effect of Skynet’s experiments in roboticizing humans through nanomachines.
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