In celebration of Women’s History Month, Kathleen and I have joined up with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate for a second year in a row! A group of six of us are each picking a fictional fearless female to feature, and includes Michael of My Comic Relief, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Jeff of The Imperial Talker, and Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room. So far we have had posts celebrating Doctor Who, Batgirl, Dani from Midsommar and Queen Amidala- and this year I choose Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise. For clarity’s sake, I will be only writing about Linda Hamilton’s original version of Sarah in The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Terminator: Dark Fate. While other actresses have played Sarah, to me Linda Hamilton defines the character.
When we first meet Sarah Connor in the first film, she is a woman of her era (1984), ready for a good time and not too serious about her career. But destiny has another plan, as a cyborg terminator from the year 2029 has just arrived and is intent on killing her, as she is the future mother of John Connor, who will be a resistance leader in the future where robots who became sentient are trying to destroy all of humankind. As a countermeasure, John sends back a trusted soldier named Kyle from his time to save Sarah from the cyborg assassin. Luckily, Kyle finds Sarah before the Terminator does, but he naturally has a hard time convincing her of the truth. But as the Terminator begins leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake, Sarah is soon on the run with Kyle. Kyle and Sarah manage to have a night together, and you realize that Kyle is the father of John, which John must have known when he sent him back in time. Sadly, Kyle dies saving Sarah in the finale, but a flash-forward shows Sarah pregnant and ready to prepare for the coming apocalypse.
The second film is set ten years in the future and shows Sarah as a hardened warrior, who seemingly has stripped away all her previous compassion so she can train John for what is to come. But her dogged determination has resulted in a stunted mother-son relationship and is further exasperated when she is institutionalized and he is placed with a foster family. No one believes her vision of the future, much less her son, but when a new Terminator is sent back to kill John, Sarah escapes confinement to rejoin John and help him survive. Her off-the-grid living serves them well, and they fight back with a surprising helper, and Sarah is shown as still having a glimmer of mercy which is crucial to hold on to, even during the hardest of times. While her maternal side had to be superseded by her need to keep John alive, she deeply loved him. (At the end of the post I included a scene that was cut from the theatrical release of Terminator 2 but included in the director’s cut. I adored the romance between Sarah and Kyle, and the first movie is my absolute favorite movie ever because of their chemistry. Watch it!)
Other Terminator movies establish John’s further growth as a leader, and Sarah’s eventual demise, but for the 2019 movie, they are glossed over (thank God, as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009) and the reboot Terminator Genisys (2015) were not good at all) and Sarah’s story moves straight from Judgement Day to Dark Fate. So, in the most recent movie, 25 years have transpired and Sarah remains a warrior, but within the first few minutes, we are shocked to discover that Sarah’s life took a hard and unexpected turn years ago. (Aside- I’m still not on board with what happened and am still salty, but I will resist spoiling it). Sarah is now poised to be a mentor for another woman whose fate is about to change in radical ways.
In the most recent movie, there is a reference to Sarah viewing herself as a martyr for the cause, as purely a vessel for a future man to take center stage, and she resents that her protegee Dani is being terrorized as she had been. Eventually, Sarah, who is battle-weary, heartbroken and angry, learns that Dani’s fate is different than her own, and it connects with what her beloved Kyle told her years ago, “The future is not set- there is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”
What I have appreciated about the role of Sarah over the years is her transformation from a damsel in distress victim in the first movie to a soldier willing to make hard choices. She sacrificed everything, including a loving relationship with her son, to prepare him and ultimately the rest of the human race for what she expected to happen. Indeed, she almost lost her humanity fighting against a future she wanted desperately to stop.
The recurring theme of No Fate weaves in and out of the Terminator franchise, and Sarah’s courage and empathy are the pillars for her willingness to continue fighting even when the future looks hopeless. And those two touchpoints are crucial in a time when we might feel all is lost, such as the difficult time we are facing today. Our very future looks uncertain, as we face down a pandemic that at best feels surreal, at worst possibly apocalyptic. How Sarah dealt with the hand she was given as her entire life crumbled away unexpectedly, can be a lesson to us all in how to fearlessly face our uncertain future. Not only did Sarah fight for her son, but she continued to be ever vigilant in helping others, for she never ever gave up.
May Sarah be an example to us- we alone can shape our fate, for it is not set, but we must be prepared to make it the best we can.
Next week join us as Rob from My Side of the Laundry Room brings the #FictionsFearlessFemales series to a close for the year!
Header picture credit: Buzz Feed News
To catch the other amazing women in this series, check out:
Kathleen’s: Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)
Nancy is a married mom of three who is also one half of the blogging team on GraphicNovelty2.com. She is Head of Teen Services at a rural library in northern Illinois who loves to read and blog. Her other hobbies are spending time with her family (natch), hiking and watching Star Trek.