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Warning: SPOILERS for Terminator: Dark Fate are in play. If you’re looking to keep your viewing experience fresh, bookmark this list and come back once you’re current.
Whenever there’s a new Terminator film on the horizon, the word “trilogy” tends to find its way into the conversation. James Cameron’s original sci-fi duology was so iconic, you somewhat can’t blame studios for wanting to not only keep the magic alive, but to also succeed where the master himself did, by pulling a hat trick. Whether the end result has a smash hit opening or an iffy result like Terminator: Dark Fate's debut weekend, the possibility of where to go next always seems to crop up.
Of course, even James Cameron himself is susceptible to such charms, as he’s currently trying to bring a new trilogy into the world starting with the events of Terminator: Dark Fate. With his intent to start this new story with the events of his return to the franchise writer’s room, there are two more films he's envisioned to delve deeper into the A.I. menace Legion and its war against humanity. Shaky as this latest film's opening may have been, there's definitely room for future stories to be told, if the green light is eventually given.
Strangely enough, I think I know where James Cameron is intending to take the trilogy originated with Terminator: Dark Fate, as the beats seem to have been sewn not only in the story itself, but also in remarks that Cameron himself has made. Before you go too far, this is the last call for spoilers pertaining to director Tim Miller’s movie. If you’re looking for a refresher, or are curious how the film ended without watching the full product, we’ve got you covered. So if you’re still with us, let’s take a look at where James Cameron is probably going with the Terminator: Dark Fate trilogy, should he be given the chance to deliver it.
What James Cameron Has Said About The Dark Fate Trilogy
During a recent interview, James Cameron stated there's a clear path for where he wants to go with the trilogy starting with Terminator: Dark Fate. The producer and co-writer of the film explained that he wants to use this trilogy to explore the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. That seems pretty standard considering how the Terminator series has banked on Skynet’s attempted genocide for decades.
However, it’s in the following remark from that same roundtable interview that James Cameron drops a pretty big clue as to what he wants to do:
Things were pretty vague in Terminator: Dark Fate considering we only got snippets of this future world that sees Legion trying to wipe out humanity in a rather ingenious way. And much like the man himself said, we’re probably going to see some themes and characters recurring in the next two films.
Sarah Connor Is Definitely Going To Die
First and foremost, there’s a pretty good chance that Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is going to die. Whether it’s on screen as a bold change of franchise pace, or off screen like we’ve traditionally seen, there’s no way around the queen badass of the Terminator franchise more than likely taking her last trip into battle at some point during the hypothetical sequel to Terminator: Dark Fate.
It’s not that surprising, as everyone previously thought Sarah wouldn’t have made it through this latest Terminator movie. Much like Carl the T-800 and even John Connor, the symbols of the past have to die in order for the new history focusing on Natalia Reyes’ Dani Ramos to take prominence. Put that together with Hamilton’s reticence, and you have the first obvious tentpole in this theory.
Humanity Is More Than Likely Going To Make Peace With Legion
We didn’t learn much about Skynet’s A.I. replacement, the cyber warfare program known as Legion, but we got enough information to know that it’s out there and it’s coming. As it would turn out, there’s plenty of information that the audience isn’t privy to just yet when it comes to this apocalyptic future, as director Tim Miller and his Terminator: Dark Fate compatriots had a lot mapped out behind the scenes when it came to Legion’s backstory.
As humanity’s relationship with A.I. is one of the key themes James Cameron wants to hammer home with the potential trilogy kicked off by Terminator: Dark Fate, that recurring conflict between both parties could only really have two resolutions. Either both sides perish, or they team up in harmony, and if you know Cameron’s storytelling sensibilities (and the alternate ending to Terminator 2: Judgement Day), you can see that peace between our worlds is probably the most likely scenario.
Grace Will Be Key To The Dark Fate Trilogy Mythos
By the end of Terminator: Dark Fate, we see Grace, Mackenzie Davis’ augmented human protector from the future, die, sacrificing herself to provide the power core needed to destroy Gabriel Luna’s Rev-9 Terminator. As the film comes to a close, we see Dani Ramos and Sarah Connor watching over Grace’s young, contemporary self, ready to train to prevent Judgement Day.
You might presume that Grace’s future self won't factor into the rest of the trilogy, as characters of her ilk usually don’t typically recur. But with James Cameron’s thought that the Terminator: Dark Fate trilogy will focus on the war between human and machine happening in a cyclical loop, it’s safe to assume that Grace will return for two key reasons. One, Dani promised at the end of Dark Fate that she won't let Grace die the same way, and two, Grace is cybernetically augmented, thus acting as a symbol of human/machine cooperation. So if we’re going to have peace, we may have seen just who’ll make the first move towards that safe and sound endgame.
How I Think The Terminator Dark Fate Trilogy Will Conclude
So how’s it all going to end? Well, we find out that Dani and Sarah are visited yet again by future warrior Grace. As it turns out, they didn’t totally quash Judgement Day, as they haven’t addressed the problem of Legion in their time. That’s the source of all this madness, and in order to stop Judgement Day, part of the problem is preventing Legion from pulling the plug on humanity.
However, before we get too far in the story (and Dani’s training), a new rogue Terminator kills Sarah Connor in the line of duty. Before passing, she mentions her friend Major Dean (Fraser James), the Air Force officer that the team met in Terminator: Dark Fate, sending Dani and Grace to find him, which in turn reveals that he’s working on a neat little intelligence project: Legion.
Dani and Grace attempt to destroy the program, but not before learning that Dean has been replaced by a new infiltrator-style Terminator, who is overseeing Legion’s successful deployment. Cue the usual chase scenes and gigantic explosions, after which one important point remains: Legion is merely letting humanity destroy itself, much like we learned in Terminator: Dark Fate.
Eventually, a final showdown takes place on the very edge of the apocalypse, with Grace learning the ultimate point that humanity’s aggression and attempts to control Legion are what fuels its decision to pull the plug on the world. Sarah Connor’s methods of warfare were always wrong, and instead of fighting the advent of A.I., we should have been learning to co-exist with it. Humanity’s near extinction, and the rise of the machines, are averted, and utopia is achieved.
Obviously, this is all speculation, as we don’t really know where James Cameron or Tim Miller want to take Terminator: Dark Fate’s potential storyline. At this point, it doesn't even look like the odds for this story's continuation are particularly rose to begin with. But knowing what we do know, and putting the pieces on the board together in a rational fashion, this feels like the most realistic outcome for the Terminator series will work towards.