You work in the service industry. Your day includes getting yelled at by impatient customers and getting tipped with a scoop of ice cream in your apron. You’ve clearly had a long day, maybe an even longer week. You finally have the night off and your date cancels on you after you’ve spent hours getting ready. It's OK though, or at least you think so, because you still decide to treat yourself to a night out.
Everything isn’t OK, however. You’re being followed the entire night by some strange man, and you find out women who share the same name as you are being murdered senselessly. Not only is this a nightmare scenario, but it's also just the beginning of an even worse 48 hours for you that will end in you getting pregnant by a stranger.
Every part of this is why The Terminator will always be a horror classic to me and why Sarah Connor is one of my favorite Final Girls. Its terror has little to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger or the way James Cameron shot the movie. While both have some influence, it's everything Sarah has to deal with that is infinitely scarier.
My love for The Terminator runs as deep as my love for the Alien franchise, both of which see their first installments lean into horror elements and give us some very badass Final Girls. The first Terminator I’ve seen over a dozen times, and the older I get, the more bone-chilling each watch becomes.
It's not even the prospect of a bleak tomorrow ruled by machines that make it so horrendous — it's watching this woman go through two nights of hell when all she wanted to do was enjoy her night off. The male species is inconveniencing Sarah Connor the entire movie. Her own son — who she knows nothing about yet — sent a complete stranger to protect her and impregnate her so he could exist. The very idea that someone would believe this woman is going to give her complete trust — not to mention her body — to some strange man is horrific.
Sarah was just trying to go see a movie to salvage her night and ends up in a stolen vehicle hiding with a man she has never seen in her life while he speaks directly in her face with nauseating time traveler’s breath. I highly doubt anyone in the future where machines rule the planet has time for proper dental hygiene. They didn’t even have time to create a time-traveling device that allows travelers to go with clothes. Imagine having to trust someone with your life whose mouth has probably never had a hint of mint in it and then later finding out this same person is who you’re supposed to hook up with so that the savior of mankind can be born. I get chills just thinking about it, not to mention the cost of diapers and daycare, which are nightmare fuel by themselves.
I haven’t even mentioned that Sarah would be stuck looking for a new roommate because the Terminator doesn’t understand nor care that the cost of rent is too damn high in Los Angeles. It's no wonder Sarah ends up going into nomad life after the movie is over. It's far easier than trying to find someone on Craigslist.
When she finally manages to get away from both Kyle and the Terminator, she can’t even rest her tired eyes for 10 minutes before the time-traveling killing thief machine comes and lights the whole place up. She ends up spending the night in a drainage tunnel with the man her son sent back to ensure his existence happens. She finally makes it to a motel and takes a well-deserved hot shower, but unbeknownst to her she isn’t actually talking to her mom, because the Terminator has killed the poor woman. Sarah has lost not only her best friend/roommate but her mom too. She’s stuck in a motel making homemade bombs with her future baby daddy, who I believe she ends up having sex with because after all that emotional distress and his sad story the Nicholas Sparks jumped out leading to an '80s sex scene with a piano score. We can only hope that the sex was worth all the trouble and the fact that she’ll have to raise this child on her own because, of course, Kyle dies too.
Just when Sarah and her baby daddy think they’ve defeated the Terminator they spend the rest of their second date still running for their lives. Although sitting outside of a Wendy’s sharing a 4-for-$4 meal while trying to watch movies on a phone kind of sounds like a struggle, too. Might even be a toss-up between the two scenarios. The bottom line is Mercury must have been in a super retrograde that night and Sarah didn’t stand a chance.
As we know, Sarah Connor survives and eventually gives birth to mankind’s savior, thrusting her into a life of preparing for the inevitable, changing her forever. A Final Girl whose survival meant the ultimate survival of mankind. What a tremendous predicament to be placed in by your own flesh and blood. The Terminator is a classic horror movie to me because I fear being inconvenienced in such a way, all because mankind needs a savior after someone left the door open for Alexa to become sentient.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.