McG Plugs Some Terminator Salvation Plot Holes

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:25 pm,

SPOILER ALERT!!! Most of the debate on Screen Rant‘s Terminator Salvation discussion forum has been over what many felt were glaring plot holes in the film’s story. Questions like “How did Skynet know about Kyle Reese?”, “Why does Skynet need a T-800 when it already has Marcus Wright?” or “Since when are T-800s impervious to molten steel?” have popped up again and again and again.

Well, MTV News recently decided to end the trend of circular questioning by taking some of the most debated plot holes straight to Terminator Salvation director McG, who tried his best to plug them with some logical explanation.

Here are some fan-submitted Q&A snipits from MTV News‘ interview with McG (Again, HEAVY SPOILERS):

Q: In the earlier movies, Skynet is not aware of Kyle Reese. So, why are they aware of him now?

McG: It’s a function of their recon during the dark period, and a function of their awareness of the events that had happened since Kyle Reese traveled back. By virtue of John Connor being alive, that means Kyle Reese did meet Sarah Connor and impregnate her. That data exists, and was brought into the fold at Skynet.

Q: If Kyle Reese had been killed in “Salvation,” what would’ve happened to John Connor? Would he simply cease to exist?

McG: Will he be erased in the photograph, like in “Back to the Future”? That’s an excellent question that theorists have been bandying about for the ages. We play it more simply. Kyle Reese must be kept alive, so he can be sent back in time from 2029 to protect Sarah Connor, impregnate her and she’ll give birth to John Connor who will save us all. And the simplest way to understand that is to protect the triangle of Kyle, John and Sarah. Any deconstruction of that leads to more headache than satisfaction.

Q: How come lava melted a T-800 in “T2,” but it doesn’t in “Salvation”?

McG: That’s not lava. There are different characteristics of molten steels, and that was an earlier steel process after it had been separated from the coke. We went over this with a metallurgist, discussing which metals burn at which degrees. And also, if it had stayed on [the T-800], perhaps it would’ve melted him, but it was frozen quickly enough by the [liquid nitrogen]. Plus, we make the transition from the molten metal to the cooling property so quickly — as a function of the T-800 being on [John] Connor — that it wouldn’t have had time to melt the existing titanium exoskeleton in time.

Q: When Marcus is inside Skynet and learning about how he was created, the visage of Dr. Serena Kogan mentions that he’s managed to do something that none of the other Terminators have been able to. Is Skynet aware of the alternate futures and other events that have taken place?

McG: Skynet is aware of the alternate futures, and the way that we play it is in the spirit of parallel worlds, as theorized by Einstein. We try to pay attention to that approach to a fundamentally theoretical construct. So yes, they are aware of the other attempts on the life of John Connor, and they’ve always subscribed to a bigger-gun philosophy, from the T-800 to the T-1000 to the TX. Now they’ve decided to bring in a machine with enough humanity in it to properly infiltrate the Resistance and lure John Connor to their lair. That’s why Serena speaks of thinking differently, thinking radically.

Q: At the end of the film, is John Connor ever made aware that Marcus was an infiltration unit? Or does the secret die with him?

McG: That’s an interesting question. But I think it’s of very little consequence. What Connor is focused on [at the end of the movie] is that Marcus did come through for him and Kyle Reese. It wasn’t clear, when he gave his word at the riverside, whether that was an example of Skynet using the best of ourselves against us…his action transcends the question, if you follow me.

As I said, these are just a few choice snipits from the Q&A. For more answers to some Terminator Salvation plot and continuity questions (Will John Connor still be killed by a “T-850″ as hinted in T3? And what did Marcus do, exactly, to end up on death row?), you can check out MTV News‘ full Q&A session with McG by either going here or here.

salvation McG Plugs Some Terminator Salvation Plot Holes

Personally, I think McG did a good job addressing fans’ questions about some of the T4 plot holes – although it’s painfully obvious that he ducked that last question about John Connor ever realizing that Marcus is an infiltrator unit. Weren’t prepared for that one, huh McG?

In the end though, it doesn’t matter how well McG fills the plot holes of Terminator Salvation. We, as the audience, shouldn’t ever have to sift through MTV or Screen Rant blogs for these answers – the answers should be clear and stated within the context of the film. Period. The less guess work your audience is left with, the better.

Do you like the answers about T4 that McG is providing, or (like me) do you feel that the movie is solely responsible for filling in all the blanks?

Terminator Salvation is currently in theaters.

Source: MTV Movies Blog & MTV News

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  1. I never thought the molten steel was that big of a plot hole, It took time to melt in t2, so logically it would take time to melt here and it was released from its smelting pot so already had begun cooling. Then the nitrogen hlped it. Not too hard to figure out if you think about things.

    I dont think every little thing needs to be explained on film, It makes you think about things rather than oh, thats what happened

  2. Sign of a bad movie – plugging holes afterwards.

  3. I figured most these out by myself lol. Weren’t too many plot holes for me.

  4. Nice of him to hang with the fans. Direction and cinematography were fine. Writing sucked and sucked to high heaven!!! As much as I never thought it would be the case this movie really sucks but not because of McG’s direction but because of the dumb and dumbed down short attention span Mtv riddelin teen Axe body spray poorly cultured hip hop dummies they were apparently trying to court. Look at Trek, you can make a movie intelligently and people will come. I was suprises they was no scene with Moon Bllodgood saying “Heeeell Yeah” or some other phooney hip hop crap lingo or having a scene with Conner referenceing that homoerotic UFC fighting Tap Out crap while applying his Axe body spray.

  5. To answer your last question first, the movie SHOULD answer the most obvious questions in context, and we shouldn’t have to go searching for them. Certainly some plot threads can be left to our imaginations, but not in the case of something that’s integral to the plot.

    Like Skynet knowing about Kyle Reese – which, to answer your first question last, McG absolutely does not explain intelligently.

    “By virtue of John Connor being alive, that means Kyle Reese did meet Sarah Connor and impregnate her.” This makes so sense because it’s only obvious that Reese succeeded from OUR standpoint – the viewer, not Skynet. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Skynet could learn this or even question it. From the standpoint of Skynet – a network of computers – Sarah lived through the events of T1, therefore their termintor failed his mission, nothing more. Skynet doesn’t go about guessing or assuming who, where or under what conditions that Sarah Connor got pregnant; that’s complete foolishness. Sarah probably gave birth to John in a cement bunker somewhere and she certainly didn’t fill out “Kyle Reese” on a birth certificate. Or, at the very least, we have no way of knowing this, and neither does Skynet.

    I wouldn’t draw such a fine point on this one, but much of SALVATION’s haphazard plot hinges on this very notion – which is never mentioned, explained or hinted at – and by spouting off this way McG is only proving what a terrible, uneven and idiotic script he decided to shoot in his efforts to bury this once-great franchise even deeper into the ground.


    Here’s my list of plot holes and questions:

    Why does Marcus still have a real heart? You could say that the human spirit is found in the heart, but does that mean that people with pacemakers are soulless zombies? How do they know that his heart will be a compatible donor for Connor? They can perform a heart transplant in a field hospital? Why couldn`t they rig up an artificial heart for Marcus or take a heart from one of their many casualties? Why doesn`t SkyNet just kill Kyle Reese the moment they find him? Wouldn`t that have killed Connor instantly? Why does the T-800 knock Connor around instead of just running its fist into his chest and crushing his heart? Why doesn`t SkyNet have an override control in Marcus? Why is SkyNet taking everyone hostage (only to lure Connor)? If the signal to the SkyNet “mothership” is lost, wouldn`t the machines just act on their base programming?

  7. I enjoyed the movie for what it was, a good action movie. Im tired of the comparisons to the first two movies, ofcourse it does not live up to those films, they were groundbreaking movies for there time. Sure there were plot holes like how come marcus can throw around the t-800 like a rag doll, but he needs help carrying john connor out of skynet? Does it make sense…no, but oh well i enjoyed it.

  8. “…the answers should be clear and stated within the context of the film. Period. The less guess work your audience is left with, the better.”

    I disagree, to an extent. While I believe that certain information is essential to understanding a story sometimes what is left out can be even more important. Not giving the audience every answer opens up a dialog and discussion between fans and lets them fill in the blanks themselves, thus investing more than they normally would, thus connecting with the film more than normal.

    Remember how much cooler the idea of the Clone Wars was before the prequels ever existed? I remember watching Star Wars and when Obi-Wan talks about the old days my mind boggled with what it must have been like. Then I saw Episodes 1,2 and 3 and they just could not match what I had imagined.

  9. This movie was way too commercial. Put a big name in the leading role and assume that people will come seems to be the formula these days. The John Conner character should have just been written out and the focus made on Marcus Wright. That was the best part of the movie. I was hoping to see more terminators however. I am sure that I speak for most everyone when I say that our hopes for intense future battles with t-600′s and 800′s were lost. Maybe we’ll have to wait for T5.

  10. So this is what he gives to explain these plot holes; wonderful! OK, so SkyNet knows that Reese is Connor’s father, and SkyNet wants to take out Connor; I don’t consider myself very logical but even I can see a probelm with that reasoning. IF YOU KILL REESE THERE IS NO JOHN CONNOR!

    SkyNet is aware of the alternate futures (plural)? How could they know about more than one alternate future?

    The action was the only part in this film that worked.


    You go, Gunsmith!

  12. SkyNet would be able to reason that Kyle Reese is the father. If the Time Travel technology is SkyNet’s it would know that Kyle Reese went back in time. It would have access to birth records and would see that John Connor was born 9 months after the destruction of the first terminator was sent. It would also see that Sarah Connor was single at the time.

    Also, forget the part about him being Connor’s father. SkyNet wouldn’t need to know that Kyle Reese is the father, just that he was successful in destroying the T-800 sent back. So, they would want to take out the one who succeeded in taking out the T-800 on the off chance that the replacement for Reese would not be competent enough to take out the Terminator.

  13. Those are not really good answers to those few questions, but at least he’s trying, I’ve always given him credit for trying, from him promoting the film, to him appearing to be a fan of the originals.

    But why is Marcus being on death row even a question? That was answered in the movie, he killed his brother and two cops.

    Anyway, I disagree with McG on his point about the bigger gun, T-800 to T-1000 to T-X. It should be T-800 to T0X to T-1000. The T-X is BY FAR inferior to the T-1000.

    Change height, shape, and appearance:
    T1000: yes
    TX: only appearance, endoskeleton prevents altering size and shape dramatically

    Melt into the floor, wall, ceiling?
    T1000: yes, cakewalk
    TX: nope

    Walk through bars, seep through cracks?
    T1000: *yawn* yeppers
    TX: um, what??

    Survive high speed impacts without damage?
    T1000: Are you serious?? Give me a challenge
    TX: Ouch, my arm gun thingie broke when I hit that truck…

    Survive being crushed?
    T1000: You’re going to try to crush liquid? Are you stupid or something?
    TX: Oh nooooosssss!!!!!1111

    Survive being blown up?
    T1000: well, if it’s big enough it might take me a few minutes to “pull myself together” lol
    TX: well, if it’s big enough… I’ll probably be “Terminated” *sobs*

    Survive being thrown into molten metal?
    T1000: Finally, I’ve met my match
    TX: Yah, that would kill me… too… like so many other things…

    If someone can name something the TX can survive that the T-1000 can’t, please enlighten me. The TX is such a piece of garbage compared to the T1000.

  14. I’d love to ask Mcg if he’s happy with the outcome and fan reaction…

  15. I still don’t understand why time travel wasn’t used with the trademark bubbles. I know this is kind of off topic but if 2018 was before time travel why couldn’t skynet or john Connor send someone from the future to 2018 to warn them about Kyle and marcus? I guess it could be a never ending loop.

    Where were all the terminators like in the scenes from the first two movies? Should have asked Mcg that question. I wanted terminators everywhere and people hiding underground everywhere terrified of terminators. Where were the little skynet planes? They were sweet!

    Final episode of Sarah Connor chronicles is what this movie should have been like. The submarine scenes in that show were way better than the ones in this movie.

    Where were the liquid terminators? Don’t tell me they weren’t around yet because they could have sent them back from the future.

    Sry for the rant.

  16. @Mark

    Technically Sarah Connor killed the first Terminator, but besides that, why would that be on record? They called her insane for claiming she killed a Terminator, where would this “record” be that she and Kyle Reese killed a Terminator because obviously the police won’t have this record…

  17. I totally agree that the T-X was vastly inferior to the T-1000 in almost every regard. The only “improvement” was the ability to make complex weapons. And that is not an improvement, when you can just grab any gun or stab your way to your target by disguising yourself as anything!

  18. In order to enjoy this movie, or any other movie with time travel, you must realize that any movie with time travel has plot holes. Even Back to the Future had some, but it still rocks balls.

  19. @ Ken J

    Police records and also the psychiatric tapes themselves would still exist.

    SkyNet would know that Kyle Reese was sent through their time travel device, and would see that the T-800 was destroyed around the same time. Especially since Cyberdyne had the parts that were recovered.

  20. @X-SOLDIER

    Good insights.

    I still think, however, that after all the trouble SkyNet has went through to kill John Connor, they wouldn’t take any chances and would eliminate him at the first available opportunity. Whether that be by killing Kyle or John himself.

    And, in regards to your last comment, if they are using their “base programming”, then they should be able to function independently of the SkyNet hierarchy. If so, why would the resistance believe that some miracle signal could make them go haywire?




    Also, forget the part about him being Connor’s father. SkyNet wouldn’t need to know that Kyle Reese is the father, just that he was successful in destroying the T-800 sent back. So, they would want to take out the one who succeeded in taking out the T-800 on the off chance that the replacement for Reese would not be competent enough to take out the Terminator.

  21. Terminator Film Timelines.

    • Timeline 0: The future from Terminator 1 (2029) – Kyle comes from a future where John Connor has a different father. He and a T-800 are sent back in time. Skynet is defeated.
    • Timline 1: The present in Terminator 1 (1984) – Kyle & Sarah Connor have a kid, and the remains of the T-800 are left behind & studied by Cyberdyne. This creates a different future, and a T-1000 & reprogrammed T-800 are sent back in time.
    • Timeline 2: Terminator 1 –> Terminator 2. Blowing up Cyberdyne delays Judgement Day. In this future John Connor is killed on July 4, 2032. A T-850 & a T-X are sent back in time.
    • Timeline 3: Terminator 1, 2, 3, & Terminator Salvation. John & Kate survive Judgement Day, Skynet creates Marcus. Because of all of the different futures here that Skynet has learned about, it is trying to find the best way to eliminate John – thie would explain why it puts him up against the T-800 Model 101, as it successfully killed him in one timeline.

    - It’s not revealed that John Connor fully understands how timetravel works – especially since he hasn’t really dealt with it yet. This is reason enough that it wasn’t explained in TS. Future films will give a good opportunity to talk about time travel in the Terminator Mythology. (TSCC discusses it in great detail).
    - Overall, I don’t really think that the questions asked are filling in gaping plot holes as much as they are explaining small details that can be figured out if you understand the mythology of the series, and pay attention to what’s happening. That being said – some of them could have been addressed much more clearly in the film & they wouldn’t have to be explained to the general audiences.


    As for the T-X vs. the T-1000 – the T-X was sent because it’s designed as an anti-Terminator unit to take out the Terminator sent ot guard John. Since the T-1000 is all made of “Liquid Metal” & they constantly learn, and can’t be programmed as well as the Terminators with a chip. The T-X’s nano machines that can corrput other machines, plasma weaponry, and it’s ability to connect to an internet database (via cell phone) make it a more effective killing machine overall.

  22. @ Aaron – the “Kill Signal” in the film is a short wave radio transmission. The machines use these transmissions to communicate, they aren’t remote controlled. The signal’s basically like issuing a forced Shut Down command that would override it’s current programming, however, as we learned in the film – it’s just created so that Skynet can get the Resistance to broadcast a signal that it’s capable of tracking in order to hunt down Resistance bases and destroy them.

    As for Kyle Reese – his existance in multiple futures (since he’s born in each timeline After John Connor) means that Skynet likely knows he’s fairly important in the Resistance, and it would try to copy him to gain access, and destroy the reminants of the Resistance that weren’t killed by the signal – just like it would with John.

  23. Just because the T850 informs Connor that he kills him doesn’t mean it will happen, as Connor now expects it.
    Not to mention the Terminator could have had programming issues and only thought it killed him.

    This piece of Terminator canon can be easily written around because the actual event hasn’t happened yet.

  24. The Resistance should be working on a trojan virus they can upload into a captured Terminator. Send it to Skynet central where it would then download the virus into the Skynet processor, crash the system and shut it down…
    A radio transmission attack would be overridden by internal CPU counter measures. That is if Skynet thought of all communication problems resulting in the loss of its command frequencies due to inviromental hazards. This would be something Skynet would have needed as radiation would constantly screw with radio transmissions, and the machines would need to function on there own from time to time. (No pun)

  25. If he has to explain the movies plot a week later,
    then the writing of the script either wasnt clear enough
    or they mangled the script to the point where it is the incomprehensible mess that is T4.

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