The return of Linda Hamilton in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate could involve a much larger twist for Sarah Connor than the marketing has let on. Dark Fate is set to be a significant chapter in the Terminator franchise in several ways, not the least of which being that it sidesteps every movie in the series after 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day and serves as a direct sequel to that film. Dark Fate will also mark the first R-rated installment of the franchise since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, while the film's panel at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con saw the announcement of the return of Edward Furlong in the role of John Connor.
Meanwhile, Hamilton's return as Sarah Connor has been by far the biggest selling point of the Dark Fate marketing campaign. Even the returning Arnold Schwarzenegger, set to portray a more humanized Terminator named "Carl", has been seen surprisingly little in the trailers, while Furlong's John Connor has yet to be seen at all. Terminator: Dark Fate has placed a notable emphasis on its female characters, specifically Mackenzie Davis as the cybernetic assassin Grace and Natalia Reyes in the role of Dani Ramos, the latter being targeted by Gabriel Luna's Rev 9 Terminator model. Nevertheless, the extent to which Hamilton's return to the franchise has been the centerpiece of the Dark Fate marketing materials (with Sarah being the only character spotlighted on one poster for the film) has been undeniable.
To be sure, Hamilton returning to her most iconic role was always going to be a big deal for Terminator fans, especially with Dark Fate following only the first two movies in the series (even Hamilton has described the prior three entries as "forgettable".) Furthermore, this could also point to there being more to Sarah's role than meets the eye. The franchise has always been noted for Sarah's transformation from a terrified young woman in the first Terminator to a chiseled survivor in the second, and it would hardly be surprising to see her continue evolving in Dark Fate. However, Hamilton's return and the title itself may hint at something else to Sarah Connor's role in the film. Specifically, that Sarah may actually die.
There are subtle indications of Terminator: Dark Fate as a kind of passing of the torch movie, particularly in Mackenzie Davis' role as Grace, arriving in the film with character traits akin to Sarah's portrayal in Terminator 2. Additionally, Natalia Reyes' Dani also seemingly represents Sarah as seen in the original Terminator, targeted for assassination due to her significance to the future of mankind. Sarah herself is clearly being set up as a weary, even more grizzled warrior who'd fit right in with The Expendables franchise. While Sarah previously had an off-screen death between the second and third films, what's been seen of her in the Dark Fate marketing could also indicate her assuming a role similar to that of Kyle Reese, who died in the climax of the original Terminator.
Director Tim Miller himself has acknowledged that Dark Fate is burdened with revitalizing the series in a way that past Terminator movies have not been, and Linda Hamilton's return has already done much to accomplish that. However, the return of Sarah Connor surely won't stop at simply having the most enduring one-liner of the series passed her way. The Terminator movies have never been reluctant to kill off important characters, and with Sarah Connor's return in Terminator: Dark Fate, the franchise may also give its matriarch her final send off.
- Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019