MP (militarypenguin) wrote,

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Terminator 2 Revisited

Four weeks ago, I watched the Terminator 2, of which I reported mixed impressions. However, not being a seasoned Terminator fan, I wasn’t aware the version I watched was the theatrical cut, and that a longer director’s cut was available. Having watched the director’s cut a few nights ago with two good friends of mine, I can happily say this cut of the film lent itself to a far more narratively cohesive, enjoyable, and meaningful experience. It’s really odd to think that the longer version of the film would be the better-paced of the two (when we were an hour in, one of my friends commented it didn’t feel like an hour), but it was. Didn’t bother checking out the alternative ending; the ending was perfect as is.

Instead of giving a re-evalution of the film, however, I’m going to examine each deleted scene and explain their narrative importance, as well as how much they improve the overall film. They’ll be rated on a three-point scale: 1 (justifiably deleted), 2 (forgivably deleted), and 3 (unforgivably deleted).

Scene: Sarah forcibly administered her medication

Significance: Pretty simple: to show that being a patient at Pescadero kind of sucks. There’s a bit more to it, however. The theatrical cut had hints that the place wasn’t exactly paradise, but it also had a scene that stood out like a sore thumb: one of the attendants licking the (thought to be) comatose Sarah’s face. Apart from condescendingly calling her “sweetheart” as she was dragged back to her room, there wasn’t really any lead-up to the attendant’s sudden, scummy behavior. (Fun fact: my friends thought the licking scene was the deleted scene.)

An additional reading I had of the scene was to further cement Sarah’s developed contempt for men. It’s one thing knowing men have been responsible for many countless tragedies and destruction and having constant nightmares about another seemingly inevitable disaster occurring at the hands of another man: it’s another to have been violently treated and harassed by men for years.

Rating: 2 (forgivably deleted)

Scene: Sarah dreams of Kyle and impending Judgment Day

Significance: I say, with a heavy heart as both a fan of Kyle Reese and Kyle and Sarah’s relationship, not much. You could say it serves to address the death of a key character from the first film and its impact on Sarah, but that’s already goes addressed later on by John when he’s talking to the T-800 about his mother. You could also say it serves as a suspenseful buildup to Sarah’s full nightmare of Judgment Day but that, too, is already supplied by the scene that follows with Sarah recounting her nightmare on video to Dr. Silberman.

Rating: 1 (justifiably deleted)

Scene: The T-1000 leaves the house of John’s foster parents and kills his dog

Significance: The T-1000 gets confirmation on why “John” hung up on him (disguised as his mother) when he answered how “Wolfy” was doing and begins tracking him down. This is information that is easily inferred, however, as the T-800 explains to John not too long after that the T-1000 can anticipate his moves.

Rating: 1 (justifiably deleted)

Scene: Sarah and John reset the T-800

Significance: Boy, where to begin. If you read my thoughts on the theatrical cut, you’ll know my biggest initial complaint about the film was the out-of-nowhere “Let’s teach the Terminator cool and hip-sounding catchphrases.” This scene serves as both a lead-up to why John would suddenly teach the T-800 to blend in socially, as well as clarify how the T-800 was able to learn about social cues and human behavior, and why that function didn’t exist before.

But there’s even more to it than that.

In the original cut of the film, I was perplexed at how quickly Sarah was to trust the T-800, even after having a violent panic attack at the sight of her once-intended killer. I was mostly able to roll with it since she probably pieced together that since the T-800 had been protecting her son for so long, it could be trusted. However, even if it’s not “necessary” to the plot, it’s still a bit of a waste of potential character development for Sarah not to reflect on the possible repercussions of having a terminator on their side, or her feelings of having something she’s feared for so long now constantly be in her presence. This scene does both--it has Sarah talk to the T-800 cynically (”Makes it easier for you to kill people, huh”) and even give her the choice to destroy his chip altogether. And at first, she is very much set on saying goodbye to this machine for good.

Until John steps in. Which leads to the importance of this scene to John’s character: he’s the one to suggest that they reset the T-800 to help him learn to be more human, he’s the one to stop his mother from destroying the T-800′s chip on account of his importance to the mission, and in short, he’s the one who shows why he’s destined to be a great leader in the resistance. The latter is even made clear when John asserts himself to his mother, understanding that he’s important in his role of saving humanity, and that he needs to make these kinds of decisions if he’s to live up to that role. I’ve got a whole essay written in my head about the ways T2 shows John is already the leader humanity needs, this scene being one of the most vital reasons, but I’ll save that for another day.

Rating: 3 (unforgivably deleted)

Scene: Teaching the T-800 to smile

Significance: It’s a natural progression from John teaching the T-800 to pepper his words with slang to sound more like an everyday person, to doing something frequently recognized as making a person more approachable like smiling. And it’s a just a fun scene.

More importantly, however, it explains how on earth the T-800 suddenly learned to smirk when he says “Trust me” to John later in the film.

Rating: 3 (unforgivably deleted)

Scene: Miles Dyson and his family

Significance: “I want to know everything. What [Dyson] looks like, where he lives, everything.”

And just like that, a scene follows up where we learn each one of those things. It (along with its many other deleted scenes) separates the film from many other action films in concentrating on building and letting us get to know its character first and foremost. This scene, again, like many other deleted scenes, may not be necessary to the plot, and we can already tell Miles is an innocent man when Sarah goes to kill him, but it helps build on the themes of humanity, how important each individual life is, and the wonders of how we as humans can love and value each other unconditionally. It also, of course, gives us more reason to care about Miles and the fact that he’s become a target of Sarah. The progression from Miles at work, to Miles at home, to Miles’s attempted assassination, to the playing a vital role in the destruction of Skynet before it’s born, feels much smoother than his short appearance at the beginning of the film and not appearing until much further into it after as it was in the theatrical cut.

It also has this line, spoken by Miles’s life, that pushes the aforementioned themes further: “Why did we get married, Miles, why do you need us? Your heart and your mind are in here [the prototype]. But it doesn’t love us like you do.”

Rating: 3 (unforgivably deleted)

Scene: Enrique and Sarah’s friendship

Significance: A short scene that hints at the strength of Sarah and Enrique’s friendship and, to my knowledge, the one really solitary scene we get between them. I can’t say I didn’t get the sense they were good friends after watching the theatrical cut, but little scenes like these still help tremendously in giving a sense of wholeness with even the most minor of characters and their relationships.

Rating: 2 (forgivably deleted)

Scene: John talks about his life growing up, asks the T-800 if he feels fear, the T-800 gives his first natural grin

Significance: Getting to know more about John’s upbringing, strengthening the bond between him and the T-800, more building upon the themes of humanity, the T-800’s learning to smile on his own that he’ll use again later in the film.

Rating: 2 (forgivably deleted); I waffled between assigning this a “2″ or a “3.” On one hand, I think any scene building the relationship between the T-800 and John is vitally important, as well as any conversation between the two discussing the T-800′s capacity for emotion and thought. On the other hand, a similar scene to this occurs shortly after when John and the T-800 are working on the car together, so I opted for a “2″ in the end.

Scene: John telling the T-800 why he can’t kill

Significance: Aside from, again, hammering home the theme of the value of humanity, it’s another scene that demonstrates John being a great leader. He understands why each and every human life is important, even when he knows nothing about the person, even when he knows the person is going to be responsible for the deaths of millions. He understands the meaning of the phrase “there is no fate but that which you make” in a way his mother doesn’t. He knows it’s his responsibility as both a leader and being a good person to make sure that lives are spared at all costs. Furthermore, when the T-800 doesn’t understand why John would want to stop Miles’s death, John knows at this point that he needs to spell it out to the T-800 in a way he can understand: humans are different from machines and feel different things from machines. It’s a short and terrific scene.

Rating: 3 (unforgivably deleted)

Scene: Sarah prepares for Miles’s assassination

Significance: Being only a few seconds long, this is the only one I can answer with “Nothing, really.”

Rating: 1 (justifiably deleted)

Scene: Miles takes an axe to his work

Significance: This is the one scene that would be justifiably deleted had the earlier scene with Miles talking to his wife about the prototype been cut. However, I can’t help but think, even while not having been given a proper good look at the prototype, this scene should have remained intact regardless. Even if the lab was going to be destroyed in the end, it does a great service to Miles and his arc in seeing him take action on screen and destroy the thing he’s put his heart and soul into working for so long, knowing it’s too dangerous to exist. It’s a more satisfying conclusion to his arc than if it simply followed up with him dying and detonating the place.

Rating: 3 (unforgivably deleted)

Scene: The T-1000 glitching

Significance: Since the T-800 had just blown the frozen T-1000 to smithereens, it’d make sense to see his model not be in total top-shape as it was before. It even ties in with its eventual demise in the lava where we see it glitching violently before being terminated for good.

Rating: 2 (forgivably deleted)

Scene: John gets physical proof that the “Sarah” before him is a fake

Significance: It’s a brief scene, one that likely won’t inspire this much analytical thought, but it’s one I prefer would have been cut. In the theatrical release, John is able to put two and two together when he hears his mother telling him to get out of the way, something that would only inconvenience the T-1000 and, flat out, wouldn’t make sense for him if he ever said that. It’s a tiny moment, but the theatrical version shows more of John’s wit and quick-thinking in a dire situation being the thing that gets him out of trouble, rather than hesitating at first to check on the physical difference between the T-1000 and his mother.

Rating: 1 (justifiably deleted)
Tags: terminator
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