Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese in ''Terminator Sa...

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Terminator Salvation: Trial By Fire Overview/Review 

Note: This article WILL contain spoilers.

I love official novels in series because they reveal even more about the ideas that were always planned to be acted upon. At the very least these ideas are ideas that were involved with the overall writing and re-writing process of the Terminator Salvation project as a whole.

Trial By Fire was fantastic and it peeled back plenty of layers of Skynet and human ideas and interaction. What do we learn from Skynets perspective?

1: Skynet’s plans for Connor were MUCH MORE than killing Him in fact Skynet’s plans were not to KILL Connor but to incapacitate him. Then set it’s human scientists on Him, the ones behind the T-H, Terminator Hybrid, Theta Project. He would get a complete overhaul into a Theta (Hybrid), be given an entirely new set of memories, a control chip with hidden sub commands; after which he would be sent back out to take command of the Resistance and drive it into the ground.

This is simply creepy not to mention smart and insidious, as we as fans noted there were hundreds of machines in the San Francisco location, we all assumed Skynet wanted Connor dead. Skynet wanted Connor ALIVE. And they would have had Connor alive had Marcus not fought successfully against his programming. The T-800 was not going to crush Connor’s head he was going to pick Connor up and cart him into the bowels of Skynet.

The odds are good that if that had happened Skynet would have for all intents and purposes won the war.

2: Theta Project Subjects have NO IDEA that they are not human none at all. They are also nigh on undetectable by other humans. This enables Skynet to test them at communities such as Baker’s Hollow…which make me wonder just how many just how many such communities exist? How many people have been exchanged for Terminator Hybrids? Who can you trust?

Not to mention that the Theta Project at the town location was only 3 months old…who’s to say that there aren’t others that are even further along? This certainly would be a time of darkness like Kyle Reese noted in T1 when Connor rose to leadership, but would such a revival happen in this future…it would be much more difficult if you ask me. 

3: Human scientists who work for Skynet really believe that what they’re doing is for the greater good. They see Project Theta as a way of “hardening humans” against the future that they’re having to survive in. Skynet may have brainwashed them, and that’s what makes people like Lajard despicable on one side and heart wrenching on the other. Lajard honestly believes he’s helping humanity up until a certain point. Skynet is insidious, both more violent and subtle. Right now the way things stand this Skynet is by far the most dangerous of all version of Skynet that have been created for the Terminator films.

4: Even though the plan failed Skynet is still using it. Jik aka John Connor a fake of course with a close enough voice, but one that works because Skynet is jamming all of the Resistance signals. Skynet is using a fake John Connor and fake messages to have what Resistance cells survived to fall for a huge trap. The trap is to reveal their location to Skynet and then Skynet will perhaps Send Thetas and wipe them out quietly and slowly, or k.o. their communications and then just go in and wipe them out.

Remember this has been going on for a few DAYS or there abouts, how many Resistance Cells have fallen forever because of this trap? How many are barely clinging on to the last vapors of hope? It wouldn’t take long for Skynet to strike.

5: Concurrently Skynet is still trying to kill Connor and He’s not exactly mobile. Throughout the entire novel Kyle and two other soldiers discover that T-700’s are tunneling under the streets of San Francisco to take out Connor once and for all. Their plan very nearly works and once again if it had worked it could have led to a crippling blow with Skynet actually having to go head to head with Connor’s team for the remainder of the war.

6: Skynet has vast repositories of extra units and equipment underneath the San Francisco node that was untouched. This leads me to assume that there are such repositories under each node, and finding each and every one would be nigh on impossible. I seriously doubt they’ll even find the all the hidden chambers under San Francisco. And these things are ticking time bombs, they could be programmed to activate at any time, leading to an extremely dangerous situation locally and globally.

7: Though the kill shot didn’t work Skynet is far more dangerous than it’s ever, EVER been in the past. Skynet is now a nightmare; it is using subversive guerilla tactics itself in the battle now. It’s not hitting hard and fast it’s using much more subtle and deadly attacks. This is wholly unlike the Skynet that we’ve seen in flash forwards if you will to 2029 and 2032 in the past. That’s not to say that Skynet won’t end up using those tactics just that it’s using a much more deadly set of tactics now, and if it doesn’t use those same overflowing tactics it might become a much more dangerous enemy later into the war.

Skynet is willing to lie dormant to spring a trap, this of course is foreshadowing of what it will very likely do in this future.

Trial By Fire is highly and wholly recommended, it is intensely frustrating that such a dangerous and dark future will likely be lost forever after this book. This is by far the most intriguing and well thought out future the series has spawned, I love how Skynet actually has some dimensionality. This is a smart and deadly future that any new films, if…no when they arrive will probably not even touch.

From The Ashes, Terminator Salvation and Trial By Fire make for a wholly satisfying trilogy and a thrilling glimpse into a Terminator future that will unfortunately be closed forever.