Matt Smith is not the sort of guy who can get cast in a huge Hollywood blockbuster and then not appear in any of its trailers – not without people asking questions, at least. His complete absence from all of the Terminator Genisys promos had fans of the former Doctor Who star either fearing that his role was too small to matter or suspecting a conspiracy – wake up sheeple! – to cover up who he was really playing. Both of which are partly right, it turns out, if you’ve actually seen the film…
Because, yes, Matt Smith is Skynet, the self-aware artificial intelligence that is responsible for Earth’s apocalyptic robot uprising. Or, at least, he’s some sort of vessel for it.
When we first see Smith’s character, it’s in the far future. John Connor has just defeated Skynet, but it’s too late – the AI has already deployed its last resort: sending the T-800 back in time to kill his mother. As the resistance fighters gather to send Kyle Reese in pursuit of the Terminator, a familiar looking chin pokes out of the blurry background, before coming into focus. It’s Smith, and he doesn’t look friendly. Just as Reese departs, Smith’s character attacks Connor, whose face burns with some sort of infection (this, it turns out, is a new way of making Terminators – by rewriting humans into machines.)
It’s not made explicit in this scene who Smith is, of course. He could just be your bog-standard infiltration Terminator. Yet later in the film, when Reese and Sarah Connor try to stop Skynet before it ‘evolves’ into the doomsday device we all know and love, we see it grow – in a holographic avatar form – from a humanoid child into an adult. And who does that adult turn out to be? Yep, the Eleventh Doctor himself – albeit with a weird American accent.
So, does that mean that the flesh-and-blood (or at least flesh-and-metal) figure we see at the beginning of the film is Skynet made physical? It would appear so. While left unexplained – as are many things in the film – it seems likely that before Skynet itself was destroyed, it ‘downloaded’ itself into the form of the human avatar it had used since birth.
Matt Smith – now both saviour and potential destroyer of planet Earth…