"Can you stop it?"
"I don't know. With these weapons, I don't know."
-- Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, THE TERMINATOR
"These are brand new. We just got them in. That's a good gun. Just touch the trigger, the beam comes on, and you put the red dot where you want the bullet to go. You can't miss. Anything else?"
"Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40-watt range."
"Hey, just what you see, pal."
-- T-800 and gun shop owner, THE TERMINATOR
The pilot of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES was out-and-out terrible. The later episodes have picked up, and I think the show has potential.
At the same time, I think Sarah and Co. desperately need to rethink their weapons strategy.
I haven't seen every episode of THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, but based on what I have seen, Sarah Connor has a limited weapon supply. That's quite understandable, especially after the last time jump, and it's good for drama. But the contents of the Connors' weapons locker doesn't really suit their needs. Based on what I've seen, Sarah and company have 1) a bunch of Glocks 2) at least one AR-15 and 3) assorted random handguns (I think I saw Derek Reese checking out a 1911 at one point). These are effective for dealing with humans, sure. But humans aren't Sarah's major problem, and these weapons are down near the bottom of the barrel for dealing with Terminators.
What makes me say this? Well, consider something that happens in pretty much every freaking episode:
- Terminator shows up.
- Sarah or whoever fires off a magazine at the Terminator.
- Terminator shrugs off the damage.
This sequence of events is designed to create tension, but its formulaic status dissipates that. It's like criminals shooting at Superman: what, the dumbasses think something *different* is going to happen this time? A Terminator has a hyperalloy combat chassis made of a proprietary material related to unobtanium. Any weapon capable of seriously damaging them must be able to penetrate the unobtanium. Lesser weapons can damage the Terminator's soft tissue cover, limiting its ability to pass as human, but as we've seen from the show and movies, they don't do much actual damage, particularly if our heroes are shooting center mass.
Shooting center mass is effective against humans, because the torso 1) is a big target and 2) contains lots of blood vessels and vital organs. But Terminators don't have organs. Well, they *might* (I personally think they should have some, because the tissue that's surrounding the endoskeleton needs nourishment and occasional waste removal); but even if you completely destroy them it will not prevent the Terminator from ruining your day. Blood loss will not stop a Terminator. Shock will not stop a Terminator. Pain will not stop a Terminator. To stop a Terminator, you must *physically stop the Terminator.* I can think of three ways to do this.
- Stop the Terminator from moving (damage load-bearing structures and joints).
- Stop the Terminator from seeing you (damage its visual sensors).
- Stop the Terminator from functioning (damage/destroy the central processor in the Terminator's head).
Counter-Terminator tactics should focus on these objectives.
Most of Sarah's weaponry is just wrong for the job. Consider the AR. The nice thing about the AR platform is that it's modular, and the lower receiver is the only part that's actually regulated as a firearm. This means that you can buy a new upper receiver and barrel, swap 'em out, and you've got a firearm shooting an entirely new caliber. You can just order those parts online, since they're not firearms on their own. Much cheaper than getting an entirely new gun, with less hassle -- a good thing if you're on the run with a bunch of fake identities in a post 9/11 world; the receivers are the only hard parts to get. So, depending on how Sarah's set up, her AR could suit her needs if she gets, say, an .50 BMG or .50 Beowulf upper and the corresponding magazines. But if it's shooting .223, our standard military round, I will go out on a limb and call that drastically inadequate for Terminators.
The Glocks have a similar problem. You can get 'em in a variety of calibers: 9mm, .45 ACP, .357 SIG, .45 GAP, all that stuff. The 9mm are the most common. I am a .45 ACP aficionado, so a 9 mm cartridge is on the low end of what I'd feel comfortable using as a defensive round from a pistol, but with an expanding hollowpoint round it is just fine for humans, particularly if you've got seventeen of 'em in your magazine. Again, though, they're not effective against Terminators. The .45 ACP 1911, while Col. Jeff Cooper-approved, has the same problem.
So let's rethink the weapons locker, and the uses thereof. Here's what I'd put in my armory, if Terminators were coming after me:
- Big-ass rifle. Something with oomph and authoritah, but hand-portable and capable of putting out a reasonable number of shots pretty quickly. .45-70 Government, maybe, or Bushmaster .450. The Bushmaster has the disadvantage of being less likely to have ammunition available at the local Wal-Mart, but it's a magazine-fed semi-auto, so you can go for quick reloads. Put an Aimpoint or EOTech optical sight on it. Headshots, headshots, headshots.
For style points, though, you can't go wrong with the Wild West Guns Alaskan Co-Pilot, a takedown Marlin lever-action in .45-70 Gov't. And for serious (but less readily portable) firepower, you can *never* go wrong with a Barrett rifle in .50 BMG.
- 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. Load it with breaching rounds. If anything would stun a Terminator, that would. Target weight-bearing joints, the pelvis, and the head. You might even do some damage shooting center mass.
- Very powerful hunting revolver (say, .454 Casull or Smith & Wesson's .500 Magnum). Again, go for head shots. This is sort of a last-ditch thing. I would never use a handgun against a Terminator if a rifle or shotgun were available.
(Again, for style points I'd go for a Wild West custom -- say, their Wolverine, but Smith & Wesson's .500 Magnum is readily replaced in any good gun shop, often used because people tend to buy it, fire a few rounds, and realize they've picked up a fun but painful and expensive boat anchor.)
That's what I'd do, anyway. Folks who've seen more of the show than I have, feel free to point out things I missed.