Spoiler: Still spoiling Terminator after more than a week.
As we all know — because surely those who have not watched Terminator have either rectified the oversight or abandoned my blog for the duration of Terminator Week — at the end of the original film, Sarah Connor has a dog. There is a certain thread of pro-dog propaganda in the Terminator movies which has always led me to believe James Cameron is a dog person. After all, he was stuck with that cat when he made Aliens: it was left over from Ridley Scott.
But perhaps something deeper is at play here. Let us consider the Terminator and the Alien.
5 by 5. Terminators don’t get along with dogs. Aliens don’t get along with cats. While they don’t necessarily eat them, it’s clear Aliens and cats have a natural antipathy, as manifested in copious hissing. Dogs, on the other hand, flip out when they detect a Terminator.
4. Terminators keep themselves clean. Aliens slobber. You don’t see any Aliens heading home to freshen up and check the mirror before continuing their killing sprees.
3. Terminators are lone predators. Aliens hunt in packs. Yup.
2. Terminators don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. Aliens are full of family feeling. Now here I’ll admit the cat/terminator parallel has its flaws — cats do appear to feel fear, tho’ pity and remorse are quite unlikely. But cats do tend to have a centered self-sufficiency more akin to the autonomous Terminator than the social xenomorph.
1. Terminators are manipulative. Aliens are straightforward. Either an Alien is going to growl and attack, or he’s going to sniff and attempt to snuggle you (really, Joss Whedon told me so.) There’s none of this “Oh, I’m just a cute cat, please further my mission goals.” Sure, currently they wiggle their way into our homes in order to eat food and sleep in the window, not open fire with chainguns, but you can give a Terminator a friendly mission too. Cats are infiltration units. We may love them, but let’s not let them have access to our launch codes. I don’t want to know how far this parallel goes.