What a head trip. Derek said to John, “He died… John. He died for you. We all die for you.”
Can you imagine, being a teenager, and knowing this. Not just being told, but KNOWING this. The weight of responsibility John now carries must be immense. As Derek outlined to the gung-hos, this isn’t a game. Up until now John was sort of treating it as a game, but not any more.
John, I think, demonstrated here why he becomes the kind of leader he’s destined to be…he put himself at risk to help Martin…not because he knew that one day Martin would save him from the metal heads (he didn’t know yet), but because Martin didn’t deserve to die…at least not today. By revealing himself to the Triple-8, John ensured Martin’s survival. By revealing his own secret to Martin, he ended up ensuring his, and maybe humanity’s survival.
Clearly Derek is an important mentor for John. As tough as Sarah has been, she’s losing her edge. As she loses her little boy, her mission is less planned and more improvised. It could be that it’s this sort of humanity that helps to give John a reason to continue the fight even when the days are darkest, for otherwise there is little need for Sarah as Derek and Cameron are much better equipped to give young John the objective skills he needs to fight a war against the machines.
It’s not that John doesn’t have skills already: he knows weapons and had already scoped the tactical situation at the school. He doesn’t yet have all the skill he will need, nor has he yet have to face the time when he does need to choose who will die so that others might live. He’s becoming a soldier, and starting to learn how to become a leader, but he’s not THE John Connor yet.
While some will embrace the fact that John is now well on the road to destiny, the episode itself, to me, was a little too much fill-in-the-blank. Except for the emotional disclosure I quoted above that Derek made, much of what happened seemed predictable: from Derek being volunteered into teaching, to future-Martin doing something reckless yet heroic, to Cameron choosing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as innocent-Martin’s book report material.
The Tin-Miss was understandably underutilized in this episode, considering the demands from “Allison From Palmdale“, but she did have an interesting part to play aside from her duties as babysitter, scold, and librarian. She was in the woods as John and Derek battled the T-888, and yet did not engage. As she could kill John herself at any time, clearly her design was not to let the Triple-8 harm John. I think she was there as backup should things go badly.
See…future John wouldn’t have just sent back a simple bodyguard. As the series has progressed, it’s clear that sometimes Cameron guides John onto a certain course so that he can become the John she knows. By not acting in the woods, she is helping John learn to improvise, but also to start building trust in the core of the army he’s going to need. Future-John would have told Cameron to make sure he learns the lessons he needs to defeat Skynet…and make sure he doesn’t die along the way. Cameron didn’t need to protect John in the woods from the scary robot because he already had protection in the form of Derek with a Big Damn Gun (BDG).
One thing is curious…these students were in the woods for a sort of rescue exercise involving carrying around a 75-pound crash test dummy. Given all of the unauthorized gunfire and claymore explosions, not to mention that impressive tar-pit fire, wouldn’t someone at the school have done something…like lock the place down and await the obligatory thorough investigation?
Then there is Catherine and her pet Ellison. There’s not much to say, really, than I certainly wouldn’t want to say the wrong thing and have a T-1001 jump down my throat. I’ve had tough bosses in the past, but yeesh!
I think this was a critical John episode. Up until now he’s sort of been playing at becoming this theoretical JOHN CONNOR™, but now he actually IS becoming the savior of humanity. I guess the question is how much of his own humanity he’ll have to sacrifice along the way.