John asks Derek how long he thinks he could survive fighting Cameron. Without a weapon, he knows he wouldn't survive. John knows this and he knows that Cameron didn't kill Riley -- Riley had bruises.
"I want to talk to you about the future," John tells Derek."Yours?" he asks John."Yours," John retorts.
Jesse does laps at the local YMCA pool and flashes back to:
USS Jimmy Carter - 2027. Dietz has secured the package for John Connor but they don't know anything about it or what's inside it. Only re-programmed Terminator Captain Queeg knows.
Later, Dietz expresses how skeptical he is about only the machine knowing what's inside the box. In fact, he's skeptical of John Connor too. Jesse overhears and breaks it up.
Sarah polishes off the kitchen while finishing packing. John enters. She knows he's gone to see the body. She wishes he wouldn't have done that -- not because of the risk -- but because of the pain. "There were things I needed to see, I needed to understand," he tells her. And now he understands. John then apologizes to Cameron -- "I'm sorry I doubted you."
Back at the YMCA pool, Jesse continues her swim. She's still broken from the fight with Riley. She comes up from air and flashes back once again to her time:
Aboard the submarine. Queeg tells Jesse they're adapting their route to make up the time and get back to Serrano quicker. Jesse tells him the crew will be more efficient if he explains to them what's in the box. But he has no plan to do that. Suddenly motion detectors in the hole -- they rush down there!
As Jesse and Queeg enter, they find Dietz, Goodnow, and a few others opening the box. Out from the box comes -- Liquid Metal! None of them have ever seen anything like it before. It takes shape, stabs Goodnow, and takes her shape. It turns to the rest of them knowingly -- they shouldn't have done that -- before scurrying off!
Jesse divides the crew into search party -- they have to find that thing. Queeg demands everyone to return to duty. "We continue as planned." Skeptical, Jesse rushes off after him.
"That thing, you know what it is?" He does. "Then tell me, at least tell me.""It's not your concern."
Sarah covers up the hole in the living room where the safe used to be. She tries to tell John that she's sorry that this is what it's come to, but he knows it's his fault. And now he's taking responsibility for it. John's ready to get out of there and move on.
Ellison is supervising John Henry painting figurines. It's getting late and Ellison's ready to switch John Henry off. But John Henry convinces him to stay with him and keep him "on" a little longer. "Mr. Ellison, does this make us friends?" he asks.
Jesse soaks herself in the pool, trying to rid of herself of all the bad feelings.
Back on the submarine in the future, Dietz is suspicious when Garvin isn't eating. Anyone could be the liquid metal, after all. Jesse breaks it up before a fight ensues, and Dietz turns on her. She demands he stand down, but he doesn't. Now the fight really breaks out, the entire crew attacking each other, when Queeg enters and slams Dietz against a wall, killing him. "Report to your duty stations," Queeg tells them. But Jesse is affected and taken aback...
On her way out, Cameron is stopped by Sarah. She doesn't want her going anywhere. Sarah knows Cameron's still glitchy. "Why you here?" Sarah asks Cameron, implying that perhaps Future John didn't send her back to protect this John, but rather to get her away from him in the future. "Maybe you should think about why he didn't want you around anymore."
Catherine Weaver finds John Henry painting more figurines. She's impressed he convinced Ellison to keep him operational. "That's progress," she tells the machine. John Henry tells her he's been taking inventory of ZeiraCorp while painting -- and discovered undated, signed letters of resignation from former employees as well as Ellison and Murch.
"Mr. Ellison is our friend," John Henry reminds Weaver, before asking her, "Are you going to kill him?Though she knows he's been valuable, she also explains to John Henry that "humans will disappoint you."
Before leaving the YMCA, a lifeguard approaches Jesse, asks where her friend is -- "that blonde girl." She flashes back to to:
USS Jimmy Carter control room. Queeg tells Jesse she looks ill -- probably a concussion. She asks about Dietz, but Queeg believes Dietz was inciting a mutiny and the punishment is death. "You have no right to impose summary justice," she tells him. But Dietz's behavior threatened their mission. Jesse wants to know what mission. No one knows anything about the mission besides Queeg. All she knows is that whatever they brought aboard the ship is dangerous, it killed a crew member.
With the crew watching, there's a showdown between Captain Queeg and XO Jesse -- she attempts to relieve him from command over suspicion of compromise of his programming. "Submit to chip extraction," she tells him, but Queeg refuses. He demands the Chief of the Boat escort Jesse out. He explains that he has no authority -- his mission orders overrule her in this case. She wants to see his orders, but he explains that they are classified. She won't take that thing to Serrano Point, it threatens Connor. But Jesse takes matters into her own hands and grabs a plasma rifle, destroying Queeg for good.
Chief of the Boat tells Jesse that they can't drive the boat without Queeg -- but it doesn't matter. "We're not driving the boat. We're taking her to crush depth." They're abandoning the submarine. She closes Queeg's eyes one last time...
As the crew rushes out, Jesse has one last encounter -- with the liquid metal. "Tell John Connor the answer is no," it tells Jesse before scurrying off once more. The submarine blows up, the liquid metal sails through the water, and...
Jesse returns home to her hotel room. Present day. "If you pretend not to know me I might shoot you in the head." John is waiting for her with a gun.
"You're John Connor.""Yes, I am."
Jesse looks for Cameron, but she isn't with him. He takes her gun away, she's not going to shoot him. John tells her he's been running from the machines his whole life. Once, future him sent back a human to protect his mother, then he started sending machines. He used to wonder why he did that and took that chance. "I don't wonder anymore. Human beings can't be replaced. They can't be rebuilt. They die and they never come back." He means Riley.
John explains that it wasn't Derek that told him about her. He figured it out with a few small details: Riley mixing up words that she would know if she was really from this time, Riley hearing his real name in Mexico, Riley putting herself in between him and a machine hunting him. "One day I realized she wasn't treating me like John Baum. She was treating me like John Connor." He followed her and it led him to Jesse. He put the pieces together, knew it was Jesse that killed Riley.
He believes it's his fault for not helping her when he knew she was in trouble, when he knew the truth. "You wanted it to be real," Jesse tells him. "You didn't want to be John Baum, you wanted to be John Connor."
"That's just the thing, isn't it, I am John Connor." And John Connor is letting her go. He values human life and is letting her live, but she has to live with what she's done. Before Jesse leaves, she asks him if he plan would have worked? No.
At Serrano Point in the future, Jesse reconvenes with Cameron. Cameron's very angry about Jesse's actions, which resulted in the loss of the submarine, the box, a T-888, and the people. Cameron wants to know what the liquid metal's answer was, but Jesse only wants to speak to John Connor -- the liquid metal gave her a message for John Connor. "Telling me is the same as telling John," Cameron tells her. Jesse believes Dietz was right, it's all a mess now -- the lines of good and bad, human and machine, have been blurred too far.
"You tell John Connor the metal monster said that the answer is no," Jesse tells Cameron, but she wants to know, "if the answer is no, what was the question?""Will you join us?" Cameron tells her was the question.
Cameron tells Jesse that she's sorry for her loss, but Jesse doesn't know what she's talking about. She explains that Jesse was pregnant but miscarried the baby on the submarine.
Back in the present, Jesse heads towards her car in the parking garage where she finds Derek waiting for her, music blaring. He explains that he would do anything to stop Skynet and that included killing one of his best friends, Billy Wisher. Now it's her turn -- Jesse. But this isn't his Jesse. He doesn't know who this Jesse is. And John Connor may have let her go, but he is not John Connor. With the loud music as coverup, Derek grabs his weapon and pulls the trigger as Jesse runs for her safety...
John waits for Derek in Jesse's hotel room. Derek explains that he's been thinking about time and the future. John wants to know what people think of him in the future. Not everyone agrees with his decisions nor does everyone love him, but he leads and they follow. "We rise or fall on your shoulders. Humanity rises or falls," Derek tells John. But they're always watching for him to be human. John wants to know if Derek killed Jesse. But "John Connor let her go," is all he'll confirm.
Back at the house, Sarah burns the endoskeleton parts Cameron's been saving.Cameron holds a bird in her hand, trying once again not to kill.A maid cleans Jesse's hotel room the next day and straightens the lamp one last time.Jesse finds and saves tunnel rat Riley in a flashback to the future.
And John sits between his mother and Cameron on the couch, a new understanding. And he cries. He cries for humanity. He cries for Riley. He cries for people. He cries for himself and the hardened person he'll have to become.