The opening few scenes in "Goodbye" have a familiar look - a Terminator is searching for a human victim - a future resistance fighter. All the crew has is the name of one victim, Martin Bedell - and two more are listed in the phone directory, so they split up to head off the assassinations.
John and Derek head to a military school out in the Southern California foothills. How much I appreciate a production crew that takes the trouble to go on location, providing interesting backgrounds and story enhancements which are much more interesting than endless studio shots troubled by lighting fads and cheap set decoration. It's expensive, and demonstrates over and over that TSCC's backers are committed to quality.
Setting up the story, Derek relates in a number of flash-forwards that a cadet at the academy (will become)(has been in the future) a key member of the resistance, and a close associate of John. But they realize the T-888 will be searching him out, and, through having John enroll in the academy and Derek hired as a temp. Tach officer, they begin to lay a trap.
Sarah, meanwhile, barely rescues a young boy with the same name, in a frightening few scenes of high-caliber rounds splintering the front door, and Cameron driving the getaway car. The T-888 is one large fellow.
That pretty much tells the story - save two young men with the critical name. So you think you're going to see this play out in routine Terminator fashion, gaining some insight into John's future friend in the Resistance, and seeing Sarah confront some of her shortcomings as a mother, hardened as she is by constant vigilance and the urgency of escape. As the story nears a climax and Sarah is helping young Martin work on a school book report, they begin reading "The Wizard of Oz," and only then did I notice the amusing reference to author L. Frank Baum - John and Derek used "Baum" as their alias at the military academy. The woodlands trap for the approaching Terminator is set - the cadets all believing it's an exercise.
Sarah begins reading the finale of "Oz." The T-888 begins pursuing John; Derek begins his defensive pyrotechnics. Faster and faster, switching scenes from Sarah to John.
Finally, it hit me! The writers have had a stunning inspiration - the final paragraphs of "The Wizard of Oz" are used as a parable for the pursuit and destruction of the Terminator. All I could gasp was, "WOW!" A child's fairy tale (or is it?) is profound enough to stand in for narration of a desperate attempt to forestall the end of our civilization.
And as Derek and John drive away from the academy, John hears more about the future - when Martin will die for him. Unless, of course, John succeeds in his mission. So much weight, so much burden on him - his eyes fill with tears.
This is "exactly why I watch this series." Scripts and imaginative story-lines that far surpass most every drama on-screen. Compelling and intense relationships that make us care about the characters and their trials. Commitment to life and the preservation of a society. There is nothing else that compares to TSCC. Re-run rating A-.