In Sarah’s (Lena Headey) dream, cactus sprouts from the ground where they buried the Terminator Cromartie. Sarah and Cameron (Summer Glau) are watering them, and John (Thomas Dekker) is grabbed by one of the cactus arms. Sarah wakes up in the back of the truck on the way home from Mexico and vomits. Cameron wonders if Sarah is pregnant. Sarah turns back an overturned tortoise and watches it walk away. Back at home, she is ill, and others will have to return to Mexico and burn the Terminator’s body.
Derek (Brian Austin Green) meets Jesse (Stephanie Jacobsen) and she tells him she saw Charles Fischer (Richard Schiff) , knocked him out, and has him tied up in a container. Fischer is a turncoat human from the future, working for Skynet. Cameron and John head back for Mexico, talking about turtles and machine ethics. Fischer says he is someone else, just a watch repairman from Pasadena, despite Jesse roughing him up. Derek won’t kill him until he admits to being Fischer.
Sarah dreams of Cameron, Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt), and baby turtles in the maternity ward. She wakes up to find herself pointing a gun at her reflection and sees that she has made three dots on a pad of paper. Cameron and John find Cromartie’s body missing. Derek notices a prison tattoo on Fischer’s body. He sends a picture of the man to Cameron, who tells him there is nothing about him in her memory banks. Sarah visits Doctor Sherman (Dorian Harewood) to tell him about her dreams. Let’s face it: the whole family could use some therapy.
John and Cameron stake out Agent Ellison’s (Richard T. Jones) house, thinking he might have taken Cromartie’s body. They go in and Cameron throws Ellison around a bit. He denies knowing about the body and John believes him. Jesse brings in a younger man with an identical birthmark and the name Charlie Fischer (Adam Busch). Older Fischer says the trip to the past was a reward. After Judgement Day, he taught the Terminators about humans to save himself. Sarah’s session with the psychiatrist fails when she will not talk about her life.
Jesse tells Derek that Fischer helped explain to the machines how to get info out of humans with torture. And Derek himself was tortured, but he doesn’t remember it. She shoots older Fischer. John and Sarah bond a bit. She asks him about the three dots and apologizes for not killing the kid at the bowling alley, which allowed Cromartie to find John. John says he knows she’s not a murderer. Derek and Jesse bury Fischer. Derek wonders if his actions have altered the future, and that’s why he doesn’t remember some things.
When young Fischer arrives at work, he is grabbed by Homeland Security. He denies accessing secure military data. It was older Fischer who did that. Weaver (Shirley Manson) and Ellison meet, and we learn that Ellison did indeed dig up Cromartie’s body, and he gave it to her, to learn how Terminators work. Sarah goes to the wall on which names were scrawled by the agent from the future and finds three dots next to the name Carl Greenway.
A couple of paradoxes to chew on: If Fischer had not travelled to the past, his younger self would not be in prison to survive Judgement Day, and maybe he did that on purpose, and maybe older Fischer was more sadistic toward Derek because Derek ripped out the fingernails of his younger self. The cuts on Sarah’s hand, ostensibly from cutting her bonds with an aluminum can, were actually from acting too well when she smashed Cromartie’s chip. The overturned tortoise relates to the Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner, in which replicants don’t understand turning over a dying tortoise. When John stops Cameron from killing Ellison, she proceeds to turn him onto his stomach like an overturned tortoise. And it’s always nice to see Richard Schiff.