[Continuing Terminator Week, Matthew Belinkie imagines how John Connor’s decision to send Reese back to 1984 might have come about. You’ll hear this radio-drama enacted on our Terminator Week podcast, “How to Survive a Terminator Attack,” to be released this Friday. —Ed.]
John: Are you sure, Walter? That’s an actual working time machine?
Walter: (he speaks in a “nerd” voice) I’m afraid so, Mr. John Connor. It looks as if, the Terminator is on its way back to May 12, 1984.
Reese: What? That’s years before Judgment Day. Why then?
John: I know why, Reese . It’s nine months before I was born.
Reese: Oh my God! That machine is going to impregnate your mother!
Walter: No, it’s going to kill her before John is born! That means the Resistance will never have happened.
Reese: My God! We’re doomed!
Walter: None to worry. We’re still here.
Reese: None to worry! That robot is going to terminate our future . . . by terminating our past!
John: Try to keep up, Reese. Hiding in those bunkers all those years, did you ever watch “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure?”
Reese: Sure. The Chaplain made us all watch it. One of the last surviving relics of the old times.
John: Remember how they make the keys to the jail appear by deciding that later, they will go back and put them there?
Reese: I remember there was a “waterslide.” It was amazing.
Walter: If the Terminator had succeeded in the past, no matter how long it took, we would have instantly vanished, erased from the timeline. But if one of us uses the machine to go back . . .
John: . . . and destroy the Terminator before it gets to my mother, then we survive. And since we’ve survived, that’s exactly what one of us must have done.
Reese: But how can we know that for sure?
John: We can’t. But we know a single woman in the 1980s doesn’t have much that can stop a Terminator. We’ve got to send someone back. To make sure.
Walter: As long as we’ve got a time machine, we could just send somebody back to the creation of Skynet and kill all the terminators in advance.
John: No, it’s got to be to a little more than nine months before I was born.
John: Um . . . paradox.
Walter: This whole mission is a paradox. I think we’ve already seen that the space-time continuum can handle it.
John: Nope. Definitely a paradox. Unacceptable paradox.
Reese: Well, then, we should at least send a squad. One man against a T-1 has got a 50/50 chance, at best. I’ll get ten of my best guys.
John: No, it has to be one man, and it has to be you.
Reese: Me? Why?
John: Paradox. Huge paradox. Paradox all over the place.
Reese: That doesn’t make any sense.
John: Look, Reese, you’re my best guy. You’re close to my best guy. You’re definitely in my top ten or twenty guys. You’re the only one who can do it.
Walter: You mean I’m not in your top twenty guys?
John: You’re #21, Walter.
John: You’ve got to do it Reese. For the Resistance.
Reese: If the Resistance needs me, I’ll do it. Well John, it hasn’t exactly been fun. But it’s been an honor. Okay Walter, hit it.
Walter: Um, you got to take off your clothes.
Walter: That’s how it works. You got to be naked.
Reese: D*mned Skynet and its naked robots. Turn around Walter. You know, John, it’s a weird coincidence how all those years ago, you gave me your mom’s photo for no reason. And now I’m going to meet her.
John: (overacting) Yeah, that’s so weird.
Walter: Underwear too.
Reese: No peeking, Walter!
John: Hey Reese. One question.
Reese: Yeah, John?
John: Were you born early enough to know what a condom is?
Reese: What’s a “condom”?
John: Nevermind. Not important for this assignment.
(Sound of machine firing up.)
Reese: Goodbye, John.
John: Goodbye, dad.
John: I mean… goodbye, dude.
(SFX of time travel.)
John: There goes one of the bravest men I ever knew.
Walter: He’s going to have sex with your mom, isn’t he?
John: Shut up, Walter.