John sits down behind D'Argo, shedding spacesuit, and asks for a radio signal. It's the little lines that tell you how far they've been, all the scars and paranoia that seem so normal until you trade them out into real life: "Coming in clean, John. Nothing's locking onto us." Uh, you're in Earth orbit -- all we've got is a bunch of trash and a Beatles song. "Just need to know what year it is."
"...On the Senate floor. Commenting from the White House, President Reagan told reporters the situation in Nicaragua had unraveled to such an extent that State Department considered..."
Aeryn smiles at the voice, speaking in English, the language she's learning to love, until she glances over at John. "Reagan was President in the 1980s." Check out the enjambment between these two seemingly contradictory statements, because that's what you call John logic: "Einstein said if I came back before I left, it would screw things up. D, we need to get down there and check it out." Um...can you explain how those concepts connect together? D'Argo's like, "Okay."
Lo'La turns invisible and lands in Florida. John -- this is a good day for John's ass! -- stares at a pickup truck, parked outside a house in a neighborhood lined with palms. Children play in the background. "Home. I can't believe I'm home."
"Touchdown!" A child laughs. John whispers to D'Argo to keep everybody silent and hidden while he checks things out. "Einstein said if there was a problem with the timeline, it would start close to me." Oh, okay. That's right -- just making the trip through the wormhole fucks things up. I forgot that part. Also, it makes no sense, except possibly in the vaguest butterfly way. He touches the hood of the pickup as he walks past, affectionately: "Old Betty." I do love Betty.
"Dad. Dad? You ready?" Jack -- so young! -- agrees, and John's sister, Olivia, capers around. A young man in a trooper uniform sits at the table with Jack, and over it a banner reads: "Congratulations To The Challenger's New Captain." John's mother runs out laughing, carrying a cake and congratulating her husband. John stares at her, even more bewildered, as his teenaged self arrives and stands at the table. His name is Johnny, back then. As they engage in part behavior -- Jack telling them they shouldn't have, et cetera -- John stares at the Challenger banner. I was seven years old, so I didn't get the right hit off this at first, but I guess if you're an astronaut -- a scientist -- it's one of those horrible touchstones like JFK or Lennon or 9/11. Images of John's mother, laughing and beautiful, his parents in love, alternate with the Challenger coming down in white smoke. "D. I don't know how he did it, but my Dad's going up on the Challenger." Which he then has to explain: "1986. The Challenger space shuttle exploded, killing everyone on board. My dad wasn't on that flight." As Johnny picks up the champagne bottle from the table, John sees the Challenger blow up, again and again. Credits.