We open on the familiar close-up of a highway's dotted line rolling by like a vertical Morse code. Picking up in style where T2 left off, the voice-over begins: "There are those who believe that a child in the womb shares his mother's dreams. Her love for him. Her hopes for his future." It's frightening to imagine that the pressure to become a doctor starts when you're a zygote, but there you have it. This, for anyone new to the characters (and, I suppose, unable to make a reasonable assumption from this show's title), is Sarah Connor. She knows what her son John's fate is: it's "tied to the fate of millions." Would he understand why she's so hard? Would he still reach for her if the only dream she's ever shared with him was a nightmare? Will he still love her tomorrow?
She's driving down an empty stretch of highway in a station wagon, and pulls up in front of what is supposedly a library, but is clearly a school. She runs inside; fortunately her voice-over is still able to continue asking rhetorical questions. She pops into the library and yells, "John, now!" A dark-haired lad who is fortunately not Edward Furlong (and not just because dude would be in his thirties now) snaps to, and the two of them head out the doors. He asks her if the cops "made her at the diner." She doesn't know.
The answer lies outside: what is presumably the entire West Fork police department has surrounded the school, guns drawn. "Yes, definitely," amends Sarah.
A cop over a speaker orders them to drop whatever they're carrying. Or they'll start firing on a building full of teenagers? Nevertheless, the Connors surrender, and are handcuffed and dumped into separate police cars.
Then Sarah sees him: a big dude walking dare-I-say robotically towards the parked police cars. He's wearing sunglasses. He seems intent. The cop in the back seat is more intent on leering at Sarah's waitress skirt riding halfway up her thighs. This doesn't go unnoticed by her, and she asks him to fix it for her. He leans forward obligingly, already mentally composing his letter to Penthouse, and gets head-butted into oblivion. From the next car, a shocked John reacts like he's never seen his mom pummel a cop before. Meanwhile, Intently Walking Dude has planted himself in front of the lead police car, and pulls out a shotgun. The cops in the car have the reaction times of sloths on formaldehyde, and die where they sit. He tosses the gun aside and pulls out to what look to my non-gun-enthusiast eyes like Uzis, and starts laying waste to the rest of the patrol cars. He fires a million rounds, but only succeeds in providing Sarah, who's freed herself using the lecherous cop's keys, a broken window to escape out the back seat, and she pulls John out as well. They take cover between some cars until the Terminator has fired off all his rounds, and Sarah orders John to run, which he does. The Terminator pulls out a pistol and aims it at the fleeing John, and Sarah grabs a dead cop's gun and fires several shots, hitting the Terminator in the face. No cool liquid metal self-repairing bullet holes for the television show, it appears, but the Terminator does get some of those cool metal scrapes on his face. He spares Sarah the briefest of glances, and then calmly fires a shot into John's back.
So, unless this version of the Terminator universe has the cyborgs succeeding within the first few minutes, it appears we're opening with a dream sequence. Sarah screams, and runs over to cradle her son's dead body. The Terminator approaches, and Sarah yells for him to kill her, saying nothing matters anymore. He amiably agrees, saying "only the boy" mattered. "The future is ours, and it begins now," he says. With that, a bright light fills the sky, from a mushroom cloud in the distance. Behind the Terminator, the school disintegrates, and the blast burns the human right off his metal skeleton. John and Sarah are unburned. The grinning cyborg strides over to John and Sarah (looking a million times more realistic than in the first movie, thank god)...