There’s the Person of Interest I know and love. This show is always at its best when it goes for the heart and sticks with the core mission, aka saving people with assistance from the machine. No, she isn’t quite herself yet, but that didn’t stop her from carrying on her primary objective and putting her stir crazy team to work. After all Mr. Reese, you did want busy.
My, my, Harold and Root definitely have their work cut out for them. It’s hard to explain right and wrong, good vs. evil, and all those grey lines that come with it to humans let alone one very confused machine. Victim and perpetrator has never been easy to figure out so when 30 numbers come up, it makes the task rather impossible for one small team. When most of the people on the list turned up already dead, or actors killing in a bad play, it’s clear the machine still has some bugs. Rightfully so after all she’s been through.
It’s fascinating to see poor Harold have to start all over again, and I love how his interaction with the machine is back to the old days when he was admin and not grabbing numbers out of a back door program. We’ve only seen this interaction in flashbacks before and with the machine prompting Harold with dialogue we get a glimpse of what her relationship with Root has been like. Who knew that such a heartwarming bond could emerge from just Harold talking with his childlike machine, teaching it life lessons that Harold himself is only starting to grasp. They’re on a journey of evolution together now that Harold is giving his creation more freedom and now I’m getting really frustrated knowing that we only have 11 more episodes to watch this relationship unfold.
It isn’t just Harold and the machine though. The other s are adapting to their new lives as well. There is Mr. Reese, who isn’t taking this down time well. He’s bored because not only is the machine out of commission, but Samaritan is fixing the NY homicide problem (although, that rise in suicides has to be an “important for later” clue). He has to face one of his worst challenges yet, the fact that he has no life outside of his saving people job. It seems right that Fusco gets to show Reese something for once, like learning how to interact with people on a personal level. It all starts with just getting to know his co-workers names. Fusco has taken the leap of joining the NYPD bowling league and that ending of seeing Reese in a bowling shirt is just priceless. Good for him. I’m willing to bet he sucks at bowling. It’s not the same as weapons!
Then there’s Root, who’s trying to make her space in the subway bunker aesthetically pleasing. Her room was mighty cozy and it earned Bear’s approval. She’s doing her best to make the most out of her situation, although the machine’s troubles seem like more of a distraction over what’s truly bothering her. She’s anxious to find Shaw and the machine can’t find her. I kind of imagine Sameen in a similar bunker wondering how she can find Root. Hopefully her return will be soon. Harold seems to be pining for a lost love himself, seeing Grace in multiple places on the surveillance shots. The machine claimed it wasn’t doing it but could she be lying? Could she know what the creator desires? It was nice to see Harold finally asking the machine to show Grace’s whereabouts. Seeing her painting in Venice was such a heartbreaking experience. Harold truly misses her.
It was just nice just to get the POV of the machine for once. The facial recognition SNAFU (which is the title of this episode BTW) was just pure fun and to see each cast member have to act as the other character was awesome. It’s good when they can have fun like that. What wasn’t fun though was the machine looking at their past acts and labeling them all threats. On paper yes, they’re killers and have a checkered past. The chance of redemption is lost when evaluated on past actions, and suddenly the machine demonstrates how Samaritan came to be. Harold summed it all up in one absolutely perfect line. “I was wrong; I supposed everyone feels he’s the hero of his own story, but there are no heroes, no villains — just people doing the best they can… My only justification is that I did the best I could.”
And there we have our show folks. That’s essentially what all this is, people who are trying to make the best with what they have. They’re going to make mistakes but their hearts are in the right place. Saving lives is good, no matter what horrible things they’ve done. All the people that they saved over the last four years means something and that ‘s why they’re all going to start over. Saving as many people as they can until the lights go out. As Harold explained to Root earlier, they can’t take on Samaritan without taking on the basics first.
Most of all, I just loved having a story that stuck with the core team and left Samaritan out of it, for the most part. I get that Samaritan was introduced as the looming threat to keep things interesting but honestly it smothers some of the charm out of this show when it’s all Samaritan all of the time. We need to see private moments like this with the team because it makes them more human. I adored seeing Root and Reese slightly more vulnerable than their badass killing selves and Fusco getting to be the hero for once. That is when the machine wasn’t attacking them. Yes, I laughed when Harold told the machine to call off the assassin it hired to kill Reese and the excuse was, “Paid in advance.” Ha! Luckily Reese knows how to handle himself.
Of course, just in case you enjoyed the warm fuzzies of the team having a picnic in the park, there’s a reminder that Samaritan is recruiting as well. While the machine is learning to embrace human nature and their flaws, Samaritan is manipulating it for recruiting. An ex-con who was a number earlier, trying to stay on the narrow by doing menial jobs, goes to the wrong place for help. Samaritan takes interest, but only because it wants to tap into his propensity for violence. A big contrast from what the machine is doing with Reese and Root, huh?
All in all a refreshing episode that may have slowed the momentum a bit, but I’m okay with that. I enjoyed watching it more than the premiere and I loved the premiere. Episode three comes tonight and I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a Reese centered episode. We’ll see how it goes.