They’re back! Yes, this time it’s bittersweet, as we know that Person of Interest is only back for a limited engagement and then it’s onto years of cherishing all that we’ve gotten on a series DVD set, but it still felt good to see the gang back together. Their cause is more important than ever, rescuing a dying friend, and that always makes for some great drama. No, the machine is more than their friend; “she” is their reason to be. Everything they are is because of this creation of Harold’s, including Harold himself, as shown in this week’s touching flashback.
But first, we finally get to see how they got out of the pickle our team was left in a year ago when Person of Interest was last on the air (boo hiss CBS). Everyone split up and the Samaritan goons are swarming the city. Mr. Reese has the honor of being protector of the machine case, which is losing battery life and fast. Finch is playing his own game of dodge involving a white hat (nice analogy to being the good guys). Root is hanging out in a school crossing zone with a machine gun, which is just wrong on so many levels but rather brilliant too, until the children all leave that is. It’s all a race to the subway hideout before the lights go out on the machine. That’s why the title, “B.S.O.D”, aka Blue Screen of Death, is so appropriate. We’ve all had it happen before and it’s a painful moment. Machines often bounce back from it though, so we still have hope.
Then there’s Lionel, who dodged an amazing bullet himself. Yes, Elias and Dominic are dead, the former which saddens me quite a bit since I loved Elias. But EP Greg Plageman told me at Comic Con last July that he was truly dead, so I had grown begrudgingly to accept it. The FBI and Internal Affairs showed up at his desk and Lionel stuck to the truth. A shooter took out Dominic, not him. The FBI guy comes back later with a better story, Lionel did shoot in self defense and is getting an accommodation for taking down one of America’s ten most wanted. The Internal Affairs guy wants to see the evidence, but FBI guy won’t share. Just to assure that he doesn’t push harder, Internal Affairs guy ends up dead. Yes, Samaritan has infiltrated the FBI. No wonder Lionel was sitting there sweating through the whole thing. He has good reason though, Samaritan is keeping an eye on him for suspicious activity. One wrong move and he’ll be dead from a heart attack too.
Of course, the whole thing started with a burned out bunker and missing railcar along with voice over Root starting the story in an ominous tone. Root speaks as if she is dead, or at least wiped from existence. With her cover blown and Samaritan throwing all sorts of obstacles her way, she at least gave Samaritan a name to follow, Root. Luckily Reese and Harold’s covers are still intact, which means Reese still gets to play Detective! I like that, because Lionel really needs a friend right now. No, Lionel really needs a tough friend with some mad ninja skills.
The nemesis so far seems to be the same, the terror of Samaritan hidden in plain sight. This is a clever AI that knows how to serve it’s agenda through paranoia, fear, and manipulation. But we learn that Samaritan is controlling all the information at even the most private levels, everyone’s hard drives! The Russian mob couldn’t steal personal information off of disposed hard drives like before. The new “NSA” software was stopping them. So, is what Samaritan doing totally a bad thing? This was a question raised at several points last season too. Is the world better off with Samaritan in control?
There are pluses and minuses to total control. It’ll be a safer world for the average person, but it’s a commander without morality. One wrong move and that person is gone. It’s all logic and domination with no human element considered. Everything becomes black and white. There’s no second chances, no acts of mercy on human flaws, no chances for learning or growth, and in a sense no free will. That is exact lesson Harold learned with his machine in the flashback, humanity is important and there are consequences for taking that away. The act of human behavior in AI troubled Harold greatly, but Nathan Ingram (great to see him again!) saw it as a gift. Root has this entire time as well. The machine doesn’t want to just protect, it wants to interact and grow. It wants to be human. Oops, I mean “she”. This week’s breakthrough moment was Harold finally calling his creation “she” just as Root has been doing all along. With that acknowledgement, along with 300 obsolete Playstation consoles, we have our beacon of hope back.
Sure, there were a couple of eye rolling moments for me, classic tricks trying to push the story too far. So Reese just happens to find liquid nitrogen on the street at just the right moment? Also, wouldn’t releasing liquid nitrogen do more than cool down the place? Wouldn’t it have frozen those machines solid to the point they break apart in pieces? I don’t know, I’ll have to do more technical research on that one, but it seemed a bit contrived to push the drama farther than it needed to go. Also, who didn’t see the double cross of the Russian guy a mile away? How many jams did Root get herself out of? She’s a superhuman now? Plus, what good is a new identity if Samaritan knows who you are?
I’ll write those little items down as nitpicks though, because then we got that sweet flashback and the return of Carrie Preston as Grace. I love watching her and Finch together. He turns into that sweet, sentimental soul when he’s around her and it’s delightful to watch. Yes, a lot of the chemistry is because Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston are married to each other, but it’s still wonderful to watch. Also wonderful was seeing Finch overcome his fear of the ferry to save his creation. He was truly terrified and he should have been. His excessive worry about the machine was understandable as well since he is more of a parent to the machine that an admin. Parents do that when it comes to their children. This episode was a real showcase for Michael Emerson and man did he deliver for every bit.
So yes, all in all, a very satisfying kick off to this final season. Next week, Person of Interest goes into burn off mode. There will be two episodes a week for the next six weeks until the end. It looks like there’s plenty of action left, and the preview showed a possible return of the machine to its old form. I’m dying to see how the machine plans to fight back, especially when her human element, aka the influence of Harold, was portrayed to be a strength instead of a weakness. That may be all is needed to defeat Samaritan.