What a brilliantly crafted episode! The use of the commercial breaks as reset points, using the ‘natural rhythm’ of television – inspired! Each reset showed a second or two gone from the countdown clock, upping the urgency of the Machine’s quest to find a suitable solution. Option #336,742, the first, ended quite badly. Option #506,738, the second, ended equally as badly. Option #833,333, third, was the best and was the one enacted. Granted, it was the best of the worst, but it did save the financial markets, Shaw saved the subway of people, and almost all of the team made it out alive.
Was Shaw the Queen of Finch’s chess lessons? Perhaps. However, I think the bigger takeaway is that Greer is the person who looks on the world as a game – he directly refers to “the game” being ended as he sends Martine in in the real time scenario at the end – and is the one who deserves to lose. I think he will too. It’s clear that while the Machine has been hampered with Samaritan’s dominance since it ‘awoke’, it isn’t done yet. The Machine commissioned a hacker to create a real time fix, which worked. In the end, it was moves the Machine made long ahead of time, as well as the actions of its “acolytes” that upended Samaritan’s latest and greatest move.
Is Shaw dead? Well, that is the question, isn’t it? If you don’t like spoilers, you should skip this next part. I’ll put a big ALL CAPS “END OF SPOILERS” at the end of this next part, but for “flow” (something I’m always working on), I’m going with this part next.
BEWARE, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
Sarah Shahi is pregnant; with twins! She found out at the beginning of filming this season and Plageman and Nolan rapidly needed to review their options – I’m sure it took a bit longer than what the Machine was able to accomplish here — and decide their course of action. Rightly deciding that writing the pregnancy into the show wouldn’t work — after all, were we really going to see Shaw nursing in the subway car aiding Finch in research? He can’t stand having her eat near his equipment…having her feed and change a baby there? Yeah, um, no — they did the next best thing: they crafted Shaw’s arc from the beginning to be on the outside, in the shadows, hiding in windows (which hide a progressing pregnancy realistically) and slowly but surely incorporate Root more and more into the action with the team, so that when the big move occurred, Root is ready to step up to the plate, as she has already shown her concern for the numbers, and here described herself as a reformed killer for hire. She, like Reese and Shaw, are all reformed killers for hire. The nucleus of Team Machine remains with a core four – well, Fusco remains outside the loop, but the Machine does note him as a Secondary Asset, and he’s getting closer after this episode. I hope he remains outside the loop though; there’s no benefit to having him know, and he has shown a shrew sense of self-preservation about such things. He’ll likely not want to know, especially if it keeps him just a little bit out of harm’s way.
I’ll put some links to interviews at the end that I found after the episode aired. They were quite good talking about Plageman’s, Nolan’s, and Shahi’s thought processes, both about her pregnancy as well as how Shaw went out.
END OF SPOILERS
Root and Shaw…well, I’m no fan of romance on a show like this, be it these two or Carter and Reese, leave the romance to the lost loves (Grace and Jessica) or the chance encounters (Zoe) or the stud moments (all Fusco, all the time), but these two were absolutely mesmerizing tonight. I’ll take Sarah Shahi’s words as the bottom line on that kiss: she needed Root to shut up and stay in the elevator, and so she did what she knew would work – she gave her what she wanted. Not for one second did Shaw imagine she was going to die; that’s just not how Shaw operates. (Those interview links I mentioned above, you can click on those at the bottom and read more fully her thoughts, but they do contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.)
To say that Person of Interest is brilliant is an understatement. What show out there writes like this one?
“Coolly delivered sadistic warning.”
“Self-deprecating inquiry into the time necessary to infiltrate system.”
“Funny, yet insightful, retort.”
“Mildly agitated declaration of mission completion.”
“Gentle exhortation to further action.”
You don’t even need to see the episode to realize who said what. And the deliveries were spot on! I love how Emerson’s voice changed from his first utterance (yeah, that’s what I’ll call it) to his second.
And how about the humor? In a dark episode, full of death – Finch, Reese, Root, Fusco (we didn’t see Fusco die, but in that first scenario the Machine noted that both objectives, securing assets’ escape and stopping financial crisis, failed) and, of course, Shaw’s possible, probable, who-knows-but-time-will-tell demise, there was humor, lots and lots of humor:
· Finch’s noting of the Degas, and then its demise and his disgusted second glance
· Reese answering Shaw by saying, “Sorry, I’m busy making death threats to Samaritan operatives”
· The “dialogue” which was all the nature of how they would speak the words
· Fusco’s different names for Root, Nutterbutter, Nutella, and Banana Nut Crunch
There were ample moments I just plain laughed out loud.
Finch’s lessons to the Machine prove yet again to be the difference. Finch’s moral code, his life, his lessons – his time and memories with his father – all went into developing the Machine. He really is its father, sort of, and it learned well. It learned its lesson from that chess game long ago, the first move is terrifying, but you must choose, and then learn, and choose again, and again, as long as you are able.
The battle will continue, the losses have been severe, the team is weakened, Bear will be sad, and the wonderful Shaw, brought to life by the skilled Sarah Shahi (who at first I was concerned with having only ever seen her in Fairly Legal – and not liking what I saw) is gone…or is she…but the heart of Person of Interest continues. Even amidst all the chaos and the urgency, Shaw still saved an irrelevant, by helping him to realize that he is, in fact, relevant. And isn’t that the core of Finch’s entire mission? … “The government thinks they’re irrelevant. We don’t.
Until next week, thanks for reading.