Now that’s how you do a penultimate episode for a season: Root, Shaw, Special Counsel, Greer, HR, Elias – by proxy – Finch calling the police on Reese, Reese tracking Finch, the Machine creating an avatar, a proposal, a friendship destroyed…and one sweet stunt blowing up a car…thank you, Amanda Segel, David Slack, and Jeffrey Hunt for Zero Day!
Secrets are revealed, new ones emerge, alliances shift, and I have to wonder…why, Finch, did you call 911 on Reese? Sure, I get the obvious: you wanted to meet with Root and didn’t want John to know. But really? After all your efforts in Prisoner’s Dilemma and you go and turn him in? Then again, Finch always seems several moves ahead, so in all likelihood he knew Shaw was in town and tracking the same ‘ghost’ they were. Yeah, I’ll go with that.
Now, with that elephant out of the way, let’s get to all the greatness; there was a lot. From the opening sequence with the Machine faltering, backtracking itself and trying again, to all the little moments throughout as screens flickered, boxes failed to track cleanly, and so many hidden codes; the production crew outdid themselves with the Machine’s presence.
Shaw and Reese continue their fun dynamic. Both are damaged, both are suspicious, both are adept with guns and more than willing to show their skills off…loudly. I love Shaw’s snark as she realized John bugged Finch and Finch called the police on John. Yeah, Shaw, if you want to work with these two, better figure out your place. But you brought a gun to John…he does like a woman who likes guns.
On the other side of the team dynamic, Root and Finch are an unlikely duo. Finch will work with Root to save Grace; otherwise he’ll turn and allow his ‘pet’ to take her out. Beware, Root, all these snide comments you make about John will come back to bite you. John keeps track of those he cares about. He’s lost too many to not be overzealous in his protection of Finch – secrets of Ordos notwithstanding. Hurt Finch; John will end you.
Amy Acker is fabulous in this role. I like my shows to be grounded, so the whole AI can be a bit silly to me— if not handled carefully. Thus far PoI has handled it carefully. Root’s speech about killing the Machine, for me, would have been over the top if not for the expert ‘heavy lifting’ by Amy Acker. She made it real. Root is clearly off her rocker. Sociopath, thy name is Root!
Harold and Nathan’s flashbacks really highlight the evolution of Harold Finch’s character, all while opening up new questions: Harold a seditionist? Do tell! (No, really, writers, do tell!) When Finch was telling Nathan what he’d say if he was face to face with a non-relevant, I mentally went to Many Happy Returns when Harold and John ‘bump’ into each other just as John has learned of Jessica’s death, and Harold whispers to John’s retreating form, “I’m so sorry.” If that wasn’t enough, the writers up the emotional ante by having Harold look Nathan in the eye, give him his “greater good” speech and then leave just as the computer brings up Nathan’s image as the next non-relevant. Yeah, that got me!
I initially thought that the weak link to this episode was the whole Carter being set up by HR. It’s not unexpected, for HR has been gunning for her since Season 1. But, in an episode filled with larger storylines, flavored with international intrigue, secret agendas and the reveal of the disintegration of Nathan and Harold’s partnership, it seemed out of place. Then I took a moment to think on it and I realized that it is perfectly in tune with what PoI is. PoI is a tale of two Machines, two agendas, two worlds. There is the relevant list – Shaw’s world, Special Counsel’s world, and others (Greer) and there is the irrelevant list – John and Harold’s world. Sometimes those two worlds meet (i.e. No Good Deed, Dead Reckoning). Other times those two worlds are far apart, as in Trojan Horse when Reese, upon seeing the story on Cal’s death, notes that while they were busy with international intrigue, things were getting darker and messier in their own backyard.
PoI likes to remind us that while the big storylines spool out – computer viruses, government spies — that the individual still matters; in other words, no one is irrelevant. Carter, the individual police officer, partner to Fusco, team member to Finch and Reese and mother to Taylor has been set up by HR. It’s interesting that she’ll have to fight for her reputation after all the things she’s done this season. I’ll not recap them here; if you’re reading this, you know what she’s done. This is a watershed moment for her as she’ll finally be on some truly level ground with both Reese and Fusco. She didn’t do anything wrong this time, but she’s broken her fair share of the rules. Things won’t be so black and white going forward for her and that is likely to be difficult. (But a nice forward story in Season 3)
To avoid writing a novel, I’ll simply recap some additional highlights here:
· I hope Jeffrey Hunt directs more episodes in Season 3. He has a great eye!
· Reese and Shaw walking in sync out of the smoky corridor and throwing their cloths away
· More Reese on the motorcycle in Season 3
· “The decline of western civilization” Love the call back to the Pilot
· Reese answering the phone: Can. You. Hear. Me? – Firewall and The Contingency memories flooded in!
Eagerly awaiting God Mode. Did Reese get the same call that Root got? Did Harold manage to reroute the call and have a fake message to Root? Is it really, as some have postulated: Reese will be admin to the irrelevant while Root is admin to the relevant? As much as I hate to hasten the end of this fabulous season (for it is likely 20 long weeks until Season 3 premieres) I am eager to see what comes next!
As always, thanks for reading. Elle2