So…I haven’t exactly done a good job of keeping up with my reviews of Person of Interest (I fell off last season, and this season I’ve found my schedule to be a complete mess, and I haven’t exactly been able to keep up as they air.)
I just wanted to point out that this scene from a couple of weeks ago, in which Root goes against one of Samaritan’s agents, is pretty outstanding. The show continues to go all out with its action sequences, and this one was particularly awesome. I especially like the little nod to the “Terminator” theme when the elevators open up:
Last night’s episode was a standout as well, as Shaw got a chance to show a little bit of humanity with her attraction to the Number of the Week, an attraction that brought out some pointed snarkiness from Root.
Not to mention the fact that the entire episode was a heist episode, and I do love me a good heist story. Hell, I even like a BAD heist story every now and then (see: Stolen, starring Nicolas Cage. Yeah, I liked it. Sue me.) The whole heist situation even set up another movie reference, with Shaw mentioning the “Work [she] did for McCauley’s crew in L.A.”, a nod to one of my favorite movies ever, Michael Mann’s Heat.
Another interesting thing in last night’s episode was the tease of a potential new team member in one of the “Relevant Side’s” operatives, an agent trained by Shaw who lets her go at the end of the episode. Whether or not he’s being prepped to join the team, I can’t say at this point…the roster is already a bit large, if the persistent complaints about the show not being about just Finch and Reese anymore are any indication. I’m not sure if adding another regular is the best idea. It’s a problem “Sleepy Hollow” is having as well, with Captain Irving and Jenny Mills getting pushed aside for some Sawyer-from-Lost-meets-Nathan-Drake treasure hunter type. But I’m getting off topic.
In any case, I’m still watching the show, and I’m enjoying it a lot. This season doesn’t feel as epic as last season did at this point, but I honestly didn’t expect it to. The first half of season three had the build up to the end of Carter’s story to work with, and the fall out of her death and build up of Samaritan for the second half. This season has largely been about the crew trying to maintain their covers, and doing so a little too neatly, to be honest. But with Samaritan realizing something wasn’t right with Root’s disguise and then starting to identify Shaw at the end of last night’s episode, perhaps we’ll see some shake ups in the weeks to come.
Season two of Person of Interest ends with an action packed and revelatory episode that felt about half as long as it was and left the future of the show in a somewhat nebulous state. Not all was perfect, of course, as the breakneck pace of the episode left some plots feeling undeveloped.
The episode earns its title. In fact, while watching the scene where Reese and Shaw come across a hidden safe and are given the combination by the machine, I thought to myself, ‘it’s like they’re using God Mode’. Imagine my satisfaction when I went online afterwards to research the title and found out that it was indeed ‘God Mode’.
IDDQD 4 EVAH!
Okay, nerdgasm over. Back on track. My favorite points from the episode had to be Reese and Shaw’s continued partnership as they tracked Finch and Root, getting into all kinds of fun side-adventures along the way. One highlights was the opening sequence where the machine gives Reese and Shaw the directions of approaching attackers, allowing them to get the drop on them.
Another great scene has the machine send Reese to help a man about to be executed in a cargo container full of handy dandy weapons and a yellow Ferrari that Shaw takes a liking to. She throws Reese an assault shotgun and he asks, ‘What’s this for?”
Her reply: ‘To make you feel less inadequate while I drive this thing.’
Some of if was a bit silly, like Reese’s little drive by on a jilted man holding up his ex-girlfriend’s wedding party (while still in the bright yellow Ferrari, no less), but it was all fun.
My other favorite plot dealt with Finch in a flashback to 2010, where we learn how he came to be estranged from his fiance and how he injured his back. This 2010 arc also gave us a bit of background into the Northern Lights assassin tracking Root and Finch.
The Root and Finch story was strong as well, and had them infiltrating what is believed to be a nuclear facility, but is actually where the Machine used to be physically located. I say used to be because it moved itself.
How did it do that? Apparently by placing an order to do so and then posing as the director of the government agency that controls the Machine to prevent any red flags from going up. Not even Finch knows where the actual physical component of the Machine is anymore, and apparently no one is controlling it. It’s making its own choices about who to send numbers to, and the episode ends with it finally calling Reese and Finch with another number. One caveat, however…it also calls Root, who appears to end the episode in what I’m guessing is a psychiatric hospital.
The one weak link in all of this is Carter’s story, and I attribute that mainly to the fact that there was so much else going on that needed to be covered. It’s not bad, it’s just rushed. As the last couple of episodes have dealt more with the meta-narrative on the history and nature of the machine and those who seek to control it (another criticism I’ll get to in a minute), the story of our intrepid LAPD detectives and the HR conspiracy have taken a back seat. Hell, Fusco, who was such a central figure in ‘In Extremis’, has been missing completely the past two weeks for no other reason than the writers couldn’t find anything for him to do (which, I suppose, is better than them trying to shoe horn him in).
Carter does make a pretty interesting decision, however. When she learns that’s she’s being set up by the detective she thought she could trust last week, and that he’s planning to do away with Elias, one of the show’s recurring baddies, she takes a page from Reese’s book, disguises herself, and interferes in an unofficial capacity. The story ends with Carter and Elias in a car together, their futures unsure for now. It’s a bit abrupt, but should be an interesting thread to pick up next year.
Person of Interest hit its stride this year, building up the mythology while also giving us intriguing number of the week cases that informed each other in interesting ways. The mythology is a bit confusing, however, and so many names are thrown around, (Research, Northern Lights, HR, Decima) that it can be a bit hard to keep track of everything. I was also a bit disappointed that the Julian Sands character introduced earlier in the season didn’t make a comeback at some point, but I’m sure he’ll pop up someplace down the line.
The season also gave us plenty of cameos from Zoe Morgan, and who could forget Bear? If you’d have told me last year that Person of Interest would have an animal side kick, I would have rolled my eyes. Instead they waited a year and gave us one in such a spontaneous and entertaining manner that it was easy to accept. Luckily, the show never became about an ex-CIA spy and his K-9 sidekick that only responds to Dutch commands. Bear was just another recurring character on a show full awesome recurring characters.
The best addition of the season though had to be Shaw. Not only did she show us the government side of the machine, she also gave us one of the best episodes of the show thus far. I’ll have to retroactively review it, once the season releases on Blu-Ray.
This week’s episode of Person of Interest, “Zero Day”, begins pretty much where last week left off, with the virus propagating throughout the Machine’s systems and blocking Finch and Co.’s ability to receive numbers. What’s more, it appears that the virus is on some sort of a count down, and they only have a few more hours to figure out what’s going on.
I like where this situation puts Reese. Even without a number, he doesn’t give up on trying to help people. We meet up with him sitting in his car, listening to a police scanner on the off chance that he’ll overhear something he can act on. It’s a far cry from the character we first met, a broken man living on the streets of New York who felt completely powerless to change anything.
A number does eventually get through to Finch, for a high profile CEO named Ernest Thornhill. Except Thornhill is one elusive, and strange, cat. He has an office full of people who have never seen him who spend all day inputting what looks like garbage code off of dot matrix printouts into computers, and he’s been going around buying up every pay phone in the city.
It’s also apparent someone wants Mr. Thornhill dead, as they hijack a friggin’ drone and try to blow up his car. Luckily, Reese is on scene to help pull the driver out of the burning car and…no one else. Thornhill wasn’t there.
I wrote last week about the show’s ability to take a simple premise and deal with it in inventive ways, and this week gave us another great take on it. It turns out that Mr. Thornhill is…wait for it…THE MACHINE ITSELF. Apparently, it has the ability to perceive a threat and take measures to defend itself.
The show has dabbled with the idea of the Machine as potentially self aware before, and with the re-introduction of the delightfully amoral hacker Root, that concept gets taken up a gear here. Especially when Finch explains to Root what the machine was having it’s employees do with all those print outs. It isn’t garbage code, he explains, but the machine’s memories.
While building the system, Finch quickly realized that it was learning stuff irrelevant to its purpose, that it was developing an identity. In order to prevent that from happening, Finch built in a setting that deletes this “junk” data every night, effectively killing this identity. But the machine adapted, creating a ghost and starting a company and hiring employees to type its memories back into the system in a futile attempt to preserve itself. It’s a gripping, emotional scene, and one that presents a brand of science fiction that one doesn’t normally expect to see on television.
While Root is blackmailing Finch to help her in her undying crusade to “Free the Machine”, Reese teams up with Shaw. This is the crowd pleasing element of this week’s episode, as Shaw helps Reese escape from police custody by posing as his lawyer and smuggling in a couple of guns duct taped to her back. Shaw has been a ridiculously fun element on this show since her introduction, and her rivalry with Root is an interesting one. I’m hoping that next season has her becoming a more permanent fixture on the show.
It is revealed that the countdown is another of Finch’s fail safes, designed to reboot the system in the event of a threat. When the reboot is complete, the Machine will dial a payphone. Whoever answers that payphone will be granted unfettered control over the machine for twenty four hours.
Meanwhile, Carter continues to investigate the murder of fellow cop/ failed love interest Detective Beecher. She’s still dealing with the cognitive fall out from last week’s episode involving Fusco, but she has begun to worry about Finch and Reese’s inactivity of late. This hasn’t stopped her from making waves on Beecher, however. Another detective asks her about it, and offers his help.
Of course, the guy is dirty, and on a routine call it almost looks as though he’s going to put one in Carter’s back. Before he can, an armed perp busts out of the house and Carter has to shoot him. Unfortunately, once her superiors are on scene, the gun has been removed, setting Carter up for an internal affairs investigation.
This developement is a bit odd. Why was Carter’s fellow detective about to shoot her, if they were going to frame her, instead? I think the machine tried to intervene in this case, as it recognized the threat to Carter as she left the precinct, but given the virus in its system, and Finch being busy with Root, was unable to act effectively. It DID save Carter’s life, but now she’s in serious trouble.
Everything comes to a head as Finch leads Root to the payphone the Machine will call. Finch pulls some kind of trickery that hasn’t been explained yet, and somehow sends the call to Reese. Here’s the thing: Root also answers, and seems quite pleased with the result. I’m not sure what Finch did, but he didn’t seem worried about Root’s pleasure at having finally spoken to the machine.
The call Reese receives is delivered by a composite of different men saying “Can you hear me?”, ending the episode. From next week’s preview, it sounds as though Root receives the same message, only spoken in a female voice. Is this a result of whatever Finch did? Has the machine split into two personalities? Is CBS’ marketing department trolling us? Who knows, but I can’t wait for next week’s season finale to find out!