Joe Carter ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
This episode of Person of Interest had the anxiety-inducing rollercoaster ride of campaign season and the beautiful intimate moments of character development. The episode begins with John (Jim Caviezel) and Lionel (Kevin Chapman) chasing a scam artist up to a rooftop where he threatens to jump if they try to arrest him. John solves this issue by shooting him down off the ledge, which lands him in therapy to talk about his gun-happy behavior. The irrelevant number that comes up is Simon Lee (Jason Ritter guest starring) who predicts elections. He runs into trouble when he finds his numbers are not matching the election results and decides to look into it while the POI team watches over him from the shadows.
This is where the spoilers come in.
A seemingly normal episode turns plot relevant when it is revealed that Samaritan rigged the election so a candidate of its choice would become governor and then kills said governor so that their replacement would get the seat. Simon, hoping to prove the election as fixed, gets on Samaritan’s hit list. Samaritan sends none other than the scary blonde lady from the premiere episode to kill him and she is extremely frightening. Her hair is kept up perfectly the entire time she shoots at Root (Amy Acker) which shouldn’t be that intimidating but it is. She also shoots a hotel receptionist point blank with no warning which is legitimately terrifying.
The plot of the individual episode was all over the place and wasn’t that interesting, but it brought in the major plot arch of the season in a clever fashion. New fans of the show might be confused by this episode, but longtime fans shouldn’t miss a second of it. It is fast-paced and action-packed as the team tries to avoid being sighted by Samaritan, but also keep their new number alive. John and the therapist stands to be interesting in the future since she can see right through his lies, but it was an unnecessary addition for this installment of the series.
The several flashbacks to 2001 when Harold (Michael Emerson) was constructing the Machine were some of the strongest moments of the season, perhaps the series. It showed how the original attempts at building the Machine led to it trying to trick Harold and even kill him so it could get out of the confines in which he built it. It established the “omnipotent and generous” Machine in an antagonistic light. The audience has seen the Machine since the beginning of the show as a guardian and protector of those deemed irrelevant, but now that goodness is called into question. Especially since last season the Machine suggested that the team kill someone to prevent the rise of Samaritan. In the flashbacks Harold talks about how he taught it to learn, but he needs to teach it to care. The early prototype of the Machine was just like Samaritan which raises the question of what will happen if the Machine wins and gains control?
A final thing to mention is the various Harold and Root bonding moments in this show. The first comes when the two of them hack together to dig up some dirt on the newly elected governor. Root shares how she is no longer in direct contact with the Machine and only receives messages from it in the form of anagrams or code. The way Root shares this is heartbreaking since the Machine is what has changed her from a cold killer to one of the greatest POI team members. Everything Root has become is thanks to her interaction with the Machine. She lost hearing in one of her ears for the Machine. What she has sacrificed in the name of the mission was worth her having a purpose, but losing that has made her, in Harold’s words, “lonely.”
The second moment is when Harold and Root argue in the hotel about the intentions of the Machine and the kind of fear it inspires in Harold. Root shares how strongly she believes they are fighting the good fight as Harold insists that it will lead them all to their undoing. Root then says how sacrifice is necessary and how they can’t expect to all get out of this alive. This is followed by Root throwing herself headlong into danger and directly confronting the evil blonde lady. Not gonna lie, there was a mini heart attack when the show cut to commercial break after Root got shot twice and drew attention away from Simon by running off screen tailed by an army of Samaritan assets. Root leaving the show would be a severe loss comparable to the loss of Detective Carter. Anyway this whole near fatal sacrifice is what saves Simon in the end and it also proves that Root believes in their cause and is willing to die for it. She has come a long way from killing recurring characters in motor vehicles.
Best Shot: The scene of Root and the evil blonde lady shooting at each other through the floor of the hotel. The camera catches Root on the upper level shooting at the scary blonde lady on the lower level as they dance around each others shots. It visually captures the struggle between the Machine and Samaritan with Root and the evil blonde lady standing in for each artificial intelligence.
Overall Episode Grade: A-