Synopsis: Finch is still captured, but now by Vigilance and not DECIMA. Control and all of her friends get captured too. In other words, Vigilance goes all Candle Jack on anyone connected to the Machine and Team Machine have to try to figure out how to stop it all.
Tonight’s episode of Person of Interest was one of those episodes where my mind wasn’t blown, but it was still jam packed with everything I was hoping to see. I don’t know how else to explain it, really. I am excited about it but at the same time I just don’t feel like there is a lot that needs to be explained or commented on. The writers know exactly what they’re doing and I think it is one of the things I absolutely love about this show. There is very little mystery left in the story arch because the story arch is about to end, as next week is the season finale. Therefore, I would hope that the story would make sense at this point.
The episode was still fantastic and reminded me of the reason I watch this show week after week.
So a big part of this episode is the Collier origin story the viewers get. His past, and how he in turn got involved with Vigilance, was woven in throughout the present storyline. I appreciated the back story because it gave Collier a reason to do what he does. It made him a little more human, and that’s important to do with any complex antagonist. Of course his back story doesn’t make him any less responsible for his actions in the present, but it does give the viewer a chance to see behind the curtain and take a look at the events which led Collier into Vigilance.
Apparently what started it all was the fact Collier’s brother was taken into custody due to suspicious activity. His brother struggled with alcohol and had ruined his life and was working to get back on track. Unfortunately the American government noticed his brother was hanging out with a man who had terrorist connections and they jumped to conclusions. They arrested his brother, claiming he was involved with terrorists, and his brother ended up killing himself. In the end, it turned out the surveillance was wrong and his brother had been imprisoned and stripped of his rights as a citizen all for nothing.
It is an eerie echo of what probably happens under the Patriot Act, but I love the show for never directly mentioning the connection. Never once is the Patriot Act, or any other piece of legislation that is actually real, mentioned in the show. Instead it is merely alluded to, which I appreciate because it allows for a certain amount of separation. The show creators are obviously not trying to create a commentary on modern-day surveillance or push any one agenda. They simply work to semi-accurately reflect the world we live in, and that is a mark of good science fiction.
Speaking of science fiction, when the audience isn’t focused on Vigilance, it jumps to a discussion between Greer and Finch. Greer appears to be trying to convince Harold that Samaritan is a good thing. Samaritan has structure, it isn’t crippled like the Machine, and it also bases all of its decision purely on logic and nothing else. The results Samaritan provides are supposed to be the most logical answers to problems and therefore the best answers.
Harold objects to the premise with a line that I think speaks to the heart of relying on artificial intelligence: at what point does a machine, using its perfect logic, decide that all humans are irrelevant? He crippled his Machine because it was the only way to ensure that it would never become completely independent. It would never be put into a position where it could make an ultimate decision based purely on logic. Samaritan is stringent and logical, while the Machine (as seen through the majority of the series) is far more dynamic. Finch’s machine looks at all of the options and ultimately uses people to help other people.
The Machine has also shown that it has the ability to be moved by emotional pleas and deviate from its logical path in order to help people who are irrelevant. In other words, Harold taught the Machine to care about more than logic. He created it to see not only the relevant numbers – numbers of the people who would harm on a wide spread level – but the irrelevant numbers too. With Harold’s machine, everyone matters. Everyone is relevant somehow. Samaritan, given the description we have of it so far, appears to lack that degree of understanding.
One of the greatest parts about this episode was not only this discussion, but the fact Greer straight up uses the phrase “artificial intelligence.” See, Person of Interest has done an amazing job thus far in avoiding that phrase. It is a phrase that immediately puts this show into the science fiction genre, which is weird to see in a network procedural drama. You can’t talk about artificial intelligence without thinking about great science fiction minds like Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. So far in the series, artificial intelligence has been constantly alluded to but never mentioned in those very specific words. Now, however, the blinders are off and there is no doubt that these are not just run of the mill super computers at play.
No, we’ve got two machines with higher cognitive capabilities going head to head. We’ve stepped out of surveillance and super computers and straight into artificial intelligence. The Machine and Samaritan are the next level of technology and Greer calls it correctly when he refers to Harold Finch as ‘the father of artificial intelligence’ and ‘the father of the new age.’
Meanwhile, the number(s) of the week happen to be Control and her little merry band of government officials. Reese, Shaw, and Root find themselves preoccupied and distracted from finding Finch because they have been called to protect Control and her posse. Vigilance wants Control and the other people involved in the Northern Lights program for initially unknown reasons. Of course Reese, Shaw, and Root believe that Vigilance wants to kill them, but we find out that it far from the truth.
Unfortunately, Reese and Shaw fail at protecting Control and she is taken captive along with a congressman, an advisor to the president, and a few other officials that Vigilance is holding a grudge against. None of this surprised me, honestly, and it falls into that ‘well of course they get captured’ mentality because this is the episode setting up the season finale. Everything had begun to fall into place and it makes sense that Vigilance would make their move and it would be something large scale and it would be successful.
Though the fact their move included cutting power to the entirety of New York City was utterly brilliant and completely unpredictable. Way to go, Person of Interest writers.
There was a lot of great interaction with Shaw this week. Root and Shaw especially had some fun moments together and I am amazed week after week at the chemistry Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi have on screen. I also appreciated the appearance by Hersh (Boris McGiver) and his inclusion in the last two episodes of the season. He and Shaw had some awesome dialogue and provided a much needed moment of comic relief in the midst of a relatively intense sequence. Not to mention he is now working together with Team Machine and I have no doubt they are going to kick ass.
The episode ends with the Machine (using Hersh’s knowledge) leading Team Machine to where Finch had been kept by DECIMA. Unfortunately, Vigilance beat them to it and took Greer and Finch captive along with Control and the rest of the crew mentioned earlier. It all ends with a dramatic, cliff hanger flair as a television broadcast comes on with the team watching. Vigilance has taken anyone connected to the Machine on an official level captive in order to put them on trial for the entire country to see.
Court is now in session and we have the season finale to look forward to next week.
Apparently it has been leaked that a ‘fan favorite’ is going to die in the season finale. A lot of names are being thrown around but my prediction, which I hope will be proven untrue, is that Root ends up dead. It is going to be either her or Hersh (I’m living in denial that it could be anyone else more active on the show), but I feel like Root is one of those characters who took a 180 with her life and will now die as one of the good guys. It would be a fitting end to her character, even though I’m hoping that Amy Acker continues to bring her fantastically crazy acting skills to the set.
They just better stay the hell away from Fusco. That’s all I’m saying.