Person of Interest: Panopticon (04×01)
Synopsis: Even with the team scattered to the wind, the Machine continues to work the system to bring them back together to help a man get his son back.
Person of Interest is back and that makes me a happy camper. After all, we left our heroes scattered to the wind after an explosive season finale. With the supercomputer Samaritan online and out to find Team Machine the stakes are at an all time high. The team cannot afford to come out into the open, so instead they continue to go on day by day living the lives they have been given. Of course they’re not happy with it, but it is what they have to do.
So for the rundown, here’s how the identities played out. There was a lot of fan speculation but I think the writers chose the perfect mix of comedic and useful identities to give Team Machine. Sameen Shaw drew the short straw and got a job as one of those department story perfume and make-up ladies. That’s right, she gets to spray people and do makeovers all day. She got the identity that happened to be polar opposite to the type of person she is, and Root appears to revel in it all.
Which, by the way, Root still seems to be Root and we have no clue what she’s doing other than wandering around and giving people grief. Whatever identity the Machine gave her, it involves a position where she ends up going to black tie dinners. It would be absolutely amazing if it turns out she’s actually working for the government and literally hiding in plain sight. I’m not sure that’s what is happening, but it would definitely be a nice little twist and give her the position she needs in order to help set everything right.
John Reese is doing what could have very well been his second calling. For once the badge he’s carrying around is legit, and the irony isn’t lost. Up until this season he’d been carrying around Detective Still’s badge, even though the detective was long dead and he only used it when it was useful. However, now he’s got a badge of his own as a narcotics detective. He’s taking down the bad guys like usual, but the fact he seems unable to get ahead of bodies dropping really puts him ill at ease. He wants to get back to the numbers, as we see later.
Lionel Fusco is doing what he’s always done and continues to be the legitimate NYPD contact for the team. He also appears to have very little information about what’s going on, but even with his limited knowledge he doesn’t fail to jump in to assist.
Bear is still a dog.
Finally, Harold Finch is now Harold Whistler, professor of some sort of obscure topic. From the top of his head down to his toes the disdain he has for the line of work he’s been slotted into is obvious. He doesn’t want to be there, even though he’ll tell anyone who asks that he’s set on doing whatever it is he needs to do to stay alive.
With all of Team Machine tucked away and wholly unsatisfied with their positions, one is left wondering how exactly they’ll be brought back together.
The answer is in the Machine, of course, who throws another number their way and everything begins to tumble together. Funny how that works. The number of the week, Ali Hasan, requires the entire team to band together again in order to save him and his son.
There were a surprising number of scenes in the episode which were straight out of the San Diego Comic Con preview video. I was impressed, honestly, that the Person of Interest team was willing to share quite a chunk of the episode before it aired. The chess board scene is one which fans have known about since San Diego, but placed in the bigger picture it definitely has more of an impact this time around. Harold is very set in doing everything right and keeping a low profile, while John is set firmly in quite the opposite. There is a tension between them that doesn’t want to give and hope is almost lost.
John needs a purpose and Harold refuses to step back into the Machine’s plan.
Long story short, against Harold’s advice, John goes rogue and goes after the people who took the number of the week’s son. Ali Hassan was supposed to build an untraceable phone network for a drug running crew and, upon failing to do so and attempting to blow up some members of the gang, ended up having his son taken as leverage. So John goes and shoots some knee caps before lo and behold, Shaw shows up and knocks him out.
With everything falling back into chaos, Root confronts Harold in a strange turnaround from the previous season. Harold is done with the Machine because he feels that they were not doing as much good as they should have been. There were more deaths than lives and in a way he blames the Machine and, by extension, blames himself. He carries a lot of guilt. It isn’t a surprise he’s not eager to jump right back into the fray at the risk of more lives. However, Root reminds him of something he taught her: every life matters.
So Harold jumps on board and steps in to help John. After all, it gives him a purpose.
While Harold works with Ali to get the network up and running before it is too late, John leaves to find some less than legitimate associates to help him out. Shaw reminds him that he cannot go off the reservation anymore because he is a cop, so he makes a visit to some old friends. Those friends are none other than Elias and his right hand man Scarface. I’ll be real, I’m so glad to see both of them back at the start of this season revved up and ready to go. They are my favorite baddies because they float in the land of ambiguity. While we should all probably be suspicious of them, it is difficult not to root for them when they step in to assist Team Machine when necessary.
Boy oh boy do they step in, and it involves Scarface ramming a semi truck into a gangbanger’s SUV. It was glorious.
After the big confrontation with the gang, John rescues the number’s son and everything seems to be going well. They managed to save another number without blowing their cover. However, at the scene of the crash and drug bust the woman from the opening scene shows up. She’s touting a Homeland Security badge and claiming her name is Meg Watkins. Obviously it is a false identity, but it is also a sign that there is more to come with this mysterious lady who has no qualms about killing and knows more about the Machine than she probably should.
The episode ends with two scenes. The first is funny, because as it turns out, after his big drug bust John gets promoted. Where? He goes to homicide to become partners with none other than Lionel Fusco. To be honest, it was sort of hard to think of Fusco having another partner because of the space left by Carter in the previous season. Yet, if there’s going to be anyone who can take her place in the NYPD it is good that it is John. There’s some symbolism there, I think, and it is a fitting position for him.
Finally, the episode concludes with Harold’s descent into the heart of the city to find a new place for Team Machine to set up shop. That’s right, they’re going underground and getting their very own bat cave. Fitting, right?