It all makes sense now. The last several episodes of Person of Interest were phoned in (no pun intended) and now we know why. The writers spent the time they were supposed spend writing the last few episodes on this. And, wow, was it worth it. (Sorry, guys, this is a long review...)
From the start I was hooked. As in “Relevance,” they messed with the saga sell which was just as brilliant this time as the first time. Immediately we see that the Machine is malfunctioning. The idea was cemented throughout the show with the transition shots, which were also different than usual.
The show did their version of a ‘previously on’ segment by flashing back via surveillance cameras to previous conversations of the series. This works so well. Not only are we reminded of the show’s developed mythology, we are given dates which help us put everything together. I have to say, this show’s one weakness is its occasional refusal or inability to explain things clearly. This episode was one of their best in terms of explanations, which is remarkable given how much new information came out.
Finch and Root have joined forces to stop Decima from intercepting a very important phone call. In case of emergency, Finch programmed the Machine to call a certain pay phone and give whoever picked up that call unfettered access to it for 24 hours. What a stupid plan. I mean, it’s just really a bad idea. By doing this, Finch is counting on two things: that no one will find out about this failsafe (oops) and that he will be able to get to the pay phone on time. What if he died? In the early part of this season, his contingency plan in case of death was to have Reese carry on solo. He didn’t tell Reese about the failsafe, though, so if the Machine had been comprised and called the phone and a random stranger picked it up...? It would be much better to have no Machine than to have the Machine in the hands of an evil, multinational corporation. I’m not expecting a huge disagreement on that point, at least.
The Root and Finch show was considerably better than the last time the two were together. Amy Acker wasn’t weighed down with lengthy speeches, which I think helped. I love the way they interact. Finch calls her “Ms. Groves,” even though she asks him point blank to call her “Root,” and she calls him “Harold.” He is trying to get her off her game by reminding her of the person she was before she went all psycho-hacker and she is trying to disrupt him by overfamiliarity.
It’s been a while since we spent any real time with Root. I’d forgotten how crazy she was. She accuses Finch of murdering the Machine and her biggest desire is to set it free. She’s like one of those animal rights people who wants to break into labs and free the diseased monkeys. Of course, freeing monkeys makes a whole lot more sense than freeing a computer, however sophisticated it is.
And, my goodness, is the Machine sophisticated. This week we discover that the Machine has created an alias for itself. And at the end of the episode it made a phone call and spoke to John. Is anyone else getting creeped out? When the Machine was just a surveillance program watching our every move, it was bad enough, but now it can make decisions it wasn’t programmed to make and it speaks? What kind of Machine is this? I started thinking while watching this episode that the Machine has developed so much personality it feels weird to keep calling it “the Machine.” I feel like it should have a name. Like Carl or something. (Side note: while writing this review, I caught myself referring to the Machine as ‘he’ instead of ‘it’ more than once.)
We now know that the Machine resets itself every night. Finch apparently did this because the Machine ‘imprinted’ on him like a child onto a parent, he says. I immediately retorted with ‘or like a werewolf on a baby.’ That’s how Finch solved the Machine problem we saw earlier in the season, the one where the Machine autonomously saved his life. How creepy was it when Finch proposed to Grace only after locking up their phones and moving farther away from a camera? Talk about cyber stalking.
We also got some more background on Finch and Ingram. I always love these scenes. The curtain gets pulled back ever so slowly. We now have proof positive that Ingram was the one who began to save people on the irrelevant list. He also was the one who picked out the awesome library clubhouse, one of fifteen Finch bought after the 2008 crash. If I was a billionaire, I’d buy up libraries too. Because libraries are amazing. It makes perfect sense that Ingram was the one to start saving people. Finch put far too much value on rules to begin by himself. Ingram started it and I’m guessing that Finch took over for him when he got killed. We still don’t know how, when, or why Ingram died. But we do know that his number was the last one that popped up before Finch turned off Ingram’s monitor. Oh, if only one of them had seen it...I’m still banking on him getting killed in the line of duty. We know his work with the Machine is getting him injured. When Finch pops over to talk about Grace, he sees an ice pack and some pills (which I’m guessing are pain killers). Ingram is no ex-CIA assassin like our Mr. Reese.
Progress was also made on the mythology of the Machine, which I insist on calling the Machine Mystery because it reminds me of Scooby Doo. Greer has popped up again looking for the man who programmed the laptop, Harold Finch. The laptop, it is revealed, contained ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Hijacking the Machine.’ Decima got it from Stanton, who had been sent (along with Reese) to retrieve the Machine from the Chinese. How the Chinese got it remains to be seen. I can tell you one thing for damn sure: Finch did not sell it to them. He had to be the one to program it because he’s the only one who knew the innermost workings of the Machine. But there’s no way Finch would sell out all his hard work to the highest bidder. Need I remind you, he’s already a billionaire and he made the Machine for $1.
Onto Reese. The balance between Reese and Finch on this show just works. The pendulum swings back and forth every few episodes. Who’s show is it this week and who’s the sidekick? Lately, the sidekick’s been Reese. In recent episodes, he’s been downgraded to glorified bodyguard. Not that I’m complaining; he had a big arc in January. This week, Finch has him arrested to keep him out of the way. I suppose this had to happen because Reese would never let Finch confront Root alone, but a lot of it felt like it was meant to kill time. The whole kick-ass escape scene with Shaw was awesome, but ultimately pointless. She solved a problem Finch created. Perhaps we were just trying to bring her back into the fold before the season finale?
Carter has been framed for murder, which isn’t great, but is at least better than being shot in the back by HR. I judge her a bit for trusting Turner so quickly. She knows there’s an organization of corrupt cops around and that they were responsible for her boyfriend’s death, which she is actively looking into. This new guy pops up (Fusco is conveniently on another case for some reason) and she just trusts him? Carter, you’re smarter than that. Case in point: she knows how Reese and Finch operate. They haven’t told her anything, but she’s figured out that they can only prevent premeditated murder and that the source of their information is currently compromised. She manages to deduce all of that, but lets some random cop get the drop on her? Badly done, Carter.
It wouldn’t be a sunbunny Person of Interest review if I wasn’t asking you guys to clarify something for me, now, would it? So, here goes. I’m not totally clear on why the Machine was buying up pay phones. I mean, what does owning a certain pay phone mean? How does it even work? You own them and then you get the change people put into them? Why does the Machine need that much change? Does it need to do laundry? Owning a pay phone doesn’t affect how that pay phone works, does it? Even if it did, couldn’t the Machine just hack into them anyway? Was it trying to confuse the bad guys as to the location of the in-case-of-emergency call?
Also, does anyone get what the office workers were doing? Were they putting the wiped memories back into the Machine? If so, why? Did the Machine need those memories or did it want them? Or was that something to do with the virus? The tech went a little above my head this week.
Bits and Pieces:
Carter mentioned Elias and the gang war with the Russians. Are we setting something up for next season? Flashpoint’s over now so Enrico Colantoni is free. After, of course, he finishes the Veronica Mars movie.
What kind of assassin attempts to blow up a car with a random dude standing by his motorcycle a dozen yards away?
This episode aired on May 2. It was odd for me to see all our characters wearing scarves and hats. Or maybe I’m just projecting because it was 95º here today.
Finch proposed to Grace by giving her a copy of Sense and Sensibility with a ring inside. That’s adorable, but two things strike me as odd. First, in a previous episode, Finch says that Charles Dickens was Grace’s favorite author. Okay, it’s true he didn’t do romance like the great Jane Austen, but even so. Second, why didn’t he give her an early edition or at least a vintage copy? It would have been much Finchier, although he probably wouldn’t have been able to bring himself to cut into it.
How many pay phones even exist anymore? They’ve been taking them out in LA for ages. Any New Yorkers want to chime in here? Do you guys still have pay phones?
“If we knew where it was maybe we could just unplug it and plug it back in.”
Laugh if you will, but I find this solves 99% of my electronic problems. The rest are solved by the nice people wearing the blue shirts at the Apple Genius Bar.
“Doctor says I should take up some low-impact activity like drinking.”
“You don’t want to get married under another one of your pseudonyms? You don’t think she’ll consent to be Mrs. Ostrich?”
Grace Ostrich does have a ring to it.
“I’m not a sociopath, Harold.”
Oh honey, are you sure about that?
“When I care about someone, I put a tracking device on them.”
Love means having the ability to find your friends at all times, even if they don’t want to be found.
“You call it a life. I call it a machine. The truth is somewhere in the middle.”
“It’s adorable how John follows you around like that. I wish I had a pet.”
four out of four pay phones
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl
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