Person of Interest: Lethe

“Finally somebody I recognize.”

Despite losing Carter, Team Machine will soldier on (that’s the show, folks). With Joss out of the way, what will the rest of the season hold for us faithful Person of Interest viewers? To judge from this episode, very good things. (Sorry for the review’s extreme lateness. I’ve been sick.)

Two misdirects this week: one was good, one was amazing. The amazing one was Finch’s reason for avoiding seeing Claypool at the hospital. With the flashbacks this week, it made perfect sense that Finch wouldn’t want to spend time with a person suffering from dementia after seeing his father go through it. I didn’t question it for a second. Then he showed up and Claypool called him by name. I shrieked. The second was less well executed, but it still worked for me. It was obvious “Diane” was a plant, right? I mean, she was just fishy. But I assumed she was working with Collier. I was surprised (not shrieking surprised, but still surprised) when she was revealed to be the mysterious “Ma’am.” I must say, I am a bit disappointed “Ma’am” turned out to be just a random person. I was hoping we had seen her before or maybe that she didn’t really exist. I wanted something juicier than this. I’m sure they’ll take it someplace interesting, but as of this moment, I am a bit underwhelmed.

Although I never considered it before, there being more than one Machine makes perfect sense. Of course the government wouldn’t put all their eggs in Finch’s basket. According to Claypool (a middling source, at best), all surveillance programs were shut down in 2005, the same year the Machine went live. I enjoyed the PRISM shout out. According to Claypool, PRISM was allowed to continue functioning as a smokescreen, the idea being that the populous would be so angry about the program they wouldn’t consider that there was another, much more invasive system in place as well.

Now we must consider an issue that’s become all too common on Person of Interest. The crazy coincidence of the Machine spitting out a number related to not one but two recurring villains (via an old college friend of Finch...). Returning to a theory from a few weeks ago, is the Machine deliberately choosing these cases for the team? If so, which threat was it targeting: Vigilance or Ma’am and her government cohorts?

We’ve been waiting for way back Finch flashbacks since the show started and they didn’t disappoint. What I really wanted out of the sequence, I got almost immediately: bird reference! We still don’t know where and why Finch’s bird obsession began, but the writers get a star for continuity. We also learn where Finch’s drive to build an AI came from. As a kid, he hoped to build a machine sophisticated enough to replace his father’s ailing brain. That’s tragic beyond belief. It appears to be just Finch and his father (although, I swear, Finch once mentioned having brothers). Finch’s upbringing was humble but not overly so, which I think fits very well for him.

From a character standpoint, I understand Reese’s need to get away. The scenes with Reese and Fusco were really good, but they felt a bit shoehorned into the episode. It really interrupted the flow for me. I was so interested in the Finch/Claypool connection, every time we cut back to Colorado I got annoyed. In another episode, I would have been really excited to learn more about Reese’s past, but Finch should’ve stayed front and center this week. The ‘cliffhanger’ ending seemed forced as well. Are we supposed to be worried about Fusco and Reese just because a local PD caught them fighting outside a bar? Won’t this just take Fusco flashing his badge and both assuring the cops that they’re done smacking each other and that neither will be pressing charges?

Also, the whole brawl thing seemed bizarre to me. Fusco and Reese were connecting at the bar and then suddenly they just go outside and start hitting each other in the pouring rain? Is that a guy thing? I did like that Fusco was able to figure out Reese’s connection to the bar all on his own. Maybe, with Carter gone, Fusco will get a chance to be more than a punchline? Maybe the writers will actually let him do something besides get beaten up, run errands, and get beaten up while running errands?

Bits and Pieces:

Finch ignoring the Machine was a nice character beat. Clearly, he’s still not quite ready to jump back into the fray.

Still no new credits sequence. Did this episode run a bit long or are they nixing the concept entirely?

John has no grief beard. Thank God.

Samaritan is a much better name than “The Machine.”

I did not understand the whistle thing, but it scared my dog.

Interesting distinction: Samaritan was designed to learn and remember whereas the Machine was designed to wipe itself every night.


Root: “She has a new number for us.”
Root clearly considers herself a part of the team, despite being confined to a cage at present.

Shaw: “I never made a convincing doctor, even when I was one.”

Fun Size Finch: “If they don’t want you to get inside, they oughta build them better.”

Daddy Finch: “Not everything that’s broken was meant to be fixed.”

Fusco: “You’ve saved lots of people, including me. You saying that was pointless?”

three and a half out of four alternate Machines
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl


Josie Kafka said...

Excellent review, Sunbunny. I hope you're feeling better!

It appears to be just Finch and his father (although, I swear, Finch once mentioned having brothers). I guess he lied. :-( That sudden disclosure did always feel odd; it was one of his first conversations with Carter.

Is that a guy thing? I wondered that, too. Why don't they just get mani/pedis together?

I really loved this episode's memory theme, with Finch and his dad (and Finch's memories of his dad), and the Machine that Finch engineered to never have to remember. Because remembering is too sad? Oh, heartbreak.

Fun Size Finch. Perfect.

When PoI is not on, my Tuesdays are sad.

sunbunny said...

Josie - I am not, but thank you. I don't know if Finch lied to Carter or if the writers just got sloppy. Then again, if Finch did lie to Carter that negates his "I'm a bad liar" thing from the beginning of the series, so maybe I should take away the writers' gold continuity star.

Josie Kafka said...

"I'm a bad liar" does sound like something a liar would say. Except that I've said it before, and I really am a horrible liar.

Freeman said...

Finch would have to be a terrific liar to maintain the web of deception he maintains to stay hidden. He's been keeping Reese, a master spy, at bay for 2 years or however long they've been working together. It's no surprise that he would be giving conflicting information. Heck, he doesn't even give his real name in relatively safe company.

And yes, people, generally dudes, do hit each other as a form a grieving, especially when drunk, which Reese certainly was. It's not my cup o' tea but it's quite common for someone who's sad in some way to let off steam by hitting someone or something. I've seen an angry person put their fist through two layers of wall.

I'll admit I was tricked by the "wife" being Control. But It was for two rather humorous reasons. The first reason was the actress playing her is quite, and I mean no offense, plain. Especially for a TV show villain. Like there was even a part where she sits in a seat in a way an older stressed out mother would kinda flop into a seat and I was like "Wow that actress is really good at portraying that type of lady. Either that or that's just how she sits." The second reason is I seem to remember seeing Control's legs, and she appeared to have gams up to here man. I ain't too sure anymore though, my memory of that scene is hazy.

But really, if Mrs. Claypool wasn't a villain, there was no possible way there could've been a happy ending for that couple. I spent a lot of the episode wondering how Claypool not recognizing his wife could be solved, outside of a scene where he snaps back and they just sorta say stuff to each other.

It was interesting to see what a bind they can easily get into when the team is all split up and one member down as well. The situation probably would've went swimmingly if everyone was accounted for during this job.

Nick said...

I think the only time we ever saw/heard Control before this was in the Season 2 finale, where she was in her car talking to Hersh - we only saw her hands.

An all-around good episode. It was pretty obvious that the wife was *somebody*, but I liked how they used Vigilance as a diversion this time, especially since they were set up as the more recurring threat this season than Hersh and co.

You really have to appreciate the detail they put into the show. I was looking more closely at the end, where the Machine was calculating mortality probabilities for the people in the room and then it moved on to government programs - PRISM was listed as 'Decoy', just as Claypool mentioned. There were a bunch of other programmes too that I don't recognise.

But I was wondering... if Claypool really knew for a *fact* that Control wasn't his wife (because she was dead), why did he take so long to mention it? Also, it's a little eerie how Root knew there was another number and even which books to take out. Can anyone explain that away? But on the other hand, it does seem nice that interaction with the Machine has 'calmed' Root down somewhat and made her seem (well, seem) less dangerous.

ChrisB said...

I must admit to be completely shocked by the reveal of Control. I had completely bought into her being Claypool's wife and never for a second thought she was anything else. I kind of agree with Nick -- why would Claypool wait so long to reveal the truth? Is he suffering as much as we have been led to believe or is he lying about how much he truly remembers?

I loved the Fusco/Reese scenes and would have liked to see more of them together. I interpreted the fight as Fusco helping Reese out. Fusco realizes that Reese needs to do something with all his anger other than drown it in whisky. Fusco gave him something to hit.

Feel better soon, sunbunny,

Mark Greig said...

No force on this Earth will ever convince me that Arthur Claypool isn't really Artie from Warehouse 13. The sheer number of similarities between the two characters is ridiculous. They have to be same person.

Billie Doux said...

Just the fact that it was Camryn Manheim clued me in that "the wife" was a lot more than she appeared. She has a massive list of credits.

The guy thing made sense to me. Like Freeman, I've also seen an angry man put his fist through two layers of wall. Fortunately, he wasn't angry at me. Xander did it, too. :)

Baby M said...

Some things I noticed on rewatch:

* The middle book in the set Root uses to make Arthur's number is called "Remembering the Tabulator."

* In the middle of The Machine's calculation at the end of the episode, there's a yellow box that goes by fast, which reads "RETASKING ANALOG INTERFACE." Root to the rescue!