Person of Interest: /

“I know it seems weird, but I’m one of the good guys now, Harold.”

I know I’m more fond of Root than some, but I found this episode nearly flawless. It combined action, comedy, and some deep philosophizing in the way only Person of Interest seems to be able to.

Fundamentally, isn’t the belief in God simply the belief in a benevolent, omniscient force? Isn’t the Machine a benevolent, omniscient force? Who are we to say it isn’t God or at least an imitation of one? I’ve been thinking of Root as delusional for her Machine as deity belief system, but maybe she’s not so far off. Root believes the Machine is God because she wants the Machine to be God. As much as Cyrus, Root wants or needs there to be a larger purpose in life; she’s just more picky about where she finds that larger purpose.

Root initially views Cyrus with little more than contempt for his spiritual beliefs. She is one religious zealot looking pityingly down on someone of a different faith. It is easy for her to mock Cyrus’s vague “everything happens for a reason” worldview because she literally has her god in her ear.

Root mentioned a plan. Does this mean that the Machine has a plan or just that Root believes the Machine has a plan? What is said plan? What is its endgame? Is the Machine’s main goal preventing Decima from realizing Samaritan or is there something more complex going on?

I find Root’s belief that caring about people is a flaw very interesting. Root has spent most of her life not caring about anyone. The sensation seems to be very new to her. The only person we know of who was important to her was her friend who was murdered when they were both children. Now she finds herself protecting...not friends, exactly. What are they? Associates? Comrades in arms? Although I feel like she is still acting primarily because the Machine wants her to (a secondary reason is self preservation, she will get hurt if/when Samaritan comes online), I refuse to believe she feels nothing for Finch, Shaw, and even Reese.

One of Person of Interest’s flaws is the way it often fails to remind its audience of what exactly is going on. Weeks will pass without any development in a particular plot arc and we are expected to remember exactly what happened. It’s not a huge issue if you’re marathoning, but watching in the one episode a week format can make this a problem. Fortunately, PoI did not succumb to this particular failing this week. Not only did they have their version of a ‘Previously On’ segment at the top of the hour, Root succinctly summarized the situation to Finch under the guise of sarcasm. Thank you, Person of Interest. More of this, please.

This time, our gang finds itself on the same side as Vigilance. Well, sort of. Both wan to prevent Decima from realizing Samaritan, but Vigilance is willing to kill poor Cyrus in order to achieve that goal. I wonder if we’ll see Vigilance and Team Machine team up in a meaningful way by season’s end? That would be an interesting, if highly unlikely, turn of events.

Bits and Pieces

‘/’ means ‘Root Path’ on UNIX-like systems.

As is usual for these slightly offbeat episodes, they messed with the saga sell.

The Machine’s guidance gives Root directions that make her seem positive psychic. While this might be scary, here it was used more as comic relief than anything else.

Shaw broke her phone (again). Team Machine goes through those things like Tic-Tacs.

Reese knocked one of the Vigilance thugs out with a frying pan à la Rapunzel from Tangled.

Did Root ACTUALLY join the FBI? She really commits to her covers.


Prisoner: “C’mon sugar, why don’t you take me with...”
Root: (tases him)

Root: “The pants’ll be a little long.”
One of my favorite Root moments ever.

Finch: “How much do you know about this janitor, Ms. Groves?”
Root: “Well, he’s got some interesting ideas about metaphysical determinism and I think he’s a Doris Day fan.”

Finch: “In the meantime, I’ll try to determine what message this is meant to convey.”
Shaw: “Seems pretty clear to me, Finch.”
Reese: “I think she likes you, Harold.”

Shaw: “Don’t make me look bad.”
Root: “I couldn’t make you look bad if I tried.”

Fusco: “Nice try, Cocoa Puffs.”

Fusco: “What was I supposed to say? Sorry boss, Agent King is actually a superpowered nutball. Just ask my buddy, the urban legend.”

Collier: “See, America is dying and everybody knows it. It’s not just about privacy, it’s about principle. Our nation is assassinating people with drones, holding them without due process, and yes, spying on its own people without cause or limits and in direct violation of our Constitution.”
That awkward moment when you realize the villain is sort of right.

Shaw: “How you do matters as much as what you do. And by that metric, you’re all just terrorists. And I kill terrorists.”

Root: “Well, if anyone would know about hubris, it would be the man who built God.”

Root: “That’s the problem with humans.”

four out of four God communicators
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl


Freeman said...

Man, an episode that was almost entirely Root. It was almost an entire episode of her constant smiling and her know-it-all jabbering, something that has become even more unbearable with the Machine feeding her the constant info. Yeesh, my brain was starting to check out until she sat down next to Harold. I've never been so happy to see that bespectacled man. That's when the episode became pretty great for me.

It was too bad the focus on Root didn't allow us time to see Shaw taking out the Vigilance cronies. I love those "one man against an army, but the army's in over their head" scenarios. And the scene with Reese in the apartment was amusing because Finch was so confidant in Reese's abilities he was just giving him the rundown on the situation while Reese was taking down armed men with his bare hands.

Honestly, as "cool" as it is to see Root get all precog with everything, I feel like it weakens her as she's become really reliant on it. It was actually to a ridiculous degree in this episode. Her over-reliance was something slightly addressed in this episode when the signal was jammed but then quickly remedied. I'm never fond of characters that rely on "powers" too much. Then again, I suppose that could become an important issue if Samaritan goes online. It could jack into her feed and give her faulty info.

So when is Shaw gonna angrily make out with Root? Homegurl was totally looking down her shirt at the end there. Checking the bandage, sure Shaw.

Patrick said...

I absolutely loved this episode, and it certainly promises big things to come in what's left of Season 3.

The opening showed it switching to "Tertiary Operations". I assume the government "Activity" is Primary and Reese/Finch/Shaw is "Secondary" then?

Did that guy Root pulled off the bus stick out like a sore thumb or what? All the other guys looked like total thugs. When they showed the group I wanted to sing "One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others".

Loved Bear's tail wagging, clearly he loves being out in the snow. :)

"I couldn't make you look bad if I tried." Oh, Root has SUCH a crush on Shaw it's not even funny. And of COURSE Root has FBI credentials. I guess she had to one-up Reese with his NYPD Detective shield and his US Marshall badge.

Loved seeing the "Threat To Asset" counter drop as they cut back to Shaw trapped in the building with Vigilance. And holy smokes, Sarah Shahi really is tiny, isn't she?

When Shaw said, "You're all just terrorists, and I kill terrorists," I got a flashback to Casey saying "I hate insurgents!" from an old episode of Chuck. And it gave me a Happy. :)

The best thing about this episode was that it began the process of humanizing Root. Ever since she forged her connection with The Machine she thinks she's found her Purpose in life, to Save The World. The problem is until this episode she still doesn't really give a rat's rear end about any of the actual people living in it. To her, they're all just chess pieces for her to move around the board. I think, deep down, she doesn't really consider herself to be human like the rest of us, she has that much trouble relating. And that's probably why she does seem to care about Harold to some degree, because she believes him to be like her. When she pulled out that picture of Cyrus' friends, from her reaction I knew immediately that something bad had happened to them and that she was somehow responsible. But for me, the key moment was when she told Finch that by his own definition Cyrus was "irrelevant". And thankfully he corrected her by pointing out what he, Ingram, Reese, and all of Team Machine had come to understand at some point. That they're all relevant. Maybe not to everyone, but saving a single human life does matter. And then the clincher came when she expressed her belief that The Machine was "broken" because it cared about people, and Finch said once he taught it that people matter, that's when it finally started working. Michael Emerson and Amy Acker played those scenes so beautifully. And the sentiments expressed in them went along nicely with Reese & Finch's conversation at the end of "4C", when Finch talked about why he limited the amount of information The Machine provided, to preserve the human element in deciding people's fates.

Something's bugging me about this whole "dueling Machines" plot they're building up towards. I get that Samaritan will have similar if not greater computing capabilities and will be "fully targetable", but how is it going to have access to the same data feeds that The Machine does? After all, that's how it's able to analyze things the way it can, because of the massive amount of data it has access to. Samaritan's being built by a completely independent entity, with no support from the government. And we know that this isn't the government trying to build a new machine that they have full control over, in that final shot when you saw all the threats growing, some of the people in danger were "Control" and "Hersh". I really hope they explain that at some point. Or did I miss something?

ChrisB said...

Like Freeman, I am not a Root fan. I know we were meant to feel some sort of something when she revealed who had killed Cyrus' friends, but I didn't. And, I am getting tired of her relationship to the machine. It doesn't ring true for me; it's too much.

Having said that, I love your point about the Machine being Root's God. Interesting idea, especially as we begin to move into the final parts of this season.

Josie Kafka said...

Freeman and ChrisB, I mean this in the best possible unsarcastic way: I feel bad for you!

I understand that people don't like Root, but as someone who loves both the character and the actress who plays her, I feel like she adds so much to the show. I wish you could find pleasure in her character the way I do.

Freeman, you mention that Root is reliant on the Machine: I saw it another way--the Machine is reliant on her, as an analog interface. I wonder what would happen to the Machine if Root were terminated? A sad omniscient AI is nobody's friend.

Patrick, I don't think you missed anything. Maybe Samaritan has a backdoor into NSA feeds because it was one of the projects commissioned by the federal government. Or, maybe most of the any Machine's data are drawn from unclassified material, like cell phone logs and surveillance cameras. But I'm just guessing there.

Freeman said...

Oh I see Root's appeal and "purpose". She definitely brings a certain perspective to the show that I can appreciate. I just don't like her character, no offense to Amy Acker. She does her job and she does it well. I just find the character type she fills to be unbearable; it's an instinctual thing. I have never watched the shows she's popular for, and don't really intend to but I've seen her on some other shows before.

Josie Kafka said...

Freeman, might I recommend Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing? Amy Acker isn't "quirky smart" in that. She's just witty and wonderful and insanely pretty.

Plus, you'll impress all your friends if you casually mention that you dove into some Shakespeare recently.

Freeman said...

Josie, I'm pretty sure I don't have one friend who would be impressed by that, haha. Not to mention Shakespeare ain't exactly one of my favorite guys.

Thanks for the recommendation though, I've been planning to see that movie sometime maybe whenever. I've heard pretty good things about that film.

Side note: I never brought it up because I didn't want to seem like a jerk, but I don't find Amy Acker very pretty. Nice hair though.

Josie Kafka said...

Aw, c'mon! Shakespeare's a great guy. Love, lust, murder, revenge, penis jokes, fools, insanity, cross-dressing, and bears. Well, one bear. There's something for everyone.

Although, to be honest, if you aren't a Shakespeare fan or an Amy Acker fan, there might not be something for you. :-)

I could be really mean, and recommend Branagh's version of Hamlet instead. It's good, but it's also 4.5 hours. Halfway through, Hamlet tries to steal the one ring.

Freeman said...

Yeah, seems like I'll be stuck in the Ackerless Void. What a pity.

Billie Doux said...

What about Dollhouse? Amy had a great continuing role there. The last season of Alias? Cabin in the Woods? She's been in a lot of stuff.