Person of Interest: Deus Ex Machina

“Everything is changing. I don’t know if it will ever get better, but it’s going to get worse.”

Can we talk about how much this show has matured? Person of Interest is almost unrecognizable and that is a very good thing. What began as a procedural show with a bit of a sci-fi twist has matured into a political thriller with a sci-fi twist. “Deus Ex Machina” is a real watershed for Person of Interest’s evolution. Things will certainly never be the same again.

The trial bit was enjoyable enough once you gave in to the conceit that everyone would just play along with Vigilance’s courtroom drama. I was annoyed by Collier’s smug assertions of “fairness.” Dude, when you have to kidnap jurors and hold them at gunpoint, it’s a good indicator that the trial might be a little biased.

One part of the trial I really enjoyed was that Collier kept inadvertently using the correct words to refer to things. “Never was a guy that was in control was it? Care to join us, ma’am?” he asks the woman we know only as Control or Ma’am. Once on the stand, he asks her “Who built the machine?” It was a cute way of pulling everything together.

To my mind, it was really the last part of the episode that shone. The scene between Greer, Finch, and Collier on the rooftop was electric. For the first time, I was really sold on Greer as a villain. His creating Vigilance was damn Machiavellian. As evil plots go, this one’s right up there with one of Alias’s: destroy major cities in order to make money off the reconstruction.

Before the big Greer is behind Vigilance reveal, I made a catch I should’ve picked up on last week. Vigilance is supposed to be an idealistic organization that is steadfastly against government surveillance and those who use that surveillance to hurt other people. And yet how did they contact Collier? How did they know to contact Collier?

I went through some past episodes including “Allegiance,” “Beta,” and “A House Divided” and viewed some of Greer’s past villainous monologues looking for hints that he was the man behind the Vigilance curtain. The only thing I found was him talking with Finch about “the power of creation,” saying “I’ve felt it myself.” At the time, I assumed he was talking about Samaritan, but now I realize that he didn’t create Samaritan.

Samaritan is officially everyone’s biggest fear. From your face, they know your entire life story, everything about you. And “they” is not a government authority with even a tiny responsibility to the American people. “They” is a faceless corporation whose raison d’être is to make the most money possible. Be afraid, people. Be very, very afraid.

I was quite sad to see Hersh go, but he at least got to sacrifice himself trying to help others. The part of Root’s voice over where she says “A lot of people are gonna die, people who might’ve been able to help” synced with Command getting Hersh’s autopsy, hitting the perfect note of melancholy.

I’m left wondering what sort of role (if, indeed, any) Fusco will be playing next season. He’s been drastically underused recently and it might be better if they let the character go altogether instead of just giving us two minutes with him every three episodes. It’s suggestive that the show reminded us very clearly that Fusco does not know about the Machine and Fusco is not on Samaritan’s list of targets. I’m not going to predict 100% for certain that he’s out of the picture, but I just can’t see Finch or Reese dragging him into the sort of danger they’re facing right now. He doesn’t have the luxury of being able to disappear like the rest of the team; he has a son.

Root points out that this all could’ve been avoided if the team was only willing to kill the Congressman. Because of Reese and Shaw’s unwillingness to act in that case, dozens of innocent people died. Did they make the right choice or should they have committed murder? Person of Interest isn’t the kind of show to provide us with easy answers, leaving its audience to consider the tough questions for themselves.

Speaking of Root, I really liked the twist that her super secret mission wasn’t intended to destroy Samaritan. After so much build up, the idea that the system could be brought down by wiring something into a couple of servers felt like cheating.

Root’s voice over shown over quiet shots of the team dissipating and disappearing was beautiful. It reminded me somewhat of the sequence that began “The Devil’s Share.” I wonder if that was an intentional choice. I’m also left thinking about the show’s future. What will next season bring? They’re all separated now, although the Machine could bring them back together. It’s easy to forget with the new threat of Samaritan, but she’s still out there, watching over them, trying to keep them safe. Perhaps Root and Greer have it right. Maybe the Machine is a kind of god.

Bits and Pieces

How long have they been waiting to use this episode title?

Nice to see Bear back and in action.

Fusco called Root “cuckoo clock.”

We see how Vigilance first started using storage units as message centers.

Even after all the damage Collier had wrought, Finch still protested against Greer killing him.

Living up to his difficult to kill reputation, Hersh took three bullets trying to disarm the bomb.

I hope the crew hasn’t abandoned the library forever. I really loved that set.


Samaritan Employee: “This shipment’s two days late. Where the hell have you been?”
Root: “Honestly? Planning this.”

Shaw: “Oh, it’s gonna be that kind of party, huh?”

Shaw: “Computers can bite me.”

Control: “Where were you when Flight 77 hit the Pentagon? Because I was inside it. I carried out the wounded, I covered up bodies, and I have spent every day since putting bullets in the people responsible and in anyone else who even thinks they can do that to our country again. You wanna shoot me because I had to tap a few phone calls, read a few emails? Then you go right ahead. But you better turn that gun on yourself next, Mr. Collier, because you have broken just as many laws and the only difference is I didn’t wrap myself up in the American flag and try to convince people I was a hero”
You didn’t wrap yourself up in the American flag and try to convince people you were a hero? Then what was the beginning of that speech about?

Finch: “If you’re asking me if I feel at ease with what I’ve created or whether it was the right or the wrong thing to do, I honestly don’t know.”
That’s quite the change for Finch, who used to insist that he was completely certain he was in the right in building the Machine.

Hersh: “Next time I see you, I’ll probably have to kill you.”
Reese: “Well, you can try.”

Greer: “What a piece of work is your Machine, Harold. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god.”

Finch: “Why would you ever choose a career where [getting shot] was an occupational hazard?”
Reese: “I tried to quit, but some jackass told me I needed a purpose.”

Root: “The Machine asked me to tell you something before we part. You once told John the whole point of Pandora’s box was that once you’ve opened it, you can’t close it again. She wanted me to remind you of how the story ends. When everything is over, when the worst has happened, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s box: hope.”

four out of four brand new identities
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl


Heather1 said...

Greer's line has nothing to do with Yoda. It is taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet:
'What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god!

sunbunny said...

Haha thanks Heather! I definitely should've caught that. :)

milostanfield said...

It will be interesting to see which AI gets top billing for opening credits and scene changes next season. Will Samaritan be our "official" omniscient narrator, with Machine graphics only when we cut to our Team Machine heroes? I love those graphics. Gives the AIs a personality.

We know that The Machine is aware of Samaritan. Is Samaritan aware of The Machine? Will they do battle ? Coalesce? Maybe meet for digital coffee one day?

sunbunny said...

Actually, Samaritan and the Machine move in together. They're planning on spinning the whole thing off into an Odd Couple type-sitcom. Sorry for the spoilers. :)

Billie Doux said...

Yes, I want to see Samaritan and the Machine having digital coffee together. :)

I was impressed with how they completely changed the show and I loved the idea of making our heroes digitally invisible. Interesting concept. The trial thing didn't work for me, though. But Hersh did. I couldn't believe that I was rooting for him at the end.

"What a piece of work is man" is one of the few passages of Shakespeare that I know by heart. And that's only because it was one of the songs in the musical Hair.

sunbunny said...

Ahhh so that's where I went wrong in my education. I've never seen Hair. :)

Mark Greig said...

I only recognised if because Picard recited it once on TNG. Incidentally , the only piece of Shakespeare I know by heart is the St Crispin's days speech.

It was kinda nice that before he died Hersh got to do something nice for Shaw by stealing that bike so she could go off and save her girlfriend. Shaw must've peddled like a bat out of hell to get to New Jersey so fast.

sunbunny said...

I think I could pull off two sonnets. And parts of Romeo and Juliet although that's from repeated viewings of Shakespeare in Love.

migmit said...

I'm both disappointed and in awe. The "disappointed" part, of course, refers to the trial.

I mean, Collier studied law. He wanted to be an official prosecutor. He joined the movement that fought for civil rights (or at least he thought it did). And now — a trial where everything screams "5th amendment"? That just looks stupid.

I was expecting a quick voyage to the legal drama, and what we got? Nothing.

Everything else was great, that's for sure.

Just a quick thought: the Machine, and now the Samaritan, is great at tracking people. What about pets? They have documents, they even have microchips under the skin. Of course, most of them still don't use social media, but some people live in caves too. So... what about a false identity for Bear?

milostanfield said...

migmit - Finch will shave strategic portions of his body fur so he can pass for poodle. Not a problem.

Josie Kafka said...

Will you think less of me if I admit that the biggest chunk of Shakespeare I have memorized is the sonnet that begins "Whoever hath thy wish, thou hast thy Will?"

I really enjoyed this episode, and I admire you realizing, Sunbunny, that Greer was behind Vigilance. It makes perfect sense to me in retrospect, but I totally didn't make the connection.

I'm really curious to see what happens next season. How much of a wacky reboot can they do?

But I do have a question for all of you. Did Fusco, when he arrived in the SWAT van, say something like, "Bear showed up at the police station with a message telling me to be here"? And then Reese and Shaw were like, "Okay, cool, let's steal some bikes?"

In other words: did the show admit that Bear has the capacity to communicate (telepathically or whatever) with humans? Finally?!

The song that played over the last few scenes, Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)" was completely perfect, and inspired me to re-purchase that album, which either my little brother or my college boyfriend borrowed/stole many years ago. I'm listening to it now and amazed I've lived all these years without "Paranoid Android" in my possession.

Michael said...

Person of Interest, or watching how the show I loved increasingly becomes not the show I loved. I know I'm in the minority here, but I have not much enjoyed how the show has "matured." Will I keep watching next year? I'm not sure.

Freeman said...

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Collier. I'm a jerk I know, but I derive such pleasure from watching misguided villains' worlds fall apart on them. And he even got to die immediately afterwords, wonderful. Not only did we see Collier get served, it also set up Greer as a very threatening villain. Which is great because up till now he didn't come across as that threatening. Though in retrospect it appears he was just playing his cards really close to her vest.

For a brief moment, the monochrome duo became a trio, and it was beautiful. Goodbye Hersh, you were a gentleman and a scholar, and you were really good at not dying. The team could've really used a walking terminator in the ensuing days.

Now that the team is officially a vigilante group with secret identities, I wonder where we'll find them next season. And lest we forget, there's a mysterious entity out there with a bone to pick with Finch. How is he gonna come into play in this Samaritan police state?

milostanfield said...

@Josie Kafka - Yeah Fusco did say that. He said Bear showed up at the Precinct "with a message from cuckoo clock." That would be the second time Root (and She) have used Bear when tech couldn't or wouldn't do the job. Last time Root used Bear's sense of smell to track Greer despite Greer disabling various techy tracking methods.

Not to disappoint you, but I just assumed he had the message tied to his collar carrier pigeon style. But maybe he CAN talk if he's smart enough to navigate NYC in the middle of a blackout, something I sure couldn't do.

And once Bear got into the station the scene at the front desk must have been hilarious: "Fusco: there's a dog here to see ya."

ChrisB said...

I'm always impressed when shows I love take chances, and this one does consistently. I love the idea of this reboot and am looking forward to where they take it next year.

Great year of reviews, sunbunny. I always loved reading them. Thank you.

Josie Kafka said...

Milo, I definitely agree that your explanation makes sense. It follows the rules of what Buffy would call "earth logic."

But I'd like to push past the constraints of earth logic and delve into the exciting world of "insane troll logic." According to that methodology, Bear is an omnipotent, multilingual total Intelligence.