There was something just...off about this one. I wanted to like the crazy DaVinci Code-esque puzzle scavenger hunt through the streets of New York City but the episode’s imperfections were a bit too central to the plot for me to set aside completely.
The thing that really didn’t work for me was Claire. Person of Interest’s never been great at getting us to care for their weekly guest stars but this one was especially unsympathetic. She was rude and dismissive to Finch and I couldn’t help feeling that Finch and Reese were overreacting over her mental state. She stopped playing chess and started ditching class and that’s so big of a deal they’re worrying about her mental stability? Sorry but if not playing chess and not going to class are signifiers of insanity I should’ve spent a considerable amount of my high school career in a padded cell.
Finch and Reese were just incredibly slow on the uptake with Claire. It was obvious from the beginning she wasn’t crazy. They were worried about her trying to get herself run over? She had a gun. If she were suicidal, she’d already be dead.
And then the show’s attempts to make rude, abrasive Claire sympathetic were crudely done. Her parents died and that’s sad but it’s also an incredibly lazy backstory. Not to mention, Finch going through her hard drive and finding the eulogy she wrote for her parents and then reading it seemed really invasive and out of character to me. I don’t suppose we’ve seen the last of Claire (her final SPOV shot showed her listed as an “Asset”) but, as of this moment, I don’t care about her in the slightest.
The scavenger hunt for geniuses thing was fun but I feel they explained certain aspects of it imperfectly (see the next paragraph). I did like that Samaritan was behind it all. It explained why the system that sees all wasn’t alerting someone to all the violence surrounding the game. The fact that it was using the game to recruit genius operatives while destroying a system that might’ve posed a risk to it was very neat. Do you think every game has a secondary objective or was this one was just special? I’m also wondering if every number the Machine spits out this season will be related to Samaritan somehow like potential asset Claire. It might get old after awhile but it would make sense for the show’s increasingly serialized format.
What’s really unclear is why Claire began to play the game in the first place. She sees a enigmatic post online, decides to look to see if there’s hidden information in the attached picture, discovers instructions on hacking a mercenary group, proceeds to hack that mercenary group, and then keeps going in the game to find out what precisely is in the files? I feel like her conversation with Finch at 30 Rock was supposed to clear this up but it just didn’t. She was looking for structure? Okay, I can buy that, but her pre-episode actions still don’t make sense. How did she find the post? Why did she spare it more than a passing glance? How did she know there would be information in the picture? I can understand her disinclination to quit the game halfway through but her start in it was not adequately explained and it bugged me for the entire episode.
So is Reese getting the numbers or did Root call Reese before the episode began with Claire’s information? In any case, it’s interesting that it was Reese to call Finch in and assign him a number as opposed to the usual way. Finch referred to Claire as “your latest number.” It’s a little too cute that Finch went from thinking of himself as so separate from the team but then, over the course of a single episode, realizes that he can’t stand by and he must rejoin the fight. Still, the episode’s final scene was so great I can’t be too critical. Although it might have been interesting to keep Finch at arm’s length for a few more weeks...
Also we got some new information on Finch. Samaritan has somehow deprived him of a large portion of his fortune. There’s nothing to suggest he’s living off of ramen noodles but he did say that his income is no longer unlimited. So no more sending people away on free vacations when they need them out of the way or spending millions of dollars to give a former number their dream job. Should make for some interesting changes.
Bits and Pieces
New, Samaritan themed visuals for the opening, but the show retained Finch’s original voice over. Interesting choice. Were they going for new but not jarring?
Root referred to Reese as “the big lug” and Harold called Shaw “Sameen” for what I believe is the first time ever.
Speaking of names, Silverpool for Blackwater wasn’t the most creative take on a name I’ve ever heard but at least it’s better than Continuum’s Sonmanto.
Claire was a really good shot for someone who just bought a gun a few days ago.
Reese is flashing that badge a lot. Like a very lot.
The Man in the Suit stood out in the biker bar like a man in a suit in a biker bar.
Visually, the best sequence of the episode was Reese taking down the Silverpool thugs one by one as they followed Claire. Although it is a little strange that hyper vigilant Claire didn’t realize three gigantic men were following her.
I loved the library so much I was determined to hate the new Batcave but it’s just too pretty to hate. It’s the Hyperion Hotel to the library’s Sunnydale High Library.
Root: “Kiss kiss to you too.”
Reese: “Sometimes you forget I was an international spy.”
Reese: “Looks like the game she’s playing isn’t just real, it’s deadly.”
That’s a CSI: Miami line if I ever heard one.
Shaw: “Soy milk? I can’t stand the stuff. Go cow or go home.”
Is it just me or is Shaw being really picky about her beverages a thing? Last season we learned she only drinks hard alcohol or beer, not wine. Now she doesn’t like soy milk or decaf.
Finch: “Don’t let your frustration with me affect your judgment.”
Shaw: “He’s going to let his frustration with you affect his judgment.”
Thug: “You’re not a cop!”
Reese: “I am. Just not a very good one.”
Root: “You really want me to ask the Machine, Harold? You know what she’s going to say. [...] That humans must make their own choices.”
Fusco: “Kind of a weird theme song for a biker gang.”
Fusco proves his secret genius by solving complex puzzles and then thinks that “New York New York” is a biker gang’s theme song? Oh Lionel.
Finch: “I suppose they are a bit like us. Living underground, resisting the new age that’s trying to make us irrelevant. And like us, they still work.”
Finch: “Truth is, I couldn’t stand by and watch my friends risking everything doing work that I myself began. We’re not just fighting for people’s lives anymore. If we lose and Samaritan wins, the world as we know it will vanish and no one will even notice until it’s far too late.”
two and a half out of four what else? nautilus shells
sunbunny, who will always put Bear in the picture when she can
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