Person of Interest: SNAFU

"Good news, this number's legit. Bad news, I'm the victim."

Reese in a bowling shirt! Root as a girl scout! Root in bunny slippers! Bear with bunny slippers! Oh how I loved this episode.

With the end in sight, and the stakes higher than ever, you would think that Person of Interest would take on a more sober and foreboding tone for its final season. Instead, this is turning out to be the funniest season yet. What was great about all the humour in this episode, and the series as a whole, is how natural it all is. It is never feels like it is crowbarred in for a cheap laugh.

The opening scene, where the Machine was having trouble with facial recognition, was a hoot. This is the kind of scene you know actors must love and dread, as they get to have fun impersonating each other and their mannerisms. Personal highlights? Harold as Reese. Fusco as Root. And Root as everyone. I really hope Amy Acker finds another project worthy of her talents now that this show has come to end.

It wasn't just faces the Machine was having trouble recognising. She, which is the pronoun I prefer to use because 'It' just sounds so dehumanizing and also makes me think of The Addams Family, has just been through what can best be described as a near death experience. She looked death in the interface and now her entire life is literally flashing before her glitching mainframe.

With her sense of time all screwy, the Machine wasn't able to see good guys for who they are, only for who they were. That means government assassins, contract killers, corrupt cops, and an attack dog for Aryan Nationalists. Without the ability to distinguish between past and present the Machine had no context for the team's actions. She simply saw these people as threats and acted quickly to defend herself.

Harold originally programmed the Machine to have a clear sense of right and wrong, light and dark, heroes and villains, victims and perpetrators. But the world, and the people in it, are far too complicated for that sort of moral absolutism. A bad person can do good and a good person can do bad. As Harold said, there are no heroes, no villains, just people doing the best they can.

Harold ultimately got this through to the Machine not by convincing her that he and his companions were good people, even he isn't sure of that, but by breaking out their greatest hits, showing her all the good work they have done, all the people they have saved. That work enabled these bad people to find a form of redemption. How ironic that it took an artificial intelligence for these poor, broken people to rediscover their humanity. And now they are returning the favour.

Notes and Quotes

--Reese's parents were named Conner and Margaret and he had a sister named Sophie. All are deceased, He was also directly responsible for the deaths and disappearances of 62 people. No wonder he's so broody,

--Harold thought he saw Grace in the surveillance feeds. Was that a fault with the Machine or himself?

--Even in her current fragile state, the Machine is still as terrifyingly intelligent and ruthlessly efficient as Samaritan. Within hours of identifying Harold, Root and Reese as threats it attacked Root via her cochlear implant and sent an assassin after Reese, after a quick stop at Bloomingdale's.

--Team Machine had a picnic in the park. That should’ve been cute, but Shaw’s absence made it sad.

--I wonder if Root slapping Harold's behind was scripted or improvised?

--One of the things I love about this show it that it gets us asking questions like "Can an artificial intelligence suffer from PTSD?" The Machine certainly seems to be displaying many of the symptoms.

--Root has a girl scout badge for kneecapping.

--Root's face when the Machine couldn't find Shaw was devastating.

Harold: "The Machine thinks we're monsters."
Root: "Maybe she's right."

Mona: "You need a purpose. More specifically, you need a job."
--Did Samaritan just hire its own Man in the Suit?

Harold: "John, is your next number in danger?"
Reese: "No, I'm literally watching paint dry."

Four out of four big brown bags.
Mark Greig is a number, he is not a free man. More Mark Greig


seekingoutfriday said...

I really enjoyed this episode. But showing Root searching for Shaw was RUDE of them. So many feels.

Billie Doux said...

I loved this episode; it's one of my favorites in the entire series. The faulty facial recognition and bunny slippers alone were worth the price of admission, but it just kept being wonderful right to the bowling shirt and girl scout uniform end. "I'm literally watching paint dry." :)

seekingoutfriday, Root will find Shaw. She has to, because they can't not do that.

Patrick said...

I love how this final season has begun so introspectively, with the show and the characters taking stock in a way of where they are, how they got there, and what the next steps should be. Even The Machine is reassessing things as it's coming back online in its 2.0 form. The idea of it considering the team to be threats is interesting, but it was the scenes with Harold trying to teach The Machine the idea of growth and redemption that were the most powerful. What especially grabbed me was how Harold described John as the one with the heaviest heart. As you watch things unfold, John seems to be more focused than any of them not so much on going to war with Samaritan, but with working The Numbers. He sees that as his great redemption. Not waging war, not fighting for his country only to realize he's doing the dirty work of corrupt officials, but helping real people. One at a time. With tangible, identifiable results. I think it's Fusco's redemption as well. That became clear at the end of Season 1, by working these cases with John & Harold, he's able to get back to doing what cops are supposed to do: protect and serve.

Of course, the face-swapping was hilarious, especially Amy Acker's impressions of everyone else. I also loved not only the bunny slippers but that Bear got his own set. *sigh* I'm gonna miss Bear so much when this show is done.