Summary: Flashbacks show that Shaw was just as cold as a child as she is now. In the present Shaw is assigned the next POI, a little girl named Gen who is also a spy. Shaw starts to bond with her but remains emotionally distant. Shaw discerns that Gen left bugs in her apartment to monitor for illegal drugs but has gotten involved into something much bigger. Gen is kidnapped and Shaw is knocked out. Shaw awakens and is determined to get her back. Carter meanwhile is investigating HR. Reese's investigation surrounding Gen connects with Carter and they realize they are tracking the same case. HR has captured Gen. Reese fights Simmons to get her back but discovers Gen has been moved. Laskey diverts Carter but Carter reveals that she knows he is HR. Carter threatens him and gets him to work for her. Shaw finds her and kills everyone hiding her. Shaw lets her go and they briefly bond. Later, Root captures Shaw while she sleeps.
The Good: It was great to get another Shaw episode. I feel like Shaw has been slightly tweaked as a character since season 2, so it was necessary to get an episode to showcase more or less what we should expect from her going forward. This episode worked because it showcased the deeper elements of Shaw's character which we haven't seen much of this season. It also had some great callbacks to "Relevance" with Shaw taking blood from Yogorov and going back to being a brutal killing machine in the climactic scene.
The flashback scenes did an excellent job of fleshing Shaw out a little more while also explaining why she is so cold and detached. Tracing the issue back to her childhood makes sense and makes it seem like more of a personality disorder than an actual character trait for her. It's a nice take on her character that feels original.
I liked the connection she built with Gen. We have seen all of the other main characters develop connections with the POI, so now it's Shaw's turn. I thought this one worked much better than all of the others because of how Gen feels almost exactly like Shaw as a child. Shaw projects herself onto the little girl and slowly develops a bond with her. Furthermore, it's more satisfying seeing Shaw create a bond with somebody considering her antisocial persona. The ending hug scene is very well done and ended up being a touching moment.
Carter's side story is a lot of fun. Seeing her investigate HR so thoroughly is engaging, and with Laskey lurking around her, it felt like the story was going somewhere meaningful in the episode. The tie-in to the POI story was a fantastic moment and combined momentum in both storylines. I love the idea of combining storylines a lot since it can ensure that I'm engaged in both storylines in an episode instead of only one. It's one of the reasons that I find episodes like "God Mode" so enjoyable, since all of the storylines are interconnected and end up being equally fascinating to me.
The bar scene near the end of the episode was awesome. It seemed set up for something bad to happen to Carter, but pleasingly Carter turned things around. It makes perfect sense that carter would be careful enough to figure out that Laskey is HR, and the badass way she handles him is incredible to watch. We have seen in previous episodes that Carter is determined to shut down HR. Here we get to see how far she is willing to go as she coldly murders an HR affiliate and threatens to frame Laskey for it unless she serves her. Looking at the fear in Laskey's eyes, it's a cold moment for a protagonist to go through.
Carter's dark turn nicely parallels Reese's newfound darkness. Seeing him leave a man with nitroglycerin on his hand was very cold and nicely continues his development. While Reese was in the background for the most part, this moment still managed to continue his development nicely.
The ending was stellar. I can't wait to find out what Root wants from Shaw.
There were some funny moments throughout the episode. Finch finding sex on one of the tapes was hilarious, but better yet was Finch's "enough" when asked by Shaw how much he knows about chemistry. It was the perfect line delivery from Michael Emerson that made me laugh out loud.
The Bad: The nitroglycerin stunt that Reese pulled was pretty dumb. The cook had valuable information, and surely Reese would use less insane method before to see if the man started talking. The scene reminded me of Locke's ridiculous grenade stunt from "Lost", though it wasn't as bad as that.
After Finch tries so hard to be pacifist with Shaw, it feels strange for him t excitedly blow up a lab. Furthermore, Finch earlier brought up that he doesn't want to scare Gen with Shaw murdering people. Yet he says nothing while Shaw massacres everyone in the lab. I guess it's meant to be growth for him, but it feels so sudden and isn't written very well.
Finch desperately needs a story in this season since he has been nothing more than just the boss in recent episodes. The same goes for Fusco who isn't even present in this episode.
The episode felt too tropic for my liking. The fight between Reese and Simmons was such a generic action fight. It's hard to buy Simmons and Reese fighting on par with each other, plus Reese comically putting the gun away for a fist fight felt pretty dumb. Gen is pretty ridiculous too. I've seen the trope of badass kid beyond her years so many times and it has never really impressed me or felt realistic. Lastly, slapping on the tough woman with a soft heart thing was pretty annoying even though it wasn't played up too much. I thought Gen's low volume metaphor was too on the nose for me and the story would have probably been better off without it.
The Unknown: What does Root want from Shaw? Has the Machine sent her to get Shaw? Why? What does the Machine want?
What does Carter plan to do with Laskey? Will Laskey be her key to HR?
Best Moment: I really liked Carter getting Laskey to her side. It also nicely paralleled the way that Fusco was recruited into HR in season 1, making it feel more like sweet justice.
Character of the Episode: Shaw.
Conclusion: After a lot of episodes that didn't offer me very much to talk about, this felt like a lovely change of pace. The storytelling here was damn good and the story was gripping from start to finish. Shaw is still captivating, and naturally an episode centered around her is the best of the season so far.
Summary: The next POI is a woman named Vanessa whose husband recently died. She is suspected for killing him. Reese and Finch are unsure of if she is innocent or guilty. Vanessa escapes confinement and continually does some mysterious actions. Eventually Reese catches her and they quiz her. They discover that her husband, Jeremy is still alive and framed her. Determining her to be innocent, they let her go. However, she goes to kill Jeremy for revenge. Reese goes to stop her, but determines that they are both bad people. Reese lets them both kill each other.
The Good: This episode has fun moments. The opening scene was fairly pointless, but it was decent comedy and was a clever use of Bear. Shaw had some really fun scenes as well. I enjoyed the brief book club bit, and Shaw debating whether or not to murder the slow banker was pretty funny.
The main story was built nicely on mystery. I wasn't ever sure about Vanessa's intentions until the episode's ending, allowing the interesting mystery to carry the entire episode's drama. There were many intriguing aspects to it, in particular the brick of cocaine, Jeremy's status and the intrigue on whether or not Vanessa is lying.
The ending of the episode was really strong. It was surprising to see Reese do something so dark when he simply allowed Jeremy and Vanessa to kill each other. It was a surprising turn for his character to make, and I think it's safe to say that his time with Shaw has influenced this change. Seeing Reese develop a darker side makes him more interesting, and I hope this leads into a larger storyline for his character.
The Bad: The story didn't do much to grip me. After getting used to the more serialized storylines last season, it's tough to adjust to an episode with almost nothing for the overarching story. All we got was confirmation that Laskey is HR, which I was already suspecting so it didn't do much for me. While the story was fine, it didn't get the assistance of a serialized story to become anything more than average.
There were parts of the episode which made me groan. The dumb trial scene was a really stupid joke and only served to break my immersion due to how unrealistic it was. They just had to ask Vanessa some questions, there was no need for the objection stuff. This show's dialogue has never been the best, but it was especially noticeable in this episode. Vanessa telling Carter "I didn't kill my husband" didn't feel like a real moment and she only said that to continue the mystery in dramatic fashion.
I feel like Shaw's character is being sabotaged for comedy. While her scenes are fun, they solely focus on the angry aspect of Shaw's character. It's fine to focus on specific elements of a character as long as the character's other traits get some time as well. Unfortunately for Shaw, she seems to have been horribly simplified in these early episodes and I really hope that she can reclaim the depth that initially got me invested in her back in "Relevance".
The Unknown: Is there a darker side to Reese that has been unlocked by Shaw?
Best Moment: Reese deciding that Vanessa and Jeremy aren't worth his time was a shocking moment. How many times have we seen Reese in a similar situation? Many times, with the last one being as soon as two episodes ago. Every time he has tried his best to prevent any casualties, even with bad people like Kruger. It was surprising to see him leave two people to die, even going as far as to give a man a gun so he can kill his wife.
Character of the Episode: Reese.
Conclusion: This was the most procedural episode in a while which makes it a weaker episode than what I'm used to. However, the story was told well which prevents this from being that bad.
Summary: The next POI is a man named Ian and the group learns that he is a stalker that dates many women and likely kills them. Carter is sent in on a date with him and they eventually realize that he is being targeted by a man named Wellington. Ian married Wellington's daughter and got her pregnant and Wellington wasn't pleased so he sent Ian away. After his daughter died, Wellington wants to kill Ian. Reese figures out that Ian has a kid and tells him. Ian makes contact and Reese's group provide him with proof of paternity. Meanwhile, Hersh locates Root and goes to kill her. Root is prepared though and shoots him but doesn't kill him. Root escapes the hospital.
The Good: I can see the purpose of these slower early episodes. Shaw is new to the crew so we need to see her go on a few missions with the main cast to build up a new group dynamic and to help us get more attached to her. It has worked so far and I'm buying into her as a useful asset to the group. This episode sees her introduced to Carter and Zoe which is important to touch on.
Root continues to be my favourite part of these opening episodes. It's entertaining seeing her explain her plan to a normal guy in Carmichael. The scenes don't necessarily offer too much of emotional substance, but they are carried by Amy Acker's fantastic acting and natural charisma. It's fun watching her express her excitement for the ensuing chaos to Carmichael, and the actual action sequence when Hersh comes after her is pretty great. The Machine assists Root to defeat Hersh in an entertaining way, but more intriguingly the Machine allows Hersh to live (see: The Unknown).
The main story has some fine moments. There is some emotion, which shows the episode has its heart in the right place.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the POI story is completely average and provides nothing of particular substance. Carter's attachment to Ian is pretty meaningless and leads nowhere. It's a far cry from prior episodes where Finch and Reese grow attached to a POI. Furthermore, the villain is completely underwhelming. Wellington is hardly even a character and he provides absolutely no drama or tension to the episode. The set-up early on doesn't do much to make me interested in Ian's story, and the actor doesn't do a particularly good job either.
The biggest problem with the main story is the lack of resolution. We get no closure for Ian and we don't know if he actually gets his son back or not. Furthermore, the Wellington conflict is never actually solved and that makes the end of this story feel like a total disappointment.
The Unknown: Why does the Machine want Hersh to live? Does Hersh have a role to play still?
Best Moment: Root revealing what is going to happen to Carmichael was ominous and creepy.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: Without the Root story, this is a dud of an episode. Season 3 is off to a rocky start so far.
Summary: Rachel realizes her coworkers are making all of their decisions without her because she doesn't smoke so she starts smoking to get involved. Phoebe wants to throw a surprise party for Rachel but Monica takes full control of setting up the party. Ben gets an audition for a commercial and Joey tags along hoping to get an audition for himself.
The Good: The storylines were pretty fun all around and they led to a few great laughs. While inconsistent, there were good laughs throughout the episode and every character gets a chance to shine. Phoebe is fun as she gets back at Monica, Monica and Chandler are fun again as a couple, Rachel is good as she desperately tries to get involved, and both Ross and Joey get some great jokes.
The Bad: The problem is the consistency. While there are good jokes, there are a few that just aren't very funny or memorable at all. Also, the storylines aren't the best. Joey comes off poorly at times in his story with Ross. The noodle soup joke is extremely unrealistic and not really funny at all. Outside of Rachel being full of energy, there isn't much humour to her story. The cups and ice story doesn't really have a great pay-off joke so it doesn't work as well as it could have.
Best Moment: Chandler excusing himself from Joey and Ross' argument was great.
Character of the Episode: Phoebe.
Conclusion: This was a decent episode, but there really isn't much special here, and there are a few dull stretches with little humour.
Summary: The next POI is a business owner named Kruger. Reese and Shaw investigate him and they discover that somebody is trying to humiliate him and ruin his life. They find several people who were responsible, all of which who were wronged by him in the past. They were given a package on how they can ruin his life by some mysterious other person. Reese and Shaw discover this person is a custodian, Sommers. Kruger is lured out of safety by the prospect of saving a business deal he was trying to make with a man named Collier. Sommers tries to kill him but Reese stops him. Collier reveals himself as the real perpetrator, shoots Reese and kills Kruger.
The Good: This was solid stuff. The main story was decent enough and had some good twists from the usual format to make it stand out a bit more. Having Kruger be a total asshole was very unique and it made me hate him and not really care about Reese and Shaw saving his life. I was instead hooked into the episode by the prospect of seeing this character get what he deserved and it was pretty satisfying to see his life fall apart. The final twist was great because I didn't see it coming at all. I thought the Sommers reveal was the main twist, so when Collier went full evil and murdered Kruger, I was caught completely off guard. It was a great moment and sets up yet another big villain for the show.
Shaw continues to be a whole ton of fun. The fact that she doesn't conform to Reese and Finch's morals adds an extra amount of both levity and tension to the episode. She is good for laughs and also has me on the edge of my seat because it's always more likely for things to go wrong when Shaw is around.
I really like that Carter is still grieving Beecher. I've seen so many characters simply cease to think about other dead characters in following episodes, and thankfully this isn't the case here. Beecher is treated as an important part of this HR storyline and that adds to the story. I thought the Laskey story was fine build up and I'm interested to see where it goes.
The Bad: Kruger absolutely should have died in that elevator drop. It fell 40+ stories and crashed on the bottom. He should not have been able to take that landing.
The Unknown: Is Laskey a member of HR? I think it's pretty likely that he was sent to watch over Carter, though it may be another bait and switch like with Beecher.
Best Moment: The Collier reveal was great and it was a genuine surprise.
Character of the Episode: Collier.
Conclusion: This was another average POI story amped up by a great reveal at the end.
Summary: Rachel gets an interview at Ralph Lauren and nails it, but is unnerved when she accidentally kisses the interviewer. Joey sees a hot girl living in Ross' apartment but he keeps finding Ross when he goes to find her. Phoebe and Gary are the new hot couple so Monica tries to reignite the fire in her relationship with Chandler to outdo them.
The Good: This is another extremely fun episode. This whole episode is mostly based on misconceptions and all of them are very funny. Rachel's titular storyline is damn good. It's exceedingly funny to see her dig a hole for herself in her interviews and her realizations at what she has done are all very entertaining. Joey's story is another highlight. It starts with us seeing some hilarious miming from Ross, and then we lead into a fantastic storyline as Joey hits on a girl in another apartment. His frivolous attempts to find her are fantastic with a number of excellent jokes, and the constant punchline of him always ending up at Ross' place is one of the show's funniest jokes. It's a near perfect story that's packed with laughs. Monica remains nicely in character as she competes to outdo Phoebe's relationship. Her scenes with Chandler are very fun and I continue to buy into them as a couple whenever there isn't an overblown storyline about them fighting. There was great comedy and the final conversation between Monica and Chandler in the bathroom is a perfect blend of serious storytelling and comedy. Nicely done.
The Bad: I don't think there's anything particularly bad about this one. Just a funny episode all around.
Best Moment: It's so hard to pick. I'll go with the double-layered joke of Joey seemingly stupidly pointing out Ross' watching TV bit, only for the reveal that Ross is actually doing a watching TV bit.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This was a load of fun and it's another damn strong episode in season 5.
Summary: Finch, Reese, Carter, Fusco and Shaw are regularly working together saving POIs. The next POI is a man named Jack who is a sailor and gets involved with some Devils Dogs when his friend, RJ, steals some diamonds from them. Reese and Shaw get tasked to get them both out of trouble. The Devils Dogs already captured RJ and are threatening to blow him up with IED. Fusco has to disarm it while the other two save Jack. Jack is saved after a gunfight ensues with the Devils Dogs and the Russians who were buying the diamonds. Carter has hidden Elias away to keep him safe and is plotting against HR. Meanwhile, Root is stuck in a psych ward but is in frequent contact with the Machine.
The Good: This was a tame but effective season premiere. The most enjoyable aspect about this was the comedy. The entire episode kept to a lighter tone, more focused on fun than intense story movement.
The fun was very well done too. Shaw has now joined the crew and she is a very fun character to have around. Whether it is her penchant for violence, or the fact that she eats steak off of a fork, she remains fun throughout the episode, getting some good laughs. Reese does well too. His one-liners are intentionally stupid, and manage to be funny as a result. It's good to see Reese taking this case so lightly as it emphasizes the focus on fun over tension.
Carter's story is pretty good too. She seems to have a colder personality than before after HR has damaged her reputation. She is thirsty for revenge and has also allied with Elias to get more assistance taking down HR. Her desire for vengeance has come off really well so far and is the shot in the arm that the HR storyline needed.
The strongest parts of the episode were with Root. We learn that Reese and co. sent her to a psychiatric ward after they bested her and that's where she is locked up. Her connection to the Machine is demonstrated well and it's also nicely shown how insane she must appear to a normal person. Carmichael's reactions felt natural and they carried the story along nicely. The final scene where Root totally goes off on Carmichael was wonderful and amps up her story in a great way.
I liked the brief cameo from Steven Ogg before he got famous. Nice.
The Bad: The POI story is very generic and doesn't offer anything special. Reese's connection to Jack doesn't add anything new (we saw a similar story with Finch back in "All In"), and the drama is nothing more than average.
While it is funny, it is beyond stupid that Reese would task Fusco with defusing a bomb without giving him any information. They also probably should have told him when Reese was going to enter the store to inform Fusco that his chance of death just got much higher. The complete failure to care for Fusco's life is pretty ridiculous and takes away much more from the episode than it adds.
The end of the episode was pretty odd. We understand why Root believes that things are going to change, but what about Finch? What happened in this episode that made Finch think that something big is coming? It's not clear and it is a needlessly cryptic line. The show has used dialogue like this in previous episodes but it's usually earned. This was not.
The Unknown: I noticed a black and yellow box on Root. What does that mean?
Why did Elias need the money and the diamonds? Does he have a plan to buy something or someone?
Did Root have a special Machine interface there at the end? It's different from anything we have seen of the Machine before.
Best Moment: The final scene with Root coldly telling the truth to Carmichael was a lot of fun.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: This was a fun episode, but pretty safe as well. It was easy to watch with nothing that really stood out.
Summary: Flashbacks reveal that Ingram is planning to reveal the Machien to the public. Finch goes to meet him, but Hersh has Ingram killed in a bombing. Finch fakes his death to keep Grace safe. God mode powers allow Reese and Root to have direct contact with the Machine and it helps them kill the Decima people. Root escapes and destroys the tracker in Finch's glasses when the Machine identifies it. Reese and Shaw go hunting to find Finch and rapidly take care of some POI cases on the way. Hersh frees Special Counsel and searches for Root. Root meets with a man named Lawrence who is the only man left who knows where the Machine is. However, he is killed by Hersh and his men who also try to kill Root. Reese arrives to save them but Root and Finch escape. Both crews discover where the Machine actually is and they head there. Root gets there first but is surprised to see the Machine is gone. Finch reveals that he already set the Machine free and it is now gone. Reese and Shaw arrive and get Finch back, while Root is shot in the shoulder. Special Counsel arrives and is surprised that the Machine is gone. After a message from Control, Hersh kills Special Counsel. The Machine independently contacts Control, Finch and Root.
The Good: This was a wonderful and fun finale. There was constant suspense, a rapid pace, exciting action and some great plot twists. This worked very well as a finale and left me both satisfied and itching to see more.
The episode starts off perfectly. There is no patient start following the end of the last episode as everything opens with a bang. Root and Reese take no time to start experimenting with the Machine and we get a tremendous action scene as Root and Reese basically gain wallhacks due to the influence of the Machine. It's unique, creative and fresh, making the action present in this episode much more engaging than what we usually get. The god mode powers are really creative too. I loved seeing things like Root "customizing" her wallhacks, Reese using the Machine to find a car they can steal, and Root getting new prescription glasses for Finch. It's a ton of fun and is very enjoyable to watch.
Speaking of fun, the POI cases in this episode were simply wonderful. They were so short and sudden, and both made me laugh out loud, especially the wedding one ("congratulations"). Some of the comedy in this show can be damn good. I also enjoyed Reese explaining to Shaw that they have to save everyone because they are the good guys. It was a funny line and also another nice nod to "Lost" fans.
Reese and Shaw were a ton of fun together, and I'm all for seeing them partner up more frequently. They played off each other well, created good comedy, and they work as a proper badass duo. I love the crazy action hero stuff that Shaw brings to the table just as much as I enjoy Reese's reactions to her. Their quest to recover Finch was engaging and it was easy to root for them.
Their chase for Root was fun and I enjoyed how everyone came together with Lawrence. Having Hersh and his crew nearby trying to kill Root created some tension and I found myself unsure where the story was heading. Eventually Root did get away and that led to the great twist that Finch has set the Machine free (more on that later). It was a great twist, and provides a dramatic change to the way the show works going into season 3. We also got another great coming together scene that was packed with tension.
The fate of Special Counsel was a fantastic moment. It appears that he wasn't only manipulated by Root but by the Machine as well, which impersonated his voice and secretly moved itself. Now as punishment, the person above him, this mysterious Control, has sentenced him to die. It's perfect justice to see him killed by his former allies after he has sentenced so many people, like Ingram, to die the way he did. His final words of "fair enough" are perfect and present him as more of a character than anything he got before. Even though he is dying, he still firmly believes that they are doing the right thing.
The ending scene was a fantastic conclusion. We were left unsure whether the Machine would ever contact anyone again, but suddenly the phone rings next to Finch and Reese. But not only them, it also contacts Control and Root. This is such a big moment because this is the Machine choosing to contact these 3 groups, and the possibility of what this could mean (see: The Unknown) is fascinating.
What kept this episode together were the outstanding flashbacks. Ingram's eventual fate is so tragic and it's heartbreaking to see Finch lose his best friend just as he started to come around to his ideals. What's even worse is when Finch is forced to leave Grace behind and fully commit to the Machine (see: Best Moment). Overall, these flashbacks were constructed wonderfully. Both Ingram and Finch's characters made sense and we ended up getting an excellent story arc showing what led to Finch ultimately making the decision that the Machine has to be set free. The reveal is strengthened when you realize that it explains why Finch sold the laptop, and that it also concludes the long-running arc surrounding Finch's backstory. I also really appreciated the way that Hersh's odd flashbacks tied into Finch's in a very sensible way. It was a great way to reveal who was responsible for Ingram's death.
The Bad: Carter's story is a total flop and it really weighs the episode down. The episode starts off poorly with Terney inexplicably giving Carter a generic villain monologue. Why was he so frustrated with her about everything? Would he really get so angry to reveal everything to Carter because she suspects HR? Plus, the main leverage he had was that Carter trusted him, so why ruin that? He threatens to kill Carter, saying he doesn't want to do it, but that makes no sense since Terney had attempted to kill her in the last episode, plus now that she knows about him, she can't possibly be left alive. HR killed Beecher, so why not Carter?
Carter saving Elias didn't work for me. The storyline came out of nowhere and I couldn't think of any reason that Carter would want to risk her life to save Elias. Furthermore, would the police really just let her go and save Elias when she is under investigation for murdering an innocent? What's worse is that the story isn't resolved. I was intrigued by the possibility of a Carter/Elias conversation, but we never get it. Their story just ends in really weak fashion.
So no Fusco in this episode, huh. That's disappointing.
There were a few small gripes about the main story. While the POI bits were funny, they felt too easy, especially considering how tough POI stories have been in the past. The big exposition scene about Lawrence didn't work for me. The show really rushed Reese and Shaw coming to the conclusion and they lost organic dialogue as a result. As a final nitpick, why didn't Root ask Special Counsel where the Machine was? Obviously he knew its location.
The Unknown: Who is Control and what will her role be?
What is the Machine doing now? Where is it? Why did it contact each of the 3 groups? We know that a number arrived to Control. Is it contacting Root and Finch for different reasons? Will Root get god mode again? Perhaps she will get numbers too? How about Reese and Finch? Will they get god mode or numbers? Or something else entirely?
Best Moment: Finch having to hide from grace to prevent her from being in danger was absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that Finch has to go through this mere moments after Ingram's death is awful and it is easily one of the most powerful scenes in the show so far.
Character of the Episode: Finch.
Conclusion: This was a great season finale. Even though the Carter story failed, the rest of the episode was awesome with plenty of fantastic moments, gripping twists and an explosive climactic feeling that resonated through the episode. This was a fun end to the season as the show continues to get better and better.
Season 2 was a certain improvement over season 1. It had some weaker episodes for sure, but as a whole, there was much more good than bad. The commitment to long-term stories helped out a lot and gave the season a lot more momentum than the first season ever had. Things like the Donnelly and Stanton storyline were extremely fun and provided some memorable moments in the middle of the story. Add in the bookend Root storylines and we have a much more complete story going on this season when compared to the first. The POI storylines were written much better too (for the most part). As a whole, the stories were funnier, paced better, written better and they were often connected to some larger multi-episode storyline in the same episode. But the season was still far from perfect. The episodes are too inconsistent in quality, the dialogue can be hit or miss, some storylines fall flat and other stories are impossible to invest in. The show still has a long way to go, but now it is starting to show its full potential, and I hope that in season 3, we can see the best of what this show can do on a more consistent basis.
Summary: Flashbacks show Finch discovering that Ingram was helping the irrelevant cases illegally. Finch shuts it down just as Ingram's number comes up. After 10 days without a number, Finch looks into what is happening with the Machine and notices a countdown. The Machine gives a number for Ernest Thornhill and after some investigation, Reese and Finch realize Thornhill doesn't exist but that Decima Technologies are targeting him. Finch deduces that Thornhill was created by the Machine. Reese makes contact with Shaw while Root contacts Finch and they have a meeting to trade information. Root threatens Grace so Finch has to work with her, while Reese works with Shaw. Finch reveals that the Machine will reboot at the end of the countdown and a call will come to a certain payphone. Whoever answers will become the new admin and Decima Technologies are now guarding every payphone in the city. Root gets Finch to help her and Finch is forced to give her admin access. However, he does some last minute programming and sends a call to Reese who is nearby, also giving him admin access. Meanwhile, HR try to kill Carter but they fail to so they instead frame her for killing a defenseless civilian.
The Good: This was a fast-paced and entertaining set-up episode with a lot going on. The various factors of Root, Shaw and Decima Technologies come together in a wonderful way and sets up what should be an epic finale.
The episode is interesting from its first few seconds. Like in "Relevance", the intro is completely changed and it ends up feeling both creative, and more cinematic. The concept of a Machine crash was portrayed so beautifully that I was left unsure if the show was causing the slowdown or if my TV was lagging terrible. This effect was continued throughout the episode as the usual clips taken from the perspective of a surveillance camera were choppy and slow.
The episode is nicely organized into two halves. The first is the investigation on Ernest Thornhill and the second half is the splitting of Reese and Finch's storylines along with the return of Root and Shaw. The first half provided some excellent set-up. The Thornhill mystery was really engaging, as was the way that clues were slowly revealed about the nature of his character being a ghost created by the Machine. It was a compelling mystery with some fun moments, like Reese and Finch infiltrating Thornhill's workplace.
The rest of the episode had a lot of momentum built up from the first half and was able to engage in some exhilarating set-up. Root capturing Special Counsel, Decima Technologies getting involved again and Shaw returning set the story fully into motion. Reese and Shaw's half of the story was really fun as we got a better idea of what their dynamic would be like in the future. Plus, we got a great scene with the return of John Nolan's character as he interacts with Reese, suggesting that he may be coming after Finch soon.
The other story featured Root and Finch and we got more of the fantastic conversations (see: Best Moment) that made the first two episodes of the season so engaging. I enjoyed Root blackmailing Finch by threatening Grace, and that put all the cards in Root's hand. Finch was along for the ride with her yet again, and now Reese has to find him once more. It's a nice way to bookend this season with Reese needing to save Finch from Root in both the season premiere and the season finale.
The final stretch of the episode delivered the kind of adrenaline rush you would expect from the season's climax. The countdown to the virus shutting down the Machine was a fantastic idea. It provides a great way to get everybody gathered together at the same place at the same time. Furthermore, we get a great and surprising explanation about what happens when the clock runs out. The Machine won't die like I was expecting, but rather it will give its power to the first person who answers a specific payphone. This is a wonderful reason for everyone to gather, and it successfully makes us understand why Root and Decima Technologies cannot be allowed to win, putting us firmly on Reese and Finch's side. The conclusion to this episode is wonderful with both Reese and Root gaining access to god mode, an exciting ending which promises a dramatic, action-packed season finale.
Lastly, we got some more flashbacks in this episode. While they weren't too notable, they had some pretty good storytelling. Finch has discovered what Ingram was doing and surprisingly he is firmly against it. It appears that Finch still has to grow in the past and whatever it is that results in Ingram's death will likely lead to him changing his mind.
The Bad: Special Counsel was bested pretty easily and then totally vanished from the episode. That's a bit disappointing.
Carter's story got very little time, so it was almost impossible to care about. The main story was so much more interesting than her story. Hopefully the finale resolves this storyline in an enjoyable way. Also, did Fusco just get written out of the season's endgame? If he did, that's really poor since he deserves much more than this as a main character.
The Unknown: What was the important information that Root needed from Special Counsel? Was it about the payphones? Thornhill? Something else?
So Finch apparently hasn't told Grace his real name. Is Harold Finch his real name? I'm not so sure.
Finch was suddenly called by a payphone at one point. Was that supposed to be Carter's number?
Why didn't Finch allow the Machine to protect itself? Root suggests that Finch just didn't think about it, but I highly doubt that. Furthermore, why did he sell the laptop with a virus on it if the Machine couldn't protect itself? Did he try to destroy the Machine in the past?
Ingram is the next non-relevant case in the past. Is he going to die soon? If so, how?
Best Moment: Root and Finch once again had a great discussion about the Machine. The conversation does a fantastic job of fleshing out Root. She seems genuinely disgusted that Finch didn't allow the Machine to defend itself and survive. We also get the great reveal that Finch has forced the Machine to erase all data every night, having it constantly restart. This makes a lot of sense, and as expected, it also disgusts Root who seems more determined than ever to let the Machine be free.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: This was a very fun episode to set up the season finale. I feel like the episode would be even better when watched together with the finale, almost like one of the multi-part finales from "Lost". The purpose for this episode was to give us some big reveals and get us excited for the season finale, and it succeeded in both.
Summary: Flashbacks show Fusco being drawn into being a dirty cop by Stills. Reese gets a new number but finds he is too late and the POI, Nelson has been poisoned and will die. Reese decides to help him get vengeance on the man who killed him and they kill the man responsible with poison. Fusco is being investigated for being a dirty cop and he is forced to tell Carter what he has done. Carter takes a while to come around, but she eventually helps Fusco by hiding Stills' body so that the evidence doesn't turn up.
The Good: The opening scene was pretty grisly and nicely set the tone for the episode. Fusco's gone through some rough things in his past and now it's finally catching up to him. It's great to see him face some consequences and Kevin Chapman put in one of his best performances here.
The POI story was really rough (see: The Bad), but it had a clever premise. It's refreshing to see the POI actually die for once and it did a good job of setting up the ending now that we are aware of a virus attacking the Machine. The ending was pretty exciting as it looks like the Machine may have actually just shut down.
The Bad: The POI story was lame. Nelson was a very uninteresting character and I didn't find myself invested in his revenge story. He didn't come off as a character who was looking for vengeance and that prevented me from wanting to see him pay back the man who killed him. Speaking of the man who killed him, the show really seemed to like referring to Nelson as a dead man because they mentioned it over and over to the point that it was really annoying me. It seems that this storyline existed more for these clever lines of dialogue rather than an actual story.
The POI storyline all feels too easy as well. Reese continually suggests that they may be too late which feels so awkward since he has never mentioned something like this in the past. It feels forced to promote the idea that the Machine is giving numbers late. Furthermore, Reese simply knowing that Nelson would die was way too simple (he could easily recover, also Reese could just go help him). The final revenge kill was way too easy. The villain goes into a tedious monologue just so Nelson could pull out the rug from underneath him and let him know he's going to die. It's wholly unsatisfying and doesn't end the story in a good way.
Fusco's story doesn't work the way it should. I didn't like the flashbacks very much. They seem to suggest that Fusco was always a good guy and he only got roped in with the bad people because Stills was his friend and he was simply loyal. This completely destroys the redemptive arc he went through in season 1 where a heartless thug made a turnaround and became a good cop. I was very displeased that Fusco wasn't presented as an outright dirty cop in these flashbacks in an attempt to earn more sympathy.
Carter's reaction to Fusco being dirty wasn't good either. She has already dealt with the fact that bad people can turn things around when she started working with Reese. To have her go through the exact same arc here is repetitive and it doesn't really have much of an impact. Furthermore, Carter being so shocked at Fusco's past is ridiculous. Fusco already suggested a really dark past, so surely Carter could have easily imagined something worse just by thinking about it for a few seconds.
The fact that Carter is able to get to Stills' body before the police is idiotic. There's no way she should be able to pull that off.
The Unknown: Did the Machine fully shut down at the end? How will Finch recover it? What will happen when the numbers stop coming? What will Reese and Finch do? What will Decima do when the Machine shuts down?
Best Moment: Probably the opening scene. Very little stood out.
Character of the Episode: Fusco.
Conclusion: This was a big disappointment. Fusco's story is so easy to tell, and it's beyond me how the show messed it up, especially after putting out a few really great episodes this season. Hopefully this is just a fluke and we will get back to good stuff int he final two episodes of the season.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.