Summary: Mike tells El he can't see her today and makes an excuse but El can tell that he is lying. Mike goes to Lucas for help while El goes to Max for help. They all end up sending the day at the mall but at the end of the day they encounter each other. El dumps Mike for lying too much. Dustin goes to Steve to help decipher the transmission he picked up. Robin helps them and they realize that it's a code. Steve deduces that the transmission actually came from the mall. Hopper sets up a date with Joyce but Joyce doesn't show up because she has gone to Mr. Clarke for information about the magnets that keep falling. Billy returns but he isn't himself. He kidnaps a fellow lifeguard and takes her to the same monster that attacked him. Nancy and Jonathan investigate the mysterious rats.
The Good: The comedy was much better in this episode and I laughed a few times. The same goes for the character work that was done, and even the development of the plot. This episode improved everything that made me dislike the season premier so much and it served as a much better way to get me into this season.
The El/Mike/Hopper story remains really stupid (see: The Bad), but it's certainly fun to watch in this episode. The awkward phone call between El and Mike was hilarious, and the reveal that Mrs. Wheeler was listening in the entire time did make me laugh. Mike's lies were quite terrible, and it makes sense that El would figure out that something is up. The branching storylines with the guys and girls were pretty good. I thought that the characters were all defined much better in this episode, and each of them served a prominent role in showing how everyone grew up and what kind of people they became. Plus, the mall sequences were very well shot and I liked the idea of ending the episode at the climactic point of El dumping Mike. It's a really fun moment because it nicely captures the reality of what pre-teen romances are like.
Steve, Dustin and Robin definitely steal the show. The team has wonderful chemistry and I really enjoyed their conversations. Watching them decipher the transmission was fun and I liked that all three of them got to inject parts of their character into their conversations without any of them coming off poorly.
Billy's story is really interesting, and the editing during his scenes was masterfully done. His insanity is shown really well and it's easy to understand why he is behaving so strangely and we can easily see what it wrong with him. The sequences with him are pretty horrific to watch, but very gripping nevertheless.
The return of Mr. Clarke was fantastic, and I lived the use of "My Bologna" when he re-entered the story. His advice to Joyce was good, and I liked that Joyce continually asked good questions to give us the necessary information to try to theorize what could be going on with the magnets.
The Bad: There were still problems with this. All of the lies were horribly unconvincing and I was left wondering why many of the characters decided to lie anyways. Mike's poor lies, while funny, felt extremely forced and I don't think he could have convinced my two year old cousin that he was telling the truth. I understand that this is the point, but I find it highly illogical that he would lie so poorly, especially after two seasons where the kids were forced to lie to just about everybody. Hopper's lies to Joyce were also terrible. Surely he understands that she is going to figure out the truth eventually.
It's implausible that only Joyce would notice the problem with the magnets. It has happened to Joyce in two different locations, which likely means that it is happening all over Hawkins. Everyone would notice this, so why is Joyce the only one who is reacting?
The idea of Dustin hearing a transmission all the way from Russia on his walkie would be nonsensical. That's why I'm confused that the range of the walkie wasn't used to decipher the fact that the transmission happened in Hawkins. It makes much more sense to go that route than to have Steve amazingly realize that one random tune from a ride is the exact sound that was playing during the transmission.
Nancy and Jonathan's story is ridiculously dull. We don't learn any new information from their trip (aside from the fact that the rat remains are sentient), and their mission is ridiculously boring. It doesn't further the plot and it doesn't teach us anything new about their characters which makes it a dud of a storyline.
Honestly, why is Will even tagging along with the others if he never talks to them and only asks if they can play D&D? The way he is ignored in every scene should really have ended his friendship with Lucas and Mike a long time ago.
The Unknown: What happened to Billy? How was there a clone of him in the Upside Down? Are there clones of everyone? What does he plan to do with the lifeguard? Is he trying to raise an army of clones? What exactly is controlling Billy? Is it the Mind Flayer? Could it be tied to the Russians or the rats?
What is that goop that the rats transformed into? Does it become some kind of monster? Or something else? I noticed that the rats were eating fertilizer, which I suppose feeds whatever it is that they become. Why do they need the fertilizer? What is causing them to explode anyways?
What are the Russians doing in Hawkins? Is it something to do with the rats?
Best Moment: The first Billy sequence when he returned and spoke to Mrs. Wheeler was excellently done.
Character of the Episode: Billy.
Conclusion: This was fine stuff and it improved on the many flaws of the season premier. Still, I feel like this show could use some better writing and more emotional engagement.
Summary: In 1984, Russia started performing experiments, attempting to access the Upside Down. They failed and were given one year to succeed. In the present, lives have changed a lot. Mike and El are in an active relationship much to Hopper's chagrin. Billy works as a lifeguard, and Steve works at the new mall. Dustin returns from science camp and the gang meets up with him. Dustin takes them on a trip so that they can talk to his girlfriend. The trip takes too long and nobody answers so everyone leaves. Dustin picks up a Russian transmission. Rats have mysteriously started gathering and combusting at a steel works location. Billy is driving by for a date with Mrs. Wheeler when he is suddenly attacked by a mysterious force.
The Good: The opening and ending of the episode were classic "Stranger Things". I'll dig into the opening scene first. Of course we have an evil scientist corporation to open up the season, though the twist this time is that they are in Russia. I didn't expect that twist, but I think it makes perfect sense and it is a logical way for the Upside Down to be opened up again, since the US is likely not stupid enough to make the same mistake once again. The idea that Russia's experiments took place at the same time as the events of season 2 is a logical choice, and it makes it clear that the effects of their experimentation will be explored this season.
The ending of the episode was a classic horror sequence that I enjoyed. Billy was ever the asshole as he returned in this episode (I absolutely loved his introduction scene as a lifeguard, brilliant comedy packed with 80s references). I was nervous that we would have to put up with his absurd, over-the-top character for a while, but it looks like he was immediately sacrificed to whatever the main monster of this season is going to be called, though I doubt he is dead. Still, the final scene was a strong way to give this season some momentum.
The rest of the episode had some odd good moments. I liked Joyce missing Bob, it makes his death have more importance to the story, and it makes sense that she hasn't forgotten him over the last year. Hopper had some funny moments throughout the episode as expected, though he was pretty hit-or-miss (see: The Bad). Steve hitting on girls and failing in epic fashion was pretty funny and suitably awkward. Lastly, Dustin's return and his welcoming was a pretty fun moment.
The Bad: But as a whole, this was a very poor premier. The episode did a pretty awful job of reintroducing everybody and showing how many things had changed. I do like these characters, but it was hard for me to believe that I liked everyone here because of how unlikable and unrecognizable most of the characters were. The kids hardly spent any time together and they seemed to antagonize each other more than they had fun which is a bad way to get me to care about their friendships. El and Mike's constant kissing got old fast and I don't really care about their relationship since it mostly developed offscreen, and from what I can see it's mostly just a physical relationship. Hopper as an overprotective parent is such a dull storyline that was filled with every trope possible, and it did absolutely nothing for me. Nancy and Jonathan weren't given enough time for me to care about anything they did. Honestly, nobody was put in a good position after this episode and I'm feeling surprisingly indifferent towards the show. A season premier should not make me feel that way. The fact that the repetitive plot was the best part of this episode is really telling of how much of a failure this episode was as a season premier.
The pacing of the episode was also really bad. There were so many different stories and the episode was jumping all over the place at far too quick of a pace. It meant that nothing really got the chance to sink in. The scenes that were given time really didn't need so much focus given to them. Do I need so many scenes developing the Billy/Mrs. Wheeler romance? No, I don't. Did we really need to spend so damn long on the bad Hopper subplot, including an awkward scene between Hopper/El/Mike that overstayed its welcome? No, that time could have been used much more efficiently elsewhere. In fact, the wrong scenes were so frequently given too much screentime and that meant that this episode fell into that really awkward place where the pacing was both too quick and too slow at the same time. That made things flow very unevenly.
The comedy was a pretty big flop too. Most of the "funny" moments in this episode completely missed the mark. The writers tried to make comedy by just lingering on a scene for longer than they should in an attempt to make the audience have some awkward chuckles. Unfortunately, scenes like these are never funny at all and they fell woefully short of genuine comedy.
And I really need to address Hopper's story directly. Hopper is a fun character, so making him do something as bland as be worried about El and Mike's relationship is a really bad use of him. I'm certain there's going to be some big pay-off in an emotional scene later this season between Hopper and El/Mike, but I wish that it could have been built up to in a more interesting way than this. Hopper's "training" from Joyce was nonsensical (why does Joyce think that making Hopper behave so falsely is a good idea), and worse yet was Hopper's inability to memorize the lines or even say anything from his heart. Then the resulting scenes with Hopper and Mike were pretty bad too so it all felt like a pretty big waste of time.
The Unknown: Who are the Russians at the beginning? What are their goals? Have they already been successful at accessing the Upside Down?
Is the opening scene connected to the mysterious detonating rats? Why are they all gathering at the steel works place? What is in there? What was the monster that attacked Billy? Does it have something to do with the rats? Is it eating the rats? Getting power from the rats? Why did it take Billy? Is Billy dead?
What about that mysterious power outage? What was that mysterious thing that was forming? Was that the monster, or something else?
What is with the magnets that keep falling in Joyce's house? What is causing that? Is that happening everywhere in Hawkins or just her house?
What was the significance of that Russian transmission? Will Dustin understand its importance? Did he record it somehow?
Does Dustin actually have a girlfriend?
Best Moment: Probably the opening scene. The Russia twist was pretty good.
Character of the Episode: A really hard choice since nobody was very likable, even Dustin. I'l go with Joyce.
Conclusion: This episode had a really solid opening and ending scene, but everything in between was bad. This is not s good way to start the season and it completely failed to get me excited.
Summary: Samaritan barely survives the virus and plans to upload itself to a satellite so that it can recover and return. Finch and Reese head out to kill the remaining part of Samaritan, hidden away on a single server. Finch discovers that they have just 18 minutes to stop Samaritan being uploaded to the satellite and that somebody needs to sacrifice their life. Finch locks Reese away and attempts to give up his life. However, The Machien frees Reese who then freely makes the sacrifice himself after The Machine leads Finch to the wrong building. Reese dies, but Samaritan is stopped. Shaw and Fusco protect The Machine from Samaritan's men. Shaw meets Jeff who she identifies as Root's killer. Jeff escapes an wounds Fusco. Fusco survives and Shaw hunts down Jeff to kill him. Finch goes off the grid and is presumed dead, but he has reunited with Grace. The Machine successfully uploaded itself to the satellite and returns in time. Shaw and Fusco presumably continue to work for it.
The Good: This was a terrific way to end the show, and this episode capitalized on the many emotions of a TV show coming to a close.
The opening scene started things out brilliantly, reminding me of the season-opening monologue back in "B.S.O.D." before following it up with flashforwards that strongly hinted at Finch dying to stop Samaritan. I was invested from that moment and I found myself desperate to figure out if Finch would make it out alive.
Finch and Reese's story was the best part of this episode. Their friendship has been wonderful throughout the series and it fittingly got the spotlight in this episode. Every moment between the two of them in this episode was wonderful, and the acting from both Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel certainly lived up to the moments. Jim Caviezel has come along way from the boring, charisma-vacuum he was in season 1, partly because the writers worked around his limitations and mostly from him actually improving as an actor during the show's run. His work in this episode was great and I really bought into the idea of him wanting to save Finch. I particularly enjoyed that Reese actually raised his voice when Finch left him caged, which marks one of the only times I've actually heard Reese panic in such a way. It's a brilliant way to show us how important Finch is to Reese.
Reese's sacrifice was a highlight of the series. The moment was so emotional, and I think that having Amy Acker be a stand-in for The Machine was perfect, and it gave The Machine's powerful dialogue about death much more of an impact when we got to see Amy Acker acting out The Machine's slight emotional reaction to the events that were unfolding. I really enjoyed Reese's heroic final stand, and also Finch's distress when he realized that he had been tricked by the two that he trusted more than anyone else because they wanted to save his life.
Shaw and Fusco's story was also quite good. I enjoyed that the underground base got to have a presence in the final episode, and Shaw bringing life to the subway train was a really cool moment. Better yet was Shaw coming face to face with Root's killer. The Shaw from the beginning of the series wouldn't hesitate to kill him, but it shows real character that Shaw actually let him live before ultimately killing him when she realized that everyone she cared about (minus Fusco) were likely dead. Another great moment for Shaw came when The Machine told her of Root's final words. I can totally buy that Root would have some final words prepared for The Machine in case she died, and the words had a very profound impact on Shaw, even making her shed a tear which I thought was very good storytelling. Sarah Shahi has been a gem, and her outstanding work on this show has often gone unnoticed.
The epilogue part of the episode was really nice. It did its job as a fond farewell to all of the characters while also showing us the fates of Fusco, Shaw and Finch. Each character managed to find their peace in the end, and I found myself cheering when Finch and Grace reunited and when Shaw was contacted by The Machine to continue to save people. Shaw has finally come full circle and has gone from a ruthless killer following orders to a good person making her own decision to save lives.
The Bad: Unfortunately, I found a lot of this finale to have been rushed. So much happened in this episode and I think everything would have landed even better than it did if there had been time for every moment to sink in. This episode had the impossible task of compressing the climax of the whole show and the epilogue into just 45 minutes, which was always going to be unsatisfying. I wish that this episode had been given an extra 15 minutes so that there could have been more set-up in the first half of the episode so that we weren't just rushing from exposition to exposition to set up Reese's big sacrifice.
One of the biggest casualties of the rushed nature of this episode was Reese and Fusco losing their jobs. This should have been a massive moment for the show because it leaves both Reese and Fusco vulnerable for Samaritan. Yet it feels horribly out of place in this finale because both characters' arcs are resolved at the end of an episode where they are faced with a major change to deal with. It means that the big moment of them being arrested, which should be a very climactic moment, means absolutely nothing to the story as a whole. Hell, I was able to cut that entire scene out of my summary of the episode without any problems.
This episode had a bunch of outstanding moments, but there was very little time to go from moment to moment. The episode didn't get the chance to breathe and really soak in the emotion and weight of each moment. We never see anybody mourn Reese. We never see Samaritan directly react to being shut off. We never see what happens to the world during the period when The Machine was inactive. There are many such instances of things like this throughout the episode, and I feel that I have to blame the cancellation of the show for this. Had this season been given 20+ episodes, all of this could have certainly been explored.
I was confused why Jeff was left alive. It didn't make any sense why he wouldn't have at least been knocked out or left for the police. Furthermore, Jeff almost killing Fusco went nowhere. Another example of the rushed nature of this episode. There should have been more drama in wondering if Fusco was going to make it out of the series alive.
This is just a nitpick but how did Finch not notice that his briefcase was empty? Surely there would be a weight difference.
The Unknown: Will Fusco and Shaw continue to work for The Machine?
Will The Machine reach out to the government for the relevant numbers or will it just create its own crew of elite assassins?
How did the world change after Samaritan and The Machine were taken out?
Best Moment: The entire sequence of Reese's sacrifice was some of the best television thsi show has produced. The Machine's lengthy monologue about death and its meaning set up the atmosphere perfectly as Reese went out like a hero, the way he always should have. There was so much emotion to this and it was a fitting way to end Reese's character.
Character of the Episode: Reese.
Conclusion: I thought this was an awesome finale even if it was rushed. There was more than enough emotion to this and I found myself to be satisfied overall. I just wish that there could have been more time given to this story because there was so much potential for some even better stories to be told here.
This season was a brilliant way to end the show. There was a healthy mix of POI cases, drama between The Machine and Samaritan, strong character conclusions and emotional moments. This season had everything to be a strong conclusion to the series. The only problem I had was that it was too short. It feels like there was supposed to be much more to the story that was being told, and a number of storylines and episode felt like they were rushed just so we could end the story in a meagre 13 episodes.
The series itself was one extremely fun ride. I'm very glad that I watched this show, and I give my thanks to Ben who recommended it to me. The show started off very poorly and it made a pretty bad first impression. But after that, it became one of a very small number of shows that actually corrected its problems and became a much better show as it went on. There's nothing more satisfying than watching a show live up to its full potential, and that's exactly what this show did. There were plenty of standout episodes that I've already watched several times, and I'm already itching to rewatch the best episodes of the show. Sure there are plenty of POI case episodes that I likely won't watch again, but there are always poor episodes in procedural TV shows. In the end, the good certainly outweighed the bad and the show ended with a bang.
Summary: Finch smuggles the virus closer towards Samaritan with The Machine's help. Finch infiltrates the NSA and plugs in the virus, but before he can activate the password, he is captured by Samaritan men. Reese and Shaw are guided by The Machine where they steal a modem and activate it. Finch is met by Greer and they argue about the existence of both AIs. It's revealed that the virus will kill The Machine too. During the argument, Finch accidentally reveals that The Machine doesn't know the password. Greer activates poison gas to try to kill himself and Finch. Greer dies but Finch escapes when The Machine contacts him via the modem Reese and Shaw set up. Finch goes to save Reese and Shaw and they escape. Finch activates the virus. Fusco is captured by Agent LeRoux. Fusco is able to turn the tables on LeRoux.
The Good: Finch's mission is a lot of fun to watch. It's satisfying to see him finally working at full force with The Machine to infiltrate the NSA. There are lots of clever moments showing The Machine's capabilities, and it made me buy into the idea of Finch actually succeeding in uploading the virus. That added to the tension, and the scenes in the latter half of the episode were a lot of fun because I was unsure if the virus would actually get installed or not.
The subject of the virus led to the return of the phenomenal philosophical talks between Finch and Greer which was excellent. I thought the revelation that the virus will kill The Machine as well as Samaritan added to the stakes and the discussion both, and it also led to some wonderful exploration of the relationship between Finch and The Machine. I liked that Greer put Finch in a position where he was forced to reveal his feelings about why he was willing to sacrifice The Machine to take out Samaritan, and the emphasis on human will in this episode worked as an overall theme.
What furthered the exploration into the theme of free will were those simulations that The Machine showed Finch of what would become of everyone had they not been involved with The Machine. These tied in with Finch's idea of free will and where each of the characters would end up whether there was an AI around or not. The resulting world being a mixture of good and bad was perfect, and it really highlighted how the world will simply go on no matter what happens. It added extra weight to Finch's big decision at the end of the episode, because at that point he knew that the world wouldn't necessarily be a better place without The Machine, yet he decided to pull the plug anyways.
The ending itself is huge. Samaritan has already started to glitch out and it's only a matter of time until both AIs are dead. It's an exciting cliffhanger that promises a huge episode up next to close out the show. This episode was a perfect set-up episode in this regard.
The Bad: Greer's death was wholly unsatisfying. It made sense to have him die believing in Samaritan continuing his legacy, but I felt that his death was so unnecessary and ultimately meaningless, almost as if the writers couldn't come up with a logical way to kill him. The fact that he died in the chamber but Finch somehow survived made little sense to me and it felt like too convenient of a way to write Greer out of the story. Furthermore, the motivation behind him killing himself made no sense. Surely he needs to stay alive to ensure that people listen to Samaritan and to ensure that there is a human in charge of everyone else. An AI can't exactly interact with the human world, there needs to be a man in charge to do that for it.
Why was it so simple for Finch to get to Samaritan? Surely there should have been a much better defense system in place in case Finch got through. After dealing with Samaritan as a villain for 2 full seasons, it shouldn't have been this easy to get to it.
The Unknown: Did Fusco kill LeRoux?
Can The Machine or Samaritan somehow survive the virus? Can the virus be removed somehow?
What will be everyone's fate? If The Machine is destroyed, what purpose would all of the characters have? What will be their ending?
Best Moment: Finch and Greer's lengthy debate about if the world would be better off without a godly AI in charge. These two had me glued to my seat.
Character of the Episode: Finch.
Conclusion: This was a great set-up episode that got me really excited for the series finale. There was one major misstep with Greer's anticlimactic death, but other than that this was great.
Summary: Ross and Chandler argue over who came up with a joke. Monica gets mad at Phoebe when she says she is too high maintenance. Joey gets a job at Central Perk as a waiter.
The Good: There are a few odd funny moments here. I enjoyed Ross and Chandler getting Monica to decide who is telling the truth. Chandler telling Monica that he enjoys maintaining her was a sweet little moment.
The Bad: This episode is atrociously written. Of all three storylines, only Joey's has any real comedic potential to it and that story is the one used as a background C story, plus it isn't even funny. All we get is Joey overacting which is when he is at his least funniest. Everything that happens is far too over-the-top for me to actually laugh at. Chandler and Ross arguing is very dull. None of the jokes the writers come up with are funny, and calling them jokes is pretty generous. Monica is horrible in this episode. She has been teased since the beginning of the show for her overly anal behaviour, so why does it bother her so much when Phoebe says she is high maintenance? Very sloppy character writing. The likable Monica from earlier seasons has been replaced by this loud, angry, child of a woman in an attempt from the writers to make the show funnier. It hasn't worked at all.
Best Moment: Chandler ensuring Monica that he enjoys maintaining her.
Character of the Episode: Chandler.
Conclusion: Another terrible episode. The writing this season has taken a very big hit and the laughs per episode ratio has fallen of a cliff.
Summary: June convinces Eleanor to not kill Lawrence since she needs him. June begins putting her plan to save the kids into motion, but it gets screwed when Lawrence flees. When he returns, Lawrence reveals that he doesn't have the authority to get anybody out of Gilead now that he is being watched. June convinces him to take her to Jezebel's where she can speak with Billy, the contact that was helping get the kids out. After offering him Lawrence's house, she leaves Billy to think on the deal. June is seen by Winslow. Winslow tries to rape her and June fights back, ultimately killing him. June is smuggled out of Jezebel's while the Marthas dispose of the evidence. June and Lawrence prepare for war. Fred and Serena meet with Tuello who drives them into Canada where they are promptly arrested.
The Good: The Lawrences remain one of the best parts of this season. I'm really enjoying this slow transformation of Lawrence from a criminal to hero. While the middle of the season lost the plot surrounding Lawrence, this episode did a much better job of showing the conflict within him as he struggles to push himself over the edge to actively helping June's cause. The scene with him and Eleanor at the beginning is excellent, some good follow-up on the significant events from the last episode. To contrast Lawrence being vulnerable at the beginning of the episode, we get the end of the episode where Lawrence has seemingly resigned himself to his new role as he prepares to fully oppose Gilead, siding himself with June.
Speaking of June, her story is great in this episode. She is working very hard to actually do something, which is very refreshing. If June had shown this same determination to save Hannah/escape Gilead, I think that some of June's earlier storylines could have been better. Needless to say, her urgency in this episode added a lot of tension, and I was invested in her scenes with Billy and the Marthas.
The climax of June's story is horrific, yet awesome. Winslow is shown as pure evil here, and honestly I was originally groaning because I thought that June would just be raped here as the show spins its wheels yet again by making Winslow the most boring character ever, a literal clone of Fred. Instead, the show goes in a surprising new direction as June brutally murders Winslow, showing that she is done being the victim now. This murder propels the plot in a big way as Gilead will likely be after June and Lawrence for a crime. It took 11 episodes, but finally there has been some change in the stakes and the world this season.
Speaking of change, Fred and Serena's story is very good and also leads to a big, game-changing ending. We get to see Fred and Serena bonding again and their scenes are actually quite good here. I liked seeing them reflect on where they could have been without Gilead, plus we even got Fred coming to terms with him being sterile. It's a nice moment for them and serves as their peak moment before their fall at the end of the episode. In the end, Tuello doesn't care about the Waterfords at all and instead chooses to arrest them, finally giving these two some consequences for the awful things they have done. Plus, there is possibly a hidden story in play here which is pretty interesting (see: The Unknown).
The Bad: It's hard to care about what happens in this episode unfortunately. Sure, this was easily the most dramatic, exciting and game-changing episode of the season, but I wasn't feeling as excited as I should have been. The set-up to the key moments in this episode was botched horribly in different ways. I'll start with June killing Winslow. Winslow's death suffers from him being a shallow and boring character, making his attempted rape of June a much less interesting scene than if somebody like Fred was going to rape her instead. Winslow wasn't set up as a character in any way, and he came off as more of a means to an end than an actual player in the story like he was supposed to. He simply existed to die, and I think that's a really poor reason to introduce a new character. It's a shame that he did nothing interesting at all before dying. Furthermore, killing Winslow isn't the pivotal moment for June that it should be. She has been breaking rules left and right this season and facing no consequences. So why should we care if she killed Winslow? I'm certain she is going to get away scot-free in the end. Additionally, we have seen June openly rebel many times before, so this scene isn't as impactful as it tries to be.
Fred and Serena getting their comeuppance is good but I think it took far too long for the story to get here. Had this happened back at the end of season 2 when the Waterford story was still interesting to me, I would have reacted to this much more positively than I did now.
The Unknown: Who will come after Lawrence and June? How will they escape safely?
Will Billy take June's offer for Lawrence's house? How is June going to get Lawrence to give up his house to Billy? How does she plan to get Gilead to accept this deal?
Did Serena set Fred up to be arrested? It doesn't seem that way based on her reactions, but the hints are there to suggest that everything that Serena did after coming from Canada was to arrest Fred. We haven't seen Canada since that episode so many Luke was in on the plot.
Best Moment: Winslow's death was a real surprise and it changes the story in a big way.
Character of the Episode: June.
Conclusion: This was a big episode but I thought it left a lot to be desired. By all rights, this should have been way better than it actually was and I think that the sloppy plot movement going into this episode made it really hard to invest myself in the key moments. It was still a good episode, but it should have been better.
Summary: Reese, Fusco, and Shaw briefly mourn Root but they have to move on as the next POI is the president. Reese attends a gala where the president is going to be and encounters Logan. Shaw is there too and together they prevent a placed bomb from killing anyone. A warning appears stating that the president will die tomorrow because of illegal government surveillance. Shaw captures a suspect and she interrogates him. She releases him and follows him to his group. Fusco is her back-up. They discover a group of normal people who want to make a change. Together, everyone saves the president from the threat on his life. Logan is revealed to be part of a group consisting of himself, Joey and Harper who now work for The Machine to save lives. They secure a safe exit for Reese, Fusco and Shaw and give Reese a lead on Finch. Meanwhile, Finch is on the run and makes it to a Samaritan facility where he installs a virus. He escapes with the help of The Machine.
The Good: This episode felt like the definitive, final number-of-the-week case. There was some extra effort put in, making this case feel more important and enjoyable than usual, and the four main characters each got to have their moments to shine throughout the episode. Furthermore, having the team save the president felt like a great final mission, and having it be a total success gave the number-of-the-week cases a feel-good ending despite teasing us more than usual that something might go wrong.
I really liked the reveal of Logan, Joey and Harper being another team hired by The Machine. It makes perfect sense since there are obviously other places outside New York where crime takes place. Of course there have to be multiple teams to stop crime elsewhere in America. It's an interesting way to have the show address a plot hole that has existed since the very beginning of the show. Additionally, it serves as a passing of the torch as it seems like the original crew have been replaced and their legacy lives on through the lives of the people they have saved that decided to do good. It's a really uplifting story and it provides a beautiful conclusion for the POI cases regardless of what happens in the final two episodes.
The most interesting parts of this episode were the small character moments. Shaw was a stand-out as we got to see her mourning Root by falling further into her emotionless shell than usual. The scene where she tortured Charlie was borderline uncomfortable and it nicely demonstrated Shaw falling back into brutality to avoid facing her emotions. I do wonder if she was subconsciously reminiscing of her first meeting with Root where she got tortured, which is a nice touch.
Finch's side story was a lot of fun too. There were some good moments where he got to reveal how he is dealing with Root's death which felt very organic since having to listen to her voice constantly would force him to face these emotions. Additionally, watching The Machine operate at full potential is as joyful as ever, and I really enjoyed the sequence where Finch escaped from the Samaritan location using many of The Machine's loopholes.
Technically this episode isn't entirely accurate as a summation of POI cases because majority of the usual tropes and cliches weren't used in this episode. Though that definitely isn't a bad thing, and I'm glad that the show avoided falling into its biggest pitfalls in this episode. Hell we even got a scene where Reese and Shaw intentionally let a captive go instead of them randomly becoming sloppy and letting him escape. I liked that a lot.
The Bad: This episode wasn't perfect. The villains were boring and I never really felt any fear for the life of the president or the main characters. The attempt to escalate the stakes by having the president be a number didn't really work at all because of this episode's placement. The last episode was the most intense episode of the entire show, so no matter what the next episode was always going to feel like a step down.
I also wasn't a fan of Reese and Shaw escaping so easily, even if they did have Joey's help. They took shots at the president, surely the secret service would have locked down the whole building.
Logan having a lead on Finch which popped out of nowhere was a bit too convenient for my liking. The writers didn't even try to hide how convenient it was.
The Unknown: Are there more teams working for The Machine? Will we ever see more teams? Will these three help out Team Machine in the next two episodes? The tone of their conversation with Reese didn't really seem to suggest that though.
Were Logan, Joey and Harper originally supposed to have more significant roles in the story? I wonder how much was lost when the show got cancelled. I am happy with them showing up as brief cameos, but I do feel like there is potential for more story.
Where was that virus from? Was it the one that Finch obtained earlier in the season? Or is it a new one? I'm not entirely sure.
Best Moment: Probably the final conversation between Reese and Fusco, and Logan, Joey and Harper. It felt like a passing of the torch moment.
Character of the Episode: Shaw.
Conclusion: This was a fun episode with a sense of finality. It neatly celebrated the show's run and made me feel the emotion of the show reaching its end. Even though the story was nothing special, I appreciated this episode.
Summary: Finch goes to the place he and Grace had their first date but that gives away his cover. Elias smuggles Finch back to the hotel where he met Reese and hides him there. Reese, Root and Shaw give the attack to Samaritan but they still send men to get Finch. Elias tries to get Finch out to escape but he is killed and Finch is taken. Root and Shaw arrive to free Finch and Root drives him away while Shaw stays behind to fight. Samaritan's men give chase but Root kills them. Jeff is guided to a sniper spot where he shoots at the car and ends up hitting Root. The police stop the car and Finch is arrested. Root succumbs to her wounds. While being interrogated, Finch decrees that he will kill Samaritan for what it has done. The Machine, using Root's voice, contacts Finch and breaks him out of the prison. Reese and Shaw go to the prison to find Finch but discover that he has escaped while Fusco goes to the hospital where he learns of Root's fate.
The Good: What a crazy episode! The most impressive part about this episode was its pacing. This episode was packed with huge, impactful moments that flowed from one to each other at a breathless and rapid pace, and yet the episode still gave each moment the perfect amount of time for it to really stick and leave an impact on us. I'm not sure that I've ever seen an episode paced this well before.
The fantastic pacing aided the palpable tension that was felt throughout the episode. With Finch as the POI this week, the episode immediately felt important, and with only 4 episodes left until the show's conclusion, it felt like everyone was in danger. Because of that sense of danger, the frantic pace and the importance of the episode, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It really felt like this episode would have some huge consequences, as the constant hinting of Finch saying he doesn't want to lose any friends made it really seem like there was going to be a major loss in this episode.
And then the deaths hit in the middle portion of the episode and they were both outstanding moments. I'll start with Elias who got a perfect farewell in his final scenes. I thought that Elias' "death" in "YHWH" was seriously underwhelming and I didn't feel anything from it. This was handled so much better. In these last two episode we finally got to see Elias shine as a character as he joined Team Machine full-time. I think Elias was severely underutilized in the first 4 seasons, so it feels refreshing for him to get the spotlight he deserves. His final scenes were all brilliant as the show really celebrated his character and the way that he inspired loyalty in the criminal underground with so many allies hidden away in that hotel complex. Additionally, the return to the hotel complex was perfect. It's where we first got to know Elias and it's also where we get to say goodbye to him as well. His actual death was excellently done. It was such a sudden moment, but I think that really helped accentuate the shock and fear of his death as well as the impact that his death had on Finch who was standing right there. The scene was paced perfectly too, his death came as a sudden gut-punch but the scene kept going, giving us frequent shots of Elias' motionless body to allow the moment to really sink in for us and allow the heavy emotion of his loss to really settle in. After that, the suspense throughout the rest of the episode practically killed me. Elias was gone only halfway through the episode and his death entirely got me to believe that anybody else could die in the back half of the episode. The tension in the episode was immediately elevated by this change.
Following Elias, we had to say farewell to Root as well. Root's death was handled similarly to Elias' where she wasn't given any grand, dramatic farewell. She simply took a fatal wound protecting her friend and died later in the episode. The slow reveal of her death was really well done and it came off as a confirmation of our worst fears which added to the bleak tone of the episode. Furthermore, I like the idea of Root dying to save Finch as it nicely rounded off the redemption arc her character went through in heartbreaking fashion.
The episode did a nice job of celebrating Root as a character while also touching on her key relationships. We got some final scenes between her and Finch as they continued to discuss the state of The Machine and what needs to be done, but this time there was less conflict than before. It was simply a case of Root letting Finch know that she has faith in him, which does make me wonder if The Machine had actually informed her that she was going to die. Additionally, we got some ridiculous over-the-top action scene from Root as she blew up that car which I think is a fair way to give her one last hurrah, even if it did have some drawbacks to it (see: The Bad). We also got a lovely scene between Root and Shaw during the shootout as they got to embrace each other in the heat of battle. The moment was lovely, and I applaud the writers for deciding to make Root and Shaw's defining couple-moment to be them killing people together, which is certainly the more logical way for them to bond rather than holding hands like they did earlier in the episode. That showed that the writers understood what made this relationship work. As a final way to honour Root, the episode adds in a wonderfully powerful final touch of getting The Machine to pick Root's voice to use.
I thought the ending of the episode was phenomenal. Finch's speech to Samaritan at the end was probably the show's single greatest moment (see: Best Moment) as we got to see the "pot boil over" as Elias had referenced a couple episodes ago. After witnessing two of his friends die, Finch is in no mood to sit around in some cell. He has finally been pushed past his limit and Michael Emerson does a fantastic job of portraying Finch's disappointment in how he got punished so badly while trying to be the morally correct one. Finch's sadness and regret is easy to see and the way he channels that and turns it into desire for vengeance is completely understandable and a very logical step for the character to take. In the end, this whole episode built up to this moment and I'm very excited to see what Finch does next.
Lastly, I really liked the way that Finch ended up getting his cover blown. Having him visit the place where he and Grace had their first date felt like a genuinely human moment. Before embarking on the final war with Samaritan, Finch allowed himself one moment to appreciate his life, and that one moment caused all of the mayhem in this episode which resulted in him losing 2 very close friends.
The Bad: A few odd things didn't work for me. The show has been extremely inconsistent with how covers are blown. I thought for sure that Reese's cover was blown multiple times in previous episodes, but for some reason he can just keep using his detective Riley alias. So when Finch's cover gets blown for something so small and trivial, it doesn't make sense to me at all, and it makes less sense how Samaritan can so easily keep track of him when it was so easy for Team Machine to lose Samaritan in earlier episodes.
Root destroying that car in such a cartoonish way didn't really fit the episode. I've grown to enjoy the show's cheesy action scenes since they are very clearly done in a way to sort of mock the trope, but I thought the addition of a parody action scene in one of the most intense episodes of the series was a poor idea. The sudden and convenient removal of the minigun threat, coupled with the ridiculous idea of Root shooting at it with pinpoint accuracy while driving a car really didn't work for me at all and it made the main characters seem invincible in an episode which had made a point of removing all plot armour from every character. Add in the laughably bad explosion at the end of the scene, and it really took me out of the episode for a couple of minutes.
Having Elias come back to life only to die a few episodes later was odd and it didn't make his return feel very important. I presume this only happened because of the cancellation so I can forgive it. Plus, the writers used his character perfectly after his return so I can say that it definitely wasn't a waste of time.
I'm not sure if I missed anything, but how can Finch talk to The Machine directly through cameras? Isn't Samaritan listening too?
The Unknown: What is Finch going to do next? Does he have any plan to attack Samaritan? Where will he go to be safe? How are Root, Shaw and Fusco going to find him?
Best Moment: Finch's speech was an outstanding moment. Michael Emerson is fantastic every time I see him, and I think this was his best work in this show. Every line was delivered with the perfect amount of anger, regret and sadness and I think that made it so much easier to really understand Finch's emotions throughout this scene. This was the perfect way to mark Finch's transformation from a weak, kind-hearted guy into a vengeful monster.
Character of the Episode: Finch for sure.
Conclusion: This was an incredible episode. So much was accomplished in this episode without anything feeling rushed which really impressed me. Two major deaths, a shocking but believable character transformation, and epic cliffhanger and an outstanding pace. This episode had it all, and because of that, I think this was the best episode of the show so far and I don't think it will be topped.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.