Summary: Jon and Dany return to Winterfell where Sansa takes an immediate dislike towards Dany, unhappy with Jon abandoning his crown. The others in Winterfell are similarly skeptical. Arya reunites with Jon, Gendry and The Hound, while Tyrion speaks with Sansa. Dany and Jon go dragon riding and enjoy each other's company. Dany tells Sam the fate of his family. Sam tells Jon about his heritage. In King's Landing, the Golden Company arrive and ally with Cersei. Cersei follows up on her end of the bargain with Euron, allowing Theon an opportunity to rescue Yara. Bronn is sent to kill Jaime and Tyrion. Jaime arrives in Winterfell and is immediately greeted by Bran. The White Walkers have gone through Last Hearth, killing everyone there.
The Good: Season 8 had been hyped up as being move-quality for all six episodes, so my expectations were quite high for the presentation of the show. Impressively, the show met and ultimately exceeded my expectations with some astonishingly nice visuals. The episode started on the right foot with the lovely new credits sequence. It was a refreshing change that immediately established the impressive scope of the season. The rest of the episode follows up on this terrifically, with some really impressive details. There were more extras than usual, wider shots of Winterfell, making the castle feel more alive, and some genuinely epic shots while Dany and Jon rode dragons. That last sequence was really nicely shot and would have fit in seamlessly in a "Harry Potter" movie. It was that well done.
Like much of season 7, this episode had plenty of character reunions. There was a nice sequence early on where Arya got to see a bunch of familiar faces arriving in Winterfell before enjoying some reunions later. Her scene with Jon was sweet and well-acted with some nice subtext from both characters. The scene with The Hound was short but sweet, and probably the best-written of the bunch. The scene with Gendry was filled with nice callbacks and continued their dynamic nicely. There were a few other interesting reunions too which had a little bit more story relevance, so I'll get into those later.
There were other callbacks outside of the reunions. The episode opened with a lovely sequence of a boy climbing the walls to see the king arrive. The scene paralleled Bran watching King Robert arrive from back in "Winter is Coming", even going as far as to play the same exact music. Though with the show's wildly increased budget, this arrival felt so much more grand and impressive.
Sam had most of the episode's finest moments. John Bradley gave a great performance and his emotions were very clear throughout the episode. I really loved the scene where Dany told Sam the fate of his family (see: Best Moment), and John Bradley did a great job of portraying how a character like Sam would react to this news. It was a tough episode for Sam who had to go tell Jon about his lineage immediately afterwards in another great scene. Sam brought up some great points to Jon, who now has a very exciting conflict to deal with.
There were a number of intriguing scenes between other characters that caught my attention. Sansa and Tyrion got to see each other for the first time since Joffrey's death, and the scene was great. Their interactions were as awkward as ever and did great things for each character. It continued to show us how Tyrion has fallen from being one of the smarter men in Westeros which is very interesting (see: The Unknown). But more importantly, it brilliantly showed us how much Sansa has matured and how intelligent she has become. She dismisses Tyrion's opinions on Cersei immediately, relying on her own experience with Cersei, and she also sees through Jon's facade, exposing his real feelings about Dany.
The end of the episode was really good. It's nice to see Jaime arriving in Winterfell as well, and seeing Bran actively waiting for his return was a really cool moment and Jaime's reaction was perfect. This reunion was one I never really thought about, so I was pleasantly surprised by it. This should lead into a great arc for Jaime.
The scenes in King's Landing were pretty good. Cersei's disappointment in the Golden Company was consistent with who she is, and I liked her zeroing in on the lack of elephants. I enjoyed all the scenes with Euron. He is still a fun and interesting character in his scenes with Yara and Cersei. I particularly liked him inquiring about how he was compared to Robert and Jaime, it was a nice little bit of character for him. I also liked Bronn being given an interesting conflict this season, even if I have some issues with it (see: The Bad). Also, did we just get an update on the fate of Ed Sheeran's character (the ginger Eddie)? If so, that's a nice bit of continuity.
The scenes at Last Hearth were pretty good. Tormund's eyes always being blue was funny, and I liked that he, Beric and Edd got more scenes. I liked how frightening the scene was, and Ned Umber's scream was pretty scary. This was a fantastic way to establish the wrath that the White Walkers were leaving behind, building up the fear for what is coming later in the season.
There were some nice moments of dialogue. It seems that Varys and Davos exist to provide us with some great dialogue.
The Bad: I loved the presentation, but was disappointed by the writing. Not all of the dialogue in the episode was as great as the scenes which I enjoyed. This show has always been carried by dialogue and most of the best scenes of the show comes from two characters simply talking. There were many opportunities to cover similar scenes here, but the writing failed to accomplish that. At times the dialogue felt clunky, and there was never more dialogue given to scenes than what was needed. While this is efficient to accomplish a lot of different things, it also means that each individual scene doesn't really stand out much. In an episode which is entirely built on scenes of characters talking, this is a problem.
The other issue with the dialogue came from how the episode handled its exposition. A lot of scenes were rushed to get to plot details, such as Sam's reunion with Jon which was rushed through so that Jon could learn about his heritage in a moment that didn't feel as important as I was expecting. It wasn't the content of the scene, but rather the execution that gave me this feeling.
My biggest problem with the episode was its pace. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for slower episodes and I respect the decision to start the season out slowly, but this did not feel like an appropriate time to do this. The White Walkers have broken through the Wall and death is literally incoming. Yet we are sitting around to watch characters talk and ride dragons. Really? The destruction of the Wall should be a much bigger moment than this, and there should be a real sense of urgency in this episode as everyone prepares for battle. But we don't get that, and I was left confused as to why nobody was doing anything. To add salt to the wound, everyone knew the Wall was destroyed and they simply treated it as just another thing that happened. Seriously? This should be an earth-shattering moment, yet it is treated like no big deal. Furthermore, why gather everyone at Winterfell? Surely the Wall should be incorporated into their plans as it is an important asset.
Speaking of making plans, why was nobody doing anything to prepare for battle here? Instead the main source of conflict was that people of the North didn't like Dany and they don't want to fight with Lannisters. Seriously? With certain death marching in, why does anyone even care about this? I don't buy that people would ignore the White walker threat to worry about bending the knee to Dany, especially since the Wall has fallen. Furthermore, this led to one of the dumbest scenes in the show. Sansa brings up a huge problem: food. There is a massive new army to feed and there are no ways to feed them. So how does everyone react to this? They never bring it up again and Dany dismisses it with a crappy one-liner about dragons. Yikes. Who would trust Dany as a queen after this?
The dragon riding scene was a spectacle, but it was really unnecessary. Why the hell would Jon risk riding a dragon when he didn't know he was a Targaryen? Dany doesn't have total control over them and it's foolish of him to try. What if he died? Everybody would freak out and nobody would trust Dany! That would ruin everything and it seems like a ridiculous risk to take. Furthermore, Jon flies right next to Winterfell. What kind of a message is he sending to his people by doing this? Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if his people decide to assassinate him again with how stupid he is being.
Once more the show has fixated around a shouting fest between Sansa and Jon. Are we seriously still on this storyline? It's been going on forever and has been resolved so many times. I really don't care to see it yet again this season. Also, Sansa's distaste for Dany feels so forced. They talk for like one brief 20 second scene and then all that everyone talks about is how Sansa doesn't like her. What? Did I miss a scene or something? Show me that she doesn't like Dany, don't just make people claim that she doesn't like her.
Bronn's scene had some problems. First of all, it was a pretty forced way to get some boobs in this season. Do we really need this nudity? Secondly, why is Cersei trusting him to kill Jaime and Tyrion? Of all the people she could send, I would never send Bronn who knows them well. What if he decides not to do it because of his attachment to them? It would be so much easier to just send some other sellsword/assassin.
Theon getting Yara back was rushed and ridiculous. It's crazy how easy it was for Theon to infiltrate and escape Euron's fleet. The quick and flippant way that Theon rescued her was an unsatisfying end to that storyline. All of that build up for the story, and this is the climax.
Why is Bran not more freaked out that everyone is going to die? Surely he would try harder to get everyone to focus on the main threat.
The Unknown: Will Sansa's distaste for Dany lead somewhere? I definitely think so. Is it possible that she can drive a wedge between Jon and Dany this season?
What will Jon do now that he knows who he is? I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't do anything with the information for now, considering his character and love for Dany. Who will he reveal his lineage to?
Will Bronn go through with killing Tyrion and Jaime or will he ally with them instead?
I'm interested by Tyrion continually being looked over as an intelligent man this past few seasons. Could the popular theory of him betraying Dany have some merit to it?
What about Cersei's pregnancy? She doesn't seem to say anything about it to Euron? Is she pretending not to be pregnant? Or was she never pregnant to begin with and just lied to Tyrion?
What is the weapon that Arya asked Gendry to forge? What does she need it for?
Best Moment: Dany comes to Sam to thank him personally for saving Jorah. She wishes to reward him, yet her good intentions end up bringing Sam nothing but pain as she reveals what happened to his father and brother. It's a heartbreaking scene and John Bradley's acting was damn good.
Character of the Episode: Sam.
Conclusion: A bit of a mixed bag of a premiere. I enjoyed a lot of the individual scenes and I thought there was a lot to like about this. Unfortunately, the lack of urgency, rushed writing and fan service detracted from the episode.
Summary: Joey gets hired as a lead in a movie that's shooting in Vegas and he takes Chandler with him on the drive. Rachel has an eye infection but she gets really weird about things touching her eye so Monica has to force her to take care of it. Phoebe is mad at Ross but can't remember why.
The Good: There were several funny parts of this episode. Joey's story is strong and is one of the better character-based story ideas we have gotten in a little while. His conflict with Chandler feels real and it led to some really funny moments. The other two stories are harmless fun. Rachel and Monica are pretty funny and the final scene with everyone attacking Rachel was a lovely bit of pay-off. Phoebe and Ross get a few odd lines that were funny, like the fat ass bit. I really liked the answering questions game throughout the episode and it was applied in numerous funny ways as it was continually brought up.
The Bad: Phoebe comes off poorly in her story as she judges Ross so harshly over nothing. The show has been sabotaging her character for a while now. Rachel's eye infection is nothing more than filler. The show has stopped using realistic stories as side-plots and instead chooses to develop random (and sometimes stupid) quirks for its characters instead. This was another episode which made me smile a number of times, but never made me outright laugh hard, making it somewhat forgettable.
Best Moment: Joey asking Ross if he would rather sleep with Monica or Rachel led to some terrific lines.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode, but it was lacking in a few departments.
Summary: The next POI is a woman named Kelli. Shaw and Reese investigate into her and discover she is a criminal being chased by an agent named Bouchard. Shaw stops her next crime but realizes that she is being used by another man, Cyril, who is threatening her by keeping her daughter. After this, the group has a change of heart and helps Kelli steal a valuable item. However, they don't give it to Cyril and instead get him arrested. Kelli is arrested to but Finch informs Bouchard of her situation. Bouchard lets her go.
The Good: The episode had its moments. The heist was fun to watch and there were some really neat moments of planning, like the distractions made to Bouchard and the 3D printing of the required fingerprints. It was decently fun TV.
The ending scene was a great moment of humanity for the crew (see: Best Moment). I would love to see more moments like this based on emotion since they are much easier to connect to than the random drama scenes that preceded this.
The Bad: Once again, the return to the POI formula results in an episode that's almost impossible to care about. The episode was a chore to get through more times than not with a generic story. Kelli wasn't at all interesting and was the same tired case of a seeming bad guy actually being a good guy controlled by a bigger bad. This show has had so many cases of villains kidnapping kids. It's honestly hard to remember any hostages that weren't kids, or to remember any kids that were introduced and not used as cheap ways to build emotion. The show relies too heavily on this.
There was literally nothing new here. Where the last episode had some creative moments to make things feel fresh, this was as simple and unoriginal as possible. It was a bland thriller with very few moments that made me feel anything. Neither Kelli, nor anyone from the main crew did anything character-related to draw me in. This was the most lethargic episode of the season, with almost nothing for me to talk about.
The ending was too cute for me. Kelli got off too easily and of course we needed to have the feel-good reunion scene. It was all too easy and the fact that the writers chose to play it safe with the ending somehow made this episode even duller.
The Unknown: Nothing really.
Best Moment: The final scene was the only scene that got me to care. Everyone was together in one scene (a rarity this season), and they got to share a drink in a surprisingly human moment. The little tribute to Carter was another lovely moment, showing the heart that these guys (and girl) have. A lovely scene.
Character of the Episode: Fusco probably. Nobody really stood out.
Conclusion: This was a very bland episode with nothing particularly good until the final scene. I'm sure this is just a fluke as the show builds to the season's conclusion, but I would have preferred something more original.
Summary: Reese is booking a flight to leave but he gets placed on a different flight. The Machine contacts him with a new number, a person on the plane. He contacts Finch for help and makes contact with the POI, Owen. Owen is being escorted on the plane by marshals who lose consciousness. A man then tries to kill Owen but Reese stops him. Finch discerns that Owen is a relevant number and sends Shaw to get more information. Shaw contacts Hersh to get the information. Owen is revealed to be the head of a drug marketing system that has made a lot of money off of it, giving a cut to the ISA. He is being targeted because he wants to go public. Reese continues to save his life on the plane and sets him up to start a new life after. Finch visits him and Reese decides to go back.
The Good: This was a fun episode that felt original and different. Essentially it was the same old POI story, but it had a few fresh elements that made it stand out. I thought the concept was nice and original. The plane setting was a refreshing change and made this feel like (at times) "Non-Stop" in a TV show. The opening sequence set up the plane in a fun way. There were a fair amount of characters introduced that could all have become villains, adding to the suspense. The way they were introduced was also quite fun. Reese getting annoyed by everyone on the flight was pretty funny and started the episode in the right way.
The inclusion of a relevant number was a terrific way to get me to care about this POI. By having him be relevant, Owen became much more interesting as a result and I was excited to learn why he was being targeted by the ISA and what he was actually doing. It was an engaging mystery that was pretty fun to uncover. Furthermore, I loved the Machine's role in the episode. The fact that the Machine was actively working to keep Reese in contact was really interesting.
There were a few really fun confrontations throughout the episode. Shaw's scenes with both Foster and Hersh were really strong, continuing to follow-up nicely on her time working for Control. Reese's scenes with Owen were all pretty well-written to build mystery and also get some decent comedy in there.
The best part of the episode was the story of Reese rediscovering his passion for helping people. Even though Owen was a pain in his ass, he was still grateful for what Reese did, and it seems like that made a difference in Reese's views; it's still worth saving people. Add in Holly who genuinely appreciated how he helped out, and it's clear that Reese can still save many lives. It's this realization for him that allows him to make the decision to come back. His subtle reveal to Finch was a lovely moment, and Finch's joyful reaction was really nice (see: Best Moment).
The Bad: The story had some dull moments. Indigo 6A didn't really add much to the story, and neither did the Carlos twist. These two characters were sort of just there, not really adding anything to the story outside of some generic action scenes. I didn't like the climax of the episode either. Sometimes larger stakes, like the lives of so many civilians on the plane being in danger, detract from the episode since it was obvious that the plane wouldn't crash. Plus, it's mighty convenient that Finch just has a plane interface somewhere in the library.
I thought that Reese's return to Finch was missing a key moment of realization. The story was so subtle that it actually missed the emotional beats I was expecting. It would have been more poignant had there been some more moments in the episode where Jim Caviezel got to play Reese's emotional state to make the final moment seem more earned and powerful.
There were a few sloppy moments. The show needs to stop having the POI escape suddenly as a dramatic cut to commercials. It's so repetitive. Also, the marshals were so incompetent it was ridiculous. Who the hell trusted those guys?
The Unknown: Why was Hersh asking about Shaw's happiness working under Finch? It was an interesting bit of dialogue. Could that suggest that Hersh is entertaining a switch to working under Finch?
Best Moment: The most emotional part of the episode was certainly the end. Reese and Finch had a nice meeting with Finch being hopeful that Reese would come back. Reese being Reese, subtly hints at a return which Finch picks up on and Michael Emerson plays with such joy and happiness. It was a sweet moment that played off of the bond these two have developed. A lovely moment.
Character of the Episode: Reese.
Conclusion: This was a strong episode. For the most part it was the usual story, but there were a few creative ideas and emotional scenes that helped this stand out.
Summary: Gary wants to ask Phoebe to move in with him. Ross and Joey start passing a ball around and they try to see how long they can go without dropping it. Rachel buys a new cat for $1000 but it hates her.
The Good: There were a few nice jokes throughout the episode. Rachel was pretty good and got the most consistent laughs. Ross and Joey had the odd few jokes.
The Bad: For the most part this was pretty atrocious and is easily the worst episode of the show so far. The biggest problem is the general lack of laughs. There is nothing particular funny about any of the stories and the most they ever did was make me smile. Each story has tons of individual problems. The ball story just isn't very funny and it completely overdoes the competitive side of Monica. She is utterly dislikable here and it's played up even more than it usually is. After seeing the joke for the past 4 seasons, it just isn't as funny anymore. Rachel's story suffers from problematic reactions from others. Nobody seems to want to help her out as they selfishly choose to play with the ball instead of helping her out with her problems. Everyone comes off as terrible friends, ironic considering the show's title. Furthermore, the joke that Rachel's cat is not a cat is way too overplayed. It was never funny yet they do the joke like 5 or 6 times. Phoebe's story was quite terrible. The way that characters flip flop between emotions is ridiculous. Phoebe goes from not wanting to live with him to wanting to live with him too quickly. Chandler gets convinced by Gary ridiculously quickly as well. It feels horribly unrealistic. Two things stand out as exceptionally poor. Phoebe verbally abuses Chandler which is horribly out of character and one of the cruelest things she has ever done. Then we have Gary killing a bird which is absurd and unrealistic, especially since Gary would be aware of Phoebe's love for wildlife after dating her for so long. Furthermore, who the hell just kills birds with a gun like that? Ridiculous.
Best Moment: Ross going off about dinosaurs and Joey suggesting that the game be a silent one was the episode's best joke.
Character of the Episode: Rachel.
Conclusion: This was a bad episode. After such a consistently good season, I wasn't expecting such a sharp drop off in quality. There has been more silliness than usual this season but usually it has been funny and not that excessive. This was way, way, way too excessive and wasn't even funny. The first total dud that "Friends" has produced.
Summary: In flashbacks, Finch hacks into Arpanet. In the present, Root saves Finch, Shaw and Arthur but she gets captured by Hersh and Control. Control tortures her to get admin access to the Machine but Root turns the tables with the Machine's help. She passes a message to Control from the Machine and leaves. Arthur reveals that his memory wasn't that bad and he was faking it to prevent Control from getting information from him. Arthur goes to a bank where he kept the back-up for Samaritan. Vigilance arrive shortly after, wanting to get Samaritan for themselves. Hersh arrives outside as well. Finch convinces Arthur to destroy Samaritan. The group escapes the bank. Root calls Finch and reveals that the drives Arthur destroyed were fakes. The real drives had been stolen before by Decima Technologies.
The Good: I enjoyed the pacing of the main story. We open up with a fantastic sequence that paid off of the previous cliffhanger in a great way. All of the pressing questions I had about Samaritan from the last episode were answered in a quick, efficient way without feeling overwhelming. Then we were treated to a nice action scene when Root arrived. It was a great way to start the episode.
Root's storyline was a joy to watch. Control was intimidating and I was left wondering if Root's imprisonment was intentional by the Machine, or if it had somehow abandoned her. Control's words continued to build this conflict up and I became invested in finding an answer. I thought the scenes had a nice amount of tension to them. Root's torture gave her story a sense of consequence, without over-indulging into the violence which has detracted from torture in other shows (Game of Thrones). The way Root turned things around on Control in the end was very satisfying, and it was absolutely fascinating hearing Root directly convey the will of the Machine to Control (see: The Unknown).
The Samaritan storyline was very well done. I enjoyed the way the plot was set up around the bank. Finch and Shaw were separated as the dual threats of Vigilance and Hersh closed in on them. It became tough to see a way out for the both of them and I was excited to see if they would make it out with Samaritan. Collier had great presence and he felt like more of a threat than usual. His conversation with Hersh was well written and extremely interesting, and suggests that Collier may be a more important threat than he has ever been (see: The Unknown).
Finch and Arthur's conversations were the best parts of this episode. Making Arthur more conversable in this episode paid off big time and it allowed me to actually buy into him and Finch as old friends. It helps that Saul Rubinek and Michael Emerson are both fantastic actors that add that extra degree of realism to their work. I bought into both characters' and I enjoyed their interactions. The best scene between them was the conversation in the vault when Finch was telling Arthur to destroy Samaritan. Arthur killing his creation was a fascinating moment for him and it brought into focus whether it's right to simply destroy an AI or not. Better yet was how the Machine actually rewarded him at the end of the episode (see: Best Moment). Watching him relive his past memories with his wife was genuinely emotional. After all the time we spent with Arthur, I ended up caring about him. I've always wanted "Person of Interest" to have a POI case that carried over multiple episodes to give it more emotional resonance. It's not surprising that Arthur has to be one of the best POIs we have had so far when he was given multiple episodes for his story.
The ending reveal was another outstanding plot twist. With the climax of the HR storyline, Vigilance's introduction and the reveal of Control, I had completely forgotten about Decima. The fact that they just acquired Samaritan was a big shock, and I'm excited to see what they plan to do with it (see: The Unknown).
The backstory on Finch was a really excellent story. It nicely tied into "2PiR" with Finch hacking into Arpanet on a homemade computer. The story with Finch's father was genuinely heartbreaking and was a nice way to deepen our understanding of Finch while also suggesting a reason why he may have chosen to make the Machine.
The Bad: The reveal that Arthur was faking it didn't feel entirely satisfying. If he had taken such good measures to be secretive from Control, why would he tell everything to Vigilance so quickly? It doesn't really add up.
Reese's story was pretty much a dud unfortunately. It broke the pacing of the last episode, but I forgave it because it seemed to be setting up for something bigger. There wasn't much pay-off here and I found myself a little dulled out by his story. I was anxiously awaiting a return to the main plot whenever he and Fusco arrived on screen. It really hurt the episode's pacing by jamming it to a halt at a few points. The actual substance wasn't very good either. It's so tough to buy into Reese's new philosophy and there isn't a very credible reason for him to believe this, especially after working for the Machine for so long and saving so many lives. It would have been nice to see Reese's doubt in the Machine growing throughout the season rather than having him slowly develop a little bit of darkness if this is where his character was heading. Fusco and Reese arriving to save Shaw and Finch was very unsatisfying. How did they know where to go? How did they acquire the SWAT uniforms? It's too much of a deus ex machina.
There was one bit of dialogue I really disliked. Shaw comes up with a great plan for Finch to escape without engaging the enemy. Yet Finch calls this plan reckless. What? No. A reckless plan would be for Shaw to fight through the enemy to get to Finch. This was smart and much safer, so why is it reckless? It seems that the writers wanted Shaw to come up with something reckless to fit her character and couldn't come up with anything. So to make up for it, they just had Finch call a good plan reckless to try to prove a point. It didn't work at all.
The Unknown: Why did the Machine let Root be captured? Presumably Root could have been saved from Hersh, but the Machine didn't want that to happen. Did the Machine want to pass that message on to Control? Or could it be something else? Did Root just leave Control like that? What happened to Control? What will she do next?
How does Collier know about Samaritan? Who are his sources that apparently know this? I'm hoping it isn't just a plot hole. What does Collier want with Samaritan?
What does Decima want with Samaritan? They wanted to kill the Machine last season, so why have they obtained Samaritan? Do they want Samaritan to overtake the Machine? Why? What would change if this happens?
Where is Reese going now? Back to Colorado?
Will Arthur come back later? He was a pretty important character, so I think it's possible he may come back later. Then again, he is dying so he may not return. We haven't seen Leon at all this season and Zoe has hardly appeared. Will we see more of them later in the season?
Best Moment: Arthur getting to enjoy some memories with his wife was genuinely touching. Fascinatingly, it seemed like the Machine provided Arthur with this moment as a thank you for him destroying his own creation. This is so fascinating because it implies that the Machine does have feelings and can express things like gratitude. I would love to see more on this.
Character of the Episode: Arthur. Possibly my favourite POI character yet.
Conclusion: This was another great and exciting episode. While the story was even better than in "Lethe", the flaws were more apparent, making this about equal to that episode. Either way, this two-part story was a big success and I look forward to seeing more.
Summary: Flashbacks show Finch’s childhood. In the present, Reese has vanished without a trace. Fusco goes to look for him, finding him in Colorado. Finch is no longer accepting numbers from the Machine. Root gives him the next number instead. Finch recognizes the next POI, Arthur who is a man dying of a brain tumor. Shaw poses as a doctor to get information on him and discovers he has a secret service guard and that he is unable to control what he says. They discover Vigilance is after him so they hide him away with his wife. Finch learns that Arthur created Samaritan, another Machine and that is what Vigilance is after. Arthur's wife is revealed to be Control who wants information from Arthur. She threatens to kill Finch and Arthur with the person who tells her what she wants being allowed to leave.
The Good: This was a really strong return for the show. It felt different and nicely continued to build off of Carter's death. Most other shows would have its characters move on quickly after a major character death. But this show is proving its quality by allowing Carter's death to significantly affect the characters and plot, making it feel like the pivotal event it should be. Things like Reese vanishing and Finch being hesitant to get more numbers are awesome little stories.
The episode did a terrific job of building mystery too. Arthur's vague responses, the fact that Finch clearly knows who he is, and the involvement of the secret service and Vigilance only served to make me more invested and intrigued as the episode went on. I was hungry for information and I desperately wanted more, which is a sign that the mystery worked spectacularly.
The suspense was awesome too. This episode feels like a complete package for drama with many different ways of keeping my interest. There was loads of tension created by Shaw posing as a doctor (which was a great pay-off to the doctor reveal from last episode) and investigating in some really dangerous business. The interrogation scene with Easton was excellent, and the escape from Vigilance and the hideaway was equally enjoyable.
After these early scenes packed with mystery and action, we got a lengthy expositional scene where we learned about Samaritan, the second Machine. The reveal was a genuine surprise, and while I'm not fully aware of what this reveal could mean for the series as a whole yet, I'm eagerly waiting to see where it leads. Samaritan has been treated with major importance so far, so I'm sure that this will lead to something big.
The Samaritan reveal wasn't the best reveal of the episode. Instead, the twist that Diane was actually Control who had infiltrated Arthur's inner circle was superb. Unlike the Samaritan twist, the implications of this were evident immediately as the government people immediately flooded in, desperate to get their hands on some valuable information. This reveal stunned me, and provided a really dramatic cliffhanger which makes me eager to watch the next episode. Furthermore, there is also the interesting dynamic of Shaw speaking with her boss which I'm excited to see more of.
The brief scenes with Fusco and Reese were excellent. Fusco continues to show his more aggressive side, which I'm all for, while Reese is getting a pleasingly in-depth storyline coming off of Carter's murder. Great stuff. I'm also liking that Reese's reaction to Carter's death is very similar to what happened when Jessica died. Perhaps we will have to see Reese learning to dig himself out of his own hole, instead of having Finch intervene to save him this time around.
The flashbacks were interesting too. They deepened our understanding of Finch and even confirmed that Harold is his real name. I like that this episode delved a bit more into Finch's past not only in the flashbacks, but also with Arthur, as he and Finch got some nice scenes to reflect on the past.
The Bad: Unfortunately, Samaritan comes off as a Macguffin until I know more about it. While I'm sure this won't be a long-term problem for the show, it does make the big reveal fail to be as memorable as it could have otherwise been since I'm unclear on how this affects both the story and the characters.
The Unknown: Is Samaritan still active? Why? Who rebuilt it? Or was it never destroyed to begin with? What are the drives that Control mentioned? Why does she want Samaritan? Does she no longer trust the Machine now that it has gone rogue?
Best Moment: The Control reveal was dramatic.
Character of the Episode: Shaw.
Conclusion: This was a great hour of drama. It sets up future storylines neatly with exciting, fast-paced drama which made this feel like more than just a set-up episode.
Summary: Reese and Shaw have gone rogue to hunt down Simmons who has escaped. Finch gets in contact with Shaw and they work together to bring Reese back, who is still hurting from his injuries. They track down Quinn because Reese is heading there to get Simmons' exit strategy. Finch is forced to release Root to help them out. Reese gets the information from Quinn. Finch stops him from killing Quinn and leaves the information on a piece of paper. Reese is taken to a hospital. Root goes back to imprisonment. Fusco picks up the paper and confronts Simmons. They fight and Fusco wins, arresting him. In the hospital, Elias visits Simmons and lets Scarface kill him.
The Good: What was most striking about this episode was the tone. From the first moment, this episode latched onto a dark, somber tone with the slow-paced, soundless opening scene showcasing Reese and Shaw going hunting for Simmons to avenge Carter. This scene stands out because it's rare to see this show get experimental with its cinematography, and it tried something new here with a resounding success. There was also a terrific usage of Johnny Cash, using "Hurt" to set the tone of the scene.
The rest of the episode more than lived up to the expectations. This was a fittingly serious episode, even Root wasn't as bubbly as she usually is. The main story of needing to find Reese before he gets himself killed was very engaging and it led to an enjoyable story centered around the odd, but enjoyable team of Finch, Shaw, Fusco and Root. Reese had a fantastic role as well. Since season 1, the show hasn't focused on Reese's more badass aspects very much, instead choosing to focus more on parodying the action hero and giving him a fun sense of dry humour. Here Reese is darker than he has ever been, going on a crazy revenge quest to kill Simmons and avenge Carter. It was awesome to see Reese mow people down viciously as he slowly bleeds out, determined to avenge his fallen friend (or lover, but I like it better my way).
Watching Reese hunt down Quinn was engaging and Jim Caviezel gave his best performance yet with Quinn in a terrific scene. Quinn was pretty good here, being unwilling to betray Simmons for showing loyalty. It was pretty despicable, and it visually ticked off Reese who gave a fantastic monologue saying how he will kill Quinn. It's an out of character moment for Reese to give this monologue, but that's the point. Reese is here for petty revenge, and he fully plans to enjoy killing Quinn. Finch's timely arrival is great and he makes a compelling case to Reese. But what I love most is that Reese still tries to kill Quinn before he passes out in a final desperate act of vengeance. It was a dark change for his character and I really hope that the show sticks with it. It had been slowly growing in the last 10 episodes, and I really hope that Carter's death can spark a long-term character change for Reese.
The flashbacks were really good too. The dull colour filter was nice, sticking with the tone of the episode while also providing good moments for the central characters as they speak with some form of a therapist. Finch's grieving started off the episode in the right way and also tied nicely into his grief over Ingram and why he decided to do this job anyways. Shaw's was very interesting (see: The Unknown), while Reese's fit perfectly with his character and even tied in with his dark character turn. It was Fusco who got the bets flashback though, reminding us of how much of a thug he used to be. I thought that "In Extremis" didn't portray the past Fusco effectively, but this was much more appropriate. Fusco coldly hunted down a revenge kill in the past and had no regrets. That sounds more like the man we were introduced to back in the pilot.
The flashback perfectly set up Fusco's story in this episode. I was so glad that Fusco was allowed to be the one to finally take down Simmons since their rivalry is much more personal that Reese and Simmons. The fist fight between Fusco and Simmons was tremendous. Sure, it was a bit hokey, but I bought into it because Fusco has certainly been wanting to beat the crap out of Simmons for quite some time now. Plus, the flashback nicely set up Fusco's determination to give out justice to bad people. The best part was certainly Fusco's final speech which was one of the finest moments of the show (see: Best Moment).
The ending of the episode was as close to perfect as you can get. Elias killing Simmons coldly in the night was a wonderful use of his character, giving somebody some well deserved vengeance over Simmons without compromising the character of any of the main cast.
The Bad: It doesn't make any sense that Shaw and Finch would get to Quinn before everyone else. They had to choose whether or not to get Root involved which likely took some time, and after that they also had to get to Quinn's location, giving Reese and the Russians plenty of time to get there.
I really wish that more was done with Elias this season. The final scene made me really wish that we had gotten to see more of his relationship with Carter, which could have made his murder of Simmons and even better moment.
The Unknown: So Shaw was a doctor and I'm not sure if I like it. Shaw doesn't strike me as the kind of person that would go through med school and everything. Though it does explain how she can give herself medical treatment so easily. I wonder if this reveal will actually go somewhere.
Why is Root still with Finch? Does she have a purpose? Is it the Machine's will or her own? What will it lead to?
Best Moment: After beating Simmons down, Kevin Chapman gives his best performance on the show so far. Fusco passionately goes off on Simmons on how Carter saved his life, expertly conveying how much Simmons killing her really hit Fusco. It's a fantastic moment for Fusco who finally gets a big moment to prove how much he has changed over the course of the series. The final line when Fusco decides to arrest Simmons instead of stooping down to his level was terrific.
Character of the Episode: Fusco.
Conclusion: This was one of the show's finest hours which concluded the first half of season 3 in epic and emotional fashion. This half season has been a huge success for the show. The original POI-style episodes were pretty lame, but the more serialized episodes were pretty fantastic and there were a lot of them in this half season. The show is adapting, and has improved in leaps and bounds as a result.
Summary: Joey, Chandler and Ross go with Gary on a ride along. Rachel goes over to Ross' place to get some margarita supplies but is shocked when Emily leaves a message on his phone. She calls Monica and they debate what to do.
The Good: This was very funny. While parts of this were very stupid (see: The Bad), the important thing is that it was funny the entire time. The dialogue was good, and while the stories weren't the best, they made up for it with some nice laughs. Rachel and Monica are hilarious in Ross' apartment, and Ross himself gets in a lot of good lines as expected.
The Bad: The stories are just dumb unfortunately. The Emily story feels like a waste and isn't taken seriously enough to be worth anything. Having Joey risk his life for a sandwich is ridiculous and makes him look really bad. It was funny, but it makes him look absolutely horrible. Ross playing up his near death experience was in a similar position. It led to laughs, but is wholly inconsistent with his character and implausible.
Best Moment: Ross leaving the message on his own answering machine was amazing. It even led to another great joke at the episode's end.
Character of the Episode: Rachel.
Conclusion: This was funny and I was entertained the whole time. Unfortunately the story was extremely poor at times so that hurts the score.
Summary: HR puts out a hit on Reese to get him killed. Reese and Carter traverse the city secretly with Quinn while Finch sends Shaw and Fusco to find them. Reese and Carter end up holed up in a morgue. Fusco gets captured by HR and is tortured to reveal where Carter's evidence is. HR try to kill his son Lee, but Shaw intervenes and saves Lee. Fusco escapes and kills his captor. Reese and Carter kiss. Reese uses himself as a decoy so Carter can leave. Finch helps out too. Reese is arrested by good cops and Carter makes it to the feds and turns Quinn in. Carter goes to free Reese and they leave together but suddenly Simmons arrives and shoots Reese and Carter, killing Carter.
The Good: I'll address the big point first. After last episode and the conflict seemingly being resolved in this episode, I thought the episode would end peacefully. Carter's sudden death came right out of nowhere and totally stunned me, ending the episode in a big emotional way, and making me absolutely loathe Simmons, a character who I already disliked. It was an excellent cliffhanger and an unexpected death that closed out Carter's story in a tragic way. I especially like the way the death scene was executed. Reese's tears mixed with Finch's shellshocked face as the phone rings in the background was chilling, and helped make this death scene so memorable and affecting. It will go down as one of the show's best scenes so far.
The rest of the episode had some lovely moments too. I loved the callbacks to the pilot episode with Reese and Carter's final conversation as well as the subway scene. I also thought that the commercial break cutting between Reese getting confronted on the subway and him disposing of the knocked out bodies was an excellent transition.
The action was enjoyable for the most part. The episode had lots of momentum with the desperate attempt to get Quinn to the feds and Shaw's attempt to save Fusco. The storylines were told and developed nicely as the episode went on. I really liked Shaw choosing to save Fusco's child and earning some respect from him as a result. It was a nice little background story that developed their story really like. I could watch Finch as the awkward action hero for days on end; his scene tasing the guard was hilarious. There was great tension created by Quinn, and I enjoyed his little acts to help himself, like breaking Reese's phone and leaving a handprint on the ambulance.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Finch and Root scenes were spectacular. Finch was left with a tough decision to make, and that created some great suspense. Root was also nice and persuasive, making me believe that Finch may let her go. It's telling of his character that Finch doesn't give in to her offer, instead choosing to go help Reese himself, and it also led to some good drama.
The Bad: Having Reese and Carter fall in love was really bad. The story wasn't built up properly at all and it happened just out of nowhere. This really annoys me because it ruined what I love about their relationship to begin with, plus I just can't buy into them as a couple. Furthermore, the entire development seems pointless since Carter dies at the end. It seems like a weak attempt to make us sympathize more with Reese when Carter dies. Yet this is insulting, because it shows that the writers assume that we won't feel bad for Reese losing Carter unless they are in love.
The Fusco storyline doesn't work that well. The torture bits are pretty tense, but the resolution wasn't very satisfying. Introducing this new guy to torture him felt like a weak way to give him some revenge on HR. It really should have been Simmons that was beaten by Fusco since Fusco's story with him has been ongoing for so long. I thought Lee's involvement was poor. The show only gives screen time to Lee and Taylor when they can be used for leverage which I think is a really poor way to utilize characters. We hadn't seen Lee for so long that I actually forgot he existed, so when he appeared, I knew that he would be leveraged against Fusco. It's a bad habit of the show. Had it not been for the Fusco/Shaw developments, this side story would have been a total waste.
HR were disappointing as villains, and I thought that Quinn was defeated far too easily. One of the reasons I love "Prisoner's Dilemma" so much is because of how intelligent and threatening Donnelly was. Reese was in a real pickle, and I think the most satisfying thing was how he was actually unable to fully escape because of how capable Donnelly was. In this episode, Reese and Carter are in a similar pickle with the capable HR literally surrounding them and infiltrating the building. Yet they become so incapable so fast despite all of their power. It seems like they all enter the main building and none of them attempt to blockade the federal building that Carter was trying to get to. Somehow Reese and Carter aren't located in the morgue (all they had to do was locate the one room with the light on, come on), and somehow all the cops are distracted on Reese and Finch (even though we only see one cop after Reese). It's not clear how Carter evaded all of them, and it makes them all look especially incompetent.
The Unknown: Is HR actually put away now or will they still kick around? We know that Simmons is still around, but does he have anyone else? What happens to Quinn? Is he really taken down?
Best Moment: Carter's death was one of the show's best moments.
Character of the Episode: Carter. I'll miss her.
Conclusion: This episode was tense and had some awesome moments, particularly the ending. But the episode indulged in many of the worst drama tropes, making it more of a mixed bag of an episode than I was expecting. Sure, it was an exciting episode, but I was expecting better.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.