Summary: Flashbacks reveal that Ingram is planning to reveal the Machien to the public. Finch goes to meet him, but Hersh has Ingram killed in a bombing. Finch fakes his death to keep Grace safe. God mode powers allow Reese and Root to have direct contact with the Machine and it helps them kill the Decima people. Root escapes and destroys the tracker in Finch's glasses when the Machine identifies it. Reese and Shaw go hunting to find Finch and rapidly take care of some POI cases on the way. Hersh frees Special Counsel and searches for Root. Root meets with a man named Lawrence who is the only man left who knows where the Machine is. However, he is killed by Hersh and his men who also try to kill Root. Reese arrives to save them but Root and Finch escape. Both crews discover where the Machine actually is and they head there. Root gets there first but is surprised to see the Machine is gone. Finch reveals that he already set the Machine free and it is now gone. Reese and Shaw arrive and get Finch back, while Root is shot in the shoulder. Special Counsel arrives and is surprised that the Machine is gone. After a message from Control, Hersh kills Special Counsel. The Machine independently contacts Control, Finch and Root.
The Good: This was a wonderful and fun finale. There was constant suspense, a rapid pace, exciting action and some great plot twists. This worked very well as a finale and left me both satisfied and itching to see more.
The episode starts off perfectly. There is no patient start following the end of the last episode as everything opens with a bang. Root and Reese take no time to start experimenting with the Machine and we get a tremendous action scene as Root and Reese basically gain wallhacks due to the influence of the Machine. It's unique, creative and fresh, making the action present in this episode much more engaging than what we usually get. The god mode powers are really creative too. I loved seeing things like Root "customizing" her wallhacks, Reese using the Machine to find a car they can steal, and Root getting new prescription glasses for Finch. It's a ton of fun and is very enjoyable to watch.
Speaking of fun, the POI cases in this episode were simply wonderful. They were so short and sudden, and both made me laugh out loud, especially the wedding one ("congratulations"). Some of the comedy in this show can be damn good. I also enjoyed Reese explaining to Shaw that they have to save everyone because they are the good guys. It was a funny line and also another nice nod to "Lost" fans.
Reese and Shaw were a ton of fun together, and I'm all for seeing them partner up more frequently. They played off each other well, created good comedy, and they work as a proper badass duo. I love the crazy action hero stuff that Shaw brings to the table just as much as I enjoy Reese's reactions to her. Their quest to recover Finch was engaging and it was easy to root for them.
Their chase for Root was fun and I enjoyed how everyone came together with Lawrence. Having Hersh and his crew nearby trying to kill Root created some tension and I found myself unsure where the story was heading. Eventually Root did get away and that led to the great twist that Finch has set the Machine free (more on that later). It was a great twist, and provides a dramatic change to the way the show works going into season 3. We also got another great coming together scene that was packed with tension.
The fate of Special Counsel was a fantastic moment. It appears that he wasn't only manipulated by Root but by the Machine as well, which impersonated his voice and secretly moved itself. Now as punishment, the person above him, this mysterious Control, has sentenced him to die. It's perfect justice to see him killed by his former allies after he has sentenced so many people, like Ingram, to die the way he did. His final words of "fair enough" are perfect and present him as more of a character than anything he got before. Even though he is dying, he still firmly believes that they are doing the right thing.
The ending scene was a fantastic conclusion. We were left unsure whether the Machine would ever contact anyone again, but suddenly the phone rings next to Finch and Reese. But not only them, it also contacts Control and Root. This is such a big moment because this is the Machine choosing to contact these 3 groups, and the possibility of what this could mean (see: The Unknown) is fascinating.
What kept this episode together were the outstanding flashbacks. Ingram's eventual fate is so tragic and it's heartbreaking to see Finch lose his best friend just as he started to come around to his ideals. What's even worse is when Finch is forced to leave Grace behind and fully commit to the Machine (see: Best Moment). Overall, these flashbacks were constructed wonderfully. Both Ingram and Finch's characters made sense and we ended up getting an excellent story arc showing what led to Finch ultimately making the decision that the Machine has to be set free. The reveal is strengthened when you realize that it explains why Finch sold the laptop, and that it also concludes the long-running arc surrounding Finch's backstory. I also really appreciated the way that Hersh's odd flashbacks tied into Finch's in a very sensible way. It was a great way to reveal who was responsible for Ingram's death.
The Bad: Carter's story is a total flop and it really weighs the episode down. The episode starts off poorly with Terney inexplicably giving Carter a generic villain monologue. Why was he so frustrated with her about everything? Would he really get so angry to reveal everything to Carter because she suspects HR? Plus, the main leverage he had was that Carter trusted him, so why ruin that? He threatens to kill Carter, saying he doesn't want to do it, but that makes no sense since Terney had attempted to kill her in the last episode, plus now that she knows about him, she can't possibly be left alive. HR killed Beecher, so why not Carter?
Carter saving Elias didn't work for me. The storyline came out of nowhere and I couldn't think of any reason that Carter would want to risk her life to save Elias. Furthermore, would the police really just let her go and save Elias when she is under investigation for murdering an innocent? What's worse is that the story isn't resolved. I was intrigued by the possibility of a Carter/Elias conversation, but we never get it. Their story just ends in really weak fashion.
So no Fusco in this episode, huh. That's disappointing.
There were a few small gripes about the main story. While the POI bits were funny, they felt too easy, especially considering how tough POI stories have been in the past. The big exposition scene about Lawrence didn't work for me. The show really rushed Reese and Shaw coming to the conclusion and they lost organic dialogue as a result. As a final nitpick, why didn't Root ask Special Counsel where the Machine was? Obviously he knew its location.
The Unknown: Who is Control and what will her role be?
What is the Machine doing now? Where is it? Why did it contact each of the 3 groups? We know that a number arrived to Control. Is it contacting Root and Finch for different reasons? Will Root get god mode again? Perhaps she will get numbers too? How about Reese and Finch? Will they get god mode or numbers? Or something else entirely?
Best Moment: Finch having to hide from grace to prevent her from being in danger was absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that Finch has to go through this mere moments after Ingram's death is awful and it is easily one of the most powerful scenes in the show so far.
Character of the Episode: Finch.
Conclusion: This was a great season finale. Even though the Carter story failed, the rest of the episode was awesome with plenty of fantastic moments, gripping twists and an explosive climactic feeling that resonated through the episode. This was a fun end to the season as the show continues to get better and better.
Season 2 was a certain improvement over season 1. It had some weaker episodes for sure, but as a whole, there was much more good than bad. The commitment to long-term stories helped out a lot and gave the season a lot more momentum than the first season ever had. Things like the Donnelly and Stanton storyline were extremely fun and provided some memorable moments in the middle of the story. Add in the bookend Root storylines and we have a much more complete story going on this season when compared to the first. The POI storylines were written much better too (for the most part). As a whole, the stories were funnier, paced better, written better and they were often connected to some larger multi-episode storyline in the same episode. But the season was still far from perfect. The episodes are too inconsistent in quality, the dialogue can be hit or miss, some storylines fall flat and other stories are impossible to invest in. The show still has a long way to go, but now it is starting to show its full potential, and I hope that in season 3, we can see the best of what this show can do on a more consistent basis.
Summary: Flashbacks show Finch discovering that Ingram was helping the irrelevant cases illegally. Finch shuts it down just as Ingram's number comes up. After 10 days without a number, Finch looks into what is happening with the Machine and notices a countdown. The Machine gives a number for Ernest Thornhill and after some investigation, Reese and Finch realize Thornhill doesn't exist but that Decima Technologies are targeting him. Finch deduces that Thornhill was created by the Machine. Reese makes contact with Shaw while Root contacts Finch and they have a meeting to trade information. Root threatens Grace so Finch has to work with her, while Reese works with Shaw. Finch reveals that the Machine will reboot at the end of the countdown and a call will come to a certain payphone. Whoever answers will become the new admin and Decima Technologies are now guarding every payphone in the city. Root gets Finch to help her and Finch is forced to give her admin access. However, he does some last minute programming and sends a call to Reese who is nearby, also giving him admin access. Meanwhile, HR try to kill Carter but they fail to so they instead frame her for killing a defenseless civilian.
The Good: This was a fast-paced and entertaining set-up episode with a lot going on. The various factors of Root, Shaw and Decima Technologies come together in a wonderful way and sets up what should be an epic finale.
The episode is interesting from its first few seconds. Like in "Relevance", the intro is completely changed and it ends up feeling both creative, and more cinematic. The concept of a Machine crash was portrayed so beautifully that I was left unsure if the show was causing the slowdown or if my TV was lagging terrible. This effect was continued throughout the episode as the usual clips taken from the perspective of a surveillance camera were choppy and slow.
The episode is nicely organized into two halves. The first is the investigation on Ernest Thornhill and the second half is the splitting of Reese and Finch's storylines along with the return of Root and Shaw. The first half provided some excellent set-up. The Thornhill mystery was really engaging, as was the way that clues were slowly revealed about the nature of his character being a ghost created by the Machine. It was a compelling mystery with some fun moments, like Reese and Finch infiltrating Thornhill's workplace.
The rest of the episode had a lot of momentum built up from the first half and was able to engage in some exhilarating set-up. Root capturing Special Counsel, Decima Technologies getting involved again and Shaw returning set the story fully into motion. Reese and Shaw's half of the story was really fun as we got a better idea of what their dynamic would be like in the future. Plus, we got a great scene with the return of John Nolan's character as he interacts with Reese, suggesting that he may be coming after Finch soon.
The other story featured Root and Finch and we got more of the fantastic conversations (see: Best Moment) that made the first two episodes of the season so engaging. I enjoyed Root blackmailing Finch by threatening Grace, and that put all the cards in Root's hand. Finch was along for the ride with her yet again, and now Reese has to find him once more. It's a nice way to bookend this season with Reese needing to save Finch from Root in both the season premiere and the season finale.
The final stretch of the episode delivered the kind of adrenaline rush you would expect from the season's climax. The countdown to the virus shutting down the Machine was a fantastic idea. It provides a great way to get everybody gathered together at the same place at the same time. Furthermore, we get a great and surprising explanation about what happens when the clock runs out. The Machine won't die like I was expecting, but rather it will give its power to the first person who answers a specific payphone. This is a wonderful reason for everyone to gather, and it successfully makes us understand why Root and Decima Technologies cannot be allowed to win, putting us firmly on Reese and Finch's side. The conclusion to this episode is wonderful with both Reese and Root gaining access to god mode, an exciting ending which promises a dramatic, action-packed season finale.
Lastly, we got some more flashbacks in this episode. While they weren't too notable, they had some pretty good storytelling. Finch has discovered what Ingram was doing and surprisingly he is firmly against it. It appears that Finch still has to grow in the past and whatever it is that results in Ingram's death will likely lead to him changing his mind.
The Bad: Special Counsel was bested pretty easily and then totally vanished from the episode. That's a bit disappointing.
Carter's story got very little time, so it was almost impossible to care about. The main story was so much more interesting than her story. Hopefully the finale resolves this storyline in an enjoyable way. Also, did Fusco just get written out of the season's endgame? If he did, that's really poor since he deserves much more than this as a main character.
The Unknown: What was the important information that Root needed from Special Counsel? Was it about the payphones? Thornhill? Something else?
So Finch apparently hasn't told Grace his real name. Is Harold Finch his real name? I'm not so sure.
Finch was suddenly called by a payphone at one point. Was that supposed to be Carter's number?
Why didn't Finch allow the Machine to protect itself? Root suggests that Finch just didn't think about it, but I highly doubt that. Furthermore, why did he sell the laptop with a virus on it if the Machine couldn't protect itself? Did he try to destroy the Machine in the past?
Ingram is the next non-relevant case in the past. Is he going to die soon? If so, how?
Best Moment: Root and Finch once again had a great discussion about the Machine. The conversation does a fantastic job of fleshing out Root. She seems genuinely disgusted that Finch didn't allow the Machine to defend itself and survive. We also get the great reveal that Finch has forced the Machine to erase all data every night, having it constantly restart. This makes a lot of sense, and as expected, it also disgusts Root who seems more determined than ever to let the Machine be free.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: This was a very fun episode to set up the season finale. I feel like the episode would be even better when watched together with the finale, almost like one of the multi-part finales from "Lost". The purpose for this episode was to give us some big reveals and get us excited for the season finale, and it succeeded in both.
Summary: Flashbacks show Fusco being drawn into being a dirty cop by Stills. Reese gets a new number but finds he is too late and the POI, Nelson has been poisoned and will die. Reese decides to help him get vengeance on the man who killed him and they kill the man responsible with poison. Fusco is being investigated for being a dirty cop and he is forced to tell Carter what he has done. Carter takes a while to come around, but she eventually helps Fusco by hiding Stills' body so that the evidence doesn't turn up.
The Good: The opening scene was pretty grisly and nicely set the tone for the episode. Fusco's gone through some rough things in his past and now it's finally catching up to him. It's great to see him face some consequences and Kevin Chapman put in one of his best performances here.
The POI story was really rough (see: The Bad), but it had a clever premise. It's refreshing to see the POI actually die for once and it did a good job of setting up the ending now that we are aware of a virus attacking the Machine. The ending was pretty exciting as it looks like the Machine may have actually just shut down.
The Bad: The POI story was lame. Nelson was a very uninteresting character and I didn't find myself invested in his revenge story. He didn't come off as a character who was looking for vengeance and that prevented me from wanting to see him pay back the man who killed him. Speaking of the man who killed him, the show really seemed to like referring to Nelson as a dead man because they mentioned it over and over to the point that it was really annoying me. It seems that this storyline existed more for these clever lines of dialogue rather than an actual story.
The POI storyline all feels too easy as well. Reese continually suggests that they may be too late which feels so awkward since he has never mentioned something like this in the past. It feels forced to promote the idea that the Machine is giving numbers late. Furthermore, Reese simply knowing that Nelson would die was way too simple (he could easily recover, also Reese could just go help him). The final revenge kill was way too easy. The villain goes into a tedious monologue just so Nelson could pull out the rug from underneath him and let him know he's going to die. It's wholly unsatisfying and doesn't end the story in a good way.
Fusco's story doesn't work the way it should. I didn't like the flashbacks very much. They seem to suggest that Fusco was always a good guy and he only got roped in with the bad people because Stills was his friend and he was simply loyal. This completely destroys the redemptive arc he went through in season 1 where a heartless thug made a turnaround and became a good cop. I was very displeased that Fusco wasn't presented as an outright dirty cop in these flashbacks in an attempt to earn more sympathy.
Carter's reaction to Fusco being dirty wasn't good either. She has already dealt with the fact that bad people can turn things around when she started working with Reese. To have her go through the exact same arc here is repetitive and it doesn't really have much of an impact. Furthermore, Carter being so shocked at Fusco's past is ridiculous. Fusco already suggested a really dark past, so surely Carter could have easily imagined something worse just by thinking about it for a few seconds.
The fact that Carter is able to get to Stills' body before the police is idiotic. There's no way she should be able to pull that off.
The Unknown: Did the Machine fully shut down at the end? How will Finch recover it? What will happen when the numbers stop coming? What will Reese and Finch do? What will Decima do when the Machine shuts down?
Best Moment: Probably the opening scene. Very little stood out.
Character of the Episode: Fusco.
Conclusion: This was a big disappointment. Fusco's story is so easy to tell, and it's beyond me how the show messed it up, especially after putting out a few really great episodes this season. Hopefully this is just a fluke and we will get back to good stuff int he final two episodes of the season.
Summary: The next POI is a girl named Monica who works for a big company, Rylatech. Finch goes undercover as a worker to investigate. Reese looks into Shaw and runs into her. Shaw leaves him and later runs into Finch, inquiring on information for Root. She takes the information Finch has and leaves. Finch and Reese realize that Monica has been set up and is fired. They discover that China has been using the company to gain intel on USA. However, the case becomes public and suddenly all of the enemies vanish. Decima Technologies were actually the ones behind Rylatech and used China as a scapegoat. Carter asks Fusco to look in on Beecher. After Beecher inquires with Elias about how Quinn knew Szymanski was guilty, Fusco realizes he is innocent. Quinn realizes Beecher is a problem and has him killed.
The Good: This episode felt important. There were several big developments regarding HR/Elias, Shaw and Decima Technologies and all of the storylines were fairly interesting. It gave the episode a sense of importance to aid a rather dull POI story (see: The Bad).
The scenes with Shaw were excellent as expected. I am invested in her character after "Relevance", so I was ecstatic to see her again. Her scenes with Reese and Finch were both very good and her apparent motivation to go after Root is pretty exciting, and adds yet another important background story to build up for the end of the season.
The HR storyline was much better in this episode. The more time we spend with them, the more dangerous they are going to seem, and the more of a threat they become. Having Quinn be responsible for the death of Beecher is a really smart move. Now Carter has a personal reason to shut down HR, which makes their storyline resonate more emotionally and helps make up for the shallow depth of Quinn's character. I also enjoyed the scenes with Elias since it reminds us that he will come in conflict with HR soon since they are both opposing forces now.
I was very pleased by the return of Decima Technologies at the end. Apparently they were secretly surveilling all of USA using Rylatech, which is a huge development. This company is dangerous, powerful, smart and a threat to the Machine, if John Nolan's character means what I think he means. Furthermore, he has a red box around him which means he is a threat.
The POI storyline had some really fun moments. I loved Finch trying to cook up some clever plan to get the hard drive only for Reese to just pickpocket it. A great moment of comedy in the episode. I was also pleased by the episode's use of Bear. There was some nice comedy surrounding him, and he was used in a really clever way for the plot.
The Bad: Monica's story was really dull. It was hard to care about her character and the plot completely overshadowed any of the attempts at character development in this story. There just wasn't much substance to the story being told. They attempted to get more with the conversation between Martin and Monica at the end. Unfortunately, the scene was inorganic and forced with generic dialogue. It ended up being an unoriginal villainous monologue scene and it didn't do anything for me.
The Unknown: Why did Martin kill himself? What was the agreement with him and the Decima Technologies guy? Why did they have this agreement? Was it a failsafe for Decima to ensure they aren't discovered? It seems so since the guy called immediately after Rylatech was in danger of being compromised.
Also, Decima Technologies are targeting the Machine aren't they? The virus that Stanton uploaded was created by them, which is pretty big evidence, but also we see a red box around the Decima guy, signifying a threat. I presume the larger operation he mentioned is referring to the Machine.
Best Moment: Shaw and Finch stole the show once again. Great scene between them with an interesting dynamic.
Character of the Episode: There wasn't a particular stand out this week so I'll give it to Shaw again for having a big presence.
Conclusion: This was a strong episode. The POI story wasn't great, but outside of that there was some really exciting set-up and pay-off for a lot of different storylines.
Summary: Reese saves Leon yet again. The next POI, Lou, is a gambler at a casino. Reese and Finch tail him and discover that he is getting dead drops from a pharmacy and he is being used to launder drug money into the casino. Finch gets to converse with Lou and learns about his past and connects with him. Reese discovers that Lou is skimming some of the money for himself from the casino people. Finch tries to get Lou out of the city but he refuses to leave. Finch and Reese help him steal $20 million from the casino through gambling.
The Good: This was a really fun episode with a number of good callbacks and funny moments. Leon remains a really fun character. The opening scene was absolutely hilarious, and I got a kick out of Leon no longer fearing death since he knows he has guardian angels in Reese and Finch. Leon's brief roles int he rest of the episode were fun and he had some good lines.
The central story is pretty good. The early parts of the story are very fun because I never really had any clue what the plot was going to be until the episode revealed it. It was an enjoyable mystery and there were some really good moments as it was being revealed. The best was the conversation between Finch and Lou, which did a great job of revealing Lou's character to us while continuing the mystery of what is going on at the casino.
Lou's character was fairly enjoyable too. His backstory was pretty well done and it tied in nicely with Finch's. What I liked most was that the story with Lou has perhaps got Finch wondering if there is a way for him to go back with Grace. This is an important development and I think it will lead to a story where Finch may be forced to choose either the Machine or Grace. I also enjoyed the final scene with Finch and Lou. I was extremely pleased with the return of the watch and I thought they established the relationship nicely.
I don't really have much to say about this episode. It was a fairly standard episode, but I was never bored. It was just a nice, fun episode.
The Bad: We have seen so little of Fusco recently. With the HR story re-emerging, I would have liked to see more of him, but he was hardly involved in this episode. I hope the show doesn't shove him into the background after so much work was done making him into a good character.
The HR plot isn't as interesting as I want it to be. Quinn hasn't had enough character to be an important threat. The final two minutes of this episode are the best he has gotten, but it still isn't anything special. I would much rather focus Shaw, Root, Decima Technologies and Special Counsel over HR. Szymanski's return is underwhelming too since he is brought back just to die.
The drama in this episode isn't too special. The action left a lot to be desired and the climactic Russian roulette scene was really dumb. The casino manager was professional enough to track down Finch and capture him, yet he leaves their fate to Russian roulette for some reason, and Reese is able to escape easily. That also raises the point of why Reese didn't just break out immediately. The scene was just poorly done.
The Unknown: What will come of Finch starting to think of Grace again? Could he reveal himself to her soon? Could Grace find herself in danger somehow?
Why did HR go through with the whole thing with Szymanski? Was it an attempt to become important again? What does killing him accomplish? Is their goal to ally with Yogorov? Elias? What is their plan?
Best Moment: The final conversation with Lou and Finch. You can see some regret and desire coming into the face of Finch as he remembers Grace and the life he could have had. Great acting from Michael Emerson.
Character of the Episode: Finch.
Conclusion: This was a good episode. There was a nice underlying story with Finch, and the rest of the episode was good fun which more than made up for a lack of tension.
Summary: The Machine hasn't given a number in a few days and Finch suspects Stanton's virus is the cause. A bunch of numbers suddenly are given and Finch suspects they are connected. Reese goes to investigate the area where one of the POIs just went missing but gets stuck there due to a storm. He runs into an FBI agent, Fahey who is also investigating. A bunch of people are trapped and Finch arrives to help Reese, aware that the killer is likely among them and is using the missing POIs identity as a cover. Fahey turns out to be the killer and he threatens to kill Finch but Carter arrives with Beecher to save Finch.
The Good: This episode took a while to get going, but when it did, it was decent fun. The whole "trapped with the killer" gimmick is usually fun and it gave this episode a little bit of drama.
I liked the Fahey twist. The moment the character was introduced, I immediately expected the big twist for him to be a villain. But throughout the episode, I was impressively led to believe I was wrong until the twist actually hit and it did surprise me. It was pretty nicely done.
The episode's best moments came from its raw cheesiness. Declan's cheesy evil nature was entertaining in a dumb way, as was the hilariously dramatic thunder reveal early on. I also loved the sudden and overly-dramatic body armour reveal, which came mere moments before Beecher killed Declan.
The Bad: The expositional onslaught to start the episode sucked. The dialogue was downright terrible and horribly unimaginative, with Finch spouting things that were necessary for the plot in a dull and completely unrealistic way. It immediately took me out of the episode, and the fact that the episode ended with an equally poor scene wasn't good.
The episode as a whole was really dull for the first half. It had poor and generic dialogue all the way through with limited comedy and a complete lack of momentum and drama. The closest they got was the storm which did an awful job of generating tension, even though it was clearly framed to.
Declan's character was just too ridiculous for me to buy into him. He is so cool and collected for most of the episode, so when he turns into a comical bad guy, it's absurd and comes on way too abruptly. His conversation with Finch fails to replicate the success of any of the other electric conversations we have seen in the show. The main issue with the conversation is how inconsistent it is with the characters. Declan is stupid for a big evil since he refuses to kill Finch and falls victim to the curse of the monologue. Finch came off poorly too as he seemingly tries to throw his life away by provoking the clearly mentally unstable serial killer. Then, the climact scene gets executed really poorly. Declan blatantly turns his back to the door, making it obvious that somebody is going to shoot him from behind. Also, Beecher entering the scene from a different door to kill Declan was really convenient, wasn't it.
The Unknown: Is Beecher a genuinely good man, or is he genuinely bad? What will become of Carter through her relationship with him?
Best Moment: The cheesy thunder reveal was fun.
Character of the Episode: Carter.
Conclusion: This was a disappointing and flat episode. Coming off of "Relevance", I knew the show wouldn't be able to hit that quality again in this episode, but this was much worse than I was expecting. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road before we get to the season's climax.
Summary: Shaw is a government operative who works with technician Michael Cole and kills people that correspond to numbers supplied by the government. Cole delves into the source of this information and tells Shaw his suspicions, but he is killed soon after by their boss Wilson who works for Special Counsel. Shaw escapes and wants vengeance for Cole. She tracks down Cole's contact Veronica but finds Root waiting for her. Root tries to get information out of Shaw but the government people arrive and she flees. Reese saves Shaw and introduces her to Finch. Finch wants to recruit her but Shaw refuses to go after Special Counsel. After a conversation with Special Counsel, Shaw kills Wilson and Special Counsel lets her leave. However Hersh tries to kill her through an overdose. Carter and Fusco reach the scene of the crime, and with Leon's help they fake Shaw's death. Reese and Finch contact her and Finch gives her his contact information. Shaw leaves.
The Good: What's most fascinating about this episode is how it came absolutely out of nowhere. With "Prisoner's Dilemma" and "Dead Reckoning", I started the episode anticipating what was going to happen. That was not the case here. When I started to watch this one, I was ready for the usual person of the week episode. But what I got instead was a terrific change in pace as a new character gets introduced to us in a story that completely broke the format of every prior episode of the show. Just like "Lost", this show appears to excel when it breaks the format and this was no exception.
The moment the episode starts, I could tell that we were in for something special. The normal intro got completely cut off which took me off guard and all of a sudden we weren't with Reese and Finch, but with Shaw and Cole. It's a jarring change of pace and intrigued me instantly (I really enjoyed these "tunnel vision" episodes in "The Leftovers", so I had some expectations that this would deliver). Immediately it's clear that these two are basically another Reese and Finch, getting orders from an outside source. The only difference is that these two aren't aware of what the source is and serve as a simple hit squad.
But it's becoming aware that costs Cole his life. He starts floating ideas to Shaw about what this research squad is. Of course, we are aware that the research squad must be the Machine. I've always wondered how the government used the Machine's data, and now we get to see what they are doing. Cole is just casually chatting about what research could be, but we understand that him becoming aware may put him in danger. And it does, and he dies, nearly taking Shaw down with him. This leads to a great action sequence which was directed excellently as Shaw never comes off as an invincible hero, but rather a capable badass. Plus we got an amazing moment as Reese pops up out of nowhere to help Shaw who just shoots him down without hesitation. That was a lovely moment of characterization that let us know who Shaw is. Due to scenes like this, and a few other moments of characterization regarding her dealings with the drug dealer she kidnaps, she has our support now in a revenge quest to learn what got Cole killed.
Shaw's mission leads us to three distinct confrontations, and I enjoyed all of them. The first one was my personal favourite (see: Best Moment), as Shaw comes in contact with Root. The two of them have a great conversation which had me on the edge of my seat, waiting for the shoe to drop and for Root to try to turn the tables. When she does, the scene takes an epic turn and is carried by Root's captivating charisma as she threatens to torture Shaw. Unfortunately, Root exits the episode shortly after, but the little bit we got with her ended up being both informative (see: The Unknown) and exciting.
Then we get to the second confrontation, Shaw meeting with Reese and Finch. I got a good laugh out of Reese dryly trying to convince Shaw not to shoot him and I was looking forward to Shaw's meeting with Finch. Their scene worked so well because it served as a cool-down in an episode which was so densely packed with drama and action. Yet the cool-down was just as gripping as everything else. The information Finch gives to Shaw may not mean much to her, but we understand the subtext and that makes the scene much more enjoyable. It's also interesting that this is one of only a few scenes where Reese and Finch are present. This episode could have been done from their perspective, but it would have lost something had that happened. This was much more effective.
The final confrontation was with Special Counsel. He has been firmly in the background for so long that I found it difficult to care about him, so this confrontation interested me the least. But, it didn't fail because this was the most personal confrontation for Shaw. Her revenge quest climaxed here with her refusing to care about whatever it is that Special Counsel was up to, instead taking cold, sweet revenge by murdering Wilson. The fact that Special Counsel calmly let her go after that, only to kill her when she didn't expect it was a nice bit of character development for him and it ended up being a great ending for the scene.
The episode's conclusion was really fun. I was overjoyed to see Leon back (he really should be used more often), and having him, along with Carter and Fusco, assist Finch and Reese in faking Shaw's death to save her life was great. It appears that Reese and Finch want her as a new member of the crew, and I definitely support that decision. From what we have seen from her so far, Shaw is a great new recurring character and I hope to see her in a few more episodes this season.
The Bad: It seems that the show is heading towards a government conspiracy plot. It's a pretty generic drama plot so I'm not as interested as I should be in this storyline. There has been a lot of strong build-up so hopefully it won't be a generic storyline and it will have some memorable moments. Special Counsel can use more characterization too. He isn't really doing the job as a big villain for me. I'm much more interested in seeing more of the British representative from "Dead Reckoning".
Shaw removing the bullet seemed a bit too easy to be realistic. Just a nitpick though and nothing immersion-breaking.
The Unknown: I'm assuming Special Counsel was the one who put the hit out on Cole and Shaw. But could it have been somebody else? With this show, I'm starting to constantly keep an eye out for new players being introduced.
Project Northern Lights has to be the Machine right? I assume so. Where is this research facility that was built? Presumably that is where the Machine is actually located.
I couldn't help but notice the boxes on the Machine again. Apparently Shaw's box is blue. What does that mean? Does that mean she works for the Machine like Reese and Finch but isn't aware of it?
So Root is searching for the location of the Machine, according to what she was saying to Shaw. All she needs is Aquino's contact to get what she needs. Is she going to make contact with Shaw again to get this information? Or will she stay undercover with Special Counsel until another opportunity arises? Are there any others that are aware of Aquino's contact?
Best Moment: Shaw arrives to visit Veronica, and to my delight Root answers the door. I was stunned and pleased by this twist (it's a very Root thing for her to just be Veronica). The tension was palpable from that moment on and the ensuing scene was one of "Person of Interest"'s most gripping moments yet.
Character of the Episode: Shaw.
Conclusion: An episode that came out of nowhere and delivered in a big way. Shaw's story was fantastic and refreshing, providing us another standout episode. This show is really clicking now and I'm more excited than I thought I would be for the rest of the season. The more I watch this one, the better it gets and the higher my score becomes.
Summary: The next POI is a maid working in a hotel. Reese and Finch infiltrate the hotel and learn that there is a hit squad trying to kill her. Reese protects her and he also enlists Fusco's help. Special Counsel gets reports of gunshots from the hotel and sends Hersh to silence Reese. Hersh finds Reese and they fight. Reese gets an opportunity to kill Hersh but he lets him live. Carter gets another opportunity to join the FBI but is rejected when it is revealed that the FBI is doing many investigations on Beecher.
The Good: The hotel setting felt really refreshing. It was unique and gave this episode a different vibe. I was pleased to see the hotel setting used well with elevator scenes, lobby scenes and both Reese and Finch taking on hotel jobs.
"Person of Interest" does a really good job of surprising me with its twists in most episodes. This episode was one of those. There are so many red herrings placed in the episode (Tug, Bud, Derek, Harris), that it's impossible to figure out where the threat is coming from until it is revealed. The hit squad reveal was surprising and it worked to increase the danger of the episode since a hit squad is way more threatening than any of the other potential threats.
Hersh's story is fun too. I enjoy his character as a rogue who does criminal things without hesitating even for a second. The scenes where he casually stole a police car and abruptly left the hospital were very good. He is intimidating and is a good rival for Reese, since their characters are both similar but Reese has some humanity while Hersh doesn't appear to have any. The fight scene with Reese and Hersh was one of the show's best and it had an excellent ending (see: Best Moment).
There were a few other things I enjoyed. Getting continuation of Carter joining the FBI was nice and we got a good reason for her not being accepted. Zoe returned once again for another fun cameo. Reese punching Derek was one of the most satisfying moments of the series, and Reese's interactions with him were very funny. The ending reveal was excellent. I'm excited to learn more about what Root is up to (see: The Unknown).
The Bad: This episode had some of the show's worst and most predictable tendencies. Mira is left out of sight for one scene and immediately runs away in typical fashion. Reese is again unable to save the life of a victim who is connected to the episode's POI (Harris). That brings me to a big issue I have with these side characters dying. Why doesn't the Machine give their numbers as well? They are in danger too, so why are they being neglected? Furthermore, why don't Reese or Finch show any frustration about this? It has happened so many times, so you would expect an annoyed reaction from them that they can't save everyone's lives and can only save the life of one specific individual. It's a missed opportunity not to bring this up since I think it's a concept that could be explored in some detail.
Like in "Bad Code", we get a character telling their entire life story in a really awkward way. Mira telling everything to Reese feels so sudden and phony, and I think the scene could have been written much better. It detracts from the emotion if my immersion is broken right at the beginning of the scene.
It's a bit disappointing that the FBI story didn't really go anywhere and only served to set up Beecher. I would have liked to see where it could have gone and I was pretty excited by it since I thought Carter would be accepted.
The Unknown: What are these Beecher investigations for? Do they connect to his presence in HR? Or is it something else? What will Carter do with this information? Will she help Beecher? Or will she get caught by trying to help him and punished?
What is Root doing with Special Counsel? Is she trying to get more information on the Machine? I'm pretty sure that Special Counsel knows about the Machine. Apparently she has been there for a while now. Does she have an overall goal? What is it?
Best Moment: Reese and Hersh have a tense fight. They both grab knives and Reese stabs Hersh. This was great because in most fight scenes like these, weapons don't end up making contact so this was a nice way to buck the trend. Then we get a great moment as Reese lets Hersh survive and leave. It's a remarkable display of humanity from Reese who recognizes that Hersh is just like him: a man who just does his job. Because of this, Reese lets him live, and I'm sure that this scene will be crucial for what Hersh does next.
Character of the Episode: Hersh.
Conclusion: This was another harmless and fun episode. While this one had some troubling writing issues, it was another solid story with good moments.
Summary: The next POI is a man named Logan who owns a billion dollar company. He is also a total slob and is very unpredictable. Reese is forced to reveal himself to protect him since Logan continually puts himself in tedious situations that make it impossible to follow him. Logan is able to deduce who Reese is and is curious to learn more. Eventually it's revealed that Logan's lawyer is trying to kill him so Reese disposes of the lawyer and leaves. Logan's name comes up again and his business partner is trying to kill him since Logan jumped ship to another business. Reese deduces what is happening and saves Logan again.
The Good: Logan is a really fun character. While he really stretches believability (see: The Bad), he is also really fun in a way that POIs usually aren't. Logan is such a cartoon character that he is a total joy to watch. The unpredictable nature of his character and his funny obnoxious personality make the episode more enjoyable to watch. Jimmi Simpson delivers a surprisingly convincing performance, and he continues his track record of impressing me in every show I see him in.
The episode itself isn't particularly important and is a definite cool down after the last few episodes. However, I don't think that's a bad thing. It would be hard to follow up the relentless pace and suspense, so the show was in need of some cooling down to build towards the next big storyline.
The main story was pretty fun too. It stands out because of Logan's intelligence. it was interesting to see a conventional POI story only with the POI being aware of who Reese and Finch are. It added an interesting new dynamic and had its fair share of fun, surprising moments. The watch at the ending was a fun little twist and did a nice job of adding some extra depth to Logan. It certainly sets up a return from him later on.
I enjoyed the flashbacks too. Finally, we get to see more of what happened with Finch and Ingram after the Machine was given to the government. It seems that Ingram was the original Reese and he may have been the one to come up with the idea of saving the other people instead of Finch. Perhaps Finch only continued it to respect Ingram after his death. Either way, it seems that something significant will happen that leads to Ingram's death and I'm excited to see what it is.
The Bad: Logan is so much of a dirtbag that it's hard to believe. I've never seen anyone so vile in the real world, so it's stretching it for Logan to have such an excessive personality.
The Justin twist wasn't very good. The second he was introduced, I figured he would be involved with a twist later on, especially seeing how his relationship with Logan wasn't very good. As far as the show's twists go, this was one of the weakest ones for sure.
The Unknown: Was Ingram the first Reese? What led to his death? Was it government-related or did he die while trying to save lives like Reese does?
Will we see Logan again?
After re-watching some episodes, I couldn't help but notice the boxes that the Machine assigns to people. I noticed that Reese and Finch are yellow. Does that just mean they are servants of the Machine? Does it mean they are aware of its existence? Or something else? I've also noticed that red boxes seem to mean dangers.
Best Moment: The reveal of the nature of the watch gift was a fun moment.
Character of the Episode: Logan.
Conclusion: This was a pretty fun episode and a good way to cool down.
Summary: Flashbacks reveal that Stanton survived the blast and was hospitalized. She is met by a mysterious man who offers her revenge. Carter escapes the scene of Donnelly's death and notices Reese is gone. Fusco gets involved and learns what happened. Finch tries to locate Reese to save him. Reese awakens wearing a bomb vest with Stanton and Snow. Stanton tasks him with obtaining a specific hard drive from a secret laboratory. Reese deduces that Stanton is trying to get a cyber weapon and secretly deletes the drive data to Snow's chagrin. Stanton reveals she actually wanted to upload something to the laboratory instead. She triggers the bomb vests and Snow and Reese are both on borrowed time. Finch arrives and manages to defuse Reese's bomb. Stanton gets a call from the man and receives a name to get revenge. Snow shows up in her car and the bomb blows up, killing both of them. The name is revealed to be Finch.
The Good: It was always going to be hard to follow the prior episode, but this did a damn good job. While the episode isn't as relentlessly intense as "Prisoner's Dilemma", it follows a more basic method of building up to a climax which then delivers as much of a bang (literally) as possible. This ended up being a very smart approach since it ensures that this episode won't be overshadowed by doing a completely different story.
And the story was really great. Stanton was excellent in this episode, and while I was saddened to see her go so soon (see: The Bad), her storyline has successfully set up yet another mysterious background character who will most certainly be showing up again. It's good to know that Stanton was just the beginning of a storyline which is even larger in scale than I initially imagined (see: The Unknown).
Stanton's story was really good too. Her character works really well in opposition to Reese. Stanton is everything Reese isn't. She is a psychopathic monster and perfectly fits with the description of Reese that Donnelly gave in the previous episode. She comes off as pure, cold evil and Annie Parisse plays the role extremely well. I think Stanton works so much better as a villain than Donnelly due to her connections to Reese, her charismatic personality and the background she is given in this episode to give her some motivation. We learn that Stanton is entirely driven by vengeance towards the people that tried to murder her. It gives her some necessary depth and makes her overall goal in the episode more interesting.
I enjoyed the main plot line a lot. Watching Reese and Snow work together to do Stanton's dirty work was fairly enjoyable. There were some fun sequences and I really enjoyed all of the three way conversations between Reese, Stanton and Snow. The tension slowly built up as Reese continued to defy Stanton and I was waiting for the ball to drop by the end of the episode. It all happened at the DoD lab when Reese fully started to go against Stanton after he lost contact with her. The scenes at the DoD were very tense and I liked the action scenes. The brief fight between Snow and Reese was great, as was Stanton's sudden arrival, revealing that she wasn't after a cyber weapon after all. It was an effective twist and raises a lot of great questions (see: The Unknown).
The final stretch of the episode was superb. Stanton armed both Reese and Snow and they both turned into time bombs ready to explode. Reese resigning to his fate was sad, especially as he dismissed Carter and Fusco to head to the roof, where Finch was naturally just there. Then we got a lovely sequence as Finch defused the bomb (I caught that subtle nod to "Goldfinger"). The scene wasn't tense since I was fairly sure that Reese wasn't going to die. Instead it was emotional and was all about the risks Finch was willing to take to ensure Reese doesn't die. We have heard over and over how much Finch means to Reese (he gave me a purpose), but we don't often get these long emotional scenes that show how important Reese is to Finch. This scene effectively conveyed those emotions in a big way.
On the other side of the episode's climax was Snow and Stanton. I thought their deaths were very well written. Snow was given a great final line, and having him kill Stanton as well as himself was a fitting end to his character. I also enjoyed the detail that Snow chose not to kill Reese. It seems that Reese's insistence on not killing anybody changed Snow's opinion of him. Stanton was too dangerous to keep alive, but Reese had become a decent man.
Then, there was that amazing cliffhanger. Honestly, Finch had lost most of the mystery surrounding his character this season. He had become just another member of the crew, and while I still enjoyed him, he wasn't as fascinating to me as he was in season 1. This episode rejuvenated his mystery in a big way. The final reveal that he sold this mysterious laptop and is apparently the target of this mysterious new corporation is really big and I cannot wait to learn more.
As a final point, I liked the first few scenes with Carter and Fusco too. Carter making her escape was suitably tense and I really liked that Fusco got involved with the main story through something as simple as finding Carter's missing earring at a crime scene.
The Bad: Well that's the third time we have seen the same Ordos flashback. I don't think I need to see that flashback ever again.
Having Carter, Fusco and Finch just show up at a building that has a bomb threat was really bad. The cops were blocking people from going up the elevators but apparently nobody was watching the stairs which is dumb. Furthermore, there was a lot of security preventing people from taking the elevator up to the 21st floor. Yet Carter and Fusco can just walk up some random staircase and get all the way up there somehow. And Finch can just teleport to the top of 20 story buildings at will apparently.
It was disappointing to lose Stanton so quickly. There was so much build up for her character, and her role as a villain was too good to be used up so quickly. Even though her story did build up another set of bad guys, I feel like more should have been done with her character. With both Snow and Stanton dead now, it feels like Reese's past has just been brushed under the rug.
The Unknown: Who is the man who has the laptop now? What are his motives? He had Stanton upload something at the laboratory. What was it? Will it affect the Machine? How does he know Finch? Apparently he works for Decima Technologies. What does the corporation do? Is it a British corporation? Does that mean it ties in with Wesley?
What are Finch's ties with Decima? What has he done in the past? What is on the laptop and why did he sell it? Did he program whatever it is that is on the laptop?
Best Moment: Finch defusing Reese was fantastic.
Character of the Episode: Stanton.
Conclusion: This was another great episode. It built up nicely, felt important and had a terrific climax while also opening up several big mysteries for the show to explore. A great hour of television.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.