Summary: Finch is contacted by Claire who is in over her head and is trying to be killed. Claire is shot so Finch takes her back to a safe place. Reese works alone on the next POI case with Fusco's help. He is trying to save a girl named Anna, a worker at a software company who is being targeted for investigating a suspicious suicide case. Claire tells Finch what happened when she was taken and Finch tries to save her. However, Claire is working as a double agent and captures Finch with intentions of getting him to join Samaritan. Finch refuses and is saved by Reese. Claire escapes.
The Good: Claire's return was excellent and it provided some nice follow-up from "Nautilus". Her presence gave the episode a shot in the arm early on, and all of my investment in this episode came from me wanting to see what would come of Claire running into Finch once again. Her scenes with Finch were quite good and I thought that all of her stories about what happened to her were very well written, and competently acted. It did a great job of building up some sympathy for her, and does a nice job of distracting us (at least for a little while) from the twist that she is a double agent.
The twist itself was predictable (see: The Bad), but I don't think it was bad. Claire being a double agent simply had to be the correct way to end off this episode. There is no way that Claire would have escaped alive, and the convenient sniper shot when she talked to Finch was pretty questionable. I thought that Samaritan sending Claire on this mission made perfect sense. Though we didn't see it, I presume that Claire ended up mentioning the mysterious man she spoke with before taking her new job, and I could completely buy into Greer/Samaritan deciding that this man was Finch. Once that was figure out, a plan to use Claire to ensnare Finch is an obvious solution and it works for the story.
Samaritan wanting to recruit Finch also makes perfect sense. It adds a little more grey territory to the idea of Samaritan as a ruler. We can clearly see that Samaritan is currently doing really good things for humanity by improving things like education. Additionally, giving Finch the option to live by joining its forces makes Samaritan seem much more peaceful and reasonable than it initially seemed. It makes me wonder if Finch may actually regret not taking a way out and saving the lives of Reese, Root and Fusco by refusing Claire's offer.
The Bad: Of course Samaritan's avatar is so cartoonishly evil that it becomes clear that Samaritan isn't actually going to take a peaceful route. I think that's a shame because exploring a genuinely caring AI slowly turn bitter and resentful would be a wonderful story to explore.
The POI story in this episode was a total dud. It did nothing to interest me and I didn't care at all about Anna or her struggles. The villains were as bland as they could possibly be and I felt like the episode was just wasting time whenever it cut to whatever Reese or Fusco were doing.
Finch choosing to leave Claire for dead is very cold, even for him. I definitely buy into Finch suspecting Claire's story to be false, but for him to react by wanting to kill Claire seems so out of character. This man goes to so many lengths to save lives, so having him nearly indirectly murder a teenage girl was ridiculous. His explanation of it being because he lost Shaw doesn't work either. We know he has lost people in similar circumstances before (Ingram, Carter), yet he never had such an irrational change in his morals. I just can't buy into Finch going so ruthless without a lengthy character arc setting this up.
The Unknown: Is Finch's cover blown now? Surely Samaritan can easily find him just like they could with Shaw earlier this season.
What is on Finch's laptop? Is there anything that Decima or Samaritan can use?
What is Root currently up to? Apparently she is doing missions for the Machine. What missions?
Why did the sniper shoot Claire when he wasn't supposed to? It seems really dumb because Claire needs to be alive to get to Finch. Why would Decima risk such an important operation by almost killing Claire? Is there an actual answer to this or is it just a plot hole? Do Decima plan to kill Claire when they are done with her?
What's going on with Elias? It has been so long since we have seen the Brotherhood storyline. I hope it gets wrapped up soon since it could quickly become inconsequential considering how high the stakes are with the Samaritan story.
Best Moment: I'll go with Claire revealing that Samaritan wants to bring Finch into the fold. It was a nice moral conflict for Finch who evidently considered the option briefly before denying it.
Character of the Episode: Claire.
Conclusion: The Claire story was rock-solid with some fun moments. However, the POI storyline sucked and I had a few big issues with the Claire story too. In the end this was a decent episode, but one that I feel should have been much better.
Summary: Finch is sent to jury duty by the Machine to check on the next POI, Emma. Finch eventually determines that Emma is being forced by an outsider to get the juries to agree on a guilty verdict on an innocent man. Finch stalls the juries while Reese attempts to figure out who is controlling Emma. Reese runs into Zoe who helps out. The jury is temporarily adjourned and Emma is told to kill Finch. Emma attempts to kill herself but Finch stops her. The culprit reveals himself to be Tim, another one of the juries and he tries to kill Finch himself. Reese saves Finch and Tim is arrested. Reese begins to engage in a closer relationship with Iris.
The Good: The storyline is fun to watch. It's nice seeing Finch play the role of a jury as it sees Finch go out of his normal environment. I thought that the actual plot was decently interesting too and it did well to hold my attention. Emma had a little more depth than the usual POI characters so that helped make this episode s little better than what we usually get.
It's been a very long time since we have seen Zoe, so her return was a very welcome surprise. I had a blast seeing her interactions with Reese again, and I liked the way that they forwarded Reese's interesting new romantic story in this episode (see: The Unknown).
I liked the background story of Reese and Finch wanting to protect Fusco. It made sense and helped show us the more human sides of Finch and Reese. Additionally it gave the great Kevin Chapman some great content to work with as he got to portray Fusco's determination to stay involved with the organization that allowed him to become a good person.
I enjoyed Reese's therapy scenes. We learned some good new details about him, and I'm surprised it took this long for all of this information to come out. It makes sense that we wouldn't know though considering Reese's extremely private nature. It nicely demonstrates how in the end this show is just about a bunch of people with serious mental problems working together to save some innocent lives.
The Bad: There were some really sloppy moments here. Finch blatantly following Emma felt so odd. They both know each other, so I found it hard to believe that Emma wouldn't see him and get suspicious. Additionally, it felt odd having Finch talk to Reese during the jury meeting. Surely the people sitting next to him would hear this. This is a problem I have had for a while now but I just kept forgetting to mention it. The characters in this show aren't that good at whispering.
Tim as a villain was awful. If he was a jury anyways, why did he go through the trouble of making Emma do the work for him? It was inefficient and unnecessary, and ended up making him seem meaningless as a villain. Furthermore, the moment when he introduced himself to Finch and Emma only to have a monologue was very cliché and did nothing for me at all.
Did nobody ever think that Chris was being framed for murdering his wife? They only realized when Emma agreed with Finch, which I found hard to believe. Anybody would be open to the possibility that Chris is innocent, so it felt odd that the characters were dumbed down to make this totally unsurprising "twist" happen.
The Unknown: Is there something up with Iris? While I'm very happy with Reese finding somebody he likes, I feel like everything won't just be exactly as it seems. Could she be a Samaritan spy? I feel like there is something more with her.
Best Moment: Fusco asserting that he knows the risks of his job and doesn't want to be left out.
Character of the Episode: Fusco.
Conclusion: This was your average episode. There were some things that really pleased me, but some generic tropes reared their head once more.
Summary: Reese and Root go hunting for Shaw in the small town of Maple. They capture a Samaritan agent and Root tortures her to get the location where they took Shaw. Reese and Root go there and kill several agents. Unfortunately, Shaw was not there and they were following somebody else's trail. Root is angry and begs The Machine for help, but The Machine tells her to stop. Fusco works a POI case and runs into Silva. They tackle the case together successfully. The POI is Weiss, who is the perpetrator. Silva eventually kills him to save Fusco. Shaw wakes up, hidden away somewhere with Greer.
The Good: The main story of this episode was pretty good. What connected me the most to this episode was seeing Reese and Root's determination to get Shaw back. We have rarely seen the two of them working together, so this feels like a fresh change. Add on the emotion from them fighting to get their friend back, and this story ends up being pretty great.
I really enjoyed the scenes at the police station and with Leslie Thompson. The vile police chief Wicker was pretty funny, and I got a laugh out of Root taking care of him, as well as Reese's awkward smiles to the secretary. These scenes are light and fun, yet they fulfill the purpose of showing Root and Reese's darker turn as they do anything and everything to get Shaw back. This is totally at odds with the later scene where Root and Reese have very dark scene as they torture Thompson to get information from her. Root coldly drilling a hole in her hand was horrific, and showcased Root returning to her former monstrous nature now that she is angry and bitter.
The final twist of Delia being the one Reese and Root were tracking all along was heartbreaking. After all that effort and hope, it all got crushed in one vicious moment. Root's rage was very sad and Amy Acker did a tremendous job of selling the moment. The following scene of Root begging the Machine for some help was powerful, and ended in yet another heartbreak for Root as the Machine simply tells her to stop searching for Shaw.
Fusco and Silva get a decent B-story. It's nice to see Silva again, and it gives Fusco something to do.
The Bad: The story of Weiss is pretty dull though, and I wish that there was more depth and importance to what was going on with him. Despite Fusco and Silva's work being fresh, I didn't find myself particularly interested in what they were doing.
The Unknown: Where is Shaw right now? What does Greer plan to do with her? Will she become a Samaritan agent?
Will Root keep hunting for Shaw? What does she plan to do next to find her?
Best Moment: There were some terrific scenes, but my favourite was probably Root begging to the Machine to help her out, only to be rejected.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode. The A-story was great, and while the B-story was lacking, I was still satisfied by the episode overall.
Summary: Control is still working with Samaritan, doing her job. Samaritan tells her to dispatch of four terrorists, and she sends Grice and Brooks. Three are killed, but one of them, Yasin, escapes. Control wants to track him from his laptop but Samaritan refuses access to it. Controls ends Grice and Brooks on a secret mission to access the laptop but it fails, the laptop is destroyed and Yasin escapes. Samaritan instructs Control to stop. Control continues attempting to kill Yasin but she is captured by Reese and Root who are hunting for Shaw. Finch informs Control about what happened at the stock exchange but Control doesn't believe him. Finch gets a hint at Shaw's potential location and the group go to investigate. Grice and the others rescue Control. Control tracks down Yasin who reveals he won the nautilus game and did work for an unknown corporation. His friends died mere hours after their work was complete. Control doesn't believe his story and kills him anyways. Control investigates the stock exchange and notices wet paint on the walls.
The Good: Control's return is really fun and immediately adds momentum to the story. We haven't checked in with her for a long while, so it was a pleasant surprise to start the episode with her. The focus on Control throughout the episode was excellent and made this episode stand out amongst the others. The central focus on a character outside of the main cast reminded me a lot of "Relevance", which is a very good thing.
Control's motives in this episode were explored nicely. She has always been a character who fully believed in the job she was doing, akin to Finch, and it's easy to see that in this episode. She is stiffly sticking with her belief that Samaritan is doing its job locating terrorists, and that her job is of utmost importance. While we don't learn anything new in this episode, we do get to see how committed Control is to her duty, made all the more tragic by the fact that the four people she killed in this episode were all total innocents. In the end, her trust is misplaced and it's entirely possible that he blind faith in her job could spell doom for her. This is a compelling story to explore, and I'm looking forwards to see more. And judging by that final scene, Control may have a few doubts about her employers. I think that Control grappling between her faith in her job and the words that Finch said to her has potential to be riveting to watch.
The drama in the episode is a bit slow at first, but it really takes off when Control starts working on her own to discover what is inside of that hard drive. I was invested by the mystery of what Samaritan is really up to and what significance the laptop held. I was just as curious as Control was, and that surprisingly helped me connect a little more with Control and relate with her, a character who I wasn't particularly interested in before this episode.
I really like the scene between Yasin and Control. There was something powerful about Control coldly killing him in spite of the possibility that she may be wrong about him. The dialogue beforehand was quite strong too, proving that Control does have some doubts about her job. After all she could have just killed Yasin, but she instead decided to listen to what he had to say.
The injection of Root, Reese and Finch was excellent. It seamlessly fit into the story of this episode, and the interrogation scenes were really well done. All three characters were able to nicely communicate their current emotions based on their scenes with Control. Reese seems deflated, Root angry and vengeful, while Finch remains calm and realistic. I also appreciated the parallels with Root having Control captured after being captured by her last season.
There were a couple other really strong moments in the episode. Reese letting Grice live because of what he did for Shaw was a lovely moment, even if the dialogue leading up to it was bit clunky. I also really liked the callback to the nautilus game, and the reveal that Samaritan is actually offing its own men to keep secrets is really dark. Yet it's a logical move for Samaritan to make and is one of the many reasons why Samaritan won't be as ideal of a leader as Greer expects. Lastly, I loved the final scene with Root, Finch and Reese (see: Best Moment).
The Bad: This episode had some pretty big problems which prevent it from being one of my favourites. The biggest is the fact that the main crew's immediate reactions to Shaw's death are glossed over. That makes it hard to relate with what they are doing int his episode because we aren't sure where they all are mentally. While the episode eventually gets there in that scene near the end of the episode, much of the episode is hurt by the fact that I couldn't entirely understand what their thought process was. The biggest thing about this that bothers me is that we don't know why any of them believe that Shaw could be alive. The doors closed, the gun was pointed at Shaw's head and there was a gunshot. I'm not entirely sure why they all believe that she is alive after this, and I would have liked to see them process Shaw's "death" so that I could see how they came up with this idea.
I was displeased by the fact that Finch took so long to speak with Control. Where was he when Root and Reese were literally torturing the woman? Why wouldn't he intervene earlier since things like this are clearly against his moral code?
Unfortunately, it looks like the charisma vacuum kid actor playing Samaritan's avatar is here to stay. I wish that the show had gone in a different direction when personifying Samaritan, because I'm just not enjoying this kid very much. I feel like Samaritan would be more imposing as a villain if it didn't speak or have a human appearance.
The episode took a long while to really get going. Some of the early scenes weren't very interesting, and I didn't start feeling any suspense until about 10-15 minutes into the episode. Compared to "Relevance" which had me engaged from its first moment, this episode doesn't build up its drama very well.
The Unknown: Why did Samaritan deny access to the laptop? What was ont hat laptop? What is the code that Yasin said he worked on? Why did Samaritan deem the information so important that it had to cause the deaths of Yasin and his friends?
Why does Samaritan want to meet with the president? Does Samaritan have a new plan for the future? Or a deal perhaps?
Will the lead on Shaw go anywhere?
Best Moment: Reese, Root and Finch talking at the end of the episode was powerful stuff. Having matured since losing Carter, Reese no longer wants to isolate himself but he looks completely defeated after losing Shaw. Root on the other hand tries to remain herself but is bottling up loads of emotion on the inside, which is portrayed wonderfully by Amy Acker. Finch has to most normal reaction, but it's clear that he is hurting in his own way as he mourns Shaw. Seeing the three of them closer than ever in an attempt to get their fallen friend back was heartening and hit me hard emotionally. I really have come to care about this crew of characters after 4 seasons.
Character of the Episode: Control.
Conclusion: Aside from some big problems regarding the follow-up on Shaw's death, this was another awesome hour of television. Control's story is written fantastically, and what little we did see of the crew reacting to last episode's events was just as good.
Summary: The crew notices the financial crash and are forced to directly infiltrate the stock exchange to reverse it. Shaw is sent to get the code to open the door while Reese, Finch, Root and Fusco get into the stock exchange, however they realize it is a trap set by Samaritan. Martine and over 20 Samaritan operatives are down there with them. The four get trapped in a room and The Machine starts running simulations to come up with a strategy to get them out alive. Several simulations are scrapped due to either Root or Finch dying which is undesirable to The Machine. Eventually The Machine sends everyone together to increase odds of survival. They fix the financial crisis and fight to get to the elevator alive, but they are trapped. Shaw arrives in the nick of time to save them and they get to the elevator. They aren't able to leave and Shaw sacrifices herself to get the others to safety.
The Good: I think creativity is such an important element in TV shows. Without creativity, TV shows run the risk of feeling familiar, dull, or even boring. Some of the worst episodes of this show suffer from being unoriginal and they desperately require some inspired storytelling to become memorable. My favourite episodes from shows like "Lost", "The Leftovers" and "Friends" are ones that aren't afraid to do something different. How does this all tie in to "If-Then-Else"? Well I have to say, this must be one of the most creative pieces of television I have ever seen. The unique concept of seeing a story from The Machine's point of view was an incredible idea and the execution was nearly flawless. Add in the necessary emotional beats and character development, and we have the best episode of the series so far.
This concept was so wonderful to watch and it was executed perfectly. The soundtrack, visual effects, editing and cinematography were on a whole new level compared to what we usually get from the show. There was clearly extra effort put into making this episode and it paid off in a big way. This episode was brilliantly able to bring The Machine to life by giving us a look at how it really works. It was so unique actually getting to spend a lengthy period of time watching how The Machine functions as it attempts to get the crew out of the stock exchange alive.
The actual storyline of the episode is quite simple. The main crew has to save the world by infiltrating a location and escaping alive. That's all there is to it, and I think it's brilliant. The simple plot allows for more focus on The Machine in this episode, which I think is more than complex enough to carry this episode. The simple plot has another big strength because it allows the episode to have a very clear focus on life and death. There is no funny business in this episode; the lives of the main characters are in genuine danger and that ramps up the tension by a lot.
Then we get to the meat of this episode, the simulations. Most of this episode consists of The Machine running through various escape simulations in an attempt to get the crew out safely. It's so enjoyable to watch this and there are lots of really clever bits of storytelling that aid the story. At first, the simulation reveal is a bit of a surprise. When Finch died, I was shocked and I couldn't believe that a character would die so suddenly. Then the clock suddenly reset and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized what was going on. We were simply watching projections of what was happening, and the tension came from the fact that The Machine had to work quickly and whatever deaths occur in the final strategy would be permanent.
The focus on The Machine is seconded by the flashbacks. These flashbacks gave us a good look at what motivates The Machine in making these decisions as it learns about choosing between strategies and making some of the necessary sacrifices. Furthermore, we got some outstanding dialogue from Finch as he goes over the mechanics of chess while teaching The Machine how to function and how to have morals. I really loved the lessons he taught, especially since they were all touched upon in the present.
Speaking of the deaths, they actually added a nice amount of emotion to the episode. Character work is so important to TV shows, and it's added in this episode by showing us some theoretical deaths along with the interactions between characters. We get to see things like Reese's brave and badass response to his own death, as well as a better look at Root's character when she is faced with certain death. While it isn't particularly powerful, it's pretty strong stuff, and it is the perfect icing on the cake for the episode.
The most emotion hits us at the very end of the episode with Shaw's death. The episode had built up major consequences for a long time, and it seemed certain that somebody was doomed to die. In this case, Shaw was the unlucky one and her death is heartbreaking to watch. After a season and a half of seeing all of these characters working together and developing relationships, it's devastating to see the group torn apart, and losing Shaw has a real weight to it, equal to (if not more than) Carter's death, which was another pivotal moment of the show. Root's screams in particular were hard to watch and Amy Acker really nailed what I would expect Root's reaction would be.
The episode nailed the little details, and there was so much to love here. The brief side story with Shaw trying to convince a man to stop his attempt to detonate a bomb was awesome. I loved how Shaw started off aggressive and it led to failure, so the Machine tried various different attempts in order to create a situation where Shaw successfully understands the human heart and is able to talk the man down from suicide. It's a wonderful little detail. I also loved the recurring destruction of the painting throughout all of the simulations. It's a fine little joke for the moment, but it really pays off at the end as The Machine makes a shockingly human call by saving the painting to spare Finch some emotional pain. It was a lovely little moment showing the humanity of The Machine.
The simplified simulation was probably the funniest thing I've seen on this show. The self-aware humour was so great, and it had me laughing/smiling for a good while afterwards too. Brilliant. Another standout comedy moment was Fusco randomly kissing Root because "it's a simulation". It was a lovably random moment that injected some personality into The Machine. Apparently The Machine is a Fusco x Root shipper, and I think that's hilarious.
The Bad: Shaw suddenly showing up at the end was too convenient and sudden for my liking. I wish it was built up a little more because it was way too much of a deus ex machina.
There were a few moments that looks very poor, likely because the rest of the episode had such wonderful effects. The standout was Root and Shaw shooting together. The shot was pretty long so it was very easy to notice that the gun shooting was very fake and none of the shots had any recoil. It looked especially poor.
The Unknown: I presume Shaw is dead, but maybe she lived. After all, we didn't actually see her die since the show cut to black before the final gunshot.
Best Moment: Shaw's death was very emotional.
Character of the Episode: I have to give it to The Machine, who was as much of a character as anyone else in this episode.
Conclusion: This was an awesome episode. The budget had been kicked up to level we hadn't seen before on this show, and that helped create the ideal atmosphere for an epic episode. Thankfully the writing was impeccable too and that led to this being a resounding success. High risk yields high reward, and that's exactly what happened here. This was a creative and risky episode to make, but the production crew nailed the execution, making what I believe is the best episode of the series so far. This season has taken off in quality in a big way.
Summary: Flashbacks show Greer's past as a spy. In the present, the crew gets back to doing POI missions but notice that Samaritan is taking care of irrelevant numbers for them. Root meets with Lambert who sends a message that Samaritan wants to speak with the Machine. The Machine refuses so Samaritan continues reducing the crime rate. The next day, Samaritan causes total chaos and the crime rate skyrockets. The Machine agrees to a meeting. Root meets with Samaritan's avatar and they reach an impasse. Samaritan decides to go to war. Shaw goes out into the city to help with the increased crime rate.
The Good: This is how you do a set-up episode. For most shows, an episode which sets up a storyline fails to reach greatness, and is often overshadowed by the big climax. But "Person of Interest" has found a way to make set-up episodes hit a new high with expert use of its signature strengths like wonderful little character moments, a frenetic pace and philosophical discussions to name a few. This episode used all of the show's strongest tools to become something really special and feel like a climax of its own even though it is certainly just preparing for something bigger.
The set-up was so enthralling to watch here. I absolutely loved the whole cold war that went on throughout the episode with Samaritan literally toying with humanity by proving a point to the Machine. It was the most Samaritan has ever felt like an actual character, and it impressively made me feel the tension and danger that I was expecting from a world living at the mercy of an AI overlord. Samaritan's methods were very cool to watch. I liked seeing it save the POIs on the first day, and cooler than that was how Samaritan completely threw the world into chaos the next day with some simple information leaks and nothing more.
The not-so-subtle messages from Samaritan led into the huge climax of the episode where the two main deities of the series interacted one-on-one for the first time ever. There's no denying that this moment was huge for the show, and for the most part (see: The Bad), it delivered the goods. The scene was shot very well and I thought that it had a lovely atmosphere which unsettled me. The content of discussion was great and I loved the idea of two machines having a verbal spat about differing views that were programmed into them. I also really like the idea that both Samaritan and The Machine's motives were clearly stated for us to understand. Knowing what these two gods want to accomplish helps us understand their conflict much better and adds stakes to any Machine vs Samaritan drama that would follow.
As for the rest of the episode, it was fantastic. The opening scenes of the episode were really good. It's a very strong use of the show's characters to create a fun intro that gets me excited to see more while also making me laugh. The interactions were strong, and while some things were cheesy, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Somehow this show has found a way to make cheesiness a staple of what it is without it being a bad thing. That's a remarkable feat, and I'm honestly pretty surprised that I enjoy it as much as I do. Had I watched the cheesier parts of this episode before I watched the show, I would have scoffed and dismissed this show as stupid. But the show won me over, and now the stupidly cheesy scenes are a joy to watch, and the episode was practically filled with them (the opening scene, Reese and Fusco, the church scene, etc.).
The three-way philosophical discussion in this episode was superb. It reminded me of the ending section of "A House Divided" with the way that Finch, Root and Shaw all gave their opinions on the usefulness of an AI ruling the world. It was really nice to see the characters acknowledging this as a possibility, and all three of them were consistent with their known beliefs and morals when arguing their points. The dialogue on this show is hit or miss, but thankfully the writers always bring their A-game for big scenes like this.
The flashbacks were a ton of fun too. I enjoyed the spy-thriller story that was given for Greer and it made for a really fun background story to the episode. Greer was given a nice backstory to let us know why he believes that putting a machine in control is way better than untrustworthy humans. I thoroughly enjoyed these brief scenes and I would love to see more like this, perhaps showing how Greer became the head of Decima.
The Bad: Unfortunately the big meeting fell a bit flat because of the acting (and likely the directing too). For a scene with two AIs speaking, the interactions felt far too human for my liking. The kid actor was poor and Amy Acker is horribly out of her natural environment playing a robotic character since she has too much natural charisma for that. The two beings felt too emotional and human, and I feel like there was a much better way to have this conversation take place. Furthermore, I'm not sure that I like Samaritan's motives. Samaritan is a machine that was programmed not to have morals, so it feels very odd that it is naturally so pessimistic towards humans. I would be able to buy into this if I see Samaritan experiencing human nature, and turning against them because of it. But we don't have any scenes of Samaritan forming these beliefs, so its motives feel awkward and out of place.
Greer's decreased role this season is a bit disappointing. With Samaritan becoming a fully fleshed out character, and Martine being its prime operator, where does that leave Greer? He hasn't had anything interesting to do since the end of season 3 and I don't find myself as engaged in him as a villain as I was before. He isn't even the brains behind the operation since Samaritan is making all of the decisions now. He just doesn't have anything to do anymore. Hopefully the show can correct this like it did with Elias.
The Unknown: What are Samaritan's next plans? How does it plan to attack the Machine? What is the strength that Greer wants Samaritan to unleash? Was it the stock market crash? What will be accomplished from this, other than financial ruin?
Did Root make it out of the meeting okay? Will she be fine? How about Shaw? Where has she gone? Will she be able to stay out of sight?
Best Moment: The three-way discussion between Finch, Shaw and Root was an outstanding moment. Shaw is much more open about Samaritan ruling than Finch, which makes sense since she is an operative and hasn't really gotten a taste of leadership herself. But Finch, someone who has experienced more about leadership and philosophy than both Root and Shaw persists in his belief that Samaritan is definitely a bad thing for humanity.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: This was an outstanding set-up episode. There was enough story to make this episode stand alone, and the fact that it seemingly sets up bigger things is the icing on the cake. Had the meeting between gods been a little better, I likely would have gone closer to (or maybe even over) an 80 for the craftsmanship and emotion that went into this episode. However, that shouldn't detract from the fact that this is still a seminal episode that does countless things right.
The first part to this season was quite strong. Like all of the other seasons, this one is a slow out of the gates and it stumbled badly at a few points. Like all previous seasons, there were quite a few classic POI episodes, and most of those are only able to be good at best. But these last two episodes repaid my continued faith in the show and they suggest some really epic storylines to carry us to the season finale, and I cannot wait to see more. While not as strong as season 3's first half, this half-season was fairly entertaining.
Summary: Shaw escapes from Martine with Root's help but she is forced to lay low and out of sight of camera. Reese contacts Elias and saves him, accompanying him from then. Elias' men have been turned by the Brotherhood so they have to hide in a safe house. The Brotherhood arrive and capture Scarface. Reese escapes with Elias but Elias chooses to go back to trade himself for Scarface. The Brotherhood isolate Elias and want his money, locked in a safe next to Scarface. Elias eventually gives a code to Dominic but the code detonates the safe, killing Scarface and crippling Link. Elias is saved by Reese. Elias looks for vengeance for Scarface.
The Good: Elias is probably my favourite recurring character on the show, so it's no surprise that an episode focused around him would be really great. He was the absolute star of this episode, and Enrico Colantoni gave a terrific performance. What was most surprising was how well this episode humanized Elias. He has been a shady character for a while now, along with his mysterious henchman Scarface. But here he comes off as just another man. He's vulnerable, he shows emotions, mourns his friends and shows an actual respect for human life. It's a surprising turn for the show to explore these aspects of his character, and I'm pleased to say that it was a resounding success.
Elias' relationship with Scarface (he is called Anthony in this episode, but I'll stick with Scarface for old times' sake) is pretty heavily explored in this episode. Even though we don't see any flashbacks, we take a bit of a dive into Elias' past through some subtle and brief lines of dialogue, and it really helps paint a picture of what his relationship with Scarface (and even Moran) was like. Couple that with some excellent acting, and Scarface's death becomes more emotional than I expected. Elias showed so much compassion throughout the episode, so when it came time for him to make that fateful decision, I was invested in his conflict. And Enrico Colantoni was so, so good when Elias chose to give Dominic the code. It brought some real emotion into the scene.
The Brotherhood really improved as villains in this episode. Not because they became more interesting, but because they made things personal with a character we care about. Elias has a drive to get revenge on the Brotherhood, and I will absolutely be rooting him on. While the Brotherhood don't interest me as characters, the show has successfully made me despise them, which turns them into fairly good old-school villains. Furthermore, we had some really good dialogue between Dominic and Elias. I'm craving for more of it.
Elias' interactions with Reese were as fun as ever. Over time, the two of them (and Finch too) have developed a believable bond, and I bought into Reese's desperate attempts to save Elias. Finch also brings up a great point about how valuable Elias is, so there is never a point where I think that sacrificing Elias would be the smart thing to do. As a result, I was really immersed in the episode since Elias was not only somebody that Reese and Finch wanted to survive, but he was also a character that I wanted to survive.
The episode also did a lovely job of building tension. Reese and Elias were quickly stripped of all of their resources throughout the episode, until we were left with them with only each other inside of the building. It gave a sense of impending doom and made me genuinely concerned about how both of them could possibly make it out alive.
The scenes with Shaw and Root were pretty good. The opening shootout was exciting, and I thought it was shot really well (pun not intended). I also loved the clever nature of Root's escape with the moving truck. Satisfyingly, even that escape wasn't enough to fool Samaritan since the truck was tracked down in the end, and that had severe consequences for the characters when Fusco was compromised. The scenes after this were strong too. The show is spending time building up Root and Shaw's relationship, which I like.
The Bad: Root and Shaw's relationship isn't developed in the best way. While Root was very subtle in the past about her feelings for Shaw, she is much more open now and I'm not entirely sure why. I think that there needs to be much more subtlety in Root's dialogue than what we are actually getting.
The money that the Brotherhood required was a very convenient MacGuffin. It really had no value to the show whatsoever, and I didn't really care if Dominic would have obtained it or not.
The Unknown: What does Elias plan to do for revenge? Will he be able to reform alliances? What will the Brotherhood do about him?
What can Shaw do now? Will she just help Finch? If she so much as leaves, she will be tracked down, so I can't imagine this situation persisting for much longer. Perhaps her story will develop as soon as next episode, seeing how it's the mid-season finale.
Best Moment: Elias and Scarface speaking over the phone was surprisingly powerful and it humanized Elias to show a new side of him we have only gotten tiny hints as before.
Character of the Episode: Elias.
Conclusion: This was an awesome episode with a devoted focus. The story was a lot of fun and there was also a surprising amount of emotion by the episode's end.
Summary: The next POI is a girl named Silva. Reese thinks she is planning to kill someone but Finch discovers she is an undercover cop who has discovered a mole from the Brotherhood trying to work in the police. The Brotherhood try to kill her but Reese saves her. Reese and Finch realize that Mini is Dominic. Martine investigates on Shaw and tracks down Katya and Romeo. Her investigation leads to her finding Shaw and they face off. Finch gets the next POI and it's Elias.
The Good: This was a fine story and I had a good time watching it. Moments like Shaw and Fusco on the stakeout and Reese having to deal with Dr. Campbell are both examples of some fun bits of this episode. I also liked the scenes with Dominic who is showing more and more personality with each passing episode.
The strongest storyline came from Martine. It was fascinating to watch her search for Shaw and I thought that the two scenes with Katya and Romeo were very fun. Both showed different aspects of her character. The scene with Katya showed the calm, assertive and manipulative aspects of her character, whereas the scene with Romeo shows her smart, violent and cunning she is. These two scenes were perfect at building up a new villain character and I find myself really excited to see what goes down between her and Shaw in the next episode.
The ending of this episode was pretty awesome. This isn't a show which uses cliffhangers very much, but when it does, they are quite good. I can't wait to tune in for the next episode to find out what happens with Martine and Shaw, or what is going to happen to Elias now that his number has popped up.
The Bad: The story is rather generic though and it doesn't hit any memorable emotional beats. It's very by-the-numbers with some of the usual strange moments. For example, Reese blowing up a grenade int he swimming pool for a convenient escape (which we aren't even shown) was pretty stupid. I also didn't care much for Finch conveniently figuring out the connection between Mini and Dominic.
I didn't like that Reese brought up Carter and who he was before to Silva. We saw him go through something similar in the last couple of episodes, so it's redundant to see it again. Plus it makes Reese spilling his guts feel less special if he does it all the time.
The Unknown: What will Martine do with Shaw? Can Shaw get away? Will she be able to get any help?
Who is threatening Elias? Presumably the Brotherhood. What could they be planning for him?
Best Moment: The scene with Martine and Katya was great. Martine was the perfect mixture of kind and cold which made he seem like a genuinely scary and intimidating person. Cara Buono played her to perfection.
Character of the Episode: Martine.
Conclusion: This episode was your usual effort, bolstered up a bit by the great Martine storyline. I presume that next episode is going to be a big one.
Summary: Shaw quits her job as a thief. The next POI is a thief named Tomas. Shaw infiltrates the group and helps them out with a heist. They steal a virus and Tomas' crew turns on him, stealing the virus. Reese finds them later on, dead. Shaw and Tomas work to recover the virus. Finch and Root infiltrate a building and burn files that Samaritan was going to use to give personalized tablets to all children in schools. Shaw is able to escape with the virus but she is recognized by Grice, a government operative sent to destroy the virus. Grice lets her go but Samaritan notices and works to uncover Shaw's identity.
The Good: The start of the episode is decent fun with Shaw infiltrating the gang and both Root and Finch doing work investigating Wilkins. There were decent moments throughout and some fun lines of dialogue. I especially liked Root dropping in on Shaw while she was talking with Tomas and offering her comments.
The episode really took off with the dual missions going on in the second half. The main story with Shaw and Tomas was fairly enjoyable. The villain of the episode was terrible (so bad I forgot his name), but thankfully he had limited screentime and was overshadowed by a number of other factors. The arrival of Grice and Brooks added some immediate stakes to the story and made the episode more about Shaw trying to stay hidden from Samaritan, instead of focusing the conflict on the villain. The villain was just an extra obstacle to overcome, which was a good call and added to the drama.
The other mission with Root and Finch was just as great with the main threat once again being Samaritan. A pattern of this season is that it's always at its strongest when Samaritan is the primary threat, for obvious reasons. Furthermore, I thought the cinematography was outstanding for this heist and there were a number of excellent details added in. I particularly liked how we were frequently taken to the Samaritan overlay so we can actually see Samaritan's "thought process" as it watched Root infiltrating the building.
There were a few good character moments too. I liked the crew having to briefly debate going through with Shaw's operation due to the big risk it poses them. I liked that this dilemma occurred very quickly. We have seen conflicts like this very frequently in the show, and to have the characters make their decisions quickly shows that they have learned and mature from their prior experiences. Furthermore, I think it's great that their decision to push through with the mission led to some consequences with Shaw potentially having her cover blown. I also liked the scene at the end with Root and Shaw. The show is definitely leading to them hooking up, and like I said in a previous episode, I'm fine with this.
The Bad: The dialogue and comedy in the episode is a bit hit or miss. The Shaw and Tomas relationship is pretty dull and their chemistry sucks. It wasn't very interesting to watch.
I was surprised that Shaw's stint with Romeo was over so suddenly and quickly. It makes me question why that story was introduced to begin with. Furthermore, I thought it was odd that Shaw quit so suddenly. She enjoyed thieving because it was so much better than her other job. Why quit thieving so suddenly if her new cover job will inevitably be something much more dull?
The Unknown: Will Shaw's cover be blown after this? Or will Samaritan still be unable to identify her?
What will happen to Grice now? Is Samaritan aware that he didn't do his job? Will he be punished for it?
Best Moment: There wasn't any scene that stood out, so I'll give it to the final moment with Shaw being examined. It suggests that there will be a huge change in the stakes going into the midseason finale.
Character of the Episode: Shaw.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode which was fun to watch, and also set up the main story in a nice way.
Summary: The next POI is a man named Walter. Shaw and Reese investigate and discover him snooping around a case involving a man who committed suicide named Abel. Walter is pretending to be a detective and gets involved in a dangerous situation. Reese learns that Abel was killed and was involved in smuggling in dangerous weapons. Walter has Abel's phone and the men want it because it will reveal the location of some missing weapons. Elias is also linked to the case so Reese inquires more information. Together, they take out the dangerous man who is known as the Armorer. Walter is safe. Elias realizes that the Brotherhood was behind everything so he meets with Dominic. Finch uploads a malware on the computer of Beth Bridges, who Samaritan is interested in.
The Good: This was an interesting episode. This show has been really good at slightly changing up its formula with new methods of storytelling from time to time. Last season, the show frequently introduced multiple storylines which were completely separate before uniting them by the end of the episode. This season has found a new pattern of starting off episodes with an unimportant feeling which will follow with an increase in stakes and importance as the episode goes on. This episode follows that new pattern, and as a result, I liked it.
The episode had a good sense of levity to it as well. There were a number of great lines of dialogue which made me smile, and some of the jokes were great enough to make me laugh. Walter in particular became a fun, quirky character by the end of the episode and I enjoyed seeing his antics throughout the episode. In particular, I thought the superhero joke was really well done, and I laughed at how the show made Shaw and Fusco's entrance so overly epic. The ensuing interactions between Reese/Fusco/Shaw and Walter were very fun, and I really liked things like Walter pointing out Reese's discount Batman voice and wondering why he and Shaw aren't dating.
The plot became really excellent by the end of the episode. I predicted that the Brotherhood would be involved with this plot, but I don't think it took away from the episode. Rather it kept my interest because I wanted to see if I was correct, and that made Dominic's arrival near the end of the episode much more satisfying. I've been critical of the Brotherhood so far, but if any show can make a great story out of something that feels lackluster, it's "Person of Interest". Just look at the outstanding conclusion to the HR story. I'm hoping that the Brotherhood storyline will go somewhere worthwhile, and with this new feud brewing with Elias, I have faith in the writers.
Speaking of Elias, his role in this episode is wonderful. I'm like a broken record by this point, but I'll say it again: Elias' involvement in the episode made me much more interested in the story. The character of Elias is so good because what he will do next is so unpredictable. He is more or less one of the heroes, yet he still has this mysterious darkness surrounding him which makes me believe that he could turn on Reese and Finch in the blink of an eye. His scenes are so interesting as a result. The highlight for me was his scene with Dominic which had some really terrific dialogue.
I liked that Reese actually got shot in this episode. Little things like this can add a lot of drama to the story since it makes Reese feel less invincible.
There were some obvious parallels to "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" with the character of Walter who was a super cool detective in his head. I thought that was a neat little nod.
The Bad: The first 15 minutes or so were ridiculously bland. I suppose that's bound to happen with the new format that season 4 is testing, but I just wasn't entertained in the opening parts of the episode. The pacing was slow, the stakes were non-existent and I was struggling to care. Furthermore, I felt that the episode just didn't click in its first half. The dialogue felt very obtrusive and poor in the first half of the episode, and a lot of the writing felt convenient and dull. Even the acting felt off at times. It's quite odd that the first half of this episode was so poor, especially considering how strong the back half of this episode was.
The Finch and Bridges story wasn't very interesting to me until the end (see: The Unknown). Their early scenes together dragged like crazy and were totally... boring. I understand the writers were trying to build up the story, but surely there was a more interesting way to do this. The only people who could possibly be entertained by Finch's discussions with Bridges are fellow professors and scientists. I couldn't care less about what they were talking about, so I was just drop-dead bored during their scenes, and I'm sure that many others will feel this way. Their scenes should have been written much better.
It's a bit odd to see Reese getting back into shootouts one episode after he had to visit a therapist over this problem. Did the police just choose to let him do his thing anyways? What happened to the threat of him losing his job?
The Unknown: What was that malware that Finch uploaded to Bridges' laptop? Is he preparing for an attack on Samaritan? Or something else? Why is Samaritan interested in Bridges anyways?
What is Elias planning to do? How will it conflict with the Brotherhood's goals? I'm very interested to see where this goes.
Best Moment: Elias and Dominic vaguely threatening each other in a great meeting.
Character of the Episode: Elias.
Conclusion: This episode was a story of two halves. The first half was weak, boring, and badly written. But the second half was intense, epic and funny. In the end this is a middling episode, but still fairly good.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.