Summary: Root and Finch attempt to hunt down the location of The Machine. The Machine helps them out and they rush to the given location. Harper lets Fusco go but is found as a traitor and is captured. Reese is given a message by The Machine that allows him to escape from the Brotherhood. Fusco returns with backup and arrests both Dominic and Elias. Reese joins up with Finch and Root who discover that The Machine is in Brooklyn, having uploaded itself to the electric grid. Samaritan is using power outages to attempt to kill The Machine. Samaritan forces arrive and attack the group while Finch desperately uploads The Machine to a laptop to preserve it. He is ultimately successful and plans to rebuild it. Reese, Root and Finch escape through a gunfight. Meanwhile, Control tries to prevent The Correction from happening. Control confronts Greer directly with threats but he is unfazed. Control is eventually apprehended and it is revealed that The Correction was a test and Control failed it. The Correction involves Samaritan killing 100 people who were deemed as problems and needed to be killed. Elias and Dominic are killed as part of The Correction. Control is taken away and presumably killed.
The Good: I enjoyed most of this episode and it felt like another gamechanging finale. The Machine is officially shut down (for now), and the team are now on their own going into the final season of the show. I thought the ending sequence with The Machine was really well done. It was tense with high stakes, and it felt like one of the most important moments of the show. I really loved seeing The Machine actually communicate directly to Finch, giving us a better idea of the bond that a creator would hold with his own creation. It was subtly beautiful, aided by Michael Emerson's awesome acting and a good choice in music.
The build-up to this final confrontation was solid too. The emotional moments on the way were my favourite parts. I enjoyed Finch reuniting with Caleb during a quick pit stop. I also thought that Reese's goodbye to Iris was pretty touching. These moments added a lot to the characters' journeys to save The Machine. I really liked the discovery that The Machine had actually connected itself to the electric grid to preserve itself. It made sense, and the reveal worked very well especially with the Thornhill boxes being established earlier in the episode.
Control's story was pretty good. She has always been bold and she did a number of interesting things this episode to try to stop The Correction. I enjoyed the return of Garrison, and I thought Control offering to stop Samaritan and reinstate The Machine made sense, as did Garrison's refusal of her offer. The ensuing scene with Greer was even better as Control's entire belief system crashed as she faced the ultimate punishment for doubting Samaritan. I love this idea for a story. Normally the hero trying to recruit the villain ends up with the villain paying the price for not listening to hero. I don't think I've ever seen the villain get punished for actually listening to the hero. It's a great way to reinvent a classic trope, and it provided a dark and unexpected conclusion to Control's story.
The Bad: Unfortunately I was disappointed by much of this episode. The Brotherhood vs Elias story was a total disappointment and I don't feel like it justified the time we spent heating up this story. Our big pay-off ended up being in the last episode as not much of note happened here. The problem is that I felt like we were building up to something big here and it just didn't happen. Instead Elias and Dominic both die relatively dull and sudden deaths that left very little emotional impact, and failed to satisfyingly resolve either character's story.
The Brotherhood were extremely incompetent too. The fact that Reese could escape so easily, even with THe Machine's assistance, was really dumb and totally ruined their threat. I guess it doesn't matter though since we likely won't see them ever again. Furthermore, the fact that Harper was allowed to walk around even though she was evidently not trusted was ridiculous. Surely Dominic would know better than to let her be until she does something really damaging. Additionally, I can't believe that Dominic didn't immediately switch locations when Fusco left. He just stayed in the same building like a sitting duck for when Fusco inevitably brings back-up.
Also why the hell did Harper save Fusco anyways? Surely she should have left the moment she intervened. But why did she care enough to do this anyways? Her plan makes no sense, and her motives make even less sense. Harper actually seems to have gotten worse and worse as a character as the show went on.
I liked the idea of The Machine turning all of the lights green. But Root and Finch went through the efforts of stealing a cop car. Why wouldn't they just turn the siren on and use that to get through the traffic? It was an easy solution.
The Correction ended up being a bit of a disappointment. It ended up only really impacting Control, rather than being the huge event that it had been hyped up to be. Sometimes raising expectations too high can really hurt when the pay-off isn't anything special. Furthermore, using The Correction to conclude the Brotherhood story fails to create any emotional resonance, so it feels cheap and lazy rather than earned.
The ending scene is odd and feels incomplete. I appreciate the idea but it feels like there are better spots to
The Unknown: What is Control's fate? Is she dead? Or is she being hidden away somewhere like Shaw?
Best Moment: The Machine thanking Finch and mentioning the possibility of its death was genuinely touching.
Character of the Episode: The Machine.
Conclusion: This episode worked as an exciting finale but a lot of the pay-off was disappointing for me. I had expected more from this episode and I found that it didn't quite deliver the quality and emotion I was expecting, even if there was a fun pace and some big moments.
In the end this season was quite consistent and I enjoyed it a lot. The Samaritan storyline was consistently excellent and I There was a bit of a weak stretch throughout the middle of the season, but outside of that this was consistently good television with a few great episodes sprinkled throughout. I do think I prefer season 3 over season 4 for a few reasons. Season 3 regularly had terrific episodes throughout its run but this season arguably only had a few stand-out episodes. I also feel that I overrated "The Cold War" significantly since the episode wasn't quite as impressive as I recalled. Another factor that hurt this season was the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood were nowhere near as compelling as Vigilance and their overall impact on the story is so minimal that I feel like they didn't really need to be included as villains at all. I also feel that expectations hurt this season a bit. I was expecting a lot of change going into this season and that didn't really get explored to its full potential. In conclusion, this season was fun but it didn't impact me the way that season 3 did. Still, I think this was a very good season of television and I am looking forward to seeing how the story wraps up in season 5.
Summary: The next POI is a man named Khan whose antivirus business is being targeted by somebody. Khan is fired and Finch and Reese have to protect him. Khan is paranoid that he is being attacked by an AI. The team realize that he is being targeted by Samaritan. Root comes by to help after obtaining a mysterious briefcase. The group eventually discover from a Samaritan hideout that Samaritan is trying to locate the Machine. A group of Samaritan agents including Martine attack the group. Khan joins them for answers. Root has an opportunity to kill Martine but Reese stops her. Khan meets Greer who reveals Samaritan and kills Khan.
The Good: This was another really strong episode. I enjoyed the main story a lot and Khan was a really good POI character. He was played by Aasif Mandvi who gave one of the more memorable performances for a POI character, helped by the fact that he was given some god material to work with as his paranoia about being attacked by an AI lands him into dangerous situation after dangerous situation. It's a really strong story, and the fact that it involved Samaritan made it even better.
I especially enjoyed the scenes with Khan in the prison. I love that the episode actually took its time during this sequence, allowing us to experience the horror alongside Khan as Samaritan closed in on him for the kill. I especially enjoyed the lengthy shot as Khan looked around at his prison establishment, and eventually everyone started receiving texts and began to look at him with murderous intent. The scene perfectly captured the fear and terror that living in a world where an AI is trying to kill you would consist of. It's something that I wish was explored more in-depth this season, but I'm glad to be getting it now rather than never.
Khan's death scene was ruthless and surprising. Often times, characters fates would be left open-ended but Khan's was not. We get to see him coldly executed, and it is stunning, horrific stuff, consistent with the content that has been given to us in this episode. Once Samaritan targeted Khan, there really was no saving him.
Samaritan was outstanding in this episode. Early in the season I expected Samaritan to pose a greater threat and be more aggressive in accomplishing its goals and that didn't exactly happen. But here I got exactly what I expected and wanted from Samaritan. Things like the texts it sent the prisoners, shutting off cameras and activating traps on the road make it clear that this is Samaritan's world now. I also really liked how Samaritan overheard Khan questioning its existence through a cell phone that happened to be nearby. This was excellent stuff that made Samaritan feel like a threat. And it appears that Samaritan could very well locate the Machine soon. This is a huge development and it really feels like the final battle is coming up soon, hopefully in the season 4 finale.
This episode had all of the details right, not just the Samaritan details. I loved the continuity with Finch and Reese referencing Maple from back in "M.I.A.", as well as the existence of yet another secret Samaritan hideout. I was pleased to see Root's connection with the Machine being used in a creative way as she located security cameras for the team to destroy. Lastly, the sequence where Root gasses everyone was signature Root and it made for a good laugh.
The Bad: Why wasn't Samaritan this threatening before? We see it listening in on Khan's conversation through a phone, but is this seriously the only time that this would have happened in the span of season 4? Is there really no other time where Reese/Finch/Root/Shaw were discussing Samaritan in the public when Samaritan could have been listening? It breaks my immersion when I realize that the characters have such large plot armour when necessary. Furthermore, Reese not being identified, escaping the cops and surviving that deadly car crash were very convenient and continued to hurt the sense that somebody could be in real danger this episode.
I didn't like Root's fight with Martine very much. Root really shouldn't be able to overpower a trained agent so easily, and the whole fight felt rushed with not enough emotion in there. This should be a seminal moment for Root as she gets to avenge Shaw, but it isn't given enough time to be emotional. Furthermore, shouldn't Root have really asked her where Shaw was? If anybody knew if Shaw was alive or not, it would be her. Lastly, Reese getting Root to lay off of Martine for no apparent reason was a bit convenient.
The Unknown: Where is the Machine located? Will Samaritan find it?
What was with that egg in the briefcase? Why did the Machine want the briefcase? Why is it important?
Best Moment: I will go with Khan in the prison. A very good piece of television.
Character of the Episode: Khan.
Conclusion: This was another really strong POI case, only this one was mixed in directly with the Samaritan story, making it even better. I really enjoyed this, though everything was a bit too convenient to score a 70.
Summary: The next POI is a woman named Francesca who is trying to kill Ray, a man who stole from her boss. Reese gets involved in the case and so does Harper. Harper helps both parties come to a conclusion without any death. Reese deduces that she is getting texts from the Machine. Meanwhile, Finch continues the plot against Samaritan he set in motion back in Hong Kong. He meets with Beth with intention to attack Samaritan with a Trojan horse. However Beth's number pops up so Finch and Root work together to solve the case. It turns out that Root was the threat to Beth since she doesn't want Finch to take an unnecessary risk and die. Root plans to kill Beth and Finch disagrees with this. Finch tries to kill himself but Root is able to stop him from doing so. Finch's set-up with the Trojan horse is destroyed by Root, upsetting him.
The Good: Finch and Root had the strongest story here. Their conflict was one of the best character conflicts we have seen in the series and it led to a number of memorable, poignant moments. Both characters were thoroughly understandable and I found myself sympathizing with both. We are well aware of Finch's morality after 4 seasons, so it's easy to understand why he would be concerned for Beth's well-being, especially since they are friends now. His attempt to stop Samaritan is also very easy to understand since it would be ideal for the world to be rid of Samaritan for good. Root is also very sympathetic as we can easily understand why she wouldn't want to lose any more of her very limited supply of friends. In the end both characters simply had different priorities and that resulted in them clashing several times throughout the episode in some of the episode's best moments.
The Root twist itself was superb. I was caught completely off guard by it yet there were still so many moments of obvious foreshadowing earlier in the episode. It changed the dynamic of the episode drastically and made me more engaged than before.
The story ended in heartbreaking manner too. After both Finch and Root bared their hearts to each other when trying to win the conflict, they ended up alienating each other a little. Root's disgust and disappointment when Finch tried to kill himself felt very real, while Finch's anger towards Root at the end of the episode made perfect sense. It's heartbreaking to see these two characters who have such a close bond be broken up, even if it is only temporarily.
The rest of the episode was fine. The POI story dominated the episode and it certainly had its moments. Frankie felt like a much more entertaining and logical version of Harper, and her interactions with Reese were fun for the most part. The action scenes were creative too and I particularly liked the handcuffed fight. The climax was also set up nicely and I appreciate that the story built up to a single moment that resolved the many stories that were at play. It was well written and fairly satisfying to watch.
The Bad: Harper continues to be grating. The interest I had in her back in "Blunt" is practically ll gone now as she returned pretty much exclusively with all of her worst character traits. I found it hard to believe that Harper would work as a convenient solution to everyone's problems at the end of the episode, and it felt like the show trying too hard to make us like her character by making her strong. It's made worse by the fact that Frankie is also in this episode, and I like her character much more.
Iris' story is very generic and unfortunately her romance with Reese did nothing for me. I really enjoyed their therapy scenes, but I find myself to be a little indifferent to them being in a loving relationship. The show has done so well developing Reese as this closed off character, so whenever he opens up a bit for a romance it just feels strange.
There were some logistical issues I had with the Finch/Root storyline. It's hard to believe that Root wouldn't just knock Finch out and forcibly take him to the hospital. Furthermore, I'm confident that she has a cell phone so why not make the 911 call from there? Also, I found it a little hard to believe that Root wouldn't allow Finch to plant the Trojan horse. Even the Machine wanted it to happen, so evidently Root should understand that Finch likely isn't in too much danger if this is the case. I can buy into her wanting to keep him alive, but I feel like Root should have only gone to such drastic measures for something much more dangerous. Lastly, Finch recovered a bit quick for a guy who just drank a neurotoxin.
The Unknown: Harper getting texts from the Machine is a very interesting development. I wonder, who else could be getting texts like these?
Will Root and Finch reconcile later? I really hope so.
Best Moment: As much as I loved Root revealing that she can't stand losing another one of her friends, I'm going to have to give it to the final scene of the episode. The sight of Root and Finch at odds with each other is very powerful, and it provides a perfect conclusion to one of the show's best character conflicts.
Character of the Episode: It's a real toss-up between Root and Finch. I'm going with Root.
Conclusion: This was one half of a brilliant episode and one half of an average episode. It doesn't quite get a 70 because the POI story wasn't the best, but the Root/Finch story was still top tier stuff. With the season winding down, I'm looking forward to what "Person of Interest" has in store for us in its climax.
Summary: Flashbacks show that Finch attempted to kill Alicia Corwin as revenge for Ingram's death but ultimately chooses to spare her. The next POI is a man named Edwards who has been framing people he thinks are responsible for crimes. Morris, the man convicted for killing his wife, comes after him. Reese and Finch try to talk Edwards out of getting revenge but Edwards threatens Morris with a gun anyways. Edwards reveals he plans to kill himself and frame Morris for the murder but Finch and Reese talk him out of it.
The Good: This episode was all about revenge. Every character and every story in the episode ended up revolving around the act and consequence of getting revenge, giving this episode a dedicated focus and theme.
Edwards is a very interesting POI character. His drive for revenge is pretty basic (a man killed his wife so he wants to put him away), but it fits amidst more complex and interesting stories from Reese and Finch (more on that later). The part of his character I found most interesting was his style of vigilante justice where he would frame bad people for crimes they didn't commit to bring about justice. Not only is this a creative and interesting idea because of the morality of the whole thing, but it also brings about good drama when we are watching Edwards go about his business, unsure of what he is planning.
Finch's story in this episode was the most fascinating to me. Michael Emerson was given a lot to do in this episode, and we got a great reminder of just how good of an actor he is. He played Finch's moral conflict in the flashbacks really well, especially when he had to make the decision to blow up Alicia or not. Honestly there was enough conflict here to fill an entire episode with Finch's decision coming at the climax. I enjoyed seeing Finch hinting at his desire for vengeance for Ingram (it even ties nicely back into the therapy scene in "The Devil's Share" which is a phenomenal piece of continuity), and I also liked The Machine attempting to stop Finch from doing this crime by constantly ringing the phone and even popping Finch up as the next POI.
Reese had a very subtle tie-in with revenge in this episode. His scenes with Iris were fine at the beginning, but the last one was really great. Reese got to open up a little more once again and seemed to hint that the revenge he got for Jessica back in "Many Happy Returns" didn't end up fixing anything. He was left just as broken as he was before, which is very sad.
I'm surprised I'm saying this, but I really like that this episode had no tie-ins with Samaritan or the Brotherhood. It was its own personalized story and it worked really well because of it.
The Bad: Unfortunately the timing of this episode is poor. With six episodes left in the season, we should be getting episodes that ramp up the tension and develop the long-running storylines. I feel like if this episode came at an earlier point in the season, it would fit much nicer in the chronology of the show.
This episode was really missing Shaw and Root. While the storytelling was really strong, the team dynamic feels lessened with the lack of banter that comes from Shaw and Root. That makes it less enjoyable to watch the team in action, especially since we have already seen more than enough episodes of Reese and Finch doing cases on their own. Going back to just the two of them does feel like a step back.
This episode does suffer from a lot of the usual POI case problems. Edwards is very bland as a character and there isn't much depth to him. The same goes for Morris. This episode completely hinges on the revenge theme, and underneath that there is very little of substance to actually uncover.
Alicia's dialogue while in the car was a bit too corny for my liking. It seemed a little too on-the-nose that she would say these lines that are so full of exposition and dramatic weight. Some more organic dialogue would have helped.
The Unknown: So was Morris actually the killer or not? The episode left it open-ended, which I liked. It feels more consistent with the revenge theme that sometimes you won't get anybody to blame for the terrible things that happen to you.
Best Moment: I really enjoyed the Finch/Alicia scene. Finch's moral conflict was easy to understand, and Michael Emerson portrayed Finch's conflicting emotions so well. The phone ringing int he background was a wonderful touch too, making us feel a little bit of the pressure that Finch must have felt when making his decision.
Character of the Episode: Finch.
Conclusion: This was the best POI case I can recall in a long time. The revenge theme added a lot and made this into a better episode than what I was expecting.
Summary: Harper is the next POI. She stole money from the Brotherhood who are out to kill her. They capture Trey, Harper's boyfriend. Reese and Fusco protect her and try to broker a deal with Dominic but their attempts fail. Reese saves Trey while the Brotherhood and the cartel come to blows. The cops arrive to arrest them for unregistered weapons. The cartel are arrested but the Brotherhood are not since Harper warned them ahead of time. The Brotherhood make peace with Harper. Finch attempts to follow Root who is trying to get an app for the Machine. She meets with Caleb from "2PiR".
The Good: Harper's character is an interesting one. She is much better than Anna from the previous episode and has lots of more charisma and unpredictability. Though I have my problems with her (see: The Bad), she is a lot more interesting to follow as a main POI character, and I liked that she had a connection with both the main group and the Brotherhood.
Dominic had a good episode. Winston Duke's performance felt more complete than in previous episodes, and that made the character a lot more interesting to me. I especially enjoyed the diner scene with Reese (see: Best Moment).
This latest episodes of season have frequently been reintroducing characters that have been absent for a while (Ex. Claire, Zoe). This episode continues that trend by giving us the surprise return of Caleb from "2PiR", a return that I'm more than happy with. It feels like the show is giving us all of these returns so that we can have a large group of characters going up against Samaritan.
The Bad: This episode felt rather stagnant. The POI story took a long while to get going and it didn't develop into as much drama as we usually get. Plus the episode was really lacking a sense of urgency or reason for me to care about what was happening. Trey's capture did nothing for me and he ended up being a really useless character. Furthermore, did we need an entire B-story of Finch attempting to follow Root to set up the ending reveal with Caleb? I feel like the same feeling could have been accomplished with 5 minutes of screentime shaved off. It's not like "Person of Interest" to stretch out a plot line that doesn't have much story behind it. This show usually does the opposite and condenses a complex story into just 45 minutes.
The Brotherhood have been really disappointing as villains. Unlike Vigilance who always seemed like they would have an interesting involvement with the Machine, the Brotherhood don't seem to have any actual bearing on the main Samaritan story, so they come off as unimportant side villains that we are spending far too much time with. I enjoy them for their personal connection to Elias, and I want to see them cross paths with him, not with Reese, Fusco and Finch. I think that having the Brotherhood appear in an episode without any tie-ins with Elias was a very poor decision, and it did nothing to further the story that I became invested in back in "The Devil You Know".
Harper is a pretty annoying character at times and the actress playing her doesn't do a particularly great job. The biggest issue I have with her is how non-innocent she is. I struggle to believe that Finch and Reese would care so much about the well-being of a con artist who has done some pretty bad things to criminals. Worse yet, they seem to believe that her behaviour is almost justified which feels at odds with the morals they usually display, particularly Finch.
Dominic calling out Reese for siding with Elias, a pretty bad man by all rights made perfect sense and I don't think that Reese was able to give a sensible answer to Dominic's inquiry. Surely this moment should have been a bigger deal than it was. It would have been nice for either Reese or Finch to maybe consider a peace offering with the Brotherhood that closely matches what they have with Elias, especially earlier in the story. Dominic seems like a reasonable guy, and he only seems to attack those who have purposefully and knowingly wronged him. Why not work with him? Elias certainly did much worse than Dominic back in season 1.
The Unknown: What will this mysterious app do? Is Caleb going to be used to create the app or maybe for another larger purpose?
Will we see more returning characters soon? How about Leon who hasn't appeared in nearly 2 seasons now?
Best Moment: Reese and Dominic's meeting was pretty good. It was shot like one of those old school movie scenes where the protagonist and antagonist have a tense stand-off in a diner. The writers clearly put much more effort into that scene over anything else in the episode.
Character of the Episode: Dominic.
Conclusion: This episode was a mixed bag. There were some interesting aspects, but as a whole this felt lacking.
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.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.