Summary: HR takes a job to murder somebody, a psychiatrist named Turing. Reese contacts her and saves her life but is seen by security cameras. Donnelly goes after him and the FBI trap him in a building. Finch helps Reese escape and plans to take Turing to safety while Reese fights back. Finch is confronted by Alicia who wants him to shut down the Machine. Alicia is killed by Turing who is revealed to be Root and was responsible for everything that happened. Root takes Finch. Fusco and Carter discover they are working for the same person. Together, they hep and save Reese. Afterwards, Fusco anonymously lets the FBI know of HR's corruption. Simmons is taken down. Reese asks the Machine for help saving Finch and he receives a phone call.
The Good: Well this finale came right out of nowhere and completely caught me off guard. This episode felt like "Witness" in a lot of ways (I'll elaborate later), only it was more refined, paced better and had much more emotional impact. The action and character scenes were much stronger than usual and I was left feeling breathless by the end of this.
I'm usually not a fan of show's showing us a glimpse of the future in the opening scenes of episodes, but I didn't mind it here. The opening scene allowed us to see that Reese would be in genuine trouble later in the episode and that made me more invested for the early parts of the episode since I was curious to see what happened.
The way the episode ratcheted up the suspense and tension after the opening scene was incredible. This must have been one of the very best tension-based TV episodes I have ever seen. Reese's investigation of Turing was engaging due to the psychology of Reese's meeting with Turing. Both characters were probing each other and Finch added the extra tension by trying to ensure Reese doesn't reveal something he shouldn't. Reflecting on the episode, that scene would be even more intense while re-watching considering what we discovered about Turing.
That meeting was only the first part, as the chaos exploded afterwards. Reese quickly found himself trapped with HR and the FBI both closing in on him. Reese became quite desperate and had to do some genuinely clever things to get out alive with Turing. I enjoyed seeing him get help from Carter and Finch to ensure that he doesn't make the wrong move. I loved the moment where all of the stories converged. HR had set up the bomb and the FBI were ready to engage Reese in a gunfight. The countdown that they used to build it up had me on the edge of my seat. The pay-off of Finch shutting off communication in the city was unexpected but extremely satisfying as it provided a welcome and creative way for Reese to survive and escape.
As if that wasn't intense enough, we also got to follow the Carter/Fusco storyline. Carter slowly began to clue together that Fusco was involved with something and that led us into a good confrontation in the bathroom. I really enjoyed Fusco trying to defend himself, owning up to past mistakes and saying how he sometimes saves people now. Kevin Chapman performed really well and it was a great catharsis to see Fusco genuinely defending himself as somebody trying to do good after he started the show as a dirty cop.
What I appreciated the most about the drama in the episode is the way it resembled "Witness". That episode had a similar setpiece with Reese being trapped with his POI in a building under assault. Only this episode didn't go as smoothly as Reese planned which allowed it to be a lot better. I was expecting Reese to easily escape once the helicopter was mentioned and I was a little disappointed by that, but I was subsequently impressed when the FBI locked down the helicopter to ensure that escape wouldn't be easy. It was after that moment that the show was able to show us what it had learned throughout its run by getting the drama to hit a whole new level from "Witness".
And like "Witness", this episode stuck the landing with an excellent twist that I probably should have seen coming (it was exactly like the Elias twist). But I didn't see it coming, so the Root reveal worked really well and provided an important ending to the episode. Every confusing aspect of the episode clicked into place with that reveal and it left us on an epic cliffhanger with Root taking Finch.
The Bad: Some aspects of the story weren't fleshed out enough. The downfall of HR was too sudden and out of nowhere. It's a good moment for Fusco, but it probably should have had more focus. The Alicia story ended up being pretty weak. While her character entering the episode gave some more tension, she didn't give us anything particularly useful. Her motives were shallow and I was confused as to why she wants to destroy the Machine. After all, she seemed to acknowledge the real enemy (see: The Unknown) anyways. Why not be afraid of them?
I was glad to finally see Reese get identified by someone. But did they really have to catch him on a random street camera? It really begs the question of why Reese was never noticed in any of the other episodes. Furthermore, why wasn't there somebody from the FBI watching over Reese through the cameras? Instead, only Carter is able to do this and she is able to warn him. It's glaringly stupid.
The shootout scene didn't work for me. While I liked seeing Fusco and Carter showing up to save Reese, I've never found these shootouts where every bullet seems to miss to be any good. It makes the characters seem too invincible and it removes the drama.
The Unknown: Did the Machine get Ingram killed? How? Did it also cause Finch's injury?
Who are the enemies that Alicia referred too? Was it Root? Or was Root's arrival just a coincidence and there is somebody else.
What does Root know about the Machine? Has she known about it for a long time, or only recently? Or did she just find a way to hack into it? What does she want with Finch?
That ending was excellent. Did it just imply that the Machine is sentient? Now that is a big surprise. How will this affect the series? Will the Machine actually help Reese save Finch?
Best Moment: The Root reveal was awesome. There were plenty of epic moments to choose from, but this was the best.
Character of the Episode: Fusco.
Conclusion: This was "Witness" only bigger and better. This episode felt like a season finale and it delivered one of the best tension-based hours of drama I have ever seen. While it still suffered from some of the show's classic problems, it was a big success that makes me want to tune in for season 2.
This season was a bit of a rollercoaster. It's amazing to look back and see my scores for early in the season. The show wasn't satisfying back then and it was flawed beyond belief. The series steadily improved as it went on, but it did so in a surprising way. Rather than correcting the issues I had with the show, I noticed that the show instead chose to work around the issues. A lot of the complaints from the first few episodes still hold up in these later episodes (plot movement is too rapid and sometimes tedious, Jim Caviezel is a bad actor, the show skips over some important details). Rather than fixing these problems, the show found a way to make the show become enjoyable in spite of these issues. Reese's character was used and explored in a way that almost makes Jim Caviezel look good, the rapid plot movement was corrected with an increased amount of emotional connection, and the important details are (usually) addressed with a single line of dialogue rather than being shown. Despite the methods of improvement, it's great to see that the improvement is there at all. 15 episodes ago, I wouldn't have expected myself to continue on with season 2. But after several consistently good episodes, I can't wait for season 2. Despite all of its flaws, "Person of Interest" ended season 1 on a high note.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.