Summary: Flashbacks show that Shaw was just as cold as a child as she is now. In the present Shaw is assigned the next POI, a little girl named Gen who is also a spy. Shaw starts to bond with her but remains emotionally distant. Shaw discerns that Gen left bugs in her apartment to monitor for illegal drugs but has gotten involved into something much bigger. Gen is kidnapped and Shaw is knocked out. Shaw awakens and is determined to get her back. Carter meanwhile is investigating HR. Reese's investigation surrounding Gen connects with Carter and they realize they are tracking the same case. HR has captured Gen. Reese fights Simmons to get her back but discovers Gen has been moved. Laskey diverts Carter but Carter reveals that she knows he is HR. Carter threatens him and gets him to work for her. Shaw finds her and kills everyone hiding her. Shaw lets her go and they briefly bond. Later, Root captures Shaw while she sleeps.
The Good: It was great to get another Shaw episode. I feel like Shaw has been slightly tweaked as a character since season 2, so it was necessary to get an episode to showcase more or less what we should expect from her going forward. This episode worked because it showcased the deeper elements of Shaw's character which we haven't seen much of this season. It also had some great callbacks to "Relevance" with Shaw taking blood from Yogorov and going back to being a brutal killing machine in the climactic scene.
The flashback scenes did an excellent job of fleshing Shaw out a little more while also explaining why she is so cold and detached. Tracing the issue back to her childhood makes sense and makes it seem like more of a personality disorder than an actual character trait for her. It's a nice take on her character that feels original.
I liked the connection she built with Gen. We have seen all of the other main characters develop connections with the POI, so now it's Shaw's turn. I thought this one worked much better than all of the others because of how Gen feels almost exactly like Shaw as a child. Shaw projects herself onto the little girl and slowly develops a bond with her. Furthermore, it's more satisfying seeing Shaw create a bond with somebody considering her antisocial persona. The ending hug scene is very well done and ended up being a touching moment.
Carter's side story is a lot of fun. Seeing her investigate HR so thoroughly is engaging, and with Laskey lurking around her, it felt like the story was going somewhere meaningful in the episode. The tie-in to the POI story was a fantastic moment and combined momentum in both storylines. I love the idea of combining storylines a lot since it can ensure that I'm engaged in both storylines in an episode instead of only one. It's one of the reasons that I find episodes like "God Mode" so enjoyable, since all of the storylines are interconnected and end up being equally fascinating to me.
The bar scene near the end of the episode was awesome. It seemed set up for something bad to happen to Carter, but pleasingly Carter turned things around. It makes perfect sense that carter would be careful enough to figure out that Laskey is HR, and the badass way she handles him is incredible to watch. We have seen in previous episodes that Carter is determined to shut down HR. Here we get to see how far she is willing to go as she coldly murders an HR affiliate and threatens to frame Laskey for it unless she serves her. Looking at the fear in Laskey's eyes, it's a cold moment for a protagonist to go through.
Carter's dark turn nicely parallels Reese's newfound darkness. Seeing him leave a man with nitroglycerin on his hand was very cold and nicely continues his development. While Reese was in the background for the most part, this moment still managed to continue his development nicely.
The ending was stellar. I can't wait to find out what Root wants from Shaw.
There were some funny moments throughout the episode. Finch finding sex on one of the tapes was hilarious, but better yet was Finch's "enough" when asked by Shaw how much he knows about chemistry. It was the perfect line delivery from Michael Emerson that made me laugh out loud.
The Bad: The nitroglycerin stunt that Reese pulled was pretty dumb. The cook had valuable information, and surely Reese would use less insane method before to see if the man started talking. The scene reminded me of Locke's ridiculous grenade stunt from "Lost", though it wasn't as bad as that.
After Finch tries so hard to be pacifist with Shaw, it feels strange for him t excitedly blow up a lab. Furthermore, Finch earlier brought up that he doesn't want to scare Gen with Shaw murdering people. Yet he says nothing while Shaw massacres everyone in the lab. I guess it's meant to be growth for him, but it feels so sudden and isn't written very well.
Finch desperately needs a story in this season since he has been nothing more than just the boss in recent episodes. The same goes for Fusco who isn't even present in this episode.
The episode felt too tropic for my liking. The fight between Reese and Simmons was such a generic action fight. It's hard to buy Simmons and Reese fighting on par with each other, plus Reese comically putting the gun away for a fist fight felt pretty dumb. Gen is pretty ridiculous too. I've seen the trope of badass kid beyond her years so many times and it has never really impressed me or felt realistic. Lastly, slapping on the tough woman with a soft heart thing was pretty annoying even though it wasn't played up too much. I thought Gen's low volume metaphor was too on the nose for me and the story would have probably been better off without it.
The Unknown: What does Root want from Shaw? Has the Machine sent her to get Shaw? Why? What does the Machine want?
What does Carter plan to do with Laskey? Will Laskey be her key to HR?
Best Moment: I really liked Carter getting Laskey to her side. It also nicely paralleled the way that Fusco was recruited into HR in season 1, making it feel more like sweet justice.
Character of the Episode: Shaw.
Conclusion: After a lot of episodes that didn't offer me very much to talk about, this felt like a lovely change of pace. The storytelling here was damn good and the story was gripping from start to finish. Shaw is still captivating, and naturally an episode centered around her is the best of the season so far.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.