Summary: Reese continues to get in shoot-outs and is put in therapy to keep him in check, with his job in danger. Finch encourages him to do the time and keep his job. The next number is Simon, a man who predicts election results. He is wrong for the first time and is convicned the election was rigged. It was, by Samaritan. Simon gets himself in danger by investigating and he is stalked by Martine, a Samaritan operative. Root, Shaw and Finch try to save Simon without letting Samaritan track them or him. Martine finds Simon and Root engages in a shootout with her. Simon is saved and gives up his investigation, ensuring his safety. Root dons a new identity afterwards but Samaritan is actively hunting for the Machine now.
The Good: Reese's story here was really strong. It was refreshing to see him deal with a personal conflict, forcing him to hold back on his naturally heroic behaviour to ensure he remains safe and keeps his job. It was enjoyable to watch Reese deal with this conflict and his therapy sessions were quite good. The show has excelled at having characters go through a catharsis by indirectly speaking about an emotional moment in their life. This episode, we see Reese go through this catharsis as he talks about Carter's death to the therapist in an excellent scene.
The main POI story was very good too. Samaritan's involvement once more increased my investment significantly and the main story from then on was an absolute blast. The cat and mouse game between Simon and Samaritan was awesome to watch and there were creative ways that the show used suspense to keep my interest. The idea of hiding from surveillance is a ton of fun and I loved seeing Root/Finch/Shaw attempt to hide Simon from the cameras without giving themselves away. It was very creative and there was evidently lots of thought put into these sequences, due to how detailed and logical they are. The final shootout between Martine and Root was excellent, a very clever piece of action which carried the atmosphere of two gods doing battle. It was a hell of a spectacle, and was the first of (hopefully) many Machine vs Samaritan battles.
What I liked most about the structure of this episode was how different it felt. Going into season 4, I had expected a big change in the storytelling, as I mentioned a few episodes ago. This episode finally showed the change I was expecting. Samaritan's presence is constantly felt and it is a huge threat the entire episode. In response, the crew can't use all of their normal techniques and have to change things up, which is really fun to watch.
What was really great about this was how the characters remained in focus throughout these epic action sequences. Root and Finch both had a wonderful episode as their relationship got some extra focus to it with some brilliant conversations regarding the Machine. Finch's fear of his creation is a wonderful development and really adds to the swinging emotions he has had in the past 10ish episodes. It's not that he is no longer interested in saving lives; he is just afraid of the consequences of listening to the Machine now that it's free. This also nicely tied into the excellent flashbacks (great to see Ingram again by the way), which showed us the struggle of making an AI that can be both useful and trusted. The flashbacks also seem to ominously suggest the route that Samaritan may take with Greer in the near future.
Root is similarly excellent as we get the terrific reveal that she actually hasn't gotten any input from the Machine. She is just as alone as the others and just pretends that all is fine. I thought Root's character got a great examination as she gets to release the emotions she hides underneath her charismatic personality. Her potential farewell to Finch near the ending of the episode was poignant and it neatly highlighted the relationship she has built with both Finch and Shaw.
Greer's deal with Dawson is quite interesting. Now Decima has a face to do their bidding, giving them even more control over USA.
The Bad: Some aspects of the story didn't work very well. The great reveal that Root isn't in contact in the Machine was diminished since she got contacted a few minutes later. The impact of the Machine returning to her was lessened because we had very little time to comprehend that Root is just as alone as the others now.
The philosophical conversation about AI between Finch and Root was excellent. But surely this should have been discussed in an earlier scene between them, even during season 2. It feels like something like this should have been addressed much earlier, especially when the Machine was actually being set free.
Simon's story had odd moments. It felt weird that nobody would address his claims that the election was rigged. Additionally, it made no sense that Simon would simply let go of his investigation after Finch talked to him. I feel like anyone would only be more convinced that a higher power is going after him if all of this crazy stuff is happening to him. I can't buy into him simply forgetting about it. Nor can I buy into Samaritan deeming Simon as a non-threat. Surely a machine as logical as Samaritan wouldn't want to leave any loose ends like Simon.
The Unknown: Why did Samaritan feel the need to kill Perez before appointing Dawson? Is there a specific reason he was picked other than he is easy for Decima to manipulate?
Did Root just admit that she loves Shaw? I had suspected it for a little while and I think the show just confirmed it. If so, I like this development.
What are Greer's goals exactly? Or rather, what are Samaritan's goals? What are they both planning to do next, now that they have a government representative?
Will the Machine respond to Finch and set up a talk between them?
Best Moment: Both of the big Finch/Root scenes were awesome. The second one where Finch admits that Root is a friend was the one that stood out most for me.
Character of the Episode: Root, though Finch is a close second.
Conclusion: This was an excellent episode which got me into the season with strong storytelling and exciting drama. Episodes like this are more like what I was expecting with season 4. I would love to get more of this.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.