‘Person of Interest’ Recap (Season 1 FINALE): Root Of All Evil
The Person of Interest finale has arrived, putting the finishing touches on its over-achieving and miraculous freshman effort.
This is a show about a man in a suit — it’s a great disguise if nobody knows your face. It’s stunning how much identity-profiling this show does, using the Machine to suggest that human beings can be clinically-analyzed and then be unerringly labeled and judged. Carrying out the execution on that judgment is up to men and women though — that’s where all that data-gathering can be thrown out the window by free will. It’s still a choice. Person of Interest‘s season finale toyed with how people analyze each other and whether or not it’s crazy to feel paranoid. The approach wasn’t subtle, letting the comparison take root thanks to this week’s target being a highly-specific psychologist played by the liquid-hotrogen Amy Acker of Dollhouse fame (I think of her as Whiskey, but she’s more recognizable for her time spent in other corners of the Whedonverse). The premise might have been formulaic, but the Person of Interest formula has become potent indeed, so there will always be a twist that warps the episode’s thesis.
As season finales should, past guest-stars were popping back up like weeds this week, so that means Zoey is back to dig up dirt on Whiskey The Psychiatrist, and Alicia continued her deranged stalking of Finch. It’s funny how there were multiple moments in the episode where one character didn’t recognize another, or was suddenly told something that had been common knowledge for the audience for so long. Finch not really knowing Alicia made sense, since she had been his old partner Nathan’s handler and he had concealed Finch’s real identity by only introducing him with a blase attitude in all those flashbacks where they were building the Machine. Is Nathan really dead? Considering Reese’s old partner survived an AC-130 gunship attack of CoD-proportions, all bets are off.
Likewise, it was goofy to see Carter and Lionel finally realize that they’ve both been working with Reese and Finch but not knowing that the other was as well. No more awkward stares across the desk. Or maybe more of them? Perhaps, perhaps. At least they both have sane people to confide in now.
That circles back to the episode’s main theme — the assumption that most everything about a person can be discovered by observing them. It’s how the Machine works and it’s how Whiskey The Psychiatrist works, taking powerful members of the New York elite as clients and maybe learning a little bit too much as they confide in her. That’s why the NYPD’s “HR” department wanted her dead (or a client of theirs did). She functions mechanically, if softly, sizing up Reese when he comes in to do the same to her. Things escalated quickly when the FBI and the corrupt cops “HR” close in on Reese and Whiskey, respectively. This threat was diffused when Finch managed to hack all the cell towers of lower Manhattan, paralyzing the cops and the feds communications. They were damn-confused and unable to function, demonstrating their total dependence on their technology — and perhaps showing the individual officers and agents to think for themselves. It was a bit heavy-handed, with the show shouting: “Don’t be a tool! Don’t be a MACHINE!” right in the viewer’s face. But it was at the bad guys’ expense, so it was justifiable.
The scene of Reese escaping the hotel as Carter shot him warnings via text as she watched the CCTV cams was reminiscent of The Matrix. What’s eerie though is that it isn’t all that implausible. Person of Interest is soft sci-fi, but it’s conceptually-grounded in reality. Oh, how far we’ve come (and that wasn’t the last Matrix shout-out of the episode either)!
- Sidebar: was it funny to anybody else that there was REAL TIME CRIME CENTER plastered at the top of the FBI HQ’s big screen? What 14 year-old intern is designing the Bureau’s software these days? Person of Interest, you can be a silly goose sometimes. Or, a lot of the time.
Reese gets saved from the corrupt cops by the newly-minted Team Carter/Lionel. Then their meager getaway car chase became a fantastic car chase when Reese blows up their pursuers’ car with a bomb he planted. And Carter and Lionel are all, “Aww, man, you kept us in the dark.” And Reese was all, “Yeah, I have trust issues, but we should hang out sometime. Happy Explosion Day.” And he gets out of the car and doesn’t say anything else for the rest of the season. Actually, that’s not true, he says one more thing, but we’ll get to that in a sec.
First Finch gets ambushed by crazy-noid Alicia *GASP*, who tells him: “You created God. Now you’re going to help me shut it down.” Then Whiskey shows up and shoots Alicia, revealing that she’s the hacker named Root from earlier in the season *DOUBLE-GASP!* Whiskey, you are always so many people. And Amy Acker makes the character look so comfortable and crazy. She’ll make for a dangerous foe. We’ve seen what the Machine can do in the hands of a social introvert like Finch, and we know that the Machine’s true power is tangible knowledge — pushing the button and executing on that knowledge is still up to the operator. If that operator was Root, then she could cause some real chaos.
Root absconds with Finch, leaving us wondering what will become of him. I’m wondering if Amy Acker will start showing up with greater frequency? I don’t believe she’s a regular on any other shows, save her occasional appearances on Once Upon A Time as the Pink Fairy (I still miss Stealthy). Her character has the makings of a pretty good Big Bad, which the show could benefit from — a Moriarty to Finch’s Holmes, lurking in the background and causing all the mischief in the world.
The very end also had strong echoes of The Matrix, as if the episode needed more reiterations about the importance of free will and man versus machine. Reese, wearing black, ignoring passersby on the street, stares up at a camera, knowing that the Machine is watching. Then he answers a ringing payphone and we smash to black.
The only other clue we’re left with was the Machine’s POV looking back at Reese, displaying: “Error: Continuity of operations compromised. Evaluating options.” Has Root seized control? Can the Machine be controlled, or is “aimed” the better word? Is the Machine sentient enough to be self-preserving and side with Reese like he told the camera? Speculate. Enjoy your summer — new episodes will start up again in the fall!
Still bored? Read my recap for last Sunday’s Mad Men and my recent piece on the 9 Things That New College Graduates Need To Know over on GhostLittle.com — and as always, you can keep up with my thoughts on Twitter. See you on Sunday!
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