Person of Interest, Season 3, Episode 6, “Mors Praematura”
Written by Dan Sietz
Directed by Helen Shaver
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on CBS
The driving force behind Person of Interest is its greatest strength and its biggest potential weakness. Having an all-knowing Machine at the foreground is, in one breath, a fantastic expositional tool that can push the story forward with ease and cause serious problems in the villain department. What danger can any person pose to a Machine that can predict your actions and easily stop you? None, that’s what. That being said, a show like this has to raise the bar on what a normal person could do to something like The Machine. Person of Interest might be on the way to that.
“Mors Praematura” picks up from last week’s “Razgovor” left off with Shaw (Sarah Shahi) being kidnapped by The Machine conversationalist Root (Amy Acker). For what reason? It seems that The Machine wants Root and Shaw to work together to stop a potential threat against The Machine. The same group, known as Vigilance, that killed Kruger (David Alan Basche) in “Nothing to Hide” have or will set their eyes on The Machine and the dismantling of it, or “her”, as Root calls The Machine. Meanwhile, Finch (Michael Emerson) is working undercover to get close to Timothy Sloan (Fringe‘s Kirk Acevedo), the latest number whose foster brother may have a connection to Vigilance.
The dynamic between Shaw and Root is particularly intriguing. Shaw clearly hates Root for attempting to interrogate/torture her last season, but is willing to let that go, for at least a moment, in the service of protecting the innocents that might get hurt if they’re not able to stop Vigilance from shutting down The Machine. Shaw’s sociopathy isn’t enough to make her succumb to her homicidal urges and ignore her greater desire to help others, a desire that likely drove her to the CIA, along with other, more primitive motives.
This season’s choice of villains seems to be both a totally natural one and also a completely obvious one. Having a Machine that sees everything and is for all intents and purposes a main character leaves the door wide open for a villain to walk in that hates this kind of invasion of privacy, and isn’t entirely wrong in that either, as The Machine isn’t entirely a force for good. It just does far more good than harm and is the very essence of a necessary evil. Without it people would die, but there’s a fundamentally if not immoral, than unethical aspect to The Machine. Along with other tenets, America was founded with a right to privacy and The Machine is a violation of that right. In that way, Vigilance has a very valid point, but where they go wrong is that they’re willing to kill to see that point brought to fruition. Person of Interest exists in good deal of gray rather than black or white and “Mors Praematura” is a great reminder of that.
For a show that could be nothing more than a serialized procedural (although it is that, partially), it’s so much more. If you’re paying attention to the themes, there’s actually some pretty fascinating subject matters being discussed, such as privacy and technology, that are about as compelling as it gets. The writers, in this case Dan Sietz, deserve massive props. The overarching stories are fascinating and the standalone cases are consistently engaging. Person of Interest gets better and better each episode and it’s clear that they’ve gotten started with whatever larger arc they’re telling. Between its great stock of characters, compelling stories, and amazing and subtle themes, this is a show that deserves more conversation than it’s receiving right now.