Person of Interest, Season 3, Episode 12: “Aletheia”
Written by Lucas O’Connor
Directed by Richard J. Lewis
Airs Tuesday at 10pm ET on CBS
The first half of Person of Interest‘s third season was a tremendous group of episodes: laughs were shared, losses were had, feels were felt (in case you’re wondering, all), but good times were had by all, except, perhaps, Taraji P. Henson, but let’s not go there. In any case, it’s been a great season and all indications say that will only continue from here.
“Aletheia” opens with Root (Amy Acker) saving Finch (Michael Emerson), Shaw (Sarah Shahi), and Claypool (Saul Rubinek) from the evil clutches of Control (Camryn Manheim) and Hersh (Boris McGiver). Upon escape, Root is captured by Control for a torturous purpose and to make matters even worse, Vigilance is still on their trail to spout more Revolutionary War mumbo-jumbo at them (okay, they might want to do some blowing up and killing, too). Meanwhile, Reese (Jim Caviezel) is off in Colorado moping over the death of Carter in a jail with Fusco (Kevin Chapman), instead of protecting Claypool and, to a lesser extent, Finch.
“Aletheia” shows, more prominently than ever, the distinct personality and motive that exist within The Machine. Most often The Machine seems like this phantom force that pushes the show’s heroes in the proper direction to do some good and save lives. In this episode, The Machine resembles much more a shepherd that simply wishes to watch over ‘her’ flock or even that of a benevolent god that is infinitely more powerful than anything a simple human being could conceive of, except Root and, maybe, Finch. Comparing The Machine to God is an apt one. God can see what others can’t. It has a greater look at the puzzle, while people are usually only able to see a couple pieces at a time. It can have a vision that can’t be understood until all is said and done and sometimes not even after that.
That’s where Reese’s grief comes in. Only a part of Reese’s utter sadness comes from the passing of Carter. Another part, a more profound part of it is Reese has lost his faith in The Machine. ‘She’ sets them constantly on a path to save others, but when it comes to saving one of their own, The Machine is no help. Reese’s hopelessness comes from his knowledge that The Machine picks numbers based on its own judgment, a call that no one should be allowed to make, let alone a computer. Add to that a sense of pointlessness in what they do and that’s more than enough to be filled with despair. Obviously Reese is coming back, but it’s still interesting and tragic to see Reese like, if only for a moment.
The episode was filled with great conversations between characters over the philosophies of what it is they do now, being at The Machine’s beck and call. One between Fusco and Reese over the stalemate of preventing people’s deaths, another between Reese and Finch at the end of the episode over Reese’s indwelling frustrations with The Machine, but perhaps the most interesting of these exchanges is the one that occurs between Finch and Claypool over the ethical dilemma that comes with creating The Machine. “Wonderful and terrible”, Finch calls The Machine at one point. A fitting description considering that the people that ‘she’ watches over are just that: wonderful and terrible. Like Finch says, the deck has only been shuffled a bit and this wicked world can expect no better fate.