Person of Interest, Season 4, Episode 1: “Panopticon”
Directed by Richard J. Lewis
Written by Erik Mountain and Greg Plageman
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on CBS
Over the course of Person of Interest’s three seasons, the Machine, despite the best efforts of itself, Finch, and Root, has been spotted by a number of individuals, resulting in its disconnection from the government last season after the public learned of its existence. That void was filled by Greer and his system Samaritan, whose first action was to decimate the immediate threat of Vigilance before setting their sights on Finch, Root, Shaw, and Reese. The fourth season premiere picks up with the four of them living under new identities, in a solid start to what promises to be another strong season.
Reese’s potential alliance with Elias is an exciting prospect for the new season. Despite their differences, Elias has always harboured a level of respect for both Finch and Reese, and professed a liking for the late Detective Carter as well, having demonstrated these things by avenging Carter and saving Reese’s life. With the possibility that Elias is now on the radar of Samaritan assassins, and a chance to financially profit from assisting Reese and Shaw, it will be intriguing to see how Elias plays his hand going forward. Samaritan and Greer are a different kind of antagonist than either the mob or HR, which means Elias will have to figure out a new way to deal with them. However, Elias is also a resourceful person, and with allies like Finch and potentially Root, he certainly cannot be counted out of a fight against Samaritan. How far Elias is willing to take this fight will also be worth watching. Elias’ battle against the mob had a personal element for him, and his fight against HR was for his own benefit, but a fight against Samaritan will be neither of those things. This means Elias will have to fight on principle for perhaps the first time in his life, and how far his loyalty extends towards Reese and Finch will determine how long Elias stays involved in this fight, especially when it can be just as easy for him to cut and run.
The possibility for Finch, Reese, and the group to become the new Vigilance, in a way, is also a promising idea. Decima and Greer’s controlling of Vigilance from the start, as was revealed last season, effectively meant they controlled, then wiped out, the only viable group that both knew about, and had the resources, to take down Samaritan. But with the discovery of unmapped tunnels, as well as the presence of a private network, Finch and the team are now in a unique position to take on Samaritan, and have the help of something Vigilance never had; the Machine, which can go toe-to-toe with Samaritan. Finch is concerned with survival, however, so it will be interesting to see what tips him over the edge from being on the defensive to aggressively going after Greer and Samaritan. Reese and Shaw are unlikely to need much coaxing in this regard, making Finch the only real holdout. As Finch displays in this premiere, he is not above helping people, but is also worried about what Samaritan and Greer might do. The acquisition of a private network and a hidden base of operations, however, minimises the threat, and whether this brings Finch back into the fold or not will likely determine the direction of the team, and The Machine’s plans. It will also be intriguing to see how important The Machine and Root deem Finch to be, and how much they’re willing to coax him to rejoin if the safety nets provided this episode aren’t enough.
Overall, this is a strong premiere, effectively building on the fallout from the aftermath of the Season 3 finale. The differences between how Samaritan viewed things vs. how The Machine used to was a nice touch, as was the similarities in how Greer talks to Samaritan vs. how Root communicates with The Machine. Reese being the one itching to get back into the field and save lives is indicative of a number of things, primarily that he has accepted Carter’s death and moved on from it, and no longer has antagonistic feelings towards the Machine. It also provides a glimpse as just how the current circumstances have affected Finch. Previous seasons have shown Finch unafraid to even get into danger himself to save a potential victim, believing in rescuing people above everything else. His stance this episode thus marks a noticeable change, as he’s more concerned with survival and the safety of those he knows instead of the rest of the city. How long this lasts, and what eventually break through to Finch to put the safety of the team on the back burner, will tell a lot about how the fight with Greer and Samaritan have affected him. Shaw’s complete disinterest in her cover job is amusing, and her getting mixed up with criminals at The Machine’s behest is also a fascinating development. As events with Root last season displayed, The Machine is unlikely to sit back and wait out Samaritan, which may mean there’s a plan being built that will require the assistance of Shaw’s new friends. Whatever plan The Machine may have will be exciting to see as it unfolds, particularly with how Root is associated with it, and based on this premiere, the season will be well worth watching.
– Deepayan Sengupta