Person of Interest, Season 4, Episodes 12 to 22
Airs Tuesdays at 10 pm ET on CBS
Person of Interest’s third season ended with Samaritan revealing its long con to take over for The Machine, with the setup of Vigilance used to feed on the paranoia of those in power and sending The Machine and its team scrambling for cover. Much of the fourth season has focused on Samaritan trying to finish the job of eliminating The Machine, and while Reese, Finch, and the group have fought back, as these last few episodes have displayed, Samaritan’s calculated ruthlessness and efficiency makes it an adversary that cannot be easily defeated. This has led to an excellent run of episodes to close out the fourth season.
The fight between Samaritan and The Machine has been a fascinating aspect of these episodes, particularly in the way the writers have illustrated Samaritan’s methods. In many ways, Finch’s fear about what The Machine could become if left unchecked has manifested itself in Samaritan’s actions, from the bending of the Maple townspeople’s lives to force them to look away during its illicit actions, to its manipulation of schoolchildren. The other aspect of Samaritan that has been really interesting to see, however, is its dogged pursuit of The Machine, which has continued long after The Machine ceased to be a threat to Samaritan. While people on both sides talk about two Gods going after each other, Samaritan has been much more ruthless in going after The Machine than The Machine has, even in defending its position. The key difference, of course, has been Finch, and regardless of Finch’s opinion on The Machine’s morality, the latter has been much more morally cautious in its actions. While part of it has been undoubtedly due to Finch’s intervention, as he showed in the case of Elizabeth Bridges, and the fact that The Machine views Finch as the father it doesn’t want to let down, The Machine also has shown that it understands the cost of human life, much more than Samaritan does. The question this does raise, however, is whether this makes The Machine a fit to take over if and when Samaritan is toppled. Despite Samaritan successfully executing the Correction and removing threats to it, this is likely to happen at some point, even if The Machine is unable to defeat Samaritan. However, with The Machine now deciding that certain people are not interchangeable and should be valued above all else, and that human life should be protected, would the government deem The Machine fit to serve as the AI they turn to for help in stopping terrorists?
The battle between Elias and Dominic has been similarly compelling to watch. While Elias was clearly okay with simply sitting back and defensively sparring with The Brotherhood and protecting his assets, the death of Anthony really brought a fighting spirit out in Elias, and showed how valuable his right hand man was to Elias, not only in a professional capacity, but as a friend. Dominic, however, proved to be no slouch himself, and there was little doubt that, even with Elias on the warpath, The Brotherhood caused significant damage to Elias’ operation. Dominic himself has proven to be more resourceful than others who have crossed the path of Elias, Reese, and co., and his discovery of who Finch is put him in an intriguingly dangerous position. Elias’ first introduction to The Machine’s group was when Reese saved his life, and this coloured his interactions with the group from there on out. His sympathy towards Finch, Reese, and the team only increased when Carter rescued him from the Russians and HR and kept him safe, which meant he’s always been an ally. Dominic, however, had no such loyalty; in fact, his first run-in with the team saw him end up on the wrong end of Shaw’s gun. This, added to his not-entirely-incorrect perception that the group has always taken Elias’ side against him, meant that Dominic saw the team not only as a threat to The Brotherhood’s success, but also as the key to the longevity of Elias’ reign. It was interesting to see how The Machine’s allies would look to someone who had firsthand experience with the group but was unaware of either AI system, and his loss, as well as that of Elias, will be sorely felt. It’s clear that Samaritan will not allow any low-level crime to grow now while it is in power, but the deaths of Dominic and Elias do leave a power vacuum now, and how many people try to fill that vacuum, and how Samaritan deals with them, will be fascinating to see.
Overall, this has been a very strong season for Person of Interest, as these run of episodes have demonstrated. Root, in particular, has been a delight to watch, as her fierce loyalty towards The Machine and her peers, such as Finch and Shaw, have shown a different dimension to the character that has helped show more of what makes her unique and a good fit to be The Machine’s analog interface. It has also gone a long way towards indicating why Samaritan has been unable to find their own version of Root and all that she brings to the table. The character of Harper has been an intriguing addition to the show, and The Machine’s decision to funnel numbers through her is a promising storyline. Not only does it keep the character in the show’s orbit, where she’s capable of shaking things up every so often, but it also hints at a larger gameplan for The Machine, one that Finch may not necessarily be aware of. Carter’s return, even as a dream, was a welcome one, and it’s good to see that she’s still Reese’s source of strength, even all this time after her death. Reese’s near-death experience, while somewhat oddly placed in the season’s run, nonetheless helped give viewers a glimpse of his troubled mind, something that was sorely necessarily to understand what he was going through with the death of Carter and apparent death of Shaw. Root’s killing of Martine was brutally efficient, and the unceremonious death of such a prominent member of Samaritan served to effectively underscore how powerful of an ally Root is. It was also nice to see The Machine communicating directly with Reese once again. While the capture of Control doesn’t bode well for the character, the fact that she was not eliminated is encouraging, as is Shaw’s survival, despite the latter’s brainwashing. The Machine’s conversation with Finch, and its suicide note, was a touching moment that proves Finch’s attempts to instill a sense of morality in The Machine have been successful. The cold-blooded efficiency with which Samaritan continues to gain power and emerge victorious in its fights with The Machine continues to be chilling, and its execution of Dominic and Elias suggests that it will interfere in indirect matters more from now on, especially with nobody to stop it. However this plays out next season, it will certainly make for a great watch.
– Deepayan Sengupta