Previously on Person of Interest

In one week, on May 3, begins the fifth and final season of Person of Interest. I’ll be recapping it for you, but first, let’s take a look at what happened in the show’s previous years.

If you haven’t seen Person of Interest, it’s a sci-fi crime-solving procedural, created by Jonathan Nolan for CBS, and set in New York City. Unlike most procedurals on American network television, the show’s cast stops crimes before they take place, as opposed to solving ones already committed. Their source of information is the Machine – an artificial intelligence created following 9/11 and the enactment of the Patriot Act, to predict future terrorist attacks against the United States. It works a bit too well – it also predicts crimes committed by ordinary American people. In the end, the Machine has been programmed to put those crimes, irrelevant to national security, into a separate list. Said list is deleted at midnight every day. However, a backdoor has been added – the Machine contacts its creator and provides with a social security number of a person involved in a predicted criminal act. Said person could be a victim or a perpetrator. Said crime can take place in a few minutes or a few days. That’s where the show’s main characters come in.

One of them is the Machine’s creator – the elusive and mysterious billionaire and hacking genius Harold Finch (played by Michael Emerson). However, having been disabled in an accident prior to the events of the show, he needs to hire a partner; someone who can go out in the field, investigate the number of the week and intervene. That person is ex-CIA operative, John Reese (played by Jim Caviezel). Reese himself has been terribly affected by an event that happened before the show’s start - when we first meet him, he has become a homeless drunk. That’s why when Finch provides him a new purpose in life, he agrees to join him on his crusade.

It has become a bit of a cliché to say that Finch and Reese together are pretty much Batman. The former provides seemingly endless funds, computer expertise and helpful technology, similarly to the Bruce Wayne side of that character. Reese meanwhile covers the vigilante part – skilled in close quarter and long range combat and often showcasing investigative skills. Unlike Batman, however, he has no problem with using guns. Most of the time he makes sure to take down his opponents non-lethally, but when he has no choice in the matter, he won’t hesitate to kill them – though for most of the show’s run he avoids it. On the other hand, Finch is the one uncomfortable with taking a human life and  doesn’t like using firearms.

While they are the focus for most of the series, they’re not the only characters introduced in the pilot. The first is an African American NYPD Homicide detective, Jocelyn Carter (played by Taraji P. Henson). She starts out set on finding Reese, as his fingerprints are connected to a number of unsolved cases in New York. Halfway through the first season, she becomes the duo’s ally and the show’s moral center. In later years, she also gets her own story arc focused on taking down H.R. – a criminal organization within the NYPD. Unfortunately, due to Taraji P. Henson’s desire to focus on movie roles, she dies in the conclusion of that arc. It’s something that I’ll get back to in a future article.

The other major character introduced in the show’s first episode is Detective Lionel Fusco (played by Kevin Chapman). Fusco starts out as a corrupt cop, connected to H.R., who is forcibly recruited by Reese to provide him with information that only a police officer has access to. Over the course of the show he undergoes character development, without regret abandoning his previous life and becoming an actual good cop. Following Carter’s death he even partially takes on the role as the group’s moral center.

The second season brought two more additions to the team. The first one is Bear – an ex-military dog, taken by Reese from a Neo-Nazi who mistreated the poor animal. The second one, introduced late in the season, is Sameen Shaw (played by Sarah Shahi) – a half-Iranian American black ops agent. She used to be part of the program that investigated the relevant numbers provided to the government by the Machine. In her introductory episode, Relevance – which focused entirely on her, pushing the regular cast to the background – she is forced on the run from her former employers and later seemingly killed. Saved by the team, she becomes a recurring character for the rest of the season and officially joins the crew at start of the third. Shaw has a similar skillset to Reese, along with a medical degree; which allows her to take care of injuries sustained during the many dangerous situations the team gets into. She’s not exactly a kind and caring doctor, though – in her first appearance she says she has Axis II Personality Disorder, though it seems it’s more likely a Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The final addition to the show’s cast is Root (played by Amy Acker) – a former mercenary hacker, who started out as the group’s opponent. Over the course of season 3 she became their ally, a necessary evil due to her special connection to the Machine. She and Shaw developed a relationship of sorts, where they flirted with each other via veiled threats. That relationship became official in the middle of season 4. We’ll get back to that.

Person of Interest remained a mystery of the week shows for almost the entirety of its four seasons with subtly integrated long-running story arcs. This begun to change in the middle of its third year, when the showrunners started focusing on exploration of the concept of an artificial superintelligence. The team started going against a corporation called Decima Technologies, led by a mysterious Mr. Greer (played by John Nolan). His plan was to bring online another AI, Samaritan, developed parallel to the Machine and shelved when the government gave the latter the go ahead. In the end, the team fails and started living in hiding with cover identities provided by the Machine; which Samaritan is unable to breach thanks to an error introduced by Root.

Season 4 jumped some time ahead, with the team living their new lives and just starting to form some sort of opposition to Samaritan. Meanwhile the AI replaced the Machine as the government’s source of information on future terrorist attacks – and begun slowly gaining control over the United States. The Machine itself went into hiding, waging its own secret war on its rival alongside Root, while still providing the team with new numbers. This time many of those were connected to Samaritan campaign. During the war, the team also lost another friend – Shaw, following Sarah Shahi’s pregnancy. It seemed that Sameen went down performing a heroic sacrifice for the team – and Root, as it was confirmed just moments before that she indeed loved her. However, the show has since then revealed on two occasions that she survived – and the showrunners have confirmed that she’ll be back this season in a regular role. I’ll cover this in more detail in a future article, alongside Carter’s departure.

In the end the Machine, forced to reveal its location to Samaritan in order to protect the team, has been reduced to a core code. That code was downloaded by Finch, Root and Reese into a set of high capacity RAM chips with the help of a compression algorithm. The season ended with the team facing seemingly endless Samaritan operatives and trying to get the Machine to safety, so it can be rebooted. Meanwhile Samaritan managed to get rid of whatever opposition it might have to face in the future during "The Correction”.

Will the team succeed? Or will Samaritan win? If the two godlike artificial superintelligence face off, what will the world become? We’ll find out this year, starting on Tuesday, May 3. Following the season premiere, CBS will air episodes twice a week, on Mondays and Tuesdays – until the series finale on June 14. And I’ll be reviewing those episodes for you.

Till then, here's a Bear GIF!

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.