Person of Interest Recap - S05E04&05 - "6,741" + "ShotSeeker"

This week, Shaw returns (kinda); the team have another battle with Samaritan while Fusco and other characters resolve to find out what in all hells is actually going on.

S05E04 – 6,741

While this week marks Sarah Shahi’s return to her role as Sameen Shaw, the episode is almost entirely a simulation created by Greer and his (well, Samaritan’s) employees, for the purpose of getting Shaw to reveal the location of the team’s hideout. To that end, she’s submitted to a scenario in which she escapes their facility and is supposed to lead them straight to the secret subway station. But Shaw is Shaw, and she just won’t play along, and by the end Samaritan is back where it started. And, unfortunately, so is Shaw.

While I’m generally not a fan of the "it was all a dream" cliché, I found this was a well-crafted plot that stayed true to Shaw’s character and actually made sense. It generally would be improbable for anyone to get out from Samaritan’s facility that easily, but given that it’s Shaw, who runs on action movie tropes (and high-calorie meals), our disbelief remains suspended. The episode works at the level of plot and at the meta level. Samaritan wants her to lead it to the team’s hideout – but not make it so easy that she gets suspicious. Likewise, the writers know we want her to escape – but if they made it seem too easy, we’d question the plot and suspect none of it is real in-universe.

The fact that we only see any of the other team members when they’re with Shaw (or when she hears them) makes sense – it’s a simulation, so of course she won’t know what they’re doing when they’re not with her. And neither do we, as this is Shaw’s big return in the final season, so of course she’d be the main focus of the episode, and of course it would also serve as a tribute to her debut, "Relevance."

The flashes Shaw experiences once in a while (after she wakes up from having done something out of character) also make sense – it’s the people running the simulation trying to get her back on track. But we don’t grow suspicious, because we (and Shaw) know she has a chip implanted in her that’s supposed to make her Samaritan’s asset – and after it’s taken out and we later learn it was a placebo, we suspect it’s Samaritan’s previous attempts at brainwashing.

The show also continues to impress me with its ability to take tropes that would make me at least annoyed, and actually make me admit the validity of their use (sometimes begrudgingly). Halfway through the episode Shaw and Root finally consummate their relationship (and their sex is as violent as we’d expect it from these two). But since it’s a simulation, it didn’t actually happen. But as the story gets darker, and Shaw gets more distrustful of her own mind (including killing Reese), we don’t actually want it to be real. And neither does Shaw, who, faced with the possibility she might kill Root, decides to kill herself instead. Thus everyone manages to eat their cake, have their cake, and eat it again. We got a story where Root and Shaw get together and the latter confirms her deep love for the former time and time again. The writers got to go as dark as possible with the character. And we didn’t lose Shaw at all – she’s still very much alive and well. Since the episode’s title comes from the number of simulations she’s found a way out of by the episode’s end, we can have faith for her proper return.

S05E05 – ShotSeeker

Shaw’s teammates are unware of all these goings on, and while they are still searching for her, they have other problems to deal with. This time around, Reese investigates a new number – Ethan Garvin, an NYPD analyst with a gift of highly sensitive hearing. He uses his increased sense at ShotSeeker – a program that uses CCTV output to analyze sounds and decide whether they are fired shots or something different. Garvin is investigating a case of the missing Krupa Naik – a female researcher whose star project could save millions of starving people. Garvin knew her from before and was surprised when ShotSeeker interpreted sounds from her apartment from the night of her disappearance as firecrackers, when he could clearly tell those are gunshots from a weapon with a similar sound. At the same time Feed the Globe, an organization Krupa Naik sold her research to, was hacked and her work was stolen. In the end, the team discovers that Samaritan and its operatives were behind the researcher’s disappearance (and likely death) and the Feed the Globe hack in order to bury the research. And Garvin’s investigation marked him as a potential threat. In the end, the team saves him by finding the original copy of Krupa’s research and making it public, thus removing the only reason the superintelligence had for killing the number of the week.

But, while this problem has been dealt with, the team is still in uncharted waters in the grand scheme of things. Using the code from Samaritan’s malware they obtained last week, Finch managed to incubate a miniature version of their enemy ASI. And after he manages to create a similar Mini-Me for the Machine, he connects both clones to a separate laptop so that they would both “fight”, allowing the Machine’s clone to find any weakness’ Samaritan’s code might have. And things are looking grim – by the end of the episodes, out of 10 billion potential outcomes the mini-Machine loses every single one of them.

Meanwhile Fusco is being pestered by Bruce Moran (played by James Le Gros), Elias’s childhood friend and his accountant prior to his death, who would really like to know (using Elias’s remaining muscle to threaten Fusco’s son) who actually killed his buddy. And it’s not just Elias and Dominic – multiple other gang leaders and mob bosses have been killed across the country and no one is rising up to take their spots. Samaritan really doesn’t want anyone in its way to total domination.

Even when Reese gets involved to dissuade Moran, he will not be stopped and ends up kidnapping John and demanding to know the truth – or John will be dead. Reese and Finch decide to reveal to Moran (and the audience) a shocking truth: Elias is alive and mostly well, staying at a safehouse the team set up for him. And apparently he knows the truth about Samaritan. He tries to warn his friend to get back into hiding, but Moran decides that if Elias won’t take his rightful place in New York underworld, he’ll do it.

At the same time Fusco has officially had enough. The decrease in homicides, the parallel rise of suicides and missing persons cases, the weird events surrounding recent cases, Reese and Finch’s unwillingness to spill the beans – it all ends up too much and he tells them he won’t stop digging into the truth. And given that the team would rather tell a mob boss the truth than him, I honestly can’t blame him.

We’ll see where all this leads next week. Meanwhile, today’s Bear Moment of the Week: Simulation Bear, happy to see Shaw!

Yeah, I’m all about twisting the knife.

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