Person of Interest Recap - S05E11 - "Synecdoche"

Last week, thanks to missing an episode the week before, I wasn’t able to give the needed focus to a certain plot development from "The Day the World Went Away”. This was necessary at the time, and will be fixed right away, before we get to the recap proper.

Root is dead. The half of a fan-loved same sex couple is the team’s first casualty in their war against Samaritan. Technically, Elias dies first, but he’s not universally considered a member of the team (and is definitely not a member of the main cast) – more of an informed ally. And there are two sides to my reaction to this – an angry one, and one looking at it more clinically.

I’m unhappy with the fact Root is dead. I – and most of the fans, I suspect – wanted her and Shaw’s reunion and happiness more than anything. And now that Sameen is back, they’ve only been actually, physically together for a single episode. To add insult to injury, this comes in the year of Lexa, Abbie, Laurel and multiple other important female characters being killed on TV – a number of which were LGBTQIA, and a number of them handled poorly. Root’s death isn’t as bad as some of those, but it still is an anger-worthy development.

On the other hand – this is the final handful of episodes from the show that promised the only regular major character guaranteed to survive is Bear. The characters are engaged in a losing war with an enemy of unimaginable capabilities. Characters will start dying. And I don’t think I’d be happy with any other character dying first – maybe Reese, whose skillset is similar to Shaw’s and who had a good run since the show’s start. Shaw just got back from months of imprisonment and psychological torture – to have her die as soon as she returns would be too cruel. Fusco is a single dad, and the possibility of his son stuck in a foster system in a country run by a malevolent ASI... yeah, I want none of that. And Finch is literally the most important character on Person of Interest. And the thing is, all or most of them will die. The producers already teased a bloodbath of an ending, and I expect Root’s death is just the first.

There’s also the fact that as much as she loved Shaw, she also loved the Machine. From the season 2 beginning, she’s expressed her desire for it (or her, as she called the AI) to achieve the potential it was denied by Finch. And in season 3, she became its analog interface. Not an admin figure or one of the primary assets – an interface. And she was fine with it. She wanted to be as close to the Machine as possible – even die for it. This isn’t different from a religious person dying for their faith.

I’ve mentioned in my recap of "6,741” that Person of Interest has the ability to make their use of overused tropes— that at the very least annoy me elsewhere— bearable (even if grudgingly at times). This is one of those moments – but then again, I most certainly am not happy with another dead lesbian character on TV, there are so few of them. So, while there isn’t as big a backlash in this case, there are people angry, and for all my rationalizing – I can’t blame them, especially since I feel similarly.

So let’s remember Root. Let’s remember Samantha Groves. And let’s hope Samaritan bloody damn pays for her death.

Also, TV executives – Amy Acker is free. Give her a TV show. Seriously.

S05E11 – Synecdoche

The team is in shambles – Finch is missing, Root is dead (buried in an unmarked grave, with only Reese and Fusco attending the funeral), and Shaw – still believing to be in a simulation – rejects the reality of it all to avoid mourning. John attempts to get her back to the fight. The Machine giving them a new number, a very relevant one at that – the President of the United States. Which is something that Samaritan is supposed to be handling – and the fact its ignoring it means there are some malevolent goals it wants to achieve that the death of the head of state will only help or be irrelevant to.

Who, by the way, is not Barack Obama in this universe – instead it’s some thin white dude. Pretty disappointing, to be honest.

He’s targeted by a group of domestic terrorists due to his surveillance proposals to the Congress – first he’s targeted at a fundraiser, then at a speech. The three remaining members of the team (Reese, Shaw and Fusco) manage to stop the former, find the terrorist group (which includes a mole at the Secret Service) and thwart the final attempt, which was supposed to happen by hijacking a Secret Service drone and bombing the President’s unmarked SUV. Even after getting on a nearby roof and getting a sniper rifle, Shaw was unable to shoot it down. So instead, she and Reese feigned an attempt at the President’s life to stop him from getting to the SUV – with Fusco at the terrorist hideout, monitoring the situation. They succeeded, but ended up in the crosshairs of the Secret Service – as did Fusco, after the terrorists’ mole sent out a tip of his location. All seems lost, with the team almost dead or arrested…

That’s when they’re saved by Joey Durban, Logan Pierce and Harper Rose.

Joey was one of the first irrelevant numbers Reese and Finch helped, an ex-soldier turned member of a bank-robbing gang of fellow ex-military. The team helped him get out and turn his life around. Pierce is another former irrelevant number, this time from the middle of season 2, creator of a Facebook-like Friendczar. Harper Rose was introduced in the second half of last season, a talented grifter (real identity unknown), whom the team helped and was helped by on several occasions. They’re the Machine’s new team dealing with the irrelevant numbers, serving a cause greater than themselves. And for all everyone knows, there might be more like them.

The two teams split up, the “New Avengers” off to deal with their new number – after giving the old team their new priority – Finch.

Since his prison break, Harold has been on the run, going southwest, and when we get back to him at the start of the episode, he’s deep in Kentucky, talking with the Machine. At first he’s uncomfortable with its choice of a new voice, which it can simulate with an almost hundred percent accuracy – which is completely understandable, as he’s in mourning. But so is the Machine – and greatly more so, too, as it experienced Root’s death thousands of times, simulating possible outcomes to her shooting, all of them tragic, unable to help her at all. By the end, he accepts the Machine’s decision, saying Root’s voice is one he misses the most.

Along the way to an uncertain destination, they discuss his decision to create the Machine. He compares himself to Thomas Midgley, the creator of Freon-12, which was in refrigerators in order to preserve foods and thus – save lives. But after his death, the gas has been banned due to its impact on the ozone layer. Similarly, Finch has created the Machine to save lives – but he has no idea what effect his accomplishment will have on humanity and the world. The Machine proposes a solution to his dilemma – allowing it to reach its full potential. It explains that with the access he gave it, the AI is able to watch and predict humanity’s cycle of violence – but powerless to do anything about it. They saved people – but so very few compared to so many who are in need of help.

In the end, Finch reaches his destination – an Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas, where he steals Ice-9 – a virus that he describes as their only chance to stop Samaritan. Which, as the Machine warns him, will cause considerable collateral damage. Finch, who has decided that his attempts to do good only lead to awful consequences, is however willing to risk it.

What is Finch’s goal? We’ll find out next week in “.exe”.

Sadly, there’s no Bear Moment of the Week, as the lovable canine didn’t make an appearance.

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