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Person of Interest recap: SNAFU

The Machine that went into the briefcase isn’t exactly the same one that comes out when Finch and Root wake her up

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John Paul Filo/CBS

Person of Interest

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson

Tonight, Person of Interest pulls back on the Samaritan story line to focus on the show’s original ASI: Finch’s Machine. It turns out that the same Machine that was hyper-condensed into that briefcase at the end of last season isn’t the same one that comes out when Finch and Root decompress her and turn her on.

This is immediately apparent from the opening moments of the episode, which finds Finch and Root testing out the Machine’s facial recognition programming. Surprise, it isn’t working properly, and the Machine confuses the team members with each, face swapping them around like crazy. As I mentioned last week, I’m always happy when this show remembers to temper its intensity with some comedic relief, and that’s exactly what this sequence is. The scene, which was actually shown at New York City Comic Con last year, gives every cast member an opportunity to impersonate each other, and it’s great.

The fact that it’s taking the Machine longer than expected to be fully operational has everyone on edge. Reese is restless because not only have there not been any new numbers, but also because homicides in the city are down (Thanks, Samaritan… Oh wait, suicides are up, so maybe I spoke too soon). Root is stuck in the base because she’s a dead woman walking if she even peaks her head above ground without the Machine there to provide her with a cover identity. So, it falls to Reese and Finch to pick her up some supplies — black nail posh and fuzzy slippers, natch — while they steal some servers to increase the Machine’s processing power.

With the servers or whatever installed, it’s time to wake up the Machine. Once she’s up and running, Finch and Root, who can’t understand why Finch ever boxed her up, take her for a spin. First, they have her identify Reese, who is standing in the middle of Times Square. She passes that test. Root’s eager to jump back into fighting Samaritan, but Finch insists that they start up the irrelevant numbers protocol first to make sure everything is in working order.

The Machine gives them 30 numbers. Some of them don’t really pan out because either the person isn’t an actual threat, a character getting shot in a play, or already dead. It seems as though the Machine isn’t processing context and unstuck in time, like the Island in the Lost season 5 premiere. So, Finch decides to run a diagnostic to see how the Machine handles the team. Oh boy, was that a bad idea?

The Machine looks at everything they’ve ever done — especially Root and Reese, but also Finch — decides they’re threats, and takes steps to handle them. First, she locks Root and Finch inside the train car.

While Finch and Root are trapped in the subway car, Reese receives another number: Laurie Granger, who is visiting New York from Tulsa. It’s actually his lucky day because she walks into the precinct seeking assistance, except it turns out that she’s an assassin who was hired by, yep, you guessed it, the Machine. She chases Reese through the streets of Chinatown and into a nearby mall with a gun.

NEXT: The trauma of dying 42 times