Person of Interest had no problem following up on last night’s outstanding outing, “6,741.” “ShotSeeker” builds on some of the work done by the previous episode as it continues to push the show into darker territory. Team Machine is slowly starting to realize that they’re fighting a losing war as series-long plotlines are starting to crisscross in interesting and fraught ways. There is no escaping the dread.
Number of the Week: Ethan Garvin
Ethan Garvin is an analyst who works in the NYPD’s Real Time Crime Center. He handles a program called ShotSeeker, which uses audio surveillance systems around the city to locate gunshots. It’s his job to double check if the gunshots are real or false alarms. This subtle plot point — that Garvin is responsible to varying ShotSeeker’s results — highlights how even the most sophisticated technology requires a human hand to keep an eye on it. You know, who watches the watchmen and all.
At first blush, all signs point to Garvin being a perpetrator. Reese tails him to a Columbia University apartment building where he breaks into the apartment of a doctoral student named Krupa Naik with a gun. Reese follows him into the empty apartment and finds him shooting into the fireplace. It turns out that ShotSeeker registered gunshots there several nights ago but determined that it was false alarm. However, Garvin analyzed the actual data and discovered that there were actually gunshots, and Krupa has been missing ever since that night. So, Garvin has decided to investigate since no one else will.
While Fusco is watching his son play street hockey, he receives a visit from Elias’ childhood friend and associate Bruce Moran, who wants to know who was responsible for Elias’ death. He threatens Fusco’s son but backs down when he realizes that Fusco actually doesn’t know anything and that Reese is the one he should be talking to.
Tonight’s episode picks up on some of the threads in the season premiere, particularly Fusco’s frustration about being kept out of the loop. It’s obvious that Reese and Finch know more than they’re saying, and it’s about time that Fusco starts demanding to be let into the metaphorical room where it happens. At this point, Team Machine can use all of the help they can get, and they’re basically handicapping themselves by not reading in Fusco.
Reese tells Fusco he’ll handle Bruce while Fusco accompanies Garvin to talk to Ben Haas, the head of a nonprofit that Krupa worked for and the man who filed a missing person report for her. While being questioned, Ben tells Fusco and Garvin that Krupa developed something that could solve world hunger. (Check out Person of Interest casually solving world hunger like The West Wing casually solved social security. Gotta love TV.) On the night that Krupa decided to give her work to Ben’s nonprofit, she went missing and someone hacked into the nonprofit’s files. Ben suspects it was JD Carrick, a corrupt CEO who was also after her work.
As Finch and Garvin leave the nonprofit, ShotSeeker registers gunshots at that exact location, and a police report identifies Garvin as the shooter. The police show up and almost shoot him, but Fusco gets them to stand down. Someone arranged for this suicide by cop. And by someone, I mean Samaritan. It appears that Garvin’s good Samaritan work has put him on, well, Samaritan’s radar.
One of Krupa’s neighbors calls Garvin to meet up because she’s ready to talk about what she knows. However, when Reese and Garvin arrive at the school, they find her shot. This is when the episode really kicks into high gear. The sequence of Reese chasing after the gunman while Fusco shows up with the cops and Finch starts putting the pieces together about Samaritan’s involvement unfolds beautifully and injects the episode with some adrenaline. Unfortunately, the gunman manages to escape in a gray van being driven by Jeff Blackwell, whom we met in “SNAFU.” Right as Reese loses them, other men show up and knock him out.
NEXT: The return of a favorite character
Finch and Root assume Samaritan took Reese (but they’re wrong). Sadly, the Machine is unable to track him. But they have another problem on their hands: Fusco decides to rally the NYPD to find Reese, which has them worried because they think that’s going to set him on a collision course with Samaritan.
Although the Machine can’t find Reese, she is able to point Root in the right direction and directs her to the now-dead neighbor’s apartment. There, Root finds a hard drive containing a backup of Krupa’s work and Blackwell, who is also searching for it because his employer told him it was dangerous. She interrogates Blackwell about Reese’s whereabouts, but he clearly knows nothing. He doesn’t even know he’s working for Samaritan. He’s just a cog in Samaritan’s machine, as Root puts it.
With the hard drive in hand, Finch and Root start investigating further and discover that Samaritan tried to frame Carrick for Krupa’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Fusco starts interrogating Carrick about Krupa when Samaritan sends an asset to take Garvin out. However, Finch alerts Fusco in time, and he’s able to stop him. That’s yet another close call for Fusco. What makes this episode so strong is how it continues to build tension with near misses like this.
In order to call off Samaritan, Finch and Root decide to release Krupa’s research on the internet because that would neutralize Garvin as a threat to Samaritan’s plans. It takes a few moments for Finch to be okay with this decision because he’s not sure why Samaritan would want to bury such revolutionary work. Could solving world hunger actually lead to an overpopulation crisis? But, leave it to Root — yes, Root of all people — to argue that saving one life is more important than trying to understand the reasoning of an ASI. I liked that this scene highlighted one of the differences between Root and Finch. Finch can’t help but think of the global consequences of any decision he makes; whereas Root isn’t bothered by such worries and is more concerned with the present.
It’s fairly obvious that Bruce Moran, not Samaritan, captured Reese. He demands to know what happened to Elias. After taking out Bruce’s men, Reese finally decides to bring him in the loop and tells Finch to meet them at the safe house. When they get there, Reese and Finch reveal to Bruce (and us) that Carl Elias (Enrico Colantoni) is alive and recuperating from his gunshot wound. It turns out Fusco saved Elias from the van that night and brought him to the safehouse, where Reese and Finch helped bring him back. Elias asks Bruce to return to the shadows because they’re up against something they can’t possibly fight, but Bruce doesn’t want to lose everything they’ve built. This really drives home just how much the world has changed now that Samaritan is in power. In other, it’s Samaritan’s world, and Elias and Bruce are just trying to live in it.
When Person of Interest appeared to have killed off Elias last season, it seemed a shocking and bold move because he was such an interesting and integral character to the world. However, it made sense and really upped the stakes of the show and the threat of Samaritan. While allowing Elias to cheat death doesn’t diminish those stakes, it’s still kind of disappointing because I liked the idea of exploring an Elias-less world. At the same time, I’m glad we’ll get more Enrico Colantoni this season, who is great in the role.
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The Machine vs. Samaritan:
In this week’s other plot, Finch uses the stolen malware to create a kernel version of Samaritan on an air-gapped computer and puts it up against a kernel version of the Machine. He hopes that this will allow the Machine to learn more about Samaritan. Unfortunately, the results are pretty grim. The Machine faces Samaritan over 10 billion times and loses each time.
Root argues that Finch needs to rewrite the Machine’s code so that she can better arm herself. But he refuses because he doesn’t want to nurture such an aggressive instinct in an ASI and believes the Machine, who is far smarter than any of them, is the one responsible for altering its own code to better handle Samaritan.
The Even More Irrelevant List:
- I love the passion with which Fusco rallies the NYPD to find Reese. The man has really come a long way since we met him in the first season.
- Fusco is refusing to back down from Krupa’s case, so Samaritan marks him as a potential obstructionist.
- When did Reese and Finch find the time to help Elias in the premiere? Is there a detail in the timeline I’m forgetting/missing?
- “I guess we can take helper monkey off the endangered species list.” —Root to Finch when Reese resurfaces after being captured by Bruce
- “Your child needs to learn how to push back on the playground.” —Root, explaining the need to arm the Machine to Finch.