Welcome to EW‘s recaps of Person of Interest! I’m really excited to dive into the series’ fifth and final season with you guys. While it’s a shame to see such a prescient and intelligent series end, it’s clear from tonight’s season premiere that this show definitely won’t go gently into that good night.
The premiere opens in the team’s subway base, and it’s a mess. The computers and equipment are gone. The subway care is nowhere to be seen. As the camera pans around the room, we hear Root’s voice. “If you can hear this, you’re alone,” she says. “The only thing left is the sound of my voice. I don’t know if any of us made it.” It quickly becomes clear that this is a flash-forward of sorts, and apparently things might not have turned out great for the team. But at this point, it’s best not dwell too much on this opening sequence because I’m sure it will reveal its significance in time. If anything, it does a good job of setting the tone for the season and of reminding us of what’s at stake and why we care so much about this show — it’s characters.
Now, the episode cuts to a few moments after the season 4 finale. The team splits up, and each person tries to make his or her way back to the base while being chased by Samaritan’s operatives. Reese is the one in charge of protecting the Machine, which means the briefcase get shaken up a bit. Eventually, he and Finch rendezvous at a ferry to take to them back to the city because it’s the only means of transportation that’s not under constant video surveillance.
However, Finch hesitates as he’s about to board the boat and flashes back to the ferry bombing that killed Nathan Ingram and left him permanently injured. He says they can’t leave without Root, but Reese says there’s no time and that she can fend for herself. The decision on what to do is made for them because the Machine’s battery light turns red, indicating that it’s almost out of charge because it was damaged during Reese’s escape. Now, they have to rush home and recharge it somehow, or else it’s code will be severely damaged.
Throughout the episode, we flash back to the year 2006 to the moment when Finch realized he had to force the Machine to erase its memories every night in order to contain it. His concerns are pretty valid: If the Machine keeps growing and learning, it could one day decide that humans are the problem and wipe us out. That’s a risk the ever-moral Harold knows the world can’t afford. However, he also realizes what this means; essentially, he’ll be killing the Machine every night because memories are what make us who we are.
However, Finch doesn’t arrive at this decision easily. He struggles with it because deep down he knows that his Machine isn’t just a computer, and the strength of Michael Emerson’s performance and seasons’ worth of character building make the scene when he’s about to input the new code work. Watching Emerson emote in front of a computer screen that’s only responding with text is incredibly moving. I haven’t caught this many feels about technology since the movie Her.
NEXT: How to save a life/Machine/something in the middle
While Finch and Reese make it back to the base, Root has a harder time because she’s on her own and has many Samaritan goons right on her tail. Her odyssey does a fine job of detailing the extent Samaritan’s reach. While Root is on the subway, Samaritan sends news alerts that say Root is a criminal to several passengers who decide to take matters into their hands. Just like that, Samaritan identified assets and activated them. It’s a frightening development because it means anyone, even a normal citizen, can become a potential threat to the Team. The world has indeed become a lot more dangerous.
Following the incident on the subway, Root steals a shotgun from a police officer and seeks out an old hacker friend she helped during her hacker-assassin days because she needs a new identity since the Machine is down and can’t create one for her. His armed men also take care of the Samaritan goons on her tail. While at her friend’s warehouse, she notices that his men are going through recycled computer equipment because they’ve found a nasty bit of malware buried into firmware (hello, Samaritan) and suspect that it’s the NSA. Oh, ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?
While Reese goes to calm to Fusco down (more on this later) and find Root, Finch tries to save the Machine, but things go awry because the Machine starts to prematurely decompress. Finch tries to disconnect the Machine but is electrocuted in the process, and the spark starts a fire that destroys the workstation.
Root’s hacker friend betrays her and turns her over to Samaritan. Thankfully, Reese, who used an incident report about a woman stealing an officer’s shotgun to find Root, arrives in time to help her take out Samaritan’s operatives. However, before they go, they take 300 PlayStation 3’s from the warehouse to help the Machine.
When they get back to the subway, they find Finch brooding and realizing the mistake he made by crippling the Machine from the start. If he hadn’t forced it to kill itself every night, the Machine might have been able to stand up to Samaritan. The Machine’s parting message to Harold in the finale has clearly been weighing on him, and seeing his creation in such a weakened state has moved him to view it as a person. In a telling moment, he refers to it as “she.”
Thankfully, now they have a second chance. Root wants to use the last-gen consoles she stole to create a super computer that can decompress and hold the Machine. Once everything is set up, they start decompressing. The system starts overheating, but Reese acts quickly and conveniently finds some liquid nitrogen on a street corner to cool it down. The Machine starts to wake up as the episode ends, signaling that the war is not lost yet.
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“B.S.O.D.” does a pretty effective job of showing just how powerful and insidious Samaritan has become. Its reach has now started to extend into the show’s municipal story line.
Fusco is currently being investigated for the deaths of Dominic and Elias. Internal Affairs Bureau and the FBI don’t believe that a sniper killed them and think he did. Unfortunately, he isn’t receiving any help from his friends, who tell him to keep his mouth shut because they’re worried Samaritan will try to “correct” him, too.
The FBI runs a test on Fusco’s gun, and the test shows that the bullets that killed Dominic came from his gun. However, the FBI agent says it’s clear that he was acting in self-defense because Dominic tried to attack him and he clearly forgot because he was in shock from the accident. Yep, the FBI agent is one of Samaritan’s pawns. The IAB detective doesn’t buy the ballistics report, which sucks for him because Samaritan decides to have him killed. This latest incident raises Fusco’s suspicions and has made him even more determined to figure out what his friends are up to. Frankly, it’s kind of ridiculous that he’s still in the dark, especially at this point when they can use all the help they can get.
The Even More Irrelevant List:
- Everything I know about guns I’ve learned from fictional television, and TV has taught me that a bullet hole from a sniper rifle would differ in size from one created by a detective’s sidearm shot at close range. Wouldn’t a simple visual examination of the body have confirmed Fusco’s story because IAB decided to interrogate him or the FBI got its hands on the bullets?
- “You can just call me Root, bitch,” Root to a camera after Samaritan uses those subway passengers on her.
- I love that this show knows that it can’t keep the adrenaline up during the entire episode. There were plenty of funny asides, like when Reese has to knock out janitor who is using the vending machine that hides the entrance to their hideout.
- The subway scene also reveals another difference between the Machine and Samaritan. Because Harold created the Machine in his own image (and significantly handicapped it), it’s more cautious and judicious about who it chooses to do its bidding, unlike Samaritan who clearly picks anyone because it views people as disposable.