Person of Interest recap: QSO / Reassortment
Tonight we received a double dose of Person of Interest. The first episode, “QSO,” was a Root-centric episode that finds her taking on a number that will lead her to Shaw, and it’s definitely the better of the two. In the second hour, “Reassortment,” Team Machine deals with a deadly viral outbreak at a hospital that ultimately leads to the fracturing of the team. These episodes went pretty well together, and I was rather satisfied with where we left things at the end of “Reassortment.”
Both of tonight’s episodes continued to reveal more of Samaritan’s plans. As we’ve seen before, what it has planned for the world is both crazy and scary, but makes sense in an abstract, cold-hearted, and removed from humanity sort of way. In “Qso,” Root is tasked with protecting Max, the host of a conspiracy-theory themed radio show who stumbles onto some coded static on the radio. Unable to crack it, he decides to go public with it, which puts him right in Samaritan’s crosshairs because Samaritan is using the coded static to communicate and activate its operatives.
It’s an interesting development because Samaritan is following some of Team Machine’s steps by creating it’s own way of communicating with its operatives that cannot be tracked by another ASI. Moreover, it’s now harder for The Machine to track Samaritan’s moves.
In the end, Root and Reese manage to save Max from Samaritan and make him promise to keep his mouth shut about the static and Samaritan — which he finds out about while being saved — because it’s the only way Samaritan won’t come after him. Later, Reese and Root listen to his broadcast and hear him break his word. As he tells the world about the signals, Samaritan uses the coded static to send a message to his assistant instructing her to kill on air and she does.
This news horrifies Finch because the Machine didn’t warn them about Max’s impending murder. When Finch confronts The Machine about this, she says, “Max Greene exercised his free will. Primary mission was successful.” (The primary mission was finding Shaw, but more on that later). Naturally, Finch is horrified because “a lie of omission is still a lie” and using the idea of free will to excuse moral attrition is wrong. This kind of cold-hearted approach to people is worrisome, but, to be fair, it’s not new for The Machine. We mustn’t forget the time she suggested Team Machine kill a U.S. Senator to prevent Samaritan from coming online.
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What’s even scarier is how many assets Samaritan has in the world. It managed to convince many people to drink its pessimistic view of the world, which is kind of disheartening. For example, there’s Jeff Blackwell in the second episode, who is trying to be a good person, but ultimately bends to Samaritan’s will when his recruiter threatens to frame him for an armed robbery unless he breaks into the quarantined hospital and kills a doctor and nurse who accidentally discovered that Samaritan was tampering with the national healthcare database.
NEXT: Free at last!
Unleashing the deadly Avian Flu-Influenza A super virus in the hospital in the second episode was part of Samaritan’s plan to create a panic that would push the world to accept more government intrusion in the same way 9/11 made me people more agreeable when it came to government surveillance. The scare at the hospital — which Root solves with the help of the Machine, who finds a cure — leads the CDC to recommend that everyone be tested so that the government can determine who needs to be vaccinated. This allows Samaritan to collect everyone’s DNA the same way the government collected our phone calls. The recruiter says Samaritan is protecting humanity from the next threat, which will be disease. Samaritan’s plan sends chills down the spine because it’s drawn from things in our own reality, which has been one of the show’s strength’s from the beginning.
While the Samaritan developments are quite interesting, the best parts of the episode are the ones that focus on Shaw and Root… because theirs is a love for the ages. As mentioned, the only reason Root agrees to protect Max is because The Machine says this will lead her to Shaw. When Root discovers Samaritan’s little radio trick, The Machine helps her use it to send a message to Shaw. But, that’s not enough for her. She also willingly agrees to surrender to Samaritan if it promises to take her to Shaw. And, we know she would’ve gone through with it if Reese hadn’t intervened. Amy Acker make you feel Root’s desperation when it comes to finding Shaw — and Root’s loyalty to Shaw is truly heart-warming in this cold, cold world the show has created.
Shaw, who is struggling to tell what’s real and what isn’t because of those simulations, receives Root’s message via radio in her room right in time and it literally saves her life. Prior to receiving Root’s signal, Shaw went on another field trip with Jeremy Lambert, which she assumed was just another simulation and so, she nonchalantly killed a scientist that Samaritan targeted because she thought it wasn’t real — until she found out it was when she heard a radio broadcast about the scientist’s death. The twist redeems last night’s episode, which reused the “6,741” twist, because this is actually real and Shaw will be forced to live with the consequences. After finding out the truth, she starts to take her own life, but stays her hands when she receive a message from her beloved.
Instead of killing herself, Shaw doubles down on escaping and she manages to do so. She digs a hole in her bathroom that leads to tunnels that somehow take her to a South African prison. The show has played with perception so much that we’re not sure if this real or not. Jeremy Lambert eventually catches up to her and tries to convince her this is just another simulation by pointing out how she’s starting to mix up her real and fabricated memories. Either way, she shoots Jeremy and continues her escape. She makes it to a truck, and when she turns on the radio, she hears a news report about the outbreak at the hospital in New York. She’s free at last! [This is where you should start playing Beyoncé’s “Freedom.”]
This is particularly good timing because Shaw’s returning at a time when Finch loses one of his assets: Fusco. Yes, Fusco survived the cave-in, but he’s not talking to any of his supposed friends because they still refuse to read him in. If I had one complaint about these episodes, it’s that Finch and Reese still won’t tell Fusco the truth. It’s frustrating for the character and it’s frustrating for us. Fed up with their secrecy and lack of respect for him, Fusco turns over his special phone to Finch and requests a new partner at the precinct because he’s done with them.
As the episode ends, Finch meets with Elias, who helped Fusco investigate those bodies in the tunnels and gave him a tip that eventually led him to Jeff Blackwell, and Elias criticizes Finch for not coming clean to Fusco. Watching these two actors face off is thrilling because of how Enrico Colantoni’s relaxed demeanor clashes with the subtle and threatening intensity in Michael Emerson’s voice.
“War requires sacrifices,” says Elias. “You know what your problem is, Harold? Underneath all that intellect, you are the darkest of all of us. It’s always the quiet ones we have to be afraid of. I just hope I’m not around the day that pot finally boils over.”
Although, Finch says he’s mistaken, it’s clear Elias hit a nerve. Perhaps Finch is already aware of his own darkness and that’s why he’s so scared of having an open system?
The Even More Irrelevant List:
- The tagline for Max’s radio Mysterious Transmissions is “we don’t like the taste of the lies they feed us,” which is pretty apropos for an episode where Fusco becomes tired of Finch and Reese’s lies of omissions.
- Root doesn’t hesitate to remind Finch that without an open system they wouldn’t have been able to find the cure for the disease in time.
- “I’m a detective. Don’t tell me not to do my job,” Fusco, when Reese asks him again to back down from investigating those dead bodies.
- “I don’t mind [being called crazy] because I’m always right,” Root, to Max.