Thursday, May 16, 2013

Person of Interest

Person of Interest
Episode 22: God Mode
The Season Finale
By: Carlos Uribe

Person of Interest is a drama about preventing planned crimes before they happen.

Spoilers Ahoy!

God Mode picks up where Zero Day picks up with two characters having admin access. Root tries to use the Machine to find out where it is only to find roadblocks. Reese tries to catch up to them by using Finch's tracker and later following their tracks. There's a clever scene at the beginning of the episode where the Machine guides them to eliminating the threat from Decima Technologies. This scene also shows the two different ways that Reese and Root look at the world. Reese is able to rely on the clock directions due to his military training. He's a soldier who is able to follow orders easily. Root is different in that she requests that the directions come in the form of pitches. It's sort-of mechanic how she processes the directions. She doesn't need human words or guidance but a generated noise by a machine. Root depends on an artificially generated system while Reese is more comfortable with human code. This doesn't mean that Reese is merely a soldier who follows orders as he expects things out the Machine. He demands to know where Finch is and he has the Machine keep them always a step right behind them. Reese is slowed down a bit because the Machine keeps giving him irrelevant numbers. It's a pretty clever way to show that the numbers really never stop coming but we don't concentrate on any one case. By keeping them as pit stops, it's allowed to use the show's own premise as a barrier for Reese to get through while at the same time being able to claim it's a Person of Interest episode. Having them be resolved in one scene does allow the show to have them without taking any actual time to develop them. We can keep our attention focused on the serialized parts with very little time actually spent on the procedural aspect. Which is good because I don't think I would have cared much for an actual number.

The two parties (Reese/Shaw and Finch/Root) manage to get the right facility at where the Machine is being kept. The two rush there only to find out that it's empty. The Machine has been moved somewhere else. It's here where Finch reveals just why he sold the laptop to the Chinese. He had figured out that somebody would try to gain access to the Machine. They might try to inject a virus into it to force a shut-down and allow anyone to gain admin powers over it. They might not figure out where the Machine is located, as it was programmed to make it difficult to answer that question, but it could easily do anything else. The Machine is capable to watching everyone on the planet, processing that information, and directing parties to do just about anything. There is very limit to it's power which makes it a dangerous tool for the wrong people to have. Finch couldn't just allow anyone to take over but he still sold the code to the Chinese. Why? He wanted them to use his code so that he could inject a trojan horse within the virus. This trojan horse basically set the Machine free. He had programmed it so that it would delete itself every twenty-four sours so that it didn't gain a form of consciences. This limited the Machine's ability to protect itself. With this trojan horse, this block is removed. The Machine is able to fix itself and in doing so it actually moved itself. Where is it? Only the Machine knows. The government is clearly not happy with this and they're even more upset when Finch refuses to build them a new Machine. Finch clearly doesn't trust them with his life. The government's concerns that the numbers would stop coming are alleviated when they get a number. Reese and Finch also get an irrelevant number. As for Root? The Machine calls her at the hospital. What does the Machine want? That's the cliff-hanger.

The only weakness in this episode might have to come through with the Carter plot. I'm invested in the character and I wanted her to beat HR's frame job but it felt remarkable low-stakes compared to the main plot. The main plot's stakes was who controlled an all-powerful Machine but Carter's plot was largely relegated to just herself. I think that the series would claim that the Machine was the relevant plot while Carter was irrelevant. It's true that the writers would note that because this is a show about saving the irrelevant numbers then their actual significance would be the same. This might be true but the momentum almost always completely stalled when it came to Carter in the interrogation room. She's being framed and she doesn't like it. This doesn't mean that the scenes were bad. I liked it when that HR cop finally revealed himself as dirty by threatening Carter's life along with anyone she cares about. It was a nice twist when she decided to save Elias' life even if she doesn't know where to go next. It's not a bad plot to have but in this episode it felt more like a distraction that was meant to fill in time. Granted, I want to know what Carter is planning on doing but nowhere as much as my excitement to see where the show plans to take the Root plot next.

In the week's flashbacks, we get to learn more about what drove Finch to saving the irrelevant numbers. It had been made perfectly clear that it was Nathan's idea to save them. Nathan couldn't just sit there when he knew that somebody could do something for those numbers. He started to try his best to get there in time to do what Finch refused to do: use the irrelevant list to save lives. Finch always saw the big picture. The Machine was a tool meant to stop terrorism and keep the country safe. It wasn't created to save an individual but merely to protect the whole nation. This difference of opinion on what the machine should do drives the conflict between them. When Finch finds out that Nathan has created a backdoor into the Machine, he shuts it down. Nathan is distressed so he decides that the only course of option is to reveal the Machine's existence to the public. The government can't have this so they kill Nathan using a serial bomber. It is during this blast that Finch gets injured and the reason he has to walk with a limp. It's Nathan's death finally made Finch realize that he was wrong. The Machine shouldn't just be used to protect the country but to stop violent crimes before they happen. He re-opens the backdoor access to realize that the Machine had tried to warn him about Nathan's death. His friend's death was tragic enough but the emotional impact is increased when the number is soon deleted by the Machine. Just like Nathan's life, his number is forever gone. There is something so poetic about that. Finch might have been pushed towards saving the irrelevant numbers by his friend's death but it was also the end of his relationship with his fiance. He fakes his death because he realized that she would be in danger by just being in proximity with him. Finch has to become a ghost-yet another fatality of that bomb.

God Mode is a pretty amazing season finale of Person of Interest. It's a season finale that wrapped up Root's quest to find the Machine and basically admitted that the basic premise of the show isn't in any danger. We'll till have irrelevant numbers to save. It is an episode that also built up my excitement for the next season because the Machine called Root. I want to know where this plot is going to go next. When the show first started, I read reviews that cautioned the show to stay away from the Machine's mythology because of how implausible the Machine was. I read commentary about how concentrating on the Machine's mythology would merely drag the series down but I think know the series has proven any and all concerns wrong. Concentrating on the Machine has turned out to be an exciting endeavor that has really helped it pick up narrative momentum. Overall: Person of Interest had a great season finale and just a great season. It's become one of the best action-packed procedurals on television and I'm going to miss this show over the summer.

Other News:

Bear is sadly missing this episode but don't worry: Leon is watching him. Okay, maybe worry a little.

Sarah Sahi (plays Samantha Shaw) will be added as a series regular for next season so that's good. Can we please add Amy Acker?

The show is moving to Tuesdays next season. An interesting move but I think Person of Interest will fare better being paired with NCIS: Los Angeles than with Two and a Half Men or Rules of Engagement. It should do well with the competition it does have.

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