Person of Interest Season 2 Review “Relevance”

There was quite a bit of buzz leading up to this week’s appearance of Sarah Shahi on Person of Interest. Fans of hers were no doubt thrilled that the episode was a complete Sarah love-fest, with the focus remaining almost entirely on her character, a covert government operative named Sam Shaw, and with hardly an appearance by Finch and Reese. In terms of moving forward the mythology surrounding the future threat to the machine posed by Root, this episode was pivotal. Root is getting closer and closer to Finch’s technological masterpiece, and it seems like Team Machine is two-steps behind her.

We finally got to see the machine in action from the perspective of those who don’t care about insignificant persons of interest. We know that the machine has the potential to be abused and that its official application prioritizes some lives over others. But, seeing it in action, it is also possible to see its utility. There is always the potential for great power to be abused, but if accepted at face value, the machine is saving lives. By identifying terrorists, it allows people like Shaw to take out those threats before innocent lives are lost. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

Then there’s the downside of the machine. The government is going to extensive lengths to keep it hidden, which in turn amplifies Root’s motivation to find it. Root outsmarted Shaw – not entirely surprising seeing as Root is an evil genius – but may have made a mistake in the process. Shaw has seen Root and knows that she is not one of the good guys. And Shaw does not seem like the type to forget a face or let go of a grudge. While she may not know who Root really is, she knows what Root is after. Kind of. Shaw thinks the numbers come from the “research” department and is only starting to grasp that error.

As to Team Machine, the format of the episode was surprising in that our main characters were hardly seen. It feels like there is an effort to mix up the storylines so that the show is not as episodic and formulaic as it has been in the past. People are still getting the person of interest, but those characters are becoming more multidimensional. People definitely have different opinions about the format. For me, I prefer when they focus on the mythology of the machine because it gives more depth to show. The CSIs of television do not have that kind of depth, and it is good Person of Interest is making a tight U-turn away from that kind of storytelling.

One thing that struck me with the Shaw plot was the striking similarity to the movie Wanted. The operatives may not have the power to curve bullets, as did Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, but the premise of getting the name from a code and sending assassins out to neutralize the threat before mass casualties is pretty much the same. Shaw is also an over the top bad ass soldier, similar to Angelina Jolie’s character in Wanted. The similarity didn’t make this a bad episode, but it was distracting. I kept thinking that Morgan Freeman would emerge as “control” and hand the note with the number of the next person of interest.

It was great to have Leon back and we need more of him going forward. It looks like another showdown with Root is in the cards for sweeps week in a while. There has to be a time soon for a rematch between her and Finch. The sooner the better.
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