Person of Interest Season 3 Review “Lethe”


Last night’s Person of Interest explored the calm after the storm. Carter is gone. HR is gone. Reese is shell-shocked and leaves Team Machine behind. Finch is ignoring the machine’s calls out of anger and Shaw is itching to get back to work. They are all grappling with how to move on.

We’ve been in need of a more Finch-centric episode, and we finally got one. As the episode progresses, we get flashbacks to a young Finch who is desperate to help his ailing father. Finch’s father suffers from memory loss, which prompts Finch to work on a design for a machine that can help by remembering things for him. It’s the seed for what will eventually come to be the machine. It was quite sad to see that even at an early age, Finch was struggling to control things that he couldn’t. It puts his current work with the machine in a new light. Unlike his earlier efforts, the machine lets Finch gain control over situations where he would not normally have control – but it’s not absolute.

At least in the beginning, the machine was Finch’s alter ego. That’s why it makes sense that the person of interest story primarily involved its origin and the conspiracy to locate it. We meet Arthur Claypool (Saul Rubinek), a former classmate and friend of Finch who has information relating to a secret program called Samaritan. Like Finch’s father, Claypool suffers from memory loss. Claypool also has terminal brain cancer and every so often, he will become lucid. In those moments, he is able to tell Finch about the purpose of Samaritan – to create artificial intelligence that can help track people. Finch believes that there is another machine, but I wasn’t too clear on this. Claypool says that his work was never fully realized.

Finch and Shaw work to protect Claypool without realizing that they are in just as much danger as he is. They secret him to a hotel with his wife. The only problem is that she is not his wife. She’s Shaw’s former boss and she will do anything to get her hands on the machine. Camryn Manheim is diabolical as the fake wife, and you really get the impression that she’s dangerous and ruthless. It’s disappointing that Shaw and Finch are captured so easily. You would think in Finch’s investigation of Claypool, he would have seen that the real Diane Claypool was dead for two years.

Meanwhile, Fusco does his best to help pull Reese out of the mire of self-pity. It was great to see Fusco get up in Reese’s face. Fusco knows that he would never actually beat Reese in a fight. He challenges him in order to shake Reese out of the stupor. I do prefer it when Fusco has a more active role in the narrative.

I liked that in the Finch flashbacks, there was a recurrent connection with a telephone. When he’s helping with the car, the phone rings. When he’s hanging out with his friends, they call Paris.

I find the intrigue with the machine pretty confusing. Did Claypool independently design the equivalent of the machine? That’s what it sounds like. But then Claypool admits that he never got it to work, but was close. There’s a second machine, but is it really destroyed? Claypool seems to thinks so, but then acknowledges that someone else had found the second machine “and built it.” At the end we see that the machine finds Samaritan. This is a tangled web. I’m also a bit confused with the identity of Control. Claypool and Hersh work for Control, or is Claypool Control? I had to watch the denouement several times to try and sift through this. It seems like Control is looking for Samaritan, not the machine. She asks Finch to give her his greatest achievement, which we assume is the machine, but could very well be something different.

In the end we see the machine sifting through things. It blasts past several a universe of programs and “links the targets.” The machine is evaluating “Competing Systems” to determine “Operational Conflicts.” The links connect to “deactivated” programs including: Able Danger, Genoa, Genoa II, Thinthread, Tides, Stellar Wind, and Samaritan, as well as several decoy programs including Bullrun, Prism, Fairview, and Trail Blazer. Samaritan changes from deactivated to an “Unknown” status and the potential operational conflict increases from zero to an unknown percentage. It seems like the machine has some competition.

We’ve got a bit of a break until Person of Interest returns, so if anyone comes up with any theories, please post them in the comments!

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