Person of Interest Season 3 Review “Aletheia”

Aletheia

The winter break may be over, but Person of Interest provides no respite for Team Machine, whose enemies are coming at it from every direction. Since the loss of Carter, there has been a pall hanging over the show, and it’s starting to take a toll. Our heroes are being outwitted and outgunned and it needs to stop.

At the end of the last episode, Shaw, Finch and Arthur Claypool were captured by Control. Control wants Samaritan and the machine and is willing to kill whoever gets in her way to get it. As a refresher, Samaritan is a second machine that was created by Arthur but supposedly shut down in 2005. Arthur saved a back up drive and now everyone wants to get a hold of it. Control is poised to kidnap Arthur and kill Finch and Shaw, but her plan is foiled at the last minute when a rampaging Root bursts in to save them. At this point we know that neither Shaw nor Finch are going to take a bullet to the head, so this kind of set up fizzles.

Control captures Root and brutalizes her during an interrogation. Root never waivers in her devotion to the machine, and eventually her loyalty pays off. The machine communicates with her through Morse code and tells her how to turn the tables on Control. This clarifies what has been confusing for some viewers. Root cannot magically hear the machine in her head. There still has to be some kind of conduit for the communication.

When Root gains the upper hand, she facilitates a conversation between the machine and Control. The machine tells Control that it is trying to keep her safe and drops hints that it knows her most personal secrets. There was a definite religious overtone to the conversation, and the machine took on a Jesus-like persona as the forgiver of sins and guardian of all. But, I think there is more to it. As Finch notes, the machine is both wonderful and terrible. The fact that it dropped a hint that it knew where Control’s loved ones live felt like a veiled threat, despite the words of assurance. I think there may be a moment in the future when the darker side of the machine emerges.

At the same time, Shaw, Finch and Arthur head to a bank to retrieve Samaritan from a safety deposit box. Before they can complete their mission, Vigilance bursts in followed by Hirsch and his men. Finch convinces Arthur to destroy Samaritan before it can fall into the wrong hands, but that doesn’t exactly work out. Someone swaps out the drives (cause they would know what they look like and have them handy?), so Samaritan is now on the loose. Root tells Finch she will track it down. It would be smart if they’re sending Root away for a little while. Her character is languishing.

While all this drama is unfolding, Reese continues his pity party locked up in jail with Fusco after their brawl. I had a feeling that Fusco was lying that the authorities were keeping them locked up. During their talk in the cell, Reese deals some low blows, including telling Fusco he’ll return to being “a corrupt piece of garbage.” Reese is grieving, but Carter would be ashamed of the way he’s acting. Reese is going to need to snap out of it soon because wallowing detracts from his badassness.

Shaw is getting some terrific one-liners and provides comic relief in her own, sardonic way. Two of my favorites from this week are, “I’ve got finesse coming out of my ass, Harold” and “It’s hammer time.” I’m less thrilled with a repetitive Person of Interest maneuver that desperately needs a reboot. Twice in one episode there are guns pointed at Shaw and Finch with a kill order. Right before the trigger is pulled someone swoops in to save them by shooting the bad guys. This happens in almost every episode, so it’s time to get a new trick.

It’s not entirely clear that the Finch flashbacks to 1979 and 1980 meshed with the other events of the episode. We see Finch hacking into the government systems and the origin of what will ultimately become the machine. I suspect it’s a build up for further exposition on how the machine came to be. I guess we need to be patient that the story will pay off.

Team Machine is struggling with crippling pessimism. Reese feels like there is no point to the work they’ve been doing and blames the machine for Carter’s death. Even Finch has doubts about the efficacy of his work. He explains to Arthur that the machine is responsible for good and bad, and they probably shouldn’t have created her. Like Samaritan, it feels like the team needs a reboot. It needs to emerge from the darkness before it gets swallowed up.

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