“Return 0”- Person of Interest Review (Season 5, Episode 13)

23 06 2016

person-of-interest-reese-jim-finch-root-finale-return-0-shaw

What made Person of Interest great? Was it the initial victim-or-perpetrator hook, or the conspiracy theory plot lines centered around surveillance? Or maybe the increasingly sci-fi nature of the artificial intelligence war, handled in a way that was both clever and easy to understand? All of these pieces fit together to create a thoroughly enjoyable show, but they were all built on a foundation of characters. Deep, evolving characters who we got to know more over the series, characters who we ended up caring about, and in some cases, mourn.

Luckily, the POI writers understood this when they crafted the series finale. Yes, we get one last battle between Samaritan and our (Root) Machine. There’s action and twists and one last cheesy pun from Reese (“Midas Touch”), but the parts that tore our heartstrings and will stand out in our memory were the final moments between the heroes, and watching the culmination of years of building relationships.

So, let’s address the elephant in the room. Jim Caviezel‘s John Reese took the bullet (several in fact, plus one missile) to save Finch (Michael Emerson) and save the world from a psychotic AI. It was tragic. It was a beautiful sacrifice, complete with a tear-inducing last conversation with Finch, thanking him for giving him purpose and saving him from his own despair. And all of this after Finch tells Reese that he always knew he’d make a good employee, but was astonished at how great a friend he had become. Sorry, my feels just got kicked in again.

Was this a cheap way to heighten the drama? No. This was the path Reese has always been on, and we had been continually warned about. He was a soldier, charging into the gates of hell like his father, finding ultimate redemption for past sins. Reese would have never been able to live a normal life, and had Finch been the one to die, he would have wrecked even harder than he did after Carter’s murder.

The “now” part of the show (with Finch and the Machine/Root’s last conversation) that we kept flashing back to was another highlight, and bringing back Root to visually illustrate The Machine was brilliant. Both Emerson and Amy Acker shone during the scene, showing the Machine finally fleshed out as an almost-human character, learning about death and what makes life worth living. Seeing Amy playing The Machine playing Root was one last unexpected treat.

Fusco finally got into the main action, and can I say how happy I am he didn’t succumb to his stab wounds? That would have been an awful and pointless end to his story. The ex-dirty cop found redemption over the series, and in a way came to represent the every-man, we the audience. His future is unclear (goodbye pension fund), but he didn’t seem too worried at the end, so we can make up our own reason for his happiness.

I’ll be honest, Shaw was probably my least favorite member of Team Machine (ducks garbage being thrown). By definition her character couldn’t feel like others can, and while she could kick butt, she never got as deep as the others. However, she became much more empathetic for me this last season, seeing her react to simulations and reunion and grief. She’s still BA, killing that jerk Jeff Blackwell, but at the end with Bear and the phone, everything felt right for her.

About the ending- I dare say everyone had the best possible realistic ending. Fusco survives to eat another cheeseburger. He and Shaw get to continue working together. Shaw continues her mission, got Bear, and gets to talk to sort-of Root all day. Reese and Root died, but both on their own terms protecting Harold (and the world). Root would be thrilled to know what The Machine did with her voice, if it didn’t already tell her that as she passed away. Reese may have looked the happiest he’s ever looked in the series as he watched Finch walk away to a new life- a normal life, with the love of his life Grace.

Everything about this finale was bittersweet. It was heavy and emotional, but it gave closure for the characters and story, and left with more than enough hope to make us feel somewhat happy. I hate to see this show go, but at least it got to go out on (mostly) its own terms. This may have been one of the last great dramas on network television, and that’s a shame. Thank goodness for reruns on Netflix, and thanks for the wild ride, Person of Interest.

person-of-interest-reese-jim-finch-root-finale-return-0

Straight to the gut.

Points of Interest:

  • One of the few funny moments in this heavy finale? Reese’s stunned face while Finch goes dark and threatening to the security guard. Priceless.
  • Reese: “Try not to die.” Fusco: “Yeah, love you too.”
  • Root/Machine: “I know we made some mistakes. Many mistakes. But we helped some people, didn’t we?” Finch: “Yes. Yes, we did.” Sorry, let me soak up these tears with a few towels.
  • Despite everything I said about Reese’s tragically epic end, I would have loved a cliche escape at the end, just so I wouldn’t be so depressed.
  • Kudos to the writers for punking us again and again with Root’s intro this season, that turned into the Machine talking, that turned into the dying Machine’s recording for the newly created Machine copy. (Mind explodes)
  • It’s been great writing these blog reviews since season 1. I’ve loved this show and it’s kept me going here. Thanks, writers and actors, for such a great show.

Final Score:

POI five bear

Advertisements




“.exe”- Person of Interest Review (Season 5, Episode 12)

15 06 2016

POI banner

Leave it to Person of Interest to pull a “what-if” alternate universe” glimpse on its second to last episode, as if killing off the series’ top bad guy and shutting down the entire Internet wasn’t enough already. No, this show is going out big, and next week’s final chapter is quite possibly going to blow our minds.

But not to get ahead- RIP Greer, you incorrigible antagonist. Excellently portrayed by John Nolan until the very end, he went out like I thought he might, killed by his own Samaritan, although I never guessed it would be this way, trying to destroy the only two people who could take out the super AI’s- Finch and himself. Unlike Elias and Root, he never redeemed himself in the slightest, and thus earned a cheer instead of a tear (granted, after we knew Finch was safe).

The whole story with infiltrating the NSA building played out well and really helped set the high stakes with both Finch and Reese/Shaw’s journeys. Darker Finch continues to deliver gut punches since we’re seeing him give up his own set of moral codes, yet he’s still clearly the same character we’ve known. Remember how Finch was never the guy out in the field in Season 1? Look at him now, breaking into NSA and unleashing world-changing mega viruses. However, the whole time he’s conflicted, asking The Machine Root about other options, and what could have been.

That brings me to my personal highlight of “.exe”- the alternate universe of a world without The Machine. There was so much more they could have done with this idea, it could have been an entire hour of story. Unfortunately,  part of me suspects the original idea was to go that route (in the style of “If-Then-Else,”) before the dark forces at CBS cut POI’s season short.

That said, we still got a great glimpse of where each character would have probably been, but unlike “It’s A Wonderful Life,” not everyone is worse off. Nathan is alive (!) and working with Finch still, on less important projects. However, Shaw is still a cold-blooded government assassin, killing a previous number (what!), and unknowingly working for Samaritan. Root, knowingly working for Samaritan, is basically Greer’s alternate Martine from last season. I liked that she was still using her “bad code” line from Season 2. Fusco as a washed-up ex-cop, hating Lt. Joss Carter was sad, but far worse was Reese’s suicide after saving Jessica, but still losing her. Great stuff, and I wish we had more time to explore this darker timeline.

Reese and Shaw working together again kicked butt. I may be in the minority here, but I always enjoyed seeing those two work together more then Root and Shaw, mostly because they’re like two peas in a pod. No stopping to flirt and talk, just two ex-government hitmen decimating the competition with fighting skills and tactic. They’re also dryly/darkly funny together, since Shaw’s the only sociopath between them.

Did Fusco become an executioner? This was the most interesting part of his story, which seemed isolated from the rest of the action, although it was cool to see his board coming back into play with the tunnel full of bodies. Get rid of that stuff, Fusco! Remember your dirty cop cover up tactics!

The show runners have one more hour to wrap everything up, and it’s hard to tell what’s in store. Greer’s deceased, and Finch supposedly has begun the destruction of both Samaritan and The Root Machine, so what’s left? Remnants of Samaritan goons gunning for our heroes? Will we lose more favorites? Will anyone make it out alive? I’m almost afraid to find out, but here’s hoping POI sticks the landing to an incredible run.

 

poi-exe-greer-jon-nolan-person-of-interest

Farewell, you charming villain, you.

Points of Interest:

  • I got my hopes up that we would actually see Carter in person in the alternate reality, but alas she’s still being naughty on Empire. It was still very cool to see her trophy picture of all of the old HR villains from seasons 1-3. This show is awesome.
  • With all this Grace name-dropping this final season, we better get our happy ending with her and Finch. SOMEBODY deserves to find love in this depressing show, right? Maybe throw in Reese and Iris? Fusco and Zoe?

Final Score:

POI four half bear

 





“Synecdoche” – Person of Interest Review (Season 5, Episode 11)

8 06 2016

POI banner

I’ve said it before, but one thing that makes Person of Interest stand out for me is how connected the series feels, thanks to the writers. Take tonight’s episode “Synecdoche” for example, with three former POI’s- Harper Rose, Joey Durban, and Logan Pierce- returning out of nowhere, in a way that makes sense with their backstory, and advances the fight with Samaritan. Harper of course appeared throughout season 4, Logan made a memorable number I believe in season 3, and Joey was the show’s third number, way back in episode 3. And now, they’re apparently their own Team Machine- a billionaire CEO, con artist, and muscle. That’s an insane amount of drawing loose stories together, and kudos to the show runners for helping make even standalone stories feel important.

Their purpose in the episode- to plan out Reese, Fusco, and Shaw’s escape route- was definitely needed, since I and probably everyone else was wondering how they should shoot at the President in DC and get away by themselves. It took The Machine coordinating everything, or this would officially have become The Harold Finch Show. The stakes were high with the President being the number, even if we never met him (thank goodness he didn’t resemble our current candidates).

So, this might not have felt very connected to the fight against Samaritan, but it was a super important job, and we still learned several things. There are other groups who are fighting (using questionable methods) against Samaritan, or at least surveillance. Samaritan no longer considers anyone to be “relevant,” since it didn’t alert anyone about the assassination attempt.

Meanwhile, we caught up with a rogue Harold, and though we got a little more Scary Harold (how about him threatening that guy with a donor?), he was mostly more low-key then I expected after the boiling over moment last episode. Mostly, the destruction caused by The Machine was off camera, and we focused more on Finch’s exchanges with Root-Machine, and the hour was better for that. It’s haunting to hear Root’s voice and mannerisms again, knowing she’s dead, and never coming back. It’s sort of like hearing a ghost in The Machine, except it’s not pretending to be her, just using her voice out of respect.

It was sad to see everyone’s reactions to Root’s demise. Turns out, Fusco respected her. Finch deeply misses “hearing her voice.” The Machine loved her as much as it could. Shaw has emotional vacancy, but that’s why we lover her. The worst part though had to be seeing her unmarked grave, with only Fusco and Reese there to mourn. Dang, POI.

Meanwhile, we have only two episodes left, so expect them to be one big last push to take out Samaritan. It’s fair to say that whether they win or lose, there will be tears shed, because the numbers are ending.

poi-synechdoche-reese-fusco

The whole time in DC, and nobody thinks to call Jack Bauer.

Points of Interest:

  • Or WILL the numbers keep coming? I’ve watched enough television to know a possible spin-off when I see one. Unless CBS buys “New Team Machine POI” or Netflix picks it up, it seems like an empty promise. Either way, the fact that the show would continue with new characters doesn’t look good for our regular squad. Be gentle with our feelings, writers.
  • Would I watch a spinoff with those three characters? I’d give it a shot, but how do you follow the talent of this series? Harper and Logan are charismatic, but they’re a long ways from Finch, Reese, and the others.
  • Where’s Bear? I miss Bear. Maybe he’ll be the one to pull the giant Samaritan plug.

Final Score:

POI four half bear





“The Day the World Went Away”- Person of Interest Review (100th Episode)

1 06 2016

POI banner

Dang. This is how you make a perfect episode, writers. A crazy, terrifying chase that tore away any false security we had for our characters. Not one, but two, main characters took the bullet for Finch in Person of Interest’s 100th episode. The Machine becomes a person, or does a person become The Machine? Finch gives a speech that made me want to curl into a ball and rethink my life. Did I mention two awesome, staple characters got taken out?!

Elias went out like a champ- on his own turf (coincidentally, on the same place he was introduced), and “on the mat,” defending his friend, even as his empire finally crumbled apart. I loved the references to his story, as even Finch brought up his “Charlie” persona from Season 1. Ultimately, Elias chose to help because he’s always been a man of action and loyalty to those he cares about. I’m really going to miss Enrico Colantoni‘s performances.

Root- ah, the feels. I was afraid for her as soon as started talking about death, and when she got so much screen time with Finch and Shaw. I would have liked her to have some final words with Reese, to highlight how differently she views him now- no longer as Finch’s “helper monkey.” When she finally was shot by that dang Jeffery Blackwell, I thought we were being faked out. We’ve already had one huge death, surely she would linger in the hospital and appear later. But no, we’re suddenly and cruelly shown her corpse with Fusco looking helplessly on. Shaw couldn’t even show remorse, although we now know how she must be feeling inside. Root was always one of the more fun, dynamic characters throughout POI, and it’s hard to see her cheerful psychotic self no longer around. Hopefully we can still get some great Amy Acker moments through her new role as The Machine’s voice.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that both of these characters started out as the main villains, villains who we would have cheered their demise in the first couple of seasons. But both Root and Elias followed a story arc that slowly, believably brought them (as Root said) “into the light.” The fact that they both died saving Finch (and hopefully the world) was the final movement towards their redemption. These were brutal, unexpected deaths- Elias shot in the head, Root dying OFFSCREEN OH WHY. But, Elias died avenging his two childhood friends and saving his closest remaining friend. Root went from kidnapping Finch to sacrificing herself for him, and ended up “living on” as the first voice of The Machine, an honor she would have loved. If they had to go out, I can’t imagine a more fitting or better way to go for their characters.

And then Michael Emerson stole the hour with a perfectly delivered emotional, heart-breaking, chilling speech to what seemed to be the interrogator, but turned out to be a direct threat against Samaritan. About how he thought a higher code of rules would win in the end. How he couldn’t save everyone by being better than his adversaries. And now, he was going to press the nuke button, to decimate Samaritan. It was a fantastic moment for Finch, one that was earned and developed from five seasons of this crazy show. Although, you could argue that every bit of this 100th episode was earned, a harsh but delicious payoff for Finch, Elias and Root’s characters. They’ll be missed, just like this freakin’ show. And now we have an unleashed Machine and Finch to look forward to.

person-of-interest-shaw-root-100th-episode

The feels are strong with this one.

Points of Interest:

  • How crazy is it that this whole thing happened from Samaritan searching through Finch’s past with Grace, and watching for him at a sentimental cafe? One little misstep, and we end up with a bucket full of tears.
  • “Veni, vidi, vici” – yes you did, Elias.
  • Root’s name has been predicting this twist for years. Mind blown.
  • Writers, please be gentle with our remaining team, please?
  • Tight pace, high stakes, brutal resolution.

Final Score:

POI five bear