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.
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.