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

23 06 2016

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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.

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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





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

15 06 2016

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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





“Sotto Voce” – Person of Interest Review (Season 5, Episode 9)

31 05 2016

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Did CBS mix up episodes, and give us the series finale of Person of Interest? The return and downfall of a long-forgotten nemesis, Fusco finding out everything, Shaw returning, Elias being a BA  character again, and the final shot of our group, finally back together again, at the place where Finch and Reese began it all on the pilot episode (the feels!). It would have been the finale of any other network show, but POI doesn’t play by those rules. We still have four episodes left, and I would be shocked if we have that same number of Team Machine people left by the end.

This began like a normal number-of-the-week episode, to my initial disappointment. It’s the last five episodes, and we gotta crank it up past the procedural parts. And that’s when we find out the writers brought back “The Voice,” a villain from waaay back in Season 3. At the time, most people thought he was going to be the newest addition to the show’s rogue gallery, but he never showed up again in any way. I appreciate the writers picking up this hanging thread for a massive payoff hour- everything in the second of the episode was outstanding television. The crazy firefight, tearing the precinct apart. The huge (and clever) reveal of the villain, and the even more unexpected fireball that ended it all, compliments of Elias. It was immensely satisfying.

I appreciated how everyone’s gut instinct this time was Samaritan, since not thinking of that possibility automatically was a small criticism I had on an earlier episode. And then, the show flipped those expectations by not even having Samaritan involved at all. That’s not to say there wasn’t any forward movement with Samaritan- Shaw actually did escape, and is taking out operatives one by one. She’s still understandably confused. There were some nice callbacks to her simulation episode, and I am relieved that (so far)  Root and Shaw’s real reunion has traded over the top nonsense for actual character moments.

Speaking of character moments, I was seriously afraid for both Fusco and Elias this time. We’ve been promised major deaths before everything’s over, and the show runners haven’t been afraid to break hearts before. Instead, we got the best partner moments Reese and Fusco have had, with an all-out war on their own turf, and Reese finally trusting him enough to bring him in on the truth. Elias also was in top form, showing the power he can still weld, only this time working side by side with Finch. All in all, everyone’s stories worked well, bringing everyone back together for final ride.

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The Voice seems to have his own singing contest, too!

Points of Interest:

  • Fusco’s finally in, guys! Only took ’em five seasons to trust the guy, but it was one heck of a payoff.
  • I’d watch a spinoff show, just starring Finch and Elias. Or Elias and Reese. Or Elias and anybody on the show. I’d also watch a Fusco show, in the style of Columbo.
  • Can we appreciate how this show cares enough that we went back to that bridge location from the pilot? It was a mix of nostalgia and a display of how much this show has evolved from that moment.
  • Four episodes left.

Final Score:

POI five bear





“A More Perfect Union”/”QSO”/”Reassortment”- Person of Interest Review (Season 5, Episodes 6,7,8)

26 05 2016

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Three episodes of Person of Interest in 24 hours is a bit much for one tired individual to review separately, so this week I’m giving a Super Combo Special of all three, bundled in one post!

“A More Perfect Union” had Reese, Finch, and Root helping out an unlikable bride and her filthy rich, unlikable family of horse owners. Mostly, this hour played for laughs, with lots of one-liners (that sometimes fell flat), crazy Root moments (which are fun to watch, because Amy Acker), and “stripper police,” which was only funny because of how uncomfortable Reese was the entire time. And dear gosh, Finch’s song. I don’t know whose idea it was to have Finch sing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in an Irish accent awkwardly in front of everyone at a posh wedding, but I want to shake their hand and thank them for possibly the funniest Finch moment.

On the other side of the silliness, Fusco tried to track down the unknown threat with Bruce’s help. Unfortunately, all this added on a very dark note when he found ALL of his missing persons dead in a pile in the basement of a condemned building, and he almost died in the explosions himself. This was very different in tone from the wedding main story, and goes to show how bipolar these writers can be (but that’s not a bad thing). So long, Krupa and Bruce, we hardly knew you. Oh, did we mention that Shaw finally met the creepy (and sort of cheesy) Samaritan kid Gabriel in another simulation. ‘Cuz that happened too. She should have drop kicked him off that tower.

 

Final Score:

POI four bear

Next, “QSO” mostly served as a spotlight episode for Root, showing her continuing attempts to find Shaw, as well as another zany set of new identities including ballerina (“Marry me!”), historical actor, to producer for a conspiracy radio talk show host Max (AKA Scott Adsit from 30 Rock). Once the cutesy identity changing was over, things went south quickly for those involved. Seeing Samaritan fake a suicide call (on air!) to the radio station, using someone Max knew, when the “caller” was actually already murdered, was maybe the creepiest thing we’ve seen Samaritan do. You could feel Max’s terror and desperation when he heard his own “voice” encouraging an innocent to kill themselves on live radio. Chilling stuff to think about. Ultimately, he gave up his safety trying to tell the truth about Samaritan’s code on his show, but sadly this proved to be a pointless attempt as his own secretary killed him on his own show. Oh, and Fusco spent the majority of the time in the hospital recovering, only to (justly) get upset with Finch for not sharing secrets and quit Team Machine. Dark episode, great drama.

It wasn’t all Debbie Downers, though. Max’s face when Reese rescued him was priceless, so shocked that everything he crazily believed in was true. Also, Shaw may have gotten duped into killing a scientist in a fake simulation (a realimation?, but she did manage to hear Root’s message before she killed herself.

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That moment when you wish those theories weren’t actually true.

Final Score:

POI four half bear

 

And last but not least, all virus hell broke loose in a hospital from an infected number in “Reassortment.” For being a potentially devastating virus, and a jerk Samaritan mole destroying the local vaccines, there actually was not that much fallout here. New Samaritan recruit Jeff Blackwell (remember him, painting?) made a welcome appearance, and may have tried to kill people for his own protection, but seems to be having second thoughts. Since he’s been getting so much focus lately, I’m hoping he’ll be part of the way they take on Samaritan later.

Shaw’s side story was more interesting, as she finally breaks out of her prison- for real this time! I appreciated the Total Recall throwback in the final Lambert/Shaw confrontation. He made a valiant effort to convince her she was in another simulation, but unfortunately she decided to open her can of whoop-ass on him, anyway. RIP Lambert, you jerk British Samaritan agent, you.

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Fighting disease, the Dr. Reese way.

Final Score:

POI four bear

Summary:

  • Really only the first episode seemed like a number of the week- the second and third definitely tied more into the big picture. Hopefully they’ll get more and more focused on the endgame, as there are only FIVE EPISODES left, ever.
  • Fusco’s story through these three episodes was great. I really thought Finch or Reese would finally tell him the truth about the AI war, but they didn’t. And he finally got tired of the supposed disrespect and lack of trust (I’m kind of on his side here), and quit Team Machine. He even threw away his police officer bobble head with the camera inside. THE FEELS. That thing’s been around since season 1! Get it out of the trash can, now!! I’m sure he’ll be back (thanks, trailer), but really somebody tell this guy what’s going on- we’re past protecting him with ignorance.
  • Shaw also had a fantastic plot line throughout these three- Samaritan cleverly trying to woo her to their side, her almost giving up but hearing Root’s message, and finally her taking control and escaping. I would like to see how she possible put that sink perfectly back on the wall, though. The South Africa twist caught me by surprise, but that’s obviously not going to keep her away from New York City for long.

 

 

 

 





“ShotSeeker”- Person of Interest Review (Season 5, Episode 6)

20 05 2016

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After last week’s roller coaster Shaw-centric episode, “ShotSeeker” was a return to form for Person of Interest, as we got a number of the week, computer battles, and a twist that was my favorite development so far this season. Spoilers, ye be warned.

First, the number’s profession (using technology to detect gunshots in the city) was highly appropriate for the show. In a way, this was the human version of The Machine. They listened with sensors and microphones throughout the city, looking for crime in ways normal cops on patrol couldn’t. The guy himself probably won’t be in the Hall of Fame for Most Interesting Numbers, but at least he was trying to do the right thing by investigating an obvious error in reporting a (probable) murder.

My main criticism of this hour was how long it took Team Machine to catch on to Samaritan’s presence here. Honestly, there were so any digital red flags that surely Root or Finch might have at least thought of the possibility, considering their whole lives lately have been focused on fighting Samaritan’s influence. Between guessing this twist and the whole simulation twist last week’s, the writers have dropped the “surprise” ball lately. It also doesn’t help that CBS constantly spoils surprises and announces upcoming twists, all through their marketing. So, thanks for that.

BUT. ELIAS IS BACK, HOW ABOUT THAT JUNK?! Not only is he alive, but he’s been hidden by Finch and Reese and Fusco this whole time, making my wildest hopes for my favorite character’s return come true. Elias has been around since like episode 3- he’s the biggest side character this show has got, not to mention the first heavyweight villain they faced.  Enrico Colantoni‘s  character has gone from nemesis, to frenemy, to ally, to dependent, giving Root a run for her money on the development side. Whether he’s offing other crime heads or making pasta, Enrico also nails the presentation of everyone’s favorite mob boss. I expected he might return from the shadows, given the position of his shot, but did not expect Fusco and company to be the ones to cover it up.

Speaking of Fusco, this was definitely a high point for him. His speech to the other officers about finding Reese was soaked in loyalty and emotion, and he nailed it. It’s past time for him to learn what really is going on, but hey, at least Reese finally thanked him! The Fusconator definitely earned that much respect.

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I’ll have the “Man in the Suit” style cut.

Points of Interest:

  • What role will Elias play in the last few episodes? Somehow, he has to contribute to taking down Samaritan I’m assuming, because why else bring him back (besides him being an awesome part of the show?)
  • If Fusco gets killed off, I’ll be depressed. If Fusco meets his end before finding out what he’s been helping do this whole time, I’ll be pissed.
  • Anyone still loving the ominous Finch/Greer opening titles? Some shows don’t contribute this level of effort. Dang, last season.

 

Final Score:

POI four bear