Maybe it's not the end for Person of Interest. Hey, we can hope, right? With just three episodes left in the series' run, Person of Interest peeled back another layer of its complex mythology to reveal that everything we've witnessed over the last four-plus seasons was just the tip of the iceberg. It turns out the Machine was protecting a lot more than just the irrelevant numbers in New York City.
I've always thought it was odd that the Machine operated only in New York City if its ultimate goal was to stop innocent lives from ending too soon and criminals from preying on others. Sure, the Big Apple is where the Machine's admin lives, and Team Machine would waste too much time waiting for a bus to Duluth to make it worth the trip to save people across the country, but with such an advanced artificial intelligence able to digest so much information at once, the Machine must have realized that there's plenty of trouble beyond the five boroughs.
And that's where the brain-busting, POI universe-shattering, OM-MY-GODing twist at the end of "Synecdoche" came in. Reese (Jim Caviezel), Finch (Michael Emerson) and Root (Amy Acker) weren't the only lunatics putting their lives on the line to save anonymous social security numbers from being victims or becoming perpetrators. After being sent on a mission to protect their most high-profile number yet, some guy named "The President of the United States," Reese and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) discovered that there was a Person of Interest: Washington, D.C. spin-off in the works. Well, sorta.
Unbeknownst to us and Team Machine, the Machine assembled a secondary unit to save irrelevant numbers in the nation's capital. And they were people the Machine had saved before! There was tech billionaire Logan Pierce (Jimmi Simpson), who was saved by the team in Season 2's "One Percent." There was also Joey Durban (James Carpinello, who is the real-life husband of Acker for all you trivia buffs), a misguided soldier looking for purpose, who was put on the right path way back in the third episode of the first season. And the third member of the new team was Harper (Annie Ilonzeh), the recurring con artist from Season 4. See the parallel here? A tech billionaire, a soldier, a con artist... they're essentially a mirror image of Finch, Reese, and Root. How brilliant is that?
As these familiar faces trickled into frame, it felt like a last-minute splurge to boost the nostalgia factor for true fans of the show. "Aww, cute, they're bringing back old faces to pander to us," I thought. But nope, this show is too smart for that. Even near the end of the episode when Durban popped up out of nowhere to save Shaw (Sarah Shahi) and Reese from some terrorists intent on killing the president, I let out a little groan at how convenient it was that Durban just happened to be there to save some butts (isn't that Fusco's job?) after not seeing him since the third episode of the series. How dumb I was!
Harper, Durban and Pierce were all on a mission: to protect Reese, whose number was given to them by the Machine. They were the backup that the Machine called in. What made this episode even more enjoyable in retrospect — and probably worth a second watch — was how it sneakily showed off the series' formula (Team Machine helps or stops an unsuspecting number) from the number's perspective, which happened to be Reese's perspective. The chance meetings, the life-saving actions coming out of nowhere, the late reveal that they were being watched the whole time. It was exactly how it must have looked from the point of view of all the numbers Team Machine has saved this whole time. Wow. Just when you think you've figured out this show, it finds another way to knock you over the head.
It begs the question of how many other teams are out there working for the Machine, and when in the show's timeline these teams came to be. Is there a Person of Interest: SF out there? Does Person of Interest: Windy City exist? Did the writing team plan to make Logan Pierce a tech billionaire way back in Season 2 to use him as an alternate Finch later? Has the Machine been recruiting assets this whole time? There are so many options out there now that my head is near an aneurysm just trying to figure them out, and I love it.
And though Person of Interest will end in just two more weeks, "Synecdoche" felt like a possible backdoor pilot to extend the life of the franchise. Person of Interest producers have not ruled out reviving the series — though they'd need to find a new home away from CBS — and now there's plenty of material to use, should they be lucky enough to find another network willing to take a chance on this wonderful franchise.
NOTES OF INTEREST
- "Goodbye, Cocoa Puffs."
- Shaw's method of mourning is a brutal watch, but after being desensitized to just about everything following the Samaritan simulations she was subjected to, I'm not sure I can blame her for being so emotionally drained.
- How far is Finch willing to go to take down Samaritan? The Machine said that the Ice-9 virus that Finch was toying with would come with grave collateral damage. And if you remember from the opening scene of Season 5, things did not look too good. (Also, the Root voiceover from that scene? That was the Machine, not Root. Damn!)
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