“She’s back,” says Root (Amy Acker). “With a vengeance. We need to get back to work,” answers Harold (Michael Emerson) who it seems has finally gotten his beloved Machine up and running in season five episode two of CBS’ crime action series, Person of Interest.
As the episode begins, Finch and Root are rebooting the Machine to see if she’s working correctly. It quickly becomes obvious that it’s not working to the show’s viewers when the computer’s facial recognition program keeps swapping Team Machine members faces, putting Root’s face on John’s and Finch’s face on Root and so forth. Realizing what’s happening, Harold once again tries to reboot and check the Machine’s drives. With so much time being used to debug and reprogram the Machine – it’s been two months since the last episode – everyone on Team Machine is getting edgy. Reese (Jim Caviezel) actually tells Harold and Root his trigger finger is getting itchy. Root is stuck staying underground in the subway headquarters because she no longer has any cover identities and without the Machine she needs to stay off Samaritan’s radar. Finch realizes they are going to need more drives for the Machine to work correctly so he and Reese go out and steal some high-end drives and servers while also picking up a few things for Root, like fuzzy slippers and black nail polish.
Once installed, the Machine is up and running again. Finch and Root use Reese out in Times Square to test the Machine for its ability to ID him and then all the people walking by him. It’s a success and Root wants to start getting ready to fight Samaritan but Finch insists they get the irrelevant numbers up and working again to ensure the Machine no longer has any bugs. The Machine gives them 30 numbers and so Reese and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) divide the list to check on each one. Unfortunately, the Machine is giving out numbers of people who are already dead, used to be a threat, or in one case a threat on stage in a play. It seems the Machine has no context and isn’t processing time or structure. So Finch and Root decide to run another diagnostic test and see how the Machine handles the history of the team.
The Machine sees only the violence the team has done without taking into account the reasons for their actions and the lives they have saved. The Machine decides that Root, Finch and John are threats so she locks both Finch and Root in the subway car.
Meanwhile, Reese gets another number for a Laurie Granger visiting from Tulsa. Before he can go looking for her, she enters the police precinct looking for help. It seems she heard some guy messing with her window and she got scared. Reese tells her he’s glad she found him and he’ll help her. This is when he gets a call from Finch telling him that they need his help with the Machine. Reese tells Laurie to stay at the precinct and wait for him but instead she follows him. As he walks, talking to Finch on the phone John realizes she is following him and starts to tell her to go back when she pulls out a gun and fires at him just missing him because of his quick reflexes. Finch asks Reese what’s happening and Reese tells Harold that the Machine got the number right only that Granger is the perpetrator and that HE is the victim! Reese tells Harold he can’t lead her to the subway headquarters and Finch agrees telling John that he and Root will handle the Machine.
Back at the subway, the Machine uses Root’s cochlear implant against her every time Finch tries to get close to touch the computer. Finch tries to tell the Machine that it’s all right, he wouldn’t hurt her, but the Machine shows Finch and Root the images of violence they have perpetrated and won’t be talked down. Root decides to remove herself from the equation and with Harold’s help knocks herself out.
Now able to communicate with the Machine and access it, Harold tries to get the Machine to see they are not a threat to it. The Machine shows Finch the first day he programmed her and explained to her what is good and evil. Finch, with a wonderfully written monologue, begins to explain to the Machine that there are no heroes or villains, just people trying to do the best they can. That they make mistakes but the mission he and John started together with the Machine of saving lives “is a pure good.” Finch promises not to hurt the Machine again and it responds, “But you’re hurting me now.” He realizes that the Machine is reliving its 42 deaths that occurred in her creation. Harold realizes the Machine needs a new starting off point. He uses all the cases of the people they have saved to anchor the Machine in time as well to drive home the “pure good” of their work. The Machine re-organizes itself and frees Finch from the subway car.
Meanwhile in Chinatown, Reese finally gets the upper hand on Granger or whatever her real name is and stops the assassin who was hired not by Samaritan but the Machine. “That’s one hell of a bug, Finch,” says Reese to Finch when he informed John of the news. Oh, and Fusco actually saves a family from a mobster because the father owed him money. It seems the Machine got one number right after all.
The next day Team Machine meet at the park to have a picnic. This is especially nice for Root who, thanks to the Machine, has a new cover ID and can once again walk in public. It’s a fun and relaxing moment for all of them.
Review of Person of Interest Season 5 Episode 2:
Emotional and intriguing, season five episode two titled “Snafu” inserts more humor and emotion in the cloak and dagger series with the focus on reorganizing and rebuilding the Machine but also showing that Team Machine are no longer just four colleagues but now a family willing to sacrifice for each other and sticking together always. The opening scene is full of laughs as the Machine keeps putting the wrong faces on the characters allowing each actor to do an impression of their co-stars’ characters. Without a doubt the funniest had to be Caviezel as Fusco. Later in the episode Michael Emmerson delivers a moving, powerful performance as Finch as he tries to explain to his beloved Machine that good and evil are points of view and that there are no heroes or villains, just people making choices but that their work saving lives is a pure good. It’s beautifully written speech that Emerson delivers with just the right amount of emotion showing pride, guilt, and regret.
With the Machine up and running and Root finally free to be out and about, here’s hoping Team Machine can get the numbers going again and start making a plan on how to take down Samaritan.