It was a double feature of CBS’ action crime series Person of Interest‘s season five on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. The first episode titled “Qso” had Root (Amy Acker) being placed by the Machine to look after Max, a late-night radio talk show host who specializes in conspiracy theories and aliens. All the while Root keeps talking to the Machine, telling her she wants to focus on trying to find Shaw (Sarah Shahi) but the Machine is determined Root needs to protect Max.
It turns out that Max, along with one of his regular listeners, has been working on a coded static message that he discovered on his radio. He hasn’t been able to crack it but has decided to go public with it. This isn’t a good idea because it’s actually being created by…yes, you guessed it…Samaritan. So now Samaritan operatives are after poor Max, something Root is able to figure out after he lets her hear the code and she realizes it’s a way that Samaritan can communicate with its operatives. When Root asks Reese (Jim Caviezel) to go check on Max’s regular listener after he called in threatening to kill himself, Reese enters his apartment only to discover the listener has been dead for over a week. The message had been digitally spliced together by Samaritan to create the suicide call. Reese is in the process of telling Root this when Max loses control of his broadcast board to Samaritan and it activates a spliced monologue of Max saying he’s going to off himself. Root realizes that Samaritan agents are on their way to kill Max so she works quickly to get Max out undetected by the security cameras at the station.
While Root and Max are heading down to the lobby via the back stairs, she calls Finch (Michael Emerson) and the two of them realize in talking that the code Samaritan is using may actually be a way for Root to get a message to Shaw. Root puts Max in the supply closet to keep him safe, telling him not to move until she comes back for him. Root goes back to the control room and, using a technological toy the Machine told her to “borrow” earlier in the episode, discovers it’s the printer in the room that has the Samaritan malware on it and is creating the signal. She uses it to send a coded message to Shaw hoping she will get it. Of course, just as Root is finishing Samaritan’s agents arrive. Root says she’ll give up without a fight if she’s taken to the holding cell where Shaw is being kept. A computer’s voice comes across one of the radio speakers saying it can’t see Root (the Machine’s ID covers for her operatives blocks Samaritan from seeing their true identity) but will agree to her terms. It’s then that Reese enters, shooting the two Samaritan agents and disconnecting Samaritan briefly from the control room. Root is not pleased with John telling him she was going to finally find Shaw. Reese responds by telling Root she can’t give herself to Samaritan, that she would be playing right into its hands.
Root and Reese offer to take Max back to meet Harold and get him a new identity but Max refuses. He now knows part of the truth that an AI is out there spying on the world and trying to control it. Root tells Max not to broadcast the signal or talk about it and that as long as he does that, he’ll be left alone by the deadly AI. Later when Reese and Root are back in the subway headquarters/hideout they hear Max broadcasting info on the signals and what they really mean. Reese starts to head off to the station but Root tells him the Machine says it’s too late. Max was poisoned while live on the air by the radio’s receptionist who it turns out is an agent for Samaritan.
When Reese and Root tell Finch what happened he’s angry they failed, but Root insists the real mission was to get a message to Shaw which she hopes they did and that Max made his choice. Harold is still extremely upset and asks the Machine if it warned Reese and Root about Max and the Machine declares Max exercised free will. Finch becomes even more upset, saying that using the idea of free will to excuse moral attrition is wrong.
The second episode titled “Reassortment” Reese is following a POI who ends up in the emergency room because he has what seems to be the flu. Reese tells Finch the Machine must have gotten it wrong but Finch is insistent that Reese should stay with him. That turns out to be a wise decision because not long after the man gets an injection to help fight off the flu, he passes out in the hall and dies. Reese flashes his NYPD badge and offers to help and the doctor who was treating the now dead man says she suspects it might be some weird virus. They’ll have to test his blood to see but the doctor advises everyone should remain in the emergency room until they know what they are dealing with. Reese, along with the security guard, lock down the emergency room.
Just before Reese is about to lock the back door, Finch shows up with Bear the dog. Finch believes Reese will need his help and he informs Reese that Root is back at their subway hideout trying to see when and where the POI came in contact with this new super virus. It turns out that once again Samaritan is behind this deadly Avian Flu super virus at the hospital. Samaritan is targeting two doctors who’ve been complaining about error messages and blips the automated computer system has been experiencing. Samaritan’s other big plan is to create an outbreak just big enough so that it will scare the public into be willing to give a DNA sample to the CDC. Samaritan has taken control over the CDC computer systems to categorize people and figure out where they would best fit in the world – if they do at all. Samaritan sends in Jeff Blackwell (Josh Close), an ex-con who’s been recruited by Samaritan agents, to be a low-level driver and grab-and-go guy to actually kill the two main doctors in the ER.
Meanwhile, Shaw has been going through simulation after simulation and is finding it hard to tell what is real and what is just another simulation. She did, however, receive Root’s message through the air conditioning unit which has given her newfound strength. Shaw digs a hole in her bathroom that leads to a tunnel that exits in a South African prison. She works with one of the inmates there to breakout of the cell and continues to make a run for it until Agent Lambert catches up to her (he’s actually very impressed by her escape) and tries to convince her it’s all just another simulation. She calls his bluff and says, “Okay, then shoot yourself in the head.” He hesitates and tries again to convince Shaw it’s all just a simulation and she’s mixing up real memories with fake ones. Shaw doesn’t agree and shoots Lambert who falls to the floor, bleeding to death. “Don’t worry. The orderlies should be coming in any minute to take the electronic googles off of me and you’ll be fine…or not,” taunts Shaw as she runs off. As she drives away in a truck, she turns on the radio and hears about the virus outbreak in New York.
Back in the Big Apple, Fusco survived the demolition and is finally out of the hospital but isn’t interested in working with Finch or John anymore, believing that they don’t respect or trust him enough to bring him into the loop. Fusco’s tracking Blackwell after getting a lead (thanks to Elias) about Blackwell driving to deliver the demolition explosives. He shows up at the hospital looking for Blackwell who, it just so happens, has been posted in the ER with two deadly syringes to use to kill the two doctors.
At the subway hideout, the Machine has found a cure to the super bug and gives Root the ID she’ll need to go get it and deliver it to the hospital. At the ER, Blackwell finally makes his move and ends up getting one of the doctors but Fusco tackles him and fights him off, getting stabbed with the other syringe himself. Blackwell runs off and is protected by Samaritan which gives him another cover ID. Root shows up with the cure just in time to save both the doctor and Fusco. (WHEW!)
At the police station, Reese tries to talk to Fusco who has boxed up his personal belongings. “What? Did they fire you?” asks Reese. Fusco tells him he’s getting a transfer that he requested. Fusco reiterates to Reese that he’s tired of not getting the respect he deserves from both he and Finch so he’s done. He also warns Reese not to tell him anymore to not do his job. Reese tries to tell Fusco that he and Finch are attempting to protect him, but Fusco points out that it’s not working. (C’mon, Team Machine! Bbring Fusco into the loop already! There’s no way they can win against Samaritan without him.)
Finch pays a visit to Elias (Enrico Colantoni) to see if he gave Fusco the tip that almost got him killed. Elias admits to Finch he did and tells Finch that he’s going to need all his people in this war he’s fighting – not just his favorites. “War requires sacrifice,” says Elias to which Finch replies, “I’ll take it under advisement.” Elias warns Harold that underneath all his intelligence he is the darkest of all of them. He hopes that he’s not around when Finch’s pot finally boils over. Finch tells Elias he’s wron,g but it’s clear that at least part of what Elias is saying is true and Finch knows it.
Review of Person of Interest episodes 7 and 8:
Suspenseful and engaging, episodes seven and eight move the series ever closer to the final showdown between the Machine and Samaritan, and finally has Shaw actually escaping to rejoin her friends in New York. (No more annoying simulation episodes! YES!) One of the stand-out performances once again belongs to Amy Acker as Root who starts to stand up to the Machine and even threatens to start ignoring it if it didn’t figure out a way to send a message to Shaw. It’s real growth for her character to care so much about her friends over the Machine who she used to think was god. The other stand-out performance goes to Sarah Shahi as Shaw who’s finally back in action and back to her old wise-cracking, ass-kicking self. The scene where she shoots Lambert is the true highlight of the double-header. Shaw pretending to be confused as to what is real or not so he will lower his guard is priceless.
With Shaw headed back to NYC and Samaritan trying to control and categorize every citizen in New York and soon the world, here’s hoping Team Machine is getting ready for the ultimate showdown.