‘Person of Interest’ Season 5 Episode 11 Recap and Review: Synecdoche

Person of Interest Season 5 Jim Caviezel and Kevin Chapman
Jim Caviezel as John Reese and Kevin Chapman as Lionel Fusco in ‘Person of Interest’ (Photo: John Paul Filo © CBS Broadcasting Inc)

“Rest in peace, Coco Puffs…you’ve earned it,” says Fusco (Kevin Chapman), standing in a cemetery and speaking to Root’s grave. “Now let’s finish what she started,” replies Reese (Jim Caviezel) who wants to avenge his deceased college and finally end the war with Samaritan in season five episode 11 of CBS’ crime thriller series, Person of Interest.

Team Machine has no time to grieve for their fallen friend. Finch (Michael Emerson) has successfully gotten himself off the gird, and Reese and Fusco have no idea where to find him. Reese finds Shaw (Sarah Shahi) on the playground where she took Root in one of her simulations. It seems Shaw is still not convinced she’s not actually back with her team in the real world and is thinking it might be a simulation. She goes over to a nearby security camera to let Samaritan know where she is so she can get caught and end this simulation, but Reese tries to block its view with his umbrella. (Yes, it’s raining in New York City.) A messenger gets out of a car and gives Shaw an envelope which contains her new cover ID. The Machine calls the payphone next to Reese and gives him a new number: The President of the United States.


Over in the state of Kentucky, Finch is in a car having a conversation with the Machine who is now using Root’s voice for her own to communicate. It’s obvious Finch is very upset about Root’s death and not too happy the Machine is using her voice. The Machine tries to explain to Harold that she chose Root’s voice because she loved the Machine and grew to love Team Machine. The Machine also tries to explain to Harold that she’s grieving the loss too and that she experienced Root’s death over 4,000 times as she worked through scenarios to save her life before she died. Finch is not impressed or moved and in fact seems to be turning cold and distant.

In Washington D.C., Reese, Shaw, and Fusco are doing their best to cover a fancy fundraising event the President of the United States (POTUS, as he’ll be referred to from here on out) is attending. Reese bumps into Logan Pierce (Jimmy Simpson), the CEO of the social networking app Frienczar whose life he saved in season two. While Reese is with Logan checking the area for anything shady, Shaw meets Tracey Phillips, the wife of a senator and begins discussing POTUS’ controversial surveillance policies. Reese isn’t long into catching up with Logan when he discovers a Semtex bomb moments before POTUS is about to make his entrance. There isn’t enough time to diffuse the device so Reese and Shaw take it to the kitchen, tell the staff to get out, and then lock it in a heavy duty refrigerator. They return to the main ballroom room just as the bomb explodes. A message comes across the TV screens and broadcasts that this was just a warning and that POTUS will die tomorrow because of his illegal surveillance systems. At the end of the broadcast Reese and Shaw notice a waiter on the phone looking tense and trying to sneak out. They also sees Pierce looking suspicious and seemingly in the know about what just happened.

Reese and Shaw grab the waiter and interrogate him while Fusco keeps an eye on the White House using some of Finch’s technology. Shaw turns up the heat on the questioning, literally, when she electrocutes the waiter a little to get some answers from him after he won’t talk to John. Reese takes her out of the room and when the waiter is alone he breaks free and escapes. This is actually exactly what Reese and Shaw wanted the waiter to do so he can lead them to the people he’s working for. Shaw and Fusco follow him to a building in DuPont Circle where they find the terrorist group that’s led by – surprise, surprise – Tracey Phillips. Shaw and Fusco are able to disarm them but it seems they are too late to stop the hit. Shaw rushes to the plaza to help Reese while Fusco stays behind with Phillips to monitor the situation via laptop.

Reese is at the plaza looking for anyone who might be the assassin when he bumps into Joey Durban (James Carpinello), one of the very first POIs that he and Finch helped when they started out together. Fusco finally figures out the hit squad is planning on using a drone to take out POTUS, so Reese and Joey’s reunion is cut short. Fusco realizes the drone is targeted to hit the SUV that POTUS will be getting into. Having no time to warn the Secret Service (if they’d even believe it) and the drone already in the air, Shaw takes a Secret Service sniper rifle from the agent she knocked out on the roof and fires at POTUS, of course missing him but succeeding in stopping him from getting into the SUV. Two more shots to keep their heads down and POTUS away from the SUV and boom!, the drone hits the SUV exploding. POTUS is a safe distance from the explosion, thanks to Shaw. Now there’s just one problem: Reese and Shaw have got to escape without being shot by the Secret Service who are returning fire.

Meanwhile, Fusco is caught in the room with Phillips by an agent who’s about to arrest him when Harper Rose (Annie IIonzeh) shows up disguised as a Homeland agent and saves Fusco by telling the agent Lionel is part of Homeland’s joint operation on fighting terror. Shaw and Reese almost make it out of the building but are stopped at gunpoint by the terrorist waiter and two of his comrades. Shaw and Reese decide to make a fight of it and just before they do, the terrorist waiter and his two friends are shot by Durban who’s now wearing an Army uniform. He puts Reese and Shaw in uniforms and gets them out as part of the POTUS Army detail. As Shaw and Reese watch POTUS driven safely away, she tells Reese she’s going to stop Samaritan from destroying the world. Shaw now no longer has any doubt about being back in the real world.

In Florida, Finch has managed to sneak into an Army base to steal a computer virus he believes will help destroy Samaritan. This virus will, according to Harold, cause “significant collateral damage with devastating consequences. Seriously, for someone who created the Machine to protect people and help save lives Finch has become the Captain of Doom and Gloom lately. As Finch is about to escape the base he gets caught by a guard who he convinces to let him go by telling him that if he doesn’t the guard’s sick daughter will be moved to the end of the donor list and she will be dead in five weeks. Needless to say, Finch escapes.

Back in D.C., Reese and Fusco are with Durban, Pierce, and Harper in front of the Lincoln Memorial. They’re brought up to speed on the fact all three of them are working for the Machine. It seems there is a Team Machine in D.C. Pierce, Durban, and Harper admit to Reese that after he and Finch saved them, they wanted to give back and help people the way they were saved to make sure their second chance really mattered. So, at some point the Machine reached out to them and they’ve been its agents ever since. Pierce gives Reese a parting gift – a photo of Finch driving in Florida. Reese is anxious to get back on the trail of Finch knowing the only way they can stop Samaritan is with him leading the way. Fusco tries to convince John that they just saved the President of the United States and they deserve a short breather to enjoy their win, but Reese is adamant that time is working against them.

Review of Season 5 Episode 11:

Surprising and action-packed, season five episode eleven of Person of Interest titled “Synecdoche” reveals a great, unexpected twist to the series while having one of its main characters turn cold, isolated, and more calculating than ever. The stand-out performance in this episode once again goes to Michael Emerson who conveys so masterfully how dark and determined Finch has become to stop Samaritan. The scene where he tells the guard that if he doesn’t let Finch go it will cost him the life of his little girl is chilling because the old Harold could never suggest such a thing – let alone do it. Now it seems Finch might actually be capable of doing something so horrific in order to destroy Samaritan.

The creative and clever twist revealing there is a Team Machine in D.C. and hinting at other Team Machines in other cities is a great addition to the show, suggesting a continuing “pay it forward” from those who Reese and Finch have saved and setting up teams that might end up replacing our original heroes. With Reese, Fusco, and Shaw hot on the tail of Finch, who now has a plan to take down Samaritan, the final two episodes should be the best yet.

GRADE: B+

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