Person of Interest s4 ep 20; s4 ep 21

Reese and Finch are on a stakeout, when they’re joined by Carter. And since we know her to be dead – and since Person of Interest, we assume, didn’t give her the slows-your-pulse drug – this has to be a flashback. And a melancholy one: we miss Carter, even more than we miss Shaw. Meantime, in the present day, the Number is Chase Patterson, who had left the country after being accused of killing his family. Reese decides to reinvestigate, and finds out that the original investigation was one of Carter’s.

But as Reese pursues the murderer, the flashback – for reasons which will become clear – starts to turn into a hallucination, and while Reese hovers on the brink of opening up to Carter, the viewer is invited to wonder whether the conversations we’re being shown ever actually happened. Given that the end of the season isn’t far away, ‘Terra Incognita’ is a daring episode, but it more than amply repays watching: as it unwinds it becomes progressively more haunting, elegiac, and startling.

There are also hints of a gangland war between the Brotherhood and Team Elias, and this theme is brought front and centre in the next episode, ’Asylum’, which in contrast to ‘Terra Incognita’ is breathless and thrilling and throws the kitchen sink at us; just about everything which has been bubbling away during the season is brought to the boil. The Numbers are Dominic and Elias themselves, and while the death of one or the other might not be a huge loss to humankind, Reese and Finch recognise that a full-on war needs to be prevented if possible.

The Machine isn’t entirely across Elias’s activities, because rather than electronic communication he’s using the ancient pneumatic tube network around Manhattan – that again – but Reese and Fusco track him to his headquarters, warning him that The Brotherhood is coming for him, even as Dominic’s soldiers are smashing their way in. So Elias, Reese, and Fusco are captured and tortured; Dominic wants Elias to yield power, and he wants Reese and Fusco to give up Finch. Which, of course, they won’t do.

Meantime Finch himself is helping Root, who receives a phone call from a panicked Shaw. The Machine refuses to let Root know where Shaw is, so Root uses what leverage she has as one of The Machine’s assets – and only human interface – and engages in a spot of brinksmanship, successfully changing The Machine’s mind. So Finch and Root go to a psychiatric hospital which also turns out to be the Samaritan head office, and they’re captured as well. Whereupon two truly great things happen: The Machine and Samaritan go toe to toe, with The Machine ultimately sacrificing herself for her disciples. (Explicit theological metaphors again.) And Root warns Martine that if she, Martine, lays a finger on Finch she’ll be killed. Martine lays a finger on Finch.

And if that weren’t enough, Control has abducted an apparently innocent mom and teacher. Control is adamant that she’s a Samaritan agent. The mom doesn’t know what Control is talking about. Until she does. All of which means that with Dominic vs Elias, Machine vs Samaritan, and Control vs Samaritan under way, Shaw out there somewhere, Harper Rose apparently – but ambiguously? – on Dominic’s side, and Samaritan promising an event known as The Correction, we couldn’t be more nicely set up for the season finale.

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5 thoughts on “Person of Interest s4 ep 20; s4 ep 21

  1. Ace Of Wands May 9, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    Appallingly treated by C5. Tonight playing second fiddle to a Rylan chat show. I despair. Will we ever see the final series?

  2. Tim May 10, 2016 / 8:24 am

    A stunning pair of stories.

    Terra Incognita is a wonderful way to pass a quiet moment providing us with a pause for breath before the final two episodes. While it’s an obvious excuse to shoe-horn Carter back in, it’s done with elan and a terrible poignancy as she gently prises apart Reese’s armour-plated emotional defences, even as we know how both Carter’s story and the episode’s narrative must end.

    And Asylum would have made for a super season finale too. I love the way all the various storylines suddenly coalesce and Root’s sudden, vicious ending of Martine is a proper LOL moment that serves to underline just how high the stakes are – the Human Big Bad of the season being disposed of as an afterthought, an aperitif to a showdown between gods.

    PoI has come so far from its origins as a weekly procedural with a twist and the Man in the Suit. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s simply the best thing on TV at the moment. Even if it is 12 months behind. Any idea yet when C5 will deign to give us the final season? It will probably be shown daily at 3am on weekdays …

  3. Jed Bartlet May 12, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    Root disposing of Martine was an absolute highlight. Even Greer was impressed.

  4. CJ Cregg May 12, 2016 / 10:53 pm

    I’ve not been tuning in every week, so I’ve just watched a few eps here and there this season, but I obviously had to tune in for Carter’s return. Sigh. It was sad and so lovely, and really underlined what a loss she has been – I miss her and Reese together. They had such a deep connection, which deserved more exploration when she was alive, and I still think it’s a real shame she was essentially hived off into her own separate storyline and their friendship/relationship/bond was sidelined for so long before she left.

    I do wonder, though, how much of that separation was based on Carter’s character being rooted in more traditional, naturalistic, no-nonsense police-type procedural stories, while the rest of the characters (except maybe Fusco who seems to me to hover around on the edges of Team Machine doing trad cop stuff / heavy lifting when they need it etc) began to move towards more sci-fi / futuristic tech-type plots and almost became part of a different show. What I mean is Carter (and Fusco too) is such a tangible, old-school, realistic character that her taking on a very tangible, old-school enemy like HR or the CIA feels natural – they fit. But her fitting in with the over-arching, more futuristic arc of the fight against Samaritan which has largely taken over the show seems more of a stretch. It would be like someone from the exceptionally gritty and realistic Southland suddenly starting to fight aliens.

    Am I making sense? Very possibly not. It’s late, I’ve had a long week and I’m not even sure *I* know what I’m talking about.

  5. Jed Bartlet May 15, 2016 / 12:14 am

    Makes complete sense, and I hadn’t thought about it before. I suppose in this season the writers have rearranged their personnel slightly, with Reese’s undercover job as a police officer meaning that he can bridge the gap between Fusco, at the traditional cop end of things, and Finch and Root taking care of the more metaphysical stuff.

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