This week’s Number is a marriage licence, sending Reese, Finch, and Root to a tony wedding where heiress Phoebe is about to marry public defender Will, to the (presumed) disapproval of Phoebe’s horse-owning and possibly animal rights abusing father. There’s more to it, of course, but it’s hardly the most radical storyline in the show’s history. It’s enlivened, though, in the telling: there’s the usual Person of Interest skill and attention to detail, and a plot which gives us Reese being mistaken for a hen-night stripper; Finch, as exiled Irish uncle Ralph, “singing” Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ at the reception; or Root, on horseback, galloping in and saving the day, is always going to be entertaining.
The episode’s real heft, though, comes from elsewhere. Having so far failed, in simulations, to stop Shaw from killing herself rather than betraying her friends, Greer instead decides to take her for a field trip in the hope of persuading her of the merits of the Samaritan approach. And, not for the first time, you’d have to say that Samaritan kind of has a point: Greer points out some apparently respectable business people whose decisions will, in due course, claim the lives of thousands. The Machine will only pick that up when the future victims are in imminent danger; Samaritan, though, knows about them now, and is capable of making a worryingly seductive rational, utilitarian calculation that their immediate deaths would save countless many more lives. My weak response to that would run along the lines of Sir Thomas More in ‘A Man For All Seasons’ – “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide…?” – but I don’t know if that’s what people want any more.
Then, just to increase the pressure, Shaw is confronted by Samaritan’s very own human avatar, sinister little Gabriel, who vividly demonstrates what will happen if Samaritan is thwarted. The CGI might not be top-of-the-range, but it’s still eye-popping. So while Samaritan does whatever it needs to do, the voices of moderation – in this case Root and Finch – are still debating whether to trust the Machine, and therefore themselves, with more power. That’s… not unlike real life.
Finally, Fusco has a lead on what starts to look like a third force in the battle for control of New York’s underworld, although it’ll probably be a little Samaritan hobby. His investigation leads him to a tunnel where he finds some of the missing people from recent episodes, including Krupa from last week, and the newly-minted corpse of Elias’s consigliere Bruce. Then the tunnel is demolished. Even though we only have a few episodes to go, I’m still assuming that Fusco is essentially indestructible, and I’ll be disappointed if I’m wrong.