There’s no sign of Person of Interest flagging as it reaches the finishing line; quite the reverse. There’s enough material this week for four or five episodes. Reese and Shaw, on Machine duty while Finch is off virus-hunting, get a Number and some co-ordinates, which point them towards Greer and Fort Meade, the headquarters of the NSA, where Greer works under an alias. They assume, with good reason, that it’s going to be something to do with Finch – whether as victim or perpetrator – and head over there.
Finch, meantime, has managed to infiltrate Fort Meade impersonating Emile Bertrand, a French (Belgian?) NATO official. He hesitates before introducing the virus into the system; it could kill Samaritan, but it might also kill his Machine, which he used to regard as his child, but is now essentially Root reincarnated. Which gives Greer another chance to capture him. This time Greer explains that Samaritan wants to work with the Machine to rule the world. It’s rather sweet that Samaritan is looking for a playmate. And Greer is so determined that this is going to happen that he’s prepared to sacrifice himself to stop Finch: he seals the room he and Finch are in, and starts to extract the oxygen from it. Greer dies, but Reese and Shaw get there in time to save Finch.
And the police have discovered the secret stash of bodies in the tunnel. Fusco is abducted and shot by Agent LeRoux, revealed to be the killer; fortunately, Fusco is wearing a bullet-proof vest and turns the tables on LeRoux, leaving him to debate whether to kill LeRoux to keep himself safe. In what has otherwise been a remarkable final season, the tunnel-bodies storyline has been, in my view, the least successful. This is in no way the fault of the outstanding Kevin Chapman.
Meantime, though, as we near the end of the series, the Machine doesn’t want to miss out on its own lap of honour. So as Finch ponders whether to deploy the virus, which might bring down the Machine as well as Samaritan, it shows Finch – and us – what the world would have been like had it never existed. It’s A Wonderful Machine, if you will. Reese is dead, of course, in an unmarked grave, without the Machine to give his life a purpose. Fusco is a drunk ex-cop, and only not in prison because he ratted out his HR buddies. Finch himself is still in business with Nathan Ingram, although whatever they’re doing – and unless I missed it, it isn’t specified – is somewhat trivial compared to what they in fact did. And most chillingly of all Shaw and Root, with no Machine to show them an alternative path, are working for Samaritan, which is the only show in town. Because whether or not we’ve got a Machine, we’re certainly getting something like Samaritan; and, unchecked, who knows what it might do? It’s an episode which defies easy summary, and it’s also magnificent TV; the scene at the end, when Finch finally talks to Samaritan, is very nearly overwhelming.