Person of Interest: s03 e21 – Beta

There are defeats and there are defeats, and more of them as this pivotal season closes in on its end, but this is one of the hardest of them to take. Finch has gone missing since refusing to condone killing to save the Team. Reese and Shaw, unable to find him, are continuing to deal with Numbers.Samaritan has gone live for its Beta Test: 24 hours of feeds in New York. It’s public objective, for Senator Garrison, is to find a terrorist, just as efficiently as Northern Lights did.

It’s real task, for John Greer, is to find Harold Finch.

That’s going to be impossible with Samaritan in its infancy. Fincvh has gone inside a black hole and drawn the entrance inside after him. Root can intervene with Reese and Shaw to alert them to Decima execution teams waiting to ambush them, but she can’t find Finch. Very well then; if Finch himself is invisible, let us search for the next best thing: someone close to him, someone who matters to him. Straightway, we know who that is. Grace Hendricks.

The action in the episode is in trying to keep Grace from being kidnapped, but that proves beyond the headless Team Machine. Greer has grace but he doesn’t know what he’s got. He can produce a record of every little piece of her life but he can’t find out why she has been identified to him by Samaritan until, almost at loss, she mentions having once been in love, with a man who is now dead, but whose body was never found. And Greer has it. He has the late Harold Martin and he knowswho he is.

There’s a moment of irony. Grace tells Greer what Harold meant to her, and angrily denies that he ever lied to her. It is a moving, passionate moment, as she talks of living with an alcoholic father, becoming attuned to detecting lies, growing up mistrusting everyone about her, except Harold. It’s defiance and defence in one, but it’s also unknwing denial because we know Harold did indeed lie to her, about everything but one thing, the thing that mattered.

Greer has his lever and demands a meeting, 7.00am on the Jefferson Bridge, a trade-off. Finch reappears, on Grace’s doorstep, having finally realised her danger but far too late. There is only one course: we will surrender himself. All that matters is Grace. She will be saved. Reese and Shaw and Root and Fusco will not fight. He would be obliged if they could avoid violence if at all possible.

And Finch has his own way of saying how much he is in love with Grace. If she is hurt, if they harm her in any way, they are to kill them all.

So the handover proceeds. Grace is blindfolded so as not to see Finch. As they pass, she stumbles and he catches her arm to steady her. She thanks him. He says nothing. All is arranged. A job in Italy that she had been invited to apply for is hers, under a new name. A new life, a new start, get out and don’t come back. She asks Reese if he knew Harold: he tells her that all he knows is that she loved him, and he loved her.

The Beta test is over. It’s nearly a foregone conclusion that Garrison will ensure Samaritan is hired. Finch is a captive, Greer has waited a long time to meet him. But Root has stolen seven state-of-the-art super-conductors from Decima, imtended for Samaritan, diverted by her. It’s not over yet. It’s not over, yet…

5 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s03 e21 – Beta

  1. “Beta” [3×21]
    Written By: Sean Hennen and Dan Dietz
    Directed By: Frederick E.O. Toye

    “Beta” continues the ramp up to the Season 3 endgame, with a subdued, subtle outing. While not the most thrilling hour the show ever produced, it’s very smoothly handled and doesn’t really have any dull spots. The scenes with Grace work very, very well, as as Emerson and Preston’s real life marriage continues to work wonders for the show. Not the most twisty, but well done.

    A/A-. I’ll let you decide.

      1. A it is! I was leaning towards that anyway.

        This is Sean Hennen’s last episode—he penned Foe, Risk, Critical, Proteus, The Perfect Mark, Provenance, and this. There are some solid episodes in there, But I will say he seems to me to be one of the least exceptional writers on the staff. It could, of course be a much more collaborative process than I’m theorizing, But a few of the episodes with his name on them would make my favorite episodes list.

    1. That line might be Dan Dietz’s doing. If so, Hennen went out with Provenance. If we grant him that though, he very nicely forshadowed the end of the series. Harold has a limit—for now he’s reigned in.

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