Person of Interest: s04 e22 – YHWH

An appropriate word

If it had ended here, it would have still been a good ending. It would have been an ending in defeat, almost like the infamous and controversial ending to Blake’s Seven almost forty years ago, the nature of which still rankles with me. The difference is that the ending to Season 4 would have left a shaft of light, a glimmer of hope, that it wasn’t completely over.

Ratings fell during Season 4. The nature of the show changed, it slid from series to serial. Some people hated Samaritan, some just didn’t like change, there’s always some. Person of Interest was in danger of cancellation. Once upon a time and not very long ago that would have been it. Networks are commercial entities, governed by income from advertising. Without eyeballs there is no advertising, without advertising there is no show. Person of Interest would have died then.

But things have changed. DVD box-sets give shows a long tail. Who, though, will spend for four box-sets of a show without an end?

If Person of Interest had ended here, where would it have left us? Like last week’s set-up, there were three elements: Control’s attempts to divert the Correction, Reese, Fusco and Elias’ capture at the hands of Dominic and the Brotherhood, and Finch and Root’s attempt to rescue the Machine.

It began with a revelation, as a Thornhill Industries box is fixed to a telegraph pole. What it was for we had to wait to see, though it’s later description as a Line Modulater was meaningless to me. whatever it was, we, or at least me, instinctively understood that it was the Machine, that all of them were. Two years ago, when the Machine vanished, it didn’t go somewhere, it went everywhere. Into the National Power Grid.

And now Samaritan knows where it is. Power surges and brown-outs are occurring all the way across the United States, the Machine’s visual feeds are fritzing and blurring. It is being driven East, until there is nowhere left for it to go, until it can do nothing but die.

Root goes into god-mode, constant communication starting from a telephone built into the walls of the Subway, walled over (Amy Acker swings a mean sledgehammer). This sends them on a helter-skelter scavenger hunt, for an improbable collection of things whose purpose is unguessable. It also has them break into the offices of Caleb Phipps (Luke Kleintank), reintroduced in episode 16, who was once a Number. The moment Finch steps forward to be recognised, to congratulate Caleb with genuine pleasure at his success, Caleb gives him the compression algorithm, no questions. Whatever the man who saved his life in season 2, episode 11 (2 Pi R) wants, he can have. Caleb’s belief is absolute.

Elsewhere, the Reese situation is relieved with almost bathetic simplicity. Dominic continues to rule the roost. He demands from John the same arrangement Elias has, with Harold as his inside man. What Dominic doesn’t understand, or believe, because his life and career conditions him to see things only within one pattern (he’s not the only one we’ll see doing that this episode) is that there is no arrangement.

And it falls apart rapidly. Dominic sends Floyd to kill Fusco, but Harper (no, sorry, still can’t stand her) has picked the lock on his handcuffs, he’s got away and he returns with the FBI to arrest everyone, including Dominic and Elias. It’s the pugnacious little fireplug’s moment of glory, and it earns him a handshake from John, who’s now free to slip off to first warn Iris Campbell to get out of the city for a few days, then join Finch and Root, the faithful muscle guarding the techsperts, the core of Team Machine on one final wild ride.

So that’s that. But it’s not. We’ll return to this. But for now, Control is fighting back against the Correction. Shipman, her right hand woman in the nerve centre, cannot detect any potental flashpoints, Senator Garrison regards her as paranoid and unbalanced when she wants Samaritan shut down and areversion to Northern Lights, which never lied to them. She and Grice (Nick A Tarabat) invade a Quarantined house in Washington where they find evidence of massive bomb-making. The target is the Supreme Court, hearing an anti-surveillance docket. Control steers greer into a private meeting at which she triumphntly advises him that it’s all over, in a moment he will be black-bagged and taken to a hole so deep and dark that Samaritan can’t see it, where he belongs. But remember what I said about people whose life and career have conditioned them to see things only in a certain pattern? It’s a bomb. It has to be  bomb.

Team Machine has reached its destination, an electricity sub-station concealed in a suburban house. Here at last Finch understands where the Machine went, and explains for us. Thornhill Utilities. Thornhill. The company that, in ‘God Mode’, exactly two seasons ago, was the Machine’s human alias. The Machine is dying. it is being forced out of existence. But with Caleb’s compression algorithm, a part of it, a ‘strand of DNA’, can be downloaded via a series of laptops, into a collection of high capacity RAM chips, stored in an indestructible briefcase. It can live.

No-one knows if it will work, if the Machine can survive wiithout the equivalent of brain damage. A screen lights up. The Machine talks to its Father, to Finch, its creator, who it feels it has failed. Father to son/daughter to Father, a completeky human exchange. With its last power, the Machine puts Reese into god-mode too, continual direction that enables him to take down an entire army of Samaritan operatives. Then it’s gone. God in the Machine becomes God in the Briefcase. If it’s worked. A shaft of light. A glimmer of hope.

Elsewhere, Greer is his usual superior, unconcerned self, despite Control and the gun with which she will kill him. It’s a bomb. But it’s not a bomb. Greer explains in his philosophy that the vast majority of human beings are docile and do not cause trouble (he doesn’t quite call us cattle or sheep but the words hang in the air). There are only a few hundred trouble-makers at any time, the ones who disrupt, who question authority. After a year, Samaritan has identified these people. The Correction has been a colossal bluff, a careful manipulation and a loyalt test. It is a surgical strike, nothing so crude as a bomb.

And the wagon taking Dominic and Elias downtown is rammed by one of Elias’s men, who helps him out of the wreckage. Dominic hauls himself out too, having grabbed aweapon. He is about to shoot Elias when he is stopped, again, by Fusco, who has his gun on him. Who will shoot first? in true PoI tradition, the shot comes from offscreen, a bony-faced man we’ve seen in the street before, a sniper’s rifle set-up on a rooftop. Corrections. He kills Dominic. Elias makes it into the escape vehicle ut is shot through the window. He appears to be dead.

Shipman’s dead, lying on the floor in Control’s nerve centre. Grice is dead, sat behind the wheel of a car outside the Supreme Court building. Others are dying. Control is black-bagged, to be taken to a hole so deep and dark, only Samaritan can see it. Where you belong, Greer states, with relish.

It would have been a good ending as it was. A week after this episode was broadcast, it was announced that it had been renewed, for a final season. That’s where we go next week. Now we are on the countdown

19 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s04 e22 – YHWH

  1. Sometimes showrunners keep renewals close to the vest in order to foster some drama. In this case, I believe from the eps themselves that they genuinely did not know when these were being filmed if they were going to get renewed. It is typical of their talent that they left it so it would have worked either way, although (as you say) if it had not been renewed it probably would have developed less of a cult following.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but The Mentalist demonstrated an almost textbook was of doing it wrong. They blew up the premise to the extent that the 2 leads had to “relocate” to a new city, new jobs, and an entirely new supporting cast, which just came across as really weird. They knew when they were renewed that the 5th would be their last, so the reboot was pointless. They weren’t going to get a 6th, even if the reboot had clicked, which it didn’t.

    Fringe also basically rebooted itself for its 5th and final season, but somehow that worked better. The ending of the 4th would have been a good series end, so I suspect they didn’t know either at that time. It’s a bone of contention in Bab5 fandom if its 5th season worked or not, but I think compressing the Shadow War and the Earth Civil War into the 4th season hurt the latter, even if it did give us the brilliant 2 hander episode Intersections in Real Time, which really should have won a Hugo.

    I loved the ending of Blake’s 7, which I took to be a relentlessly pessimistic show. That’s, in fact, one of the reasons why I love it so much, because it stood in stark contrast to all of the sunny optimism & technophilia of US programs, US SF programs in particular, and much of the US written SF scene in those days, given the pervasive influence of Astounding/John W. Campbell. (H.L. Gold’s Galaxy was cynical even in the early ’50s, but it was much less influential, except with a few weirdos like me.) Earlier, even Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s UFO was more cynical than typical US SF, and it had downer episodes, like the 5th: A Question of Priorities. When I saw that ep, my jaw hit the floor because I just wasn’t used to that level of pessimism. I loved it!

    1. As I said, Blake’s 7’s ending rankled with me, because the series was classic old space opera stuff, and it betrayed the form to have the bad guys win. The actual story, if you didn’t know it, was that the show was going to end after series 3, hence the destruction of the Liberator in the final episode. But, by chance, a senior BBC executiv saw the last episode, loved it and unilaterally announced its renewal. All the sets had been destroyed and nobody wanted to do series 4, hence the crappy new spacecraft, the even weaker SFX, the shitty scripts and a final episode that was going to make damned sure that it could never be brought back again. And that was crap up to the last two minutes as well. (I do not forgive quickly).

  2. “YHWH” [4×22]
    Written By: Greg Plageman and Dan Dietz
    Directed By: Chris Fisher
    Originally Aired 6 May 2015

    Continuing the story from last week, “YHWH” drives the season home with a bang. Let’s address those three threads.

    The Dominic/Elias stuff is the least interesting part of the finale for me. It works as a thematic parallel to the season’s main story-line, but we never really got inside Dominic’s head. Thankfully, that changes when Reese enters God Mode. Is it too easy, and does it make the Brotherhood seem incompetent? Yes and yes, but it’s entertaining as all hell and brings this middling, under-served story-line to its much-needed ending.

    This is a fitting end to Control’s story. I would not have minded seeing more of her character–she was fantastically written and engagingly played by Camryn Manheim. But there’s definitely a great deal of irony the way she goes out. She sees the truth, but too late. The plan was for her to aid the team in taking down Samaritan, dying in the process, but they couldn’t get her back for Season 5. Oh well.

    The meat of this is Root and Finch’s mission to save the Machine. It’s a fun, bizarre scavenger hunt reminiscent of ‘Wingman’ with some emotional moments along the way. The one that gets to me the most is Finch and Caleb’s reunion. This is the last episode of the show written by Dan Dietz, and he brilliantly calls back to his first, Season 2’s ‘2 Pi R’. Which is an extremely clever callback which shows how well thought out this show has been from minute one. The other standout moment is Finch’s conversation with The Machine. He’s been mad at her (yes, it’s a her) since ‘Death Benefit’. They finally get around to that chat Finch mentioned in ‘Prophets’. It’s a powerful scene enhanced by Pink Floyd’s ‘Welcome to the Machine’. Usually this show doesn’t go straight for your heartstrings like that, but it works here. The season ends with our heroes in their most dire straights yet, spilling out into the night to face their enemies.

    Grade: A. This is another excellent finale. ‘Person of Interest’ knows how to do season finales better than just about any other show.

      1. It’s sad, especially considering that, if everything had gone to plan, we would’ve had 2 more full seasons after this. Bloody hell CBS.

  3. Person of Interest: Season 4
    “Panopticon” (Erik Mountain and Greg Plageman)-A
    “Nautilus” (Melissa Scrivner Love and Erik Mountain)-A
    “Wingman” (Amanda Segel)-A
    “Brotherhood” (Denise Thé)-B-
    “Prophets” (Lucas O’Connor)-A
    “Pretenders” (Ashley Gable)-B
    “Honor Among Thieves” (David Slack)-A-
    “Point of Origin” (Tony Camerino)-B
    “The Devil You Know” (Erik Mountain)-A
    “The Cold War” (Amanda Segel)-A
    “If-Then-Else” (Denise Thé)-A
    “Control-Alt-Delete” (Andy Callahan)-A
    “M.I.A.” (Lucas O’Connor)-A
    “Guilty” (David Slack)-B+
    “Q & A” (Dan Dietz)-B+
    “Blunt” (Amanda Segel and Greg Plageman)-C
    “Karma” (Sabir Pirzada and Hillary Benefiel)-B+
    “Skip” (Ashley Gable)-B+
    “Search and Destroy” (Zak Schwartz)-A
    “Terra Incognita” (Erik Mountain and Melissa Scrivner Love)-A
    “Asylum” (Andy Callahan and Denis Thé)-A
    “YHWH” (Dan Dietz and Greg Plageman)-A

    This is a wild card of a season for Person of Interest fans, it seems. Some people really don’t care for it and view it as a massive step down from Season 3. It’s not as tightly plotted, for sure, but me? This season definitely has enough high points to merit an A- overall, at least. Probably an A.

      1. Yep, one solitary C in a sea of B+s and As. The difference is, that DS9 usually had at least 7 or more Cs or below. Does this season merit an A- or an A? I just gotta go with my instincts and say A. Might be generous considering the lack of momentum in that midseason stretch, but any season with “Prophets”, “If-Then-Else”, “Terra Incognita”, “Asylum”, and “YHWH”, among many more cannot merit less than a straight A for me (those are my top 5 for me).

    1. Spoilers!

      The original plan probably would have been as tightly wound as 3. Shahi’s pregnancy threw them off in a major way in the early planning stages of the season. But I also read that they would have killed off Reese in If-Then-Else, and that would have been a mistake, I think. We needed Reese around, and it paid off in the series finale BIG TIME.

      1. Shahi’s early exit, it seems, made them hold off on major story moves until episode 19.

        I revised Nautilus up to an A, Pretenders and Point of Origins down to a B, Honor Among Thieves up to an A- for the fun factor. Other than that, my grades are fair, I think.

    1. From what I’ve read, you are also correct in that we were fortunate to get even that truncated final season. They very nearly did just axe it. And I would have been more than a little livid, to say the least………..

  4. Also, I’ve already graded all the episodes of S4, but now let’s rank em…
    22. “Blunt” [4×16]
    21. “Brotherhood” [4×04]
    20. “Pretenders” [4×06]
    19. “Point of Origin” [4×08]
    18. “Karma” [4×17]
    17. “Skip” [4×18]
    16. “Q & A” [4×15]
    15. “Guilty” [4×14]
    14. “Honor Among Thieves” [4×07]
    13. “Wingman” [4×03]
    12. “Nautilus” [4×02]
    11. “Panopticon” [4×01]
    10. “M.I.A.” [4×13]
    9. “Search and Destroy” [4×19]
    8. “The Cold War” [4×10]
    7. “Control-Alt-Delete” [4×12]
    6. “The Devil You Know” [4×09]
    5. “Prophets” [4×05]
    4. “YHWH” [4×22]
    3. “Asylum” [4×21]
    2. “Terra Incognita” [4×20]
    1. “If-Then-Else” [4×11]

      1. The top two were unquestionable for me. The next 14 or so were damn good. I gave them As. But man…those top two are just unbeatable. If-Then-Else is sheer perfection, the best hour of network tv ever.

  5. Another thing that’s so great about this finale is how the ultimate solution for saving the machine is scientifically plausible. The fact that the scenario is grounded in some real science always pulls me in to the climax. PoI did that a lot.

    That’s not to say there wasn’t loads of techno magic, there are also plenty of examples where the writers went the extra mile to lend the show some plausibility that it didn’t have when Reese got into 20 car accidents unscathed.

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