Person of Interest: s05 e09 – Sotto Voce


Victim or Perpatrator? One last time…

Where do I begin?

Firstly, I’m not going to start delving into the storyline of this episode in my usual depth. It was taut, it was complex, it brought everyone into play in separate missions that, before the end, tied into a single story, and it ended on a note of poignancy made all the more plangent by my knowledge of what is to happen in the next episode.

In essence, this was a Number of the Week episode, a good, old-fashioned, more or less self-contained episode, with next-to-no involvement from Samaritan. Reese, operating as Detective Riley for practically the whole episode, is following the number, Terry Eastern (Neal Huff), a locksmith breaking into an investment firm to plant a bomb. Reese defuses it, takes the terrified Terry back to the precinct, learning that Terry’s been coerced into this by the kidnap and threatened murder of his wife. The true culprit is the mysterious criminal, the Voice (s03 e15 – Last Call). Do we know what Voce means in Italian?

The Voice has planted bombs all over the precinct. Reese/Riley’s trying to protect Terry and find the Voice. Fusco won’t help. They’re not partners anymore. he’s helping get a lot of gang members into the holding cells, whilst an unregistered gun found on frightened taxi-driver Amir Saddiq (Rupak Ginn) links back to two of his unsolved murders. Not just two: four, and more. Saddiq is a professional hitman. He works for the Voice. He knows who the Voice is.

Finch is trying to track the Voice. He has back-up, Carl Elias, determined to take a hand despite the risk to him. He has lost his two friends, he will not lose another. He leads Harold to the Voice’s bombmaker, coerces locations out of him. They’re all in the Eighth Precinct, stretching resources, drawing Police from the station. Where Terry has been frightened into unlocking all the cells, letting the gang out to barricade themselves and the remaining cops inside.

I haven’t mentioned Root yet, nor Shaw. Shaw’s in Mexico, heading for the border. Root’s in the Subway with a Number of her own, supplied by the Machine directly, a radio engineer working to extend the bandwidth for Samaritan’s coded radio messages. But someone shoots him, and the goons. Root follows, into the Park. More shootings. She comes face to face and gun to gun with the assassin. It is Shaw.

But Shaw won’t go back with her, to the Subway, to the rest. She’s been put through over 7,000 simulations, her sense of reality is indeed broken, she is unsafe. At any moment, she might turn and kill everyone. Better she quarantine herself, continue her mission to kill Samaritan, one agent at a time.

Everyone? Everyone but Root. Root she could never kill. She would put the gun to her own head instead. Shaw puts the gun to her own head. Root swears this is real and not a simulation. Shaw won’t listen. So Root does the most simple and obvious thing, the one twist Samaritan’s simulations could not imagine: she puts her gun to her head. If Shaw pulls the trigger, Root will pull the trigger. A simple paradox. Shaw can’t kill Root. She can’t end the scenario by killing herself which kills Root. Impasse.

The pieces fall together. Reese/Riley and Fusco fight side by side in the precinct. Finch traces the signal to the Precinct, discovers Terry’s ‘wife’ is an actress. Yes, that’s right, Terry Eastern is the Voice. He kills Saddiq and walks away. In the street, he’s confronted by Finch who warns him this will end. Terry can’t kill Harold because Elias has got a gun on him too. A truce. The Voices drives away. I saw it coming, each and every time. ‘I think that’s far enough, don’t you?’ Elias says, and presses the detonator in his hand. Over Finch’s shock, he protests mildly that Harold must have known he would do something like that. Subconsciously, Harold has summoned this. Harold’s inner darkness has undermined his rigid surface code.

It can’t go on like this. We are getting very near to the edge, the tipping point. Reese, who saw Fusco take a bullet for him despite their differences, tells Fusco the story. The full story, all the truth, a private enlightenment. And there’s one last appointment, under the bridge, staring across the city, the point where burnt-out derelict John Reese first met extremely private software developer Harold Finch, there is a reunion, Root bringing back an almost bashful Sameen Shaw. The gang reunited. The Five Musketeers back together again, in sunshine and shy silence. One Last Golden Afternoon before…

If only it could all end here, in this moment of peace and warmth, this projection of hope. But there are four episodes more. The point of One Last Golden Afternoon is that it is the last. The end starts here.

4 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s05 e09 – Sotto Voce

  1. “Sotto Voce” [5×09)
    Written By: Sabir Pirzada
    Directed By: Margot Lulick
    Originally Aired 30 May 2016

    “Sotto Voce” is the final episode before the endgame begins, and it is more of a return to the mystery-based crime thriller of Seasons 2 and 3, as opposed to the relentlessly action-packed, high-concept 4th and 5th seasons. The direction, lighting, and cinematography all point to that. It’s also a somewhat divisive episode for some, with claims of a needlessly convoluted plot and whiffing on several key moments (Reese and Fusco, the final scene under the bridge). Me personally, I think the former complaint has merit, but the second two not so much. Would I have liked a “Relevance Part 2” which showed exactly how Shaw returned to New York? Yeah, but I understand why they gave us this instead in the final season considering we already had “6,741”. I also liked the scene in which Fusco learned the truth to “Fake Empire” by the National, and the quietly understated final scene. I do find that the Voice went to an awful lot of trouble for a simple problem (kill Amir Saddiq), but not that egregious.

    Grade: A.

    1. Not only to kill Saddiq. Remember that the Voice had been working on tracking Team Machine. The plan was for more than a single end.

      To produce the ending of your choice, Happy or Sad, you only have to choose where to stop. But for one single thing in the final episode, I would choose to end here.

      1. You would choose to stop here? *Remembers the episode you watched this morning.* But it’s unresolved!

        Yeah, fair enough. I could have used a nice snack after I saw that for the first time…………

  2. Unresolved. But I did watch the episode I watched this morning. And I could indeed have turned my face away and deluded myself that everything was still right and fine and everyone together, and lied for the sake of a happy ending. But there is one more thing, and you know what I am talking about, that I cannot deny the happening. as we must, all the way.

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