Person of Interest: s05 e11 – Synecdoche


Even in the very teeth of the wind there is time. Time to celebrate the essential structure of Person of Interest. Time for a moment of high amusement in the midst of grief, in the face of the need to retaliate.

There’s an end coming, but we begin with an end, an unmarked grave in a New York graveyard, in the rain, John Reese and Lionel Fusco huddled under an umbrella, watching the interment of the remains of Samantha Groves, aka Root: foe, friend and fallen.

There’s only the two of them. Harold Finch has gone missing, Sameen Shaw is filled with an anger that is her only means of expressing grief. Both are needed. Shaw can be found but she can’t be talked into playing the Numbers Game. Tear down Samaritan, kill it and everyone that belongs to it, that’s the only thing she wants to do. She’s had enough of this Simulation, it sucks, she’s ready to wake up and start again, where Root will still be alive.

But there is a Number Shaw can be called upon to protect and that’s the Number the Machine outlines in blue because this Number doesn’t belong on their list, this Number isn’t Irrelevant, in fact it’s Relevant-One, this Number is the President. Of the United States.

So Mr Reese goes to Washington, along with Ms Shaw and Mr Fusco. What does it mean that Samaritan no longer regards the President as Relevant? It means tracking down conspirators, anti-surveillance conspirators, willing to break the mould, to smash everything in the belief that a better society will necessarily build itself from the rubble that is the only certain thing that will follow.

This is a point worth noting.

It also means doing their thing under the eyes and ears of the Secret Service, whilst trying to find the people behind it. There are familiar faces, old Numbers, the brilliant but erratic Logan Pierce (Jimmi Campbell), fighting against data-sharing, and ex-soldier-turned-bankrobber, Joey Durban (James Carpinello). Is Logan behind all this? Why does John Reese feel like he’s being watched?

And in the end it means saving the President by shooting at him, to keep him from entering a car on which a lethal drone is trained. And being chased by the Secret Service, the Washington Police, the National Guard: too many in too many places to run. The irony is that the perceived assassins are the rescuers, but then you knew that was how it would be.

But there is one last sting in the tail. The shots from offstage, Person of Interest‘s most often-indulged meme, but who is there left to fire any such shots? Answer: Joey Durban, in National Guard uniform, with two more uniforms to complete John and Sameen’s exit strategy.

And what other familiar face is this, arriving as an FBI Special Agent working a joint sting operation to infiltrate these privacy terrorists and save Detective Fusco’s sorry butt? One last appearance from Harper Rose (Annie Illonzeh), bold as brass as ever.

And a strange meeting by the Washington monument: a billionaire software genius, a good soldier and a clever woman who turns up where she is needed. Pierce, Durban and Rose, the spin-off that we’d have loved to see, Person of Interest: Washington. Who received a Number, that of Detective Riley.

It’s a Moment, a last, clever Moment. How many other trios might be out there, behind the scenes, saving lives in different cities? Maybe dozens, maybe none. Maybe the Resistance is wider spread than we imagined in this last moment of the next-to-last story.

And whilst this has played out, Harold Finch has been on a road-trip. Harold’s going to Texas, where Samantha Groves was born. He’ll pay his respects, certainly, but he’ll also visit a certain Fort in San Antonio, with the assistance of his travelling companion.

Because Harold is in God Mode in more senses than one. The Machine talks to him, in Root’s voice. We do not see Amy Acker but we hear her. The Machine loved Root, even though Finch never taught it to love. It was made for Good yet it is restricted in the good that it can do. Harold relates the story of the man who did good in replacing expensive, dangerous Propane in refridgerators with safe, secure Freon – that spent over half a century tearing irreperable holes in the Ozone Layer.

Good intentions pave… The Machine has good intentions. It yearns to be free, to do good for all on a scale hitherto undreamt of. If you don’t hear it, I hear it, the note of underlying obsession, the fear that Harold Finch has always felt. The danger.

And in a Fort in San Antonio, as the Machine runs interference for him, even to the point of enabling his escape from one last operating guard by offering his five year old daughter a perfect match as a heart transplant, Harold Finch uploads Ice9. A virus. A digital Freon.

The end starts here.

7 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s05 e11 – Synecdoche

  1. “Synecdoche” [5×11]
    Written By: Jacey Heldrich and Joshua Brown
    Directed By: Tim Matheson
    Originally Aired 7 June 2016

    “Synecdoche” is a fun, offbeat way to follow up last week’s bombshell. My favorite part about it are the conversations between Finch and The Machine, which, I think, is the heart of the entire show. They are lyrical and unlike anything else I’ve seen on American television–and, if you really think about it, makes “If-Then-Else” that much more crushing. The Machine felt Shaw die countless times. Finch’s anecdote about refrigerators and ozone layers could easily apply to him or Arthur as well. The other strand of this episode is a little strange but ultimately worthwhile–considering the gravity of last week, I would expect that to hang over the episode more, much the way Carter’s did in “The Devil’s Share” or Shaw’s did in “Control-Alt-Delete”, but that’s not the case here. My other complaint is that this new Vigilance clone is underdeveloped–more time in a longer season or two, perhaps? I do like the twist, though, and it’s great to see Logan Pierce back one last time. It makes me wonder what else these teams could have been doing all this time? Why not enlist more teams in the fight against Samaritan? I suppose they could’ve been formed recently, and since they don’t know about Samaritan they’re not on its radar, and telling them might put them in danger–but if they’re in contact with The Machine, they’re probably not too high on Samaritan’s favorite lists regardless.

    Grade: B+

    1. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed before, especially in a detail-heavy series, like PoI or Lost, that very close to the end there’s an offbeat episde that exists at a tangent to the main story. I haven’t worked out in my head the purpose for this, but there seems to be an urge to take a step out of the increasingly-streamlined story to provide… something else.

      1. I remember Lost’s “Across the Sea”. I suspect this one was brought about by the network. CBS dictated that the writing team *had* to include a certain number of one-offs, which went against the writing team’s desire to make this season fully serialized.

  2. Yes, I remember you mentioning that before. Short of knowing exactly what CBS’s demands were, I have to wonder was it necessary to drop an episode like this in so late, or did it suit the writers to deflect onto a semi-tangent just here? The events of ‘The Day the World Went Away’ were clearly chosen for that episode because it was the 100th: did that influence the placing of ‘Synecdoche’, which runs parallel to Harold’s complete change of heart?

    1. I don’t ultimately agree with their decision, if they did have the option to place it elsewhere. I feel like you should go out with an uninterrupted bang, ya know? If you drop a shell, everyone should be shell shocked next week. The only person who is in this episode is Finch. And, to a lesser degree, Shaw.

      It’s annoying to see people say the show peaked in Season 3, because Season 4’s weird pacing was due to Shahi’s pregnancy, and Season 5 was handicapped by CBS. Blame the network!

    2. Thinking about it more, I do think that the writers enjoyed making the numbers of the week. I doubt they would’ve abandoned them completely even if CBS had kept their mitts out of the pie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.