‘Aletheia’ is a Greek word meaning, for our purposes, ‘disclosure’ or ‘truth’. It’s an apt title for an episode that uses Person of Interest‘s capacity to construct a tense, slick and violent thriller whilst incorporating the show’s philosophy witth regard to the existence of the Machine.
As an episode, this is so much a direct sequel to last week’s ‘Lethe’ that it could be joined to it to create a 90 minute feature without any seams showing, a fact recognised internally by the way only a title card is used to identify the show instead of the standard monologue.
We pick up with Control threatening Arthur Claypool and Harold Finch: one of them will give her what she wants and that one will live. Agent Shaw, in the meantime, is disposable and will be shot: mind the bloodspray. This is interrupted by the arrival of the Cavalry in the form of Root (who has freed herself from the Library in a manner she could have done at any time), two-guns firing. But on the way out, she is shot in the arm and captured.
Root goes on to secret immprisonment, interrogation and torture at the hands of Control herself. It’s vivid, it’s horrifying and it includes mutilation: a smll bone, essential to hearing, is cut out from behind Root’s right ear, making her completely deaf on that side.
It’s easy enough to loathe Control, and Camryn Manheim makes her into a total monster without ever once foaming at the mouth or chewing the scenery. Control is frighteningly self-righteous in pursuit of goals that protect the State, and is ruthlessly unconcerned about life. Secrets must be kept, maintained, controlled and anyone who potentially disrupts that world by having knowledge is to be killed, without thought or conscience.
What makes this so frightening is that this is John Reese’s world, that John Reese is every bit as capable of the actions undertaken by Control. It’s not played up blatantly, nothing the series does is ever blatant, it’s all their for the audience to draw the conclusions and, hopefully, think upon them.
Speaking of Mr Reese, he and Fusco are stuck in a Colorado jail, almost by arrangement. Fusco claims the Sheriff can’t recognise an NYPD badge, but when his attempt to turn Reesse back fails, they get out free on a word from the cynical detective. Nothing has changed. Reese has lost his anchor, he has twisted into the nihilistic frame of mind he had when Finch first gave him a job. Nothing is worth it, entropy always wins, Fusco will turn back into the corrupt slimy piece of garbage crooked cop he was. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.
The meat, so to speak, of the episode takes place in a bank vault. negotiating his way around Claypool’s brain tumour and his wandering memories and perceptions, Finch establishes that disc drives exist preserving Claypool’s Samaritan, in a safe deposit box in a bank under an account opened in the name of a false persona created at MIT by Finch, so solid that it could open a Bank Account. And these drives contain a correct and working Samaritan.
Unfortunately, Control, via Hersh, want the drives, and so does Vigilance, who are equally unconcerned as to the sanctity of human life. Samaritan is Arthur’s child, as much as if it were biological, so his acceptance of the need to destroy the discs to prevent either side from getting hold of them is almost infanticide.
Everyone gets out, though unfortunately they have to jump into the sewer to do so (at least that means we should never again see the hideous checked suit Harold wears throughout these two episodes). There is another of the show’s gunshot set-ups, which frankly are overused. Someone’s been held-up at gunpoint, is about to be shot, a gun fires but it’s someone offscreen doing a last second rescue that’s so frequent you get conditioned to expect it. These are two of Hersh’s SWAT team members, but they are also Reese and Fusco.
But John’s not back for good, he just came back to save Finch and then it’s back to his nihilistic stream.
I haven’t yet mentioned the continuing flashbacks to Harold’s youth and to his Alzheimer’s affected father. Dad has to go into a home. Harold’s still trying to build the machine that will be his Dad’s memory. In search of more computing power, he breaks into Arpanet, the Government forerunner of the Internet, as a result of which he has to go on the run, accused of treason. But by then his father has forgotten him.
Just two more touches. Harold has set Arthur up in comfort under medical care, at a secret location. More and more of Arthur’s memory is disappearing. He can’t ever remember the colour of Diane, his wife’s eyes. But Root, who is becoming or perhaps already is the Machine, who’s gone her own way for now, has a gift for him: old surveillance film and photos of Arthur and Diane together, beamed into his computer. Saul Rubinek, who plays Arthur, has been magnificent these two episodes, up to and including his utter absorption in the life that has been conjured back for him.
At least the discs have been destroyed. But a Bank Manager has been found dead, stuffed into a closet. She’s the Manager who let Claypool and Finch into the vault, was trapped with them, wounded and forgotten in the panic. No, she’s not. The woman who entered the vault was posing as her. She switched the discs. The ones Claypool destroyed were meaningless. The real ones are delivered to Greer, who is so pleased with her sterling work he shoots her through the heart. Greer has Samaritan. Greer has an AI. And he does not have Harold Finch’s reservations.
The future starts here.