Person of Interest: s03 e18 – Allegiance

An offer

Nice one. Superficially, this is 90% a prodeural, a Number of the Week of an unusual, but not unbelievable standing, bookended by twin scenes featuring Root and the mysterious Mr Greer. But this is Person of Interest, late third season, and even the Numer of the Week feads the overall story, the gathering storm. There is a cold wind blowing.

Said Number is Maria Martinez (a welcome guest apearance for Nazeen Contractor), an Engineer working on Third World infrastructure projects, lately having installed sixhigh-power generators in Iran. Maria is set up to be a potential terrorist and the team accepts her as such, despite the fact that Terrorists are Relevant and that, if that was the case, they would not have been sent the Number.

Though the premise is built on flimsy grounds, nevertheless the plot plays fair, riding that narrow edge where the things Maria says and does are in keeping with her perceived status yet are never entirely specific and are completely in line with what she really is doing which is getting paperwork to UN High Commisioner for Refugees Pierre Lapointe (Michel Gill) concerning Iranian asylum-seeker Omar Risha (Haaz Slieman). Omar has been accused of links to terrorism and is in danger of deportation to Iran, where he will be killed.

Though the revelation is left until later, Maria’s concern for, and increasing desperation about Omar, isn’t based on fairness and justice, nor even on the fact he’s saved her life, but rather on that oldest of grounds: they are in love.

Given that the French Foreign Legion, a bit left-field there but justified by their being in the pay of Maria’s boss, Ken Davis (Casey Biggs, who we remember from so many episodes of Deep Space Nine), are trying to kill Maria, there’s much slick action, with Fusco fully in the midst of it. Theres also one of those cliche moments when Maria, removed to Finch’s safe house but consumed by terror for her boyfriend, ignores all the advice from these self-evidently experienced and professional people to stay put and runs away to put her head in the noose and provoke the climactic shoot-out.

Whereafter Finch procures the asylum status for Omar, who celebrates with Maria by dining in a very high-class restaurant with a gorgeous view of the New York night-time skyline. This segues into a short but very touching scene between Shaw and Fusco. She’s melancholic: this restaurant was where her father took her mother on their first date. Fusco, who has been paired with her on their stake-out, on the usual combative terms, is in tune to her mood: though he’s a non-drinker he buys a glass of champagne, then places it in ront of Shaw: it’s March 20, Persian New Year. For the first time, he calls her Sameen. She silent signals her apprecation of his gentle concern, then tells him to get out: he leaves without a word, smiling.

So this is the bulk of the episode, all but a few twists and turns I’ve not mentioned. How so does this procedural tie in with our longer story? The answer is six generators. Removed from Iran by order of Ken Davis, sold and transported to an unknown location. Omar translated the contract: had he been permitted to meet Maria, the move could have unravelled. Hence the false accusation, the bribes to Lapointe, the forged letter. Why were these generators so powerful? Where had they gone?

Our answer was a meeting in the snowy Central Park when Davis – supposedly having flown the country – received his payment for his deal – and was promptly black-bagged. The purchaser was John Greer. the generators will power Samaritan.

So to our bookends. First, Root is on the trail of  Greer. following him into the subway, trailing him. She’s planning on stopping Samaritan by killing its master. But Greer knows he’s beig followed and, one  by one, has the systems the Machine is using to detect him, shut down: visual (camera feeds stopped), audio (footstep pattern blurred by overloading), GPS (phone dropped into someone else’s pocket). Root loses him.

Second time round it’s the identical setting, the identical sequence. But Root has another means of tracking Greer: she has borrowed Bear.

So this time she catches up to Greer, waiting for her in an empty corridor. He addresses her as Miss Groves, he offers her an alliance and, in case she should reject it by putting a bullet through his head, has two armed heavies behind her. Stalemate, or as Greer puts it, a draw. The offer hangs there. Greer does not underestimate Root. He does not think her crazy, as everyone else does. he walks away, and so does she.

And Samaritan’s coming on line draws ever nearer. There are now only five more episodes in the third season.

Person of Interest: s03 e17 – / (Root Path)

A walk in the Park

Here endeth the past.

According to my DVD, this episode’s title is simply “/”, which I interpreted as Forward Slash, which nothing in the actual episode would justify. imdb have it as “Root Path”, which is clever because that is what the episode is about. A moment’s googling tells me that the term is a computing term indicating where all files are stored in a system. Which is another relevant term for this episode. The people who write these things aren’t stupid, you know.

Amy Acker has been a full member of the Person of Interest cast all season but, in terms of screen representation has been held back, often to the point of invisibility. This won’t be the case any more.

Our first indication is the credits, Finch’s monologue. For a second week, the show incorporates variation to set up its point, with a truncated version alternating line-by-line between the familiarity of Finch and the strangeness of Root. It throws you, as it’s meant to.

The first act is a Root solo, temporarily springing a car thief from transportation to prison to use his likeness to intercept a package before abandoning him to recapture. It’s a lovely, complex, freewheeling sequence as Root talks away along, to Billy, to the Machine. She’s following a path created for her in which everything the scam needs is provided on the fly, but beyond the fact that she is acting to save both the Machine and the future, Root hhas no idea what she’s doing. The Machine directs its human Interface but doesn’t tell all, or even a fraction. It likes Root to work it out for herself.

I could happiy stand an entire episode of this, but the show intends something more dense than this. Root is next direced to locate janitor Cyrus Wells (Yul Vazquez), former financial wizard and millionaire, whose life was changed by tragedy, and a believer that there is a plan and that everything that has happened to him, however terrible, is a part of that.

What’s about to happen to him is definitely part of a plan, two in fact, but not with any thought for Cyrus. Root follows him to a snowy Central Park, for his morning walk to help him sleep daytimes. Someone else is watching Cyrus. Root sits down by Finch. Cyrus’s Number came through at 7.04am, the very minute Root approached him. Root, it would appear, has brought Cyrus into danger and the Machine is playing both ends against the middle. Or is it urging two diverging viewpoints towards collaborationn and merger?

Root is convinced she can protect Cyrus better than Finch, Reese and Shaw, because she has the Machine in her ear. Her confidence is overconfidence, or hubris. Because something bad is coming into being, something that will become the series’ focal point from now until the end. Two forces are after Cyrus Wells. These are Vigilance… and Decima Technologies. Peter Collier and John Nolan.

Because Decima are building a rival to the Machine, a rival called Samaritan. It’s crashed once, because there wasn’t a processor fast enough to run it. Two days ago, one was invented, in a secret NSA lab working under cover on the 19th Floor of the building Cyrus cleans at night. He’s the only Janitor with clearance to clean the 19th floor, who can pass the retinal scame. Can you see why Decima wants him now?

And they’ve the technology to sever Root’s connection to the Machine to ‘blind’ her and get him.

Finch chides Root, or Miss Groves as he will persist in calling her, for hubris. The two argument their viewpoints. Harold ‘broke’ the Machine by limiting it but even in its broken state it caresabout Cyrus Wells. Finch puts that down to his teaching the Machine.

Cyrus believes there’s a plan. Root denies that. There never was, there isn’t a plan. it’s all horribly random. But if Samaritan gets started, there will be a plan, its plan, to direct and regulate everything. There will be two AIs, two ‘Gods’, and they will be at war. What is more important? Saving the processor from Decima, or saving Cyrus Wells?

In the end, the team saves Wells but Decima gets its chip. Here endeth the past. Root warns that when Samaritan comes on line, a lot of people will die. And within the first thirty minutes, four people will be marked out for death: Finch, her, his helper-monkey, and Shaw. She’s been trying to save them all along. Our klast shot is the Machine. Samaritan’s completion percentage is rising rapidly. So too are the Probability of Death ratios of her assets. There’s an awful lot of red filling the screen…

“/” is an awesome episode. It’s fast, it’s tricky, it’s slick, without a moment’s sag. Everyone plays their role to perfection. It pursues its spinal story implacably, but not without the littlle asides and twists we come to associate with the series. There is a moment that stands out. Cyrus insists on taking a photo with him, three people, together and happy. He won’t talk about them, not at first. They were his friends from college, who started a small, careful financial business that became a major player by avoiding the crash of 2008. They got up somebody’s nose. An unidentified gunman walked in one day and killed his friends, wounding him and ten others. He spent weeks in the ICU, came out and abandoned his past and his money. But it was part of the plan.

The scene carries with it a frisson of understanding. Instinctively we know, without needing the slightest flicker of Root’s eyes that betrays her to us but not Cyrus. In a way, it’s a tiny moment of weakness that the episode decides it has to play to its slower audience by having Root admit that the gunman was her, in days of a greater moral depravity that are now gone: the Machine is making a point to her.

All things are connected. Everything leads back to itself. There is a plan. There are two plans. And two tribes, or rather gods, who are about to go to war.

Person of Interest: s03 e16 – RAM

Mr Finch and Mr Dillinger

It’s never not a pleasure to watch Person of Interest but there are some Tuesday mornings that can almost have me chortling with glee at what I’ve just seen. ‘RAM’ (random access memory for the computer-illiterate among us) was a 99.9% flashback episode, so designated by it starting with the season 1 credits, as far as the words ‘I needed a partner’, at which point it went into fast reverse, all the way back to 2010. We’re in the past, where they do things differently. But we’re not just here for a compare-and-contrast night out, we’re here to see skeins and trails being laid that underlie everything we will be dealing with for the rest of the show’s existence.

At first, it’s very much compare. A frightened woman runs  down empty Manhattan streets at night. Finch is plotting her movements and urging Reese to catch up. Only it’s not Reese, it’s Dillinger (Neil Jackson). Yes, he takes out the two gunmen, but unlike somebody else we know, it’s with gunshots to the upper torso, not the leg. Finch hopes (probably in vain) that it’s a case for an ambulance, not the coroner. And John Reese would never take advantage of a frightened woman’s gratitude towards a rescuer to take her for drinks and what inevitably follows.

It’s all there, the original set-up, the Library, the minimal exchanges of information between Finch and Dillinger. But this is 2010. Finch is still in a wheelchair, the set-up’s a bit more spartan. Dilinger asks Finch why he doesn’t get a dog.

The new number is a man called Daniel Casey (Joe Mazello), who’s gone dark two months ago, no grid presence, whereabouts unknown. Finch is not yet as practised at locating people so Dillinger has to scare up a lead himself, almost literally. Dillinger isn’t as good as Reese, he’s brash, direct, reckless, and we’ve already seen that he’s in this for what he can get.

He’s also not the only one looking for Casey. There’s a man and a woman about an hour ahead of him. It comes as no surprise, especially since we’ve seen Annie Parisse’s name in the credits, to recognise this pair as Kara Stanton and John Reese, under orders to kill a traitor.

But Casey’s not a traitor. He’s a freelance hacker, hired by companies and government to test system security. Two months ago he did a massively hush-hush job for the Government, trying to hack into a system so comprehensive and complex it was almost alien. It is, of course, the Machine, and Harold understands that instantly, as well as all it’s implications. It was only in the previous year that Nathan Ingram was killed.

It’s a deadly and ruthless world for anyone who knows about the Machine. Stanton and Reese have been assigned by Special Counsel (Jay O. Sanders, of course) but he is as nothing in comparison with Control (Camryn Manheim) who has not the least regard for human life. Control wants in to the Machine, she wants to be rid of the limitations Finch built in, she wants the total vision,  and with it the control that total knowledge brings. She is a warning for what is going to follow.

It was always intended that Casey should die after his assignment. Brought to the Library, much to Finch’s horror, he explains how lucky he was to get away, and that a friend was preparing a fake identity for him, to disappear, like a ghost. Casey had reported failure to the Government. He was trying to report the matter to a Government Department that oversees complaints about government, but ‘Mr Banks’ is not the real Mr Banks, but rather Mr Lambert, a mercenary working for John Greer (John  Nolan).

Everybody wants Casey’s laptop. Because he found a way into the Machine, a ‘back door’. The Machine adapted itself to throw him out but Casey came away with a few strings of code. Besides, we’ve seen that laptop before…

But this is where Dillinger steps in. Finch doesn’t trust him, won’t tell him anything. It’s been fun saving damsels and bankers but CIA operatives? Dillinger wants something for himself, and he’s taking the laptop and selling it to China.

Casey runs, but runs into Reese. Stanton is taking down Casey’s friend Lester and Greer’s associates, all except Lambert. Reese shoots and reports Casey dead. All this under the eyes of Finch, who has managed to stagger to his feet after his drugging by Dillinger and is out of the Library, desperately trying to stop he inevitable disaster.

But Reese’s shot was directed wide. He knows Casey is not a traitor and, for the first time, is stopping being a good soldier. Money, a getaway route to Canada, disappearance.

As for Dillinger, he meets the Chinese but is taken out, along with three of the four, by another black ops operative, a promising agent, who cleans up. She is Sameen Shaw.

But there’s a loophole. One Chinese got away with the laptop. Control wants it found and destroyed. Stanton and Reese will be assigned. The lapptop has been taken to a place in China called… Ordos.

And with that the Machine’s memory clicks into fast forward, very fast forward, a montage of high-speed clips as we roll through the show’s history to the present day and a lonely, snowbound cabin in Canada. Someone knocks on Daniel Casey’s door. She’s a total stranger, a pretty girl, and she’s setting up his cabin to burn down. He has two minutes to gather his getaway stash, a fake passport and $50,000. She is sending him to Columbia. Casey and Root have a mutual frend who needs his help…

What a stunningly brilliant episode! Within one forty five minute spell, the show completes its backstory, in a brilliantly logical construction tha fills in all the little gaps and lays the foundation for both the present situation and the near future to come. It also gives us an insight into the two main players, grounding their respective natures and illuminating the evolving relationship they now enjoy. In short, it was bloody near perfect.

And I chortle with glee for the Tuesday mornings on which I will watch episodes that are even better than this.

Person of Interest: s03 e15 – Last Call

Yes, again it’s a procedural, a one-off, but this time with a far better, much more involving story, and another opponent who offers recurring possibilities but who, in the end, will return only once.

We start in media res, with Finch in the field as a Trainee operator in an NYPD 911 call centre, where he’s got his eye on the Number, Sandra Nicholson, an experienced, wise, calm-under-pressure supervisor (Melissa Sagemiller). Reese and Shaw are on standby outside, amused at Finch’s lowly role.

Meanwhile, at the Precinct, Fusco is enjoying popularity after his takedown of Simmonds, in demand from his colleagues, especially rookie Detective Jake Harrison (Gavin Stenhouse) seeking guidance on working the  murder of Tara Cooke, which is not the street mugging it initially seems to be.

The threat to Sandra comes out of left field: she takes a 911 call from Aaron, a ten year old boy kidnapped from out of his apartment by professionals associated with a Mexican Drugs Cartel: off go Reese and Shaw. But Aaron is merely a lever to use against Sandra. unless she does exactly as she is told by a mysterious voice on her mobile phone, Aaron will be killed.

The vooice is clever. He’s  hacked into the system to divert this call to Sandra, he knows who she is, he knows what’s in her sealed Juvenile Court records (whilst babysitting and bathing a three year old boy, she left him to get a toy from downstairs, during which short period he drowned) and what makes her completely vulnerable, he’s even gotten a webcam attached to her headset so he can see everything she sees. All Sandra has to do is wipe 30,000+ 911calls from two days ago, calls that are part of evidence in innumerable cases.

One of these turns out to be the death of Tara Cooke. Fusco and Harrison’s case dovetails with the Number. Cooke was having an affair with her CEO and wanted to go public. He and his wife wanted her out of the way. In  order to save Aaron’s life, she agrees to do it.

The arrest and confessions of the married pair terminates the contract and spares Sandra the final decision, but both she and Aaron are to be killed anyway, to clear up loose ends. Reese and Shaw save Aaron from a bomb, Finch threatens to electrocute the hitman sent after Sandra, and she gets to relieve a certain amount of tension by belting him across the back of the skull with his pistol.

And Finch arranges a final meeting with Sandra, enabling her to see the boy she fought for and helped save before she returns to work. Shaw produces the only lead they have as to the voice, paired burner phones taped together. One rings: the voice speaks to Finch, assures him Sandra and Aaron are no longer under threat. But Finch… that’s a different matter.

The voice does return, a long way from here, whilst the show has much weightier matters on its mind, close to the end. Were it not for such matters, I don’t doubt this invisible mastermind would have proved to be more of a recurring threat. Indeed, as we will see, there’s a moment when this figure could have been introduced for a half-season arc, but the show chose a different threat.

As for now, though ‘Last Call’ effectively repeats the same trigger – a child under threat – as ‘Provenance’, it’s a far better story, in ppart because it’s not clogged up by implausibility. Sandra’s emotional commitment to saving Aaron comes over as deeper and more effective despite his being a complete stranger, and that’s down to Sagemiller’s performance. She stays graceful, and doesn’t let the emotions overplay, and it doesn’t hurt that whilst she’s a very attractive woman, that’s downplayed: short hair, full police uniform, no obvious make-up. There’s no glamourisation and that keeps her and Sandra grounded to great effect.

All told, a very solid episode that shows that Person of Interest can still succeed admirably even when it detaches itself completely from its overall flow. But with only eight episodes left, and a lot of ground to cover, it’s time that tide rolls over us.

Person of Interest: s03 e14 – Provenance

Implausible but watchable

Watching and blogging a television series from beginning to end, the same day each week, is a vulnerable process, since you cannot bring the exact same set of sensibilities to bear every single Tuesday. Though it’s not happened so far with Person of Interest, it’s too much to expect for the entire run to go unaffected, and this has been the case today. Feeling at a low ebb, mentally as well as physically, due to various things going on, and watching one of those almost-never standalone episodes, ‘Provenance’ wasn’t going to lift me out of my prevailing mood. Perhaps I should have taken a week off?

The episode was a genuine standalone, its only connections to the ongoing story being at top and bottom. Reese returns from Italy, with a new suit, ready to resume his job, with a Number already on hand. At the end, the crew gathers to celebrate their success with drinks, and Reese places a glass at an empty place round the table, for the one who isn’t there.

After so many intense, serialised weeks, a one-off with no ulterior significance would have to be pretty damned strong to make it and this wasn’t. The Number was Kelli Lin, real name Jai Lin (Elaine Tan), a high-flying events planner who, it quickly turned out, was an international, world class art thief specialising in cultural artefacts of tremendous value. She was also, under her real name, a Chinese former Olympic Silver Medallist being chased by her own Jean Valjean, Interpol Agent Alain Bouchard (Henri Bulatti).

Jao basically had two skills in life: gymnastics and very high power stealing. She had a little daughter being held hostage by a Czech gang requiring her to repay her debt to them, as represented in New York by Cyril (Gene Farber) who was obviously never going to let her go.

It was this conception, gymnast and thief, that bent the plausibility curve out of shape for me and left me unable to get into the episode in the way I usually do. It was the usual, well-constructed thriller: the team start off aiming to frustrate the theft by Jao, in whose wake bodies drop like flies (Cyril was doing it behind Jao’s back) and then had to switch to carrying out the theft itself to protect Jao’s daughter and bring the Czechs down.

Even then, to achieve the required happy ending, logic had to be bent to get Bouchard, who’d pursued Jao across Europe for years, to slip her a key so that she could escape.

No, on another day, of fairer frame of mind, I could buy this and enjoy it for what it was, but not today. Today, I was not receptive to what I could only see as a weak episode by PoI standards. Next week will be better.

Person of Interest: s03 e13 – 4C

Hero and asshole

As I’ve mentioned in passing before, Person of Interest has the ability to turn a one-off episode into an integral part of an ongoing art with a naturalness no other series can master. ‘4C’ is the last part of a six-episode sequence that started with Joss Carter’s final takedown of HR and her subsequent murder, and yet it’s a procedural Number of the Week, whose subject, Owen Matthews, computer programmer and all-round asshole (Samm Levine), has nothing to do with anything that’s been going on before or after him.

John Reese came back last week to save his friend, Harold Finch, but not to return to his job. Instead, Reese is going to lose himself, a one way flight to Istanbul. Except that his flight is suddenly overbooked and he’s bumped, and equally as suddenly a place opens up on a flight with a stopover in Rome. Reese can spot Finch’s meddling a mile away, and he doesn’t want it.

That’s not the whole of it. The pretty stewardess, Holly (Sally Pressman) asks if he’ll change seats to enable a newly-wed couple to sit together, which he happily does. His new seat giives him a view of Matthews, being transported by two ~US  Marshalls. His phone receives a text: 4C: Owen’s seat number.

There’s just one problem about all this. No, actually there are three. Someone’s trying to kill Owen (with a mouth like his, you should be surprised?) and has incapacitated one of his Marshall’s. And Reese doesn’t want to know. It’s not his job anymore, not his responsibility, he will not be manipulated llike this by Finch. The third one is, Finch isn’t doing this. he’s as much in the dark as Reese is. This is the Machine, operating by itself.

But on a commercial passenger flight from America to Europe, there are no avenues for walking away. Owen has too many attackers, Columbians, Israelis and National Security. With only the willing and optimistic Holly, who will deliver the crucial little speech about helping each other in an entirely naturalistic manner, to trust, Reese has to take the job.

It’s a tight, stream-lined thriller, with Caviezel at his most magnetic, even in sloppy clothes and a baaaad shave. Shaw is used as a sideline to discover why Owen is a target for her former Agency, making Owen a Relevant rather than Irrelevant Number. This leads to an almost touching scene wwhere, having drugged her former trainer, Hersh, he explains that Owen is about to become a National Embarrassment: there’s a near-fatherly concern for whether Shaw’s ‘new employers’ are treating her well, which draws the line we all of us would have used at this moment: ‘They haven’t tried to kill me yet.’

The final moment comes when the last assassin standing, on board as the coach class steward, takes over the plane and tries to fly it into the ground, requiring Finch to take over the controls and land the plane using a toy flight simulator attached to his computer back in the Library, but there’s a hppy ending to it all, and we sigh with relief.

Owen, who has caused all this feverish activity because he’s not just a programmer but the guy who set up and ran a Darknet Drugs trading facility, to take violence and death out of the trade, is smuggled off by Reese and fitted out with a new identity by Finch. Who happens to be sat with his back to John and Holly when they finish their coffee. What’s needed now is a graceful climbdown by Reese, which Finch facilitates by never once acting as if anything has changed. he explains that the Machine is, of necessity, manipulative in the way Reese hates, because Finch designed it so that the human intervention should always be the last part of the process.

That gives Reese chaance to joke about getting a new suit, so that he can get back to work. With that, the personal turbulence is ended and the show can reset itself for the final phase of the third season.

Person of Interest: s03 e12 – Aletheia

Don’t cross this woman

‘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.