Person of Interest: s04 e01 – Panopticon

Little black dress (and little blue one)

Another season, but not just another season. Everything has been reset, everything is new, there is a darkness to the world and our heroes have been separated and dispersed to the far corners of the world, that is, if you accept New York as the world.

And yet, as all new seasons are required to do, the opening story resets the principle of the procedural. There must always be a Number, there is always a Number, but there is dissension among the team abut what to do.

Season 4 starts without an opening monologue from Finch. It starts with surveillance footage from a bar in Budapest, a journalist who’s just been fired, a journalist who’s been pursuing a story about the changed underlying structure of the world. He knows he’s on the right track because his contacts are all dying. He’s telling this paranoid fantasy to a beautiful blonde he met in the bar, but she met him, for a reason. He’s a threat. She’s called Martine Rousseau, though we don’t learn this today (played by Cara Buono). She’s there to execute him.  The surveillance footage looks off, but that’s because it comes from Samaritan, with different processes and the use of circles to pick out individuals.

Back in New York, we tour our friends. Sameen Shaw, promoting perfume and makeovers in  Department Store, in a little black dress. Detective John Riley of Narcotics, busting drugs dealers. Professor Harold Whistler, teaching an esoteric class at college to a limited number of students, one of whom, a pretty girl in a short skirt, gets up and walks out when the Professor says that all grades are final and cannot be bargained up (a very economical piece of storytelling, that).

Everyone’s separate, unable to communicate or even to mingle, for fear of drawing samaritan’s eye down upon them. Shaw’s openly rebellious against her lot, spraying perfume in women’s eyes instead of on their wrists. Reese is at least doing something. harold wants nothing more to do with their old profession, for fear of exposure to Samaritan – if one is detected, all will be – and because in his mind he has made a break with the Machine – whereabouts still unknown – since it instructed them to kill that Senator. Harold wants nothing to do with it. Besides, they don’t have the Library, they don’t have the resources.

But John Reese has not forgotten his Purpose. And Root, getting a makeover from Shaw, with whom she’s starting to flirt quite openly, is making the point that these roles chosen for Team Machine aren’t just for survival but part of a longer-term plan, the outlines of which are not even visible yet.

But there’s a Number, sent to Reese and Shaw. He’s Ali Hassan (Navid Negahban), owner of an electronics shop, reluctantly working for a new street gang called the Brotherhood, whose representative Link Cordell (Jamie Hector, so effective as Marlo in The Wire and just as good here with his laidback menace) wants a private network for the gang, that can’t be tapped by the Police.

Ali attempts to retaliate by blowing Link up but Detective Riley is on the scene and saves the day. Link responds by kidnapping Ali’s son, Ben: network by midnight or…

Finch is reluctant. Not only are the people they could save a mere drop in the ocean, of no practical difference to the world situation but overall their efforts have caused more deaths than lives saved (yeah, but never mind the width, feel the quality). Root is angry with him: this is a War. Reese visits Carl Elias, discovers that midnight is the biggest heroin shipment in America, a quarterly event, run by the Brotherhood and its unseen leader, Dominic. He wants to hire Elias…

And it all comes together. Finch helps Ali complete a foolproof Network, using an old, unremoved technology. Scarface makes it look like a gang war is brewing over the drugs, giving Detective Riley probable cause to investigate and free Ben. Shaw runs interference for him with a sniper’s rifle, still wearing her little black dress. The Number is saved: the Hassans wwill move onwards. It’s a subtle marker that the times have changed, alongside all the blatant ones: Finch cannot organise a new identity and funding for them, they will have to do that for themselves.

So, Team Machine can still operate effectively, under their changed circumstances, though the fact they have operated at all puts them t risk: Martine Rousseau is already on the scene…

But there has been  major advance already. Finch has acquired a Network that can enable them to talk freely. Riley’s got a promotion to the Homicide Task Force at the eighth. He’s going to be partnering Detective Fusco. There’s a delicate moment as he pauses before taking is assigned desk, the one that used to be used by Detective Carter. Shaw gets linked up with a small team of crooks, for whom she becomes their wheelman keeping her from going stir crazy. And Root points out a message from the Machine to Harold that he didn’t even know had been sent. it leads him to a book about old, underground tunnels, one of which he and Bear locate what he sees is… reserved for next week.

So, we’re back in business. The world has changed, and so have our eroes response to it. Five people against the world. Crazy, melodramatic, comic book pulp stuff. But this season is going to show that Archimedes was right: give them a sufficiently long lever and a reliable place to stand and five people can move the world.

Just don’t expect it to be easy.

Person of Interest: s03 e23 – Deus Ex Machina

Court in session

It isn’t ever going to be the same again, but how many times have I said that already this season? Joss Carter’s death wasn’t all that long ago, and its aftermath extended, but do we even remember her now, as things have shifted, both violently and inexorably, over the last third of the season. Where would she fit into our rapidly dying little world? What role might she play?

Deus Ex Machina. The God in the Machine. What, might we suppose, will the Machine do as Vigilance and Peter Collier play Trial-and-Execution with her creator?

Be very careful. This is a story of defeat, of almost total defeat, and the destruction of everything Person of Interest has been to date. It is the story of quite complex plotting, stretching back over years, to create the very circumstances that start this episode, when Peter Collier – a fanatic whose fanaticism is brought out brilliantly by Leslie Odom Jr, whose whole body glows with the self-righteousness of those who know – puts the enemies of the world on trial. Presidential aide Manuel Rivera, Senator Ross Garrison, Control, John Greer… and Harld Finch.

Their trial, the debates, the anger in Collier’s inability to see any other point of view and his insistence that his brother’s case is the entirety of the system instead of a potential outlier, these are the stuff of the episode. And the ‘defendants’ responses: Rivera’s furious and shouting challenge to Vigilance’s ‘power’ to do this that gets him summarily executed, proving Mao Zedong’s maxim that power grows from the barrel of a gun, Garrison’s political weaseling and throwing Control under a bus, her calm non-answers in the knowledge she will be killed.

All of this is more asorbing that the outer elements of the plot, the almost mundane strands. Reese and Hersh form an unlikely but oddly effective partnership, going to Finch’s rescue, whilst Shaw takes off to cover Root’s back as she plugs her seven servers into Samaritan.

And Harold, unable to see anyone being killed if there is a way he can save them. Finch gives away the most important secret of them all, that he designed and built the Machine, as a quid pro quo for Vigilance letting the other three live. Of course he’s wasted his breath, of course Collier will still kill everyone. he doesn’t even listen to Finch explain everything. He has erected the straw figure in his mind and no amount of testimony, or honesty or evidence to the contrary will serve to deflect him from that one true image in his mind, that vital truth that only he sees, knows and understands.

hersh and Reese are on the way, but it’s planned out. It has been from before Peter Collier’s brother was picked up for something we cannot be certain he didn’t do. Many things can be made to look what they are not, especially for those who are looking for what they want to see.

Decima find Vigilance’s ‘court’ first because they’s always known where it is. Hersh finds a mega bomb in the basement and tries, bravely, instinctively and unavailingly, to defuse it. The bomb, and the loss of collateral life, is Vigilance’s swansong. It, and everything, has been Greer’s plan: establishing Vigilance as a useful devil, grooming Collier, setting them up as fall guys, all to tip the balance. The bomb goes off, Garrison authorises Samaritan, which will go live within the hour. Collier is shot and killed, Finch would be but for the intervention of Reese.

But the defeat is overwhelming. Everythng is gone. Root’s servers weren’t meant to shut Samaritan down, they couldn’t. Instead, they create seven blind spots – herself, Shaw, Reese, Finch and the three computer nerds. When Samaritan comes looking for them, and that’s the first thing Greer will have it do, it will have seven blind spots.

So Team Machine will live but that’s all they can do.Seven new identities, prepared by Root, seven separated lives. The Library lost, smashed by Decima. Everything lost. Going different ways. No more numbers, no more missions, just  living under the most wide-ranging radar there has ever been.

What will they do? What can they do?

It’s time for season 4.

Person of Interest: s03 e22 – A House Divided

Penultimate episodes are a pure pain on Person of Interest: I just want to crash straight through to the last episode. But when you’re doing a weekly blog, simulating the effect of watching the series in real time, that sort of thing is forbidden.

This is incomplete, this is so incomplete. It’s like climbing a mountain in the daylight and reaching the summit as night falls and you cannot see the way down. There are many ways down but until you set foot on one – until you discover if there is one on which you can set your foot – you cannot know what your climb has been.

There were four big pieces to this incomplete puzzle. Piece one was what turned Peter Brandt, who knows calls himself Peter Collier, into the leader of Vigilance. Piece one was flashbacks to four years before, 2010, to the sudden and inexplicable arrest of Brandt’s older brother Jesse, a terrorist subject identified by, we assume, The Machine. Held without charge or trial, Jesse kills himself (or does he?) but his ‘terrorist’ contact is a man he sponsored through AA (or is he?) Peter Brandt saw his brother destroyed by the Government, Someone offered him answers. Four years later he’s on the cusp of Vigilance’s greatest coup.

Piece two was Harold Finch and John Greer, the one the prisoner of the other. Finch and Greer debate philosophies with increasing confidence, but unavailingly. When Samaritan wakes up, creating that ideal world of just Governance that doesn’t sleep with its secretary or fiddle its expenses (is Greer serious about this eyewash? he’s on more believable grunds when he talks abut power), Harold Finch will be killed.

Pieces three and four got mixed up with each other by both containing Root. Three returning characters, Numbers previously rescued (Daniel Casey, Jason Greenfield and Daizo from ‘RAM’, ‘Mors Praematura’ and ‘Root Path’ respectively), have been assembled by Root to do things with the Samaritan servers she stole that will slow it down.

Meanwhile, Root pulls Reese and Shaw away from hunting for Finch to deal with a set of five new numbers. Three of these turn out to be Control, Senator Garrison, Manuel Rivera (the President’s bulldog) who are meeting to try to sell the President on renting Samaritan from Decima. A fourth is a Vigilance agent with a machine gun in a coffee shop whose actual relevance to the plot gets lost in passing.

What also isn’t explained is how Vigilance knows of two things: Control’s meeting (which ends in she and Rivera being taken by Decima, despite Shaw’s unwilling attempt to stop them), and where Greer is holding Finch: they’re taken too.

Meanwhile, there’s a stand-off between Reese and Shaw on one side and Hersh on the other, resulting in their decision to work together. But they’re all too late. Piece three ends with Root planning to enter where Samaritan is housed with the servers and a marginal chance of surviving. Piece four ends with the beginning, Peter Collier as Prosecutor, Vigilance as judged, putting the United States government on trial, live on the internet. We know that utcome already: Guilty and Execution. Five defendants: Control, Rivera, Garrison, Greer… and Harold Finch.

Seven days can’t pass fast enough.

Person of Interest: s03 e21 – Beta

There are defeats and there are defeats, and more of them as this pivotal season closes in on its end, but this is one of the hardest of them to take. Finch has gone missing since refusing to condone killing to save the Team. Reese and Shaw, unable to find him, are continuing to deal with Numbers.Samaritan has gone live for its Beta Test: 24 hours of feeds in New York. It’s public objective, for Senator Garrison, is to find a terrorist, just as efficiently as Northern Lights did.

It’s real task, for John Greer, is to find Harold Finch.

That’s going to be impossible with Samaritan in its infancy. Fincvh has gone inside a black hole and drawn the entrance inside after him. Root can intervene with Reese and Shaw to alert them to Decima execution teams waiting to ambush them, but she can’t find Finch. Very well then; if Finch himself is invisible, let us search for the next best thing: someone close to him, someone who matters to him. Straightway, we know who that is. Grace Hendricks.

The action in the episode is in trying to keep Grace from being kidnapped, but that proves beyond the headless Team Machine. Greer has grace but he doesn’t know what he’s got. He can produce a record of every little piece of her life but he can’t find out why she has been identified to him by Samaritan until, almost at loss, she mentions having once been in love, with a man who is now dead, but whose body was never found. And Greer has it. He has the late Harold Martin and he knowswho he is.

There’s a moment of irony. Grace tells Greer what Harold meant to her, and angrily denies that he ever lied to her. It is a moving, passionate moment, as she talks of living with an alcoholic father, becoming attuned to detecting lies, growing up mistrusting everyone about her, except Harold. It’s defiance and defence in one, but it’s also unknwing denial because we know Harold did indeed lie to her, about everything but one thing, the thing that mattered.

Greer has his lever and demands a meeting, 7.00am on the Jefferson Bridge, a trade-off. Finch reappears, on Grace’s doorstep, having finally realised her danger but far too late. There is only one course: we will surrender himself. All that matters is Grace. She will be saved. Reese and Shaw and Root and Fusco will not fight. He would be obliged if they could avoid violence if at all possible.

And Finch has his own way of saying how much he is in love with Grace. If she is hurt, if they harm her in any way, they are to kill them all.

So the handover proceeds. Grace is blindfolded so as not to see Finch. As they pass, she stumbles and he catches her arm to steady her. She thanks him. He says nothing. All is arranged. A job in Italy that she had been invited to apply for is hers, under a new name. A new life, a new start, get out and don’t come back. She asks Reese if he knew Harold: he tells her that all he knows is that she loved him, and he loved her.

The Beta test is over. It’s nearly a foregone conclusion that Garrison will ensure Samaritan is hired. Finch is a captive, Greer has waited a long time to meet him. But Root has stolen seven state-of-the-art super-conductors from Decima, imtended for Samaritan, diverted by her. It’s not over yet. It’s not over, yet…

Person of Interest: s03 e20 – Death Benefit

From this meeting the world will change…

For me, part of this episode was clumsily handled, creating a disconnect between the first and second halves. This was clearly intentional, to create the effect of a sudden plunge into deep waters that has a fundamental bearing upon what is rapidly approaching, but the part where everything was placed on a light-hearted footing seemed artificially light-headed, and crumbly to the touch.

Where are we? Finch is still in Washington, investigating Vigilance. Reese and Shaw are in New York, taking out a drugs deal with their inimitable professionalism and dry wit. It’s like a holiday. Suddenly, Root appears out of nowhere and spirits Shaw off to Alaska to steal a plane, and Reese is summoned to Washington.

There is a new Number there, only he’s a US Congressman, Roger McCourt, a gladhander, a fixer, a deal-breaker without an enemy in the world because he gets people what they want. Another example of how the episode operates: in order to get close to McCourt, by impersonating a Secret Serviceman, Reese fires shots ‘at’ McCourt in broad daylight, on a public street before driving off.

This is how it’s being played, loose and freewheeling. We cut to Root and Shaw not in Alaska but Miami, sipping Mai Tais in a sunlit bar, having flown the jet here to break up (and beat up) a militia group. Root leaves for St Louis, telling Shaw she’ll be told what to do next.

The episode sets up a misdirection. Northern Lights has been shut down. Greer meets Senator Garrison to offer to replace it with Samaritan. Garrison is unpersuaded: politically the time is bad, there are too many dissenting voices. Greer promises him such vices will be dealt wuth. As McCourt, a voluably profound opponent of Government surveiilance, is Chairman of the House Rules Committee with power of life or death over proposed legislation, the threat is clear.

So: Reese poses as Secret Seviceman Jeffrey Abbott, assigned to McCourt. He sees the Congressman operate, down to his affair with his PA, reacts to potential danger that is nothing of the sort. Until he’s outed as an imposter and shots are fired by Decima agents. ironically, he’s reacting to a phantom danger again, because we will learn that Decima’s goons are there to protect McCourt, although by then he’ll have kidnapped the Congressman, roped in Finch, had Shaw turn up out of nowhere, deus ex machina dressed in sexy black, and rushing from safe house to safe house.

But the moment they realise that Decima is protecting McCourt is the moment we are dropped down the well into the cold cold water, for which contrast this rather forced, herky-jerky set-up has been styled.

Because this time it’s Reese who gets it right. There is a threat to McCourt, coming from an angle Team Machine has never had to deal with before. Only it’s them. McCourt’s in bed with Decima to smooth their path towards legislative acceptance of Samaritan. Despite Finch’s desperate pleas he won’t shift. If someone were to kill him, as Reese and Shaw made a career out of doing with Relevant Numbers, Samaritan’s progress will be stopped in its tracks. Finch protests, things have changed, drastically, they are in uncharted waters, but they have always had one aim,one goal: to save lives. Save, not take.

Reese argues the pragmatic point the sacrifice of one life to save countless others, people who will be ruined destroyed, killed if Samaritan an open system with none of the boundaries built into the Machine, goes live. To him, it’s clear cut. Shaw is only slightly ambivalent. To Finch it’s also clear cut, he cannot go there, he cannot become a murderer.

We are staring into the abyss here, asking ourselves the same moral question: could I kill someone to save lives? Near and dear lives under present threat, yes. Lives in the abstract, unknown, as yet unguessable? Can we do that?

Finch can’t. Reese can. He approaches McCourt with a gun fitted with a silencer.

The law enfrcement forces pour in, find McCourt slumped. Reese, Finch and Shaw are pursued through the woods. Shaw is wounded in the leg. They get away, walk through Washinton streets. Finch stares at one of the cameras the Machine uses. When Reese and Shaw turn round, he’s gone.

Meeanwhile, Garrison meets Greer again, the latter even more forceful. Garrison is sill doubtful not even willing to allow Samaritan a test run: New York, access to the Government’s feeds for 24 hours only, Greer will bring back a terrorist. Garrison takes a call. It’s McCourt, clearing the way for fast legislation. They didn’t kill him, despite the set up, another misdirection. Why didn’t they? Not kiling McCourt creates everything that happens in seasons 4 and 5.

But Finch is still gone. The execution didn’t take place but he’s accepted internally that that was the Machine’s intention and he needs to think. Where is he? The episode ends with Samaritan being switched on for the first time. It is set a task, to find someone. That someone is, of course, Harold Finch. How appropriate…

Person of Interest: s03 e19 – Most Likely To…

Betty and Frank

It’s off the top of my head, I know, but I’m struggling to think of another episode of Person of Interest, or any series for that matter, that so successfully navigates the transition from genuinely comic dislocation to the sudden and most serious of wide-ranging danger, to end with a step off a diving board into waters cold and bleak, whose depth is unguessable.

And in addition to that, portraying these various moods and modes with an equal level of attention and as an organic, integrated package.

‘Most Likely To…’ began in deliberately standard operating mode, Reese and Shaw staking out the Number of the Week, Leona Wainwright, Personnel Secretary, in Town to see a musical (Mamma Mia). Who, What, Why, When and Where, the usual quinella, except that Leona is attacked in a taxicab which is blown up in front of everybody’s eyes. This is not standard operating mode: Team Machine has lost a Number.

This leads directly to a split in forces. A new Number is already in, Federal Prosecutor Matthew Read (Nestor Carbonel) attending something in Westchester that, to the vast dismay of Reese and (especially) Shaw turns out to be a 20 year High School Reunion. Shaw is convinced they’re being punished, and for once you’ve got to take that seriously.

Meanwhile, Finch and Fusco are off to Washington to investigate what information Leona Wainwright had that would make her a target for… yes, you guessed it, Vigilance.

So we have competing storylines, one deadly serious except for Fusco’s constant caustic commentary. He and Finch find the FBI ahead of them, removing every document from the office, and have to break into the FBI Evidence Locker to find it. Given that Miss Wainwright (she did not strike you, in her brief appearance, as one who would be married, with two children and a white picket fence, and certainly not an active sex-life) dealt with security clearances, her records would include the name of every security operative the US has.

Be warned, though. This is a red herring.

Whilst this is going on, ‘Frank Mercer’ and ‘Betty Wright’ find themselves plunged without warning into the company of total strangers who they are supposed to know from twenty years before, who know and remember them from that time, and about whom they haven’t a clue. Shy, braces-wearing, overweight, frizzy-haired ‘Betty’ attracts a lot of attention, as anyone would if they’d turned from that into Sarah Shahi. ‘Frank’ also atracts attention, from stoner Toke, an old buddy who’s thankfully out of it, but also from a succession of attractive women – brunette, blonde, redhead, so wonderfully colour-coded – each of whom walk up to him and slap him across the face.

But amidst this wonderfully silly stuff there’s a serious issue. Twenty years ago, a girl named Clair died of an overdose. She was Matthew Reed’s girlfriend, and everybody blamed him for it, and someone has a lot of stunts rigged to thrust her in front of everyone, to shame, embarrass, humiliate Matthew.

Except, as things modulate from light to darkness, he’s set it all up himself. He’d never been back for any previous Reunion. He’d spent twenty years blaming himself for driving Clair to suicide over his flirting with someone else, until he started looking at the case and thinking like a Prosecutor, not a boyfriend. And identified class nerd Dougie, Clair’s shoulder-to-cry-on, the one who would be a lover but had been irreversibly friend-zoned.

And Matthew’s set Dougie up to commit suicide out of remorse for what he did to Clair, drugging her up to make her more… relaxed. As in inert and unable to resist the rape that would have followed if Dougie hadn’t overdosed her.

Sands shift, the Number is a would-be perpetrator who couldn’t go through with it anyway. But without realising it, we are on a diving board as walking towards its end.

Because the High School erupts with overkill shooting in an attempt to kill Reese and Shaw. They’re not the only imposters there, as Vigilance have a man there, their whereabouts leaked by Root to draw Vigilance out into the open.

Unfortunately they’re in the open in Washington as well, and this time it’s Peter Collier himself, invading the evidence locker, confronting Finch, who’s just gotten Leona’s safe open stealing the folder. Collier’s going to take Finch as well, except that Root shows up, two guns blazing.

But Collier gets away with the folder.

And then we’re off the diving board and into the cold, dark water. Because Vigilance disseminates the folder world-wide. And the world learns that massive sums of money have secretly gone into something called Northern Lights, a massive surveillance system…

And Senator Ross H. Garrison (the ever-excellent John Doman), denying everything furiously, orders Control to shut the programme down. Shut the Machine down. And against her judgement… she does.

But the Machine shifts itself to commence Tertiary Operations.

What is it all about? Even without the benefit of hindsight and foreknowledge, it’s not difficult to see where this is leading. The Government has lost its greatest weapon in the fight against terrorism. It is blind and naked in the dark, privacy restored: Vigilance’s aim.

And there is a void. A space vacated by an Artificial Intelligence. Is there another AI, ready and waiting? Boys and girls, can you spell S-A-M-A-R-I-T-A-N?

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.