If you thought that you had Shoot feels from “If-Then-Else“, then allow me to introduce you to its meaner younger cousin “6,741“. Due to how many thoughts I have on this episode, this particular write-up is going to be more review than recap.
Beginning with an ominous heartbeat sound and a brown eye shooting open, you can probably guess who this episode is about: none other than our beloved Persian sociopath, Sameen Shaw. Out of all of the episode synopsis’ I’ve read over the months, this was the episode I had been most looking forward to.
While Shaw is being tortured by Samaritan operatives, a slightly more disoriented version of her theme plays and a small chip is gruesomely inserted into the side of her neck. As that happens, the terrible twosome, Greer and Lambert compare Shaw to a dog and mention how she killed six of Lambert’s men in the last nine months. Phasing out to Samaritan’s POV, she is labeled a ‘potential asset’. Moving onto “phase two”, as Greer calls it, Shaw begins to get brainwashed by an extra creepy operative.
The images used in the brainwashing sequence are particularly important. Some of what I found was: a woman shown from the side wearing a hoodie blowing smoke (possibly Shaw herself?), sunsets, scenes from what appear to be from her childhood including a roundabout, and Team Machine. These images are spliced up and used during nearly all of her subsequent breakdowns in the episode. Major props to the team for the excellent visual effects and dizzying ambiance they used.
After the brainwashing, an unresponsive Shaw is interrogated by Lambert. From this one-sided exchange, we learn that he knows that they have decompressed The Machine and are hiding it. Shaw stays silent, even when he brings up a childhood memory of her puking from spinning on the roundabout, which made her angry and how she did it from sunset to sundown. This links back to what she told Gen way back in “Razgovor” regarding how she claims to only really feel anger and nothing else. Lambert tries further getting a rise out of her by showing her photos of people she knew, including Team Machine. In delightful, quintessential Shaw fashion, she dryly asks him if he came up with the game by himself or if it [Samaritan] told him to bore her to death. She then proceeds to quietly threaten him, promising that the first thing she’s going to do once she gets out of the straps is make him bleed. This threat is issued with a smile on her face, obviously. Clearly, the chip didn’t work so Greer asks Samaritan what to do next. Samaritan tells him to put a new chip in her.
The next scene shows Shaw sitting on a chair opposite a mirror, staring at her battered reflection. She touches the place on her neck where the chip was installed and something takes over, causing her to smash the mirror with the chair and then attack operatives while growling like an animal. Shaw is soon sedated, but not for long because once she’s awake, she attacks the operative who sedated her, shoots Lambert with the operative’s gun, drags him in with her, and then shoots the camera. Not finished yet, she forces him to swallow benzodiazepine (a psychoactive drug) and tapes his mouth shut. Once out of the elevator, she shoots several operatives and epically, she escapes, stealing a boat in the process.
When she’s in the back of a cab, it’s clear that there’s something not right and she’s experiencing elevated levels of paranoia. She leaves the cab, goes to a pharmacy and before stealing some supplies, she cuts out the camera feeds. In the bathroom, she begins pulling out her stitches, only to have a breakdown. With blood on her hands, she makes a call at the pharmacy, threatening to kill the young man working there, Bobby Jackson (whom she not-so affectionately nicknames “Milhouse”). Obviously the call was done to attract the attention of Team Machine, which worked because almost as soon as a now unarmed Shaw was cornered by an operative, Root showed up and saved the day. The look on Root’s face when she sees Shaw for the first time in nine months is haunting; worried, relieved, and shocked all at once. Every single facial expression that Amy and Sarah pull in this episode proves their calibre as actresses. Before this episode, I would always say that Sarah’s best acting was as Dani Reese in Life―I take that back.
Perhaps the best thing about “6,741” isn’t necessarily what’s shown on screen, but rather what everything represents. The episode is possibly best described as like a poem: you can take it at face value and enjoy it enough, but once you peel back the layers, you begin to understand just how pertinent and meaningful it is. For instance, Shaw didn’t just picture her and Root having sex 6,741 times; she committed suicide for Root 6,471 times. You’ll recall how in “If-Then-Else” Shaw told a man to die for something he loves, she certainly took her own advice. Root and Shaw have been my ultimate ‘ship for a long time now, but this episode has outright spoiled other pairings for me. The fact that Shaw was willing to kill Reese (and likely Finch later, too) and even herself instead of Root speaks volumes about how she loves her more than life itself.
I can’t talk about this episode and my love for Shoot without mentioning the infamous love making scene. Personally, I thought that it was executed brilliantly with how it was the perfect blend of comedy and rawness. The somewhat unfitting music and smashing of plates and glasses represented to me how much of their relationship is built on two unlikely, explosive women who aren’t afraid to tease each other. Then you have the brilliant wrestling of dominance, which in my opinion didn’t represent much other than their bedroom preference. I have always seen Shoot as a relationship that is very much built on an equilibrium with how both can take care of themselves, are highly skilled, and never try to dominate the other. The scene, though undoubtedly steamy was also subtly awkward, which again, I think is completely fitting for the two (Root herself is an interesting contradiction of gracefulness and awkwardness all at once and Shaw, though someone who carries herself well can be awkward with her lack of tact). It’s also important to note that this is the first and at the time of this post, only sex scene on Person of Interest.
In many ways, the episode is highly overwhelming. I had a feeling throughout it that things weren’t as they seemed due to how Shaw escaped a bit too smoothly and how Finch and Reese seemed particularly sterile. What the simulation allowed us to explore, though, was Shaw’s rich, internal world. She’s generally fairly quiet and prefers to speak through her actions and although there are plenty of actions in the episode, we get more of a feel for her interpretation of the others:
- When it comes to Root, Shaw viewed her in a way that proves that she knows Root better than she even knows herself. Everything that Root did was completely true to her character. Shaw clearly likes her pet names (considering that Root called her “sweetie”, “baby”, and her “beautiful girl”). Interestingly, we saw Root’s place or at least, Shaw’s interpretation of what Root’s place would be, for the first time. I always wondered where Root actually lived or if she just motel/hotel surfed. Considering that everything else Shaw perceived about Root was accurate, I’d say that it’s probably an accurate assessment of her residence.
- With Finch, Shaw is still uncertain about him. She accused him of having not looked for her and he admitted that he thought she was dead and was sorry. Although that was definitely in character for him, he still behaved somewhat sterile and I don’t think that’s completely true to him. Finch is highly logical, but isn’t callous by any means and desperately tries to do the right thing. I have felt particularly bad for him this season because in almost every episode, he has apologised.
- Reese seemed the most out of character to me. He was borderline robotic and though he likely would have his reservations about what side Shaw’s on, I’m not sure he’d be quite so frosty, especially to Root. Over time, Root and Reese have developed a fairly decent rapport. Reese has generally sided with Root in looking for Shaw too and him and Shaw have a sibling-like relationship going on (hence why they’re referred to as “The Mayhem Twins”). In the simulation, Shaw perceived him as someone who doesn’t trust her and is out to get her. The Reese/Shaw dynamic is one I’ve always appreciated because while they’re cut from similar cloth and are viewed in similar ways by The Machine, they’re still engaging, unique characters in their own right.Many of the feelings I mentioned above link back to earlier in the series where Finch was still extremely cautious of Shaw’s volatile behaviour. Perhaps Shaw still thinks that Finch sees her that way, even though she has evolved into someone who doesn’t just do it for the mission, but actually helps out of a genuine desire to. The desire was always present considering that Shaw tried to train to be a doctor and served as a Marine, both of which are highly benevolant jobs. She claimed that she joined the Marines because she was better at killing people than fixing them, but I think it was something deeper than that; a pure desire to serve and protect.
So far, “6,741” has been my favourite episode of the entire series, beating the seminal “If-Then-Else“. My mind is still blown, even though I watched the episode over 24 hours ago. Since watching, I have done nothing but mull it over in my mind and appreciate just how much work really goes into this series thanks to the involvement of a stellar team of actors and crew. Now I’m really looking forward to Root and Shaw’s real reunion and how Shaw will fit in with the team again. I found it extremely satisfying seeing Shaw shoot Greer and I would love nothing more than to see it happen for real. But as this is Person of Interest, I never expect anything more than a quality 40-something minutes of television.
Side note: if you’re confused about the numbering of this piece, it was the 7th episode shot, but the 4th episode aired.