All posts by Ms Buffy Buff (Cassandra)

I am a writer, fangirl extraordinaire, and even an occasional sesquipedalian. Find my writing on Geeky Voyage and Ms Buffy Buff.

**SPOILERS** Person of Interest “A More Perfect Union” Recap and Review

Not dissimilar to “6,741“, “A More Perfect Union” starts with Shaw still in Greer’s custody, though the number of simulations have now climbed to 7,530―7,530 times that Shaw killed the others and herself instead of Root.

Unusually, the number Finch receives actually belongs to a marriage license so there’s even more educated guesswork than usual regarding who the victim/perpetrator is. As entertaining as watching Finch, Reese, and then Root crash a wedding was, the most important parts of this episode were Shaw’s scenes with Greer. You can almost begin to see things from the Samaritan side when Greer points out the egregious actions of criminals only seeking to make a profit from human suffering.

My number one reason for being such a huge Person of Interest fan is because of its portrayal of morality. I can see things from each character’s point of view and the antagonists often raise good points about not just other characters, but about relevant, real-world events.

Though “A More Perfect Union” was definitely one of the more light-hearted episodes of the season, things are still a long way from being plain sailing for our team. When Reese, Finch, and Root all sit at their table together and watch the happy couples dance, you can see how their faces bemoan; quite obviously because they can’t be with their lovers. It’s subtle, but brilliantly pertinent.

The episode also re-introduces the mob element picking up from “ShotSeeker” with Moran growing ever-suspicious of just what exactly is going on. His suspicions naturally go hand-in-hand with Fusco’s near identical viewpoint, which I thought could possibly mean an unlikely alliance on the horizon.

Creepy Samaritan kid makes a return too, telling Shaw that there is no other way [other than joining Samaritan] and he even brings up how Root is what she considers pretty. As it transpires, all of the scenes of Shaw outside of the Samaritan facility were all simulations.

Another important scene in the episode is where Fusco and Bear investigate the tunnel set for demolition. Inside, Fusco discovers the corpses of the missing persons, including Krupa and Moran. Just as he decides to leave, the demolition begins, trapping him and Bear inside. It’s quite the cliffhanger to end the episode on, but as I’ve already seen them both in upcoming promos (both a blessing and a curse), I already know that they’ll make it out alive.

I enjoyed every minute of the episode and it was great to see Fusco play another important role. His banter with Root at the precinct was a massive highlight for me as up until then, they hadn’t shared a scene together this season. As I was discussing with a friend recently, I’ve always thought that Fusco is a highly underrated character and I love how this season has elevated his importance. The scenes with Fusco and Shaw did feel disjointed, but as with everything in this show, the scenes are small pieces of a large puzzle waiting to be completed.

**SPOILERS** Person of Interest “ShotSeeker” Recap and Review

Opening with Reese trying to track down the latest number at the Real Time Crime Center, “ShotSeeker” could almost be mistaken for a number of the week episode. Except that there’s a twist; the number, Ethan Garvin, is an NYPD analyst for a system called ShotSeeker―which, if you didn’t know is actually modeled after ShotSpotter, a real system.

While out watching his son’s hockey match, Fusco gets confronted by an old friend of Carl Elias, Bruce Moran. Moran is looking to investigate Elias’ death, unsatisfied with the police reports. He threatens Fusco’s son – something that spurs Fusco even further to find out exactly what everyone’s been keeping from him later on in the episode.

At the subway, Finch has a laptop locked away in a Faraday cage. Root accuses him of locking her out of The Machine because of her copying the Samaritan malware (back in “Truth Be Told“) but Finch insists that it’s more akin to locking Samaritan in. Finch used a code from the laptop to incubate a mini version of the ASI and did the same thing to The Machine, which allows them to engage with one another in a series of controlled simulations. The purpose of this is so that The Machine can probe Samaritan for weaknesses.

As Reese investigates Garvin, he sees him harassing people in the apartment, looking for a woman named Krupa. After he goes into her apartment and shoots, Reese steps in and Garvin explains how he heard three gunshots from her apartment and believes she has been killed. It is then revealed that the president of Feed The Globe, a program to end world hunger, filed a missing person’s report on her.

Fusco goes and confronts Reese about Moran, expressing how angry he is about being left in the dark now that his son has been brought into it. In typical Reese style, he tells Fusco he’ll deal with it later and leaves Fusco to sort out the situation with Garvin.

Most of the episode leads you to believe that J.D. Carrick, CEO of Harvesta is the one who had Krupa killed. The evidence seems almost insurmountable, but as we all know, nothing is ever as it truly seems. Root and Finch eventually crack it and discover that Samaritan was behind it all along. What Root said about how Samaritan could have done it to assume control of the global food supply particularly stood out to me and my curiosity is stronger than ever as to how far exactly Samaritan is going to go. Once again, we see just how far her character has developed when she says that they can save a life instead of doing what Samaritan wants. At heart, Root is always going to be a cynical misanthrope, but she certainly isn’t the seemingly cold-blooded assassin she was introduced way back in season 1 as.

The key points of this episode aren’t so much to do with the number (though the addition of ShotSeeker was certainly interesting), but rather more about The Machine VS Samaritan and the return of Elias. Although The Machine monumentally got its proverbial ass kicked, this doesn’t necessarily spell doom and gloom. The Machine has just been rebuilt from ashes and has much to learn, but even the Machine we saw before for 4 seasons was constantly evolving and learning. Samaritan might seem like the victor at the moment, but The Machine just hasn’t found the right scenario. Fusco’s suspicions are stronger than ever and while he’s investigating Krupa’s file at the precinct, Samaritan labels him as a ‘potential obstructionist’ which means that it’s more than likely he will land himself into a serious amount of trouble. As he is so used to his reality and rather stuck in his ways as we saw in season 3’s “Provenance“, I’ve always had doubts about whether or not he would even believe the others about The Machine and Samaritan. However, my opinion has changed after seeing his determination in this season to get to the bottom of the decrease in murders but rise of suicides and missing persons. I truly think that if he does find out (which seems increasingly imminent) he will simply just brush it off as how it explains a lot. I also particularly liked seeing the familial aspect of the relationships come into play again in this episode; Fusco was a lot less snarky with Reese, the mob for obvious reasons, and Root’s genuine concern for Reese was a surprising twist.

I, like many fans was delighted to see the return of Elias. The mob aspect of the series has always been particularly engaging and seeing how deeply Samaritan has affected them was, although unsurprising, certainly an exchange I enjoyed watching between Elias and Moran. I’m positive that this isn’t the last of Elias and I would love to see him work with Team Machine in the battle against Samaritan.


**SPOILERS** Person of Interest 5.07 “6,741” Recap and Review

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.

**SPOILERS** Person of Interest 5.03 “Truth Be Told” Recap and Review

Departing from the highly serialised “B.S.O.D.” and “SNAFU“, “Truth Be Told” harks back to the more procedural days of Person of Interest and is a Reese-centric episode.

The thing that immediately struck me was the new opening with narratives from Finch and Greer. This isn’t the first time such a method has been used (“Root Path“), but it’s still quite an interesting change. The Person of Interest Wikia has it transcribed with Greer’s dialogue in bold:

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a system you asked for, to keep you safe. A machine that spies on you every hour of every day.You’ve granted it the power to see everything, to index, order and control the lives of ordinary people. The government considers these people irrelevant. We don’t. But to it, you are all irrelevant. Victim or perpetrator, if you stand in it’s way we’ll find you.”

Aside from being glitchy as hell, the graphics are similar to that of season four’s but slightly upgraded. All of the shots of the characters are the same and it is still seen from Samaritan’s point of view, identifying them as “primary threats“. The intros have always been something I have greatly admired from an aesthetic point of view and this doesn’t disappoint. Props to the sound team for distorting the music too and giving it a creepy cyber effect.

After the intro, the episode flashbacks to 2010 with Reese and Stanton at the CIA, tasked with a mission from their boss, Terence Beale, to go to Afghanistan to investigate a guy who was suspected of making dealings with the Taliban.

Jumping to 2015, Iris is waiting for Reese to show up for their impromptu date at a pirate themed place. He’s busy on a mission while she tries phoning him, duh. Eventually, he casually answers and not long after, he meets with her and her parents.

A nice and casual conversation takes place between Finch and Reese regarding the date. Reese figures that most of The Machine (or as he calls it, “The Machine 2.0.”) bugs seem to have been sorted out. On the other hand, Finch claims that while The Machine is being reliable with its delivery of numbers, it’s still being frequently unreliable with the processing and delivery of other information. He then shows Reese a sheet of binary code from The Machine which he writes off as an error. Finch gives Reese the number: Alex Duncan, who works in security systems management.

Dressed as a mail courier, Root joins Finch and comments that not all of her identities can be bears or brides―great references to season four.

Undercover, Reese meets with Duncan and keeps eyes on him, only to see that Beale has found Duncan and is taking him for investigation.

In another flashback to 2010, we see Reese and Stanton undercover on the CIA mission in Afghanistan, meeting with the suspect and beginning their investigation.

Back in 2015 and it is completely apparent that Reese’s shadowy past has now caught up with him. He is left with a serious risk of blowing his cover and needs to tread extremely carefully.

At the delivery depot, Root calls Finch about the mysterious tracked packages from electronic companies and she suspects that Samaritan is behind it. I have a feeling that this will likely link into future episodes; nothing in Person of Interest is random, after all. In true Root fashion, she delivered a beautifully sarcastic smile and a shake of her head to another delivery guy checking her out. Bless.

While Reese tries to rescue Duncan, a large shootout follows. As they get away, Beale recognises Reese. Ruh-roh.

Another short 2010 flashback following where the last one left off and the suspect maintains his innocence.

In 2015, with Reese and Duncan, the latter claims he wasn’t looking for state secrets, but rather for information on his deceased brother, Paul.

Finch comes to assist Root, where he notices a body on the floor in the van, asking her if he’s dead. Not dead, but unconscious; Root had knocked him out as he kept making unwanted advances on her. Her and Finch work on finding the malware from Samaritan and Finch quickly manages to copy the code. Once he has left and the sleazy guy wakes up, Root sweetly asks if he’s okay and what happened. My precious, psychopathic cinnamon roll is at it again, y’all.

In an exchange between Reese and Duncan, Reese lies about not having any siblings (you may have noticed how in “SNAFU“, The Machine showed he has a sister, Sophie). Duncan confides in Reese, telling him about how Paul had pretty much raised him because their dad was busy in the army. Reese establishes a semi-heartfelt connection when he says how his was, too. Duncan explains how Paul died in service but they wouldn’t say how other than heroically and that it was  all classified. Later, Duncan found out he wasn’t much of a hero and was under investigation for treason.

Excellently, Reese then puts the pieces together and remembers that Paul was the guy who him and Stanton investigated. A flashback immediately follows, showing Reese shooting Paul dead.

In Times Square, Finch then hacks the CIA database, attracting Beale’s attention in a rather epic way. Obviously he leaves without leaving even a single trace.

At the subway, Root and Finch discuss how Samaritan’s malware is also a form of spyware: it connects its host to Samaritan and then once active it attempts to access all the files in that infected device and send all of that information to Samaritan. As if that’s not worrying enough, Finch says that it actually has more advanced functions that he hasn’t yet been able to decipher. Root tells Finch she was able to solve the binary that The Machine had sent him, which turns out to be a poem by Emily Dickinson about change and metamorphosis. For those who are interested in reading a brilliant breakdown of the poem, read this as it helps add even more context.

Reese realises that the CIA operation, known as “Desert Rain” was being conducted off the books and without congressional approval. Therefore, when Duncan looked up Paul’s records, the CIA assumed he was trying to dig up information about the operation. The CIA turn up again and Reese gets knocked out by Beale and taken into a car.

In the car, Reese lies to Duncan and says that they questioned Paul and left because he was innocent―Beale also confirms this.

Back to Reese and Finch and Root says she got fired for safety violations. Without Finch’s knowledge, she ran the malware on an isolated system as she interpreted the poem as The Machine wanting them to let the malware run its course; a change. Through doing this, Root discovered that the malware is replicating itself and overriding the laptop’s existing code, working towards something. As you’d expect, Finch isn’t thrilled at this. Root shuts him down by insisting that taking risks is important to (in this order) find Shaw and stop Samaritan, because they have already lost.

Beale finds Reese (who already made him three blocks back) out and about. Smoothly, Reese threatens him that if anything happens to Duncan, he and his associates will make the Desert Rain operation details go public. They develop a quasi rapport, ending with Beale ensuring him that the CIA will still think that John Reese is dead.

In the final flashback of this episode to 2010, Kara talks about how they don’t get to have normal lives and how you can’t miss what you never had. Personally, I felt this was particularly relevant to Team Machine also.

Reese and Iris go on a date again and Iris tells him how she’s noticed Reese’s long hours, random cuts and bruises, and blood on his shirt cuff at lunch the other day. After commenting that she can read him better than just about anyone else has, he tells her he can’t have a normal life. They then depart.

With Reese watching her as she walks away, he is interrupted by his phone ringing with Finch calling him and telling him that they have a new number. The episode ends with Reese walking away alone.

Although this episode in many ways was reminiscent of the more simpler storytelling in the early seasons, it was elevated by the effective flashbacks and Root and Finch still setting up further plotlines by working on the Samaritan situation together. A huge highlight for me was seeing the new intro as I had been speculating on what it might be for a while (I had figured Greer might have some involvement). I didn’t find this episode quite as engaging as the previous two, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and will likely re-watch it again before next week’s episodes.

**SPOILERS** Person of Interest 5.02 “SNAFU” Recap and Review

Taking place two months after where “B.S.O.D.” left off, “SNAFU” immediately opens with what seems to be the new opening sequence. Finch’s “You are being watched…” is present but quickly cut off, slowed down, and spliced around. As you might expect, the graphics are also pretty funky with all of the glitching, pixellation and whatnot.

The Machine is up and running again, but with a twist: the facial recognition feature is completely messed up. This makes for some excellent entertainment from Reese, Finch, Root, and Fusco. Seeing everyone do impressions of each other shows just how brilliant they all are as actors. Plus, Amy Acker wearing multiple suits? Heaven. My friends joked with me and said that The Machine was having “Cass vision” as it ultimately settled on simply seeing all of the team as Root.

Root is stuck underground as she has no way of getting new identities and it’s too dangerous for her to go out without one. I have to say that I really appreciated Finch’s pun where he told her that she’s grounded, or rather, undergrounded. Before he leaves to meet up with Reese, Root gives him a list consisting of creature comforts: mouthwash, floss, black nail varnish, a shag rug in purple, and two lots of bunny slippers. Priorities, naturally.

Reese and Finch go on a heist to steal more servers for The Machine, which involves Reese attempting to teach Finch his ways. Predictably, Finch is adorably awkward.

Back at the subway, now accompanied by the extra juice for The Machine, we see that Root has set up a bedroom for herself and that Finch has used one of the cars as The Machine’s main brain. Judging by Root’s bedroom, she really likes purple, and it’s decorated more like how you’d expect a young teenage girl’s bedroom to look. Bless.

With the new and improved (?), open system Machine, Finch and Root run a surveillance test on it to find Primary Asset Reese. It works, but there’s just one, tiny problem: The Machine identifies that he is responsible for the deaths and disappearances of 62 people. Root and Finch get the irrelevant list back up and running and 30 numbers overwhelmingly come through all at once.

Breaking my heart in the process, Root runs a search for Shaw which turns out to be unsuccessful. Finch warns her about humans potentially abusing the open system, but Root insists that his crippling of it is what caused problems in the first place.

It’s almost like the old days again with Reese on a number mission. Only problem is, that he ends up nearly shooting an innocent 14 year old who had lied about a bomb threat to get out of a test because of The Machine getting confused. Reese’s scolding of the kid, telling him to go to his room is superb.

Fusco is also having problems with the numbers as he is tasked with finding a killer… which actually turns out to be a play involving killing.

From Finch’s point of view, the faces through The Machine’s feeds look blurred and he is surprised to see Grace. Root joins him and sums up The Machine’s issues by saying how it’s correlating threats with violence but isn’t processing the context. Finch asks her if she solved The Machine’s facial recognition issues because he keeps seeing Grace, even though she is supposed to be in Italy and that it must be a glitch. Root points out that it could be he who is glitching as he is overtired.

Finch running a context diagnosis on himself, Root, and Reese. After archiving the feeds, The Machine comes to the conclusion that they’re all threats and traps Root and Finch in the subway.

Glitching back to what is called day ‘R‘, we see Finch teaching it a morality lesson, more specifically, how to be benevolent.

Through The Machine’s point of view with the feeds, we see just how badly it’s glitching with timestamps. It’s bittersweet seeing everything from The Machine’s point of view again: good, because YAY for The Machine, but bad because things aren’t quite right. Yep, there goes Person of Interest making me feel bad for an AI again.

After even more unsuccessful numbers between Fusco and Reese, Finch explains how The Machine is unable to tell the past from present―more on that later.

At the precinct, Reese reveals that of the 27 remaining numbers, 4 are fictional characters, 21 are already dead and 5 of those were suicides. Fusco and Reese discuss how homicides have decreased while suicides have increased. Yet again, Fusco’s suspicions about something being seriously amiss are growing. We are now left with two remaining numbers: Laurie Granger, a woman with a penchant for travelling, and a gambler.

The Machine is unhappy to say the least after Root and Finch discuss rebooting it. It takes countermeasures and overloads Root’s cochlear implant. Even though it clearly hurts her like hell, she still looks happy that The Machine is talking to her again. She confirms to Finch that it is, indeed, not in the mood for a reboot.

Meanwhile, back with Reese, it turns out that Granger is a hitwoman and is out to get him. Who she works for is unknown at this point, but they suspect Samaritan.

In the subway, Root tells Finch she trusts him with her life and wants him to remove the implant as she doesn’t like The Machine using her like that.

With Root knocked out, The Machine tells Finch that it was it who sent the hitwoman after Reese. Finch tries to reason with The Machine and apologises to it, but The it is not having any of it. He asks it what day it is and it answers that it’s day ‘R‘. If you were as confused as I was about what, exactly that means, Finch explained that it is the mathematical set of all real numbers (honestly, if Finch was my maths teacher in school, I might have actually paid attention). Finch comes to the realisation that today is every day to The Machine and it keeps reliving the 42 times it was killed.

Back to Fusco dealing with the gambler number. The gambler almost gets killed by the guys who he owes money to, but Fusco swoops in like a total badass and kneecaps them, saving the day again. I have to say that I’ve loved seeing more of Fusco in action, I have always felt he’s a rather underrated character who is deserving of a lot more love!

Thankfully, Finch eventually gets through to The Machine through using evidence and showing it the files of the people it helped save. It reassesses its assets, marking Finch as its admin again (and presumably the others in their rightful titles). He asks The Machine about Grace again and its feeds confirm that she indeed, is in Italy. Root was correct, he was hallucinating from lack of sleep.

Root is able to go back out again because The Machine has reestablished her rotating covers. She is dressed as a girl scout’s leader (because why not?) and Finch tells her she was right about leaving the system open for the time being. Naturally, she stops dead in her tracks, wearing an expression of disbelief. What beautiful development compared to how they were a few seasons ago!

Things look lovely for the team again. In the papers, Fusco is heralded as a hero yet again and Finch and Root set up a picnic. Finch says that The Machine looks happy again and that he’s thankful it’s over. But this is Person of Interest and we all know that happiness never lasts because almost as soon as he has said that, we’re shown The Machine’s glitchy feeds again.

In the last couple of minutes of the episode, we see one of the numbers Reese left earlier in the episode. He is recruited by Samaritan agents, under the ruse that it’s a regular job. The suspense is real.

SNAFU” was awesome in every sense of the word and provided quite a light-hearted gem amidst the darkness while also paying respects to Shaw and gently moving the story forward. It was certainly a lot less chaotic than the premier and I enjoyed it even more so, giggling throughout most of it.


**SPOILERS** Person of Interest 5.01 “B.S.O.D.” Recap and Review

After waiting for what feels like an eternity for Person of Interest‘s season five, it’s finally back and with style.

B.S.O.D.” opens with an ominous ringing of a phone (not dissimilar to the end of season two’s “God Mode“) and a beautifully eloquent monologue from Root which you will have heard in the first season five trailer. Things look very grim with the subway in tatters and honestly, it made my heart hurt a little. The episode is set on the same day as the season four finale, “YHWH” so if you haven’t seen that episode in a while, a refresher may be in order. Essentially, our beloved remaining three members of Team Machine are in a bit of trouble, to put it mildlyFinch, Reese, and Root are all split up and on the run from Samaritan operatives. Reese is carrying the decompressed Machine in its indestructible briefcase and thrilling antics ensure with him breaking into and stealing a car not even five minutes into the episode. In typical POI fashion, there’s also a glorious shootout thrown in, not that we were expecting anything less, of course. More drama unfolds with Root behind the wheel of a car, carrying a rather nice ‘piece’ with a bloodied wrist. Almost as soon as she has finished talking to The Machine in vain, Samaritan operatives crash into the car and there’s yet another epic shootout before she escapes and goes underground to the subway (not the subway).

Meanwhile, at the NYPD, Fusco sees a front page report about Elias and Dominic being killed and he is paid a visit by the FBI and IAB.  More on that later.

Back to Reese and he is in yet another fight at the ferry, still with The Machine in his possession. Finch saves the day and rather brilliantly hits the pesky operative with a pole before taking The Machine into his own hands. He then has a flashback to where he was injured, featuring Ingram and Grace. Finch insists he can’t continue, but after a quick pep talk from Reese, he goes on ahead.

There was no real intro for this episode and whether or not there will be one at all for season five is unknown. There’s a similar title card to last season with some slight graphical modifications towards the end. Naturally, the cameras are still from Samaritan’s point of view.

Finch and Reese engage in a most illuminating conversation about how it is now a Samaritan world and we learn that it is now able to activate anyone. The state of The Machine is then elaborated on, revealing that it is highly compressed and is running out of power. Reese briefly mentions finding Root and getting Shaw back and is very optimistic about the whole ordeal; a glimmer of light among the darkness. Finch confesses that had he known what they’d be up against now, he might’ve handled things differently.

In a flashback to 2006, we see Finch and The Machine conversing. It starts off innocently with the latter saying good morning and asking Finch if he had his green tea, but evolves into something more concerning with The Machine offering its condolences for Finch’s loss (identified as the 25th anniversary of his father’s death). Ingram enters and he and Finch have a somewhat heated discussion regarding the ever-blossoming sentient state of The Machine, and AI in general. After Finch comments that The Machine’s “burgeoning intelligence is a little unsettling”, Ingram jokes that he spoke like a true parent―a highly pertinent line when you consider Finch and his creation’s relationship. Finch essentially states that AI needs to have reigns on it and serve humans, not supersede them. Ingram, on the other hand, disagrees and views AI far more optimistically. Interestingly, this dynamic reminded me of some of Root and Finch’s conversations, with the former being strongly in favour of  uncontrolled AI. This flashback feeds into the overall theme of the episode: Finch realising his errors. There is then discussion between Finch and Ingram regarding Finch clearing The Machine’s RAM every day at midnight. Ingram calls it cruel and comments that memories make us who we are. Once again, this harks back to Root and Finch’s heated discussions regarding the memory wipe at the end of season two.

We’re now back to following Root on the subway. We see, for the first time, Samaritan activating people (which it calls “enlisting civilian assets”). Said asset is given a push notification on their phone showing Root with her large gun. Hearing the sounds of the notifications and observing the passenger’s stares at her, Root catches on and soon realises she’s in deep trouble. She, of course, is attacked, but fights back hand-to-hand (in quite a Shaw-esque fashion) and delivers a scathing “you can just call me Root, bitch” to Samaritan’s cameras once the ordeal is over. Stepping off, she is immediately confronted by a police officer.

Meanwhile in Chinatown, Reese and Finch head back to the Subway with Reese delivering some zingy quips on the way. We see Bear (a personal major highlight for me) and The Machine is in a critical state. While Finch works on cracking open the case, Reese and Fusco discuss the Elias and Dominic situation over the phone, with Reese telling him to check the incidents reports.

Root is now on the move with a gun stolen from the police officer, avoiding operatives and heading to a computer recycling place. She is followed and runs out of ammo, but fortunately has two other guys as back-up who shoot them for her. Inquired as to why she’s there, she informs them she is looking for a guy called Bella. As it transpires, Bella got tangled up with some Russians and hired an online hacker-assassin to take out the Russian who was after him, and escaped to Latvia only to never be heard from again. Bella asks Root how she found him and she cryptically tells him the same way she found the Russian, which is why he hired her. Inadvertently using one of her lines against her, he tells her it’s nice to “finally meet” her.

Now we’re with Fusco again and he is still being grilled by the FBI agent and IAB agent. In a twist, he is labeled a hero by the FBI agent and is told he will be recommended for a commendation.

Ever the faithful watchdog, Reese wants to look for Root but Finch tries to dissuade him by saying it’s too dangerous. Insisting that they don’t leave their comrades behind, Reese leaves anyway, leaving Finch alone to try and put The Machine back together. We see yet more of Finch’s guilt as he confesses to the RAM chips that though he has a habit of alienating people he employees, he isn’t prepared to lose either of them just yet. Clearly, he’s referring to The Machine and Reese.

Another 2006 flashback and Grace, accompanied with their dog (actually Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston’s dog, making his first television debut, Chumley) meets Finch with ice cream for him. In a touching encounter, Grace tells Finch that he has a good heart and should go with it and let it steer him. Finch tells her that his father said the same thing to him.

Root’s notoriety as a hacker-assassin is further explored when Bella refers to her as “the underworld’s most elite assassin” and that there was a rumour that she was taken out by the so-called “man in the suit” but he had always thought she was too clever to be done in like that. Nonchalantly, Root claims she just needed a change and that she got a new job and fell in love (with Shaw, of course). Bella suggests that the bug on the data encrypted on the drives in the recycling compound is from the NSA. Root’s old connections seem to come in handy when she tells him she needs a new identity and he agrees to create one for her.

At the subway, the rebuilding of The Machine seems to be coming along nicely, but it soon gets out of hand. It begins to decompress and the power goes completely haywire. It overloads and Finch desperately tries to unplug it all, but a wire sparks knocking him out and causing a small fire.

Reese finally joins Fusco at the NYPD and asks for an update on the incidents report. Fusco refers to a “nutjob assault on the subway” and Reese immediately identifies it as Root. Demanding to know what the hell is going on, Fusco is clearly sick of being left out of the loop. Reese tells him he’ll talk later and then leaves to find Root.

While the fire at the subway has grown, there is another flashback to The Machine apologising and saying maybe it should die. Back to 2006 and The Machine asks Finch what death is. Finch talks about a biological death for humans is when the heart stops beating. The Machine tells him it knows the purpose of the code; to erase its memories.It then further elaborates back to its original question and tells Finch that he told Nathan that his father’s death was when he lost all of his memories. Finch promptly tells it that the conversation is over and The Machine asks why. His answer is that The Machine is not a human and is a machine. The Machine apologises if it has violated boundaries because it watched him and Nathan. Heartbreakingly, it then asks how it will learn from its mistakes, how it will continue to grow, and most devastatingly of all, how it will remember him. Seriously, this episode is The Machine feels central.

In the present day, Finch extinguishes the fire, only to find the RAM chips are smoking. He apologises, saying that he is now the one that failed it.

Fusco has a flashback to the shooting of Dominic and pockets the bullet. He is then almost immediately identified by Samaritan as a “potential disruptor”.

Bella appears to give Root her identity, only to the renege and claim he got a phone call before he destroyed it and got a better offer. Unphased, Root keeps her cool, seeing Samaritan operatives invade. Bella gets shot and Root is confronted by the operatives who then tell her that the data was Samaritan and that it is even logging keystrokes now. Heroically, Reese once again saves the day and another shootout follows. He tells her she should get back to the subway, but Root insists that the fight’s here and so is she. Once the operatives have been taken care of, Root collects PlayStation 3’s and tells Reese to go steal a truck, having come up with an idea for rebuilding The Machine.

Finally, Reese and Root are reunited with a forlorn Finch who says he has failed and if he hasn’t crippled The Machine from the start, it might have stood a chance against Samaritan. The battery is revealed to be dead, but Root pipe up and says they’ll just have to build a supercomputer of their own, revealing one of the PlayStations. Finch asks her if she’s being serious and she confirms she is.

Breaking up the scene is a short snippet of the exterior of an ambulance with Samaritan’s feeds revealing marking him as dead.

Root discusses the tech, explaining how it all works, with Reese dryly telling her he doesn’t “speak nerd”. Interestingly, Finch refers to The Machine as “she” for the first time, eliciting an impressed facial expression from Root. Finch promises The Machine that if it survives, he won’t make the same mistakes againRoot agrees that things will definitely be different this time. She goes on to tell Harold that he has built something better than us [humans], that it is intellectually and morally superior and that he didn’t feel comfortable with it. He asks how anyone can be and she simply tells him that she is because it’s a reflection of him and our [mankind’s] last hope.

The Machine overclocks and there is now no way of going back. Root unsuccessfully tries to cool it down and without even telling anyone, Reese races out and returns with a canister of liquid nitrogen. He successfully cools The Machine down and it appears to be up and running.

Something tells me that it won’t be The Machine we have grown accustomed to and somewhere down the line fell in love with, especially judging by this.

B.S.O.D.” was a strong start to the season and offered interesting backstory for Finch, Ingram, The Machine, and Root, while also providing thrilling on screen action. My favourite part of the episode was Finch and Ingram’s exchange regarding sentient AI. What I have always loved about Person of Interest  is how it portrays technology in a deeply complex way with varying viewpoints. I am interested to see further conversations with Finch and Root and seeing him listen to her more.

Why Illyria Matters

In the interim of waiting for Person of Interest to return (May 3rd, people, bookmark that date!), I decided to re-watch Angel. It had been a year or so since I had last done so and whenever I re-watch a Whedon project, I know I have a lot to look forward to. Not just because I’m aware of the generally consistently brilliant storylines, but because I always seem to discover something new each timebe it some sneaky foreshadowing or something more personal like a newfound love or hatred for a character.

During this particular re-watch, what really struck me is just how much I love Illyria. Though I was certainly already a member of her fan club, my appreciation for her has grown even stronger, largely because of how confoundedly misunderstood her character is.

It’s easy to denounce Illyria, under the belief that she is accountable for the demise of Fred. I don’t hold Illyria responsible at all and I’ll tell you why: she didn’t choose Fred as her vesselKnox did. There is no doubt in my mind that if Illyria could have chosen her vessel, she would have selected someone far more imposing. If you were a pure-bred demonic God-King, would you honestly pick a willowy 20-something human to contain you and all of your might? Probably not.

A Hole in the World” is undoubtedly one of, if not the most harrowing episodes in the Buffyverse to watch. As fans know, it essentially consists of the audience getting to watch Fred slowly die for 40-odd minutes. By no means is it an easy watch and most fans will agree that it came as a shock. Yet, in a way that is perhaps grotesque, it remains my favourite episode in the series because of how terrifically it was executed. If you have the DVDs, I implore you to watch it with the commentary from Joss Whedon, Alexis Denisof, and Amy Acker. Throughout most of it, they’re uncharacteristically quiet and just hearing them share their on-set experiences makes the whole ordeal even sadder. Everyone involved who was working on it was distraught, which tells you just how important and meaningful Fred’s character was (and still is) to many.

Before I get deeply into discussing Illyria, it’s only fair I write about Fred firstyou can’t have Illyria as we know her without Fred, nor Fred without Illyria.

Even those who dislike Fred can surely objectively see why she’s such a popular character: she underwent an enormous amount of positive character development, and was a ray of sunshine in oft-gloomy times for Angel Investigations. Rather unfairly, her character is often compared to other Buffyverse fan favourite Willow Rosenberg. This is always one comparison that I struggle with. Only on a base level are they similar with their love of science, intellectualism, and intelligence. Other than that, they couldn’t be more different. From the moment that Fred was introduced, she was a fighter, due to environmental circumstances; as opposed to Willow who, while assisted Buffy, certainly couldn’t be considered much of a fighter in the early seasons. Even as the seasons progressed, Willow generally worked with magick rather than really getting her hands dirty. Fred never had the internal supernatural element and was simply a young physicist whom had been accidentally introduced to the supernatural world, whereas Willow had insisted on helping out Buffy and later on using magick. There’s also the matter of how, no matter how dark things got for Fred, she never went “dark”her actions in”Supersymmetry” were ultimately for the greater good. I think that she was completely justified in her quest for vengeance and even though she was vexed, she didn’t try and end the world because of her pain. Suffice to say, Fred is anything but a Willow clone, which is an insulting phrase (I have unfortunately heard) to both deeply compelling characters and actresses.

Back to Illyria. In my humble opinion, she is easily one of the more unique characters that the Buffyverse has to offer. The Old Ones were mentioned as far back as Buffy‘s “Welcome to the Hellmouth” yet it was Angel that really fleshed out the concept in the form of Illyria by giving the audience a chance to see one in action for eight terrific episodes; a consummation, as it were. For me, the saddest part of Angel‘s premature cancellation is that we didn’t get to see more Illyria. I have read several times that in season six, Joss Whedon was planning on having Fred return and wrestle for control over her body. While that obviously didn’t come to fruition on screen, it has happened in the Angel and Faith comics, which I must say, are well worth reading.

Illyria’s powers are just one of many brilliant aspects to her character. What we saw on screen doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of what she’s truly capable of and that was awesome enough. Who else could destroy Team Angel in around 16 seconds tops? None of the other Big Bads shown in either series came close to taking out the heroes in such a short amount of time. Lest we forget that was Illyria in a weakened state too! One of the most interesting things I learned about her while reading one of the issues of the Only Human comic mini-series is that absorbing her power kills even extremely powerful demons who are close to Old Ones in the demonic hierarchy. Her true, monstrous form even has the ability to warp time itself, as shown in the comics. In short: don’t screw with Illyria.

Perhaps the main attraction of her character to me is what she represents and how she develops in such a short span of time. When you think about it, Illyria is basically just an alien stuck in a world she doesn’t understand. It almost translates in a child-like manner (something I’m positive is down to Acker’s contributions as an actress) and I have often found myself feeling sorry for her. Yet she isn’t content with simply not understanding the world and giving up, instead, she enlists the help of Wesleyshe wants to learn about human life and how she can integrate better. The dynamic between Illyria and Wesley is easily one of my favourite things about the entire series. It’s extremely poetic in the respect that Wesley is willing to help a pure-bred demon just because it is inhabiting the body of the woman he loved. Illyria acknowledges that and wishes to explore the Fred and Wesley dynamic further, even offering to assume the form of Fred for him, but he declines. Later, in one of the most iconic Buffyverse scenes, Wesley agrees to let her lie to him and he dies in the arms of “Fred” with a smile on his face.

Another dynamic which I thoroughly enjoyed watching was that of Illyria and Spike. Spike’s bold quips to her and Illyria’s… unusual ways of showing affection towards him made for some serious comedic material amidst the darkness.

My personal top Illyria moment takes place in “The Girl in Question” where she assumes Fred’s form for the Burkles without any prompting. There’s obviously something not quite right about “Fred” but her parents can’t quite ascertain what. The tension created from this alone is chilling but pales in comparison to the scene where Illyria talks in her usual regally strict tone while in Fred’s form. It’s highly unnerving and something that I would deem unmissable in the series; subtle yet full of lasting impact. It might not be flashy to look at or laden with powerful music, but it’s the mannerisms that Amy conveys that make it so special. In fact, it’s this episode that cemented Amy as my favourite actress of all time and I still consider it one of the top moments in her acting career.

To conclude, Illyria is a character full of layers both small and large. She looks like Fred, but they’re different characters and are both worthy of being intellectually examined. Dismissing Illyria dismisses how much of a phenomenal actress Amy Acker really is because if not for Illyria, we would never have been treated to the glorious moments that Amy so wonderfully conveyed. Introducing Illyria also gave the other actors a chance to explore previously uncharted waters and the writers a chance to add in all of the brilliant dynamics I mentioned. That’s why I say that Illyria matters.