Camryn Manheim, John Nolan (CBS)

A season-long cold war between good and evil is supposed to end with Team Machine vanquishing Samaritan, right? The small victories in this episode should be celebrated since the big picture looks bleak. Control was fed a lie about the nature of the impending attack; Samaritan’s supposed plan to eliminate anti-surveillance Supreme Court justices is a ruse meant to test Control’s loyalties. The Correction is actually a systemic, but very vague, plan to take out the “right people,” including Elias, Dominic, and Control herself. Despite these characters’ sins, they deserved justice for their crimes and Team Machine is unable to prevent Samaritan from taking the law into its own hands. The Machine herself has been compressed into her most essential bits and bytes; at one point, she was everywhere, apparently living in the country’s power grid the whole time, but now she’s been forced to downsize to a suitcase. The Machine is on her last legs, compressed and residing in a suitcase. If the beginning of the season seemed hopeless, the finale has proven to be even bleaker: Team Machine is on the run once again, but this time, they have to dodge a few Samaritan-mandated bullets first.

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This finale doesn’t work as a perfect culmination of the season, as Samaritan’s lineup of strategies to control the human population never amounted to anything; all along, Samaritan was studying society in order to identify individuals who need to be eliminated via an operation called the Correction. The actual variables involved remain a mystery, unfortunately. Regardless of Samaritan’s victory, hope remains. In this universe, valuing human life is rewarded. Finch showed Caleb kindness in “2πR,” and is given a compression algorithm in return. Grice demonstrated loyalty towards Shaw, which is why Control chooses him as a partner in her efforts to prevent the Correction. The Machine has proven that she is willing to sacrifice herself for the good of humanity and, as a result, Root isn’t the only one to risk her life in order to save an entity of artificial intelligence; Reese and Finch are right there by her side.

By the same token, dismissal of human life is punished. Since they were great characters, it’s difficult to see Elias and Dominic eliminated in a relatively anti-climactic fashion—not in the hands of one another or a member of Team Machine. But maybe that was the point. These two mortal kingpins have been competing with one another for control over the city all season, so taken with one another that they’re oblivious to the god capable of striking them out at any time. Their infatuation with power probably made them targets, and they are taken out in the same way that they have taken out others in the past. Dominic was intelligent and ambitious enough to see the bigger picture, as he recognized that Elias boasted a valuable relationship with Team Machine, but he was too blind and arrogant to recognize his true vulnerability. Elias valued relationships to an extent, but only so far as they could serve him, and he never switched sides despite being even more familiar with Team Machine. In the end, it’s too late for both of them, and Samaritan fires at the targets on their backs.

Control is Samaritan’s third major victim in the finale, and she’s also the episode’s stealth MVP. Her arc throughout the series is one of Person Of Interest’s true achievements. Strength isn’t just about being right; it’s also about recognizing when you’re wrong and having the capacity to change. Control may be in Samaritan’s clutches, but whatever happens, she can live with herself knowing that she eventually made her way to the right side of the equation. She values people above her cause, allowing her to abandon protocol and follow her gut. Control recognizes Samaritan and Greer as false prophets, and his last effort to tempt her to join them is unsuccessful. She may have failed his test, but she aced the final. Many shows boast complex people who tread the line between heroism and villainy, but characters like Control are especially important considering today’s political climate. Person Of Interest is partly about national security and the debate between surveillance versus privacy. The fact that a character that could easily be reduced to being the face of one side of a debate has evolved into so much more speaks volumes about Person Of Interest’s capacity to address real world issues through fiction in a nuanced way.

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The finale ends with a real cliffhanger, as our heroes spill out into the dark, guns blazing. The Machine has tried to guide her team, and now her trust in the value of humans’ free will can truly be put to the test.

Stray observations:

· What did you think of the finale and the season as a whole? What are your hopes for next season? How much did you hate my reviews? This is your last opportunity to vent, so go nuts!

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·Reese will open up to Iris if he sees her again. Can’t wait. She can’t rival his repartee with the Machine, though. There was so much chemistry between those two in the scene where she talked him through killing all of those bad guys. The key to a quality relationship is communication after all.

· If you’re jonesing for more POI over the break, take a look at Yahoo! Screen’s PaleyFest cast panel.

· I’m not the first to recognize the similarities between “YHWH” and Angel’s “Not Fade Away;” for those poor souls who haven’t watched Angel yet, let’s just say that neither show is interested in easy answers. It wouldn’t be my review of the season finale of the first series I’ve ever covered without a reference to a Joss Whedon joint.

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· On that note, thanks so much for watching Person Of Interest this season and following along with my reviews, however sporadically. It’s been a thrill and an honor.