Jim Caviezel (CBS)

After such a character-driven and thematically-rich episode, Person Of Interest switches gears yet again. A number of the week episode doesn’t just end up coinciding with the show’s overarching story; it sets up a plethora of new factors that will figure into the upcoming war. The case involves Ethan Garvin, an audio specialist who works on a new type of surveillance technology called ShotSeeker that analyzes recordings for potential gunshot-related crimes. The characters involved aren’t particularly interesting and the case’s connections to the show’s themes are fairly shallow, but the information garnered concerning Samaritan’s war strategy is very promising. Garvin is investigating one of the incidents identified by ShotSeeker, believing that a crime was misidentified. Between the advanced surveillance equipment involved and the crime-fighting element, Garvin’s work is not wholly dissimilar to the work performed by Team Machine. His victim of the week, Krupa, attracts his attention not just because of the mysterious circumstances involving her disappearance, but because she is a former classmate turned do-gooder.

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Krupa is a chemist who has been working on world-changing advancements of her own, namely new technology that could prolong the shelf life of produce and reduce world hunger. The realization that the primary suspect is a red herring set up by Samaritan occurs too late to save a victim who was in possession of Krupa’s hard drive for safe-keeping. The plot here doesn’t really thicken until the end, but it’s worth the wait. This is hardly the first time that Samaritan has been responsible for a number’s difficult circumstances but this time, the case reveals the type of potentially intriguing war strategy that has been long overdue. Samaritan has been trying to bury Krupa’s findings regarding food preservation, which adds some welcome mystery to the over-arching plot. Unfortunately for Samaritan, Team Machine decides to release said findings to the public in order to prevent Garvin from becoming another collateral damage statistic. The real consequences of this decision are yet to come, and this is the type of dangling thread that introduces more tension as the countdown to the final confrontation continues to wind down.

All along, it’s been a challenge for a show to keep up that tension when the major conflict at hand involves two supercomputers. Even though technology is such an important part of many shows’ plotting these days, and understandably so, it’s a difficult narrative element to make dramatically interesting. Ramping up tension in scenes that involve a computer and typing often takes all of the creativity that writers and a director can muster, which is one of the reasons why it’s especially impressive that Person Of Interest has kept its audience invested in the war between the Machine and Samaritan for five seasons now. Numbers of the week and situations where characters represent the two rivals’ interests help the writers to tell this story in a dynamic way, but at the end of the day, the Machine and Samaritan have to stand on their own as active characters as well.

The latest solution to some of these problems is to prepare the Machine for war by having her run simulations not unlike the ones that poor Shaw is undergoing under Greer’s direction, a disturbing parallel unbeknownst to Team Machine. Battling a realistic stand-in for Samaritan thanks to the software acquired earlier in the season is very valuable, but the results haven’t been very pretty so far. Neither Greer nor Team Machine is seeing the wins that they are hoping for as of yet, but there’s still time for their respective war strategies to be perfected. Most importantly, these simulation plots keep these three primarily off-screen figures in the real game, the show itself, biding time until it’s their time to really shine.

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Team Machine has always had its fair share of enemies to juggle, and a new one decides to introduce himself in the ninth hour. Fusco has been wrestling with the truth as to what actually occurred in the cases of the deaths of the two local kingpins from last season’s finale, and now he’s finding that some of the special relationships that Team Machine fostered over the years never truly die. One of Elias’ allies named Bruce wants answers regarding his associate’s death; he decides that threatening Fusco’s family and capturing Reese is the best way to get them. Realizing that it’s better to pick your battles when a war involving two supercomputers is on the horizon, Team Machine decides to arrange a happy reunion between Bruce and Elias to get this new source of trouble off of their back. Yes, Elias is alive because true awesomeness can never truly die. Team Machine has been hiding him away, keeping him from us all this time. All will be forgiven if some of the intriguing new plot threads introduced in this episode result in some quality pay-off.

Stray observations:

  • His work ethic is appreciated, but it’s not exactly a good sign when Greer contributes to the intro.
  • “For a man with such serious concerns about the proliferation of artificial super-intelligence, you sure do love to build new ones.”

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