Ricky Church reviews the twelfth episode of Person of Interest season five…
We’ve now reached the penultimate episode of Person of Interest and ‘.exe’ was a tense one as Finch found his way in the belly of the beast, confronting Samaritan head on. ‘.exe’ was also memorable for examining the choices each of the main characters have made over the course of the series and how The Machine has affected each of them. Even with all the tension, this episode was one of the most poignant Person of Interest has yet produced.
Seeing Finch on the warpath really brought home how much the battle against Samaritan has cost him. Finch has usually been the team member with the most conscience, but over the last couple episodes we’ve seen him ready and willing to blackmail or hurt people in order to advance his goals. That came to a head here as Finch overlooked a man’s past crimes and knocked out a diplomat, not to mention how The Machine and even Greer and Samaritan kept telling him how catastrophic his plan would be to the world. It was also a surprise to hear that not only would his virus kill Samaritan, but his creation as well, showing just how much he was willing to sacrifice.
The alternate realities where The Machine never existed were quite interesting as well. Its not uncommon for a show to explore the choices the characters have made throughout its run, but usually when the ‘what if’ concept is employed, things are either shown to be directly better or worse in the hypothetical reality. Person of Interest showed that while some things were for the better, such as Joss Carter and Nathan Ingram still being alive, others were not quite as prosperous. While Fusco, for example, never went to jail for his work with HR, but was fired for going with the organization as long as he did and never got the chance to redeem himself. Reese, likewise, was able to save his deceased love Jessica, but committed suicide soon after she saw the darkness in him, a nice callback to Reese’s confession to Carter in Season 3’s ‘The Crossing’.
Things were not necessarily better or worse either way, but The Machine’s simulations also showed for certain Samaritan would have risen one way or the other thanks to Greer’s determination to correct the world, reinforcing Finch’s choice to go through with his plan. Amy Acker’s short return as Root also served as a reminder of the type of person she used to be before she became Finch’s ally and just how much she changed thanks to The Machine’s intervention.
The action with Reese and Shaw was well done too as they both had to use subterfuge to help Finch. Reese’s couple of fight scenes was well choreographed and served as another reminder of just how well shot these action sequences can be. Though Fusco sat out on the action this week, his story came full circle in two ways: one, he again met Samaritan’s FBI asset who was introduced in ‘B.S.O.D.’ and two, now found himself in the back of a car driven to his own execution just as he did for Reese way back in the very first episode of the series. It was good to see Fusco had planned ahead by wearing his vest, knowing that at some point the FBI agent would take a shot at him.
‘.exe’ perfectly set the stage for the finale as Samaritan’s defeat seems all but assured now that Finch activated his virus (using a callback to his proposal to Grace, a reference longtime fans should appreciate). How our heroes come out of it, or if they even will, promises an intense finale and an emotional farewell to The Machine if this will truly be its last gasp. ‘.exe’ delivered on the set-up and now we can only hope the finale will follow through in a big way.