Ricky Church reviews the season 5 finale of Person of Interest…
Moments make up our lives. Whether they are big moments or small moments, we can always recall one particular moment out of a memory. Final moments in particular are something we always remember and play a huge part in how we look back at something. For television series this is most especially true as the ending of a series either secures or damages its legacy. We’ve seen this a number of times in the last few years with shows such as Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica and Lost. It is fitting, then, that final moments were a central theme in Person of Interest’s series finale.
Though Finch effectively crippled Samaritan in the previous episode with his Ice-9 virus, the AI was making one more desperate attempt to survive and wipe out Finch and his cohorts. The tension within ‘return 0’ was rife as they kept coming under attack from various angles, leaving the viewers completely unsure of anyone’s fate. There were plenty of moments where it seemed like the end for the POI team, all adding to the drama. The emotional weight behind these scenes was palpable as multiple farewells were made.
Wound within all this tension was plenty of callbacks to the show’s history, bringing some things full circle with the characters. The scene where Reese and Fusco walked to their supposed execution was a humourous call back to their first interaction in the pilot and just how far both characters had come together. Even Reese’s infamous identity as ‘the man in the suit’ was mentioned one last time as the police precinct finally figured out who he really was thanks to Samaritan.
Sarah Shahi also excelled as Shaw, giving one of her best performances as the character. It was clear just how uncomfortable she was at Root’s grave, but the serious demeanor Shaw usually has broke for one brief moment as The Machine told Shaw what Root really thought of her. It was a subtle change in Shahi’s face and she was quick to wipe away any tears for Fusco to see, but was still one of the most emotional moments, if not the most, for Shaw throughout the series. Kevin Chapman also gave a good performance throughout, ever providing some of the comic relief as he interacted with Reese and helped Shaw with her mission.
The most emotional moment by far, however, was John’s last stand against Samaritan’s agents. Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson’s acting in this scene was excellent, showing the chemistry between both the characters and actors. It was gratifying to see the finale’s biggest moment came down to the original two team members and main cast of the series. Yet another callback was made during this scene as Reese spoke of his ‘agreement’ with The Machine that was made in season two to keep Finch alive. Caviezel has usually played Reese with a bit of an emotional detachment (though not nearly as detached as Shaw), but here he was perhaps his emotional yet. John’s sacrifice was touching and spoke volumes about just how far he had come personally with Finch guiding him, bringing his arc full circle in a very satisfying conclusion, tragic as it is.
All this was punctuated through Amy Acker’s performance as The Machine, making a surprise appearance in physical form (though only in Finch’s mind, of course). It was interesting to see The Machine take on a bit more of Root’s personality as she guided everyone on the team to their ultimate goals, showing how it itself had grown beyond simple programming and learnt actual empathy. This was made evident not only by The Machine’s monologue on death and how one can live beyond it, but also in one of the best shots of the series as The Machine literally and figuratively reached out to John as he watched Finch walk away, content in his final decision.
If there is one thing that I could perhaps nag at, its how Joshua Close’s Samaritan operative Jeff Blackwell didn’t quite receive a proper development given how reluctant he was to do some of Samaritan’s bidding, at least early on. Still, he too received a fitting end as he met his fate at Shaw’s hand in a moment that showed she still retained some of her coldness, at least when it came to the lives of her friends.
Throughout it all, Person of Interest’s finale was great, showcasing some of the aspects that has lifted the show over the years: interesting philosophical ideas, great character development, tense action and heartfelt emotion when it wants to go for the gut punch. The acting was superb as each actor gave genuinely moving performances that elevated Person of Interest beyond a simple action/sci-fi show. And while ‘return 0’ certainly did close the door on some characters and focused on the importance of final moments, it just as well left the door wide open for future adventures. 10/10