Person of Interest: If-Then-Else
January 6, 2015 11:33 PM - Season 4, Episode 11 - Subscribe

posted by homunculus (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by homunculus at 11:35 PM on January 6, 2015

posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:55 AM on January 7, 2015

posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:59 AM on January 7, 2015

I much preferred the option in which Reese was shot.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:16 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed initially that they were going to do a bunch of rehashes of the same sequence...but they did it well, kept it fresh enough on each run through to keep it entertaining, had some fun with it, and then dropped the bomb. First with Shaw appearing - because there was no scenario in which the Machine contemplated that - and then with killing her. It was obvious someone was going to go in this episode, as every iteration the Machine ran resulted in someone dying.

I was hoping/expecting Reese would be the one to go, as I think I've made clear in past threads, but this outcome also makes sense. It adds something for Root to deal with, in terms of the consequences of this war and that her perfect Machine couldn't save Shaw: room for some questioning and doubt on the part of the devoted apostle, who has given so much...and I'm not sure where Shaw's arc could've gone from here, honestly. She was pretty strongly developed as a sociopath who was just being pointed in the right direction by the Machine gang, and with her cover blown she was too much of a liability.

I keep hoping and hoping that they will add some depth or dimension to Martine, but that seems like a vain hope. But I am looking forward to the next Root/Martine face off...
posted by nubs at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2015

Did everyone catch the "Person of Interest Trilogy" re-titling? So, I guess we're into the final AI showdown, spread across three epic episodes?

Also, instead of Harold saying "Stay tuned for scenes..." it was silent, with text in a box similar to how the AI's conversations look.

I actually turned off the episode when Shaw stepped outside the elevator to hit the button. I knew I was about to be treated to an extended shot-to-pieces scene, and I just didn't have the stomach for it. I really like Shaw, and losing her would completely suck. Plus, I'm just tired of poetic death scenes. I clicked back in time for the teaser of the next episode. At least they're holding out hope that Shaw survived being shot-up.

Honestly...I preferred the version where Harold gets it. Or, Fusco, for cryin' out loud. I'm neutral about Reese.

Also...Original Degas drawings hanging in a sub-basement service corridor? Really? And not secured to the wall so that they can't be stolen? Really??? Cute, Harold-ish gag, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2015

The slight pause and cruel relish of the Samaritan handler when he spoke to Martine "Enjoy yourself" was a good counterpoint to how Finch works with Root - there's a sense of both of them being in service to Samaritan willingly for the pleasure of violence and order, of having someone else decide for them in a hierarchy, while Finch and Root are far more peers and argue with their Machine and choose to postpone or sacrifice their own pleasures, sometimes in opposition to what the Machine wants.

The Machine is utilitarian but it's not hierarchal. I wish they would flesh out the handler guy's backstory and motivations more. Initially when he was just "The buyer in China" for the laptop, it seemed like he would be the usual shadowy Cabal of big business, but his spy backstory makes him seem more like an idealist who went nuts, looking for a bigger master he could serve. Is someone controlling him or is he completely Samaritan's man?
posted by viggorlijah at 7:13 PM on January 7, 2015

My reactions to various death scenarios:

Finch (before I new these were sims): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ;_;
Reese (OK a sim, but maybe the one they'll go with...): I'm OK with this.
During the chess scene talking about the queen: They're gonna kill Root! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Shaw gets written out in reality: DAMN IT! But I'm OK with it. Still shoulda killed Reese, though.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:50 PM on January 7, 2015

Finch (before I new these were sims): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ;_;

That was my initial reaction, and then I got busy thinking about how fertile the ground for stories could be if Finch was gone - the internal conflicts, the questions, the struggles for everyone with that tragedy in the face of the Samaritan War and I was like "this could be awesome!" But then they revealed it was a sim.
posted by nubs at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2015

It totally didn't work for me. I thought the writing and the acting were really off. I think everything was intentionally off in the simulations, which I decided was kind of clever, but the final reality didn't seem that much more believable and so I was left with an overall sense of it being half-baked.

For example, the acting and blocking in scenes such as when they leave the breakoom was so far from either standard action TV/movie fare or how real people would move and behave that I can only conclude that the production was badly rushed and/or the director was incompetent. I think the whole thing was rushed because the writing has a lot of problems and so I'm guessing that they struggled with it right down to the wire and ended up being forced to go with making the best of a mess.

I've always loved this whole concept and greatly enjoy examples of it -- Lola rennt is one of my favorite all-time movies. I enjoy meta stuff, too, and that part I actually liked even though its execution was very pedestrian. The idea and outline of the episode are full of potential and I don't think it was doomed to failure. And I see that everyone else doesn't feel as I do about it. But it just seemed very, very lackluster to me.

If it'd been my choice, it would have been Reese who died. I don't think that's realistic, though -- the show's ratings have been not good and dumping Caviezel would have meant losing a really big chunk of the remaining viewers. I don't know what the contract situations are, but I think that both he and Emerson are the leads and there's no show without them.

In terms of my investment in a character, Fusco would have been my second choice for a death. But I don't think that's realistic for a completely different reason -- that character is a bit of a fifth wheel in many respects but, for better or worse, he's serving an essential function in terms of both comic relief and everyman identification. If that wasn't working, the show would be better without him than with him. But it is working and so the character makes everything work just a little bit better simply for being there.

I'm not that attached to Shaw and she would have been my second choice after Reese if it weren't for my very strong investment in shipping her and Root. That's why I'm pretty bummed about it, but that's mostly the only reason I am.

I definitely don't want Root to be killed and I've been dreading that they were going to do so. First of all, I really, really like Amy Acker. Second of all, I just like this character and what she represents. She's interesting. Less interesting that she used to be, but maybe she can recover some of that. Mind, I'm pleased with her growth. But she's been a bit stagnant lately and I think part of the purpose of Shaw's death is to push Root's character in new directions. A lot of people don't like Root, I gather, but I think the producers rightly know that Acker and the character are big assets as long as they keep her interesting. There's a lot of ways in which Root can change that the other characters can't. She could plausibly become a villain again, for example.

And I think that as much as many of us love the Root/Shaw pairing, my sense is that it was problematic for the producers to fully realize. This solves that problem for them. They partly satisfied those of us who wanted it, and avoided alienating those who didn't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:00 PM on January 8, 2015

I'd drifted away from this show after the first season and only started making a point to watch it this year and I've really enjoyed Root and Shaw's scenes, the writers give them the best lines (similar to Maggie Smith in DA). Whereas Reese bored me right off the bat, starting with his Christian-Bale-Batman-growl attempt to lower his voice.

You know who shoulda died? Martine.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:37 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sarah Shahi exit interview
posted by homunculus at 10:47 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

With the sim scene where Root died, we rewound and played it again after we realized that her reaction before turning around was the machine basically saying "they're behind you now with guns" and she was staring into a dozen guns during the conversation.

Also, I hope the actors had at least half as much fun doing the meta-text sim as I did watching it.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:20 AM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this one, but I'm a sucker for other timelines.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:06 PM on January 10, 2015

Feh. I was zoning out during "Run Machine Run" because once I figured out that Finch isn't actually going to die, everything until the end is gonna be fake.

But that said: bummer, man. The ladies are my favorite on that show. Also, dammit, twin pregnancy grrr. Wasn't too thrilled when she was pregnant on Life either....sigh. But oh well, at least it sounds like there's a chance they can bring her back in a couple of years.

I was mildly amused at the "placeholder" dialogue though, like that "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind" CD my ex had in college.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:14 PM on January 14, 2015

I'm starting to hear Glitch Mob's Fortune Days more and more.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:10 PM on March 26, 2015

Fun episode. I particularly liked the placeholder dialogue (i.e., "Overly affectionate greeting."), and Fusco's kissing Root. I was more bothered by the pulverizing of the donuts than by Reese's possible death. Those poor, innocent donuts.
posted by orange swan at 7:44 PM on October 1, 2015

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