Person of Interest: Return 0
June 21, 2016 8:29 PM - Season 5, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Finch, Reese, Fusco and Shaw attempt a final mission to keep Samaritan from destroying The Machine and establishing its hold over humanity. (Series finale)
posted by oh yeah! (48 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Thought about posting, but I'm still sorting it all out, need to go to sleep besides. Beautiful episode. All the action, occasional out-of-the-blue humor, and philosophizing that fans have come to expect and love about the show, had the human touch besides.

I would watch the shit out of a Sarah Shahi-helmed PoI spinoff--where, say, she oversees a multi-city or multi-location, even international, league of Teams Machine.
posted by raysmj at 8:47 PM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hey, this prediction of mine was actually pretty accurate. Of course, the show doesn't explicitly tell us that RootMachine and Shaw will spend their free time having cyber sex, but I think it's a pretty safe bet.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:10 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't really know how I feel about this episode. I caved and peeked at the cast listing in a press release by CBS for this episode, and I saw that they had someone playing child Reese, so ever since seeing that, I felt pretty sure that Reese wasn't going to make it through.

It also makes me wonder about the alt universe thing in the previous episode. Maybe part of it was to show Finch (and the audience) that Reese wasn't really going to make it out of this alive. If the machine had never existed, then Reese would have jumped off a bridge.

Aside from his whole hero thing, I guess if Finch or Reese had to go, it's probably better for it to be Reese. Finch had Grace and a life he could go back to. This whole saving the numbers thing was penance for him. It was for Reese too, in a way, but he already did this kind of thing before Finch. And more importantly, there wouldn't be much left for Reese if Finch died. Shaw and Lionel would be there, sure, but Finch was clearly Reese's closest friend. Clearly he wanted it to be this way.

There are still some things I would have liked to see addressed. Like, Bear. Is Finch just going to leave Bear behind? I know everyone was attached to Bear, but it was Finch's dog. I don't like the idea of Finch just leaving him behind. And what about Shaw and Fusco? Is he going to just disappear from their lives too? I also wonder about Finch's relationship with the re-incarnated Machine. Will the Machine reach out to him? Does he want it too?

All things considered, I guess we probably got off easy with just one more member of Team Machine dying. And I'm glad that the copy of the Machine appears to have made it out of the fight with Samaritan.

In a weird way, as devastated as I am about the show coming to a close, it's almost a relief. I enjoyed this season as a whole, but I've also watched every episode with a background sense of dread, which only got more acute the later we got in the season. There is something to be said for closure.

Maybe once I've had some sleep, I'll be able to sift through my feelings better.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:22 PM on June 21, 2016

One more thought that just struck me after I hit post on my previous comment:

I guess if the Machine does get in contact with Finch, it could do the voice thing just like it does with Root. But I'm not sure whether that would be comforting to Finch or like salt in a wound.

Even for Shaw, I can't help but wonder in the long run if Root's voice disembodied like that won't eventually start to feel a bit...hollow? Maybe? Finch and Root's connection was much more about the way their minds worked, and for Finch, who saw the Machine as a sentient life even as much as he tried not to, I think it feels more natural for him to have the Machine keep Root's memory alive. But it's different for Shaw.

Also, I kind of thought we might get something explicit about the Machine naming itself, since they talked about that initially in the same conversation where they discussed the Machine picking her own voice. Would she choose to go by Root? Or maybe after all this time, she'll keep the name Harold gave her. Or maybe something else.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:28 PM on June 21, 2016

They did good. Managed to fake me out one last time who would live and die. Some unexpected humor. Touching, well-earned goodbyes. Revenge for a fallen comrade. And surprisingly okay fates for all but John.


BTW, the end music was Philip Glass, off Glasspieces, I think. Or maybe The Fog of War. I don't have my music nearby to check.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:37 PM on June 21, 2016

It was "Metamorphosis 1," according to others out on the Interwebs, which would echo the Emily Dickinson poem that the Machine shared with Finch in an episode earlier in this season.

he music from the opening segment was from "Ex Machina," one of my favorite films of the past couple of years. (How I loved you, PoI.)
posted by raysmj at 10:04 PM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I wish this show had lasted for a few more seasons but one upside is that it ended while it was still a great show.

It was a satisfying resolution for the most part. I think it was the best way for things to end for each character as well. Shaw can handle everything that happened better than anybody else, Lionel has the kid plus his job to keep him going and is arguably the greatest success story of all the people the Machine crew helped. And Finch might finally be at peace and actually be able to be happy with Grace. If everybody had lived it would have felt too easy, if anybody else had died it would have been too depressing.

I do not think the Machine will be part of Harold's life anymore. I think it will become essentially the same Machine, most likely between the message it left for its clone and the video data it can gather, it will piece together everything well enough to continue doing the the same work it was doing before but without its memories I expect any attachments it forms will be to new agents other than perhaps Shaw. Even if it gradually becomes more like its old self I suspect it will want to leave Harold in peace. Of course we have no idea what the other Team Machine was up to, I would assume that the old Machine left the new Machine information about everybody it thought should be kept on as assets so they might still be in play as well.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:30 PM on June 21, 2016

A really good finale. Also will need to think about it for a while as after how much the Penny Dreadful finale stuck in my craw and a few others (like Agent Carter) were underwhelming, I needed to hear that it was root's voice when Shaw picked up the phone. It was massively disappointing that her smile and look suggested it - I wanted textual confirmation. It'll probably bother me less once there is more distance.
posted by humans are superior! at 11:18 PM on June 21, 2016

A group of folks I know who are fans of the show call it Hobo Batman. Reese and Finch mix and match being AU Alfred, Batman and Bruce between the two of them. Carter is Gordon, Root's Oracle, and I don't remember who we decided Shaw was. Huntress? Nightwing? And there's a batcave. And a batdog. I guess Fusco was Robin/ (A bird! Oh, Harold.) Much nerdy fun.

Anyway. We raise a glass to you, Hobo Batman and friends. You ended well.

Also: 050313.
posted by rewil at 12:16 AM on June 22, 2016 [10 favorites]

Closure, blessed, blessed closure! I've been very worried about how the show would end ever since they killed Root - would this be yet another show retroactively ruined by a bad finale and show runner postmortem rationalizations? But, no, this one worked. I'm still sad about the end of Root & Root/Shaw, but getting to see Amy Acker as The Machine was so perfect.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:47 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I liked the finale. And I like the idea of Shaw and Bear still getting numbers. I do wonder in the long term about how it'll be for her with Root's voice in her ear, but, oh, god, "if you were a shape, you were a straight line. An arrow." (I was afraid it would be some admission of Root's love, which, no, too glurge-y for this couple. But that line - admiration and adoration intimately wrapped up together.)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:15 AM on June 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Going down the rabbit hole of a simulation within a simulation would have been more satisfying for a certain cyber-cynical demographic (of at least one). Having thought about most of the issues the show presents I stayed away until I just had to binge the first three seasons, always had a love/hate -- oh cool/no-no-no response to the various "tres ex machina" wins at "the last moment", super-computer sees ahead but not so far that the bad guys can't stab a hero for a gratuitous plot point.

The previous episode had a clever scene with Finch typing away in a guy's den, guy walks in and Finch knows so much about him the guy gives his car keys and ride on his jet. Yet the show needed a regular dose of mano-en-mano fights between flunkies and the heroes. The constant switch between clever twist and hollywood "ignore that brain injury, a bit of gauze fixes it" worked and made a show that will be watched for years in syndication (100 episodes) but could have pushed into some of the real issues of the explosion of computation.

All in all a good ending, the one detail I think should have been included was a shot of Detective Carter's son finishing medical school or something. Hated the "if one person remembers you" clip.

Actually I think a better ending would have been the total melt down of both machines, all the stars having great juicy death scenes, the senator taken down, huge expose. Then a few shots of school children across the country/world working with robots and writing code that talks back in baby talk, many many very different baby machines.
posted by sammyo at 7:26 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I dunno, the guy who played the senator also played McNulty's boss Major Rawls in The Wire. If you're going to have a guy get away without even a slap on the wrist might as well be that guy.
posted by Green With You at 8:16 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Finch had a lot of faith in Reese to leave him locked in the basement of the Federal Reserve without fear he will get caught or trapped.

Fusco getting his job back so fast, despite having the entire staff draw on him and send him off with an execution squad, also got a laugh. I guess that precinct has seen enough they don't question anything anymore.
posted by Gary at 9:02 AM on June 22, 2016

Logistically, there are gigantic plot holes in this episode -- what are the MTA and the NYPD going to make of the abandoned Machine Train full of Team Machine fingerprints and DNA? Where did the returned Machine Clone go from the satellite to expand itself, and how could it compress/transmit itself so quickly without losing its essentials?

But I didn't care. The writers succeeded at getting me 'on board the fun train', as John Rogers used to call it in the Leverage commentaries, and I can go along with a hell of a lot of hand waving "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" from the writers if they nail the characterization.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just watched on Amazon. I think... I'm okay with it.

This felt like a really, really good ending.

Take care, Reese. You were my favorite, even when Root and Shaw came along, even when your Batman voice began to grate a little.
posted by Mooski at 3:57 PM on June 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

So what was Harold's last name?

Reese going out shooting was appropriate.

All right, Rootchine 2.0!

Still amazed Lionel survived a stabbing AND kept his job (whaaaaat?!), but...whatever, I give up on that.

Hope it works out for ya, Finch.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:44 PM on June 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Show had a good run, and this is probably the best my favourite planned series finale since Burn Notice. This final season was much more satisfying than the last, and it's a greet spot for the show to end.

In retrospect, last episode with teamMachine: DC was really touching, that teamMachine touched a bunch of lives positively and will be remembered.

Hehe >rewil; Hobo Batman and Friends, indeed.
posted by porpoise at 8:08 PM on June 22, 2016

Finally had a chance to watch this and I sobbed helplessly. Now I will read the rest of the comments!
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on June 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

> I needed to hear that it was root's voice when Shaw picked up the phone.

Fixed in the tumblr rewil linked to above.
posted by rtha at 12:59 PM on June 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Take care, Reese. You were my favorite, even when Root and Shaw came along, even when your Batman voice began to grate a little.

Yeah, I know I've been in the minority on this (at least in metafilter and av club circles, maybe not elsewhere), but Reese and Finch have always remained the constant favorite for me. I've loved Root, absolutely, and although it took me a bit to warm up, I came around to loving Shaw, which I didn't realize completely until I thought they killed her off last season and was actually really upset by that. And I absolutely ugly cried and was devastated about Root.

But, I think I finally pinpointed what bothered me so much about the finale, because even though I liked the broad strokes of it, I still left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe they had no other choice because of the shortened season, but the fact that they killed Reese off in the final 10 minutes of the show means that there didn't feel like there was any closure at all. I already felt like Root and Elias's deaths weren't fully explored, but at least we got to see some reaction from Finch and Shaw and some acknowledgement from the rest. But Reese has been there from the very beginning. I wasn't ever going to be happy seeing him (or any of them) killed off, but just like with Root, I can see how it makes sense, both in a meta narrative way and in the context of the show's events.

And as I already mentioned in my immediate post finale comments, there were other things along these lines, like seriously, isn't Finch going to take Bear back? At least shared custody??? I also really wanted to hear the Machine answer with Root's voice when Shaw picked up the phone, as mentioned already.

So maybe that's why the show's finale just felt incomplete to me. Every time I think about it I feel sad, but also just kind of unsettled, if that makes sense? And for a show that I loved, that by all rights had a pretty strong finish, I just wish I could properly mourn it rather than feeling like I was left hanging.

In the grand history of series finales, it was still a pretty good one, but I just needed a little more closure. After all, this is a show that, for all its grand sci fi and fist fights and other flashy content, has put a huge emphasis on the relationships of its relatively small main cast. It's a show about redemption, but the redemption has always been brought about through those relationships. I just don't feel like the final moments of the finale really did that justice.

Of course, there's also the fact that I get entirely too invested in the few TV shows that I do watch, and my very recent binge re-watch of the first four seasons only heightened that. So maybe this is totally just a "me" problem and not anything lacking with the execution.

I am glad I got my re-watch in, because I think it's going to take me quite awhile to be able to come back to even the earlier episodes.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:47 PM on June 23, 2016

I had to stop my rewatch right before Elias' scar-faced right hand gets it because Orlando happened and I couldn't take being devastated in my entertainment too. Maybe I'll pick it back up later but MAN this show.
posted by rtha at 7:24 PM on June 23, 2016

Maybe I'll pick it back up later but MAN this show.

Yeah, that's about how I feel. There's actually a part of me that's tempted to go back in and watch some late season 1/early season 2 episodes to try to ease the pain, but the smarter part of my brain knows that's really only a recipe for pain.

So I've just been doing my very best not to think about it. (Clearly not succeeding that well.)

Honestly, I don't know if this says something about my being overly attached to this show or fictional characters in general or just a general inability to handle loss and other negative emotions*, but I literally had a moment where I was like, man, I wish I could go all eternal sunshine of the spotless mind and erase this show from my brain just so I could stop feeling devastated by a TV show.

Of course, I would never actually do that, because this show is still amazing. And I hope one day I can compartmentalize the finale so that I can watch the other episodes without ugly crying.

Because there was lots of ugly crying. Even before Reese died. Actually, I'm pretty sure I started crying at the end of every episode this season starting from the wedding one maybe? I mean, part of it was sadness about the show ending, but mostly it was just the knowledge that this was going to hurt. And hurt it did.

*It's probably some combo of all of the above.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:58 PM on June 23, 2016

But, I think I finally pinpointed what bothered me so much about the finale, because even though I liked the broad strokes of it, I still left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe they had no other choice because of the shortened season, but the fact that they killed Reese off in the final 10 minutes of the show means that there didn't feel like there was any closure at all.

I find comfort in the fact that the ending makes it clear the story is about Reese - it is the time he spent with Harold and the Machine, much more than it is about any other character. The real time narrative of the show starts with him, and extends past his death only to the point where we see who picks up the role he played. Harold's intervention gives him a new lease of life, but he was always living on borrowed time because of who he was and the choices he had already made.
posted by andrewdoull at 9:10 PM on June 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

But yeah, I'm also emotionally shattered in a way I haven't felt at the end of any other TV series. And PoI weirdly doesn't have the popularity in the circles I hang out in to even find comfort talking to others about it.
posted by andrewdoull at 9:15 PM on June 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Okay, I just realized another thing that bothered me about the finale, or more specifically the episodes leading up to it.

First, I absolutely loved with all my heart seeing Finch talking to the Machine. It's pretty much all I've ever wanted in life (okay, all I wanted from this show starting from when we first got Finch/Machine flashbacks). I wasn't at all disappointed. And the best ones were in this episode. I loved that, a lot. So much.

But, now that they killed off Reese, I guess it also bothered me a bit that basically we got almost no interactions with Finch and Reese for the last several episodes. Or even Finch and the other characters. But especially Reese, because, you know, they were the originals, and also Reese is dead. At least we got Root and Finch and Elias and Finch having some final moments.

(I guess there was some of that in the finale too, but it's all a blur since I was too busy hyperventilating/ugly crying.)

Still, there was a lot to like about the finale. The framing of the episode, some great cinematography, some nice one liners, Shaw + Fusco which is always a combo I've really loved (and I feel like they've always had an extra special bond ever since she saved his kid back in Season 3, which was also one of my first favorite Shaw moments). And seriously, not enough good things can be said about RootMachine and Finch on the roof and also Michael Emerson and Amy Acker and oh my god why is this show over?

Oh, and I did finally get around to reading the AV club review, and it's a great review that really does the episode and the show justice, which isn't a small task. I'd highly recommend reading it if anyone hasn't checked it out yet.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:16 PM on June 23, 2016

[Failed to preview]

I find comfort in the fact that the ending makes it clear the story is about Reese - it is the time he spent with Harold and the Machine, much more than it is about any other character. The real time narrative of the show starts with him, and extends past his death only to the point where we see who picks up the role he played. Harold's intervention gives him a new lease of life, but he was always living on borrowed time because of who he was and the choices he had already made.

I really like this reading of the finale, and I will endeavor to make it the lens with which I view the final episodes. Seriously, it helps a lot.

I definitely agree about the borrowed time thing. I have to believe that was a big part of the reason for the alt time line in .exe, to show us that Reese's days were always numbered, so it was just about giving him a better exit.

It's funny, because in so many ways, Reese is the most damaged and most pained of all the characters. He's got a lot in common with Shaw, but it's clear that the dead inside killer thing was a part he was skilled at playing, but it wasn't a natural fit. Shaw had to be essentially trained out of that mindset, whereas all Reese really needed was someone to give him any opportunity to channel his talents in a different direction.

He really is such a tragic character, though. He clearly so much wants to be the kind of man who can live a normal life. We saw that first in the season 1 episode, Baby Blue. Maybe most heartbreaking was in the Prisoner's Dilemma episode interrogation scene with Carter, where he essentially uses an alt timeline of his life as a cover, a version of himself who didn't re-up with the army after 9/11. Of course, tellingly, even in that alt timeline, he still loses that version of Jessica, which says it all, really.

But that's also where Reese is different from Shaw (and of course Root). Shaw has grown to the point where she actually had her version of a relationship based on real, loving feelings (and steamy sexual tension) with Root, but it's not like either of them were about to go settle down and have a family. Not a typical family. And I don't think either of them would really feel like they were missing that in their life.

Even though he was clearly too damaged and set in his path to get such a place, I feel like a part of Reese really, really wanted that. To settle down, have kids, be a Dad, and all that. But at the same time, we saw how much he didn't fit in to that life during his little detour to the suburbs with Zoe in the "High Road" (S2).

And it makes sense, in light of this episode and what else we've learned of his back story. Reese was adopted, then his adoptive father died in combat, and apparently his mother as well. He had no family, and like any good super hero, he channelled the loss and the inner pain and emptiness into being a badass who saves people. I imagine the lack of family was what made him so much want that kind of connection and yet ultimately unable to maintain it, with Jessica, or anyone.

At least he got Finch and their little make shift family. No wonder he was willing to go to such great lengths to protect them.

Clearly I'm still processing (hence the many paragraphs I just devoted to this). But I better stop now so that I can get to sleep instead of sobbing over my keyboard.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:37 PM on June 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, there's one last thing that I have to add.

For Reese, Root, Elias, Carter, and our other fallen comrades, and of course, for Person of Interest itself:

posted by litera scripta manet at 9:40 PM on June 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Reese also has a kind of masculinity that rarely gets portrayed effectively in any medium - except as a villainous caricature. Even the misreading of his feelings about Carter to the point where he kisses her rings so true to me. I can point to many of my wife's relatives who are quiet heroes but have been broken by drug addiction (either directly or in their dependents) or mental illness (triggered by relationship break ups).
posted by andrewdoull at 10:01 PM on June 23, 2016

his adoptive father died in combat

The PoI wiki is incorrect here. Conor died in a steel mill accident (mentioned in Lethe) which makes the gates of Hell comment in the final episode that much more hellish.
posted by andrewdoull at 11:56 PM on June 23, 2016

We're all gonna convene here in FF later this year to talk about Jonathan Nolan's HBO version of Westworld right?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:18 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure. I need heroes in my fiction and there's despressingly few left.
posted by andrewdoull at 1:10 AM on June 26, 2016

I had a bit of a rant comparing PoI to Westworld along the lines of how so much tv SF is about the worst elements of humankind but meh. My thought about PoI is that with all it's faults, plot holes and such it was always based on trying to help. Certainly got it wrong, at least for peripheral characters that were "bad guys" or just got in the way, but the show and writers certainly had heart.
posted by sammyo at 12:08 PM on June 29, 2016

Reddit is doing a re-watch of the whole series and I'm tempted to post the episodes here as they come up as new posts, but I'm not sure about the etiquette of doing so.
posted by andrewdoull at 8:33 PM on August 16, 2016

I finally watched this - they used Metamorphosis to introduce John on top of the building.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2016

You want to be brave? Take a risk. Tell me to wait for you. Say those words, and I will.

I just realized that Reese, stuck in the vault, bellowing "WAIT!" at Harold tied back.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:53 AM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Just binged this while sick with the flu over the past week or two, and goddamn. I'm sorry I missed talking about it with you all.

(Don't recall the last time I was that close to crying over fictional characters.)
posted by mordax at 7:04 PM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm doing a rewatch and was full-on crying during "If-Then-Else" the other day.
posted by moira at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Person Of Interest Was Anti-Prestige TV And Too Smart For Primetime
“You look at a show like Homeland,” Chapman says. “It’s this critically acclaimed show and gets nominated every year, but I think their biggest viewership is 5 million people. We did nine and a half million people [in 2015] and we were canceled. It’s a very different animal, completely different animal. It’s like a rock band playing in a coffee shop versus playing in a stadium. It’s a very different thing. What’s funny is a lot of the young kids are finding our show through Netflix and WGN and they’re watching the show, and they’re like, ‘That’s a cool show, why didn’t I see it when it was on?’

“I know why you didn’t see it when it was on - it’s because it was on network, and you didn’t think anything could be cool on a network television program.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:46 AM on April 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

Note, that anti-prestige article is from 2016, in case you were hoping, like me, that Person of Interest was finally getting its due now.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:15 PM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Man...I sobbed when it became clear what was going down with Reese And Finch. Sobbed. And I'm glad it really ended with Reese, Finch, and the Machine as that's how it started.

In terms of Reese's death, we know from .exe in the non-Machine world he would have committed suicide. If what the Machine says is true in this last episode, that we all die alone, but if someone loves us we never really die (which actually physically HAPPENS for Grace at the end) then this makes a very big difference in Reese's deaths. The Machine talks about how it watched people die and learned from it. And as such making the choice between Reese dying of suicide from despair and sacrificing himself for Finch (who has the potential for a normal life it seems) is actually pretty huge and I'm glad Reese got this ending rather than the .exe one.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:34 PM on July 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

As a side note, I did love when John said "This is a side of you that terrifies me. I like it." to Finch. I'm glad they gave him that moment of levity. I think the writers gave most of those moments to Root in the more recent seasons so it was nice to see him having a bit of snark.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:34 AM on July 21, 2018

> "Even for Shaw, I can't help but wonder in the long run if Root's voice disembodied like that won't eventually start to feel a bit...hollow?"

Well, Shaw did have fully realistic simulated sex with Root ... *checks math* ... twenty-five times a day for nine months, so that should maybe last her for a while.

More seriously, though, we already caught glimpses of Shaw coming to accept that Rootmachine was, in some essential way, actually Root (her "shape" in the world), and their relationship was already a three-way of The Machine & Root plus Root & Shaw to begin with.

And in general, I'm adding this show to my limited list of TV Series With Well Done Endings.
posted by kyrademon at 8:51 AM on May 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

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