Person of Interest “M.I.A.” Review (4×13)

4 Feb


“I couldn’t stand to lose someone today.”

Person of Interest deals with loss in a fascinating way by intertwining the human side with the technology side, the direct emotional fallout with the larger societal implications. It doesn’t forget about any character, and it takes care to allow loss to reverberate throughout the rest of the show’s universe. In “M.I.A.”, we get an incredibly intriguing look at the reactions from Root, Finch, Reese, and Fusco about the possibility of Shaw’s death, about the possibility that their friend truly sacrificed herself for them back at that elevator. The episode shines when it zeroes in on the characters’ emotions and thoughts and feelings, but at the same time, the episode stumbles a bit when it focuses on the larger picture.

Throughout the hour, we are privy to some very interesting conversations about Shaw, the primary one being the conversation in the car between Root and Reese. The former explains the story behind Schrodinger’s cat, and here, the episode is grappling with the concepts of reality and hope: when is something truly reality? If you don’t have concrete proof of something, how much hope can be injected into the situation? “We’re going to see reality soon,” Reese says at the end of the scene, and interestingly enough, the episode ends without either of them having a concrete answer. What matters, though, is that they’re still searching, that they’re not going to stop until they find their friend. “Hope is painful! I need an answer!”

What makes this whole situation even more interesting is the fact that the team can’t really agree on a certain viewpoint to take. The show sets up Finch’s worldview against Root’s worldview at the end, but it doesn’t necessarily lean one way or another; it simply presents the two ideas, demonstrates why they clash, and lets us come to our own conclusions about the characters we know and love. We can see exactly why Reese and Root are willing to torture information out of Miss Thompson, but we can also see where Finch is coming from when he says that they “can’t be monsters”. Following orders vs. taking responsibility is the key thematic idea here, and the episode does well by it. At the end, it’s all taken up a notch due to the Machine telling Root to “stop”; a rift is growing between her and her goddess, and I can’t wait to see how that’s explored in the coming weeks.

In general, though, I do believe the episode stumbles when it comes to handling the “ant farm” idea. It’s a fascinating idea, and I really hope the show comes back to it because it feels like it’s not thoroughly engaged with in “M.I.A.”. There are a few revelations here and there, but each idea doesn’t feel like it has enough room to breathe. The concepts of social balance (with the homeless man) and displacement of the few and a “good life” and following orders are all compelling ideas, but the episode doesn’t really zero in on any of them; it seems to skip over them a bit in service of the plot. Again, that’s completely fine if the show returns to Maple in some way, but as of right now, it feels pretty underdeveloped.

The episode is still very enjoyable, though, and at the end of it all, it returns to the idea of pawns, the idea that has been explored in depth the last few weeks. When Samaritan controls and studies the inhabitants of Maple, how much free will is there? Are these people just pawns in a much larger game? Is there an ability to break free? A very telling exchange comes near the middle of this episode, and it perfectly encapsulates the show’s opinion on the matter:

“We really are just pets.”

“Pets don’t carry guns.”



-Oh hey, Shaw! So glad to see Sarah Shahi again, and so glad to see the character still alive and well. At the same time, it’s pretty ominous whenever Greer shows up, and I have a suspicion that the brain transponders/implants are going to play a role here with Shaw.

-That final scene is reminiscent of the Stanton-Greer meeting.

-Great performance by Amy Acker in this episode.

-The Silva-Fusco plot is pretty enjoyable, and as the opening quote above suggests, Fusco’s mindset here ties into the idea of loss and not wanting to lose anyone else.

-Apologies for the late review. I wasn’t able to watch the episode before it aired this week,

Photo credit: Person of Interest, CBS


12 Responses to “Person of Interest “M.I.A.” Review (4×13)”

  1. melkor February 4, 2015 at 4:36 am #

    ” Shaw, Finch, Reese, and Fusco about the possibility of Shaw’s” – err you mean Root right?
    A great episode again. Sad we will have to wait until season 5-6 to find out what will happen to Shaw. Seems like nothing is wasted this season, more past characters and plot points are brought back into the current storyline. Can’t wait to see how would the gang war storyline ties into the Samaritan one.

    • polarbears16 February 4, 2015 at 7:21 am #

      Thanks for the catch! And yes, I agree about how the show’s able to tie together all its characters and storylines; it’s pretty impressive, and like you, can’t wait for Dominic/Elias/Brotherhood again.

  2. Hepburn3 February 4, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Hi Polar Bear!! I am happy for PoI is back, not with a bang but with a subtle pensiveness.
    This for me was a Machine episode. The Machine is keeping quiet council, it is only telling its team only so much. You see I really think that the Machine knows where Shaw is but it needs her there as this is part of its gambit. Remember when Harold was teaching the Machine about chess and the purpose of all the pieces? Remember how he focused on the power of the Queen and the idea of that the Queen is sometimes ‘sacrificed’ to achieve a winning outcome? Well Shaw is the Queen, well at least I think so. Shaw is there with creepy Greer Palpatine and the Machine knows this but she does not want her ‘saved’ yet. She has a part to play.
    There was something that always bugged me during that amazing episode “If-Then’Else” that the Machine did not foresee the elevator button problem, it knows how things work so it would have had them carry I don’t know Duct tape with them on this mission, it always knows what to use and utilize at any give time, remember when Root gave Fusco the batter for his smoke alarm that was about to fizz out, and the escape truck with a coat for Shaw when Martine the Stepford killer was trying to gun Shaw down? The Machine knows and takes care of the little details, so why did not do it this time? I think it is because the Machine wanted Shaw to be captured for its endgame that is not a game to it.
    The Machine is not telling the Team everything because sometimes “Goddess work in mysterious ways”. So now we have a crisis of faith per se with Root feeling heartbroken, Finch being pragmatic and Reese being accepting about what is next.
    Amy Acker is so talented she emotes so wonderfully and you really feel her pain, and glee but at times I have to wonder about her ‘obsessiveness’ regarding Shaw. It is not really love, it is like she is trying to replace her lost friend who was killed by that sexual predator. Shaw has never really returned Root’s feelings, she has mildly with hostile humour deflected Root’s advances, she kissed Root in order to get her to do what needed to be done not because she loves her, cares yes but not love, a confession of love is not ‘if we are the last two people left on Earth then yes I might be with you’ which is roughly what Shaw said to Root in one of the scenarios.
    I find Root’s obsession with Shaw to be one sided,and it was becoming all that Root was concerned with. and that is why the Machine told her to stop, it knows this, and really wants her to refocus. But with Root’s ominous “good-bye Harold” it seems like she may not be around or ready for the next episode, this is part of a lesson that Root has to experience I gather. Root’s feelings for Shaw are not the same as Reece’s feelings for Carter. When Reece went all John Wick on HR for the loss of Carter it felt real and had purpose, they had developed a real respect, friendship, comrade in arms and love for each other, I sometimes think that if Carter had not been killed that they would have developed a romantic relationship because of what they had built over time. With Root and Shaw it was just that Shaw looks like her friend who she had a crush on, that she did not take her guff per se,and she gave as good as she got in terms of laying down the smack. I think that Shaw finds Root’s attraction to her amusing and flattering but it is just something there and she does not take it as seriously.

    As for Maple, the Machine did not give them false leads, it wanted them there to put an end to what Samaritan was doing with its Sims/Ant farm,but with its interface/Root going mad about Shaw it knew that things would not happen without ‘tricking’ them into going there. Maple will most likely not be revisited because Samaritan has left the building and the town is on its own and it really does not care about we pets with guns, but maybe the Machine will try to do something for the beleaguered town?
    So with Shaw behind enemy lines and considered dead by her team, the discover of the the brain transponders, and that thing that Harold planted on that woman’s laptop, the Machine is working behind the scenes to win this. There will be pain and some loss but I know it will win. 🙂
    For me it was a subtle episode but sometimes that is welcomed and needed to progress the story, and the story is stellar! 🙂

    It was nice to see Fusco being a cop, and I loved his subtle tag about Carter.

    • Hepburn3 February 4, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

      Sorry for the typos, I type this as I think. 🙂

    • Yennan February 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      I disagree about the Root/Shaw situation and the comparison with Reese/Carter. For me, it’s exactly the opposite. I never once saw Reese/Carter as a romance whatsoever. That kiss came out of nowhere for me. The Shaw/Root thing however, was built up over time. I don’t think that Root’s affection for Shaw has anything to do with her dead friend Hannah. They are nothing alike, except for having the same hair colour. And they didn’t say once that Root had a crush on Hannah.

      Shaw does care about Root. A lot. There were a lot of ways how Shaw could have sacrificed herself without kissing Root. But she did kiss Root. What Shaw feels for Root might not be the romantic love we know, but it’s Shaw’s version of love.
      Remember when Shaw went back for Root instead of rescuing Finch together with Reese? Or when she got all mad because Root was meeting with Samaritan and Shaw thought Root was going there alone?

      Root is not obsessed with Shaw. She is obsessed with finding Shaw. So is Reese. You could see it when they handled Ms. Thompson.
      Plus, in one of the calculations Fusco kissed Root.. so there’s that^^

      The Queen theory.. mmh I’m not sure.. In the simulations, Shaw was not supposed to be there, the Machine had no way of influencing that. For some reason, I always thought of Harold as the King and Root as the Queen.. the way they talked about the Queen, the most powerful piece, that’s Root (analog interface, good with guns, good with computers). But the Machine obviously did not want any of its team members to die, so it kept running scenarios.
      It’s going to be interesting to see why the Machine is not telling them where Shaw is. Maybe because the Machine knows that going into Samaritan HQ would get Reese and Root killed. Maybe because it wants Shaw on the inside, but I don’t really see a reason for that yet. Maybe Samaritan already implanted something into Shaw that would lead Team Samaritan right to Root, Reese and Finch.

      On your problem with If-Then-Else… If I remember correctly, they walked into a trap. Team Machine didn’t see that coming, so that’s probably why they weren’t told to bring something for the elevator^^

      • Hepburn3 February 5, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

        I think that we will have to just disagree about Carter and Reece, they did have more of a bond and relationship it was seen over time especially in past episodes, like when Reece was in prison and Carter had to try to help him without giving away that she knew him but was given away when she showed concern for him. They talked about their war experience and he often said to her that she saved him. and Reece would do anything to help her at any time, so the kiss between them did not come out of no where, and nor did his righteous fury when she was murdered by HR, where as the kiss between Root and Shaw was a diversion tactic. Root and Shaw never had those types of moments, there was only and always Root flirting and Shaw deflecting with mild hostility. To be honest Shaw had more romantic chemistry with the international thief who was wanted by Interpol and the good looking master thief whose team she joined and who she was very interested in. I do believe she cares for Root as she does the whole team.
        Of course she was annoyed about Root meeting Samaritan by herself, they all were, but Shaw was the only one who could not do anything about it due to her cover being blown so she was frustrated, just like when she was frustrated when Reece and Harold went off to save Elias from the Brotherhood and Dominic, she wanted to go too but Root had to drug her to stop her. Shaw always tries to be there for ALL of her team, be it Fusco, Reece, Root or Carter(rip) but she is especially there for Bear, she has said as much. 🙂
        They are a team and they all care for each other but they all help each other. Being a part of a team was and is important to Shaw, she mourned her former partner and wanted to go see his parents but could not so she just stood outside their home.
        Yes they were all simulations in the If then Else, the Machine was going through all of the probable out comes then the Machine settled on the final one, which was the final one, and all the simulations played to their personalities and what they would say and how they would say it. The Machine knows its Team down pat, so what Shaw said to Root in the simulation is what she would probably say in real life if that situation had arised. As for Fusco kissing Root that was fun and funny and shows that even under pressure that the Machine has a sense of humour. Yes it was a trap but the Machine took all considerations, it knew Samaritan was there but it did not know how early it would arrive.
        Yes I believe that Shaw is the Queen. PoI is a well crafted show with many layers, I find that it is very like a Chekov play where as nothing is mentioned,given or shown without it having an ultimate purpose or use. The purpose may not show itself in the same episode or in the next and it may show up in a following season but it does show up. Harold spoke of sacrifice and that the Queen is often sacrificed, and that is the word that Harold uses to describe what Shaw did, sacrifice.
        The Machine told Root to STOP because she was getting obsessive about Shaw and she was not focussing. I think that the Machine does know that Shaw is alive, but she has a mission to do, because like Harold told her no one is more important than anyone else, not even him.
        Root did have a crush on her young friend who was murdered, her death wounded her, why else would she go to so much trouble to make sure that the man died a horrible death and torment the librarian by posting an exact copy of the book that her friend borrowed from the library every year? Like I said nothing is without rhyme or reason in PoI it is such a well written and tight show done with depth and verve.
        That is the beauty of this we can both have opinions but I do not think that I am wrong when I think that Root is obsessively in love with Shaw, she is obsessively in love with the Machine too to the point that she wanted to take it away from Harold at first. It is Roots nature, she is a loner by nature and likes to cleave to one thing or person, it took her time to learn to be part of a team, but she has. 🙂

      • polarbears16 February 7, 2015 at 12:32 am #

        Yeah, I completely agree that the kiss did come from somewhere. However, what I’ve always found impressive about this show is its ability to refrain from those cliche romantic relationships that most shows inevitably put in to “spice things up” a bit.

  3. Matthew Thompson February 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Shaw is my favorite character, so I’m glad she is alive. I feel like the way they have written her out is a bit ham-fisted, but I guess it is just the writers doing their best with Shahi’s situation. At least they are making the most of it to create interesting interactions with the other characters.

    Have to agree about the Maple storyline not being handled as well as it could have been. Still plenty of cool stuff in there. I enjoyed the other storyline too. The girl who plays Silva is super good-looking which doesn’t hurt, but that kind of goes for all the women of POI.

  4. Hepburn3 February 5, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Here is just a small example of how things be they big or small are used in PoI.
    I just love this show! 🙂

    • Hepburn3 February 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

      Sorry Polarbear it was a photo of Shaw and Fusco talking about Fusco getting a spot on his tie while on a stakeout and then the latest episode where Dani points out the stain on Fusco’s tie. 🙂

      • polarbears16 February 7, 2015 at 12:33 am #

        Ooh, thanks for catching that! Couldn’t see the photo, but yes, these writers are amazing.

  5. Justin February 7, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    Great, insightful review. But I thought the episode meshed together well on a thematic level. And I love the end scene with Shaw. That tells me we’ll get more of a conclusion to her storyline this season before or by the end the Samarian arc comes to an end.

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