“The world is about to catch fire. Here’s your last chance to look away.”
Recently, Person of Interest has explored what happens when the old guard comes into conflict with the new, when finesse and intelligence go up against sheer power and influence. By drawing parallels between Elias/Dominic and The Machine/Samaritan, the show is delivering two compelling stories that intersect to form a greater tapestry, and it’s a masterful way to handle plot and character; it’s also a wonderful way to set up what should be a thrilling season finale next week.
With Elias and Dominic, the central question this week revolves around the idea of leadership. “Just because you’re sitting at the head doesn’t mean you can lead,” Elias points out. “My men are loyal to me.” Yes, Dominic’s circle of influence is quite expansive, but being a true leader means you place your trust in certain people. When Dominic pulls out his gun and fires a few bullets into Link’s chest, he’s essentially proving Elias’s point, illustrating his willingness to eliminate whatever new threat may pop up; his people are simply pawns. Elias has that same ruthlessness in his personality, but he’s the true leader here because he also has a capacity for trust, for relationships. Dominic references his rival’s “symbiotic relationship” with Reese and Fusco, but as Elias says, “you can’t conquer what you don’t understand.” No matter how much information he has and how much power he wields, Dominic can never replicate the relationships that have been forged throughout Elias’s life; instead, all he can do is taunt Elias about them.
Of course, you do have to give up your power at some point, and that’s something that both Elias and Dominic realize. The difference is that the former giving up his power has been planned and accepted, whereas the latter giving up his power will most undoubtedly be done unwillingly. A “last stand” for Elias is going to be different than one for Dominic, and once again, the difference hinges upon the role of others. The Brotherhood leader ends up overlooking quite a bit of stuff, and Elias is the one who gets the better of him at the end.
Samaritan also seems to overlook the “humanity” aspect of human beings. At the end of the episode, Shelly goes on about how “for others, there will be a rebirth, a second chance to live the lives they were designed to live. Every life given purpose.” This is a mindset similar to the one we saw with Reese last week, and the key element missing here is the human ability to change, to grow and love and care for one another. “Purpose” is not pre-determined as much as it is developed, and that’s something The Correction is not going to take into account.
What sets The Machine apart is its ability to care for people, and that’s illustrated in “Asylum” early on when Root starts walking across that ledge; it’s then emphasized again late in the episode through the text that pops up on the screen. “You are wrong, Harold,” The Machine writes. “You are not interchangeable. I failed to save Sameen. I will not fail you now.” It’s one of the most poignant moments of the season, and it’s a perfect illustration of the essence of The Machine. Samaritan will discard you because you’re irrelevant, but The Machine will save you because you’re relevant. And so, if you’re on The Machine’s side, there’s reason for hope, a light still on in the face of overpowering forces. On paper, it looks like Samaritan will crush everyone and take over the world. However, as difficult of a battle it will be, humans can always surprise you.
-Control also fits nicely into the narrative, and her storyline here underscores just how little control she’s had over the situation. Her history also comes into play here, as Shelly points out all her wrongdoings, asking whether she called her own actions an “attack” like she does for Samaritan’s impending move. And speaking of Control, the episode’s first scene is very well executed by the show.
-Next week’s finale drops on May 5th, so Samaritan’s attack will be the following day. You have been warned.
-I love Finch using the truth to come across as a paranoid schizophrenic. He did a similar thing earlier in the season during the jury duty episode.
-Has Shaw really turned? Or, is she planning something? Whatever the case may be, I’m extremely glad she’s back in the picture again.
-Root snapping Martine’s neck is the best. You expect Martine to go out in a big fight scene or something, but instead, she lays a hand on Finch and is killed (as promised). Root’s “NOW I surrender” is perfectly played by Amy Acker.
-One more episode left this season! Any predictions/hopes? Share below. For me, I just hope that Bear plays a prominent role in the finale. I’m getting the sense that he will be the one to take down Greer.
Photo credit: CBS, Person of Interest