First off, Amy Acker in various outfits will never get old. Second, this episode is all about belief, about committing yourself to what you truly feel and not letting anyone else tell you otherwise. Max Greene sets the tone early on in the episode when he tells his viewers that “the things you believe…they’re coming from somewhere.” Later, when Finch tries to reset things post-case, he’s met with vehement resistance from Greene. “I’m not hiding!” he exclaims angrily, and this conviction ends up getting him killed by Samaritan. What follows is an intriguing discussion about free will versus morals, and it’s a great discussion to have considering the sci-fi themes of the series. Whenever you have a situation in which technology has the potential to usurp humanity, it’s a natural extension of the central debate.
There are also thematic parallels in this episode between Greene, Shaw, and Fusco. Fusco, for instance, has a similar conversation with Finch that Greene has, lamenting being kept in the dark and being told what to do/believe. He has a point, of course; Greene’s a typical person of the week, but Fusco’s been an integral part of the team for a while now. He deserves some answers.
As for Shaw, it’s clear how reality is being blurred by Samaritan, and it’s a scary thought to think of how they’re manipulating her. Throughout the episode, she’s visibly bored by the simulations, but Samaritan intends to inject quite a bit of doubt into the situation. She has free will throughout the episode–relatively speaking, of course, as she’s still captured by Greer–but she at least feels like she can choose to speed up the simulation processes. Then, it all comes crumbling down, and we realize just how caught up in their grasp that she is.
GO SHAW! This episode brings a continuation of the last episode’s themes and storylines–which is a duh thing to say because it’s the episode immediately following–and it’s done very well. We have Fusco continuing to assert his independence and expressing anger at being kept out of the loop, and we also have the exploration of reality going on with Shaw. The most interesting scene of the hour for me, though, is the scene between Elias and Finch at the end. Finch tells Elias that he’d appreciate it if he left Fusco out of it, and here, we have an instance in which Finch is trying to decide things for other people. Although Finch is one of the “heroes” of the show, the writers have a great understanding of the complexities of the situation (I’ve typed this out so many times). This, after all, ties in with what Jeff asks a bit later: “Who gets to decide who stays and who goes: you?” It’s undoubtedly an interesting question to ask. And of course, this Elias quote is even more interesting: “War requires sacrifices…underneath all that intellect, you’re the darkest of us all. It’s always the quiet ones we need to be afraid of.”
But if humans don’t hold power and machines do, what would be different then? It’s all a matter of perspective. Is human fallibility the disease or the cure? Is automation the disease or the cure?
Also, yay! Bear gets in on the action!
GRADE for both: B+
Photo credit: CBS, Person of Interest