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Person of Interest “.exe” Review (5×12)

14 Jun

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.30.24 PM

“Your Machine can serve a greater purpose.”

So, it comes to this: two gods facing off, each embodying a different perspective on the world as security, power, and legacy collide in the center. What really is the “greater good”? What should an AI’s purpose be? Is this all progress and evolution, or is it dangerous proliferation? “.exe” is centered around questions like these, exploring the conflict between Greer and Finch as it tackles some of the most fascinating questions currently posed on television. It’s a great penultimate episode overall, and it effectively sets the pieces up for what should be a fantastic series-ender (sob) next week.

What’s been consistently nice about this show is that it doesn’t paint things as black and white. Greer and Finch aren’t pushing completely different ideologies; there’s still quite a bit of room for gray area here. For instance, in the first alternate trajectory of the episode, Finch tells Nathan that he wishes he did “something more meaningful”, i.e. a greater good. Finch and Greer both want humanity to thrive, but they have different perspectives on that idea and go about it in very different ways. The former cares about the people around him and doesn’t want to sacrifice humanity for efficiency, whereas the latter is willing to sacrifice others in the name of evolution. That makes his death so fitting; sure, it’s not him going out in a blaze of glory, but it fits like a glove when it comes to what we know about him.

Delving more into that aforementioned gray area, Greer makes a good point when he points out that Finch doesn’t want to “cede control”. Finch likes to push the idea of free will as an argument against Samaritan, but one can argue that Finch is an overbearing master, unwilling to let his child roam free. Greer would also argue that Finch is letting certain well-meaning ideas cloud his judgment, causing him to buy into humanity without realizing what they would inevitably create. In the end, though, Finch comes to a key realization: if Samaritan would arise no matter what, then maybe it’s a good thing to have the Machine there as well. Power unchecked can become power corrupted, and it’s at that point when humanity becomes second fiddle to “progress”. The episode’s narrative structure–with the alternate trajectories–brings with it a nice illustration of that idea.

The structure also leads to a really powerful moment near the end of the episode. I’m talking specifically about John’s simulation and how the Machine says that he’s “always been on borrowed time”. Greer might sacrifice these types of people for the “greater good”, but Harold will choose to save the people he cares about. “My Machine,” he tells Greer, “her purpose has been constant: to protect and save humanity. It’s what she’s doing now.” Greer can argue that this is all holding humanity back–that these lives aren’t worth saving–but we’ve seen enough over these last five seasons to know that that’s just not true. The Machine Team will be together all the way ’til the end.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Finch’s password is “Dashwood”, the last name of a character in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. It’s the book Shaw’s reading early on in the episode.

-Always nice to see Jacob Pitts. Oh, Tim Gutterson, how I love you.

-Tesla!

-Edward Snowden’s wireless modem!

-Predictions/hopes for the last episode? Comment below.

-One last episode to watch and review. As you can probably tell, I’ve cut down quite a bit on television coverage, but this is one show I just could not drop. I’m looking forward to writing my last POI review next week, and I hope you’ll all join me.

Photo credit: Person of Interest, CBS

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4 Responses to “Person of Interest “.exe” Review (5×12)”

  1. Hepburn3 June 15, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    One more to go.
    I am so sad about this for it means no more POI and no more of your reviews about it PB.
    This episode was so full of what is and what ifs. But I have to tell you that even though many that we care about and who were part of Team Machine died their being part of the What is made their lives have meaning. Reece would have been dead, Fusco would have been a dirty cop, Joss would have married Cal, but that still does not discuss the idea of HR and what they did and who they hurt. Cal would have been killed regardless I think. Root would have worked for Greer, which makes so much sense because of who she was before she tried to steal the Machine and had to confront the humanity of Harold, Reece and the Machine. Shaw would have still been a cold operative killer for the Government but I think that she would have been killed by them eventually. Malcolm would have lived and that to me was nice but Harold would never have met Grace the love of his heart. And worst of all there would have been NO BEAR!!! ❤
    It is all so interesting to muse about.
    The Machine is so like her father and I like that she knew the password and unlike Samaritan and Crazy Old Man Greer ( can I just say that I was so happy to see the air leave that old jagweed's body!) she and Harold are really of one mind and understanding.
    Dashwood. Interesting choice but why the dillio would Shaw be reading Jane Austen?! When Samaritan was dying I was hoping for it to have a tantrum and try to make a deal with Harold. One thing that has puzzled me when it was in human form it used that horrid child but when it was talking to its drones it had a very gruff male voice, who's voice is that?
    Next week it is all over and I will be sad.
    I will miss your reviews PB, I see that you do not do so much tv and to be honest I am not really a big movie watcher so I may not get to read you as much as I did.
    Until then I am here with you until the end!
    See read you next week! 🙂

    • polarbears16 June 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

      Just wanted to leave this here. Goonbandito’s–from the AV Club–comment:

      In Zero Day, we see a flashback where Finch shows Nathan his plan to
      propose to Grace with the ring inside a “Sense and Sensibility” book,
      and Harold confesses he doesn’t want to marry her under a pseudonym. Now we have Harold using “Dashwood” (a character from the novel) as the password.

      Was that very sneaky hint at Harold’s true name? Harold Dashwood? Especially since the “Sense and Sensibility” reference has a couple of other meanings too – Shaw was flipping through the book at the start of the episode, when she was in Root’s bedroom at the subway, and there’s the literary allusions from the novel to both Samaritan (Sense) and The Machine (Sensibility) and even Shaw (Sense) and Root (Sensibility)

    • polarbears16 June 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

      Also maybe I’ll cover the Orphan Black finale! We’ll see.

  2. Justin June 17, 2016 at 3:09 am #

    I very much enjoyed this episode. From its lack of recap and usual original credits which shows how special this episode is to the glimpses of what could have been for Team Machine to the beginning of the end of Samaritan. It was all so satisfying. It makes me both excited and sad for next episode which happens to be the series’ last. I am going to miss these characters and what has to be the most compelling portrayal of AIs I have ever seen.

    I only wish Greer had suffered more when he died. But I can take some satisfaction in the fact that his and Samaritan’s attempt to stop Finch failed.

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