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Person of Interest “return 0” Review (5×13)

21 Jun

"Return 0" -- The team must embark on one last suicide mission to prevent Samaritan from destroying The Machine and cementing its hold over mankind, on the series finale of PERSON OF INTEREST, Tuesday, June 21 (10:00 -- 11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Michael Emerson as Harold Finch, Kevin Chapman as Lionel Fusco, and Jim Caviezel as John Reese Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. ©2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

“Maybe this isn’t the end at all.”

I started watching Person of Interest about halfway through season one. I don’t remember why I was on the CBS website the day I decided to click on one of those early episodes, but in hindsight, I am just so damn glad I made that choice. I am so glad that the show blew all my expectations out of the water, completely transcending the CBS crime drama mold as it evolved into something complex, original, and enthralling. I am so glad that a science fiction show like this is getting to finish on its own terms, going out on top after five incredible years and leaving its fans with something to remember. I don’t think “return 0” is a perfect series-ender, but it’s still an emotionally satisfying conclusion that brings the series’s big themes full circle. For the final time, let’s dig in.

This show isn’t just about an AI. It isn’t even just about two AIs. In the end, it all circles back around to the people, to the Machine Team and its mission to save others. Jonathan Nolan and co. filter their discussions of AI through the lens of humanity, using their central characters as jumping off points even as the show itself evolves around them. What results is a human/AI conflict that can’t be easily summed up like I just did. As I’ve mentioned before, this series lives in the grey areas, recognizing that human beings are more than a collection of body parts and that machines are more than a collection of wires. The two are entwined with each other, and neither can claim 100% independence. For instance, The Machine tells Finch early on: “You built me to predict people, but to predict them, you had to understand them…I had to learn why people die…the moments, the connections, the things that explained why they did what they did.” You can’t just build something that’s completely divorced from its creator or from the society it operates in, and that’s an idea that the show has been pushing for a while now.

In addition, what I love about Person of Interest is its unabashed appreciation of humanity. It understands that shitty things happen and that there’s lots of room for corruption, but it ultimately has faith in the human existence. “Human life is ephemeral, which makes it precious,” The Machine tells Finch in this episode. Near the end, she asks: “I made mistakes, but we helped people, right?” It’s honestly so refreshing to see protagonists be good people who make mistakes rather than stereotypical heroes or full-blown antiheroes, and I applaud this show for that. Yes, these people aren’t perfect, but understanding why they do the things they do–and seeing the moments and connections in their lives–is paramount to understanding their characters.

The climactic sequence on the rooftops is the perfect example of this idea. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful scene all around, and it emphasizes just how much these people mean to each other. “You gave me a job, a purpose,” Reese tells Finch as a small smile creeps onto his face. “Sometimes, one life is the right life…it’s enough.” This is what helps The Machine, a product of Harold Finch, endure, and it’s what holds Samaritan back. Perhaps progress isn’t the result of sweeping change across the globe; perhaps it’s the little things that count. “Everyone dies alone…but if you mean something to someone, if you help someone or love someone…if even a single person remembers you, then maybe you never really die at all.” Not everyone makes it out of this show alive, but maybe they don’t have to in order to live on. Maybe the world gets a fresh start of sorts, a reset to the status quo. But maybe, just maybe, everything that happened before that matters. The people and the battles and the victories and the losses and the mistakes…all of that means something. Shaw might seem to slip into the crowd at the end, but to some people, she rises above it.

Thank you, Person of Interest.

GRADE: A-

SEASON GRADE: B+/A-

SERIES GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-That small smile from Reese after seeing Finch walking away…man, Jim Caviezel just got better and better over the course of the series. He definitely doesn’t get as much praise as the Emersons, Ackers, and Shahis of the world, but he’s had some incredible moments.

-Music: Philip Glass’s “Metamorphosis One”.

-Another wonderful acting moment: Sarah Shahi as Shaw is talking to The Machine.

– “I met some people, some good people…and they taught me the value of life.” “They wouldn’t want you to kill me.” “No, but they’re all dead.”

– “Is it really your decision to make?” “No, but I’m making it anyway.” Another big question that the series has covered: the necessity of action and whether or not someone has the right to curb or promote someone–or something–else’s power.

-Said it before, and I’ll say it again: it would’ve been cool to see Control one more time before the series ended.

-I have to give one more shoutout to Enrico Colantoni, as Elias was one of the main hooks for me early on.

-The burn-off was annoying, but I’d like to thank CBS for keeping this show on the air for five years.

-BEAR. BEAR. BEAR. BEAR. BEAR. BEAR. BEAR.

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-Favorite episodes, anyone? I’d go with “Flesh and Blood”, “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, “Relevance”, “The Devil’s Share”, “/”, “If-Then-Else”, “YHWH”, and “The Day the World Went Away”.

-This is my 41st–and last–review for this series, and I’ve written more reviews for this show than I have for any other. I loved every minute of it, and trying to pick apart a POI episode and organize my thoughts coherently was a constant highlight of the week for me. Thanks to everyone who ever read a review and/or commented; I have to give a shoutout to Hepburn3, someone who consistently provided tons of insight every week and was always fun to talk to. Thanks for sticking with me over the years!

As for television on this site moving forward, I for sure plan on tackling Mr. Robot in the summer again and Westworld and Rectify in the fall. I might also check out HBO’s The Night Of, among others; we’ll see.

-One more time: He’s not the victim, he’s the perpetrator!

Photo credit: CBS, Person of Interest

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16 Responses to “Person of Interest “return 0” Review (5×13)”

  1. Hepburn3 June 21, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

    HI PB!
    Gosh, I am so sad like its the end of a wonderful time with good friends, you love every moment, and there was good thoughtful conversation,laughs, and even tears, but sadly you have to say goodnight. That is how I feel about POI.
    I started watching this show because of Taraji, you see there were not many if any tv shows with black female co stars so I gave it a bash, and I am so happy that I did!
    This show was SMART! I needed that in a world where there is a NCIS for every bleeding city in the US of A and I am sure that CBS will create “Chicago Sewage” ( to add to the medical, fire and police shows based in Chicago) about the trials, loves and pain of a bunch of physically attractive but non threatening maintenance men and women. Just imagining it gives me a stomach ache.
    But POI is my TUMS. 😉
    This last episode was so moving, I did cry. John paid his time in full , Lionel is an even better cop, father and friend, Shaw got Bear and smiled, and Harold and Grace are together, and the Machine LIVES! ⭐️❤️
    Like you I would have loved to have seen Control, but I was very happy that Shaw killed convict beard face that was fair, and I am so happy that Samaritan died. I would have loved it if the Machine spoke to Samaritan and told it why it was different to it and it would have been nifty if they did it asRoot and that kid. I liked that Root was the manifestation of the Machine in physical form for Harold.
    Things that I would like to understand , why did Root pretend to be a ballerina to go to Europe, what happened to know it all Claire, are the children they saved the young musician who loved comic books, that baby girl, and the protege spy are they okay?
    One thing I love about this show is that the music is another character, I love Phillip Glass!
    As for my favourite episodes I love all the ones that you mentioned, and Elias and Peter Collier were my favourite antagonists.
    So much to appreciate , I am so sad that this show is over but I am thankful that we had it for five seasons.
    My only contention is that the finale should have been a two hour special.
    Thank you PB for reviewing and loving this show and thank you for your kind words in regards to me. It was fun spending time with you every week for the past five seasons!
    I will be around, I like your reviews!
    Laters!
    Hepburn3 😀❤️

    • polarbears16 June 22, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      Once again, great comment! You’re exactly right, this show was so intelligent and rose above the rest of network TV (I still can’t fathom how this and CSI:Cyber were on the same network). It was also one of the best shows on TV period.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews, and thank YOU for loving this show with me. See you around.

  2. Deb June 22, 2016 at 12:34 am #

    At the end, after Shaw meets with Fusco & takes Bear, we hear the Machine talking & see things turning on in the subway tunnel. As the Machine continues to talk, there’s a shot of a tombstone, followed by Finch with Grace & then Shaw answering the phone.

    The tombstone has “Lawrence R Dixon, Capt US Marine Corps, Afghanistan, Mar 5, 1983 – Sept 23, 2005.” Who is that? I don’t remember any character by that name. Was that a pseudonym for someone? It’s driving me crazy!

    • Eleanor June 22, 2016 at 4:34 am #

      Hi, I was wondering about the tombstone too. I suppose it’s the one beside it matters more, with John’s name on it.

    • Anonymous June 22, 2016 at 10:24 am #

      I think it’s John. He is presumed dead by the world, so perhaps that’s his fake grave.

    • Asira Haz June 23, 2016 at 9:28 am #

      It was not about that guy’s grave. The grave next to him was John’s. It was important so that we see that he is burried as millitary and so that John’s name is never revealed. The only thing we see is “John Ta(l?)..” SGT.

  3. Hélder Lobato June 22, 2016 at 2:17 am #

    tks for the reviews… stay well my POI bro 🙂

  4. Justin June 22, 2016 at 4:45 am #

    This was a good finale. Reese’s death was upsetting but heroic, true to the character. I’m happy Fusco is alive and Harold got to reconnect with Grace like I knew he would in the end. And I like how Shaw got some closure about Root from the Machine and dealing with the guy who killed her. It’s just that it feels like the finale was missing something. It wasn’t Control not coming back though I wished that had happened. Whatever it is, it kept the finale from being fully satisfying to me.

    • polarbears16 June 22, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      Perhaps it was the way the Samaritan-Machine storyline ended? I’d say that was the least satisfying part of the finale for me.

  5. Mel June 22, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your reviews for this amazing show. They added to my enjoyment of it, greatly. Thank you very much.

    • polarbears16 June 22, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

      I’m glad to hear that. Thanks for the kind words!

  6. Matthew Thompson June 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Finally caught up on this season after being behind most of the year and came by to read your reviews. Great job with them! I really enjoyed the final season. The last four or so episodes were particularly spectacular. I really didn’t know how I wanted the show to end things, but I can’t say I’d have come up with anything nearly as good as this. All the character endings felt right. I also appreciated that they kept the procedural elements going in this final season. I wasn’t sure if with a limited time to finish up, they would stick with them, but I’m glad they did. It wouldn’t have felt like POI without them. This show at its best always did a great job balancing the weekly case/POI with the more serialized overarching plotlines and they managed to continue that until the end. And I liked how they brought back some side characters for final appearances without it feeling forced.

    Some quick faves from the series would be: Character – Shaw, Episode – “Relevance”, Season – 3, Villain/Recurring character: Elias.

    Great show. I will miss it.

    • polarbears16 June 29, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      Yup, I loved that balance as well. It’s one of the things that impressed me most at the beginning: it used that CBS model in more interesting ways.

  7. KS July 1, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    Loved the show. Have to say that If-Then-Else in my opinion was the best episode of the series. So sad it came to close, but very happy with how it all resolved.

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