Warning: This blog contains spoilers for anyone who has not up to date on Person of Interest episodes.
There’s nothing like a cliffhanger TV finale to keep fans at a fever pitch, especially when a network hasn’t announced whether the episode ended the season or the series.
Viewers were left hanging when Person of Interest aired “YHWH,” episode 22 of its fourth season, on May 5. Rumors that the series was done ran rampant. CBS kept fans hanging for nearly a week until a 13-episode fifth season was announced.
I was awed by the ending scene of the finale, as main characters, including The Machine, faced death while Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” blared in the background. Fears of cancellation overpowered the depth I saw in this episode.
The conversation Finch had with The Machine in this episode was touching and revealing. The Machine addressed Finch as “Father,” not “Admin.” The Machine’s apology for failure, questioning her/his/its life purpose and thanking Finch for creating it showed how much it has evolved beyond hardware circuits, programming code and a Boolean algebraic perception of the world. The Machine has become, as Mr. Spock might have observed, illogical – not unlike the humans it protects.
A whole lot of gray was stirred up in Coldblooded Killer Greer’s assertion that Samaritan is the Good Guy in the AI battle. The current condition of the world makes it hard to deny that Humanity needs an angry, Old Testament-style Yahweh ready, willing and able to smite all who offend it with corrective action, i.e. execution. On the other side is the Machine, allowing Humanity to have free will up the point where it must intervene. This offers plenty of philosophical separation for continuing conflict.
If CBS had definite plans to ax Person of Interest, it had a perfect set-up to end it all in the wall of Samaritan bullets Finch, Reese and Root faced (and would probably not have survived in reality) as the episode ended. The door was left open to what could and now will be an incredible fifth season.
I was overjoyed that the network chose to walk through that door rather than slam it shut.
The fourth season of this superb series had numerous key moments. Heading the list was the apparent shooting death of a regular character, Shaw, by Samaritan agents in early January. The rest of the team became resigned to her death, with even The Machine telling them to give up the search.
Shaw’s status was kept in the dark until late April, when fans got a glimpse of Shaw in a vehicle side-mirror as it sped away from a one-step-behind Root. Root’s frantic search for Shaw in this episode elicited fear that she might have simply been chasing a well-crafted Samaritan illusion fueled by her own renewed hope. Accustomed to having Root ride to the rescue in multiple episodes, I tend to lose sight of the fact that Root entered the series as a villain who kidnaps Finch.
Confirmation of Shaw’s continued existence reinforced my suspicion that The Machine wanted the team to stopping looking for Shaw because it wants an asset inside the Samaritan organization. Perhaps the next season will bring an AI tug-of-war for control of Shaw’s mind. Samaritan would be the underdog in that contest, given Shaw’s loyalties and mental toughness.
Person of Interest is an action-packed, regularly humorous take on the larger issue of human existence and its uneasy relationship with advanced technology. CBS made an excellent decision to give another season. I hope the show tallies enough eyeballs to motivate the network to not only extend its next season but give it numerous additional full-length seasons.