Person of Interest Preview: Finch in 'Free Fall,' Ruthless Root and an 'Eager' New Team Member

CBS’ Person of Interest (airing Thursdays at 9/8c) opened Season 2 by dropping quite a provocative bit of intel, revealing how Reese will receive numbers from and communicate with The Machine for however long Mr. Finch is held captive by Root. But is that really how The Machine works? What will it take to free Finch? And is the new team member a keeper? At a premiere event for the hit drama, TVLine asked showrunners Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman and cast members Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson about those hot topics and more.

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TVLINE | Has the Machine always operated off the Dewey Decimal System? Even when Finch was around?
JONAH NOLAN | We can now see that that is how Finch has been receiving the numbers himself, at least through the course of the [first] season. If you go back to Episode 22, at one point Reese watches Finch answer a pay phone, look around…. We thought it was a delicious combination of the old and the new, since the Dewey Decimal System is something we all grew up with and kind of remember.
MICHAEL EMERSON | I think it’s brilliant, of course. It’s one of those great things where it pays the audience back for all the time they’ve spent in that library, when they may have thought, “Why a library?”

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TVLINE | Have we just seen Root (played by Amy Acker) at her most ruthless, poisoning that lady in the restaurant? Or is the worst yet to come?
GREG PLAGEMAN | She just scratched the surface there.
NOLAN | Root is stone-cold but it’s considered. We don’t think of her as a psychopath but someone who is in her own way sympathetic. And the case she is trying to make is, in many ways – though not the killing people part! – something Finch can relate to. You have all these people who want to manipulate [the Machine], and Root wants to set it free. What that means, and how her plan ultimately plays out, is something that we’re going to see through the course of the season.
EMERSON | Once Mr. Finch sees a few of the things she’s capable of, he needs to bring her down.

TVLINE | Will rescuing Finch prove to be a team effort? Are there things he can do on his end to help facilitate his freedom?
JIM CAVIEZEL | Reese is going to go bonkers [as long as Finch is captive]. His own reason for survival is this whole Machine and what they’re doing, that’s his lone purpose. Once that’s over, he’s over.
EMERSON | Mr. Finch is going to help every way he can, and in some interesting low-tech ways, but mainly it’s up to Reese. Finch is used to being in control, calling the shots, making the calls, but now he’s just in free-fall, hoping that his partner has the stuff to save him.

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TVLINE | Is the dog that Reese rescued from the white supremacists a keeper? [Answer: Yes!]
NOLAN | We have a lot of dog-lovers on the staff, and that was an idea that came out of the writers room. “We have this idea….”
PLAGEMAN | It was Jonah‘s idea, actually, and I thought he was crazy. But then I went, “Oh my God, it’s genius.”
CAVIEZEL | He’s an extraordinary animal, a Belgian Malinois – the kind of dog they used to get Bin Laden. I go down to [Naval Amphibious Base] Coronado to train with them, SEAL Team 1 and SEAL Team 3, and they said that dog will hit you at 50 mph and you could be 6-foot-5 and it will Knock. You. Down. It’s incredibly powerful.
EMERSON | It’s tricky, because you know what they say in show business — don’t work with babies and dogs! But this one is really sweet and eager.
NOLAN | These guys in the library, and to a degree Fusco and Carter, are all kind of damaged in ways, outcasts in ways, so our dog kind of fits neatly into that.