Person of Interest Season 4 Premiere Recap: Identities Crisis

Person of Interest Season 4

CBS’ Person of Interest with its Season 4 premiere raised the question: What if the Machine’s original and most diehard champion ceased keeping the faith?

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The season opens with a (seeming) non sequitur, as a beleaguered journalist (In Plain Sight‘s Frederick Weller) vents to a beautiful stranger (Martine Rousseau, played by Mad Men‘s Cara Buono) at a bar in Budapest. The reporter spins a tale of an “artificial intelligence” that has stealthily invaded our society, observing the public’s every move. The woman allows for such a possibility, that an A.I. would buy the guy’s company and fire him, cancel his flight so that he’d end up at a bar with a glitchy security camera, and then send an emergency text that ushers away the barkeep, leaving them unattended. “The world has changed,” she declares, and three people thus far have realized it — two of whom soon will die in a car crash, and her new acquaintance, into whom she fires a bullet from across the table.

More on her later.

We then jump to New York City, where Senator Garrison is praising Samaritan’s skillz to Greer, yet also expressing “concern” to that Decima Technologies has dismantled, leaving him to wonder if Greer can be found if the jig is ever up. Privately to Samaritan, Greer wonders if the senator has outlived his usefulness, but is told “NOT YET” — one word at a time, via his cell.

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Now, it’s time to “re-meet” the team….

* Shaw is now a (disgruntled, and frankly lousy) perfume spritzer at Bloomingdale’s. Her day perks up, though, when Root visits for some “beauty tips.” Shaw grumbles about her new identity, but Root stresses the importance of laying low — and nudges her to check out some “Romeo” guy on her dating app.

* Reese is now Det. Riley, on the NYPD’s narcotics squad. After busting some kneecaps after wrapping a drug bust, he next is called to a crime scene tended to by Fusco — some gang banger found dead on a rooftop, alongside wire crimpers.

* And then there’s Harold Finch aka”Professor Harold Whistler,” who is resigned to his new destiny in academia, even if his thesis is riddled with typos.

The Machine summons Reese and Shaw to a self-help workshop, outside of which they get a call on a payphone, with the first new number in a while. Reese meets up with Finch, saying it’s time to return to work — but Harold is in no rush. As he observes, they’d been operating “at a loss” when comparing lives saved to lives ended during their run. Yet while Finch has lost faith, Reese believes in the “purpose” that tracking the numbers provides.

Keeping a low profile, Reese discovers that the number belongs to an electronics shop owner who’s in deep with a gang that enlisted him to fashion a non-tappable mobile network. When the gang kidnaps the POI’s son, Reese sets out to extract information the old-fashioned way, with a grenade launcher and such, but Shaw stops him before he makes too big a scene and exposes them all.

Meanwhile, Root pays non-believer Harold a visit, having discovered that “the Mayhem Twins” are back to chasing numbers. Deriding his indifference, she says, “You don’t get to sit this one out….You have to pick a side because this is war…. You have a god in this fight, and she’s fighting for her life.” Harold wonders what difference a few numbers could possibly make “in the face of such a struggle,” to which Root retorts, “All of this matters. We all matter.” So the least Harold can do is get his friends out of their current mess.

To that end, with the POI under the gun to finish the network, Finch — who knows “a bit” about wireless network architecture — helps him solve a “nodes” problem. In then surveying the POI’s set-up, he is fascinated to see that he’s invisibly bouncing the signal off old VHF antennas, which still sit atop many rooftops. After Finch furnishes Reese with the gang’s current base of operations — the site of a quarterly, massive drug deal — Elias’ goons, hired by Reese, arrive on the scene to make their own mayhem, while sniper Shaw keeps watch and Reese breaches the house to get the kid.

As the cops clean up the scene, the mysterious Martine — under the guise of “Homeland Security agent Meg Watkins” — asks around, scoffing at the idea that a “gang war” is responsible for the mess. Reese meanwhile meets up with Harold to hand off one of the gang’s untappable phones, which he’ll be distributing to the team as a means of communicating. We then see Shaw meet “Romeo,” who’s in need of a good wheel man, while Fusco is assigned a new partner: Det. Riley.

As the hour closes, Finch jots down the “errant” letters in his thesis — which was written by the Machine — and uses them to fetch a dusty old book at the library, one which leads him to an abandoned IRT subway station. Has Team Machine found their new “Batcave”?

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  1. ScrubsGuy says:

    Smart way to reset the status quo. Not perfect but lots of little callbacks. A little pedestrian but it’s good to see them back! …did not care for Samaritan’s agent though.

  2. Tran says:

    Couple of reasons why I’m giving up on Person of Interest: no more Joss Carter & stuck with a crazy chick in Root (Amy Acker).

    • Leah says:

      The thing is, though, we see now why they had to let Carter go. As the only one who knew about the Machine and living a normal life/not presumed dead to the world, she would’ve had a hell of a time going into hiding and taking up a new identity like the rest of them, had she stuck around. Could she even have stayed in NY? I miss Carter, but the show has moved on with purpose. Root is like 10% as crazy as she was initially and doesn’t annoy me anymore. The show is still firing on all cylinders, just different ones now.

      • sanchopanza says:

        Spot on.

      • Dr. J says:

        Hmmm… what about Fusco?

        • Leah says:

          Fusco doesn’t know about the Machine, specifically. They made sure to establish that at the end of last season, otherwise I wouldn’t have been sure either. But no, they’ve kept him out of that particular loop. Reese mentions the Machine during the blackout and Fusco goes, what machine?

          • Lydia says:

            The whole “not knowing about the machine keeps you safe” thing is silly. If he’d aiding people who know about the machine, then he’s a threat and it wouldn’t be hard to for anyone with a lick of sense to figure that out, much less another surveillance machine with operatives working for it. Figuring out the machine existed in some way was always one of the lamest and most nonsensical excuses offered for why Carter just had to die. The truth is that she didn’t have to die, and how they did it made even less sense if that’s even possible. Bad move.

      • Lydia says:

        Oh, I’m sorry but this is boloney. She would have been fine “going off the grid.” They could have faked her death if they wanted to. She could have known about the machine and kept working just like normal if Finch had her erased from it’s memory as a “relevant.” She could have gotten recruited by the relevant side to do work for the machine with her military and law and detective background. Saying she “had” to die is just off. Really off. This show has not moved one with “purpose” in any way, but the ratings are already telling that story for me, so I’ll leave that be. They turned what had been a nice show into a sinking ship.

        • vigilant(e) says:

          You just can’t accept that the real world intruded on this show’s intended plotline– TP Henson wanted off the show– and she got her wish– the story line you are criticizing is the writers’ concoction to deal with that fact (that they wouldn’t have chosen, if she had wished to stay)– you have four or five sniping comments on here, bemoaning the loss of the Carter character, when there is nothing the writers could do to prevent it.

          You are probably also one of those people who kept ranting that you were”done with this show” then, when they killed Carter off– I notice you are still here, watching the show and posting about it, numerous episodes after Carter’s exit– are you just here to dole out your sour grapes– or are you still watching the show, for some other reason, despite your protestations to the contrary? If so you are helping keep the ratings at highly respectable levels. (By the way, most shows suffer some losses as they age, and PoI suffers more from a series of lead-ins [and a network] that cater mostly to old people– who don’t understand or particularly like complex, serialized shows about technology– than it does from killing off Carter… put PoI on NBC [after The Blacklist] or on ABC, or even back in its old timeslot on Thursday on CBS, and it would win the young folk demographic easily– as it is, it still attracted the most viewers in its time slot [over 10 million– more than watch an episode of Game of Thrones], relying mostly on the old farts who constitute most of CBS’s viewers.)

  3. David says:

    It looked like the Samaritan display said “terminate” Meg Watkins, but that wouldn’t make sense if it was Martine(the assasin from the beginning?), unless it’s cleaning house. No dvr so can’t go back & double-check.

    • Unmesh says:

      Samaritan’s display indicated “Mandate: Terminate possible threats.”
      I think that clears it up.

    • Moment says:

      You mean after she introduces herself to the cops and leaves? The screen says her mandate is to eliminate threat to system survival.

      She works on behalf of Samaritan(Much like her Reese, Shaw etc work on behalf of the Machine). There was no terminate there at all.

  4. David says:

    Also, didn’t Elias’ henchman pick up a phone? So the network won’t be private. Though Finch did say he installed a rolling encryption algorithm, perhaps just on theirs.

  5. Liz B. says:

    Excellent episode and write up (as always, Matt). This show is one of the best on TV right now.

  6. aditya says:

    poi is back with a bang…loved when resse started twisting the law…missed them a lot…

    • dman6015 says:

      Oh, look, an accident involving drug dealing bangers. That’s probable cause to enter the house they just left.

      • Skittles&Bits says:

        If that line doesn’t end up on best quotes of the week I’ll be very surprised–and miffed. The line, the delivery, everything about that scene was perfect. Reese as a detective is going to be loads of fun.

  7. kma says:

    This show used to be good.

  8. Kel says:

    Good start to the season. Always nice to see Reese break out the grande launcher. Love that Elias is helping them out and would love to see Leon and Zoe at some point too. (although I am aware the actress is quite busy) the very subtle pause when Reese realized he was sitting at Carter’s old desk was a nice touch too. So glad PoI is back!

  9. spdavid says:

    The band’s back together!

    I love how despite Samaritan’s dominance The Machine’s fingerprints are always there.

    Happy to have the show back,can’t wait to see what happens.

  10. Tvtime says:

    Love this show. Also love the way it moves fwd. Killing off a main character took it to a new level.. Sorry Carter. But it was necessary to go to where it went last season n continues to go. One question us how does Fusco stay off the radar?

    • Patrick says:

      Carter and Fusco were both off the radar of Decima, and therefore Samaritan. Decima knew that the Machine team were working with some cops, but they didn’t know who, and those cops weren’t that important. The Machine, Harold, Root, and his team were the dangers. Fusco isn’t linked with the team. Samaritan can’t go back in time to see who the cops that covered up the team’s activities were. It didn’t see the guys working together.

  11. paul says:

    Love the show. Definitely has a different vibe without Carter and with the rest of Team Machine on the “run” or downlow. (Reese using JUST a grenade launcher! Talk about “restraint!” LOL!)

    What was good, for me, about the premiere episode was the “role reversal” of Finch losing faithis in the Machine and the team’s purpose. Last season, it was Reese who lost faith after the death of Carter. And the one thing that Harold said that brought Reese out of that “funk” was Finch’s line: The world is better off with us in it than without.

    Finch needs someone–perhaps one of the previous POSTS that he helped saved in the last few seasons?–to deliver that same line/thought/reason to him this season!!!!

    Can’t wait to see how this season shakes out!!! And to see more of Bear, the “sixth member of the team!!” (Wasn’t that CLASSIC the way Root delivered that line? “…Six, if you count the dog…”)

  12. Rich Abey says:

    First of all awesome start to the season, with just the right amounts of action, mystery & Bear (well we can never have too much of Bear can we)! Love the chemistry between Shaw & Root…awwww…those 2 are perfect, especially when Shaw catches Root checking her out! Reese is as kickass as always. Loved the return of Alias. Most of all though I’m really intrigued by our good ol’ Machine and it’s plan…love the way it led Finch to a new library? All love isn’t lost between those two birds.
    P.S. While Samaritan’s new agent (played by Cara Bueno) didn’t have a lot to do, I did enjoy her moments, especially how she switched from a ‘lady having a drink’ to ‘assassin’ mode. She looks a fitting rival to our gang.