Fall TV Preview

Person of Interest: What (and Who) Is New for Season 3? And What Is The Machine Turning Into?

Person of Interest Season 3 PreviewThe Machine is on the move, but the big question as CBS’ Person of Interest returns tonight at 10/9c (new time slot alert!) is not where it’s gone to but what it’s up to. Plus, Season 3 promises a richer cast of players, now that rascally Root and steely Shaw are keepers. Executive producer Greg Plageman shared with TVLine a look at what’s newas the well-watched drama returns.

PHOTOS | Fall TV Spoiler Spectacular: Exclusive Scoop on POI and 44 Other Returning Faves

TVLINE | Is this season largely about “the search for The Machine”?
I don’t know if I’d call it the search for it so much as, “What is The Machine up to?” I’m not certain its physical location is of paramount importance, more so than, “What is the Machine evolving into? What sort of an organism is it becoming? And is it expanding beyond the parameters of what even Finch designed?”

TVLINE | Does anyone know where it now is, picking up three months later?
That’s a very good question. I will say this: The Office of Special Counsel is dead now, but Hirsch is someone who is actively looking for The Machine, and his [unseen female] boss, whom we call “Control,” Nothing To Hideis very interested in what happened to The Machine – and they consider Root instrumental in perhaps finding it.

TVLINE | Do you have a timetable for revealing this “Control” character? Maybe November sweeps…?
Hey, that sounds like a great idea!

TVLINE | Talk about promoting Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker to series regulars. What does that do for the show?
We just think they’re fun. Amy Acker is phenomenal, and pretty much anything we give her she can handle. And whenever we have fun with a villain, they’re definitely coming back.

TVLINE | Is it that Root will be in every episode, or that you wanted to guarantee Amy was available when you need her?
More so the latter. What Root represents is a diverging point of view about The Machine’s potential, someone who is just as capable as Harold Finch but has a very different philosophical opinion about how they should be treating The Machine. We think that’s the most fun, when a villain really starts to make a lot of sense. Where we start this year, there’s a third entity that The Machine is now reaching out to, and that’s where it starts to get interesting, in term of its relationship with Root.

TVLINE | And Shaw, will she be a full-time team member or will you pick and choose when she helps out?
Unlike Mr. Reese, Shaw is from “the Groucho Marx school,” where she would never become a member of any club that would have her. She obviously has a certain amount of disillusionment about what happened to her at the end of [Season 4,] Episode 16, in terms of her close ties to the people in the government that she worked for. That sense of betrayal informed her opinion about belonging to anything or giving allegiance to anyone right now. So she helps us out when she feels like it.

TVLINE | And what sort of journeys will Carter and Fusco be on?
We’ve got some fantastic material that we’re getting Nothing To Hideinto in the writers room with Carter’s character. Where we left off, she’s experiencing a certain amount of disillusionment in terms of her service to the NYPD, for obvious reasons. Her boyfriend Cal Beacher was murdered, and she was demoted. And she had to accept a demotion at the hands of HR. Where we left her, she sprung Elias from a prison transport, which is completely out of character for her. So, we’ve got Carter out there on the wing a little bit trying to figure out what her next move is. But suffice it to say shes got a big bone to pick with HR, and the fun is watching what Carter’s going to do differently to try to figure it out and get back to where she was.

TVLINE | What backstory pieces for anyone to you plan to fill in this season?
Two of the characters we would like to get a little bit more into this season are Detective Carter – what happened in her personal past, how she would up where she is. Also, we think [flashbacks are] a really good way to know a newer character like Shaw, so we think we’ve got a really fantastic Episode, 5, that deals with that. I think people are going to find that character dimensionalized in a way they hadn’t thought of.

TVLINE | Carter and Shaw, along with Zoe (returning guest star Paige Turco), are part of the “girls night out” caper that TVLine ran a fun behind-the-scenes photo of….
Yeah, [co-executive producer] Amanda Siegel pitched that and we said, “We have to see that.” We thought it’d be fun to put all of them in one story, and in that particular instance they’re operating as bait, which we thought was really fun. Warren Kole (Common Law) is the person of interest in that episode, which is presently titled “Ladykiller.” He plays a real lothario.

TVLINE | Any other guest stars to tout?
We have some phneomenal guest actors. Rey Valentin (Generation Kill) is in the opening episode, which is called “Liberty” and involves a sailor on shore leave — during Fleet Week in New York City! We’ve got a great way to get him in a fix, and how he gets out of it is a bit of a nice grace note, in that where we find out a bit about Reese’s own history and how he joined the military. And Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes) shot an episode for us, playing a former ADA who is captured by the police for murdering her defense attorney ex-husband.

TVLINE | Some noise was made over the spring/summer about how the NSA/Snowden thing drew parallels to your show’s premise. Though real-life tech is obviously operating on a smaller scale, do you feel any obligation to do a storyline where, say, a reporter gets wind of The Machine’s existence?
Perhaps Person of Interest is only a ruse, Matt, to distract you from the real Machine? Maybe it’s impressive what the NSA has built over in Utah, we’re not quite sure, but I don’t know if it can move itself, if it’s that smart yet. It’s a really interesting sort of parallel that’s going on in real life, but we don’t feel like our show has to dovetail completely with reality in that regard; we think that we’ve already kinda been there. What’s interesting about the revelations coming from Snowden is that there are other characters, other figures — some who work for the FBI or the NSA — who indicated years ago that this was something that was going on. Certainly Shane Harris outlined all this in his book The Watchers, going back as far as Admiral Poindexter, so what we’d like to do this year is inform people how long this has actually been going on, through drama and through fiction, but in a way that is actually quite real.

Want more scoop on POI, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.