The first half of Person of Interest Season 3 did some heavy lifting. The battle with HR hit a fever pitch, ultimately costing Detective Carter her life. New light was shed on Mr. Finch’s past, and we got a glimpse at Shaw’s own backstory. Root warned of a larger fight to come. And as the CBS drama entered the break, the mysterious Control was revealed — as was the possible existence of a second Machine.
And mind you, the worst is yet to come for Team Machine.
Asked to sum up the theme for the back half of the season (which kicks off Tuesday at 10/9c), EP Jonah Nolan at first says that’s “a complicated question,” but ultimately settles on one word: escalation.
“That battle with corruption in the ranks of New York’s finest and the mayor’s office, as taxing and difficult and ultimately lethal as it was, was really just the beginning in terms of the challenges put in front of our heroes,” Nolan explains. As suggested at the close of the episode that introduced Control (played by guest star Camryn Manheim, The Practice), “Shaw’s former employers and Finch’s former collaborators will come roaring back, along with Vigilance and another party.”
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Surveying that veritable rogues gallery of ne’er-do-wells, Nolan laughs: “We like things to be as messy as possible. The technical term for [the Jan. 7] episode would be ‘a clusterf–k of villains coming after our heroes.'”
And that, for lack of a simpler explanation, is what Root has been alluding to when warning Finch of a greater fight ahead. “In the advent of HR’s demise, we’re going to start to see these various entities jockey for control or at least something commensurate with The Machine,” says EP Greg Plageman. “It becomes a situation where Root starts to take matters into her own hands and establishes a more direct line between The Machine and herself.”
Speaking of Root’s rather unsettling symbiotic bond with “Her,” Nolan promises there is “a long and somewhat, if I dare say, convoluted” explanation of how the two have been communicating as of late, with Root holed up in Finch’s cage. “But it points to the escalation of the stakes across the board for our heroes and for The Machine.”
Or should that be The Machines, plural, seeing as addled NSA wonk Arthur Claypool (Warehouse 13‘s Saul Rubinek) has revealed that his own handiwork, dubbed Samaritan, may be operable?
Gleefully noting (as the producers like to) the similarities between POI‘s premise and the headline-making Snowden scandal — or as he puts it, the “collision of reality with fantasy” — Nolan says, “In real life you’ve got a half-dozen prominent groups working toward the construction of something like The Machine. We imagine that one of those old projects that was sort of ‘strangled in the cradle’ is dusted off or might still be viable. So, like Shaw, many are interested in that question: Is there another Machine?”
When last we tuned in, Control was hot to have that mystery solved by Claypool — if not also get her hands on Finch’s creation. And with Shaw held captive with Finch and Reese and Fusco two-thirds of the way across the country, “There will be no cavalry,” Nolan affirms, “so you’ll have to tune in and see if someone will rise to the occasion.”
And what of the aforementioned Mr. Reese? Having retreated to Colorado to lick his emotional wounds after Carter’s tragic death, he was in no mood for Fusco’s uninvited company, and the episode closed with the men engaging in a parking lot brawl. But it will take more than a few punches to cure what ails Team Machine’s main muscle. As Plageman explains, “The loss of Carter creates a rift between the rest of our guys on Team Machine, and disillusionment on Reese’s part. Something much bigger has to happen if he’s ever going to come back into the fold.”