Person of Interest Recap Season 5

Person of Interest Recap: What Is and What Should Never Be

This week on the next-to-last episode ever of CBS’ Person of Interest, Harold went to great lengths to deploy the virus that would destroy not just Samaritan but also his own creation. In the end — and after seeing what the world would have been like with The Machine — was he able to execute?

Setting things in motion for Finch’s It’s a Wonderful Life journey, The Machine asks if he regrets creating Her. When he claims it is pointless to wonder, She argues that the world would be quite different if She never existed. For one, Harold and Nathan would be rich (and non-limping) government contractors, though they never built The Machine. And yet Harold would never have met Grace.

Fusco would be living a booze-soaked life as a disgraced cop who only avoided the clink by ratting on HR. And yet his would-be moral compass Carter lived, and got promoted to lieutenant. Shaw remained an operative for Special Counsel, Ms. Groves was Greer’s No. 1 henchman, while Reese… well, he saved Jessica but ultimately was turned away by her, after she laid witness to the darkness in him. As such, he ended his life.

These fleeting cutaways to “What might have been” were peppered throughout the hour, as Harold adopted the guise of a NATO bigwig to sneak into the NSA compound at Fort Meade, where he planned to release the Ice9 virus. With help from The Machine and a new number (Greer’s), Shaw and Reese were right on his heels, while Fusco had G-man Leroux sniffing around the NYPD again, after the bodies were found in the collapsed tunnel. (Leroux would eventually put a couple of bullets into Fusco at the water’s edge, only to lose his upper hand when it’s revealed that the detective had a vest on.)

Just as Harold goes to execute Ice9 with a spoken password, Greer’s goons nab him. Greer and Finch then lob heady philosophies back and forth, about Samaritan’s end game — a filtering “flood” that will elevate humanity to the next plane. To that end, H.I.V.E. Samaritan is building an “ark” and desires The Machine as its “companion.” Harold holds his ground and insists that no such merger will ever happen, yet in doing so he lets slip that The Machine doesn’t know the password to execute Ice9. So Greer triggers a trap which locks the two men in the room, to be suffocated — because if Harold dies, so does the password and in turn the only thing standing in Samaritan’s way.

Greer succumbs to the association, but Harold is saved when — thanks to a wireless router that Reese and Shaw  were led to discover inside an NSA evidence room (thanks, Snowden!) — The Machine is able to communicate the escape code to him. Afterward, he makes the choice to first help Reese and Shaw escape, before sneaking away to kill Samaritan and his creation, by verbalizing the password (which, BTW, The Machine did know): DASHWOOD.

And with that said, Samaritan begins glitching out, as Harold walks quietly away….

What did you think of the penultimate episode, “.exe”? And what might the series finale now entail?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. As says:

    Wrapped up a bit too nicely in a bow.

    He destroyed Sameritan quite easily.

  2. PatriciaLee says:

    Hey, the geek in the glasses being the hero was always a given. I don’t know about the final episode, but now, I do want Elias back with The Machine for the continuation and/or reboot, with the rest of the team.

  3. Kevin K says:

    Wonder if Michael Emerson gets nominated for POTW or one of the honorable mentions this week or maybe in the series finale next week.

  4. Joe says:

    Other likely outcomes if no machine: elias killed 5 years ago by russian mobster, zoe Morgan probably dead, logan pierce dead, potus possibly dead, bear probably dead (not sure what the lufe expectancy of a neo nazi guard dog is, but probably not good), harper still a criminal and the other 90 or so numbers of good people dead and bad prople still roaming streets…

  5. Joe says:

    The recap should also mention thst shaw was as evil as root without machine…and she killed nathans son…

  6. Anna says:

    I’ve always admired the way this show puts itself together.

    After rewatching most of the earlier seasons (I’m mid-way through season 3 again), I’m wondering about the scene where Finch does something to the code in the computer that wound up in Ordos. Has that scene ever proven relevant? What if he did something then that’s exploitable now?

    Still not convinced that Greer is dead, mostly because he’s such a cockroach, he could have engineered himself a supply of oxygen and faked his death just to get Finch to confess all he knows. OTOH, I never enjoyed his character, so I’m glad he’s gone, assuming that’s the truth. The scenery chewing bad guys who can’t stop explaining their motivation kinda bore me.

    Questions I still have? Where’s Control? I refuse to believe she’s gone down without a fight.
    Did all the talk about the gods have relevance? Will Samaritan try to eat the Machine and choke on it? Or will they morph into some other hybrid?

    I really wish this show had a few more years left to tell us stories.

  7. PatriciaLee says:

    The husband thinks of all the shows he has seen end, Person of Interest “has the best ending, the best writing, the best acting, everything…great plots, everything you want in a show, but don’t get usually.”

  8. cadfile says:

    Watching Harold and the machine talking back and forth and Harold being a badass made we wish a reboot with just those two helping people around the country

  9. kirads09 says:

    A bit of “It’s A Wonderful LIfe” POI style. Loved showing Harold what would’v’e happened to them all without the Machine. I don’t want a reboot or a different team. I am just sad this is ending because I have enjoyed this show so much. Some of the best TV ever. But they are going out in an incredible fashion. My only thing I wish in this episode is that in the alternate flashback showing Joss Carter as the new Lieutenant, Taraji had made a cameo there. And maybe an appearance by cleaner Zoe (lovely Paige Turco) who has helped them out from time to time.

  10. Paco Prior says:

    My wife and I have loved this show from Day One 5 or 6 years ago. We both just felt sadness, for the fact that no matter how things end, who lives, who dies…We’ll feel like our friends just packed up and moved out…And we are certainly going to miss them…

  11. grim dipper says:

    I can’t believe they fridged Root for this garbage(and for shock value as well). I mean nolan with his vision™ effed up even an Alternative reality. Root is too capable and Samaritan would’ve chosen her to be his Number One instead of Greer. Sadly the showrunners never really understood Root and they keep proving that.

    I’m glad it’s over and there’s no chance in hell they’re getting a reboot or a spinoff.

    • I don’t know if Root would show the leadership and coordination to run an organization though. She acts better as a lone wolf or a loose cog

      • grim dipper says:

        Hey we’ll never know that for sure because nolan never really cared for Root that much to explore this side of her. And this AU “Root’ was more like a tribute to Martine anyway . It wasn’t really Root. This is how jonugh keeps laughing at Root’s fans.

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          I’m sorry — “Nolan never cared for Root”?? Did you not watch the past 3+ seasons and that character arc? A valiant heroic selfless death in the name of a greater (the greatest?) good does not invalidate all that. Come on.

          • grim dipper says:

            I’m sorry her death wasn’t heroic she caught a bullet that was meant for Finch there’s nothing heroic in that, just pure accident. Root died a pointless death for shock value and to enable POI white straight elderly male to act. If jonugh ever cared for her or her fans he would’e never done this. Even The Americans give their women better executed deaths than POI.
            Speaking of white male privilege on POI. How come Fucso still be alive and Root not? Well, I guess he’s not a lesbian

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            Sorry, I cannot take seriously anyone who employs grade school-level “nicknames” for the producers of a television show, as if it helps make their point. There is a larger problem going on with the killing of LGBT characters on TV, to be sure, but to suggest that Root did not enjoy a fully realized journey over four seasons is greatly misdirected anger. To fight the good fight, one must smartly choose appropriate targets.

          • grim dipper says:

            Sigh. Root died as the disposable woman – fridged in favor of a white male lead. And no she did not enjoy a fully realized journey, thanks to jonugh(oh no I said it again how childish of me). She was barely getting any screen time or things to do POI gave her a very chaotic and fast development to make it possible to kill her off any opportunity given to them.
            And yes even The Americans give their women better executed deaths than POI.

          • kirads09 says:

            5 stars for this.

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            It is just disheartening to see a very noble campaign’s message get diluted by inappropriately directed (and childishly worded, by their own admission) attacks.

          • kirads09 says:

            to be clear – MATT’s comment is what I was replying to re 5 stars

          • Eurydice says:

            Yeah, it’s kind of funny – a journey that starts with psychopathic and sociopathic serial killer and ends with loving her team and the world so much that she’ll take a bullet for them isn’t enough of a character arc. The character who really stopped developing is Reece.

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            THANK YOU. Root should be held up as an example of how an LGBT character can be developed. (And maybe she is, I don’t stay current with all the Tumblrings and such.) She didn’t steer into that bullet to save an “old white man,” she was preserving the world’s chance for survival. Which is nice.

          • Jake says:

            To the vast majority of the audience, the Root’s sexual preference is incidental to who she was. Stop trying to make it ALL that she was.

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            My comments were (obviously) directed at a person who was making it about that.

          • jj says:

            round of applause for Matt. Root had incredible character development. Arguably the best character development on the show. It’s astonishing to me that so called fans are complaining. And it’s incredibly arrogant for anyone to claim to “know” a character better than the writers. The characters are the writers’ creations.

          • suzi says:

            grim, Root did not accidentally catch a bullet meant for the elderly white guy—so much of what you say just destroys any credibility you might have–it was a conscious move on her part to save Harold, who she valued, and clearly loved. It’s one of the many things that made her character a hero.

          • Morisot says:

            @ Eurydice – Reese has become interchangeable with Bear!

        • Rob TO says:

          Root was a lesbian character, but her defining trait was her love for the machine, not being a lesbian. Her death was for a just cause and that was to save Finch’s life so he could destroy Samaritan. If she didn’t do what she did in episode 100, then they both would have died in that car and Samaritan would have won.

          Root’s journey as a character began with an obsession for the machine and ended with a love for the machine. Her character came full circle. If she had died saving Shaw, then that would have been the biggest injustice to the character.

          Instead her sacrifice made it possible to defeat Samaritan which is the most noble of causes and is the ultimate ending for the character.

          A person who is gay, lesbian, bi, transsexual or straight does not have to be defined by their sexuality. People have many other traits and those traits are what truly define them, not who they sleep with. If I had to describe Root in a paragraph, then the first thing I mention is not that she is a lesbian.

          • Eurydice says:

            Yes, this. And even if we look at Root’s death from a LGBT perspective, what make this different is that the character made a conscious choice to sacrifice herself for something she loved and believed in – she owned her decision and her decision made the rest of the story possible. That’s very different than killing her off in some random way just to get audience reaction – like some kind of “emotion porn.”

    • Murica! says:

      You’re absolutely right. The showrunners should have asked you what to do with Root. You understand her. She’s your closest friend. You know her like the back of your hand.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Well, no one in their right mind has suggested a reboot or spinoff is coming. So you’re right on that count.

    • Eurydice says:

      How do you know Samaritan didn’t choose her to be #1? I mean, there was nothing The Machine did or didn’t do that would have prevented Root from being a loose cannon in any reality. Root specialized in assuming different identities and she played the assistant role many times only to turn the tables on her “boss.” I can imagine when she looked at Greer and said “bad code” she was including him in that category. And if she figured out how to bond with The Machine, she’d be able to bond with Samaritan.

    • G.R says:

      The show runners were arrogant, and like so many other shows, they showed they were unwilling to listen to the viewing audience. This show could have gone for 10 seasons easy if they had stuck to the original plot, saving lives. Instead they turned the show into this, this , thing. They could have worked some really good plots in. I really enjoyed POI at the beginning, but the minute they started going down the road they did with a quest by Samaritan’s developers to either acquire or replace the machine, I knew it wouldn’t last and trust me, I’ve never made a bad call on a show I suspected would be canceled. They have themselves to blame while we the viewers pay the price by watching a show we fell in love with, die.

  12. My guess is its going to be a “You don’t want me to lead so you don deserve to live” scenario. If Samaritan has a contingency, it is probably doomsday.

  13. 134sc says:

    If you didn’t know it was the end, you sure would be able to figure it out with these last couple episodes. They are uping the ridiculousness factor x10. When there’s no more show, why the hell not? For what it is, I’m quite enjoying the ride to the finish line

    • KLS says:

      I agree. This is one of the most enjoyable “Final Season for the Fans to Say Goodbye” that I’ve seen yet. The characters are going down in a blaze of glory within the story line. Most final seasons are too introspective to the point of nausea. Well done POI!

  14. Bella says:

    I couldn’t stand Root at first. She tortured Harold! She thought all humans were bad code. Yet she became someone with strong loyalties to other humans, and even learned how to love! She died a hero’s death. And how perfect that she became the voice of The Machine. One of the things I loved most about this show is how much the characters developed over time – Root, Fusco, Finch, Shaw, and to a lesser extent, Reese. But Reese still went from a homeless man who was dead inside to a man with a purpose, a man with friends. I really hope The Machine can be revived (or rebuilt). Because you can’t unring a bell. The knowledge of the existence of Samaritan and The Machine is out there.

  15. Bob says:

    Gotta admit, this episode didn’t make much sense to me. The Machine’s “what-ifs” pretty conclusively showed that, if Harold had never built the Machine, someone (Root, at least in part) would have built Samaritan anyway. That seems pretty compelling evidence for Greer and Samaritan’s position that something like Samaritan is inevitable, but I see no evidence that a countervailing force like the Machine is inevitable. So, if Finch destroys both, we get a little bit of a breather, but then we essentially get the “Samaritan without Machine” scenario.

    • Mary Lynn says:

      The whole premise of the episode — if no Machine then THIS is what almost certainly happens to these people — contradicts Finch’s argument for free will. No Machine = Reese dead by suicide? There must be literally millions of variables between 2001 when Finch started TM and when Reese died. An exponential number of different paths any one of them might have taken, And yet those billions of other realities aren’t even MENTIONED in this episode. A = B, with less than 5% possibility of diversion. Everything is apparently preordained anyhow, so why even worry about free will? Really, really poor writing from a show that prides itself on being “smart”.

  16. Nisan says:


  17. parstl says:

    Ultimately, this second to last episode was fun to watch. In reading the comments, some people are still miffed about Root’s demise. Root was a strong character but I think she became too central to the plot. Reece was relegated to a bit role for the past season and a half. I’m a Sci fI fan but the Machine and Samaritan overshadowed human story arcs. I think it was a great series with strong central women characters like Carter and Shah. As for the last episode, I hope Harold reunites with Grace and Reece encounters Zoe again who has been missed. Would like to see Shah carry on in the underground intelligence community helping folks and Fosco seeing his son go to college or do something positive like that.

    • Mari Sisson says:

      Thanks. I just want to see the remaining characters rewarded with their lives, preferably happy ones. Harold with Grace (such a loaded name). Reece in Carter’s place as a cop or something unexpected. Sameen at peace; she gets Bear.
      I just don’t see how anyone can watch it over again if any more heroes die.
      I care about the people, not the machines.

  18. Cynthia says:

    I think The Machine “survives” the Ice9 virus. If Samaritan also makes it, hopefully the program is severely weakened and glitches.
    I really have no idea how it all ends for everyone else!

  19. Joseph says:

    It makes no sense why Greer wouldn’t just walk out of the room after he found out. Not like he didn’t have 100 henchmen within ear shot. Harold isn’t exactly in a position to outrun him. Makes no sense! Not like the only way to get rid of Harold was to have both of them die.

  20. Viv says:

    Heee… I kept calculating all the eight-letter word combinations Finch might use before he typed in the code: Humanity, machine, Grace, painting… Yeah, never came close to Dashwood…

  21. David Brearley says:

    I am so list best show on TV, open ended please someone resurrect