A central theme of this episode, aside from the standard violence and espionage, is just how alive the Machine really is. It's been autonomous for a while now, but now questions of its personality and self-image are being raised. The first example of this comes from Arthur. The wily devil not only played up his brain tumor to avoid answering Control's questions, he also remembers that the Samaritan drives are in a safety deposit box and has hidden the key in his medical alert button. You, sir, are awesome.
When they get to the drives, Arthur remembers that he actually completed the project, even though everyone else thinks that he never got it working. He says he programmed it to create and recreate its own genetic code, meaning that it was essentially alive. Or I think that's what he says. I got an English degree and I'm pretty sure that science was made up, so who knows?
In any case, he believes what he and Finch created are their children, which sparks a little debate with Finch over the nature of the artificial intelligence. This week's flashbacks show that teenage Finch started making an AI to be a human-like watcher and companion for his sick father, but he doesn't seem to consider his actual creation in the same way. In the wake of Carter's death, he's not even sure if building the Machine was the right thing to do. It's equal parts wonderful and terrible and is responsible for deaths as well as responsible for saving lives. Finch manages to convince Arthur to destroy the drives because of the chaotic situation around them, and we have to wonder if he wishes he could go back and do the same thing.Stop. Hammertime.
While Finch and Arthur are having their philosophical moments, everything has gotten very real. Vigilance knows about the Samaritan drives, but does not seem to know about the Machine. They think that the failed Samaritan attempt is as far as the government has gotten, but they want the drives as evidence of how much everyone's civil liberties have been violated. So they take the calm and rational step of going to the bank armed to the teeth and taking the entire thing hostage. Finch and Arthur manage to lock themselves in a vault with a newly shot bank manager while Shaw remains in the bank, assessing the situation.
It's very precarious, as Hersh and his people then arrive under the guise of a SWAT team. Shaw can't take down Vigilance because they are the only thing keeping Hersh from invading and trying to get the drives. She decides that the best course of action is to channel her hammer-like destructive powers and build a bomb. When Vigilance blows up the vault housing Finch and Arthur, she simultaneously blows a hole that allows them an escape route to the sewers. A Vigilance suicide bomber manages to distract Hersh, and it's unclear whether or not he survives. It seems like Shaw's plan will get them out alive until they are cornered by Collier and his men. If only some masked hero would swoop in and save the day!
Someone Has Been Listening to Too Much Morrissey
Back in Colorado, the land of plaid and mournful stubble, Reese is still having an existential crisis. He and Fusco have been arrested after their fight in the previous episode, and Reese uses this time to explain why nothing is beautiful and everything hurts. Even when they save people, he says, they are only delaying the inevitable. Everything in the world is dying a slow painful death, Fusco will eventually go back to being a corrupt cop, every day feels like Monday, etc.
Fusco finally says, "Screw this," and lets Reese out, since he'd really just asked the local police to hold them so they could talk. He lets Reese know that Finch is probably in trouble as a last ditch effort of stirring something inside Reese's dark and apathetic soul.
And it works! Reese and Fusco presumably teleport back to New York and get there in time to save their friends from Collier and Vigilance. But it was only a one-time thing. Reese came back to save Finch because they're friends, but he has no intention of working for the Machine anymore. He too ascribes human qualities to the Machine, questioning what it really cares about and its moral code. After all, if it let Carter die, it can't really be a merciful god.
"She Wants to Save You"
Speaking of god complexes -- Root! She's being interrogated by Control, given crazy torture injections over and over until she becomes even less stable than usual. Root explains that the Machine is her friend and reason for existing, and that she is its tool and interface. Control is not amused and decides to cut off Root's communication with the Machine by cutting the stapes bone out of her right ear
, leaving her deaf on that side. I was not prepared for that one.
Root, though, is always five steps ahead of everyone else. Control had brought a cell phone into the room to entice Root to cooperate, and since then the Machine had been broadcasting Morse code at a frequency too high for people over 40 to hear. Presumably, this is how she was able to communicate with the Machine without Finch knowing, and it's brilliant. The Machine had told Root that Control had a knife in her pocket, so she allowed
Control to remove her stapes in order to grab it and escape. She is completely unhinged in the best way possible.
Now able to communicate with the Machine properly, Root delivers a message to Control. The Machine says that it doesn't belong to anyone and tells Control, "You are mine." The Machine seems to claim ownership over those that it guards, which is everyone. It's some crazy Old Testament stuff that's frankly disturbing. The Machine seems to consider itself a god now. It also seems to display compassion, as it sends Arthur a montage of him and his wife once they are all safe again. A Plot Twist
So that's that. Root is free, Reese is still a damn mess and Finch is starting to get really concerned about the whole "creating an all-powerful and autonomous intelligence" thing. As if that's not enough, Finch learns that the bank manager who was shot during the ordeal was actually an imposter. She stole the real Samaritan drives and passed them on to none other than Greer, the mysterious guy who worked with Kara Stanton. We don't know what this means yet, but it's probably nothing good. Person of Interest
airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.(Image courtesy of CBS)