'Person of Interest' Recap: The Root of the Problem
'Person of Interest' Recap: The Root of the Problem
M.K. Costigan
M.K. Costigan
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Oh boy, do we have a lot to talk about. This week's Person of Interest, "Entanglement," is a highly philosophical episode, focusing more on the moral struggles and worldviews of the characters than on crazy plot twists. Don't worry, though, there are still the requisite number of gun battles.

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The Plot, Part 1

We open with Root being her wacky self and breaking a guy out of a prison van simply because he resembles a man she needed impersonated. She also has a Japanese sidekick now. She leads a full life. From there, she heads back to the post-apocalyptic frozen hell-tundra that is New York this winter. If you live somewhere that hasn't experienced the polar vortex, please e-mail me an in-depth description of what warmth feels like. I can no longer remember it.

The Machine has sent her to a janitor named Cyrus Wells. He's got some obvious PTSD and a very fatalistic philosophy on life. Once they venture out into the joy-sapping cold, Root finds Finch and the gang waiting for her. Wells' number came up at the exact time that Root approached him.

This seems a little counterintuitive, since it doesn't make much sense that the Machine would put Wells in danger and then send Finch to get him out of it. One has to assume that either a) the Machine determined that the risk was worth the outcome, b) the Machine wanted to bring Root and the gang back together or c) the Machine wanted Root to meet this man for personal reasons. Believe me when I say this is the least perplexing question posed in this episode.

Whatever the case, Root continues to be vague and departs with Wells, sending Finch an ad for an erectile dysfunction pill as she goes. It ends up having an encrypted message in it that lets them know that Decima is after Wells. And because that's not enough of a challenge, Vigilance arrives, sniper and all, to capture him as well. With the help of Shaw, Reese and some homemade tear gas, Root and Wells manage to escape. Root temporarily has him arrested to keep him safe, but when he's released, Decima scrambles her connection with the Machine and kidnaps Wells.

Conflicts, Emotional and Otherwise

Cut off from her beloved, Root heads back to the library for some sharing of plot points and moral crises. Decima wants Wells because his past job as a Wall Street tycoon means he has access to Maxwell Limited, a company that's really just a front for an NSA lab. The building contains the recently-developed hardware that will enable Samaritan to finally become operable, which is bad, bad news.

I'd always assumed that Samaritan was a problem because it would give the obviously corrupt Decima a crazy amount of power. But Root explains that having two Machines would be like having "two gods go to war." I'm not really sure how that will work logistically, but Root assures Finch that it means the deaths of both of them and Reese and Shaw. Because she's working with the Machine to prevent Samaritan from becoming operational, Root believes that she is saving the world.

And this is where we really get a peek into Root's head. The entire episode, she has displayed supreme confidence in everything she does because, to her, she is doing exactly what "god" orders her to do. There's very little choice in this way of living, and she initially doesn't even seem to mind the fact that the Machine frequently keeps information from her. But this case has challenged these beliefs, largely because she has a history with Wells.

The reason he left life as a high profile millionaire to become a janitor is because his office was attacked by a shooter in 2009. His two friends and business partners were killed and he was critically injured. Root is visibly disturbed when she learns this, and in the library she reveals that she was the one who organized that shooting. She doesn't know why the Machine has brought her into contact with a person whose life she decimated.

She clearly assumed that the Machine, perfectly logical as it is, would share her disdain for humans. But it actually cares about people, and she has spent her whole life treating them as if they were expendable. And if her "god" believes that people matter, then they truly must, and Root must come to grips with the fact that she has been defying its philosophy for decades.

The Plot, Part 2

So everyone is in a pretty rough place at this point. Root is having an existential crisis, Wells is a prisoner of Decima, and Shaw is woefully outnumbered by Vigilance operatives. Shaw's problem is the most easily solved, because she kicks ass as easily as she breathes air, and she makes it back to the library with enough time for a vodka break. She also gets my personal favorite line of the night: "How you do matters as much as what you do."

The other issues are a bit trickier. The Machine is pissed off at Root for losing their connection. She solves this problem by having Finch program a cochlear implant so that it will be able to connect with the Machine and then having it surgically inserted into her head. It's apparently a very quick procedure, because it's up and running by the time Decima brings Wells to the Maxwell Limited facility. Reese and Fusco manage to keep Decima from killing Wells, but they're separated from him in the ensuing gun battle.

Fresh off her crisis of conscience, Root decides to save Wells rather than stop Decima from getting the chip they need to make Samaritan work. She does this by walking through a hail of bullets, getting shot in the process, to retrieve Wells from his panic attack on the other side of the room. She's not seriously harmed, and at the end of the episode she declines Finch's offer to stay in New York and departs for exotic locations and certain danger. Decima gets away with the chip, meaning that some catastrophic consequences are on the horizon, but Root has redeemed herself in the eyes of the Machine and the audience. 

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)