'Person of Interest' Season 3 Finale Recap: The Team Falls and Samaritan Rises
'Person of Interest' Season 3 Finale Recap: The Team Falls and Samaritan Rises
M.K. Costigan
M.K. Costigan
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
When we last left the heroes of Person of Interest, they were having a pretty bad day. Finch had been kidnapped by several sets of people, Reese and Shaw had to refrain from killing Hersh, and Root was a general beacon of doom. This week's season 3 finale, "Deus Ex Machina," does not bring any improvement. Vigilance is putting the US government on trial and livestreaming the whole thing all over the world. Because they believe in the law, they have also abducted a jury of the US government's peers and a defense lawyer. I must have missed the kidnapping amendment in the Constitution.

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The Past

Before we get to the trial, let's take a trip on the SS Backstory. It's 2010, and Collier is abducted by Vigilance. They know what happened to his brother and offer him a chance for vengeance and a new identity. Collier accepts almost immediately.

The rest of the flashbacks chronicle various important points in Collier's time with Vigilance. In 2012, Vigilance is causing some sort of ruckus, but Collier thinks they need to go bigger. They're only attacking on a small, easily replaceable scale. What they need to do is make a statement and an example of the people who are really responsible.

In 2013, this still hasn't happened, but there is some infighting. Collier is receiving Benjamin Franklin quotes on his phone and dealing with a pissed-off member who thinks they should be getting violent. Collier says they're against violence, but then reveals the angry member as an FBI agent and shoots him. His beliefs have become compromised, and he takes control of Vigilance in a way that borders on the tyranny he preaches against. These are the moments most crucial to understanding the man we see in 2014, running a kangaroo court.

Nobody Expects a Spanish Inquisition Reference

Here's the basic setup of the trial: Control, Greer, Finch and a few assorted other people are being questioned and presented with an extensive amount of evidence. It's pretty clear that everyone is going to be found guilty, but they have the option of not being put to death if they testify against each other Spanish Inquisition style. Mainly, Vigilance wants to know who built the Machine and is thus the most responsible for the massive violation of civil liberties. They seem to have no idea who Finch is, but have elected to put him on trial anyway. Theirs is a roll that just can't be slowed.

Manuel Rivera is questioned first. He does not respond well to this. Collier brings forth hundreds of pages of documents proving that he knew about Northern Lights, but Rivera does not care. He screams at Collier that he has no authority, and Collier disproves him by shooting him dead. Justice!

Collier briefly tries to come at Finch, but Control smacks him down with the law. Control is pretty awesome in this episode. She is completely unbothered by her imminent execution. When it's her turn for questioning, she lets Collier work himself into a tantrum and only answers his questions with the standard "I can neither confirm nor deny" line. It's an almost artful display of not giving a crap.

The Big Issues

She should probably start giving a crap, though, because Collier terrifies the jury into finding her guilty. She does give some justification of her actions, revealing that she was at the Pentagon on 9/11 and that she has dedicated every day since to making sure no such attacks ever happen again. Vigilance, she tells Collier, has broken just as many laws as she has, except she never pretended to be a hero. She makes very valid points, as everyone does in this argument.

One of the great things about Person of Interest is that the show never really takes a side on these issues; both Control and Collier are shown to have both sound arguments and inexcusable actions. If they never addressed the moral and legal issues with the Machine the show is based around, it would be ridiculous, and they do it in such a way that they never tell the audience what they should feel about these issues. It's a testament to the show's ability to avoid black and white thinking that I find myself rooting for Control in this episode, even though I've always hated her before.

But Collier is too far gone in his moral absolutism to see any validity in what Control is saying and prepares to kill her. Finch can't let this happen. In front of the court and the livestream, he admits to creating the Machine, and gives a testimony detailing its history and how it works. He too gets into a moral debate with Collier, and Finch admits that he's had doubts about the Machine since the day he created it. Unlike Control and Collier, he has never been sure of whether his actions were right or wrong and instead settled with doing his best. Before Collier can take these heartfelt admissions and shoot Finch in the face with them, the courthouse's security is compromised and they have to move the proceedings.

The Cavalry

While this is going on, the rest of the team has been trying to find Finch. Reese, Shaw and Hersh are begrudgingly working together towards this end, but Shaw soon leaves to help Root not die. They meet up with Fusco and Bear, who are trying to manage the chaos the blackout has caused. They quickly manage to trick an idiot Vigilance member into giving them the courthouse location, but the trial is on the move by then.

Hersh stays to explore the building, while Reese keeps looking for Finch and Control. In the basement, Hersh finds a mess of foreboding wires, which lead to a bomb set to explode when the power comes back on. He radios Reese for help, but Reese already has his hands full.

The Puppeteer

And what does Reese have his hands full with, you ask? None other than Decima! It was Decima that compromised the courthouse security, and they manage to capture Collier and Finch. The reason Greer was so coolheaded during the trial was because he knew he was never in any real danger. In fact, he orchestrated the whole thing. He used the trial to get Vigilance to commit a big, desperate act, but the livestream was really only broadcasting to one office.

In fact, Decima has always been behind Vigilance. Greer personally recruited Collier and manipulated him into domestic terrorism. He knew there would always be arguments against the use of Samaritan, so he decided to give the country an act of terror to scare them into giving up their freedoms. Vigilance is the scapegoat being used to promote the very cause it fights against.

Hersh and Reese work to stop Decima, but they're too late. The power goes back on and the bomb explodes, killing Hersh and a large number of police officers at the scene. Greer has Collier killed, cementing him as history's villain. The only victory is that Reese arrives before Greer can kill Finch, and they get away. The damage has been done, though. Decima has caused the right amount of terror, and Samaritan is finally granted the government feeds. The season-long battle has been lost.

The Future

But wait, you say, didn't Root have a master plan to stop Samaritan? Not so much. She does have a plan, but to a different effect. She and Shaw meet up in Samaritan's server warehouse and have their usual quasi-flirting moments before getting to business. They make their way to the servers and Root puts some kind of program into place that will turn on when Samaritan's full power does as well.

Everyone thinks this program will cripple Samaritan, but Root reveals at the end of the episode that this isn't the case. Samaritan is far too powerful for that, and any chance they had at stopping it from going operational ended when they let the congressman live. Since then, the goal has never been to stop Samaritan; it's been to survive.

Root's program creates seven blind spots in Samaritan's vision, each one corresponding to an identity she created. That way, the "seven people who could take back the world" (the team and her personal geek squad) would be able to live long enough to stop Samaritan sometime in the future. It means they get to live, but it also means that they have to separate. The team is broken up, and with that the entire formula for the show is changed. The episode ends with everyone going their separate ways, people starting to be hunted down and killed, and Samaritan calculating what it will command of the world it now rules.

What did you think? Are you excited to see where the show will go from here? Do you think they've changed too much too soon? Are you already counting down the days until the fall? Share your thoughts! And thank you so much for finding my recaps every week! I hope you had as much fun reading them as I've had writing them. Have a great summer!

(Image courtesy of CBS)

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