We have now reached the time of year where I judge the quality of a television episode by whether or not it was worth turning off a baseball game to watch. In the case of this week’s Person of Interest, “Beta,” the answer is yes. Yes it was.
“Beta” is somewhat atypical for Person of Interest because it focuses very little on action and ass-kicking. This episode is more a game of strategy, showing two teams trying to outwit each other and setting up for what I’m sure will be an action-packed finale. As much fun as the ubiquitous gunfights on this show are, it’s a nice change of pace and still manages to be suspenseful.
24 Future TV Stars Who Guest Starred on 24 >>>
“Two Gods Playing with the Same Set of Cards”
The episode opens by reminding us that Grace was an awesome fiance and that Samaritan is now online in New York City. Reese and Shaw don’t know this yet, so they go about business as usual until they are literally pulled aside by Root. Actually, Shaw is pulled aside, because Root always goes for Shaw when she has the chance. I have a theory, based on Root’s propensity to team up with her and get all up in her personal space, that Shaw is actually her second favorite person in the world. The first is Harold, because she sees him as a kindred spirit and he created her god. Who knows, maybe Shaw’s general lack of empathy makes Root look at her as a kindred spirit as well.
In any case, Root tells Reese and Shaw about Samaritan being operational and that they were about to walk into a Decima ambush. They have to engage in a cat-and-mouse game with all the security cameras in the area (which is a lot, FYI), because while Root has the Machine helping her, Samaritan can see everything the Machine can. Luckily for them, Samaritan hasn’t graduated to the thinking, possibly self-aware state the Machine occupies. This is because Decima hasn’t set up the full extent of Samaritan’s hardware yet, and thus can’t turn on its “mind.” Their base of operations looks pretty broken down, like something a budding supervillain set up in his garage during a particularly dull weekend, but it’s still getting the job done.
We can’t have an episode of Person of Interest without a number, and this week’s number is Grace. Decima can’t find Finch, so they do something math-y and use Samaritan to find Finch’s closest living association. They come up with Grace, but they don’t know how she’s connected with him. I question whether they’d really be in the dark on this, since they were able to make the connection and will later be seen to have a wealth of information on the pair, but it doesn’t really matter. Grace is in danger and must be saved.
We get a brief flashback to 2010, with Grace standing over Finch’s “grave” at his memorial service. She knew him as Harold Martin, which, despite seeming like a totally normal name, is actually a type of bird. She’s also the only person at the service. Finch (or Martin) didn’t have anyone in his life, which is sad in its own right, and apparently none of Grace’s friends thought it would be a good idea to go along for moral support. Back in 2014, she’s preparing to leave for a job interview in Italy when Decima tries to abduct her. Reese and friends arrive just in time to save her, but keeping her safe under the constant watch of Samaritan poses a bigger problem.
They decide their best course of action is to go to the police precinct, possible to finally give Fusco some screen time. Both sides are trying to outsmart the other. Decima sends in an agent under the pretense of arresting Grace, but the team is a step ahead and lock him in a room with Reese. Root gets herself arrested so she can join in the fun, and uses some MacGyver-like skills to short-circuit all the security cameras in the precinct. Under this cover, Reese, Shaw and Root take Grace out in a car and try to distract Decima with a massive explosion. It doesn’t work, and Decima slams into their car and kidnaps Grace.
“Never Thought I’d Love the Sight of New Jersey”
Grace wakes up in a cell and Greer comes in to interrogate her. He uses a seemingly polite approach, but it’s still creepy because of the personal information he has about her and his incredibly inflated sense of self-importance. Possibly to get him to leave her alone, Grace starts giving out way too much information and reveals that she and Finch were engaged before his death. Greer doesn’t know if she’s lying so he keeps pressing, and Grace is furious that he would question Finch’s character. It’s a little heartbreaking to hear her talk about how Finch would never break her trust, since he did just that in a massive way. Greer realizes just how deeply the two loved each other, and that this is his ticket to finding Finch.
Meanwhile, the team has made it safely to New Jersey, where Samaritan can’t see them. Root shows them a map of New York City marked with several dead zones in which there are no means of surveillance. They deduce that one of these areas, Redhook Marine Terminal, is probably where Decima is hiding out. They sneak into it using a stolen delivery van and find a boat full of poisoned sailors and high-tech computer servers. Root’s computer skills reveal that Greer and Samaritan are actually in an abandoned building in Brooklyn. Reese and Shaw set off to be heroic and Root sets off to do something crazy.
By the time Reese and Shaw get to the building, Decima has already been tipped off and Greer has fled with Grace. His tech guy, Virgil, is still there, and tries for about two seconds to defend himself against Reese before feeling the pain. Greer makes a video call so he can gloat and instruct Virgil to kill himself, and then tells them that he will exchange Finch for Grace the next day.
A Hard Man to Find
Reese and Shaw don’t really know what to do, because they haven’t been able to get in contact with Finch for a week. But right after they get the ultimatum from Greer, they find Finch sitting on Grace’s porch. He figured Decima would be coming for Grace soon, but he hadn’t been in time to warn her. Though Reese and Shaw want to try and save Grace without sacrificing Finch, he refuses to do anything that will put her in more danger. And even though he spent the entirety of the last episode distraught by the amount of violence in his life, he instructs Reese to kill everyone if Grace is hurt in any way. Ladies and gentlemen, Finch’s crazy switch has been flipped.
The exchange goes down without incident, though Finch and a blindfolded Grace have an emotional moment when they cross paths. Everyone looks longingly at each other before going their separate ways. Greer delivers a terrorist to his senator friend, nearly assuring that Samaritan will get a government contract. He then has a sit-down with Finch, though that conversation is going to be saved for next week. Finch made sure that Grace got the job in Italy and a new identity, so she sets off to start a safer life abroad.
And Reese and Shaw are once again greeted by Root. While they were staring broodily off into the distance, Root was stealing seven of Samaritan’s very-necessary servers. I’m sure that won’t cause Decima any problems!
Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)