Last season on Person of Interest, Team Machine raced against the clock to stop Samaritan from going online, only for Root to explain that they never had a chance and their mission was now about survival. With Greer hunting them, Root created new identities for Reese, Finch, Shaw and herself and found a way to keep those new identities hidden from Samaritan. This meant Team Machine had to go their separate ways into new lives and wait for the day when they would have the chance to try again.

In this week’s season opener, “Panopticon,” we find the members of Team Machine struggling to live normal lives, but the call to help those in need proves too strong for everyone. Read on to find out if this week’s season 4 premiere of Person of Interest delivers the intrigue and suspense we have come to expect.

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New Lives, Same Problems

— Finch is now going by the name “Harold Whistler” and is a visiting associate professor at a local university. His current ethics class sounds so boring; he only has about a dozen students, one of whom leaves when she realizes she will not be able to flirt her way to a better grade. Finch is treated poorly by his boss and seems highly unsatisfied with his work, but he is determined to keep his new cover identity in order to stay alive.

— Reese is now a narcotics detective out in the Bronx, a job which allows him to interact with Fusco. Reese shows up to a homicide crime scene and Fusco wants to know what he is doing there. The dead kid was involved in a drug case Reese is working on and Reese laments not being able to get there in time to save the kid. Fusco asks Reese what is going on and Reese promises to let him know as soon as he figures it out.

— Shaw has taken a day job at a department store and that is going about as well as you would expect. We first see her aggressively spraying customers with perfume to avoid actually having to sell any, then we see her reluctantly give a customer a makeover. Luckily, that customer happens to be Root, so the scene is delightful. Shaw threatens to stab Root with her stiletto and prays that Reese is working as a barista. Root tells Shaw to stay the course and everything will work out as planned.

— As we see from her conversation with Shaw, Root is still running the show, thanks to her connection with the Machine. She is keeping tabs on everyone and has them set up with phones so they can follow a calendar she and the Machine have created for them. Root is also supposedly interviewing for a day job of her own, but we do not learn what that job is in this week’s episode.

Reese Goes It Alone

Despite being able to carry a gun and beat up bad guys during his day job, Reese is not happy with this new life. He thinks they all need more than just jobs, they need a purpose. When the phone calendar brings Shaw and Reese together at the same location, the Machine gives them a new number and Reese is thrilled to be back in business.

Reese goes to Finch for help with their latest number, but Finch is having none of it. He knows that they are being watched, and if they step out of their new lives/identities, they will all be killed. Finch also wants nothing to do with the Machine after it tried to get them to kill a Congressman. Reese argues that they have saved lives by following the Machine’s orders, but Finch has convinced himself that more people have died because of their interference than have been saved. Finch tells Reese he is on his own.

Reese decides to take on the case by himself. The new number belongs to an electronics shop owner/computer whiz named Ali. He is being bullied by a street gang known as the Brotherhood — the same gang connected to the drug case Reese is working on. The leader of the gang, Link, is trying to force Ali to create a phone network for them that will be invisible to the cops, but Ali refuses to be bossed around.

Instead, Ali decides to take care of the Brotherhood himself. Ali gives Link a phone to use to test the network, but it is actually a bomb. Reese manages to get to the bomb before it kills Link, but that only makes matters worse for Ali. Since Link knows Ali tried to kill him, he kidnaps Ali’s son. If Ali does not deliver the secure network by midnight, Link will kill Ali’s son.

Finch and Elias to the Rescue

After some confusion in which Shaw saves his life by knocking him out, Reese manages to convince her to join his mission to save Ali’s son. But this lands them in hot water, as Finch predicted. So Root pays Finch a visit, asking him to help out their friends since he was the one who got them into this business in the first place. Root also tells Finch that they are fighting a war and he does not get to sit this one out. After all, he is the one who taught her that every life matters.

Finch eventually caves and arrives in time to help Ali get the Brotherhood’s network up and running so he can hold up his end of the deal. But Link plans to return Ali’s son to him, only to kill both men to cover his tracks. Luckily, Reese brings in some outside help.

Since Reese is now an official member of the NYPD and cannot break his cover identity, he is not able to handle the situation with his usual methods. So he hires someone who can do the dirty work for him. Reese pays a visit to Elias and asks for his help in handling the Brotherhood. Elias agrees to help, though I am not sure why. Could it have something to do with this “Dominic,” the man really in charge of the Brotherhood? Is Elias actually Dominic or does he just want Reese to owe him a favor?

Reese and Shaw show up to a location where Link and the Brotherhood are preparing their latest and largest heroin shipment, something called “the whale” that used to be handled by HR. Shaw manages to take care of the Brotherhood’s welcoming party while Reese handles things inside, but Link has already left with Ali’s son. Cue Elias’ henchman, who runs down Link’s car so Reese can finish the job. When the cops arrive on the scene, Shaw heads for the hills and Reese pulls out his badge just in time to take credit for the take-down. Ali’s son is safe and Team Machine is unofficially back in business.

Together, But Separate

Finch uses the network Ali created to give Shaw and Reese a way to communicate with each other without fear of Samaritan tracking them. Reese gives Finch one of the secure phones, knowing Finch’s cannot stay away from the numbers any more than he can. Sure enough, Finch ends up decoding a message the Machine left for him. The message leads him to what appears to be an abandoned subway. Has the Machine just set Finch up with a new base of operations or is there something else going on here?

Root spends part of the episode trying to get Shaw to use a dating service to meet someone. Shaw keeps blowing her off, but finally agrees. Of course, the date is not a date, but a meeting with a group looking for a wheel man. Shaw instantly accepts their offer.

Reese’s take-down of the Brotherhood gets him enough juice to earn him a promotion and transfer to Homicide. That’s right, Reese is Fusco’s new partner. Watching him get set up with Carter’s old desk breaks my heart a little, but I am thrilled to see what kind of trouble Reese will get Fusco into now that they will be working together on a daily basis.

A New Player Enters the Game

This week’s season opener also sees the introduction of Cara Buono’s character, who is supposed to play an important role this season. We see her chat up some journalist at a bar and the guy goes into great detail about how there is an A.I. in the world changing things on every level and no one noticed. The woman agrees that the world has changed and that he is one of three people who noticed. She tells him that the other two are about to die in a car accident in Seattle. Then she kills the journalist.

Later, Buono’s character shows up to the Brotherhood take-down, claiming to be with Homeland Security. Is she looking into the Brotherhood or has she been keeping tabs on Reese? Either way, it is quite an introduction to this new character. She is a bad guy for the moment, but with Person of Interest, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Do you think Buono’s character will eventually join Team Machine?

What did you think of the season 4 premiere of Person of Interest? How great were those scenes of Shaw in her normal day job? Do you think Greer is right that Senator Garrison poses a threat to Samaritan? Will Garrison end up switching sides and helping Team Machine? And how will Cara Buono’s character tie in to things? Were you surprised by Finch’s hesitation to get involved with the Machine again or did you understand his doubts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV