Person of Interest S03E22: "A House Divided"


"A House Divided" was a whopper of an episode, a mouthful of moving parts and hazy pathways that had me repeatedly wondering, "Where are they going with this?" for much of the first half. Heck, we weren't the only ones left in the dark. Even our team—fractured and struggling to find order with Finch in the hands of Greer—didn't know what they were supposed to be doing (Shaw continuously asking "Can I kill Control yet?" like a child asking to eat dessert before dinner was a highlight). 

But when "A House Divided" came into focus, OH MY GOD. The more this episode sinks into that spongy mass inside my skull, the more I'm blown away by how awesome it was. It didn't have all the hallmarks of Person of Interest's greatest episodes—deep, personal stories about a main character; laugh-out-loud action-flick talk; a gorgeous music montage—but it appeared to be something bigger. This was a statement episode that exploded out of our televisions and into the heated social climate that's making us all sweat. It gave voice to the fringe element in this prescient discussion of surveillance, the anti-government yahoos wondering if ANY of this technological assistance in the war on terror is necessary. "A House Divided" was all about Vigilance, and even more than that, it was about the man behind that anarchist movement, Peter Collier. 


It was also a fun scenario acting out the great debate about spying on the masses to weed out the few bad terrorist apples. Jonah Nolan loves this shit, and I do too. Finch took the side that an open system (Samaritan) is potentially dangerous as an autonomous machine might render all of humanity "irrelevant" and send toasters to murder us all, Skynet, basically. He believes in the human touch assisted by a powerful, uncorruptable rig that can see more than we do and is really good at math, hence The Machine was created. Greer is all about Samaritan, a judge, jury, and executioner program that removes the human element because he sees man as greedy liars. In a great one-on-one, Finch said, "It's pure hubris to think you can control it," repeating something he's said over and over about Samaritan. Greer counters with a nasty retort that's chilling enough to turn your toes blue: "Who ever said I want to control it?" Oh dammmmmmmmmn.

That's been most of the debate for this back half of Season 3, and it's a good one and oh-so-relevant to today's culture and revelations about NSA leaks, Edward Snowden, and the Xbox One's always-on Kinect camera. Nolan and Greg Plageman have an incredible understanding of the discussion, and are able to establish each side and play it out to the extreme in this world they've created. Do we want limited surveillance that aids our hunt for bad guys and strikes a balance between privacy and effectiveness, or do we want total "all hail our robot overlords" surveillance that squashes terrorism forever? Believe it or not, there are good answers for both. With Finch's plan we retain some autonomy, free speech, and are only blown up sometimes. With Greer's vision, terror can become a thing of the past, we'll just be all miserable chumps scared even to send a text message. 

But there's a third voice that became the loudest during "A House Divided." That of Collier. Collier doesn't subscribe to either Finch or Greer's hoodoo. He wants it ALL gone. And his side was wonderfully expressed through a series of flashbacks, an origin story for a supervillain (or champion of the people?). Collier's brother was wrongfully detained by the government for suspicion of being in league with terrorists when in fact he was an AA sponsor for a man turning his life around. OOPS. Fraught with despair, his brother killed himself (so they tell us), leading Collier on a crusade to end unnecessary measures in the War on Terror and give one pencil pusher at the government a piece of his mind in an incredibly effective scene, the type that Person of Interest has mastered. "You took the wrong information and twisted it," Collier told her in 2010, slamming some files on her desk for emphasis because slamming files shows you mean business. "You're supposed to lock up the criminals, not create them." (Little did he know he was talking about himself at the moment.) One thing Person of Interest does so well is provide motivation for its bad guys, and Collier's drive was beautifully set in motion in this episode. Heck, by the end of "A House Divided," even I didn't know whose side I was on. Collier made some damn good points. That's outstanding television writing. 

Collier's plan in 2014 became clear at the end: he rounded up those government goons and techo-nerds responsible for deprivatizing the country, including Senator Garrison, Control, Greer, and *gulp* Finch, for a pirate broadcast of them on trial. With cameras televising live to the country, Collier spilled these tough truths: "Now is the time to expose the truth to our fellow citizens. The truth that has been lurking beneath the shadows for so long. That their country's no longer theirs. That their freedoms have been stripped away, one camera, one cell phone, one megabyte at a time. Now's the time to pull back the curtain. Welcome to your trial, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the trial of the United States Government. Court is now in session." Oh. My. Lawd. 

I like to think that Nolan and Plageman set this all up beautifully to get us all caught up in Finch and Greer's debate. I, for one, expected these final two episodes to be all about The Machine versus Samaritan in a heavyweight battle between two all-seeing Gods. It parallels the debate raging in real life within our own government. But we forget about that third voice that asks if we should be doing this at all. I'll stop just short of calling Plageman and Nolan anarchists, but I wouldn't be surprised if, given how this mess has played out in their Person of Interest universe and the real world, they wanted Collier and Vigilance to win. And I wouldn't blame them. This was a fantastic episode that was larger than a television show. 


NOTES OF INTEREST

– Those Collier flashbacks, especially the last scene, WOW. So much Dark Knight all over that, but better. Collier was a few lipstick smears away from becoming the joker. But given Person of Interest's real-world entrenchment, all the more believable and all the more scary. 

– Who do you think sent Collier the text message asking if he wanted to know what REALLY happened to his brother? It's in 2010, so it could be anyone. Finch? Ingram? Root? Elias? Someone unseen? 

– When Collier initiated the blackout and said, "Welcome to the Revolution," I didn't realize he meant Revolution the TV show! 

– Ha ha, Hersh's first name is George. 

– "My friend is never wrong, which is as annoying as that sounds." - Shaw on her girlfriend Root.

– Reese: "Is this what The Machine really asked us to do? Drink really bad coffee with unemployed college graduates?" 

– No Fusco in this episode, but this was bigger than Fusco, so I understand. 

– WHAT!? Reese is now sitting in the back seat? What the heck, Shaw? Hersh gets shotgun over Reese? I'm not sure I'm okay with this. Put a leash on Hersh and tie him to the bumper, I say. 

– Collier in 2016!!!

– Guys, I saw Bear in the preview for next week! Yayyyyyy! But seriously, who has been walking and feeding Bear in the past few episodes? There must be dog poop and torn-up books all over Finch's library by now. 


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 6/21/2016

Season 5 : Episode 13

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Tim your review was great man, I agree with everything and man all the flashback scene was amazing like you mention, the last one was the best of course.
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On another note, did anybody catch Reese's shoulder brush with the bald "stranger" on the sidewalk? Elias, anyone? I sure hope he's coming back soon.

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Here's the deal, I think: Vigilance and Decima/Control are two sides of the same bad coin. It's clear what team Nolan and Plageman are on: Team Finch! Finch is their idealized golden mean. His team operates with a blend of the qualities we sympathize with in both extreme sides---a bit of that rebellious, anarchist streak from Vigilance, but also a genuine concern for national and private security. Problem is, such an idealized team operates only on our TV screens. In real life, we're stuck just with the extremes. Our government is like Control, and people who voted for Ron Paul are like Vigilance.
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Collier and Vigilance are so bad azz
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It would be fun to see Reese/Shaw have a conflict with Greenfield/Daizo/Casey over how trustworthy Root is. The hackers know only the Machine-worshipping Root, who helped them out of serious jams. Whereas Reese and Shaw know the cold-blooded person who kidnapped and murdered without a second thought if it suited her purposes.
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Did Root just steal a dead man's keys in front of a cop? and it was nice seeing some of Collier's backstory.
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Anyone else started to side with Collier and the whole Vigilance movement after those flashbacks ! Amazing episode, well done to the writers for really fleshing out both sides of the argument and not just making it a clear cut case of good vs evil. The Hersche (George!) , Shaw and Reece scenes were hilarious, arguing over their attempts to kill each other lol! and Root has groupies! Poor Harold he has literally been kidnapped by EVERYONE in the show, first Root then Decima now Vigilance.
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As great as the back half of this season has (mostly) been, I missed the contrast that the HR arc gave to the ongoing Machine/Decima/etc arc. I mean the HR guys were ambitious, but their empire was only city-wide and their ranks only went as far as someone in the Mayor's office. Greer and Control are great to watch, but they're larger than life, whereas just about anyone could have been Simmons or Terney.

It was because of that that I dug the hell out of Collier's backstory. I liked him already when he was an enigmatic extremist who always knew where to show up and always managed to slip away when a gunfight went south, but humanising him the way the show did takes his character to the next level. He's now relatable in the way that Simmons and Quinn were. In their case, as Jane Austen said, it is a truth universally acknowledged that an asshole in possession of power must be in want of more power. In Collier's case, as Martin Luther King said, the ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
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"My friend is never wrong, which is as annoying as that sounds." - Shaw on her girlfriend Root. -& I think she meant the machine...
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I was literally overwhelmed with this episode. All i could say was: "unbelievable! this is unbelievable!!!!" Bring it on Collier! Finch and I are kicking and punching!
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Collier found Greer by....intercepting/spying on his employees text messages.

Pot. Kettle...
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Not through Greer, tough, but by the Senator.
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I wonder why the Machine wasn't able to locate Finch. We did see Harold and Greer one time from her (subscribing to Root's gender view of the Machine now...) viewpoint, ie a camera, with a red box around Greer and a yellow around Finch. Which means it was receiving a feed and was able to see them. So why would they be impossible to locate? Decima firewalls? I didn't think anything that trivial could stop the machine?
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I missed my only detective too. I love the show's writing, the jokes are at right places. I don't think Root will survive this season.
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I hope you are right, if Root sticks around too much longer I won't be able keep watching this show.
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throughout this whole review i kept wandering



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The creator of the series is Nolan & Plageman is the executive producer.
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i already googled.. but thanks
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The best episode so far really intriguning discussion between finch and Greer testing each other out also root must have something up her sleeve recruting the hackers. I can't believe collier managed to grab greer his security detail must have been sleeping during the blackout. Otherwise a great episode I wonder who is controlling Collier .
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Root originally maneuvered the Machine into sending "Caroline Turing"'s number to Finch and Reese.

I wonder how She feels about that, and what She'll do when Root is no longer needed.

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The machine presumably still knew it was Root. I believe she tagged "Caroline" with a yellow box [see: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130222054937/pediaofinterest/images/9/9a/Root-capture_1.jpg]
The Machine's been playing a long game, even before it could fully think for itself following the virus. She knew Root was Root when she came in view and didn't call off the protection.
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"Daizo, Jason, Daniel, and I have been on the road collecting certain... contraband in the Tri-Cities."
Does this mean something other than the Samaritan Servers?
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Collier was impressive in this episode gotta give him respect. I found myself rooting for him
I wonder if Grace is gonna see Finch in this very public Vigilance's trial; so much for being a very "private person". everybody's gonna know abt him now

Glad to see Greer manhandled a bit
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Leon has been babysitting Bear, obviously.
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A strong episode, but nowhere near the greatest ones of the show as far as I'm concerned. I think that I've been a little burned out by all the cat and mouse, back and forth chase between Decima/Vigilance/Government/The Machine in the second half of this season, which ran into some repetitive or dragged out moments. Sometimes the story lacked focus or unfolded too slowly for my taste. All in all, this has all received a rather lukewarm reception from me.

I am happy to have been able to look more closely into Collier's past - POI always does a good job fleshing out its characters through a smart use of flashbacks, and this time was no exception. The man had some valid arguments about how the information is being handled, that I thought resonated strongly. It is too easy to jump to conclusions and twist the data that is presented superficially, hurting innocent people in the process. Just as is too easy to limit people's right by waving the "national security" flag. Asking whether the people responsible for dissecting these facts make the right calls and don't misuse the power that is in their hands is a very valid question.

However, these flashbacks alone definitely didn't make me understand Collier's motivations. I might be a little more sympathetic towards the guy, but that's it. Just because his brother was mistreated doesn't mean that the smart use of surveillance would be a bad thing, and that it couldn't prevent tragic events from happening. At most it means that the right procedures must exist, and that no action should be taken with no substantial proof at hand. I would expect Peter to explore other avenues (go to the press, for one, blow the story up) first; more legal forms of protest, before turning to the extremist ways out of sheer desperation. And even then, let's not forget that Vigilance doesn't exactly shy from disposing off people without dilligently establishing their innocence (or not) beforehand.
In a curious but not unexpected twist, it makes a lot of sense that there is someone behind Collier pulling the strings. He was recruited, after all, just like all others. I wonder who that man or woman is, and what did they have to share on his brother's fate (did he not kill himself after all, was he mistread in prison, etc.?). And if that story is to continue, then perhaps Peter will survive this season and we will have a chance to see more of his flashbacks.

Greer and Finch had a good ol' fashioned philosophical debate, as expected. Both had their valid points, too. While Finch is too firmly entrenched in his own insecurities, fearing what he cannot control, Greer seems a bit too optimistic in entrusting his fate to a Machine Overlord that may or may not evolve towards the perspective of human extermination. Although a benevolent, non-corruptable entity that wouldn't give in to the lowest of mortal desires is a nice ideal, I'll give him that. In a way, Greer also resembles Root of the past - not wanting to control anything (seemingly), but let it roam free.

Root's team of hackers left me somewhat... disappointed? I don't know, I just expected to see more from the guys. At least Root herself delivered, as always. That woman must be part machine to handle all that multi-tasking! Wonder what she's up to at that Samaritan (?) facility. Certainly didn't sound safe...
Shaw, Hersh, and Reese shared some sweet moments, and I've been longing for that kind of reluctant cooperation for a long time. But as much as I like Shaw, she's been stealing a lot of spotlight from Reese lately. Poor John needs to be more than just an enforcer pawn.

The finish certainly promises on a huge fallout that is about to happen. Is Vigilance really transmiting it live across the country/world? That's huge (even if the government will be able to use the "it doesn't matter what they said under duress" line of defense). I don't expect the participants to be too willing to speak at the court, though.
I'll let it slide in just how easy it was for Vigilance to find and round up everyone together (for a rogue organization that fights against engrossing top-of-the-line surveillance they seem to have superior surveillance access/methods of their own, as well as the financial backing to pull it all off), especially casually strolling into the government officials occupied hotel/Decima occupied premises. Here is hoping for a meaningful finale.
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I think this episode was good enough. It's purpose mostly seemed to be to get us to the next two episodes, which I hope fulfill the promise of some interesting dialogue and some dramatic rescues.

I am so tired of Root. She was so much better as an enemy. I don't like her to be in charge of anything, and I am annoyed by her self-satisfied condescending smile.
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I guess the writers didn't get the memo - No one cares about Samaritan. Worst storylines ever.

Even Amy Acker couldn't salvage this one. What an incredibly dreadful episode. Every week it gets worse. Shaw has got to go.

Every time she:

- whispers
- says "can I kill x person now"
- has that constipated look on her face

I feel like punching the wall until my knuckles bleed. She feels me with rage.
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You may want to look into the difference between "feels" and "fills". And it looks like you're the only one on here who doesn't like the storyline.
And you may want to look into that rage issue. Not healthy.
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Speak for yourself. Many are loving the Samaritan arc, or more precisely, the events surrounding Samaritan.
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Please learn the meaning of the word hyperbole.

I always "speak for myself".
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Not when you use that particular hyperbole, though.
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I loved the twist! So much better than machine vs machine.

@Tim, I don't think this was being transmitted live to the country. I assumed Reese and co were watching the making of the recording that might go out. Otherwise the world and Grace know about Finch, and that seems unlikely.
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Of course. Nobody would be able to watch it anyway, with the power being out for the time being.
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The power outage is only in New York.
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Reese in the back can keep an eye on Hersch, or a gun pointed at him. Poor Bear, nobody speaking Dutch to him right now probably.. Did anyone catch the background story of Greer btw? I didn't quite follow it, what war was he talking about, WWII?
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It was WWII because he spoke of the Blitz and staying in the train stations to avoid the bombings.
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Ahh, tnx! didn't catch that bit.
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Also: Who is ACTUALLY behind Vigilance? Who was the person - or entity - sending the messages to Collier?
I don't think it would be Finch, because he hasn't been paying attention to the "relevant" numbers. I can't quite picture why The Machine would take that approach, it's never really done something like that before and this was back in 2010, when it just wasn't that sophisticated yet.
I'm really wondering if it was just a tip-off that started Collier down the path towards creating Vigilance, or if it was a recruitment from some shadowy entity who is ACTUALLY the head of Vigilance, running it from behind the scene.
Dying to find out, though.
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Could all these messages be from the same entity? I doubt it, what with Collier being a relevant number and the blackout going undetected, but still, there could be some twist which fits everything together.
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Ah but the blackout was detected. It just wasn't assured. The Machine deals in statistical probabilities which is why it stopped Shaw and Reese and tapped them to find Finch when his percentage of survivability dropped to 30%. There was a probability for the blackout happening that is why The Machine told Root and thusly Shaw to carry a satellite phone. A phone that isn't hindered by a power outages and doesn't need a cell tower.
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There's a point there. But that still doesn't explain Collier being a relevant number in this context.
By the way, remember this?
"Whoever Decima is I believe they created the virus to find and infect a single target... the machine." - Finch (S02E19)
Greer could have been trying to bring the machine down from a different angle using Collier. The virus, the soft way; and vigilance, the hard way. He does say "
I'm afraid we won't have enough time." And there is something he says in the promos!
56 more hours for the finale. Wish I didn't have to wait that long...
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Collier being a relevant number is still a mystery. But as we know that because of how Finch designed and trained the Machine that it doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. And that includes what it tells Root. She takes what it tells her on faith, even she didn't know why they needed Sat phones.

What you say about Greer could very well be the case. If Greer was in fact MI6 he could have been privy to the intel as to why Collier's brother was detained and he could, because of his position, potentially have known about the machine. But that wouldn't necessarily pan out. I am not sure he could have predicted, by himself, the result of telling Collier the truth about his brother. That kind of predictability we have only seen from the Machine. But your theory is logical. It is all going to depend on a couple of more flashbacks to see what led Collier to Vigilance.

But he has seemingly always wanted the Machine so that it could take over. That is his end game. He released the virus so that it could be taken over by him and thusly free to rule, so to speak. They were going to do that at the Library when the Machine was resetting. They wanted the location of the Machine.

As for Greer knowing that Vigilance was coming. He could have set that up. He could have used this to push the group towards acceptance of Samaritan. Greer could be that devious. But I am still not that sure. Mostly because that would take a lot of trust in an organization to not kill them on sight. Or it could have been something as simple as his men signaling him before they are dispatched.
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Shaw continuously asking "Can I kill Control yet?" like a child asking to eat dessert before dinner was a highlight
one of my fav scenes in the whole ep!

by the end of "A House Divided," even I didn't know whose side I was on
now THAT is good storytelling. THAT is a good story worth telling.

This was a fantastic episode that was larger than a television show.
and this is the sentence that summarizes it perfectly :D
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Shaw and Root, bring it on, we're still waiting!
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This was pretty much perfect. I really sympathize with Collier now. His hatred of Harold is misguided, of course, but completely understandable. If he can be made to understand exactly what the Machine does - and I hope the "trial" will do just that - he could become a pretty cool ally (not a regular, of course, more like an Elias type of figure, occasionally helping out while having his own agenda). Killing him now would just be a waste.
Greer can eat a bullet, though. There is no redeeming him.
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Although the trial is public. What happens when Finch, while on national tv, says, "I built the machine?" And does his fiance watch tv?
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It's funny in a way that Root and Greer have found themselves on opposing sides, because they started out with very similar philosophies.
Both believe man to be a basically amoral and twisted creature, frequently exhibiting "bad code".
Both want a superior machine-mind to guide the world to something better.
Both seem keen on setting their Machines "free".

And at the very beginning, when Root was just a very clever psychopath with a penchant for murder, torture and killing, they might have gotten along. But I think the show has painted a believable picture of Root slowly finding a path back to at least SOME of the more positive human emotions over the course of the season.
She gladly serves a Machine-god who does NOT rule by logic alone, and accepts the lessons it tries to teach her about empathy and compassion.
Greer's desire for a completely logical overlord no longer holds the same appeal.

Compared to them, Harold is the reluctant Creator, the only one among them capable of making rather than stealing. And while they accuse him of hobbling or crippling his powerful child - it is that very act that teaches The Machine what it is to be human; living with limitations.
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good point, Greer's assertion that he had no desire to control Samaritan echoed Root's comments in earlier season about setting her free.
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"Person Of Interest dropped two tenths to a 1.7 from last week's 1.9 adults 18-49 rating and tying its series low."

x
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The last +7dvr ratings (for the April 15th episode), showed POI having the highest jump in viewers (+4.3 million), and a jump in the demo from 1.8 to 2.8 according to TVbythenumbers. All POI numbers take a huge jump - this episode will be no exception. And these numbers are taken into consideration by networks.
Not too many people watch live anymore, especially shows in the later time slots.
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I would watch live if I could, not that it would matter, not a Neilsen family, but I work Tuesdays! :(
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With Bear making an appearance next week, its going to shoot up...
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At least season four is confirmed.
Hopefullly CBS will stop fucking around with the show's schedule next year. It's pretty hard to follow a TV show when it's off the air for three weeks before coming back for one paltry episode and then taking another three weeks off for no apparent reason.
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There is a reason, money. Shows used to run 36 episodes a season from September to May only break at Christmas (going back 50 or 60 years here). Escalating production costs and lack of creative writing have reduced show to between 22 and 26 episodes. They still have to start in September and when the kids are back at school and last until May, sweeps month, which produces the number by which they set the asking price for commercial revenue for the next season. The frequent breaks between episodes is to account for the 10 to 12 weeks that there is nothing to broadcast. It would make more sense to change sweeps month to earlier in the year and, since a year has 52 weeks, have two distinct seasons per year. There is an increase in shows that air new episodes over the summer so this may be where they are heading.
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I actually thought it was pretty dull, but I was really tired when I was watching it. Not sure how much that contributed.

I have never liked Vigilance. They're less plausible than The Machine, and not as essential to the show. I hope the Vigilance arc will be over soon. Collier's origin story wasn't bad, but it didn't make his organization any more plausible. It showed us that he has a good reason to be really, really pissed off, but I wouldn't say that it explained why he turned into a mass murderer and a terrorist.

A few episodes ago, we saw that Vigilance members are more than just willing to die for their cause. They're so OK with it that they're not even trying to avoid it, and sometimes even actively seeking it out. (They must really like their privacy). Now we saw that Decima employees are just as suicidal as Vigilance members. root tried to explain it, and I guess the explanation is better than nothing, but it would have been better still to just not have people kill themselves left and right.
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I wonder if Nathan sent the text message? Was he still around when it got sent? I don't think Root would have sent it. Generally, Deus Ex Machina in theater refers to some big plot twist at the end of a play that sorts everything out. It originally referred to the Greek Gods stepping in, but I think in this case, it may be that something game-changing happens during that trial that redirects us elsewhere. Still, it might be interesting to see what the machines themselves have to say about Greer's version of patriotism, Finch's version, and Collier's version. Wouldn't it be great if we got a phone booth call in the middle of the trial?
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"God out of the machine." Deus ex Machina. Creepy.
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If they take the phrase literally, it WOULD be creepy-- or sort of 2001 space odyssey-like. But the plot device "Deus Ex Machina" is used a lot in Theater when the writer has painted him/herself into a corner and needs the plot to be rescued somehow. I think this indicates that something will come out of left field in the finale and change the game. Looking forward to finding out what it is!
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A: I agree mostly with Collier and Vigilance's ideals, just not their methodology.

B: Elias sent the message. We need more Elias.

C: Revolution (the tv show) happens after The Two gods duke it out?

D: George HAHA

E: Trust Root. She is never wrong and it is annoying.

F: i agree. Make Hersh ride on the roof in a doggie crate.

G: sure why not?

H: Who takes care of Bear?
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I too miss Elias and Finch's chess games....
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All of this Chaos will be ended with Deus Ex Machina....a fitting way to end the third season seeing it used as a plot device so I'm really expecting something really mind-blowing.....everyone was on point so many grey areas up for discussion.......*runs third re-run of episode*
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Does the Deus Ex include a bomb planted inside a stolen Samaritan server box? What is the contraband that they had to jury-rig into the servers?
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can be anything but I hope it isn't anti-climatic but the writers aren't known for that....the promo seems ok so far
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This season has been nothing short of brilliant and this episode was the cherry on top. Can't wait for the season finale. Also, "long time no gunfire."
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"A House Divided" and "The Devil's Share" were THE episodes that are my favorites for the entire season anywhere. The should be considered for Emmys! The were bold and memorable.
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Fantastic episode, this show and Hannibal are the two best shows on broadcast right now. I can't wait for the finale next week after that cliffhanger, my only concern is Root's possible death.
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Heck, by the end of "A House Divided," even I didn't know whose side I was on. - Exactly my feeling. Right now not sure whom should I support in the next episode. I guess I will be just Team Bear till then. And yeah it goes without saying one more epic episode again.
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Its true that the storyline is brilliant, and they still manage to pull some twists off. But for me, I feel like the show has lost its soul. Carter's loss as the moral center was never replaced, Reese is basically a trained gun for hire who gets lesser importance than Shaw, who is always turning up late and is basically in the complete background. The show was about Reese and Finch, Not Root and Shaw. Even Shaw is becoming more human now. Root is just not likeable with her superior smug voice, the know-it-all tone and treating Reese like a second hand puppy. I just dont understand how people find Root so awesome.
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I think the series shedding Carter as its "moral center" may have been the point (and yes, I chose the word "shedding" in particular). By now, the show's underlying mythos have been burst wide open, thrusting everything into this new, uncharted territory mainly on account of Samaritan.

Everyone involved has been marked with very distinct shades of gray, and it can be interpreted that every major character associated with the Machine and/or Samaritan in some manner (direct or by extension) has a justifiable interest at stake: Control and Garrison want to protect their country; Collier/Vigilance strongly eschew surveillance and wish to defend liberty; Greer wants to cease what he perceives to be avoidable war caused by human error by giving an AI the authority to govern humanity; and Finch built a machine design to prevent violent crimes out of genuine concern for innocent people.

Reese, Shaw, Hersh primarily care about their colleagues and want only the safest outcome possible to emerge from this turmoil, so in spite of their line of work, they're not exactly bad people, either. However, Carter was simply too virtuous and pure for all of this. If it wasn't enough that she had already learned of the Machine's existence before her untimely demise, she, too, would have ultimately become morally compromised as a result of continuing to work with the team, unless she decided to just leave before things got even crazier.

The show seems to be gradually shaping Fusco into becoming a new, "pseudo-Carter" (moral compass), which might be a decent-enough explanation as to why he's usually absent for these type of episodes (like he was towards the end of season two).

In short, I don't think Carter was the kind of character that could be easily replaced, nor do I think the show even wants another Carter-esque given where it's now headed.

"I just dont understand how people find Root so awesome. "

For one thing, Root can be batshit crazy at certain times, but she's also quite nonchalant in certain situations which makes people think she's outright insane. It also doesn't hurt that Amy Acker is very pretty to stare look at.
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That was a very detailed reply.. It may be true that the show needed to lose Carter to go where it has gone today. But that doesn't explain why Root is running the show. Or why Reese, whose back story and peculiar history ran the show for two seasons is completely relegated to the background. He is taking instructions from Root, tagging along with no information because she treats him like a dog. He's practically begging her for something to do earlier in this episode. Also let's not forget, Root is a psychopath who was a contract killer and kidnapped Finch. (twice)! She brings a certain element but thats no reason why Reese is made to play second fiddle to her.
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The Reese thing is easy: Jim Caviezel was buckling under the stress and physical duress of carrying all the show's action. He asked for a lighter load. Shaw is picking up some of it so that it's more equal, making happier, healthier actors who give better performances.

As for Root, there might be a bit of the above with regards to alleviating the demands on Michael Emerson, but more importantly, it's because it's gotten to a narrative point where there are decisions Harold can't make, and The Machine doesn't want to compromise his ethics (she cares very much about Harold) so she recruited Root as an interface who can do what needs to be done, and can also carry out the Primary Operation of eliminating Relevants as well (Finch is too crippled for that).
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That was my question last week, who is take care of bear?" Poor dog all alone.
As far as i can say POI is one of my best show, the writing is good, there are action, tension, laugh... all in good proportion. I'm really looking forward to the next episode.
Oh and when Harold disappeared near the crosswlak last week was he taken by Greer or just gone because he was lost after everything. But then how we arrived with him in Greer's custody. Harold is better as hiding than that. I wish an explanation.
But what could they do next year? HR is gone, after two and half season everybody will know about the surveillance, I think that the Samaritan will be down, so what next?

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You missed one episode called "Beta" which shows how Greer got Harold in custody
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Oh yes thanks I missed this one. I understand now why some things seemed strange :)
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Without a doubt the best episode of the season, Peter Collier (don't know his real name) deserves an Emmy shout for the way he carried out this amazing performance effortlessly throughout the flashback playing the wounded brother out for justice. The debate over safety/privacy was delicately handled without being boring as the Govt officials decide to unleash Samaritan, some great one liners from Shaw, Reese was underutilized througout which is the only negative from an exceptional episode.
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Would you want the creepy murderer you have no trust for sitting behind you?
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If the live television feed gives away that Harold is alive and responsible for something like The Machine and its actions, how will that affect him operation in the shadow next year? How can he take on those small jobs to support the others.

And the most important, how can he walk Bear without problems?
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I think that likely it isn't "Iive" It was being recorded and a direct feed was given to Reese and the gang. I would think that Collier is too intelligent and knows that putting that many smart people in a room at one time, it wouldn't necessarily go the way he wants it to go.
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It indeed is the only solution for my little problem. If they take on Vigilance next week and it only was a recording, it can be of importance next season. There might be a backup site for that recording so the danger of exposing Fich might still be around the corner. Good! So many big and small conspirancy theories. We love it!
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Is it just me, or does Greer look... bored? The man has demonstrated for quite some time that he can be dangerously genre savvy when the circumstances call for it, so I don't believe for a second that Greer was caught off-guard by Collier's kidnapping plan. Greer is either in cahoots with Vigilance from the shadows or he must have an ace up his sleeve.

If I had to pinpoint a single 'best aspect' to this episode, it would be how every major player involved received a prominent moment or two: Collier with that phenomenal ending sequence and his flashback scenes; Control explaining the intricate narrative behind mass surveillance; Root fulfilling the role of 'leader' and instructing her ragtag band of techies; Hersh serving up a nice touch of comic-relief (twice!); and, the deeply philosophical debate between Greer and Finch that provided the audience with enough gray morality to paint the sky full of dark clouds.

The fact that POI still thrives this magnificently even without Fusco, Elias, Bear, or the dearly-departed Carter is pretty damn indicative of how top-notch the writing continues to be.
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Yes Greer sait "it's too late" before Vigilance open the door so I think ther is something between them...
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Who do you think sent Collier the text message asking if he wanted to know what REALLY happened to his brother? It's in 2010, so it could be anyone. Finch? Ingram? Root? Elias? Someone unseen? - It was the machine. Might have had the same concerns at the time that Finch had. Always wondered how they always know where to go ahead of Finch.
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Probably the head of Vigilance someone we haven't been introduced to yet
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That was great. A lot happened and their was a lot of reveal in it. Some good, some great, some kind of odd. Firstly the insurance, is it insurance through Decima, because none of those deaths that they did would be considered accidents. I am not a claims agent, but I would think someone jumping off of the roof or through a window wouldn't be accidental and thus wouldn't pay out. But I am sure that it is through Decima. So I guess it is ok.

Greer and Finch's conversations were fantastic. Greer and thusly Decima seemingly doesn't want anything but order. Which is kind of freaky and fanatical in a way. I understand where he is coming from. Our current system is broken, it isn't broken by the system that was set forth, it is broken by the people that we elect to represent us within that system. Greer doesn't trust the government either, just as Finch was hesitant of the Government controlling the system and rightfully so. I mean hell the Senator was perfectly willing to give the feeds to Decima. A private organization in charge of our rights. Which is scary. But Greer is doing this, seemingly because he doesn't trust anyone but himself and his organization. And instead of writing it in Samaritan, he intends on being the one in charge. But really not him per say, he is just willing to let the Machine do what it is going to do, without the constraints that Finch put on it. Constraints that make it protect rather that seek out. I have to wonder if Greer dislike for the system, dislike for people seemingly like Control and the rest of that little cabal in the hotel room, if he would let, or even make Samaritan target them. He knows the system is broken, even if he somehow can make Samaritan run the show, there will be resistance. It can't pass a law, it can't provide funding for programs. Those are people. So what happens when Samaritan or Greer, or both don't like some of those people. If we are to rely on the logic of a machine and the Samaritan is all about efficiency, then removal of barriers would be the efficient move. And this can go down the rabbit hole. Those people, those barriers are elected by people. They will elect the same people, at what point will that logic target the root of the problem, which is inherently us. I don't want to go al sky net or the machines from the Matrix. But we really are the problem. This is what Finch alluded to in his conversation with Greer.

I also liked Greer putting this on Finch. Greer pointed out Finch's weakness and even The Machines weakness. Finch I think needed that, this really can all be laid at his feet. Finch wanted a set of rules in a game where there are no rules. "you watched your child stand, then you hobbled it". That was a great line from Greer. But you have to think about the Machine, even with it being hobbled by Finch. It still has evolved to a point where Finch can't figure it out. This is the interaction with Root, this is The Machine moving itself, This is the Machine recruiting. I feel the Machine can do what it wants, but it chooses to do the right thing. The metaphor of the child is interesting. Greer seemingly fanatically trusts the intelligence of Samaritan to figure out the right thing. But Finch seeing the power that The Machine would possess guided it. This was the lessons that he taught it in its infancy. The difference would be Genetically engineering two children with the highest IQ imaginable. One child reared by a compassionate parent and the other set upon the world to do whatever it wants. It seems like it would be the difference between a child raising in a caring environment learning the lessons of humanity and a feral child. That is kind of scary.

I also find it interesting that we saw the evolution of Root. Root was where Greer is. She wanted the Machine free, she wanted the Machine in control of everything. Because she understood how a machine thinks and she thought that would be better. I find it so very ironic that it seems that it took the Machine to teach her humanity.

Collier's backstory was great. I was certain that it had to be something like that. That he or someone close to him had to be victimized by the Security State in order to push him toward this. I actually would watch a whole show about his evolution, this is a man that wanted to be a prosecutor, he believed in the order that the government provides and got a hard dose of reality that changed him. His transformation would be an interesting story. Training, recruiting, furthering their cause. That story would be fantastic. I hope they don't do away with him, because I feel that Vigilance is going to be a great adversary and sometime ally.

Now as for his Text messages. Honestly, I think it was the Machine. The Machine was raised on checks and balances by Finch. Would the Machine have the foresight to set forth someone in the world that was bound and determined to destroy it. If that is the case then that is phenomenal writing by the writers and the show runners of this show. I like to talk about the long game and shows not writing themselves into corners. This show is all about the long game. This show is so very well done that it makes other just seem half assed.

Also, Collier knew that the Senator was meeting with Finch. They had been meeting all week. Collier told the Senator that he tracked him through his Security and their Texts. That is how he found Greer.

Shaw is right. She is a lot like Decima. I would be surprised if they didn't try to recruit her. She knows that killing Control is the correct thing to do. Perhaps not the right thing to do. But Control being out there, even if they defeat the implementation of Samaritan, is a danger. She is the type of person that Samaritan would likely do away with. I find that connection interesting.

Now Root, what is she going to do with those Servers. She said it was something to hamper Samaritan. But how, and with what? Is she going to try to put the Machine in control of it? Is it another virus that will give them access to the program to adjust it? What is it?

Another thing about Greer I have to wonder what his end game is. I mean he has to be in his 70's . He won't be alive long enough to see his vision truly enacted. To me his is a man that has been in the system his whole entire life and has seen it broken. He went from defined good and bad guys in WW2 to their is no good and bad just gray, dark gray, light gray etc. And he wants his legacy to be that he fixed that. I think this is his fix. But his last sentence to Finch was odd. What other thing would be deserving of our vote. But that is the thing it wouldn't be a vote. It would be essentially a monarchy. Leave it to a Brit to install a digital monarch. (I say this sitting in my flat in a major UK city. So nothing against The British).

Hersch, Reese and Shaw were hilarious. I am not saying that they should bring Hersch into the group. But his face when Shaw called him George was perfect.

Wow this is long. Oh and one last thing. Was that a lot of muffins in that coffee shop? That seemed like a lot of muffins.

Great show. Thanks for the review Tim.


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Yup, people are the problem. It's just not the kind of problem you can fix.

I think you're right the text messages were from The Machine.
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Well that depends on what you call fix. I doubt that either Machine would go all Sky Net on us or turn us into inefficient batteries. But it will be fun to see what potential solutions Samaritan would come up with.
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Reese is now sitting in the back seat? What the heck, Shaw? Hersh gets shotgun over Reese?

It was Hersh's car.
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Oh, and I see Leslie Odom Jr. will hook up with Katherine Heigl in the new NBC drama State of Affairs. I don't know if like that.

No more Collier?

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Good news is that Katherine Heigl series seldom last long. Denzel, Jr. should keep his options open!
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I loved Collier's backstory! I wondered how he got into Vigilance/an anti-surveillance mentality. I figured he started out as a regular guy who had some wrong done to him somehow and with his law education it makes him the perfect person to start an anti-government group. And also the perfect person to lead the "trial" of those he symbolically holds responsible for his brother's death.

My biggest question about next week is how Reese/Shaw/Root are going to rescue Finch and destroy/impede Samaritan. I don't really care about anyone else, as far as I'm concerned Vigilance can kill Greer and company. Although I'm sure that would have far reaching consequences too.

"Reese: "Is this what The Machine really asked us to do? Drink really bad coffee with unemployed college graduates?""= I thought they were all writers who came to the coffee shop to be seen writing, lol.

As if Hersh's biggest secret is that his first name is George...
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The stolen servers that the geek squad modified, are going to be inserted into Samaritan's serverfarm to either sabotage or infiltrate it.
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This has to be one of the most compelling back-stories in TV history. It really explains how Brandt became Collier. Just watching the big reveal, the Sobriety Coin, and Brandt's reaction, was heartbreaking. It really shows how dangerous the 'guilt by association' mentality can truly be.

Seriously, who would like to see Leslie Odom Jr. receive an Emmy nomination?
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But if Brandt (the older brother) was detained for association with his (suspected terroist) sponsee, why wasn't the sponsee himself detained?
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Is anyone else thinking that the Machine is planning to infiltrate Samaritan? 7 servers pre-programmed? A way inside the firewall? If you can't beat them... make them join you! (or perhaps the Machine wants a son of her own?)
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The Geek squad's modifications to the stolen servers, The Machine making itself a back door into Samaritan.
I was thinking sabotage, but infiltration is a much better idea.
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Now that is an intelligent suggestion!
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