At first I was like, "Ehh..." and then I was like, "Whoa!" and then I was like, "AHHHHH!!!" Yep, last night was another evening of watching television's sneakiest drama, Person of Interest. I don't know why I let the show surprise me like this so often, but like all of the series' best installments, "Mors Praematura" was full of surprises. Going into each episode, there's no telling what you'll get. While last week's "Razgavor" was character-driven and emotional, this hour was full of intertwining mythology and intellect. I'll even admit that I didn't even like the episode a whole lot until about the halfway point, when everything began to coalesce, but ultimately, "Mors Praematura" ended in a way I never saw coming and with me giving it a standing ovation.
The episode followed a developing Season 3 trend of working the person of interest into the overall mythology of the show in wonderful and unexpected ways. Like Root said, "Things are evolving" for the Machine and therefore the show, and it adds all kinds of that whip-cracking wackiness that motors Person of Interest along. This week's number belonged to Tim Sloane (Kirk Acevado of Fringe, always nice to see him on TV), a guy who swam through the apartments of dead hoarders in search of a next of kin to pass the buck (and cleaning bill) to. He was investigating the mysterious death of his foster brother Jason Greenfield, a hacker who supposedly died of a heroin overdose despite never showing an interest in drugs. But of course that wasn't even close to what happened. It just took a while to figure it out.
What looked like a boring standalone case-of-the-week plodded along with some rather weak clue-hunting, hacker jargon, and computer-cracking code. I'm gonna nitpick here, but one aspect of Person of Interest that doesn't always make for great drama is its reliance on technology, which leads to partially decrypted emails that leave behind the perfect tiny clue, people worming into laptops to look up financial logs, or someone finding some "identifier string that [Finch] was able to match on the Darknet." Ummm, what? Me no talky 1337-speak. It's this universe's equivalent of inexplicable magic, but because Person of Interest is so tied into technology, we're just going to have to deal with it. Go ahead, Wizard Finch, do some keyboard taps to move things along.
Thankfully these minor gripes were eventually overshadowed by the series' brilliance in bringing it all together, and Finch's mumbo-jumbo about recognizing code put us back on the tail of Collier, the same nerdy menace behind "Nothing to Hide" who we all hoped would return in some form. Collier was after Jason because Jason joined Collier's group Vigilance, but he got spooked by how violent these keyboard jockeys actually were and cut a deal with the feds in exchange for a new life. Jason's death was faked to shake everyone else off his trail, the feds backed out of their deal and took Jason hostage instead, and everything we'd previously believed was blown up.
Meanwhile, Shaw borrowed Root for an apparently unrelated mission from the Machine, the details of which even Root didn't know. I love seeing Root as a totally-down-for-whatever blind follower of the Machine. She just seemed happy to be involved, and even happier zapping CIA agents at drop sites. With the Machine feeding her relevant bits of information (like the location of secret CIA meet-ups, authentication codes to go undercover, and great places to stash guns and ear pieces) to help her along with her quest, and Shaw providing the muscle and playing the role of chauffeur, the pair of lovely ladies went on a fed-crushing rampage and looked awfully good doing it even if we didn't know exactly what they were up to. Eventually we found out. The Machine's big plan involved sneaking Root into the CIA's temporary interrogation warehouse, where only a shabby fence would separate her from... Jason Greenfield.
Bringing it all together.
From there, the episode took off like Bear after a Ketamine junkie and it was nothing short of incredible. The Machine (along with Root and Shaw) was after Jason because he was "necessary," Reese and Finch were after Sloane because he was their number, and the two missions collided when Collier, with a kidnapped Sloane, made an attempt to grab Jason while he was being relocated per the CIA's move-'em-every-72-hours rule, bringing everybody into one messy and totally radical shootout in an intersection. Just look at all the mayhem!
Root was grabbing Jason and shooting at Vigilance members, Sloane was crawling out of the back of a van to find his foster brother, Shaw was kicking out windshields, and Reese was shooting dudes while a thumping big-beat soundtrack provided the atmosphere. This scene was organized chaos, and it was a thrill to watch. When the dust settled, Root sent Jason packing to South America to hide from danger until he was needed, Reese saved Sloane but Collier got away, Shaw got to punch Root in the face now that their mission was done, and Finch took Root captive in his library thanks to an ankle bracelet and a Magneto-like prison. It was remarkable that all this chaos could feel so smooth, but "Mors Praematura" pulled it off.
BUT GUYS! What we really need to talk about is the Machine. It's still pumping out "relevant" and "irrelevant" numbers, but we're finally getting a look at the third set of numbers that were introduced in the Season 2 finale. It's almost as if the Machine has partitioned itself a third time. What could these numbers be? I'm assuming they have something to do with the Machine's next step in evolution: self-preservation and expansion. It's almost as if the thing is building its own Geek Squad, starting with Root and expanding with elite hacker Jason, to help usher it toward its next step. But where is the Machine headed? What does it want? And how far will it go?
To great places, that's where! It's almost time to be scared of the Machine and its capabilities. The final conversation between Finch and Root brought techno-theology into the discussion, and let me tell you, I'm all for that. This is where the show was always meant to go. Person of Interest is taking this computer box and turning it into God, or at least some higher power, with its omniscience, omnipotence, and followers (Root is so Joan of Arc). "You're going against the Machine's wishes by keeping me here, Harold," Root said. "You're only going to make her angry. Can you imagine what a being that powerful will do when she's angry?" "How can you be certain, Ms. Groves, that the Machine does not wish you to be precisely where you are?" Finch replied. Someone's wrong here, and I'm worried it's Finch. This totally crosses over into the idea of God's word, and how that word interpreted. It's just that in this case, words are 0s and 1s, and only a few people have the mental capacity to recognize when they're being spoken to.
Open your ears, get on your knees, and join the Church of the Holy Machine.
– That punch must have felt really good for Shaw.
– Did the Machine purposefully assign Sloane's number to Reese and Finch at the same time it sent Root after Jason? Should we be concerned that the Machine may put itself and this third set of numbers ahead of the "relevant" and "irrelevant" numbers? Does tracking this third set of numbers work independently from what the rest of the Machine is doing?
– Finch, after Reese found taser confetti near Shaw's bed: "I suppose it's too much to assume she tased herself." Reese: "Knowing Shaw it's possible, but if I had to guess, I'd say she's in trouble." That's the Reese I love, cracking a joke and stating the obvious in the same sentence!
– Sloane will definitely be back as an aid to Reese and Finch, and Acevado is a perfect fit. Keep bringing in members of the J.J. Abrams family, Person of Interest.
– Fusco: "A thank-you would be nice." Reese [keeps walking by]. Haha, Fusco gets no respect.
– This episode really showed off New York! Lots of great exterior shots around the city.
– Shaw asking Root about the package they were supposed to deliver to the CIA and Root turning around with a black hood and twisty-tie wrist binds and saying "I am" put a fire in my loins. AND she knows how to bind herself! Rrrrrrawwwrrr!
– Reese: "Shaw." Shaw: "Reese." Reese: "Gotta save somebody." Shaw: "Know the feeling."
– [UPDATE] I forgot to mention Carter and Laskey! Laskey is one of many Russians working in the police department, strengthening the bond between the Russian mob and the police force. But aside from showing Laskey shaken by the extent of being involved with HR, Carter's storyline was pretty quiet this week.