We were promised a “twist” on Tuesday night’s episode of Person of Interest, but I have to say that it wasn’t much of a twist in the end. That, combined with a standard “number of the week” scenario, it felt like “Shotseeker” was a straightforward, old school episode of POI, but at the same time, I have to wonder what the potential implications are going forward. This may have felt like your run of the mill Person of Interest, but there may be longer term facets to explore including missing people, Fusco’s curiosity, and the growing sense that the war against Samaritan is a suicide mission.
First, the obvious “twist”, which was the fact that Carl Elias is alive and, well, not well per se, but pretty much better than dead. The fact that Elias is alive is not surprising, the question of how much he knows about who it was that tried to kill him is much more compelling. His warning to his surviving foster brother and fellow gangster Bruce strongly suggested that Elias had some general idea that the biggest bad of all was the one trying to fit him for cement overshoes, and this one couldn’t be bought, bribed or coerced into giving up the hit. Ultimately though, Bruce looks like he’s not going to give up anything.
Fusco and he have that in common. By the end of the episode Samaritan labels him a “potential obstructionist,” which is S.A.I. speak for he’s getting up in Samaritan’s grill. The vexing park of Reese’s determination to keep Fusco in the dark is that it’s bound to blow up in both their faces, and it’s wrong to underestimate Fusco because as this epsiode proved, he’s not only a capable cop, but he’s a truly loyal friend. At this point, after everything he’s been through with Team Machine, it’s a disservice to purposefully to let him in on the full extent of the mission. We appreciate the danger, but at this point its a choice between carefully exposing him to that danger, or having him fall backwards into it by accident.
Part of that greater danger too is that Fusco is clearly on to something. Samaritan is being shrewder in the pursuit of its goals, making people disappear or commit suicide rather than leaving suspicious homicide scenes. The number of the week was Ethan Garvin, a member of the NYPD’s real time crime center that analyzes sounds collected from imminent domain in order to tell the difference between gunshots and similar sounds like cars backfiring. That sounds like one of those jobs that Person of Interest creates that we find out is real several months later. But poor Garvin here found himself entering into a Samaritan mystery: a missing grad student that may have discovered the solution to global famine.
It’s never clear why Samaritan wanted to put a pin in solving the fact of people going hungry – Root supposes that it has something to do with population control – but whatever the reason, Finch and Root decide that the best way to beat Samaritan and save Garvin is to release the report themselves. It’s a Seinfeld solution: if everything that Samaritan does is evil, then the opposite would have to be correct, would’t it? Small victories may be all the team can afford because Finch ran simulations using portions of the code from the Machine and Samaritan to see if there was a path to victory, and more than 10 billion “chess matches” later, it seems that there’s not.
Still, one wonders if the idea behind those small victories might inspire the team to think bigger. If doing the opposite of what Samaritan does is the way to beat it, then shouldn’t that extend to a greater idea of openness and transparency? So much of Samaritan’s work happens in the dark, and even poor old Jeff Blackwell, asset number 704, has no idea what he’s caught in the middle of. The greater battle going forward may be the inner one for our main characters as they decide not who to trust, they know who to trust already, but how they can find a way to open up and trust others with the larger game plan.