“Sotto Voce.” In Italian, it literally means “under voice,” the intentionally lowering of one’s voice for emphasis. Of course, the emphasis in this episode was on “The Voice” a cunning, criminal mastermind that Team Machine first crossed in season 3’s “Last Call.” It’s rare that the team let’s one get by them, so the chance to tie up this loose end seemed tantalizing, or at least just as tantalizing as the idea of forcing Reese and Fusco to make up by reenacting Assault on Precinct 13. But really, it felt like the last grasp of the old Person of Interest, just the number, no Samaritan nonsense, and a happy reunion for the gang before the final four.
Admittedly, the episode seemed rather straightforward. Reese stops a locksmith named Terry Easton from planting a bomb at brokerage firm, only to discover that Terry is an innocent pawn for the Voice who kidnapped his wife, and manipulated Terry into placing the bomb. Or make that one bomb. Several bombs have been planted around the city, and as the bomb squad, which is based out of the eighth, is spread out disarming them all, the precinct is left unguarded except for Reese, Fusco, Easton, some red shirt cop, and Amir Siddiq, a town car driver that’s really a hit man. Oh yeah, there’s a violent gang locked up inside the precinct too.
But then there was the twist! It turned out Easton was the Voice, and he integrated himself in the investigation to make sure Siddiq, one of his contractors that learned the Voice’s identity, died before he could horse trade the information. Looking back on it now, it seemed rather reckless for the Voice to insert himself at ground zero for an Alamo-like siege at a police station, either he seriously under-estimated the police, or he over-estimated his own skills, both possibilities that seem out of character for a master strategist. Maybe it’s just enough to keep in mind that all great criminals eventually screw themselves up, and maybe it was the Voice’s time.
One criminal that knows too well the egg timer of underworld dominance it’s Elias, and he and Harold team-up to find the Voice’s identity despite the danger of Elias being seen out and about. Seeing the two of them in the field together was fascinating because the pair have so much in common – they’re chess fanatics, have a love for anonymity, and could easily be filed under the category of “schemers.” The big difference is that Elias has no qualms about violence, and it falls to him to deal with the Voice once and for all with a car bomb. Finch doesn’t deny that Elias’ moral flexibility was the reason he brought him along, but I can’t help but wonder if acting so rashly, or rather that allowing Elias to act so rashly, might draw unwanted attention. And if Harold being cool with the car bomb points to a dramatic shift in what he’s willing to accept as a means to winning.
At the end of the day, the standalone feel of the episode cupped a couple of big developments. One was Shaw’s return to New York from South Africa, which is impressive because she’s not just addled in the mind, but still able to transverse the globe without papers while avoiding Samaritan. Shaw’s reunion with Root wasn’t as, ahem, intense, as it was in the simulation in “6,741” but it was no less heart-warming. I loved that crooked smile on Root’s face when Shaw said that her hacker gal pal was the only one she could never kill in over 7,000 simulations, but I think convincing Shaw that reality is real is not going to be as easy, or as immediate, as Root made it seem.
The other radical shift for the show was that Reese finally told Fusco all about the Machine and the real nature of their mission and the threat. Much of that happened off-screen, which robbed us of what surely would have been a priceless Fusco reaction, but in the end he seemed glad to finally be on equal footing with the other members of team. I’m not sure why it took Fusco getting shot (again) to convince Reese that the danger to Fusco is real despite his ignorance, one would have thought the cave-in at Samaritan’s mass grave would have done that, but still, better late than never. But how cool was it to see the yellow box over Fusco’s head from the Machine’s view? He really is now a full-blown asset to the Machine.
The end saw the reunited Team Machine gather in Queensbridge Park, a significant setting because it’s always where we end up with the team needs to be recalibrated in order to face new challenges ahead. (Of course, it’s also where Misters Reese and Finch first met.) There was something very poignant in the wordless ending as the gang looked out over the city, a subtle, but not-too-subtle indicator that we’re rather close to the end. How soon it’s sneaked up on us. Blame CBS for the burn off because it feels like we’ve barely got started, but here we are close to it all being over.