For those who have seen my recent posts on social media, you know this, but in case you haven’t, I’ve been in a perpetual state of mourning for the entire week. Part of it is depression, part of it is denial, but all of it is due to my favorite television series of all time, Person of Interest, coming to an end tonight. To make matters worse, I got my San Diego Comic-Con Press Badge yesterday, which would normally be something to celebrate. But, instead, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic, thinking of the futuristic crime drama that I immediately fell in love with at an Advance Screening at SDCC 2011. Oh, the memories! It was a series like none I had ever seen — very compelling but also unique and original, which is a rarity these days in television. At the time, I thought it was going to be CBS’ next blockbuster — the new “NCIS” — and so, it seems almost surreal that it has ended just 5 short years later. To be honest, it’s actually pretty sh*tty, but on the other hand, the writers were given time to write an appropriate ending for the show, and given that I try to be a glass-half-full-kind-of-girl, I suppose we all should be thankful. Soooooo, the series finale has just aired on the East Coast, and now, let’s dive right in and discuss this final mission for Team Machine. Be warned, though. I just screened the episode earlier today, the tears haven’t even dried yet, and so, this review will most definitely be littered with lots of raw emotion.
It’s true what they say. Everybody dies alone. But, if you mean something to someone, if you love someone, if you help someone, if even a single person remembers you, then maybe you never really die at all — The Machine
First, kudos and plaudits to the PR Team at Warner Bros. for that perfect promo released for the finale. It depicts Finch (Michael Emerson) literally waiting for death on a rooftop after having been shot, and so, it set the fandom up — and prepared them — for what appeared to be the final mission of the Father of the Machine. I actually was one of these “fans.” In my eyes, Finch is the one who started this war, and everyone else — Shaw, Fusco, Reese, Root — are just innocent bystanders. So, if anyone needs to die to stop Samaritan, it should be Finch — in fact, it **needs** to be Finch. Think of it like the designer of the Titanic going down with the ship. The above quote (or at least part of it) is said by the Machine to Finch in those final moments before the Ice-9 virus eradicates all of her core functions, but we soon realize that the scene takes place in the future and also that the quote isn’t complete. To learn the ending of the quote and to see how the scene plays out in its entirety, we have to go back almost 12 hours right after Finch uploads the virus to Samaritan.
So, back we go to the previous night. Shaw (Sarah Shahi) finally is able to visit Root’s (Amy Acker) grave, but unfortunately, the moment is interrupted by Root… uh, I mean by the Machine. Under normal circumstances, I’m not sure whether the Machine would have revealed to Shaw that she had taken Root’s voice, but this is an emergency. The attack on Samaritan has put it in overdrive, and so, everyone on Team Machine are now targets, including Shaw. Thanks to the Machine’s warning, Shaw is able to escape, and it’s back to the subway batcave to meet up with Finch, Reese (Jim Caviezel), and also Fusco (Kevin Chapman) to regroup and figure out what to do next. On the surface, the plan is pretty simple. Shaw and Fusco are to remain at the Third Rail to protect the Machine against Samaritan operatives, and Finch and Reese are to destroy the copy of itself that Samaritan made, which, oh by the way, is located in the vault at the Federal Reserve. So, basically, if all goes well, then Team Finch simply has to break into the Federal Reserve (which with Reese in tow, is a piece of cake) and upload the Ice-9 virus to the Samaritan copy. Done, and we can all go home — in time for dinner too! Yeah, right. We know the entire thing will go sideways.
And, it does on both fronts. First, even though the Machine had a backup plan in case things went South on the subway (which included powering up the Third Rail and a huge bag of explosives that could easily take out an entire city block), that son-of-a-bitch Jeff Blackwell (Joshua Close) manages to cause even more harm. He’s able to board the subway car as it leaves the station, and before Fusco can react, shoots Shaw in the shoulder. Of course, Shaw has been to hell and back during her captivity by Greer, and so, a shoulder wound is no big deal. What’s more, she recognizes Blackwell’s weapon as the same type that killed Root. The old Shaw would have blown the guy’s head off right on the spot, but the new Shaw takes the high road. That turns out to be a huge mistake because as soon as Blackwell gets the chance, he stabs Fusco and manages to escape. Everyone that has followed my reviews of the show since it debuted in 2011 knows that Detective Fusco is my favorite character. No real contest there. And, while I had prepared myself for the worse in tonight’s finale, I still stood up and cried like a baby when Fusco got stabbed. You see, I had convinced myself that if Fusco somehow managed to survive the series finale, I would be OK with anything else that happened, no matter who else died. Well, at the end of the day, I had only delusioned myself because another team member ends up making the ultimate sacrifice and to my surprise, it hurt just as much.
As I said at the beginning of this review, all hints point to Finch as the one who sacrifices himself, much like Greer did in order to save Samaritan. But, of course, that would have been too easy. Finch learns while in the Federal Reserve vault that Samaritan made a **compressed** copy of itself that it plans to upload to a satellite via an antenna in Midtown. And, to top it off, Samaritan set it to where a missile would launch to destroy the antenna after the upload is complete. The ONLY option Finch has is to upload the final copy of the Machine to the satellite as well, with the hope that she can figure out a way to stop Samaritan. 10 billion times Samaritan had defeated the Machine, but Finch has faith that the one time it counts, she will find a way. Unfortunately, because of the impending missile attack, this means Finch will die in the process — which also means it is time to cut Reese loose to prevent him from trying to stop or save his boss.
This is where we learn that Reese is a lot smarter than we give him credit for — and, we also learn the true depth of Reese’s friendship and devotion to Finch. If you haven’t got the tissues ready, you should get them now. It is here that Finch realizes the antenna is not the correct one and that Reese is on the rooftop of the right building across the way. It turns out Reese had gotten to know Finch quite well and knew that he would try to go it alone and sacrifice himself. So, he made a deal with the Machine to divert Finch to the wrong building, leaving him to upload the Machine’s code and launch a final hurrah against the onslaught of Samaritan operatives in the moments before the missile detonates.
Yes, as much as I thought it wouldn’t, this hurt like hell. Son. Of. A. Bitch. And, I’m fully aware that John Reese is, and has always been, the fan favorite on this show. So, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain the fandom must be feeling. Bottom line — it sucks. But, after all is said and done, it does make sense, and we all should have seen it coming. No matter how much Reese has evolved from the first time we met him almost 5 years ago, he is — and will always be — a soldier. And a soldier’s directive is no man is left behind, and if you understand that, you can understand there is no way in hell Finch was going to be the one who falls on the sword for the team and for the Machine.
The good news is the episode does end on a high note, and it gives us something that the entire series began with — hope. We learn that both Fusco and Shaw survived, and we even get to see Bear one last time when Shaw shows up to inform Fusco that he’s now **her** dog. And, then, with nothing short of a miracle, we also see Finch, presumably in Italy where he finally gets to reunite with Grace (Carrie Preston). The Machine and Samaritan are presumed dead, and with that, he’s no longer a threat to anyone — which means he can finally be with Grace and live the life he had always dreamed about.
And, now for the rest of the quote I began the review with:
Someone once asked me what I had learned. Let me tell you what I learned. Everyone dies alone. But, if you mean something to someone, if you love someone, if you help someone, if even a single person remembers you, then maybe you never really die….. And, maybe this isn’t the end at all — The Machine
As we learn in the final scene, Finch isn’t the only one who miraculously survives. It seems the Machine finally did win against Samaritan because she takes one from the rival AI’s playbook and manages to make a copy of herself. She downloads to what is left of the subway’s servers, and if the phone call to Shaw in that final moment is any indication, Team Machine may be back in business — but, with new leaders at the helm this time.
This is as good as it gets, folks — this is the **perfect** series finale. And, in fact, a perfect final season in my opinion. Over the past 13 episodes, we have been able to see one last time virtually every character that has been dear to our hearts since the beginning. Shaw makes her escape and comes back with a vengeance and tougher than ever. Greer and Samaritan are finally defeated. And, while we lost 2 precious comrades along the way, if you really think about it, everybody got what they wanted in the end. Finch was able to retire into a life of obscurity with Grace. Shaw and Fusco will likely get to continue saving people and taking out the bad guys. Reese found his purpose and died knowing that he saved a lot of people, and quite possibly humanity. And, lastly, it appears the Machine may have gotten what she wanted too — the ability to make her own decisions unfettered and more importantly, the memories and the wisdom (we hope!) of the best Father a child could hope for.
Critic Grade — A+
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com