Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S02E02 – Bad Code

In the second episode of the second season of Person of Interest, Finch copes with the focused intensity of Root while Reese goes to Texas with Carter to find the source of Root. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of kidnapping, murder of a child, torture, nonconsensual drugging.


The Root Cause

I keep falling for this, don’t I? Yes, I did theorize that it was possible that young Hanna Frey wasn’t actually Root, but I never once thought to look to her friend. And what a heartbreaking way to explore where Root came from! At the heart of this is a brilliant young girl who simply wasn’t believed. What Mrs. Russell did is awful and horrific, and it set in motion a terrible set of events. What if she’d just believed Sam? Maybe Hanna would still be alive, and maybe Sam wouldn’t have turned into… well, I’ll get to Root, because I have thoughts.

This also exists as absolute proof that the Machine can reason and act independent of what it was programmed to do. Reese asked it for information, and it provided exactly what he needed to find Finch and Root. That means this is the first case which isn’t from the list of irrelevant numbers. THAT IS A HUGE DEAL, Y’ALL. In the process, Carter and Reese are able to provide closure to a Texas town that’s been haunted by the disappearance of a young girl. That seems important, too, given what Root discusses with Finch in terms of the “goodness” of the Machine. Yes, the Machine gave Reese information he needed, but there’s a net “good” that was accomplished here, right?

Let’s also definitively state: Reese and Carter working a case in the field is INCREDIBLE. This is what I want to see more of, as well as all the quiet building of the friendship between Carter and Fusco. I love Carter setting the ground rules and then coming back to the hotel to a crossbow on the bed. Or Carter arriving to meet Reese and realizing he threw someone through the glass of the front doors. I love that both of their abilities are used in this case in a way that compliments each other, and IT’S SO SATISFYING TO WATCH. Can this be every episode? PLEASE?

Bad Code

I admit that I’m surprised how bleak Root’s outlook is. Not because it’s out-of-character or anything for her, but because… didn’t this air on CBS??? They’re not exactly known for being this subversive, and Root’s philosophy feels close to a sort of nihilism. I wouldn’t say she’s all the way there because she does care quite deeply for one thing: freeing the Machine. Yet that leads her to a violent obsession with this AI, one that means she’ll take out anyone and anything that stands in her way.

She is an antagonist who is enrapturing to watch on the screen. Amy Acker does an incredible job portraying Root with a sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm, which stands in stark contrast to the horrifying things she does.

And make no mistake: they’re horrifying. It’s not easy to watch her slice open Finch’s hand like she did in the premiere or drug him like she does before they head to the train station. She tortures Denton Weeks for information… which I feel decidedly less terrible about? I agree with Root that Weeks is “bad code,” a human wired so badly that he does gross things. After Finch saved his life, Weeks was going to execute him! But there’s a bit of poetic justice here, too, the sort that we saw in Mrs. Russell’s story. Again, did not expect this from a show on CBS, but Weeks was responsible for signing off on torture being used by the US government. I don’t feel all that bad about him being on the receiving end of something he authorized the military to do. I DON’T! Part of Root’s modus operandi is getting revenge in increasingly relevant ways. She sent those copies of Flowers For Algernon to Mrs. Russell as a way to remind her of her complicity in the death of Hanna Frey. Look what she did to Mr. Russell! She implicated him in Hanna’s murder while also sending drug men after him to kill him.

It’s her thing. Which makes me wonder… will she track down the Machine after the clues Weeks gave her? When will she be “ready”? What does that even mean?


The video for “Bad Code” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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