Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S02E21 – Zero Day

In the twenty-first and penultimate episode of the second season of Person of Interest, both Finch and Reese find unexpected partners as they race to discover what happens when Decima’s virus hits zero. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

I really, really love speculative fiction. There’s always been something so fun about imagining the stranger possibilities of the world, either through fantastical or scientific elements, or some intriguing combination of the two. I’ll forever be a tiny, tiny bit sad that my debut novel isn’t speculative fiction anymore because it was so much fun to create a world so similar to our own, but then deviate reality in frightening or uncomfortable ways. (I have saved all those drafts from An Insidious Thing, though, and I plan on one day figuring out how to bring back all the worldbuilding I did for another story.)

Person of Interest was always science fiction from the start, but “Zero Day” felt immense to me. This will forever be the point where this show didn’t just turn the page into a new chapter; it leapt into the realm of speculative fiction, and now, we can’t ever turn back. THERE IS SO MUCH INFORMATION REVEALED ABOUT THE MACHINE, AND I WAS READY FOR NONE OF IT.

Let’s go.

Irrelevant 

I feel like we’re missing just one major piece from Nathan Ingram’s history, which is the final twenty-four hours of his life. That story, though, is integral to understanding how Finch became who he was, since this shows us that when presented with Nathan’s secret attempt to save others, Finch rejected Nathan. He closed the back door, and he gave the most horrific reasoning for it. It’s fitting that this came after the last episode, since this is in-line with this season’s greater theme: complicity. Fusco and Reese have been complicit in monstrous things! Finch isn’t an exception, either, and his decision to ignore the non-relevant numbers with a bullshit excuse that the greater good is worth the death of countless unimportant people is fucked up.

So what changed? What happened in that last day that got Finch to change his mind???

Thornhill

The machine was alive. It is alive.

I know I’ve spoken of escalation before, but LOOK. LOOK WHAT THIS SHOW DID. In one episode, we find out:

  • That all those anomalies we saw over the course of this show where the Machine tried to protect Finch were evidence that it was developing like a human was. Which isn’t exactly a surprise; it’s more of an absolute confirmation.
  • Finch’s solution to this problem was to have The Machine ERASE ITS OWN IDENTITY EVERY 24 HOURS SO THAT IT CAN’T DEVELOP.
  • HE BASICALLY KILLED IT EVERY DAY AND MADE IT START OVER.
  • And the only exception to that deletion is that it spits out the numbers, which it sends to the admin before the deletion.
  • Yet when Kara Stanton released that virus in “Dead Reckoning,” the Machine began to take measures to protect itself. That included hiring an entire office worth of people so that it could RECORD ALL OF ITS MEMORIES BEFORE THEY WERE DELETED EACH NIGHT. Thornhill and his company were always fake in that sense, but they were also very real, a means by which The Machine evolved so that it could survive.
  • IT EVOLVED.
  • And now, we get why Decima was so invested in the Machine, in thwarting Thornhill’s attempt to buy up all the phones in Manhattan: they wanted to be the one to answer THE PHONE CALL.
  • Which is SUCH A COOL FUCKING IDEA AND PLOT POINT I LOVE SPECULATIVE FICTION SO MUCH. 
  • (Side note: the love for libraries present in this episode is great I LOVE LIBRARIES, TOO.)

All of this leads to one of the most tense and exciting sequences in the whole series: Root and Finch trying to redirect a phone call inside the main branch of the New York Public Library while Shaw and Reese also try to locate them. That phone call will allow someone to have complete control over the Machine as the admin for twenty-four hours. If that older man (whose name I can’t remember) gets control, he will most certainly use the Machine for horrific things.

Here’s what I don’t get: What did Root hear? We know that Finch switched the call to route downstairs for Reese, but Finch appeared to talk to someone. Was she pretending? Did she actually hear something or talk to someone? Where is she taking Finch?

THE MACHINE SPOKE, THOUGH. IT SPOKE IN WORDS. I CAN’T DO THIS.

Carter

I got real scared that Carter was about to make her exit, and yet, it’s not like I feel any better about what happens here. That mothafucka Terney is The Worst, and it was so distressing to watch him set-up a sting that would end in Carter’s murder. After all that she had done and accomplished, they were just going to take her out like that. Unsurprising, of course, because HR does exactly that sort of thing all the time.

Yet somehow, them framing her for shooting an unarmed man is perhaps a million times worse. This is coming from a group of people who regularly conduct acts of police brutality, and they suddenly care about it. It’s wrong that an unarmed man was shot! Of course, that’s never the case when they’re doing it, and burying Carter under the scandal of this shooting is almost more effective than killing her.

I AM SCARED FOR THE FUTURE.

The video for “Zero Day” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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