Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S03E01 – Liberty

In the first episode of the third season of Person of Interest, the team adjusts to their new roles. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest. 


A New World

This episode casually reveals how the ramifications of “God Mode” have changed the lives of practically everyone, while still hinting at the terrible possibilities that await everyone. Shaw is now a full-time member of the team, though she’s uninterested in the sort of rapport that Finch has with John. She also has a high propensity for violence, which… that’s gonna be a problem, isn’t it? She’s learning, though! She only killed one scumbag in the episode!

Fusco, John, and Finch all try to keep up with the numbers, and there’s a semblance of normalcy here, but even I have to admit it still felt different. That’s not a bad thing at all, though. It’s just new. It’s awesome that Shaw is a part of everything, and I’m glad that there can now be two people in the field. But the team also faces a challenge in Carter, who was demoted and is no longer a detective. I HATE HR, I WILL YELL ABOUT THEM LATER. Then there’s Root, who is… you know what, I’ll give her a section in this review all to herself.

A Good Man

How does this show keep finding new ways to discuss similar themes? This isn’t the first episode that address the nature of what it means to be a good person. But in Jack Salazar, we see a glimpse of who John once was, at least long before he was ever a state assassin. Jack is talented, smart, and just a little self-deprecating, so BASICALLY HE IS JOHN. But the point here is that he straddles a line: he’s helping out his friend RJ, who has been quietly smuggling goods for other people in the service. He’s also desperate to do something good. And when the team gets his number, he’s still uncertain which side he’ll land on. Does he serve out his time in the Navy and then attempt a normal life? (And is that even possible?) Or does he continue to work his way through the state machine and become what the government wants him to be?

I know I’ve made this point before, but this episode got me thinking about how media can often refuse to challenge certain elements of our own culture or government or political system. Certain things are just accepted. And there’s long been a pattern of never truly criticizing the police, the military, and other agents of the state. While I feel like Person of Interest is generally more critical of the corruption of the police, I admit to being surprised that this didn’t turn into a blanket acceptance of the military. I’m so used to it! Look, my father was in the Army and served in Vietnam, and I have complicated, emotional feelings on the military and the culture that surrounds it. I thought that John’s big speech to Jack at the end of “Liberty” was going to refer to only the positive things about military service and how they helped him. Yet there was nuance here, from that moment where John admitted that there is good and bad in the service just like in practically every other industry, to that stunning conclusion: John told Jack to reject the CIA if they come calling.

And that makes sense in regards to what John went through. The CIA took John in, molded him into a killer, and then spit him out as soon as they were done with him. Why would he recommend that anyone else go through the same thing?


Oh, Joss Carter, MY HEART ACHES FOR YOU. Despite everything she did to exonerate herself, HR pinned that shooting on her and demoted her to a uniformed officer. It’s frustrating, but I also love that the writers give her an additional motivation to get creative. She still manages to stay in Fusco’s life; she keeps her ear to the ground; and her arrangement with Elias is THE WILDEST SHIT IN THIS WHOLE SEASON. There’s a lot here in “Liberty” that excites me, but knowing that she’s got a precarious (but beneficial) relationship with Elias, WHO IS IN HIDING, is just… it’s too much. I LOVE IT.

I want Carter to have complicated storylines, too, and season two was a little bit better at giving her more meaty plots, and this gives me hope. I still think that she gets way too little screentime for a main character, but YES TO THIS THING WITH ELIAS? Especially since her final scene in this episode reveals another secret: she’s been quietly gathering intel on HR. That glimpse of her hidden evidence wall showed the audience that she has identified WAY MORE HR MEMBERS THAN I EXPECTED. Oh, y’all, I want her to take down HR this season. I WANT IT SO BADLY.


This show is doing a fascinating thing with Root that’s a matter of perspective. See, the audience knows exactly why Root was “chosen.” Because Finch split the line in “Zero Day,” he allowed both Root and John to be added as admins, but Root still doesn’t know that. From her point of view, she’s in psychiatric care while the Machine is still talking to her. It called her! She continues to have admin access, and that’s how she’s able to get information about everyone, including her doctor, Dr. Carmichael. Given Root’s reverence of the Machine, it makes total sense to me that she would twist that reverence into this: She believes that God is 11 years old, and that She has chosen Root to talk to.

It’s complicated, and my hope is that the show doesn’t like… make fun of mental illness or anything? There’s a part of me that’s deeply pleased that Dr. Carmichael, who seems like a jerk who doesn’t listen to anyone, is so thoroughly embarrassed by Root. I DON’T LIKE HIM. But what does Root hope to get out of her time here? Is she interested in escaping, or is she trying to work on her “methodology”? What exactly does that mean?

Whew, I’m excited for this season.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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