Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S03E08 – Endgame

In the eighth episode of the third season of Person of Interest, I nearly passed out watching this, IT’S SO MUCH. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion for PTSD/trauma.


It’s been fascinating watching Carter’s growth, even though I still must point out that it took this long for us to get a flashback for Paul, Taylor’s father. Carter’s story dominates nearly every frame of “Endgame” – as it should! – and look what happens. We get one of the most complicated and emotionally resonant episodes of the entire show. SO THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN HAPPENING MORE PRIOR TO THIS POINT. Especially since this details how far Carter has come from the start of the series! Joss Carter has tried to do what was right while going by the book, but the more time she spent working with John and Harold, the more she began to see that following the rules meant that those who were corrupt got away with what they were doing.

So I see Joss’s growth as one where she realizes the system is stacked against her. No matter how hard she tries to go by the book, even the book itself is flawed beyond repair. How do you deal with that? What happens when you believe so deeply in this system despite that practically every experience you have is telling you that this system isn’t worth saving?

Person of Interest started seeding this plot last season, most specifically with the death of Cal Beecher, though I’d also argue that once Carter knew HR existed, she resolved right then to take them down. It’s been a long journey to that point, full of heartbreaks and setbacks, but Carter stayed the course. “Endgame” makes reference to her final plan: to wipe out HR and arrest Alonzo Quinn once and for all. You can see how much she’s learned from John and Harold, too! She listens in on Quinn’s phone; she hijacks Yogorov’s truck; she learns how to pit people against one another. Carter manipulates practically every single angle of this situation so that everyone is exactly where she needs them. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s scary. And while I admit that it does feel rushed – due mostly to how she gets relatively less screen time than the other characters – I did feel like this was in-character for her. She’s moral, dedicated, and stubborn, and all three of those qualities still appear here. It’s just that she finally found a way to get through all of HR’s bullshit: by becoming dirtier than they are.

To an extent. Context matters here, and it’s important to note that Carter does her best not to kill anyone, to forget about bystanders, to ignore collateral damage. Indeed, her endgame is rather neat, isn’t it? It’s not until John finally shows up at the end that someone gets shot. But she also does all of this knowing that she has put herself at great risk of death. That dread hangs over every second of “Endgame,” making this one of the most unbearable episodes yet. Honestly, that’s why I thought they were showing us the flashback with Paul or having Taylor talk to her on the phone. I thought that’s what we were leading to: Carter’s heroic sacrifice that would take down HR in the process.

Instead, there’s a brilliant parallel unfolding the whole time. What had Joss been telling her ex-partner, Paul, the entire time in all the flashbacks? To ask for help when he needed it. He wasn’t coping with his PTSD from Afghanistan well at all, but he was also refusing to see any sort of therapist for help. That’s how he came to have a relationship with Joss and Taylor again, and after Joss’s call with her son, she realizes that it’s okay to ask for help when she needs it, too. I AM EMOTIONAL, Y’ALL.

I mean, I am also terrified for what’s going to happen now that Simmons has put John’s photo out on the wire, but wow, this episode was SO fucking good.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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