Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S03E13 – 4C

In the thirteenth episode of the third season of Person of Interest, John tries to escape his job, but the Machine has other plans in mind. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

THIS JUST KEEPS GOING. It just??? Keeps being good??? And insightful??? And angry??? After two episodes that were light on John’s presence while he was still in mourning over Carter’s death, “4C” openly deals with John’s emotional state. Initially, I didn’t see how the case of Owen Matthews was deeply connected to the conflict between John and Harold. I got the sense early on that John would have to determine whether he was leaving permanently or remaining with the team. He was in the midst of trying to run from what had happened when the Machine put him on a very specific flight.

And I want to start there because I kept expecting some reveal to pop up that would show us that Root was somehow behind this, but there does not appear to have been a human touch at all. The Machine still operates out of its own desire, and while it also seems to have given ISA the relevant number, it looped John into this case, too. Does that mean the Machine didn’t trust the ISA to do its job? Did the Machine calculate that the ISA might have stopped the crash of the plane, but needed someone to save Owens’s life as well? THIS IS SO INCREDIBLY COOL TO THINK ABOUT. The Machine approached this from multiple angles, and it did so without reaching out to Harold. AND WHAT IS ROOT DOING? Did Root even know that this was going down?

That’s a lot of fun to consider, and the execution of these ideas was ALSO a lot of fun. Y’all, I just love closed room mystery, and it’s my goal to write one because I HAVE TO DO IT. This entire plot takes place on a red-eye flight to Rome, and IT’S SO FUCKING GOOD. I love the relentless nature of all the threats; I love that as soon as John takes care of one attempt on Owen’s life, there’s another one like five minutes later. I LOVE THAT HOLLY GETS TO BE A PART OF THIS ADVENTURE AND SHE WASN’T SECRETLY A PLANT. (I thought she might have been the ISA agent at one point. And Samm Levine as the programming genius who kind of accidentally became internationally despised for his creation? OH, SUCH GOOD CASTING.

But “4C” works best as an examination of John’s anger. Yes, he’s still mourning Carter, and it’s an undeniable part of his characterization in this episode. But Harold’s machine is where he directs his ire because it couldn’t save Carter. It was easier for him to blame the Machine than the man who murdered Carter, as illogical as that seems. Simmons is dead, first of all, and John wasn’t the one to kill him. But that Machine, as all-knowing as it can be, didn’t provide John with the means to save the one person he needed to save. Out of all the people he had saved, why did Carter have to be the exception? The sheer tragedy of that causes him to direct his hatred towards the Machine, and it’s a huge reason why he doesn’t return to his job.

And it’s why he nearly pummels Owen in that plane. Owen created something that was brilliant, that no one had ever done, and he believed – or at least his intent – that it would stop the violence associated with the drug trade. But that intent translated to a violent reality, and Owen didn’t seem willing to accept that. So of course John was going to project his issues with Harold in this case! Above all, John wanted accountability, something to gap the chasm of unfairness in this wretched predicament.

It’s why that ending is so fucking memorable and meaningful. John was reminded by this case that there are lives on the line, and perhaps he really is delaying the inevitable. Every one of those 130 passengers on that flight will die someday. But what will they be able to do out in the world with all that time they got because John saved them? What will that potential become in actuality? John found a purpose in saving people, and this was his reminder that he does matter, that what he does matters a whole lot.

The video for “4C” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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