Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S04E13 – M.I.A.

In the thirteenth episode of the fourth season of Person of Interest, the search for Shaw brings the team to an experiment. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual medical procedures, torture.

I guess I hadn’t thought to ask this question until right now, but: are there things that Samaritan is doing that Greer doesn’t know about? It’s entirely possible that Samaritan can work in its own interest without informing Greer about its intentions, and lord, that is a disturbing idea. Well, that’s one disturbing in a sea of unnerving nightmares, of course, and this episode escalates the Samaritan mythology to a brand new level of horror. Is this what Greer intended? I imagine so, given that we know that he believes that people need to be controlled in order to be “happy,” and the town of Maple, NY seems to be the perfect test case.

But it’s a creepy fucking journey to that point, y’all, and I AM SO SCARED OF THE FUTURE. If this is what Samaritan is already willing to do, how the fuck is this team going to stop it? We were warned, of course, that this was going to happen, that Samaritan was going to be twenty steps ahead of everyone because it could multi-task like nothing ever seen before. And as obsessive as the team might have been in trying to track down Shaw, they never would have discovered Maple if they hadn’t tracked down that refrigerated truck. So, yay? I guess?

Look, it’s hard to feel good about this episode. (Aside from that ending. I’LL GET THERE.) It’s brilliantly written and acted, but the writers keep pushing the Person of Interest story into a bleaker and bleaker place. The town of Maple, NY was an ant hill, a chance for Samaritan to test out a greater sense of control, to study people as if they were nothing more than subjects. Even that doesn’t feel like a good summary of the situation because Samaritan THREATENED PEOPLE WITH DEATH if they didn’t take part in this nightmare!!! A calculation was done: some of the people of Maple suffered so that the vast majority could be happy. (Got some Ursula K. LeGuin vibes from this, specifically “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”) Those people were either coerced into this position or were summarily “punished” by Samaritan for existing outside its organization of Maple. So how can this count as happiness if some people are required to suffer for the joy of others?

Once more, complicity matters. There are folks who live in Maple who are utterly unaware of what they’re involved in. But Miss Thompson—proven later to be an entirely different person—knew something was up. Yes, she was more or less tricked into this position, but she was aware that she was a tool in some awful machine. Let the shooting of that homeless man who won the lottery prove that: she probably set it up. So at point does following orders stop being an ethical choice? Here’s what fucks me up more than an individual act: Samaritan is absolutely relying on people to follow orders. Since they’re studying human behavior, I’m sure they’ve realized how easily people can be manipulated, either by inflating their egos (making them feel they’re part of something important) or using fear (as the case with the Mayor, who believed she would be killed if she disobeyed). But she still refused to find a way out, and her actions caused the direct suffering of others. She knew that! And this show is obsessed with addressing complicity, so I’m glad that Miss Thompson wasn’t excluded from that.

Still, I don’t want to ignore how scary and confusing this is. John and Root discovered a horrifying new development on top of the Maple experiment: Samaritan was creating neural implants to further study humans on a chemical level, which… good fucking god, y’all. The tracking devices created by Carrow were creepy enough, but tracking humans from inside their brains??? Note that those would have been installed in people with brain injuries, y’all! Already vulnerable people would have been subjected to testing WITHOUT KNOWING THAT THEIR BRAINS WERE BEING EXPERIMENTED ON. That’s so horrific!!! Oh gods, you know something worse is coming next, right? Samaritan isn’t stopping any time soon, so I’m curious: What possible use does Greer have for Shaw? (And yes: I AM EXTREMELY EXCITED THAT SHE IS STILL ALIVE.) As an operative? Shaw would never work for Samaritan. As a spy? To get information on Harold? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

I’m also worried. Look, this episode was agonizing to watch because we didn’t know Shaw was alive until that final scene. Obviously, the major emotional conflict was the team’s desperate search for her, and it was clearly taking a toll. (Which… I’m gonna be bitter for a moment: See? See how you can not kill off someone and yet still generate the kind of desperate response in the characters? SEE???) But how can they just let her go? Why would the Machine tell them to stop looking for her? My guess is in line with what Harold suggests, that there’s some grand plan that the Machine doesn’t want these people interfering in. But that’s just so painful. I understand why Root leaves, and she’s probably going to continue to look for Shaw without the Machine’s help. MY HEART, Y’ALL. This is too much!

And I’ve written about all this and HAVEN’T EVEN TOUCHED ON THE SUBPLOT WITH DANI AND FUSCO. Holy shit, this episode was firing on all cylinders, wasn’t it? While the rest of the team is tracking down Shaw, Fusco teams up with Dani Silva (from an earlier episode this season)) to take out a horrifying contract killer. Y’all, Arthur Weiss isn’t okay??? What the fuck, WHO CAME UP WITH THIS CHARACTER. His entire outward identity is a fabrication, and the sheer commitment required to keep that up is terrifying. Like… he has an abandoned apartment in Brooklyn specifically used for making bodies disappear. WHAT A MONSTER. I’m glad Dani survived this one, though, because I started getting real worried that she wasn’t going to make it. Can we see her again, though? I’d be fine if they recruited her as another agent, y’all. LET HER WORK FOR THE TEAM.

Oh, and can someone tell Fusco what’s going on? Is he ever going to find out?

The video for “M.I.A.” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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