Mark Watches ‘Person of Interest’: S04E22 – YHWH

In the twenty-second and final episode of the fourth season of Person of Interest, The Correction has arrived. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

For the most part, I really do love what this show has become. I never expected Person of Interest to transform into a near-dystopic speculative fiction narrative, AND YET HERE WE ARE. I’m so pleased that the writers have taken this concept so far, and I want to state that at the start of this. I’m ecstatic to start the final season and see what the hell this show does with all of this. I have some guesses, but what’s been so fun is that most of the time, the show bucks expectations, even for someone who has read and seen a lot of science fiction.

LET’S DISCUSS.

War

If there’s a misstep here, it’s in the season-long arc of Dominic versus Elias. I feel like I’ve made my thoughts on this pretty clear up to now, and many of those same issues cropped up in the season finale, too. At the end of all of this, I never felt like I knew Dominic. We were given hints of something beyond the ruthless, calculating leader—like his own personal philosophy of the futility of fighting death—but the show never expanded on that. Even here, there was a chance, however brief, to even expand Dominic’s knowledge of the world. It was frustrating watching him toy with Elias, Harper, and John because he was so very far from understanding the relationship between Team Machine and Elias, and for that matter, the Team’s relationship with THAT WHOLE OTHER PLOT.

In that sense, I understood that the contrast was intentional, that Dominic’s struggle was so very small in comparison to the war being fought between Samaritan and the Machine. Yet there wasn’t enough time given to this to develop it beyond a matter of contrast. In a sense, I feel like we’re supposed to see all of this as a parallel to what’s happening elsewhere. If Samaritan must take out the one before it to thrive, then this is one major reason why Dominic had to take out Elias. But the writers created a character who was then kept ignorant of what was really going on, and I think that was a misstep, at least if they were also going to keep him fairly one-note.

Everything that was cool about Dominic’s plot in this finale had to do with other people. Fusco was incredible; watching John get full access to the Machine was a great callback to season 2; Elias maintained an upper hand despite every challenge he faced.

And then they’re both culled in the Correction. Did I expect some sort of epic, badass end to them? Up until the previous episode, sure. It’s probably the one thing I felt was appropriate from this storyline, especially if the writers wanted to deal with the complicated ramifications of what Greer and Samaritan had done. Neither of these men were innocent by any means, and I’m sure that some folks will remain alive because of their death. But the shock of their exit is part of the point: was any justice done? Did they deserve to be executed? Is this the “answer” to a better world?

Control

And for what it’s worth, I don’t find Control to be a “good” character in a traditional sense. She also did monstrous things in the name of patriotism for the state. Thus, I found it compelling and challenging that she is the one who discovers the cost of questioning authority. There’s a tragic irony in that: she wanted her previous agents to be obedient and unquestioning. Yet that’s precisely the standard she couldn’t hold herself to. After Root had given her a nudge in the right direction, she followed a stray thread right into the hornet’s nest. Samaritan is in control, but in ways she couldn’t quite understand until its too late.

One of my favorite moments of this plot was the look on Control’s face as she watched Samaritan agents act out the Correction. Did she finally realize how horrible she’d been? Was the look of shock because she’d been played in Samaritan’s test, or had she come to understand how extrajudicial executions were inhumane and terrible? I don’t quite know, but it’s to Camryn Manheim’s credit that she was able to give her character so much depth with so little. Is this the last time I’ll see her? My guess is no, but if it is, it’s a tragic but fulfilling end for a character who taught others to never question their orders. Her downfall came from questioning authority, and her entire team was killed for it. It’s so disturbing, isn’t it? Samaritan views humans as a means to an end, so it calculated who wasn’t “loyal” enough, and it executed them, too.

Exactly how is that going to manifest now that Samaritan is in control?

Survive

I remain impressed with how frequently this show manages to bring together so many tiny details and plots to give us something new. Much like Root, John, and Harold, the audience doesn’t see the bigger picture until everything converges. The case! The algorithm! Those power boxes! THE MACHINE WAS NEVER IN A SINGLE LOCATION BUT EVERYWHERE.

Even if the writers were making this shit up as they went, I don’t really care. This all came together so effortlessly, and I’m in awe. This is a tense finale, one that utilizes the established power of Samaritan and the enclosing power failures to ramp up suspense until the audience begins to question how far the show is willing to go. That’s a refreshing thing to experience, and there aren’t many shows that are actually able to make the audience believe the threats they level.

And that threat, littered all about “YHWH,” is that the Machine will die. Not only did I believe it, I felt like the show could have absolutely committed to it. I could see how the writers might be able to construct an entire season around this! Yet what we did get… y’all. What the fuck have you done to me. I NEARLY CRIED OVER A PIECE OF CODING. I just?!??!?!? I am amazed that this show managed to make an artificial intelligence such a fascinating character in their own right, and that’s why the rush to save part of the Machine felt so intense and terrible. (Well, we also have seen what the world looks like with Samaritan activated, so the audience wants the Machine to survive for that reason, too.) It feels like a person is being killed. Well, not just a person, but Harold’s creation.

WHICH THE SHOW EXPLOITS, TOO. And I don’t think I am ever going to recover from the heartbreaking exchange between Harold and the Machine, where the Machine apologized to Harold!!! For not winning!!! FOR UPSETTING AND DISAPPOINTING ITS CREATOR!!! What the fuck what the fuck why am I feeling these things HELP ME!!!!!

I genuinely feel like this was a huge leap forward in general, but especially for the Machine, who was more active and person in this episode than the audience has ever seen. It was breathtaking and absolutely worth the wait. I have lots of thoughts on what’s to come, but I’ll save that for predictions. For now: wow. Wow. This show has truly become something else.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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