In the first episode of the fifth season of Person of Interest, the team does their best to return to headquarters while avoiding the all-seeing eye of Samaritan. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.
I admire this episode. I really do. In terms of the writing, it is an intimate affair, both in the sense that it deals with some heavy shit in Harold’s past, but also in that the focus is so deceptively tiny. After the end of last season, the show could have easily expanded their scope, but “B.O.S.D.” deliberately narrows the action to the events after the team escapes with the Machine. In that sense, this is a logistical episode. All we are concerned with is the team making it back to their subway headquarters and reactivating the Machine. But how does that happen without the Machine’s guidance? How can these people cross Brooklyn and make it back into Manhattan when Samaritan can manipulate reality so easily?
And it’s these details that make this premiere so electrifying, so compulsively easy to watch. Seriously, this whole episode is just about the team traveling like… what? Maybe five miles, at the most? Every option must be weighed, every risk must be calculated. If Root is on the subway, how long can she stay on it before she’s caught? What’s the easiest way to avoid Samaritan operatives, both the trained ones and the ones manipulated by Samaritan? Y’all, that scene on the subway was so unsettling to me because we saw exactly how Samaritan was able to use human behavior to its advantage. It sought out people who were most likely to take down Root by viewing her as a dangerous criminal. IT’S SO FUCKING CREEPY. The show commits to the rules it sets up, and it makes it so satisfying.
I respect that. I respect that the tension comes from something so mechanical and complicated, yet we don’t lose sight of these people and these characters. Perhaps more than anything else in this season, I really feel like this is where Fusco is going to come into his own. And I want that! He deserves it after all the work he’s put in, and this episode shows just how frustrating it is that he is still being kept in the dark. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if he started trying to piece this together on his own, you know? After the IAB agent mysteriously died and that fake story got billed as the real one, Fusco can’t deny that this isn’t just a case of Harold and John getting information from an unknown source. This nightmare is closing in on him. So how will he react in the future? When is he going to reject all the placating he gets?
In the midst of this unfolding drama, though, is a chance for one character to reflect on mistakes they made in the past. So while “B.O.S.D.” deals heavily in logistical challenges, there’s an emotional weight to all of this, too. Hindsight has granted Harold the understanding that long ago, when he made the decision to limit the Machine’s ability to learn and grow, he made a mistake. At the time, the decision wasn’t made lightly, mind you, and I believe that Person of Interest has gone to great lengths to show us that this was all done with care. Obviously, that doesn’t mean it was an easy choice to make, or that it was perfectly moral with no negative repercussions. But Harold realized the potential for the Machine, and he didn’t want it used for nefarious purposes.
So what happens now that a version of that machine exists, granted the exact powers that Harold didn’t want it to have? Well, it’s one of the reasons he regrets limiting the Machine. Would it have survived more fully if he’d not have prevented it from having a memory? Had he destined it to this death because of what he’d done? Wasn’t it better to have a Machine that COULD learn rather than one that would remain a tool?
I’m interested to see what happens now that it’s been turned on. Was anything damaged? Will it have freedom from now on? CAN IT GROW AND DEVELOP? Oh god, there’s just so much possibility here, and I love that this is how this season opens. BRAVO.
The video for “B.O.S.D.” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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