In the ninth episode of the fifth season of Person of Interest, a perpetrator from the team’s past torments more people; Root experiences a reunion. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.
Trigger Warning: For brief mention of suicide.
Holy shit, WHAT AN EPISODE. “Sotto Voce” balances multiple plots, themes, and character studies, and it does so BREATHLESSLY. It’s so much! It’s everything! It is all things at once!
There’s a lot to celebrate here, but I’m gonna start with something that has been four and a half seasons in the works: Lionel Fusco finally knows the truth. But it’s not before the show commits to the decision the writers made to have Fusco reject John. He sticks with it, despite that it’s uncomfortable, despite that John clearly needs help. I appreciated this because it felt earned; after years of being treated different, Fusco pushed back! He took his own cases, he supported himself, and he refused to be used.
And while his case eventually did have something to do with the team’s pursuit of The Voice, that’s not the reason that John decides to finally induct him into the truth. Time and time again, Fusco has demonstrated just how loyal and dedicated he is. Despite everything that had happened between him and John, he still cared about the job; he still cared about doing the right thing; HE STILL THREW HIMSELF IN FRONT OF A BULLET MEANT FOR JOHN. I just???? FUSCO IS SO PURE.
But I do love how John frames it: in a world so terribly complicated and untrustworthy, perhaps trusting other people is the best weapon they have.
I admit to COMPLETELY FORGETTING that this plot was left unresolved from ages ago, but y’all. I was ready. I WAS SO READY TO LEARN THE TRUTH. And goddamn, this was incredibly satisfying. In many respects, it was just as haunting and frustrating as “Last Call” was. The Voice is the moral opposite of the Person of Interest team, someone capable of surveilling and manipulating people for pure evil. He does that here, all in the name of “cleanliness,” which is his way of making sure that all loose ends are taken care of. It makes the end of “Last Call” a threat, one that comes to fruition here: The Voice’s desire is to ultimately get rid of the only people who have ever gotten close to finding out who he is. (And they stopped one of his cons, too!)
Of course, I also fell for the bait here, believing that Terry Easton was one of The Voice’s victims. I had no reason to doubt that, you know??? And that’s why this man is just so horrifying to me. The lengths that he was willing to go to control the situation!!! Hiring an actress to pretend to be Easton’s wife, all so that he could be in the police precinct in case his plan didn’t work. Why? To murder the only person who actually identified him.
Neal Huff is a treasure to watch in this episode, and I credit the writers with creating a character that’s so devious and terrifying that I actually believed that he might get away with his crimes. He had that much power and control over everything that… well, here’s the thing. There’s a unifying theme across “Sotto Voce”: anticipating unknown variables. In all three plots, a character provides a variable that wasn’t planned for, and it undeniably alters what ultimately happens. Fusco stops John’s death/injury from the hands of the Templario gang. Root is the variable that breaks Shaw’s doubts and programming. (I WILL YELL ABOUT THIS SOON.) And when it comes to confronting the Voice, Elias is the variable that The Voice never considered. The fact that Elias was believed to be dead worked in Harold’s favor, and, like Elias states at the end of the episode, I figured that Harold knew that Elias would do what he couldn’t. (Killing The Voice, I mean.) It’s one of the reasons why he agreed to let Elias leave the safe house! It was a means of exploring these other options without having to do them himself.
I was not emotionally prepared for the Shaw/Root reunion in this episode. I figured the opening scene—where Shaw gets some sweet revenge on some exploitative coyotes—was all we were going to get in terms of an update on her progress after escaping. Shaw and Root’s reunion, amidst Shaw’s attempt to take out as many of Samaritan’s agents as possible, is rushed, frantic, and uncomfortable, and for a good reason: it’s too close to all the simulations that Shaw was forced to live out thousands of times. How many times has Shaw killed herself in those simulations in order to refuse to kill Root?
So yeah, I was real worried that Shaw was going to do exactly what she did in all the simulations in order to protect the team. But there was a variable that Samaritan couldn’t have ever planned for: Root. Human behavior. All of the people in Samaritan’s simulations were designed to break Shaw, but Root, in the real world, was not. So when Root turns the gun on herself, she creates a pathway that doesn’t end in Shaw’s death. And for the moment, she breaks through that programming, and IT’S BEAUTIFUL, I’M SO GLAD THEY’RE NOT DEAD, LOOK AT THE WAY ROOT TOUCHES SHAW’S FACE, I LOVE THESE TWO FOREVER.
What a great episode.
The video for “Sotto Voce” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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