Warning: Spoiler Alert
“You are being watched. The Government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you, every hour of every day.” Three years before the American people realized that the NSA monitored our phone calls and the sites we frequent on the Internet, the CBS Network, introduced a show that was eerily close to reality. The premise of that series “Person Of Interest,” revolved around an Artificial Intelligence System designed by Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) for the Government to use to prevent a terrorist attack.
Harold did all his work incognito, as his partner Nathan was the front-man for their company and liaison with the powers in Washington, D.C. Nathan had wanted to build a back door into their system, so that Harold and he could retain access even while being used by the Government, but Finch stopped him from doing that. Harold would alter the system the way Nathan wanted, after a United States Intelligence operative, murdered Nathan with a bomb he had planted on a ferry that he was on.
Nathan wanted to help people in trouble that the Government deemed irrelevant, the machine generated Social Security numbers of people who’d be involved in a crime shortly, what it didn’t reveal was if the number belonged to the perpetrator or the victim. Harold suffered major injuries from the same explosion, damaging his spine and causing him to walk with a pronounced limp. He would need a partner to intercede in these events, after going through a series of wrong candidates, Finch recruited John Reese, a former CIA operative who became so disillusioned that he was living on the streets as a homeless vagrant.
Finch was able to convince the former CIA agent that the two could make a difference, by intervening in these situations. Although they couldn’t save the world, they could prevent lots of wrongs, saving lives and sometimes saving souls, by convincing them to do the right thing. The duo eventually started working with two NYPD detectives, Lionel Fusco, (Kevin Chapman) a former dirty cop that Reese at first coerced into helping them. However Fusco, realized he enjoyed being a good guy and left his corrupt practices behind.
Their other eventual ally was Detective Joss Carter, (Taraji P. Henson) who originally was looking to capture “the man in the suit,” (Reese) but after sitting down with Finch and Reese she agreed to help as well. Although Fusco and Carter became partners, neither realized they both were covertly working for Finch and Reese for a long time.
The first two and a half seasons of the series was mainly devoted to New York City in general and rooting out the endemic corruption in the NYPD. They were able to break the back of “HR,” but it came at a terrible price as a dirty cop gunned down Carter and she died in Reese’s arms. The next episode all remaining members of “HR,” received their just desserts.
The focus of the series changed after Joss passed, as two characters added in season two became more prominent in the new story-line. Another disillusioned former CIA operative Sameen Shaw, (Sarah Shahi) who prefers shooting over questioning. A former surgeon, although technically brilliant, she lacked empathy and got dismissed by her hospital and told to consider another career.
The other more prominent character actually appeared in the last two episodes of season one as the machine generated her number. Leslie Groves (Amy Acker) posed as a psychiatrist in an elaborate ruse to kidnap Finch and gain access to the machine. Miss Groves, actually was actually a computer hacker extraordinaire and hired assassin, using the alias Root. Reese thwarted her plans in the opening episode of the second season and sent her to a mental hospital. However Root had somehow bonded with the machine and became its analog interface.
Finch programmed the machine to move itself to a secret location, hidden even from him. He shut off accessibility to the United States Intelligence Agencies, but he and Reese still received numbers. Root escaped from the mental hospital and dedicated her life to carrying out the orders of the machine. She became in her own words “One of the good guys.”
The US Intelligence community wanted to get a new system in place now that “Northern Technologies” (the name the Government used for their surveillance through the machine) no longer operated. They made a deal with Decima Technologies, run by the sinister John Greer (John Nolan.) Greer was a boy during the London Blitz of WWII and that shaped his view of the world. He wanted an autocratic system in place that kept the people satiated, pacified and ignorant. In the closing moments of the third season finale, Decima’s system went on-line.
Reese, Finch, Shaw and Groves lost their most prized possession at the end of last season, their anonymity. Root invented four new identities for them, but they ended last season on the run. Later this month we’ll start seeing where their new path leads.
Person Of Interest Premieres Tuesday September 23, at 10:00 pm on CBS.