Warning: Spoiler Alert
We’re in a bar in Budapest, when a clearly frazzled young American man walks in wearing a suit and tie and asks for a drink. A very pretty blonde young woman with an English accent asks him if it’s been a hard day, and the young man tells her he just lost his job and his flight home got cancelled. She commiserated and the pair start talking, he’s a reporter whose beat was the sprouting artificial intelligence industry, but suddenly things had changed. His sources disappeared, companies that worked on artificial intelligence projects bought up and shut down. His editor had gotten reassigned, culminating with his dismissal that day.
He told the woman that he knew he sounded paranoid, but it’s like he’s the only one who noticed. The woman smiles back at him and says she understands completely, an artificial intelligence corporation, bought his paper, fired him and cancelled his flight. It’s almost like being in a bar, where the one security camera’s disabled and the bartender gets an emergency text causing him to leave. As the woman talks the reporter realizes she’s describing what’s going on, she then tells him that he’s one of three people who figured it out. The other two would die in a car crash in Seattle in 40-minutes. She then shoots and kills the reporter and leaves the bar.
That’s a taste of the world run by Samaritan, the new Artificial Intelligence System that accesses all raw feeds of information entering the USA, replacing Northern Lights, the system created by Harold Finch. It’s also our welcome to season four of the veteran CBS series “Person Of Interest,” and the shakeups that occurred on the planet since the season three finale.
John Greer (John Nolan) who runs Samaritan with an iron-fist, got Senator Ross Garrison (John Dorman) to give his system to all the information coming into this nation and Samaritan’s helped US Intelligence Agencies, eliminate threats, while Greer’s done the same covertly (such as the American reporter in Budapest, whose death confirmation comes to him as a text-message while he’s talking with the Senator.) Garrison mentions that Greer’s front company Decima, no longer existed and expressed alarm if citizens realized the arrangement the pair arranged. Greer reminds the Senator, that this gives the Government full-deniability and Garrison counters that if it ever comes to light he hopes he can find Samaritan.
The meeting finished, Garrison heads elsewhere, while Greer talks directly to Samaritan from his cellphone, first asking if it’s time to eliminate the Senator. The new machine responds back, not yet; then Greer asks about the status of Harold Finch and his crew and the machine responds investigation ongoing. Greer responds that eventually Samaritan will find the rock they’re buried under.
Four of our five friends are living new identities, save for Lionel Fusco safe as a Detective on the NYPD. We get our first look at Sameen Shaw, (Sarah Shahi) who’s now working in the cosmetics department of an upscale department store, brutalizing women with her perfume tester. Her manager, a mousy little guy, tells her she’s terrifying the customers and that there’s a woman at the cosmetics counter waiting for a make-over. Shaw looks over and sees Root (Amy Acker) waiting for her, telling Sameen she’s got a job interview coming up. Shaw whines about her new day-job and Root tells her the machine’s got a plan and things will work out. Shaw says she hopes that Reese’s a barista at a coffee-shop.
Shaw’s not pleased when she finds out her old partner’s now a detective on the NYPD narcotics division named John Reilly. He runs into Fusco on a Brooklyn rooftop as each investigate the same homicide. Fusco privately tells Reese that he’s wasting his time in Narcotics, that the machine should have put him in Homicide, where he could do some good. Reese tells him he had no choice in the matter and he’s less than pleased, but this is survival.
Mr. Fitch’s now a professor at some college in NYC, going by the name of Harold Whistler, teaching some sparsely attended course. As the class breaks up, a supervisor tells him because of the small student interest he’ll be put in a smaller room, then gives him back his treatise, that he had the man read when he got hired at the school. The supervisor remarks that it’s tough believing he received a government grant of $11 million for a treatise riddled with typos, which the man circled. Whistler takes back the papers silently and walks away, but the man stops him again as he and Bear (his German Shepherd) start to leave the classroom, that the school has a no dog’s policy.
Shaw and Reese get a text message from the machine that tells them to go to the same address. They’re surprised to see each other and bored silly by the speaker at the hall they’re in whose talking about positive energy and positive thinking, They get up to leave and there’s a payphone in the hallway, that starts to ring. Reese picks up the phone and it’s the first number the machine gave them since Samaritan went online. The number belongs to an Egyptian refugee who owns an electronics and computer store.
Reese meets Finch in Central Park at one of the many chess tables and tells Harold about the number, but Finch says he won’t get involved and if Reese and Shaw do, they’ll be tracked by Samaritan and eliminated. He tells John he’s no longer going to do the bidding of an artificial intelligence device, this is their new lives and they need to accept that. Reese tells him they don’t need money, they need a purpose and Harold replies they are without a facility since the library’s discovered. John tells him he’s going on without his partner and leaves the park.
Reese heads to the shop and syncs phones with the owner so he can now monitor everything audibly, just then a young Black man comes into the store and refers to the owner as old man and tells him he’s in trouble. The equipment and phones he sold his gang aren’t working. The man makes some lame excuses but the gang member gets indignant and tells the store owner he has 48-hours to fix things. When he leaves, John enters under his guise of Detective Reilly and says he can help the man and his son. The man tells John he trusted the police before and they let him down, he’ll handle the matter himself.
Root comes to Professor Whistler’s office and berates Harold, for not helping Reese and Shaw. That she and the machine need him if they have any chance of winning the war. He says that he clearly made his decision to leave his old life behind, but Root wont accept that answer.
John monitoring the store owner’s phone hears him call the gang member and tell him the phones now work and they plan a meet in the open for later that day and John and Lionel attend in the shadows. The store owner tells the gang member to get wider coverage he provided a second battery to boost the signal. The gang member drives off, but Reese quickly realizes that the store owner planted a bomb in the phone. John chases the car on foot, grabs the phone out of the car and throws it under a parked truck where it explodes. Fusco and Reese take the man back to his store and find out, that this gang’s coerced him to build a cellphone network that police can’t monitor. Minutes later his phone rings and it’s the gang member telling him they captured his son and he has until midnight the following night to get the network up and running.
Reese calls Shaw and tells her he needs backup to recover the son, but Shaw tells him to leave it alone, he’ll be caught by Samaritan and killed. He tells her he’s going with or without her and heads to the club the gang hands out at with a rocket-launcher in tow. He hits the club with the weapon and once the explosion clears, he enters and asks one of the hoods where the boy’s at. The gang member mentions something about a whale, but that’s the last thing John hears as Shaw knocked him out from behind, to get him out of the building before he’s detected.
He wakes up in Sameen’s car and asks what happened and she told him what she did to protect him. She says they no longer have the resources to do what they did, they now have six operatives, if they count the dog. Reese tells her that he’ll find someone who does have the resources. Reese heads to the hideout of Carl Elias, the man whose the major power-broker in New York City crime and a man that Reese’s worked with on many occasions when their needs matched up. He informs Elias what’s going on with Harold and the crew and that he’s now a Narcotics Detective for the NYPD, he asks who the whale is and Carl tells him the whale’s a huge shipment of heroin that makes it to the projects about 4-5 times a year and that “HR” ran it when the corrupt Police organization still existed. It takes place in a house that for that one night’s the most heavily guarded facility in the city. Reese thanks him for the information then tells Elias he wants to hire him.
Back in Professor Whistler’s office, Harold starts examining the treatise, which the machine produced and realizes that the typos are a code. He goes to the college library and finds the book that the machine wanted him to acquire, Once he starts looking at it, he realizes that in the catacombs under the city streets lies a facility, long forgotten that’s a perfect replacement for the library. He goes and checks it out and realizes it’s a Panopticon (the episode’s title) which is a building, as a prison, hospital, library, or the like, so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point. (According to Dictionary.com) The gang’s got a new headquarters.
John heads back to the shop and the owner’s besides himself with worry as he can’t get the network to complete the signal, however a voice off camera says he might be able to help with that. It’s Harold of course and the shop owner takes him to show him how he setup his network. Turns out the man’s resourceful and ingenious, he has his transmitters set to the same frequency as VHF television antennae, something no longer used but still on most rooftops in the five boroughs, giving him a city-wide network. Back at the shop, Finch gets all the networks to connect and the man calls the gang member to inform him and get back his son. The hood tells him he’s in the middle of something but all’s good and he’ll call him back. They’re getting ready to launch the whale, as they load now all the cut bricks into an SUV to distribute throughout the city that night. The two men in the car start driving and immediately get broadsided by a semi, driven by one of Elias’ men and he tells the guys in the car Mr. Elias sent his regards. Reese heads to the car just as a cruiser pulls up, he flashes his badge and tells the uniformed officer he’s happy to see him.
Reese runs into the house to rescue the son, but he’s gone and John gets outside in time to see the gang member put him in another SUV and drives off. Reese chases them down, knocking out the gang member and rescuing the son. He then calls Finch and tells him to put the father on the phone, the son gets on and the father’s greatly relieved. The son says they destroyed the store, but the father corrects him, telling the boy that they are the store, a message not lost on Harold.
Back at the eighth precinct, Fusco heads to his desk and sees some guy working on the computer of the empty desk that faces his and asks what’s going on. The guy tells him that he’s from IT and he’s setting things up for Lionel’s new partner, some hotshot from Narcotics that completed a huge bust and promoted to homicide. Fusco looks up with shock and gets shocked to see his new partner’s former Narcotics Detective John Reilly. It’s rather poetic that Reese inherits the desk of his dear friend Joss Carter.
Reese and Finch meet in the last scene and Harold tells John that the machine had a dual purpose in sending the shop owners number. They now have a network of their own undetectable by Samaritan for John and Sameen to use, but John makes sure that Harold’s back on board as well.
The Story Continues Next Tuesday Night at 10:00pm on CBS.