Warning: Spoiler Alert
The creator of the CBS series “Person Of Interest,” Jonathan Nolan has shown the ability to keep his show adaptable and ever-evolving, over its four seasons on the air. The series changed it’s focus during the third season from wide-spread corruption in the NYPD, to the growing threat, that an Artificial Intelligence System could become in our society. Nolan’s also showed an amazing use of the medium, brilliantly displayed in the eleventh episode of this season, as “The Machine,” tried plan after plan before settling on what to tell its human operatives.
Shows that strive for quality, tend to err in being overly ambitious, a sin I can easily forgive. Trying to shoot for the star’s preferable than aiming for the lowest common denominator. However I’m afraid what the series did with this week’s episode, entitled M.I.A. as the show attempted to fit far too much information and action into 54-minutes of television time. Unfortunately in doing that, they really didn’t give justice to the individual stories attempting to get told. Attempting to tell a story of a “Too Perfect,” town in upstate New York, looking to take out a Jersey City hit-man in Brooklyn and references to “Schrödinger’s Cat,” was too much to process in one sitting.
Here’s the basics; Harold Finch believes that Samaritan abducted Sameen Shaw in a refrigerator truck, after shooting her at the New York Stock Exchange. That truck wound up in the small upstate New York town of Maple, that’s when the tracking stopped. Reese and Root are up in Maple trying to find Shaw and they soon realize that the seemingly All-American town’s involved with an all too familiar entity.
They arrive on Founder’s Day as Mayor Dowd and a woman named Miss Thompson tell all the residents, how proud they are presiding over the town’s 212th birthday, then tells everyone to have a good time. A brass band plays on the town square and Root and Reese head to Police headquarters
With nobody else in New York City, Finch imposes upon NYPD Detective Lionel Fusco, to take the next number. The man’s named Albert Weiss, he’s a sales associate at a hardware store in Jersey City, in New York to visit his young niece. Fusco watches him in the park and says the guy’s a beat-up puppy-dog of a man, why would anyone want to hurt him. He soon sees a former number, NYPD Internal Affairs Officer Dani Silva, watching Weiss as well and soon Silva approaches Lionel. She’s no longer with Internal Affairs, she’s now in gang’s division and Weiss appears on two witness lists.
Root and Reese pose as two NYPD homicide detectives, looking for surveillance footage. The Chief comes out and he’s pretty brusque at first, but Root’s flirting warms him right up. She starts going through the footage and finds corrupted images and asks the Chief where are the DVD backups, he says he’ll show them to her if she has dinner with him. He then gets overly frisky, and winds up bound and gagged in a suitcase by Root. Harold tells Reese and Root that he’s located the truck, it’s impounded in Maple.
Fusco starts thinking that instead of the victim, Weiss’ the hit-man that’s made a bunch of witnesses disappear. He checks into the hardware store that Weiss works for and they reported a robbery of a 100-pounds of lye a few years ago. Silva says that could make a lot of bodies disappear.
Root’s driving and Reese starts looking at scenery and she snaps at him to stay focused, he needs to keep his eyes on the road. John looks at her and asks, you really believe she’s alive, don’t you? She asks him if he’s ever heard of “Schrödinger’s Cat,” and gets met with a blank stare in return. The theory poses the following exercise, there’s a box with a cat and a lethal substance inside it, there’s an 80% chance the cat’s dead. However, “Schrödinger’s Cat,” states that until you open the box the cat’s neither alive or dead, it’s both, once the box opens reality sets in.
Fusco and Silva meet at a restaurant and Silva’s dressed to the nines and Weiss’ having dinner a couple of tables away. Finch calls Fusco and says one of the employee’s a gang member and he’s probably Weiss’ target. The man starts to get up and Fusco follows him into the kitchen. Weiss sees the gang member and starts to pick-up a meat pounder when Fusco asks him what he’s doing in there. He says he was looking for the restroom and Lionel arrests him for trespassing and puts the cuffs on him. The suspect then slams his head twice into the metal-counter opening a gash in his head and starts asking Fusco not to hurt him.
Root and Reese find the truck but it’s abandoned, there’s a gurney in there and it looks like an operation took place there, but Reese says it doesn’t look positive. Root tells Harold she wants the Hospital’s Director of Surgery and he texts the address. They burst in to Doctor Victor Haskell’s house and Root starts asking about the surgery he performed and he says he got suspended by the hospital and hadn’t operated for months. He says he did receive a call the other night asking about a brain operation, that didn’t sound positive. They hung up and the number was blocked, Reese asked if he called the police and Haskell responded that if you asks questions in Maple you get into trouble.
Then we find out the real story, Maple was on the verge of bankruptcy, manufacturing had fled overseas and people couldn’t find work. Suddenly a corporation came in and bought the town and brought prosperity to all, they started producing transponders in one of the factories and people went back to work. But then strange things happened, the Mayor “committed suicide” and he was a City Council Member, suddenly had his seat taken and arrested for medical malpractice and lives under house arrest with an ankle alarm. He tells them the person that runs the town’s Miss Thompson and she calls all the shots.
Weiss gets released by the police and Lionel will get suspended is he gets within 100-yards of him. He gets a lead from Finch and hands it off to Silva, it’s a home owned by Weiss under an assumed name. He tells her to show caution, it looks like Weiss took out a Jersey City officer.
Silva heads to the house and breaks in, it looks abandoned then she sees all the packages of lye, a huge tub and a chain saw, bullets start flying as Weiss caught her down there. The two trade bullets and then we see another shooter as a window’s shot out, Lionel joins Silva downstairs, but Weiss escaped.
Back in Maple tells Reese and Root that the police will immediately start searching for her, but her hopes drop when she sees the chief’s already imprisoned by the pair. She then tells the duo that all she does is follow orders. She said her real name’s Mary Anne Holt, six months ago she worked in a CVS in Pittsburgh had a heart-attack. She woke up in Maple’s hospital with a new pacemaker and they told her this was her second chance in life. Reese still believes she knows more and is about to hand her off to Root, when Harold asks if he can have a try talking with her.
Finch asks her about the former mayor and Dr. Haskell and she responds the blonde haired woman told her some needed to get sacrificed for the common-good. Harold explains to all of them that Samaritan bought this town to study it like an ant-farm. First it made everything wonderful then shook up the ant-farm to watch how the ants reacted.
Root says enough playing and pulls out a surgical drill and tells Thompson that this is what they used on her friend and she’s going to use it on her, when she admits she saw them wheeling a dark-haired woman into one of the factories and she can show them where. Root then drills a hole in Thompson’s hand and says if she lies on this question, the next one will be through her skull. She asks if she was alive and Thompson says yes.
They head into the factory and they find all these tracking devices that Samaritan plans to plant everywhere, on everything and in effect everybody. Then Root sees an implant, they’re planning to put in someone’s head. They ask where Shaw’s at and Thompson points to a sign stating secure area, she says she has no authorization for there and they’re on their own. Reese grabs her and says remember to duck when the shooting starts.
Silva heads back to her apartment goes into her bathroom and closes the door, Weiss appears out of the shadows opens the door and Silva’s standing there, with her gun aimed for his heart, then Fusco shows up with his weapon aimed behind him. Weiss says he never gets caught, pushes Silva in the bathroom and pulls the door shut, knocks down Lionel and has Fusco’s weapon pointed at him when Silva kills him with two to the chest.
Reese and Root take out the guards and see a woman in a hospital bed, with dark hair, her head facing away from them. Root runs over and shouts Sameen, but it’s another woman a secretary at the NYSE, that they were going to put the implant in. They rescue her and then leave.
Root and Reese are back in New York and Finch and Root are together, he tries to get her to accept they may never find out what happened to Shaw. Root looks at a surveillance camera and pleads for “The Machine,” to help and a payphone rings and it’s sending them a message. Sierra, Tango, Opera, Poppa, STOP, “The Machine, ” told them to stop searching. Finch says to Root that maybe it has a plan.
He then says For our own survival, our sanity, we must reconcile ourselves to never knowing the truth. Otherwise our pursuit of this will consume us entirely.
Root says goodbye to Harold and walks away.
We see Samaritan Administrator Greer and we hear a familiar voice say, if this is the after-life it sucks. Greer chuckles and says rest up Sameen, you’ll need it.
The Story Continues Next Tuesday Night at 10:00 pm on CBS.