I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the season finale of Person of Interest. After all, the show has managed to perfectly sync the standard case of the week with an overarching story, all while adding more and more depth to the characters that encompass each moment. And with a variety of plot directions, the episode (and in a way, leading into season two as well) could simply go anywhere.
So, when "Firewall" began, it felt like it was following in the safe footsteps of its predecessor episodes: the person of interest pops up, Reese and Finch gather intel, a few twists and turns take place, they save the day. Happy ending stuff. Always entertaining, but nothing that might truly make it stand out as a season ender.
Except as the hour went on, everything began to snowball towards something more than the usual, drawing up the mood of a tense action thriller and pacing expertly to the final compellingly mysterious pay phone ring.
Of course, with everything converging together and more specifically on Reese, the entertaining chase provided its thrills of who was going to get to the man in the suit first. Not only was the FBI breathing down his neck, the HR goons on his heals, but Finch and Carter were simultaneously trying to guide Reese through the labyrinth pathways of the hotel towards the safe exit. And while I enjoyed the cutting back and forth between each group (even the furtive glances of Fusco and Carter in the control room,) actually seeing Reese look worried made me question the outcome.
Not that Reese would get shot or fail (although I did think it would be interesting if the person of interest died) but the idea that this normally invincible man had the potential to be beaten. He certainly could hold his own, but I think even he recognized the feeling of being backed into a corner and not having the upper hand. I guess being so popular has its downsides.
Yet what I enjoy about Reese's character is his ability to come out on top, to save the day, and to tear it up like its his job (and it is.) Not to mention, he does it with such swagger and bravado all while remaining quiet and serious, even when cracking witty one liners. I couldn't help but laugh after he blew up the car and then casually tossed in the lines, "We should all grab a drink together sometime. My treat."
And in a way the focus of the action and the tightening around Reese distracted from the true focus of the episode: Finch. The sleight of hand was a good way to twist the story in another direction.
Alicia Corwin was finally able to confront Finch, but it was her fears that proved most interesting. She seemed on the crazy end of sanity, but her desires to destroy the Machine struck true. Yet, what made her think it was the Machine that was killing people, killed Nathan, hunted her? Off her rocker or onto something Finch doesn't want us to know?
Just as we think we might get somewhere, bam, Alicia is dead.
In fact, Caroline turned out to be the master manipulator who set up the entire hit on herself. It's funny that in a way Reese and Finch's predictably to always save the day ended up costing them. But the real kicker was that Caroline was none other than "Root," the enigmatic computer hacker from the episode "Root Cause." At first I was expecting it to be Reese's old partner, who recently revealed she's back in NY, but I actually enjoyed this particular callback.
Even as Root seemed to essentially pull all the strings to get her sitting next to Finch, she inadvertently brought the team closer together.
Zoe was brought back for her helpful assistance and although she had limited screen time, she was a welcome return. You could tell Reese was happy to see her if, for anything, the fact that she proves to be a worthy player in the master game that all of them are a part of. There's great chemistry between Jim Caviezel and Paige Turco and I hope she keeps coming back for more episodes in the future.
Similarly, Fusco and Carter finally discovered that they are both working for the same guy. I wasn't sure how long that secret would be kept from them, and I'm glad that the cat is out of the bag. Not only does it mean more resources, but the two can actually back each other up as partners instead of assuming the worst. These two are on their way to getting closer, but I still think that there are some trust issues.
Although it was also great that Fusco was able to step up and place the anonymous tip about HR. But I wonder what's going to become of Officer Simmons...
But what does Reese speaking to the Machine and demanding its help mean at the end? It can't actually think by itself can it? Is the Machine actually running things? Can it turn into the next Skynet and bring about a Terminator revolution?
The potential prospects of what the Machine can do seem more vast and dangerous, but what/how/who was that final phone call? What does that mean in terms of the direction the show is going to take?
What a perfect way to end the finale by captivating me at the last second and eagerly baiting me to know more..
Person of Interest found a way to bring action packed fun with a riveting, entertaining, and fast paced story to close everything out. Sure, the season was not without its imperfections, even starting rather slow before finding its groove, but once it hit its stride, there was no slowing down.
The finale delivered a fantastic cap to that season illustrating everything that's great about the show, while simply turning it on its head, incorporating clever twists, and showing that it's only scratched the surface of its capabilities.
Did you enjoy the finale? What does the phone call at the end mean? What's in store for season two? Sound off with your comments, questions, and theories below.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.