Person of Interest Review: Fairly Lethal

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This was a wildly different episode of Person of Interest that attempted to bring a new important character to the mix, while digging deeper into the government affiliation with the machine and the secret programs connected.

Rather than follow Reese and Finch around, "Relevance" switched the point of view to follow Sam Shaw, an operative working for a secret government program that received numbers in order to prevent terrorist and/or bad guy plots around the globe. Something very similar to what Reese and Finch do in New York.

Finch, Reese, & the Government Agent

In a lot of ways, the whole concept of focusing on Shaw reminded me of The Bourne Legacy: creating a fresh character within the same world that's connected to the same people, but with different motives and a different direction. Except, here, the result was successful, in large part to the fact that all of the main characters were involved.

The story ultimately revoled around Shaw, but she was just a piece of the larger puzzle. Plus, Reese and Finch, who are the core of that bigger story, weren't absent.

The episode was directed by series creator Jonathan Nolan, and even written by Nolan and Amanda Segal, which meant right from the get-go, I knew it was going to be a hour full of crucial information and major story arc focus.

Similarly, an episode like this I don't think could have even been done back in Person of Interest Season 1. Rather, now that the central characters have been pretty well established, Nolan and company decided to go for a bold game changer.

I can certainly see people sticking up their noses to not really having Reese or Finch at work in the forefront, but this was ultimately the perfect way to introduce Shaw while garnering another perspective on one of the major enemies to Reese and Finch.

Sarah Shahi, who has worked on shows like Fairly Legal and Chicago Fire, was a wonderful spitfire addition as Shaw, with killer instincts, attitude and skills. She's certainly a lot darker and mistrusting of a character than Reese (at least for now), and she had no hesitancy in killing people. Heck, she even shot Reese!

I kind of was hoping her own Finch, Cole, would have survived - but it did lead her to start her own investigation that sort of rattled the government cages.

At the same time, it was fantastic that Root was involved as well, except on her own mission to find the Machine, something that Shaw hadn't really comprehended yet. Shaw still believed that the numbers she received were from a group called Research.

We all know where the numbers come from, though.

I was a bit confused with Root being Cole's contact and thought maybe she really was going to turn into a good guy, but after finding the real contact bound and gagged, I knew this was the same crazy character all along. She desperately wants to find that Machine, which it sounded might be housed in a new location?

I was so pleased when Reese came to save the day and it was fun seeing Shaw hear what Finch had to say about the numbers and her job. It was like finally letting her into the group and the dark empty room added to the cool factor and level of importance when it came to telling her what was going on. And yet, I was surprised that she turned Finch down.

Even still, I was shocked that she met up with the Washington official who has been running the show, but was apparently not the highest point of command. He also happened to be the one who hired the assassin (who happened to have trained Shaw) to take out Reese, as well as the person Root was pretending to be a secretary for.

The real kicker was that she handed over the information Cole had uncovered and simply wanted to get revenge on the guy who had put out the hit on them. Shaw wanted to protect the program, even though she didn't really know all the dirty details behind it.

Of course, it was no surprise that she got taken out after all was said and done.

In true Person of Interest fashion, however, the series gave a wonderful twist that included Fusco, Carter, and yes, Leon, scooping her up, reviving her and taking her back to Reese and Finch.

All the dots were connecting, the government connection to the Machine was becoming more and more riveting, and I was finally ready for Shaw to join the group. I mean, c'mon, Bear gave her the perfect welcome lick!

Except a fantastic final twist involved Shaw turning down Finch again, except this time at least taking his number. Fun fact, if you dial 917-285-7362, you'll get a voice recording from Harold's phone.

It was kind of nice that Shaw didn't jump right into their arms in true happy ending style. We all know she'll be back, but her introduction and her invitation to the show fell right in sync with the drama's ability to avoid the cliche and keep that fresh spark of creativity going.

It really was such a different direction for the show to go, but I'm already a fan of Shaw's kick-ass character, and the fact that the major story was expertly expanded upon made the episode that much more interesting.

Who knew that there were operatives running numbers all around the world? Who knew all these crazy connections existed bringing more of the mystery behind the Machine to light?

This was a well done episode that proved that Person of Interest really knows how to create interesting story and characters, stand alone episodes and one's that connect to the overarching plot, and a series that never settles for the same old, same old. I'm chomping at the bit for whatever's coming next.


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (394 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Please start at 9pm est.thank you


Wow!!!! Shaw Kick ass. The best character so far on TV for last 10 years. Keep her as main character please.


Samantha Shaw is a great addition (loved her in Fairly Legal), and was thrilled to see her in POI, hoping she would become part of the main cast of characters especially interacting with Reese on a personal level; I see an additional story line between these two -- a great duo.


This episode was rather predictable but I did like it over all. Except for the girl playing Shaw. She couldn't convince me she was a military member at all let alone a Marine. Too girly, too Hollywood pretty, too scrawny and weak looking. I have never met a Marine female who looked that wimpy. Come on guys. I know, I know, Hollywood is all about the hot babes but you can still be hot and look the part. This girl did not. That was my biggest complaint through the whole episode. I just couldn't believe her to be a leathal killer.


Ok S2/EP17 was way to predictable!
Are they gonna jump the shark next?


Normally I'm a man of many words. Wow!


This episode was TOO good. You could have doubled the length of this, smoothed out the commercial intros, and added some background for a 100mil+ movie easily (and it would have been better than ZDT and Haywire). The problem with airing it on network TV is that the audience isn't only declining, but on CBS especially - if the format is changed up even a hair a rather vocal section of people dismiss the episode completly. Just go take a look at the hot mess that is the official facebook (which, at this point I'm proud to say I don't have an account at). It also raises some issues with the routine format, such as:
- There's really no threat to Reese in the current format now unless it is from trained government agents which the show is going to great lengths to try to get him involved in.
- While the whole irrelevant side is noble and all, the "relevant" side and the threat to the machine is much more exciting IMO. I had a lot more to write, but I'm pretty sure I've reached the post limit. Only a couple minor mistakes in this episode (movies have more...). Even my only real minor pet peeve with the show, the odd music selection during some fight scenes, didn't take place here. Back to the irrelevant side and now my mind will compare all future episodes to this one. CURSES!


A really really good episode. I love Sarah Shahi, she's a wonderful actress! Wooden??? What were you watching ~ not speaking to reviewer, loved your review btw) She was playing it close to the vest here, part of all of their tradecraft. Look how long it took Reese to loosen up a bit...I DID miss Reese and Finch, A LOT. :( They have such a great chemistry, I adore them in this show. But I get it, the infusion of a new character, more backstory, all of it, and I really liked that. She would be a great addition to this show, however they play it. But no to whoever said she could replace Reese, not gonna happen. No one can replace Reese, awesome character. LOVE THIS SHOW! THANK YOU to everyone involved in POI!!!!


This episode had to one of the most exciting televison shows I have viewed in my 66yrs. Sara Shahi should be casted as a regular on POI. She is perfect for the part as Sam Shaw. I have watched this twice so far and I plan on watching it again. POI hopefully will be around along time. One of the best shows on the air. The whole cast is great. Looking forward to seeing Sam Shaw join the team. MAZ


Great episode. I agree, it answered questions I didn't know I had. I sort of forgot The Machine's day job. It was great to see how that worked. I'm excited and frightened to know what will happen when the virus attacks. Does the machine know it's been infected and who infected it? I love seeing characters come back. Nice to see Leon! Can't wait to see more of Shaw and the relevent list!

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Person of Interest Season 2 Episode 16 Quotes

You think she'll call us a taxi?


I hear dying makes you thirsty.