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.

Beverly brooks

Show had me confused for the first 30 minutes. I thought I was watching a different channel.


Loved it ! Different way to go with the 2 (4) main characters NOT the main characters. Why? I "smell" a J.J. Abrams new series with Shahi in the starring role. Coming off her "Fairly Legal" series as the star, I don't see this ending as it did. I think it has "legs". Anyone feel the same as me?


"Future Starts Slow" by The Kill. You might have heard it if you watched Political Animals last season.


What a wild ride! Love the new characters and story arc, and was tickled to have Leon back. Am I the only one who noticed the awesome music--who was that?


I love this show. The world-building done by the writers is just amazing, and the adversaries and allies are so full of depth. There is no better show on TV.
Since Fringe finale this is now the best show on TV IMO! Love the writing, the plots, the actors it is a top rate show! Please continue!
I like Shaw and look forward to seeing more interaction between them! I hope Zoey will be involved more in the future, I would like to see John have a bit of happiness! I enjoyed the new arc. Root, so evil! Shaw and John are just the team to take her down!


kinda missed the 'Awesome Foursome' of the show!....but eager to see how the new POI fits into the scheme of things to come


Worst episode of Person of Interest I had ever seen. This woman could take out all those guys and even Reese yet the crazy woman was able to taser her just like that? I don't buy it. Couldn't stand this woman either, and hated seeing an entire episode about her. I'd much rather see Finch and Reese. Please don't ever do this again POI.


I love this show. The world-building done by the writers is just amazing, and the adversaries and allies are so full of depth. There is no better show on TV.
It's been a while since we heard from Elias; Is Alistair Wesley coming back; Will Logan Pierce show up again; Has the Machine expanded beyond the facility they keep its original hardware, and will Fusco go on another date??? Can't get enough of this show!


Actually I thought this was a set up for a new show and spinoff for next fall. The chick coud do more international work. Good episode, totally different take.


@Maka - totally agree with you, I consider MACHINE to be one of the characters of POI and its evolution is necessary throughout the show, it was fine they gave an episode on how machine works to save the terrorism. Shaw was a proxy character used to portray that aspect and I am more than happy that we didn't saw that just through flashbacks but from the view of character itself. @Virg - So one of the best shows once try to do something different and you say goodbye?? Its this type of out of the box writing that has made this show so good. Lack of action?? this episode was like Bourne movie coming on television, total thrill ride. Anyway you are entitled to your opinion but c'mon saying Goodbye best show POI just because of one episode, isnt that harsh??

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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.