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.


Thank you POI writers for not letting this franchise get stale! Like almost every other show on TV that is one for more than season! Thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Keep mixing it up. @klimville, totally agree!


What, last night wasn't enough action for you? The Machine has been a major part of the show since Day One. I always laugh whenever I see people whining about a show embracing its mythology like they want thought free tv. Well, for thought free tv go to CSI.


Good bye poi. Whag a stupid thing to do to one of the best shows on tv. Please sgop adding uneeded characters and go back to what made this a success. Get off the machine sgory line and more action.


One thing I have not seen my any of the reviews online Ive read is HOW Reese and Finch caught on to her. While Shaw was getting the Relevant number, Finch got HER as a person of interest on the irrelevant list. Fantastic arc obviously, and this show keeps finding new and exciting ways to bring in new players, enemies, comrades, etc... One thing also it does... better than shows like Mentalist or their like... they dont keep Adversaries around for 5 seasons just for the sake of keeping a conflict going. They kill off one bad guy as they are bringing in 2 or 3 new potential bad guys.


Best line of the ep:"You get thirsty when you die;"as John hands Shaw a bottle of water.


Wow! I totally didn't expect an episode like this. And while I did miss the banter between John and Finch, I have to say, the episode drew me in and I did enjoy it. Really did. Can't wait to see Sam again. I think it's brave to try to grow a show that's doing so well, but they did a great job...


Love, love POI. It's funny about 20 minutes into the show I realized how little we've seen of Reese and Finch and that I don't care. It was so interesting to me that there were other agents who were doing jobs, even for the good of the country with just the occasional corrupt mission :) Shaw was a great character and I look forward to seeing her again. POI does such a great job bringing back returning characters, having all this different arcs going on, yet still really bring a procedural. Great episode!


Fanstatic episode, just brilliant.


P.S. i called the number. I was wondering when they showed the number why they showed it for a long time and it was the standard 555 number. Great little promotion for the show.


I really love this show. It is so well written. Love SS! You everybody knew she did not kill Reese. I want Cole to stick around also. It was nice to see Leon, Bear, Carter and Fasco at the end. Only problem was if SS is such a badass why could her old handler catch up to her and how could Root get the drop on her? I am just asking! But I still loved her and can't what to see how she fits into the show. Great work writers!

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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.