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.

Sue ann

The phone message on that phone number is adorable. Of course, so is Harold. Nice little Mission: Impossible-style ending, there. (Good to see Bear, too.) I don't mind that the focus was not entirely on Reese and Harold. It was fascinating to see the side of the machine for which it was actually designed, in action. Root is becoming quite the continuing character, too. The only other shows in which I have seen Amy Acker were both Joss Whedon productions, Angel and Dollhouse. She does a really nice job at batsh*t crazy. I don't expect she will win, but it is nice to see her try ...


Didn't like this episode. Sarah doesn't enunciate & not enough John. Boring!


I didn't think I was going to like not having Reese and Finch in this one very much. Turned out it was very good and made a lot of sense showing the "non relevant" side. Sarah could add another dimension having worked "on the other side" of the numbers.


@Kate, VERY interesting theories you've posed! I'm really anxious to see how this turns out with Root. I loved Sarah Shahi as a bad ass in this episode! She was great in the role. It'd be nice to see her come to Reese's aid one day or join him in going after someone -Root, perhaps. At any rate, really enjoyable and different episode.


This was a cool episode and I liked how they answered a question I didn't even know I was wondering about...Reese and Finch deal with all the "non relevant" numbers but you forget that the machine still exists and has its primary task and has teams dealing with those "relevant" numbers. I have this theory since we spent the first half of the season basically establishing that the machine is really a form of artifical intelligence and then last week when it didn't view Hirsh as a threat that it knows Root is getting close and either wants to be free (and I do not think Root will be happy with the results) or is trying to bring its team members together to deal with Root.


This episode raised the stakes considerably. Brilliant move by Nolan to show the bigger picture and how the relevant list works. Before people come on here and say how they didn't like the episode because it didn't have much of Reese or Finch, I think it was great to see a different point of view from a new character. If you want a straight up procedural show with the same characters and formulas each week, there are plenty of shows for you to watch. If you want to watch a show that takes risks and changes the game, then this is your show. Also, I called the number at the end of the episode, nice little easter egg for the fans!


World expanding episode, rather.


It was fantastic. Reese, Finch and co. may not have been on the screen much, but their presence was definitely felt. I loved how Reese was running interference on the ambush teams and Shaw ended up waking past a bunch of tactical guys who had been kneecapped. Fantastic world expanding universe, showing us the logical extension of how the Machine might work for the government. Plus, kudos to giving Sarah Shahi her first good role since she played Danielle Reese in Life. Badass Sarah Shahi for the win!

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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.