Thanks to our exclusive interview with new Person of Interest regular Sarah Shahi last week, we learned a lot about what Samantha Shaw will be up to this fall, beginning with tomorrow night's Season 3 premiere.
But what about Finch?
One of the highlights of my recent set visit in New York City was sitting on a park bench with Michael Emerson and talking about what the new season holds for Finch, the Machine and why Finch is so connected to Root. Read on for a revealing primer regarding this character and the hit drama in general...
TV Fanatic: Going into Season 3, how would you describe that new chapter in terms of Finch's journey?
Michael Emerson: I would say that Season 3 offers us a new plateau of complication. One of the givens in the show up until this point was that the Machine was somewhere and was under someone's control. Now we have to contend with a little bit different landscape. Now the Machine appears to be mobile, appears to be, to an extent, sentient or independent.
It's an independent operator with many human qualities, and the worst of it is, or the best, is that the Machine now seems to have decided that it has a list of friends. A list of friends that Mr. Finch did not draw up. A list of friends that he might not approve. So we don't have the Machine's undivided attention. I don't know what that's going to mean. That could make things a little tricky.
TVF: It's like the Machine's gone rogue, in a way.
ME: It has, kind of. It's become unmoored or untethered.
TVF: Should we trust the Machine? Because, you know, we saw at the end of the season, the Machine's talking to Root, who we know is a little unbalanced.
ME: I think we should still count the Machine as a good operator. It was programmed by Mr. Finch, and we have come to trust him and his ethics and his foresight, so we'll just have to see how it goes.
TVF: We know there's a mystery woman who's kind of calling some of the shots. Is that anything that comes up soon, or is that going to be something kind of spread out across the season?
ME: It's such a cool role and so pivotal. I'm sure they're spending a great deal of time trying to cast it perfectly. And a reveal like that, a big character reveal usually comes late in the season. Like next to the last or last episode, so I would look for that next May.
TVF: Finch and Reese's relationship this season, is it pretty much the same, or have there been some shifts?
ME: Yes, although there's more of a crowd this season. The team gets bigger. Shaw is now part of the team. And Carter is a member of the team in a way that she wasn't previously, so it's not so much a Reese and Shaw putting [their] heads together as it is gathering the team.
TVF: Shaw was working a lot with Reese at the end of last season. How does that partnership play out in the new season?
ME: Yes, they are paired up. And as similar as their backgrounds are, they are kind of foils for one another. She sort of repositions him, in a way, because she's even colder than him. More relentless, more unforgiving of herself and others. It makes him seem a little warmer, a little softer. It's kind of cool how that adjustment has been made.
TVF: Any chance we'll see Carrie [Preston, Emerson’s wife] come back on the show? The flashback last season was wonderful [Preston played a love of Finch’s who thinks he is dead].
ME: It would be swell. We have new characters that need backstories be told now. I don't know if they care to spend a lot more time on a chapter of Mr. Finch's life that we're already familiar with, but you never know.
I think those things come up as they write stories. And if there's an episode this season that has to do with couples, romance, romance turned sour, hopeless romance, those kinds of themes, then that might be a part of the prism that they would bring into that episode.
TVF: Finch saved Root (Amy Acker) at the end of last season because she could have easily gotten killed, and he took her. What does Finch see her value as, if you can talk about that?
ME: Well, that would be the 64 thousand dollar question, I think. But yes, he has some kind of care for Root, and partly it is [that] she's the only human being he's aware of that knows what he's done and appreciates it as much as he does. She loves the Machine, his baby, if you will. She loves it, and she knows that it's a miracle. It's hard not to want to be around someone that thinks you are miraculous.
TVF: Would you call them kindred spirits, in a way?
ME: They are. I mean, they are both lost in a world of electronics and the possibilities of electronics for social correction.
TVF: You talked a little bit about how we need to get the back story on all of the new characters. Will we get any more of Finch, do you think, throughout this season?
ME: Yes. We've actually shot material from Finch's childhood that we've never used.
TVF: It was shot like last season?
ME: Yeah. Material that didn't get used. But strong stuff. And it's revealing about the formation of his intellect and his technical skills. I don't see why they wouldn't try to go back to when he was a little boy.
Person Of Interest Season 3 premieres tomorrow night at 10/9c on CBS.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.