Person of Interest Review: Secrets of the Machine

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After such a dramatic turn of events with a major character death in Person of Interest Season 3 Episode 9...Reese’s revenge in Person of Interest Season 3 Episode 10... followed by the start of a winter hiatus, I expected Person of Interest Season 3 Episode 11 to be just a complete standalone episode that was a fun break from the major story.

After all, Person of Interest is taking another break until January. Maybe the hour would even be holiday themed.

But there’s clearly no stopping this juggernaut of a show that spun another entertaining web which looked like one thing before flipping everything on its head and providing another heck of an ending.

Reese Finds Trouble

It’s good to see that even with Reese getting Simmons for Carter’s death, he hasn’t cleaned himself up yet and things are back to normal. Continuing his sense of mourning, knocking back some whiskey and having complete disregard for his suit or a razor definitely keeps things interesting. This isn’t some easy fix and the show is acknowledging that.

Which made it nice to see Fusco watching out for him, even going so far as to fight Reese because he cares. He wants his friend to snap out of it, to realize that even with the loss he has done some amazing things, such as saving Fusco.

This depressing path won’t last forever; especially with the final turn of events in the hour, he’s going to have to come back to save the other members of the team.

But really, this was a Finch and Shaw episode.

Person of Interest Season 3 has really been building on Shaw’s character, including a focus on her lack of emotion. And while she seems addicted to just taking on jobs, there are small moments of care and concern that shine through. Certainly, she continues to show she can handle herself in dangerous situations.

Yet, the typical “we’ve got a number” scenario went from basic to compelling as the person of interest was revealed to be not only with NSA, but also the builder of Samaritan, a system nearly identical to Finch’s The Machine.

Which, cleverly enough, flashbacks revealed Finch’s desires to build a system that would help his father remember and adapt to be able to help. Even at a young age, Finch was a whiz kid with a passion and a heart set in the right place. It’s just too bad his work has become the target for a variety of groups.

If you build it, they will come.

Not only did the privacy-focused Vigilance return, but Shaw’s former employers showed up. In a shocking twist, the "wife" turned out to be the leader, Control herself, demanding to get information from Finch or the friend. Either way, they weren’t leaving alive.

It was a brilliant reveal, while adding the knowledge that The Machine isn’t the only one out there. So what is this group going to do if they get the info?

The return of former enemies and characters is always a treat in that whole-world encompassing mythology the show has created.

So what did that final shot of the Machine processing the information on Samaritan mean? Can there be more than one operational “artificial intelligence” at a time? Will Root end up saving the day? Will Reese?

This was another pleasant surprise from a show the keeps finding ways to entertain, adapt and expand beyond what viewers attempt to expect.

Person of Interest isn’t looking to settle on standard anytime soon, and that’s the beauty of this series. It makes you excited and eager to see what's next.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (145 Votes)

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


I was really curious about Finch ignoring the Machine's phone calls at the start of the episode. I'd really like to know more about that. We can guess that the toll of the work he and Reese and company have been doing has finally reached the point where he no longer wants to play the game. It could be that his mindset is a mirror of Reese's, in that it doesn't matter how many people they save, there's always going to be someone who falls (flashback to Jocelyn). I hope they explore his behaviour.


Hands down, just one of the best written shows on broadcast TV. To my mind, they've taken the cue from Breaking Bad - feel free to annhilate expectations to tell a solid, engaging story.

@ TriciaS

I so agree, never watched Breaking Bad. POI is a cut above the rest.


Great episode - I totally expected filler. More importantly though: Pay attention to the end where it briefly runs by "Retasking Analog Interface" under the death statistics (it flies by fast). Curse POI for making me wait several weeks!


I never cease to be amazed at this show. Everything about it is brilliant.


Reese is off his game. Otherwise Fusco would never have been able to find him...or dare to take him on in a fist fight!

@ Wheels

Yes he would. Fuscos' character development has been an interesting. Fusco spoke boldly before but did not dare to rise against anyone.I think the turning point was when he strangled HR member after Shaw had saved his son. Because his son he had to take solution into his own hands. After that, he was standing on his own feet against Simmons which he should have done much earlier. This time, he did not give up not even in front of the Reese even Reese made the usual threats his own way. First Fusco tried to talk to Reese, but Reese hardly react to Fusco. Second, Reese barely glanced at the Fusco. I have noticed that Reese seldom glances at towards Fusco. Fusco is like air to him. When Reese gave the impression that Fusco to be pointless and irrelevant, Fusco had had enough. Was the final remaining manly way to talk about feelings, brawl. Reese looked really surprised when Fusco had hit him. Reese didn't seem to believe that Fusco actually dares to challenge him to a fight. Reese hit hard, but Fusco didn't give up. He's Lionel, lionheart. They both were angry. It's interesting to see how their relationship develops and how the fight affected Reese.


I think Root will be the one to save the day. How? Well, how did the machine communicate with her so that she got the number for the guy that built Samaritan? Messages are getting through to her, so I am certain she will come in to save them. Also, did anyone else notice in one of the last shots, the yellow square (I think this identifies allies of the machine?) that was on the dude who was Shaw's boss? Both Shaw and Finch had the yellow square as well as this guy, I wonder why..?

@ Trixx

Yellow boxes denote who knows at least something about The Machine, Red boxes denote perpetrators, white is everybody else. I suspect that Root is in her little cage of her own free will. I'd be honesty surprised if she hadn't been able to get out whenever she wanted the first day in fact.

@ immortalfrieza

red does not mean "perpetrator" but "threat to the machine"

@ Trixx

I'm wondering why the machine didn't tell root of finch that Camryn Manhiem was part of the opposition.

@ Trixx

The yellow square denotes knowledge of the Machine's existence. Hersh found out about the Machine last season - he had previously known of the existence of "Research" (the codename for the Machine), but didn't know it was actually a massive collection of servers rather than people. The only one of the main cast without the yellow square at this point is Fusco. (Carter earned that yellow square shortly before she was killed when she deduced that Finch was getting his information from some sort of supercomputer he'd built.)


Reese is in Colorado currently, and with a gun pointed to their head, Reese isn't the person that will save them. Root will come in with guns blazing and save them finally putting to rest on what side Root is.

@ Fyrrepower

Root is insane. There is no putting to rest what side she's on because she thinks she's a prophet of her own personal god - the Machine. And messages from on high tend to get muddled when they're passed through fallible mortals. The fact that she's an utter lunatic certainly doesn't help matters.


can't wait until it starts back up in january. camryn in a different type character but i figured she was up to something. although john and fusco not big parts they did good together. was sorry to hear ratings were down its such a great show especially this season


I response to the question of where Samaritan is, Control's question seems to imply that a backup of the Hard Drives with its coding were hidden before it was shut down (assuming that it was shut down and is not still running - a status the Machine questioned at the end when it updated the status from shut-down to unknown). This seems to imply that is is not reporting to Control/Northern Lights since up until now, all their efforts were to go after the Machine.


OMG... Can't wait until next year. Best show on TV!

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Person of Interest Season 3 Episode 11 Quotes

If they don't want you to get inside, they ought to build it better.


It just proves that no matter what we do or don't do in this world, bad things are going to happen. It's pointless. Irrelevant.