At this point on Person of Interest, expecting an episode to be just a basic case of the week is underestimating the show’s ability to weave together a story that is so much more.
Initially, the concept of Reese leading the charge and taking on a case with just Finch harkened back to the early days of Person of Interest Season 1.
Their banter in the car while watching the congressman and Finch’s wide-eyed expression as Reese fired on their mark so he could wind up playing a secret service agent fit in line with what those two have always done. Their methods might be a little unorthodox, and they get that extra knowledgeable help from the Machine, but they are there to save people.
Sure, the sandbox for their activities has grown beyond New York, especially with Decima and the threat of Samaritan, but protecting others remains the point.
Except, that’s where Person of Interest Season 3 Episode 20 started to shift the story and spin everything on its head.
First was the oddity that the Decima team sent to “take out” the congressmen was, in fact, there to protect him. What? Decima is the “bad guy,” not the side that does the saving.
The congressman apparently has the power to help lobby Decima’s super system to the government, but he isn’t really a bad guy himself. He’s more of a pawn in that bigger scheme.
Which made the shocking turn of events as Reese realized why the Machine had sent them after the congressman. They weren’t there to protect him, they were there to kill him.
Have things gotten so bad, that that’s what the Machine has to do? And is ending one life to save thousands or millions worth it?
Seeing Finch shaken by the turn of events, wanting to get off the “ride” that led to that moment was kind of a scary one. Finch always has felt confident in the Machine and seemed to have some level of control. But here that seemed shattered.
What’s more was the conflicting decision put before them. Reese seemed ready to take action, even calling back to the death of Carter as a reference point.
And yet he didn’t follow through. He listened to Finch.
That ending to the hour was truly haunting, with a great song, Medicine by Daughter, that enhanced the mood. Dark times have fallen on the POI team and their run through the woods made them appear small and defeated. Even Shaw was shot and almost taken out. Simply watching them also try and move about the streets of New York seemed like they were on the run.
This isn’t the same POI unit. That storm that was hinted at the start of Person of Interest Season 3 is finally here, and I’m not sure how the group is going to get out of it.
The fact that the congressman and the senator were able to conspire with Decima and activate their program for 24 hours to catch a “terrorist” was frightening enough because we have some knowledge of what they are capable of.
So, seeing Finch’s name entered into the system was a fantastically chilling way to end the hour. The walls are closing in, and I can only hope the POI team will figure how to stop Decima.
Might Root be able to help? And what's with Finch disappearing? That can't be a good sign.
Person of Interest Season 3 may have taken some time to build up steam but it hasn’t let up. The staple badass moments are there, the humor, action and characters are there. And a story that keeps a compelling pace full of tension as we draw closer to the finale continues to prove why this is one of the best shows on television.
Should Reese have killed the congressman?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.