Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 11 Review: If-Then-Else

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The battle against Samaritan and its operatives on Person of Interest Season 4 continued right along in a premise fit for a video game or highly reminiscent of the film Edge of Tomorrow.

With a main objective of preventing a financial crisis, the POI team was sent into full action mode as Finch, Reese, Root and Fusco headed straight into the lion’s den on their mission. Shaw seemingly got the minor role in getting a special code used later and also having to stop a suicidal man … but the final moments changed all that.

The fascinating thing about Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 11 was its perspective. Yes, the core characters were all involved, but this was really about the Machine, the way it operates, calculates, make decisions, and ultimately determines the best outcome, even if the asset survival rate isn’t 100 percent.

That wasn’t revealed until the first “simulation” ended after Finch was shot and killed. My immediate thought was that there was no way Finch could actually die, but seeing the Machine list him as “terminated,” I was suddenly shocked.

Granted, I groaned at the Machine resetting after its failed simulation, realizing it wasn’t real but simply a possible outcome.

I was initially disappointed in the fake out and realization that we’d see simply what “could” happen until the last moments, and yet as the hour went on and we got to see the various changes based on the direction characters went, I was drawn back in.

The stylized slow motion (used to great effect while the Machine was thinking) was a unique way to set things up each time and looked pretty cool.

Giving the tense hour get some humor (Finch’s groans at the shot painting or the Machine speeding up the simulation by stating what the characters would probably say and how they would say it) was a bonus.

Even having the flashbacks to Finch teaching it chess, discussing sacrificing pieces for the victory, and the scenarios it goes through added to the real life situation.

But it was actually pretty tough watching the characters get killed off in each version, and that only made me anxious for the final outcome.

So when the last simulation was revealed (with no splitting up for the team) and the success of their mission was completed, the Machine’s figures of getting the team out at about 2 percent was depressing.

Someone was going to die. I could feel it.

I was elated when Shaw (however extremely convenient her entrance) appeared and the percentage number shot up for the team. A dire situation saved by teamwork and humans.

But maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to cheer.

In the emotionally charged closing moments, Shaw realized they needed to push a button to get the elevator going and that meant someone needed to stay behind.

Shaw finally kissed Root, but it was a kiss goodbye as the heroine sacrificed herself for her friends in a slow-motion blaze of glory.

Wait. What?

She was the last character I expected to meet her end (if that’s truly what happened after those doors closed, especially with those percentage numbers from the Machine). Even with everything in slow motion, seeing the characters faces as the doors closed, watching Shaw fire at the Samaritan agents, seeing her stare up at the gun, it felt like everything was happening so fast and by the time the credits rolled I was simply staring at my screen in shock.

I really thought it would be Root to make the sacrifice (or I even thought perhaps Fusco seeing as he didn’t meet his end in the earlier simulations).

But Shaw’s sacrifice has that much more of an affect because of the time we’ve gotten with her character, because of the banter with the team, and because she turned from a simple cold-hearted assassin to a fighter looking to make a difference and save those in need.

I still can’t believe that ending, which was such an emotional gut-punch (it really made me think of the loss of Carter in Person of Interest Season 3 Episode 9, too). But is it really the end of Shaw? Might she somehow beat the Machine's odds?

As sad and dramatic as that final moment was (even more so if Shaw is actually dead), it’s just another positive for Person of Interest. The series clearly won’t settle for the typical. It won’t let its heroes always win in the end. There’s drama, action, humor, victory, defeat, surprise and the always guaranteed form of entertainment.

A tragic Person of Interest indeed, but a fantastic episode just the same.

What did you think? Were you surprised by Shaw's sacrifice? Sound off below and be sure to watch Person of Interest online to see the action packed episode again.

If-Then-Else Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (179 Votes)

Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.

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