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Person of Interest “Death Benefit” 

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

In the last episode of Person of Interest, Vigilance pulled a Snowden and made public the government’s dirty little secret of spying on the American people all in the name of national security.  We didn’t get to see the public’s reaction, but it must have been bad enough to prompt Control to pull the plug on the Machine.  So, the Machine is dead, Finch and Reese’s work is done, and we can all go home, right?  Not quite.

I don’t know what the Machine’s shutdown button was supposed to do, but apparently it did not do what was advertised because it’s still sending Finch (Michael Emerson) numbers.  The only thing that seemed to change was the relevant numbers are now being sent to Root (Amy Acker).  Neat trick.  The government believes their system is powered off because the relevant numbers stop coming, but the reality is the Machine just cut them out of the loop.  So, in last night’s episode, the team is pulling double-duty because they now have both a relevant and non-relevant number.  Root and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) are Team Relevant and are off to Alaska, while Finch and Reese (Jim Caviezel) continue handling the non-relevant numbers.

The focus of the episode is on Finch’s POI, an Illinois congressman by the name of Roger McCourt (John Heard).  We spend a good part of the hour just following McCourt around and seeing what a great guy he supposedly is.  He makes a habit of buying the homeless lunches.  He seems genuinely interested in helping the machinists’ union.  So, do we actually have an honest and good-at-heart politician?  I wouldn’t bet a dime on it, and it’s only a matter of time before his true colors begin to show their ugly faces.

The first sign of trouble is when McCourt explains that he’s the head of the Rules Committee, which means he’s kind of the bottleneck for legislation.   Short explanation – if he’s for a piece of legislation, it passes, and if not, it gets buried.  After a couple of Decima Technologies spooks make an apparent attempt on McCourt’s life, Finch and Reese begin to suspect that McCourt’s history of support for anti-surveillance legislation may have landed him in the crosshairs.  The problem is no matter how many times they ask McCourt, he swears up and down he doesn’t know anyone from Decima Technologies.

Of course, the guy is lying but he doesn’t come clean until Finch and Reese find out that Decima isn’t trying to kill McCourt but protect him.  But why?  McCourt consistently supported past anti-surveillance bills, and so, why would Decima protect a man who could torpedo their plans?  But, the bigger question is why did the Machine send Finch his number?  He’s not a victim and not really a perpetrator either.  Well, the first question was pretty easy to answer – greed.  Politicians may have an agenda but they are usually quick to change it if the price is right.  In exchange for insider stock tips, McCourt was happy to swing to the other side and support legislation that would greenlight Samaritan. McCourt’s intention was to spin the legislation as a surveillance system but one not controlled by the government.  People tend to hate any and everything that is government-controlled and so, to most this would sound like a good thing.  Little would they know that this new system would be completely unfettered and an all-seeing eye, with virtually no limits.

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

The second question is much more complicated.  Reese finally comes to the conclusion that the Machine sent them not to protect McCourt, but to kill him.  It is clear that the Machine sees the far-reaching ramifications of Samaritan coming online and the large number of people that will be killed.  So, the Machine decided to sacrifice one man in order to save the many.  This is something that had never happened before, and it was huge.  Shaw has full faith in the Machine’s logic in its decision, and Reese is about ready to off the guy, but Finch was not going to let that happen.  Or, if it did, he would have no part of it and would have no choice but to abandon the operation.  To be honest, Finch irritated me a little in this scene, which goes to show just how much he’s changed since the Machine was completed.  First, he didn’t give a damn about the irrelevants (which was borderline murder in itself, since you knew it was going to happen but did nothing about it), and it  took Nathan Ingram’s death to wake him up.  Then, he was all about saving everyone, even if a POI turns out to be a really bad guy.

Reese ultimately decides to spare McCourt, which leads to a very intense final sequence.  McCourt is, of course, found alive, but law enforcement is after all of them.  They barely escape but not before Shaw is shot, and Reese is left desperately trying to find help for Shaw (maybe it’s time to give Fusco a call?).  The best scene of the episode was the final one where we see Finch looking into one of the cameras.  He’s got this look on his face, almost like he’s disappointed in what the Machine tried to get them to do.  Then, the next thing you know, he’s gone.   Finch, don’t expect to stay hidden for long, because Decima got their NSA feeds for New York City, and Greer’s (John Nolan) first order of business is to find you.

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

Just like all episodes of Person of Interest, this was another good one.  There were lots of character development, and with Samaritan now operational, the stage has been set for a very big season finale.  In addition, Finch may have been convinced he made the right decision in sparing McCourt, but I think the full consequences of that decision are going to become apparent very soon.

Person of Interest airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.

Most memorable quotes

  • The business of governments is business – McCourt
  • I could shoot you in the leg, sir – Reese to McCourt
  • These programs are always going to be controversial, but also inevitable. People get up-in-arms whenever they go public. But eventually the noise dies down. Because the truth is, people want to be protected, they just don’t want to know how – McCourt to Finch
  • Surely you didn’t think that in a world where you were surveilling everyone, that no one was watching you – Greer to Senator Garrison

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1 Comment

  1. Linda

    I would like to know the name of the painting and the artist shown in the first part of the Death Benefit episode and is shown again at the end.

    One of my favorite shows on tv. Can’t wait for the new season to start. I am worried about Bear though.

    Thanks for your time.


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