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Person of Interest “A House Divided” 

Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/CBS
Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/CBS

One of the things that have pulled me in and made Person of Interest one of my favorite shows is the fact that the writers have an enormous penchant for detail. Since the very beginning of the series, if some plot point, no matter how small, were mentioned but not explained immediately, tuck it away because it most certainly will come up again. Well last night’s penultimate episode “A House Divided” was one of those episodes where lots of little hanging chads were resolved and big questions stemming all the way to last season were finally answered.

Last week’s episode ended with Finch (Michael Emerson) being kidnapped by Greer (John Nolan) and Samaritan waiting for the final green light from the government after having passed its first beta test with flying colors. That ending led us to believe that the focus of the penultimate episode as well as the finale was going to be on rescuing Finch and preventing the full Samaritan 1.0 from going online. That may still be a significant part of next week’s finale, but the focus seems now to have shifted from the Decima and Greer camp to the other big foe introduced this season, and that’s Vigilance.

While Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) are busy trying to locate Finch, Root (Amy Acker) is hard at work identifying five new numbers that have come up. The first number belongs to Control (Camryn Manheim), and I actually jumped up off the couch and cheered because I’ve been so waiting for that bitch to meet her maker. The second number is Senator Garrison, the third to a General who is with them, and the fourth to a presidential advisor, Manuel Rivera. They are all meeting because while Decima has the Senator’s support, they still need to convince the President to allow a private corporation to have access to the NSA feeds, and their plan of doing that is to go through Rivera. Their little meeting is cut short when Peter Collier (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and his Vigilance thugs make a grand entrance, guns a blazing, with the intention of kidnapping Control, Garrison, and Rivera. So, now, we know that the “threat” is Peter Collier, and actually, if you think back, that fact was revealed to us in the episode “Most Likely To…”. Right before Control had the Machine “shut down”, the last relevant number she got was Collier’s. She decided not to act on it and simply put the Machine’s report in the paper shredder. I bet she’s really kicking herself for that decision now.

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

This episode was very fast-moving and action-packed, lots of shooting and lots of knee-capping (even Shaw has resorted to knee-capping which made for some of the funniest scenes in the episode). So, for those who were somewhat bored with last week’s Grace Hendricks character development episode, I’m sure you’ll be very pleased with this one. However, the most significant part of the episode wasn’t the big Vigilance vs. Control/Garrison/Rivera showdown – instead it was Peter Collier’s backstory and the implications from that backstory.

Up until last night’s episode, all we saw when we looked at Collier was just another villain who had some serious issues with the U.S. government and their dirty little surveillance secret. Now, we finally have an answer to the “why”. Through a series of flashbacks, we are taken back to 2010 when Collier is a law student, and his brother, Jessie, is a recovering alcoholic. Out of the clear blue sky, the FBI shows up one day and arrests Jessie for suspected terrorism. Collier is adamant that there is no way in hell his brother is a terrorist and a traitor and after pushing the envelope, the FBI reveals the evidence that they had. The only hard evidence is a handful of surveillance photos of Jessie with another man who supposedly had family ties to a terrorism group. Collier works desperately to try and prove his brother’s innocence but not fast enough because Jessie loses all hope and commits suicide (actually, it’s likely that Jessie was killed by the government because we know that’s what they do with all of the relevant numbers). At Jessie’s funeral, this supposed “terrorist” that Collier’s brother was friends with shows up, and the truth is finally revealed. Jessie was the guy’s AA sponsor, and that was the extent of their relationship. No terrorist plots, no Al-Qaeda, no nothing. At that moment, the Collier whom we all have hated since the beginning of the season actually became somewhat likeable. And those who still do not like Collier, I think they at least can understand him now.

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

From this backstory, too very big questions arise. First, who in the hell sent Collier those text messages about his brother? My first thought was Nathan Ingram. Ingram wasn’t killed until October of 2010, and those flashbacks were from 2010. So, Ingram was likely still alive, and we all should remember how Ingram’s personal mission before he died was to expose the U.S. government and their Machine. We haven’t seen Ingram since the end of last season, and if he is the one behind the anonymous texts, I think it would be a brilliant tieback to a character and a plot most of us had probably forgotten.

Now, for the second, and most important, question: Was the Machine actually wrong about Jessie? Finch has said time and time again that the Machine is never, ever wrong. The Machine may not have sorted out all of the details, but when a Machine generates a relevant number, that number is tied one way or another to a threat to national security. Period. No exceptions. In the case of Jessie, could the Machine have jumped to a wrong conclusion by relying on those surveillance photos? If the answer to that question turns out to be “yes”, this will be huge. Finch’s whole purpose for building the Machine was to save lives – not to inadvertently take lives by the Machine making mistakes. I can see such a big revelation leaving Finch completely disillusioned and questioning whether the Machine is really a good idea after all.

The episode ends with two major plots developing. Root and her tech groupies finally are able to locate the building Samaritan is being housed in. Root’s minions spent most of the episode doing something with the seven Decima servers she stole, and that grand scheme will likely be revealed in next week’s finale. While Root is focusing on Samaritan, things are getting interesting in the Vigilance and Decima arena. Collier finally gets to put his law background to use because the whole point of rounding up Control, Garrison, Rivera, Greer, and Finch is to put them and the entire U.S. government on trial.

Now is the time to expose the truth to our fellow citizens. The truth that has been lurking beneath the shadows for so long. That their country’s no longer theirs. That their freedoms have been stripped away, one camera, one cell phone, one megabyte at a time. Now’s the time to pull back the curtain. Welcome to your trial, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the trial of the United States Government. Court is now in session.

Oh, boy. Of course, this is all for show and we know full well what the verdict will be. The only question remaining is whether Reese and Shaw can get there before Collier hands down his sentence. And, even if they do, who will come out of it alive? Next week’s finale is definitely one that you don’t want to miss.

The season three finale of Person of Interest airs next Tuesday at 10/9c on CBS.

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  1. MByerly

    I don’t think it was the Machine who identified Jessie as a terrorist. The information offered on screen from Jessie’s arrest wasn’t from the Machine. It was in a different format. Plus, the Machine doesn’t send pictures. The Jessie screw up was strictly human error and laziness.

    The irony here is that Jessie would never have been marked as a terrorist if the information had come from the Machine.

  2. Mary Powers

    You know, you may be right. You remember the season 1 episode when Finch demo’ed how the Machine worked to Ingram? He outlined the Machine’s thought process and the information (including video and pictures) the Machine used to arrive at the conclusion that a particular person was a terrorist. Because of that, I had assumed the Machine sends any relevant information it has, but what we saw may have just been data that only the Admin (Finch) could get at, not what was actually sent along with the relevant number.

    Anyways, thanks for your comment! It’s given us something to think about!

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