Michael Emerson Talks Crazy Good Person of Interest Season Finale [Exclusive]
Warning: Spoilers for Person of Interest Season 4 finale
During last week’s Person of Interest, the Machine made an interesting move that seemed selfless (emphasis on seemed): Finch and Root spotted Shaw; Control outed a Samaritan spy; and Reese, Fusco and Elias battled the Brotherhood. One more major plot point: Root broke Martine’s neck, which becameÂ one of the most satisfying moments of the year.
The fourth season finale airs tonight. TV Goodness recently chattedÂ with Michael Emerson (Harold Finch), whose excitement for “YHWH” was infectious. To be fair, there’s a healthy dose of fear mixed in with that excitement on our part. Emerson feels this might be a painful hiatus for POI fans. Is there any other kind?
TV GOODNESS: What are your thoughts on the Machine making the decision to give up its location?
Michael Emerson: After you’ve seen the finale you will understand that the Machine did not give up as much as you might think. This is a case of the Machine is playing a very good game right now and there’s strategy at work. It’s all desperate and it’s still pretty much suicidal but they are operating intelligently — our heroes and the Machine — within the narrow confines of a very restricted plane of action. (laughter) So you haven’t seen the finale?
TV GOODNESS: I have not seen the finale yet.
Michael: Oh cool. It’s gonna knock you out. It’s so crazy good the way things develop in the finale, it’s quite exciting. And I will say quite moving also.
TV GOODNESS: Well, last year’s finale was quite powerful and devastating and game-changing. Is that something we can expect again from this one?
Michael: Yes. Now that we’ve gotten used to the show’s uber storyline of this being a war between two self-improving AIs — one of them seemingly enlisted on the side of good; and one of them seemingly enlisted on the side of evil — I think the finale takes us to the next place. I would say that…I guess all our finales are pretty good…this is a pretty great one. This is a pretty great one on Tuesday night. Everything is still as desperate and dangerous as it always has been or at least for the last season…ever since Samaritan went online. That’s still…the existential problem. But we learn a lot about our heroes. And I think we like them even more at the end of the finale.
TV GOODNESS: Right now it’s Root and Finch together and it’s Fusco and Reese in a different storyline and there’s also Control. Will we be seeing everything connect or intersect in the finale?
Michael: Yes, I think you can say that. Although the forces for good — and I use the term loosely because when you’re talking about Control, I don’t know if you’re talking about a good person — but the people that seem to be enemies of Samaritan are on different tasks now but all on the same agenda which will bring them all into the battle on the same side. But as I say, there are many grave risks and not everyone is going to survive episode 4×22.
TV GOODNESS: In “Asylum” we also saw Shaw. Is there a Shaw presence in the finale?
Michael: I think Shaw is more felt than seen in the finale. She’s sort of the ghost that hovers over our enterprise but the events of the finale requires everybody’s full attention. I hope that one of the things that happens in the fifth season is that we see Shaw again. That would be good. I miss her.
TV GOODNESS: I was going to ask you about that because we all miss her tooâ€¦
Michael: She was such a great addition to the show and she was so…for a feeling-less assassin with no loyalties; she was both fear and really, really funny. And I don’t know how they managed to make that work. She made Mr. Reese be warm and fuzzy. I just loved her dealing with her own feeling-lessness.
TV GOODNESS: What have you enjoyed most about season four?
Michael: Well, I enjoyed being teamed up with Amy [Acker] as much as I have been. Because that’s a damn good actor. So super prepared. And [Root and Finch] have a funny kind of twitchy, edgy on-again, off-again kind of relationship. It’s always kind of wonderfully prickly and…why does he even like her? I don’t know but I think he does against his will. I think he’s drawn to her passion for the Machine, which is crazy. And sometimes you don’t pick the members of your own army or whatever. So at least she’s on the right side of things. She’s cuckoo and dangerous, unpredictable, but she’s on the right side.
TV GOODNESS: I know. I’m thankful for that.
Michael: SheÂ is so resourceful andÂ so wonderfully, comically off hand about things. It’s like she’s a multitasker who doesn’t pay much attention to things like knocking people out or stealing guns or driving a hundred miles an hour or any of that stuff at all. She’s just like it’s all in a day’s work.
TV GOODNESS: If you’d have told me in season one that in season four it would come down to these two Machines, I would never have called it. What are your thoughts on that?
Michael: Joy, delight, admiration. I suppose maybe [EPs] Jonah and Greg [Nolan and Plageman] always had that in the back of their minds that they were going to take it to a more science fiction place. Although I wish it were a little more fictional and a little less plausible. It’s terrifying when you think about it. But I think that’s what those guys love to write and so they found their way there in a clever way and they sold CBS on it, apparently. It’s an unusual kind of narrative for a CBS show that once seemed to be procedural and now is this great global battle between two unleashed self-improving AIs.
TV GOODNESS: Did you watch Taraji’s [P. Henson, Det. Joss Carter] return in “Terra Incognita?” What did you think about it?
Michael: I thought it was a cool way to get…I don’t know how they convinced her to come back in the dead of winter and sit in a car out in a frozen field for…I don’t know how many days it took them to shoot that car stuff. I thought she was so game. And, of course, she’s the queen of television now. I could not be happier for her. It’s so delightful to see her get to dress up and be larger than life. We miss her, of course. What I regret is that two seasons in a row we have lost sort of our great leading ladies. It’s hard to keep finding people good enough to come on…that’ll be one of the things that we discover in season five I think…who’s new? Who’s going to come in and change the game?
TV GOODNESS: Well, you keep mentioning season five does that mean there’s been a renewal?
Michael: I would be flabbergasted if we weren’t renewed. I don’t know why it hasn’t been made official yet. I’m fully expecting to go to work on the Monday after the Fourth of July.
TV GOODNESS: Back to the finale, does it end with a big cliffhanger or is there a resolution in a certain way? Will the summer hiatus be painful for fans?
Michael: You are going to be on tenterhooks until September. Because it ends in a quite – how can I say this — a note of desperation and danger and something upbeat. It’s that kind of thing where you’re going to go, ‘Yes!’ You’re gonna go yes and then you’re gonna go, ‘how did they think of that?’ (laughter) The Machine becomes a new kind of presence in the show in the finale. There’s some wonderful scenes and you’ll see them soon enough. But it’s pretty great.
The season four finale for Person of Interest airs tonight at 10/9c on CBS.
Promo for “YHWH”
Interview edited for space and content.
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