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Characters: Person Of Interest Northern Lights
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Northern Lights is the codename for an organization/program within the United States Government that controls the Machine, distributes its intelligence and takes action to keep its activities secret from the rest of the world. Northern Lights receives Numbers from an entity codenamed "Research" (actually the Machine's relevant list), and pulls its personnel from various government agencies, including the NSA, the CIA and the Intelligence Support Activity
- Covert Group with Mundane Front: The late Special Counsel who oversaw their field operations masqueraded as the head of the Real Life Office Of Special Counsel, the people who conduct their field work are officially from the CIA and ISA and their entity known as "Research" belongs to the NSA.
- Elite Mook: They fulfill this role in the Person Of Interest universe. Only Reese, Shaw and Root have been able to take them on in combat effectively and at times have been bested by them due to superior numbers.
- Government Agency of Fiction: They're a secret counter-terrorist organisation who uses The Machine's relevant list to hunt down threats to America's national security and stop them before they even occur.
- The Men in Black: They don't officially exist and are dedicated in keeping it that way.
- Kill 'em All: Standard operating procedure in the event the existence of the Machine is compromised to the outside world. They're also willing to let terrorists attacks occur if necessary, if it means the source of the leak stands a good chance of dying in one.
- Professional Killer: Their true strength. They have a small army of them to conduct counter-terrorist operations worldwide. They're also at Reese's calibre (like the ISA hit-squad in "No Good Deed" and Sameen Shaw). And if they find anyone who shouldn't know about the machine has learnt of its existence, they will be re-tasked in making sure that person does not live to tell anyone else.
- Punch Clock Villain: The majority of their hit-squads have no knowledge of the Machine and are simply following orders.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Their stated mission is to hunt down threats to America's national security and terminate them with extreme prejudice in order to prevent massive loss of life. However, they're paranoid about the American public finding out the existence of the machine and are all too happy to re-task their multiple hit squads to kill anyone, including innocent civilians, in order to keep it's existence secure.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Does this to any employees who wish to leave the program and performed this to many of the personnel who built the machine.
"Where were you when Flight 77 hit the Pentagon? Because I was inside it. I carried out the wounded. I covered up bodies. And I have spent every day since putting bullets in the people responsible, and in anyone else who even thinks they can do that to our country again."
The codename used to refer to the head of the ISA's operation regarding the Machine
- Ambiguously Evil: Everything she does, she does for her country. Even Collier admits that.
- Badass: She can hold her own in a gunfight. During the Season 3 finale, she refuses to be cowered by a shotgun-wielding Peter Collier, and repeatedly calls him out on his methods while he is attempting to portray her counter-terrorist efforts as wrong.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Perfectly willing to get her hands dirty alongside her subordinates.
- Bigger Bad: The one who is giving orders to Special Counsel, Hersh and their people.
- The Chessmaster
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Delivers a particularly brutal session to Root.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Of Diane Claypool.
- Defiant to the End: She repeatedly calls out Collier in the Season 3 finale on his actions as a terrorist and isn't particularly scared when he levels a shotgun at her.
Control: As a sworn officer of the US government, I can neither confirm nor deny anything pertaining to this matter. And I will say the same damn thing to every other question, until the moment you put that gun to my head and pull the trigger.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: How the Machine gets her to back down, telling Control the address of the only thing she's loved, and telling her that the Machine protects both it and her.
- Even Evil Has Standards: She's disgusted that her partners running the Northern Lights organization are willing to deal with the clearly untrustworthy John Greer from Decima Technologies, due to the fact he is ripping them off with his own offer for an alternate surveillance system.
- The Ghost: Until "Lethe".
- Go Through Me: At the Vigilance trial.
Collier: Please, who built the Machine? How does it work? Where is it located?
Control: Honestly? [looks at Finch] I don't know.
- Iron Lady
- Jerkass Has a Point: Despite seemingly being an over-zealous, ruthless bureaucrat, Control believes her policy of killing any possible leaks will preserve the security of Northern Lights. She's proven right, when she's prevented from eliminating Peter Collier, after which he releases confidential documents which prove the existence of her organization.
- The Mole: In "Lethe".
- My Country, Right or Wrong:
Finch: Thank you for protecting me, although I am baffled as to why.
Control: The same reason I've done everything. For my country.
- Nerves of Steel: Demonstrates these during the Season 3 finale where in the face of a shotgun wielding Peter Collier, unlike her colleagues who panic and throw her to the wolves, she refuses to be cowered by the terrorist.
- No Name Given: Control's real name is unknown.
- Noble Demon: Despite being rather over-zealous in her efforts at counter-terrorism, the Season 3 finale "Deus Ex Machina" reveals that she's not motivated by a desire for power but genuinely loves her country, stands true to her beliefs in the face of a crazed Peter Collier trying to intimidate her with a shotgun]], shows far more backbone than her partners in the Northern Lights organization who either panic or try save themselves, does her best to protect Finch during Collier's trial, and near the end, helps give him a head start from the men who are bound to hunt him despite nearly killing him herself.
- Not So Different: In "Deus ex Machina", it is shown that she sees Finch as less of an enemy of the state, and more as a kindred spirit and potential ally - someone who has also sacrificed everything to prevent terrorism.
- OnlySaneWoman: She seems to be the only one in Northern Lights who finds Greer to be utterly untrustworthy.
- Pet the Dog: During the Season 3 finale, she refuses to point out that Harold has anything to do with the Machine, helps him to get to safety and gives him a head start to evade the people hunting him.
- Properly Paranoid: Constantly has her subordinates eliminate any possible leaks and with good reason.
- Samus Is a Girl: Control briefly appears in the Season 2 finale, where she is addressed as "Ma'am". All that is seen of her is a gloved hand.
- Shout-Out: To the works on John le Carré, where a man known as "Control" kept his identity secret while serving as the head of an intelligence organization.
- The Man Behind the Man: To Pennsylvania Two. She is the overall commander of Northern Lights, responsible both for sending people to deal with the Numbers provided by The Machine and for protecting the secret of the Machine's existence.
- Unscrupulous Hero:
Control: You want to shoot me, because I had to tap a few phone calls, read a few emails, then you go right ahead. But you better turn that gun on yourself next, Mr. Collier, because you have broken just as many laws. And the only difference is, I didn't wrap myself up in the American flag, and try to convince people that I was a hero.
- Walking Spoiler
- Weapon of Choice: A SIG-Sauer P229R. She puts it to very good use in "Aletheia".
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: She genuinely wants to protect the USA from terrorist threats, but is perfectly willing to engage in indiscriminate killing if the existence of her organization is threatened with exposure. It's even more apparent when we find out her back story. During 9/11, she was in the Pentagon when one of the planes demolished a significant portion of the building. In the aftermath of the attack, she was actively involved in the first response efforts. After that, she pledged herself to prevent such an attack from happening ever again.
- You Have Failed Me: Tends to do this to people who endanger her organization's mission - even if they aren't part of her organization and have no clue as to how their actions or inactions would endanger it.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: She really doesn't like loose ends.
"Pennsylvania Two"/"Special Counsel"
"No one life is above the safety of millions of Americans. That's the ugly math I have to deal with every day."
Played By: Jay O. Sanders
A shadowy figure from the Office of Special Counsel who appears to be engineering the activity regarding the machine and sees Reese as a threat.
- Big Bad: For Season 2, although Control is the unseen Bigger Bad.
- Character Death: Hersh executes him on the orders of Control.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He has a very deep voice.
- Faux Affably Evil: When in person, he can be real smooth talker as he orders countless people killed without batting an eyelid.
- Face Death with Dignity: In "God Mode" he just says, "Fair enough" upon realizing that Hers has been ordered to kill him.
- Famous Last Words: See Face Death with Dignity above.
- Kill 'em All: To anyone who even suspects the Machine exists.
- The Man Behind the Man: With respect to Weeks and Hersh.
- Mole in Charge: Has his day job in an agency that protects whistleblowers. As Henry Peck found out, he's not going to do his job if you try to expose the Machine.
- Mission Control: Fulfils this role for the project in the event the existence of the machine is compromised.
- The Needs of the Many: What he believes justifies his actions. See the quote above.
- Nerves of Steel: Special Counsel never panics, loses his cool or blinks when faced with a dangerous situation despite being a Non-Action Big Bad.
- Nice to the Waiter: He's very fond of his new Sexy Secretary, Root, and treats her well since he doesn't know her true identity and thinks she's just a very competent assistant.
- Non Action Man Behind The Man: He has yet to pick up a gun or even get into a physical fight. That said, he isn't adverse to tense situations and remains ice cool.
- No Name Given: His name has yet to be spoken on screen. He was credited as "Pennsylvania Two" in the press release for "No Good Deed," but the press releases for all episodes since have credited him as "Special Counsel".
- Not So Different: Invokes this when meeting Shaw. She agrees entirely.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Doesn't mind when Shaw blows Wilson away as she's called him out on the latter's stupidity in rashly taking a Contract on the Hitman and given him the compromising evidence he was looking for. He lets her walk out....and makes sure Hersh intercepts her.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Always in a nice suit.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Or so he says.
- Wicked Cultured: Gives off this vibe.
- You Are Number Six: Given no real name given.
- You Have Failed Me: He does this to plenty of people, and it seems that he applies the same ruthless standards to himself when he winds up on the receiving end.
Ross H. Garrison
A U.S. Senator affiliated with the government's Northern Lights program.
Robert N. Hersh/George
"We don't give orders, we execute them."
Played By: Boris McGiver
The Special Counsel's enforcer, a former member of the ISA.
- Ambiguously Evil: In "Lethe" - during the standoff at the end, the henchmen have red and white boxes (indicating imminent violence). Control has a red box (because she is pointing a gun at Finch). Hersh, meanwhile, has neither. He also eventually dies performing a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Assassin Out Classin: Gets subjected to this by Reese when the latter runs him through non lethally with a carving knife. Later suffers a more severe experience when going up against Root.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Since Special Counsel's death, he's been more or less in charge of the operations, now answering directly to Control.
- Badass: Since he's Reese's Evil Counterpart. Hersh is a One-Man Army capable of taking down numerous foes while sustaining wounds that would incapacitate most people.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Nearly always wearing a nice suit.
- Character Death: Hersh is killed trying to defuse a Decima bomb.
- Combat Pragmatist: Just like Reese.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Not making the same mistake twice, the second time he goes up against Root, he shoots out the cameras before sneaking up on her and successfully gets the drop on her despite her analog interface giving her Improbable Aiming Skills.
- Deadpan Snarker: It becomes gradually more prevalent, but eventually he starts throwing out dry sarcastic quips.
- The Determinator: Rain or shine, he will finish his mission.
- The Dragon: To Pennsylvania Two, and Control who both run him at different times.
- Dragon Ascendant: Control orders him to kill Pennsylvania Two, and he does so. He doesn't count as The Starscream because he was Just Following Orders.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: He expires fighting half a dozen Decima goons (while already wounded) and trying to defuse a bomb. He fails, but it's still quite impressive how he almost managed it.
- Enemy Mine: Sides with Team Machine for the common threat of Vigilance.
- Evil Counterpart: Reese describes him as "a lot like me." Hersh lampshades in "Booked Solid" that he and Reese aren't so different.
- Evil Mentor: For Shaw. As a result, she's just as good as John during combat situations. However, he may have taught her everything he knows but is perfectly willing to poison her when she resigns from the ISA. On the other hand in Season 3 during 4C, he has a surprisingly amicable conversation with her while drugged and even asks in a concerned tone if Team Machine is treating her well.
- The Fixer: If there is a problem in Northern Lights that the other "official" hit-squads need not know about, he will be the one to clean it up. It also seems to extend to eliminating those that decide to leave the program including his protégée Shaw.
- Get Into Jail Free: His plan to infiltrate Rikers: pull a gun in a crowded street and start shooting in the air.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Died trying to defuse a bomb... which went off anyway.
- Implacable Man: Like the Terminator, even if he's grievously wounded, it will barely slow them down. For one, he is shot in the back, strangles the Decima agent who did so, and then he takes out another hit squad. He only dies when a bomb goes off at point-blank range.
- Kill 'em All: His general orders to anyone who might know about the Machine.
- Last Name Basis: Nobody ever refers to him by his given name. His full name wasn't even revealed until "Lethe", a good season and a half after his first appearance, when it appears in one of the Machine's calculation tables.
- Last Stand: How his death takes place. He dies in one last struggle against the Decima goons and trying to defuse the bomb.
- Made of Iron: And how! The man has been subjected to kitchen knives, gunshots and hand grenades, shrugging most of it off.
- No Name Given: 'Robert N. Hersh' is an alias, as revealed in the death report given to Control. Shaw called him 'George', and considering the two had a close relationship and the way she said it, it seems likely that's part of his real name.
- Professional Killer: As the fixer, he will handle situations, usually leaving behind a body or two.
- Redemption Equals Death: Just when Hersh's more heroic side was being revealed, he was forced to sacrifice himself.
- The Stoic: He keeps a calm face in most situations. Even when Reese beat him and left him with a potentially fatal stab wound, the man didn't show much pain or anger, and later he's calm as a button about murdering his protégé ("Relevance") and his immediate supervisor and multiple co-workers ("God Mode"). Drops this when Root shoots him in ("Lady Killer"), he's left gasping on the floor bleeding out and is visibly in pain. In "4C" he's concerned about whether Shaw is doing fine in her new workplace.
- Torture Technician: Shown as this in "God Mode". Control later implies he is rather skilled at it.
- Undying Loyalty: He is to Control what Reese is to Finch.
Alicia M. Corwin
Played By: Elizabeth Marvel
A liaison between Ingram and the government while the Machine was being developed and a former member of the National Security Council. Corwin began living in hiding in a small town after Ingram's death.
- The Atoner: She regrets being involved in setting up the Machine and wants to destroy it due to her fears about how it is being used and the people who have control of it.
- Boom, Headshot: At the hands of Root.
- Character Death: Root shoots her in the head.
- Death by Secret Identity: Finds out Finch built The Machine, and, well, see above trope.
- Dropped A Bridge On Her: Was played up as a potential threat in the final two episodes of Season 1 - she was shown stalking Finch, discovering the Library, and finally confronted him with the intent of making him shut down the Machine - but ended up being killed off by Root practically mid-sentence.
- Heel-Face Turn: At some point, she turned against Nothern Lights and its methods and wanted to find a way to shut down The Machine.
- Properly Paranoid: She knows The Machine is watching her, knows at least some of the ways it might be performing that monitoring—she moved to the National Radio Quiet Zone to avoid monitoring by wireless methods—she may be aware that it can act to protect itself should it figure out that she wants to shut it down, and she definitely knows just how ruthless Denton Weeks and the people behind him are.
- Sacrificial Lion: To establish Root's level of villainy.
Denton L. Weeks
"You have no idea what you're getting into."
Played By: Cotter Smith
The official who commissioned the development of the Machine. He is in league with the Special Counsel.
- Amoral Attorney: He's one of the reasons why Harold and Nathan had the machine black boxed. He also legalised the use of Palestinian Hanging, a torture method, on terrorist suspects.
- Asshole Victim: Considering the type of man Denton Weeks was, it's hard to mourn him.
- Character Death: Root executes him.
- The Dragon: With respect to "Pennsylvania Two".
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He has a lover, which is how Root gets to him.
- Death by Secret Identity: He soon dies after finding out Finch is the one who actually built The Machine.
- Jerkass: Harold helps saves him but the guy turns on him and plans to bring him back to Northern Lights.
- Karmic Torture: Root tortures him using a method that he authorized US Intelligence officers to use on terrorists - and makes a point of showing him a copy of the document in which he did this during the proceedings.
- Ungrateful Bastard: He tries to kill Finch after being saved by him.
- Your Cheating Heart: According to Root, he had been cheating on his wife with another woman for several years.