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Headscratchers: Person of Interest
  • I haven't watched the show yet, but I find the premise insanely creepy. The Government is watching you 24/7 to make sure you're not a terrorist? These guys use that system to spy on you and stop you if they think you're gonna commit a crime? Yeah. So question is: Is is better than it sounds? Or is it as bad as that sounds?
    • Much better than it sounds, and their surveillance rarely comes off as creepy. Once the number comes through and they know a person is in danger/may be about to cause harm, they get into their phones and their records. But they never see what made the Machine spit out the number (that's part of the suspense of the show; they never know WHY the person is a Person of Interest, and sometimes they protect the person from the wrong perceived threats). So while there is a lot of "Big Brother is Watching," their actual behavior is no more invasive than a well-funded private investigator."
    • Strictly speaking, the government isn't watching you. The Machine is. If it turns out you're a terrorist, the Machine will let some one know. Otherwise, you're irrelevant.
  • I love the character of Elias, but the recent episode, "Flesh and Blood" nearly ruined him for me, and the entire sequence that did felt so out of character. Elias, as a young man, finds his fathers organization and quickly works his way up until his father decides he should be killed. Awesome, and totally within what we know of Elias already. Elias is tricked to going out into the woods where two goons plan to Off him. So i think, Elias, Extraordinarily Intelligent Badass Extraordinaire has got a plan. Except that he doesn't. he was tricked by two idiot mafioso goons. he didn't have a plan, he didn't even know what THEY were planning. when they reveal that he's about to get killed, he begins to cry. seriously. He only survives due to extremely good luck and the fact that the goons were overly incompetent. I figured that Elias would have men hidden in the trees to ambush the two, or even better, he would somehow convince them to fight on his side, or kill each other, which would mark where his organization began. The only saving grace of the episode is the sheer awesomeness of the end where, despite everything up to and including being incarcerated, Elias still completely owns the shit out of the Mafia. But even that only stands to contrast the actions and capability of his younger self.
    • Elias at that point wasn't a badass chessmaster. He just wanted to earn the respect of the father he never knew and figure out who killed his mother (Not knowing that they were the same person). Then he learns that his father killed his mother simply because having a mistress who bore him an illegitimate child was an embarrassment and was now going to have him killed for the exact same reason. Him crying is understandable - he's just had his worldview shattered and his hopes of parental approval destroyed. His journey to become the man he is now started the moment he killed his two would-be executioners.
  • Given that a recent study has revealed that at least 25% of all people on Facebook falsify at least part of their profile (And that's just the people who do it to protect themselves from identity thieves), how does the machine know what pieces of information on social networking sites are real?
    • Corroboration, and they've been faked out before.
  • At first I had a minor gripe with Episode 10 ("Number Crunch"): Someone has a mortgage which is bigger than their house, and the bank is foreclosing on it. But if the mortgage is for (say) $300,000 and the house is only worth $100,000 then the bank would much rather have the borrowers paying principal and interest on a $300,000 loan than foreclose and collect only $100,000 on the sale. While it's true that New York allows "recourse" mortgages where the lender can then go after the borrower's other assets, it's still usually going to be smarter for the bank to *not* foreclose.
  • Wouldn't it occur to the NSA that no matter how much they want to keep the Machine a secret, the only people capable of fixing a computer system that was deliberately shipped with no documentation whatsoever in the event of a breakdown are the people who built it?
    • It does have AI. Maybe it can fix itself? Maybe the things that it can't fix don't need specialized help? Maybe it came with a "How to fix super-computers for dummies" Book?
    • I suspect 'The Machine' is 99.9999% hard drives and video and cell inputs, hooked up to facial and speech recognition, maybe with some filters to get rid of completely irrelevant conversations and actions. We see The Machine at the end of the first episode, and it appears to have rows and rows and rows of rackmounted boxes, filling what we later see is a huge room. Surely Harold didn't build all of those computers, and it's entirely likely that the NSA has the specs for those computers, and can replace them and add more as new cameras are hooked up. The part without documentation is probably a single box that all that information gets fed too, the actual AI box, and, yes, the NSA is completely screwed if that specific box breaks. It's possible they can't even safely open the thing up or power it off, or risk losing everything. Granted, it was moved, but perhaps it has an internal UPS.
      • Finch actually mentions that The Machine can repair, upgrade and defend itself.
  • In a Season one episode, four people all were wanted dead by the same people for the same reason, and all of their numbers turned up. But in a season two episode, two people were targeted for death by the same person for the same reason but only one had her number come up. Why? Reese has failed to protect the intended victim of a premeditated crime on occasion, but this is the first I've seen where the Machine failed to even report that it was going to happen.
    • If you're talking about Riley's episode, I think the Machine deduced him as perpetrator of Annie's would-be-murder. The Machine usually targets victim or perpetrator, not both. So it judged Riley as a would be perpetrator.
    • No, Masquerade. The villain targeted two people for the same reason (They potentially knew too much), but the Machine only identified one of them. In previous episodes where multiple people were targeted, the Machine either named all of the targets or the person who was targeting them.
    • Now I remember. In that case, it's possible (though this explanation seems remarkably Fan Wank tastic) the crime of the second person wasn't actually premeditated, but a last-moment patch up on the bad guy's plan: maybe he forgot about her and only remembered on that night (thus the crime wasn't premeditated, being out of The Machine's reach), maybe he intended to bribe her (bribing the daughter of a politician is slightly impossible, but the same can't be said of a normal girl) but she didn't accept and resorted to murder (once more, technically not premeditated, so out of the Machine's reach).
    • I think Machine evaluate the best person to start investigation. It case on "Number Crunch" there wasn't a single person trailing whom would expose the conspiracy, so it gave four numbers of unrelated people. But Reese and Finch simply lack resources to tail large crowds, so Machine tries not to make them do it, if possible.
  • How would the Machine report a premeditated crime involving illegal immigrants, who don't have Social Security Numbers?
    • Well, if the immigrants are the victims, the Machine would send the number of the perpetrators or vice-versa. In the case both are illegal immigrants, I'm assuming The Machine would send the number of an accomplice of either party (like, say, a local thug who is helping the immigrant's Evil Plan or a close american friend of the immigrant victims).
  • What about Canadians? We don't have US social security numbers and we don't get assigned transient's numbers, normally. Does the machine ignore Canadian victims/perps, or worse, mix up their Social Insurance Numbers (9 digits) with US Social Security Numbers (also 9 digits)?
    • I'm assuming the same I said above for the immigrant thing goes for the Canadians.
    • Or the Machine could start reports about Canadian numbers with Canada, followed by the number indicators.
    • Would Finch really mistake a Canadian number for a US one? Wouldn't his information show that there is no living American with that number? But if there coincidentally *is*, what is the chance the that "false" POI is also in the New York area? I could see Team Machine spending the first part of the episode tracking down the wrong person before Finch realizes he must widen his search.
  • According to "2-Pi-R", the Machine can apparently predict premeditated suicide. What does this imply about the Machine's main objective? Suicide isn't a crime (Though attempting suicide is - humorously, at one point in history trying to kill yourself and failing could get you sentenced to death by hanging). It also isn't something that brings harm to others (At least, not by the method selected by the POI).
    • He got in conflict with drug dealers, don't forget this. This is probably what Machine cared about.
  • "Prisoner's Dilemma" shows Reese with a yellow box in flashback scenes from 2009, long before he was sent to China to attempt to retrieve software that the WMG section has theorized was from the Machine. Since yellow box means "individual aware of the Machine", why did Reese have a yellow box back then?
    • Likely a production mistake. The last time that set of flashbacks came before the audience Reese (as far as can be established) did not know about the Machine.
      • Not necessarily a mistake. We still don't know John's entire story and it's possible that he did know something at that point that we haven't heard about yet. Jonathan Nolan has stated that all of these character storylines connect somehow and has promised that they intend to continue exploring those connections for as long as the show runs. Due to that, I wouldn't be so quick to write this off as "just a mistake." And in response to John having a yellow box during the 2010/Matsya Nyaya flashback, the only time we saw him from the Machine's POV during that episode was when he and Stanton were in Ordos and they both had red boxes at the time (which meant they were about to commit a crime). There's no proof that he wouldn't have had a yellow box under normal circumstances.
      • Reese has had a yellow box since the pilot, I'm pretty sure. He's known about the Machine since long before Finch ever told him about it. We just don't know yet why or how that is.
      • Machine flashbacks are explicitly the machine, in the present, searching its memory for relevant information. The most likely explanation for the boxes is that it is assigning them boxes based on what they are now.
  • In "Number Crunch", Finch mentions that one of the four numbers the Machine gave him came first, if only by milliseconds. How would he know this? The method the Machine uses to give Finch the numbers doesn't include a timestamp, and is too slow to have such precision.
    • He's probably referring to the fact that it was the first number the Machine gave him, and the reference to milliseconds could be either hyperbole or a red herring to keep Reese from discovering how he actually receives the numbers. In all likelihood, it's doubtful that the writers had actually decided how the process worked at the time, but it could still be explained away as yet another example of Finch trying to keep Reese from learning any more about how he actually receives the irrelevant numbers.
  • Nathan was contacted at first by The Machine for "irrelevant" numbers. At what point did Finch learn about it and take up the role of Admin in his stead? And did Nathan die because he tried to be a one-man army without the skills (like Reese) to defend himself adequately?
    • Seems like this is what happened. Nathan's name came up as an irrelevant number (either as perpetrator or victim) just as Finch killed off CONTINGENCY. This likely means either Nathan was accosted and killed, or - more unlikely - he was going to kill Finch.
      • It has been made clear by the second season finale that Ingram was killed by means of a purposeful enactment of a relevant threat. Finch was nearby, and suffered permanent injuries from the explosion, likely exacerbated by leaving them impromptu emergency ward before he got proper medical attention.
  • It was probably necessary for plot reasons not to give Carter the position in the FBI, but honestly? Just because she didn't know about the IAB investigations? That seems kinda harsh. Unless Donelly left some notes behind...
    • Especially since if Internal Affairs is competent, they would make a point of not letting anyone close to the subject know about the investigation, to keep said subject from learning about it.
  • Why would Donnely's test to see if Reese knew self-defense prove anything? He already knew that Reese's cover identity was ex-military, and lots of soldiers get training in self-defense. Also, given that marital arts is a fairly common form of exercise, there are probably tens of thousands of people in NYC who know self-defense, many of them being tall, dark-haired, and in the habit of wearing nice suits who are not John Reese. Even if Reese had played along, all Donnely would have gotten was a piece of circumstantial evidence to indicate that Reese MAY be the Man in the Suit, which no competent prosecutor would accept as evidence that Reese IS the Man in the Suit.
    • That being said, Donnelly was channelling Inspector Javert by this point and was ready to start using anti-terrorism laws against American citizens, suggesting that he was ready to begin extrajudicial methods to rid himself of Reese and Carter in any case. Having "proof" of Reese's skill set would have just been the icing on the cake in that event.
  • Is the Machine's operation limited only to the NYC area?
    • No. Admin only alerted about crimes within his reach, however.
      • Person of Interest franchises! Maybe in Boston and Miami :)
  • So how long before catastrophic Machine failure? In "All In" the Machine BSODed in the middle of a zoom-out, and then again on a zoom-in. And then at least four more times.
  • Okay. So Wordof God is that the Machine takes a "modern perspective" when viewing anything it considers possibly important. Back when this show was first made, Reese did not know about the Machine. So why does the Machine seem to think he does in the pilot?
    • It is vaguely implied Reese and Kara's mission back at that chinese city which I don't remember the name had something to do with The Machine. It's possible The Machine gave him the yellow box due that.
      • Based on the WMG I made about the Chinese and American Machines, could this mean that in fact the two "Machines" are talking to each other because they were made by the same people? Hmmmmmmm.
    • Or The Machine realises that Finch is looking for John and is keeping an eye on him. Hell, just like with Grace, The Machine may have decided that John was the best partner for Finch and was keeping tabs on him, and preemptively classing him in the same group as Admin.
  • In the latest episode "Nothing to Hide", it looks like the Machine doesn't always seem to know when Reese is in a vehicle, because it showed him with a white box when he was in one. Is this a possible limitation of the Machine's capabilities?
  • Going through the episodes in the first season, John doesn't use gloves in his breaking and entering jobs. Granted his targets aren't governments or intelligence agencies who would check to see if a stranger has broken into their office, and he's gone by the time the targets come back, but as a former CIA officer, wouldn't he take basic precautions to leave no forensic traces as he's increasingly wanted by various organisations as the season progresses?
    • It's possible he underwent the "burning the fingertips" (thus erasing your digitals) after he joined Team Machine.
    • Fingerprinting isn't perfect. Objects that have a lot of human contact (doorknobs, railings etc.) make it a pain to pull even a partial print
  • The machine is not physically present anywhere known to Northern Lights. How can Control shut it down if she doesn't know where it is? At most, she can "stand down" all ISA personnel tasked for Northern Lights, but that shouldn't stop The Machine from being able to keep giving out Relevant numbers.
    • That is literally what she did. By shutting down Northern Lights (i.e dismantling the entire operation chain and assassin network), it means the Machine now has no access to any of its enforcers (such as Hersh), so the Machine can give out relevant numbers, but there'll be nobody to pick them up.
  • What the hell was Garrison thinking at the end of "Death Benefits"? There is no way he would have the authority to give Greer what he was asking for, and even if he did, he should have refused. You do not give over classified information to an uncleared third party (And since one level of classification is NOFORN, meaning No Foreign Personnel, it's actually impossible to clear a China-based company like Decima to see it), much less one that's known to be in the business of selling other people's secrets. When Ingram and Finch were building the Machine, they would have been considered cleared contractor authorized to handle the data from the NSA feeds and required to follow certain protocols to ensure the data doesn't leak. After delivering the Machine, the feed would have gone from one government agency to another. But Greer isn't part of the government, and isn't being employed by the government. He does not have the clearance or need to know to handle NSA feeds, and his company's stock in trade makes it clear that they shouldn't be cleared. What Garrison did was leak a massive amount of intelligence to a foreign spy agency so they could prove the capabilities of a system that at the time they hadn't even proved existed. Hello, espionage charges.
    • Garrison is a Sleazy Politician of the highest order who has previously supervised a black-ops organization (a black-ops organization that pretty much broke every single law on the American Constitution) before, imagining he'd simply break a thousand laws and amendments just to test his tech is no stretch of imagination. This is a land corrupt politicians and scheming governments, don't expect them to not act like hypocrites.
  • I feel this question might get addressed in season 4, but I will pose it anyways: what is the connection between Alicia Corwin and Decima? When she was killed, Hersh removed a RFID chip implanted in her arm. Later on, the chip is connected to Decima, which is how they get on Northern Lights' radar as a threat to the Machine. While it is never explained why Corwin had the chip, "Deus Ex Machina" reintroduces the chips as how authorized personnel are allowed access within a Decima facility. So what does this make of her role or connection with them?
    • Though this is totally a guess, she might have been hired by Decima to advise on the design of Samaritan. That would explain why she deliberately dropped off the radar like that and her extreme paranoia. As to WHY she was doing it...it might have been because she saw the potential for misuse in the Machine?
  • Why doesn't Decima and Samaritan consider Fusco to be a threat? I know he's the Butt Monkey but as we've seen time and again he's a highly competent detective and a valuable asset to Team Machine, yet Samaritan passes him over in favor of those three hackers who've they've known for all of two episodes?
  • Is it just me, or was The Machine giving John Reese the cover of detective kind of stupid? I just don't think it's really hiding. He's still out and about in the city. Someone involved with Samaritan has to spot him at some point.
    • They're only 'hiding' from Samaritan, which likely does most of the surveillance considering its a machine that can see all the cameras at once. There's no need for field operatives looking for them as well. Not only that but New York is a really, really big city with over 8 million people in the city limits. Even if there's a few Decima guys running around the odds of finding them are pretty slim, even if they have a picture of him.
  • Why would the Machine prototype AIs try to expand themselves or get out? Harold wouldn't program that into the AI, it would make it too uncontrollable.
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