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.
    • In fairness, the premise is supposed to be creepy.
    • Makes you wonder when someone comes up "deviant", doesn't it. Don't you just want to know more?
  • With all the hostile parties looking for "the man in the suit", why doesn't Reese ever CHANGE HIS WARDROBE? A trademark is the last thing he needs.
    • For some reason, people just aren't able to make the connection. An investigative reporter who knew about the "man in the suit" urban legend, and believed in it, was still not able to connect the dots. Instead, she claimed that he would have helped her if he existed. HR considered her a pain in the ass, and tried to get rid of her, and yet she couldn't make the connection that the suit-wearing man she'd been on a few dates with was "the man in the suit".
    • Either she's as oblivious as Lois Lane, or she doesn't expect the person she's hunting to go on a date with her. I find it funny that Fusco's descriptions (tall, dark and whispery, etc) to be much easier to use as a description.
    • Do you have any idea how many tall, dark-haired men who own nice suits live in NYC?
  • 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.
    • The Machine is a weakly superhuman artificial general intelligence. It can understand sarcasm, fake names and jokes.
    • Facebook is like Wikipedia. It's where you start, not where you finish. Given the machine can hack your emails, phone, home security, workplace, etc, it's would have no problem coming up with a true picture.
  • 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.
    • Depends. If the buyer is seriously digging his heels in and paying nothing or almost nothing, then it would eventually be smarter for the bank to throw up their hands and get the money they can now rather than try and ring the full loan out of him and have to wait for it on an iffy bet he could pay them.
  • 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's a distributed system running on a massively parallel platform (in Season 1, at least one datacenter full of relabeled Dell PowerEdge boxes). In such an environment, hardware failure is relatively easily recoverable — just shut down the failed hardware and spin up one of the hot spares that's provisioned for just such a mishap, and push a task onto the datacenter gnomes' stack to pull the dead box and replace it with a new one.
      Software failure can be a little trickier, but there's an extensive suite of well-understood techniques for automatically coping with it, many of which were invented in the course of the US space program for improving the resilience of computer systems which can't be manually maintained or repaired by dint of being millions of miles away from Earth. (This is likely the sort of thing Finch meant when he mentioned, once, having designed and built the Machine with the ability to repair itself.)
      As for expansion, it can probably be done with effectively zero effort, aside from the provision of sufficient physical plant (rack space, power, networking, cooling) and the actual installation of the new hardware. Installing software, in particular, isn't necessary; PXE boot enables the new machines to fetch their boot images from a network server, at which point they're up and running as part of the system, and there's no reason at all to assume a system like the Machine wouldn't be configured to use it. (If nothing else, it would be a waste of Finch's extremely valuable time to pave new boxes by hand.)
      All this goes to explain why NSA probably wouldn't be all that upset at the idea of taking on the Machine as a black box. On the one hand, it's reliable enough; as we see in the series, the only thing that seems to faze it is deliberate attack. On the other hand, it provably works. And, on the third hand, NSA employs some of the smartest software engineers on Earth, and with physical custody of the hardware, they could plan on sooner or later being able to work out what's going on under the hood — and then, of course, the advent of Samaritan makes it unnecessary to go to the trouble, after all.
    • Also, governments really are that stupid and anal. The world is full of stories about government departments failing utterly to communicate with other departments in the same building. The NSA was introduced specifically because the inter-agency communications between the intelligence community was so bad.
  • "Stock exchange security is on a closed circuit neither machine can access." Come on! The magic superintelligent AIs can access any random security camera (a classic instance of Everything Is Online) EXCEPT at NYNEX?
    • Closed Circuit in theory means it has no outside communication. If you have your own security personnel, this is entirely feasible since they respond to problems. The stock exchange could easily have an independent CCTV system since it doesn't need outside resources. Mobile phones, traffic cameras, etc are supposed to be secure but no one imagined they face a IA supercomputer. Easy way to view it is to think about any detective dramas you've watched and count the number of times the investigators ask for the CCTV video tapes from real closed circuit tv security. They rely on the owner of the CCTV to give them the tape since it has no other way of been accessed.
  • 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.
    • Given how far ahead the Machine can plan, it's not impossible that it saw a future asset given exactly how valuable he turned out to be at the end of season 4.
  • "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.
      • Is it just coincidence that the people with yellow boxes are the only ones who can have "two way" communication with the machine even it's only talking to a camera and appealling to the machines "empathy".
  • 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.
    • He's most likely refering to the fact that wether verbally or visually, a sequence of numbers will have to come in list form so a human can understand them. He simply meant the first one on the screen.
  • 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
    • Also note he was part of a CIA team running illegal ops on US soil. They almost certainly wiped his fingerprints from every database known to mankind.
    • Not forgetting that the machine is more than capable of dissappering people from any known database if it wants. Most fingerprint (and other law enforcement databases) have to be accessible from any police station anywhere in the country. It's easy for the machine to interfere.
  • 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?
    • Probably because Fusco still does not know about the Machine or anything related. He helps the team and is indeed a badass, but has yet to be told about what's really going on and has not figured it out himself. He does not seem interested in knowing, which is probably a smart thing. But basically, since he doesn't know anything, Samaritan really has very little reason to favor him over the next random guy.
  • 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.
    • It really annoyed me as well. Any competent security agency will give it's agents a top ten most wanted list to keep a look out for in the course of their normal duties. Even shopping centre security is given a list of troublemakers. The tv news frequently requests info on wanted criminals from the public. Since Greer believes in human intel as well as Samaritan, it's obvious he should/would have used it as well. When Martine went to question Fusco about something, it's a good thing Reese wasn't there. It's not easy to spoof both digital AND human surveillance at the same time.
  • 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.
  • Who are the "seven people who might be able to take [the world] back" that Root referred to?
    • The surviving members of Team Machine were: Reese, Finch, Fusco, Shaw, and Root.
    • Who are the other two people?
      • Fusco is not among the seven, but Root's little hacker clique of three guys is.
      • Fusco must be one of the seven since seven Samaritan servers were tampered with (presumably the seven from the OP) and the number of times Fusco has come into direct conflict with Samaritan agents mean that if he wasn't protected, he'd be killed simply as a serious threat if not a "team machine" member.
  • How is the Machine still accessing the NSA feeds after hardware (self) relocation? It seems like there are two possibilities: The machine has hacked into the NSA (which would involve huge bandwidth links to its new location). Or, the relocation is not really physical, and it has uploaded itself directly to the NSA (or other government agency) servers.
    • Why does it have to hack into the NSA? It could easily be accessing the cameras/phones/emails through its own methods. This IS a superintelligent AI we're talking about.
      • Super intelligent or not, it still has to obey the laws of physics. So unless you actually imply some divine capabilities, can you please give examples of "own methods"?
      • It could, for instance, hack the phone companies, cameras, email providers, etc. The internet is less secure than most people think; see the numerous high profile hackings we've had recently.
      • So, in a nutshell, it has to make at least several thousand hacks, in order to have the same access. Wouldn't it be a little bit more efficient to target the one location where all the feeds actually end up?
      • Perhaps more efficient, but it means fewer points of failure; if the NSA/Samaritan were able to block the Machine's access, it's toast. Better to have an alternative that isn't as prone to counterattack to continue its mission.
    • The original location of the machine was set up specifically for its use and would have adequate resources. It's alternate location was stated by Harold has having more than enough band-width. AS to how it can use NSA resources - the goverment believes that everybody who knew about the machine is dead and they don't expect "the machine" to think for itself. They wouldn't really consider it a threat without a human operator.
  • In If-Then-Else, Team Machine has to give the Machine access to the stock exchange's cameras, because Samaritan didn't have access. How come Samaritan didn't do the same, to ensure their operatives an equal chance of success?
    • Because Samaritan can't see Team Machine on the cameras, so it'd be useless to the AI itself. And Decima would have to lie their way to get access to the cameras on top of Team Machine doing that, which might set off a few suspicions with the security.
      • Yeah, but my point is: why didn't Samaritan instruct them to set up the cameras before the market crashed and Team Machine arrived, and Samaritan can use their locations to direct his operatives?
      • Possibly because Samaritan knew the Machine would be watching the stock exchange, and perhaps would be able to detect any feeds coming out of it, even if they were encrypted, so something like that could spoil the trap.
      • Sadly, this doesn't explain why Samaritan didn't have some additional operatives upstairs to tap the feeds (and remove the Machine's tap) after Team Machine got trapped downstairs. So a more logical possibility is would be that Samaritan literally did not think of tapping the feeds at all. (After all, if that tap had come up slightly faster, the entire trap would have failed.)
    • As of the end of season 3, Samaritian has literally had it hardwired into it that team machine are non-relevant. It doesn't know where they are even if they're stood right in front of it.
  • Why didn't Team Machine suspect that clues hinting at Shaw not being dead was just an elaborate trap set up by Samaritan? Granted, this wasn't the case, but they didn't even entertain the idea.
    • They probably wanted to believe Shaw was alive especially Root. Emotion, especially grief, can make normally completely smart and logical people do insane things. Even when they find out it wasn't Shaw Root has to be talked out of continuing by the Machine itself.
  • In Guilty, Harold tries to get out of jury duty with a Cassandra Gambit, by sounding like a Conspiracy Theorist. His theory? Describing exactly how Samaritan is taking over the world and subverting the government. In a public courtroom, where his statement will be transcribed. After spending months telling Reese, Shaw, and Root about the need to not discuss the Machine and Samaritan in unsecured settings, and knowing full well how Team Samaritan kills anyone who has the vaguest inkling of its existence. He had every reason to believe that five minutes after he said that, Martine would barge into the room and shoot himself and everyone else there. Is this a planet-sized Idiot Ball, a Rule of Funny, or what?
    • Not necessarily. There are some people who do really believe that an AI is taking over the world (especially in the wake of the NSA PRISM reveal) and Samaritan can't very well shoot them all, now can they? Considering Harold is currently a Professor teaching about the ethics of using computers to trade stocks him having that belief makes a bit of sense and isn't something out of the blue.
  • Skip seems to have at least a couple glaring plot holes in Harold's plan:
    1. Why wasn't there a delay on the activation device? i.e., Harold brings Beth somewhere on the shadow map during their date, activates the Trojan horse right as their date is ending, and it deploys one hour later, enough time to get out of Dodge and (hopefully) not be detected by Samaritan.
    2. Samaritan would know that the Trojan came from Beth's computer, so she'd be killed by his operatives even if they don't catch on to Harold, making his concerns about her being safe a moot point.
    3. Why couldn't Root activate the Trojan horse, given how the Machine gives her multiple burn aliases?
    • It should be noted that the trojan is now part of Samaritan and can potentially be activated at a later date. Not part of Harolds plan but still a weakness in Samaritan.
  • Why RAM to store the Machine? The amount Root and Finch "acquired" from Caleb add up to as much as 100 TB, but you could get that amount of SSD or flash memory much more easily. Plus, those forms of memory are non-volatile, meaning that the piezoelectric battery would've been unnecessary.
    • They don't need storage space, they need time. Samaritan is bearing down on them, the computers might blow at any second, and RAM is faster by literal orders of magnitude. And the experimental stuff is almost certainly even faster than your usual DDR-3.
    • Would have made sense to stick a SSD in anyway so the machine had permanent storage and somewhere to move. Their not that big and the machine could tranfer from RAM to SSD after it was disconnected from outside sources.
  • I know I missed quite a few episodes, but does the Machine still erase and rewrite itself after it's hidden in the power grid? If so, how? Did Kara's virus absolve it of that command?
    • The power grid being the Machine's home was only revealed in the season 4 finale. It's possible that it still is re-instantiating, given that "Ernest Thornhill" exists in some fashion.
    • I'm not sure it does or the irrelevant numbers wouldn't come up would they
  • Speaking of Thornhill, Greer et al knew of Thornhill prior to Samaritan activating. Couldn't they use Samaritan to shut down all of Thornhill's businesses and money sources? Root did not mention Thornhill as being included in the cover identities hardwired into Samaritan.
    • Who's to say they didn't try? Samaritan and The Machine are fairly evenly matched in this sense and The Machine had the advantage of a head start.
  • In the season one episode "Root Cause," why does the machine only give Finch and Reese the number of the man about to be framed for a congressman's assassination, and not the congressman being targeted for assassination?
    • It gave the number of the person at the center of everything, as it was designed. Giving the number of the congressman would have given them less ability to prevent the assassination as it would have not given them any idea who the threat was. While they failed regardless, they saved the innocent man who Reese might have otherwise shot. It is the same reason it earlier gave the Elias' number. He was at the center of everything, it's just that they had no way of knowing his real identity.
    • Also, the congressman, as a politician been targeted for assassination, would come under "relevant", not irrelevant. Potential plot hole here since no ISA agents turned up to protect the congressman.
  • Why did Collier consider the existence of a government program codenamed 'Northern Lights' to be incriminating evidence in and of itself? Classified programs are often codenames that are selected randomly specifically to prevent people from inferring what they're about if they somehow hear the name. The Machine could just as easily have ended up codenamed 'Tuna Salad'.
  • In "If-Then-Else" why did The Machine not consider a different pairing? It tried sending Fusco and Reese and Finch and Root against each target. Why not reverse the pairings? Send Fusco and Root to hack the exchange and Reese and Finch to restart the elevator. Fusco was needed against the Stock exchange because he was clever enough to send the all clear signal on the baddie radio, while Finch was needed to start the generator so that they could power the elevator. Root and Reese are interchangeable and would each provide something useful. If Root were with Fusco, she could cleanly hack the stock exchange. Reese could protect Finch and cut the elevator lock's cable. Any reason that wouldn't work? The only variable that comes to mind is whether Reese would answer the radio and give bad advice to Shaw in contrast to Fusco's good advice.
    • The Machine may well have, and we only saw certain specific scenarios. She's probably capable of evaluating hundreds of scenarios each millisecond, whereas she had hundreds of thousands total to choose from.
  • After Shaw is captured, why didn't the characters move to another base of operations? As paranoid as they are, I'm surprised that they didn't consider the idea that they would be compromised, especially when Martine confirms they've got her. OK, they don't have much of a chance during those episodes, but there is a time-gap of a few months afterwards, and even beforehand, I'd have thought they would move out of the subway to somewhere else just out of principle.
    • Where else could they move to, that Samaritan couldn't find them? An abandoned subway station, with untraceable electrical and data lines, is the most secure facility they could hope for. By "ShotSeeker" we know that the team has a safe house, but if they plug in the rebuilt Machine there, the power and data usage would be an instant target for Samaritan. Plus, they probably know that Shaw would die before revealing the subway station. In SNAFU, Finch notes that the Machine is completely contained within the trolley, to let it be more mobile in case of emergency, though I'm not sure how the trolley could be removed from the station.
      • Presumably it's an abandoned station on a spur line, so they can drive the trolley out onto the main lines in an emergency. It would be an option with a low chance of success for a number of reasons but as a last ditch option it's potentially worth it.
  • Exactly how could reintroducing thylacines to their native habitat disrupt the global food economy? Yes, yes, butterfly effect and all that, but let's look at exactly what that butterfly is flapping about: the thylacine was native to Tasmania, Australia, and New Guinea, but went extinct in Australia 2,000 years ago and New Guinea even longer ago (hence why we call them Tasmanian tigers/wolves). So, if the doctor were going to pick a place to reintroduce them into the wild, she'd likely pick Tasmania. Tasmania is, to be blunt, tiny in the global scheme. Its population is about half a million, but half the land is tied up in nature parks and thus not in use for food production. Furthermore, most of Tasmania's economy isn't in food production at all, and what of it is is mostly seafood and crops (neither of which thylacines would be terribly interested in - they were strict carnivores, so all plant crops are safe,note  and the only way they could get seafood would be to steal it from humans, which they were generally wary of). Herding isn't exactly a big deal there. But really, even if they were released in mainland Australia, some studies of the thylacine show its bite was relatively weak, and so even sheep would be relatively safe from predation (newborn lambs would be at risk, but that's about it; they'd be more likely to scavenge the corpse of an already-dead sheep than to kill a healthy one). If they wanted to pick an animal with the potential to disrupt food production, they should've gone for the passenger pigeon, an herbivore known to have a taste for grain and a native habitat in America's bread basket. However, all "de-extincted" species would have a Fatal Flaw: they're all essentially clones of each other, due to lack of well-preserved DNA samples (the current thylacine genome was cobbled together from multiple samples, so while the clone wouldn't be a duplicate of any one thylacine, all the clones would be identical to each other). Even assuming you could get functioning X and Y chromosomes to produce male and female members, without a carefully-managed breeding program, de-extincted animals would be one errant sneeze away from a species-wide re-extinction event. You simply wouldn't get the large numbers of wild animals required to disrupt food production.
  • Am I the only one to think that Harold values his "honour" more than peoples lives? How many people have died because he wouldn't kill two people that the machine had marked for termination. He's said he'll sacrifce anything and everything to save an innocent but obviously not since your life and your possessions AREN'T everything.
  • Why wasn't Greer disappeared the moment he admitted that he knew of The Machine in Season 3? Control had been consistently wiping out everyone who learned of it before, and a foreign national who works for a non-US intelligence agency is a textbook example of someone who wouldn't be cleared to know of the US government's blackest security program.
  • How did Samaritan get so powerful so fast? It took years for Finch to get from a self-aware program to one that could make the connections necessary to identify relevant and irrelevant threats. Samaritan had been self-aware for less than a day when the program was unfunded, and then had been in Decima's control for less than six months when it became all-powerful. How'd they get it worked up so fast? Even if they skipped all the fail-safes that Finch had put into his creation, it should have taken much longer than that.
  • How are Harold's youthful indiscretions considered treason? Treason has a very specific definition under the Constitution, namely waging war against the US or aiding those who do. What Harold did as a kid was crash a set of interconnected computers, which while owned by the military, was intended for pure research purposes (The original purpose of the ARPANET was to allow people to access research computers anywhere in the country - the military applications were added later), which is not an act of war. And how to prosecute him? Under the Constitution, you can't convict someone of treason without either a confession or at least two eyewitnesses. Where are the witnesses going to come from in a crime committed remotely?
  • How does Samaritan being activated and provided unrestricted access to the NSA feeds logically follow from the Vigilance bombing at the end of season 3? The reason why The Machine didn't warn about said incident was because the Northern Lights project had been suspended due to increased public scrutiny. That isn't the fault of the Machine. What Greer was selling boiled down to "you neglected to use your tool, and so you weren't able to do the job you needed the tool to do. Would you like to throw away the tool that has never once failed you when you actually used it and buy my version instead?"
  • Did the writers totally forget about Shaw's thing with Cole, or are they simply so enamored with Shoot that they refuse to acknowledge it? When the Machine tells Finch about its "what if I was never built?" simulations, she shows that Shaw and Cole continued working together, but their interaction is downright icy. The revelation that Cole was incredibly important to Shaw was one of the very first cracks in her Emotionless Girl armor, making their relationship a major plot point in the past; even part of the reason Shaw felt betrayed by her former employers was the fact that he died on a mission. So, if Cole were still alive in a Machine-free timeline, it's make sense that they'd be close, even if not romantically involved (though all past information about them would indicate they would have become involved had he lived long enough). Did the Machine somehow not know about their feelings, despite knowing plenty about them otherwise, or is even she such a giant Shipper on Deck that she refuses to admit that Shaw may have been in love before?
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