Recap: Person Of Interest S 03 E 12

Season 3, Episode 12:


" I don't belong to anyone anymore."
—The Machine (via Root)

Team Machine, Vigilance and Northern Lights enter a three-way race to find and secure the backup copy of the code for Samaritan, the incomplete version of the Machine developed by Arthur Claypool. Meanwhile, Control engages in Cold-Blooded Torture on Root in an attempt to gain administrative access to the Machine.

  • Arc Words: Finch calls Control's attempt to gain access to Samaritan a "contingency".
  • Artificial Intelligence: Samaritan. And the Machine, too.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Control, Collier and Greer.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Reese and Fusco, dressed as FBI SWAT Team operators, rescuing Finch, Claypool and Shaw.
  • Bilingual Bonus/Genius Bonus: the word "aletheia" in Greek can be translated as "disclosure" or "truth." It's the antonym of "lethe," which was the title of the previous episode.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Control, to Root.
    Control: We have your friends surrounded. So, if you try anything, I will have them killed. And then, I will take the ear you have left, and then your eyes, and then your tongue. Do you understand?
  • Cosmic Plaything: Finch has the most ridiculous run of bad luck in this episode, to the point where not a single thing goes right. He was held at gunpoint twice, Root escapes (and this time doesn't come back), Reese leaves, the Machine doesn't even belong to him anymore, he had to escape through a sewer, and Decima switched the drives.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Vigilance's shooters are no match for Northern Lights' agents in a straight fight.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Hersh shoots out the camera in the hotel room, so that the Machine can't warn Root about him.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Reese. He quits Team Machine because of it.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Collier was prepared for Northern Lights, but did not expect Reese and Fusco to crash the party. And Finch was so focused on Collier and Northern Lights, that he had no idea Greer's operative had already swapped the drives.
  • Dramatic Irony: Peter Collier, privacy terrorist, asking Harold Finch to hand over Arthur.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Reese and Fusco do this, dressing as the SWAT Team deployed by Northern Lights, to infiltrate the bank assault.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Control's bemused expression at Root's monologue is likely real. Camryn Manheim, being 52, actually wouldn't be unable to hear the Morse code. Amy Acker, being 37, would.
    • All of the Root-Control scenes were filmed in a single 14-hour workday. No wonder Amy Acker looks so worn out toward the end.
  • Gambit Pileup: Finch and Claypool head to a bank to obtain Samaritan's drives. While there, Collier (and an armed Vigilance squad) comes in to steal the drives, with Hersh and Northern Lights impersonating an FBI hostage negotiator and a SWAT Team to defuse the situation and attempt to take the drives themselves. And it was all for nothing, with Decima having swapped the drives for fakes beforehand.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Northern Lights agents disguised as a FBI SWAT Team. Which helps Reese and Fusco disguise themselves.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Control has absolutely no idea what to ask Root.
    Root: "You think you're in charge? It's adorable just how wrong you are."
  • Ironic Echo: Control asks Root why is it letting the stapedectomy happen, calling back to Root asking Harold why the Machine let her kidnap him.
  • Jump Scare: Harold and Arthur are taking their time in the vault discussing a Koan coupled with the Samaritan drives. Cut to Root screaming over Control's torture. The Machine provides no wipes nor any warning whatsoever.
  • Kick the Dog: Reese is needlessly cruel Fusco in the holding cell.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the jail cell, Reese laments that life is "entropy... decay." In the bank vault, Arthur says:
    "Everything slides towards chaos. Your creation— it brings us poor souls a cupful of order."
    • Also, Arthur's explanation of how he built Samaritan. Essentially, he made it delete itself over and over again. Just like Finch and the Machine.
  • Machine Worship:
    Control: You view the Machine as your superior?
    Root: No, much more. My power, my reason for existing, my friend. The Machine looks out for me.
  • Meaningful Rename: When Harold comes to the nursing home to say goodbye to his father, the bird he spots outside the window is, of course, a finch.
  • Oh Crap!
    Root: "You're so scared of me that you hid a knife in your pocket. I couldn't reach it till you got close enough to cut me. You still have a scalpel. I'd call that a fair fight."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Two to the head, please. And be careful about the blood spray."
  • Running Gag: As shown in the promo, Finch and Shaw must be getting pretty tired of being held at gunpoint.
    • And Root is truly sick of being imprisoned.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: At the end of it, everything Finch went through was for nothing, because Samaritan is now in Decima's hands (which is worse than being under Northern Lights' control), Reese quits Team Machine, Root is in the wind, and Arthur Claypool is dying.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Reese returns to New York, but only to tell Finch that he's done with Team Machine.
  • Shown Their Work/Doing It for the Art:
    • We finally learn how The Machine has been communicating with Root: Morse Code audio signals at frequencies above 15kHz, which only younger people can hear. In the sequence with Root and Control in the Faraday cage, there's a high frequency "beeping" sound effect that only younger viewers could hear. The best part? It actually is Morse code!
    • The "prank" which Arthur refers to really happened; it's known in MIT history as the "Balloon Hack."
    • "Smoot" is another MIT in-joke.
    • The date that Harold hacks into ARPANET is October 27, 1980. On that day, the real-world ARPANET suffered a four-hour outage.
  • Springtime for Hitler:
    Arthur: Your child is a dancing star...
    Arthur: A false dichotomy, it's all electricity. Does it make you laugh? Does it make you weep?
    Finch: Yes...
    Arthur: What's more human?
  • Taking You with Me: The Vigilance operative is being questioned by Hersh and pulls the pin off a grenade in response. Hersh survives the resulting explosion, but the two mooks with him might not have.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots..."
  • The Stoic: Shaw and Finch remain remarkably calm at the beginning.
  • SWAT Team: Hersh leads a Northern Lights team that's dressed as an FBI SWAT Team into the bank. Reese and Fusco "borrow" two uniforms to slip in.
  • Torture Chamber Episode
  • Wham Episode: Control, Vigilance and Team Machine finally collide in their Gambit Pileup. And it turns out Decima got the better of them all.
  • Wham Line: "I don't belong to anyone anymore. You, however, are mine. I protect you. The only thing you love lives at 254 Wendell Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I guard it same as I guard you. Do not question my judgment. Do not pursue me or my agents. Trust in me. I am always watching."
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Greer does this to his minion at the end, after being given the Samaritan drives.
  • You Look Familiar: The actor who plays Finch's father previously played a fraudulent foster parent in an episode of season 1.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: At the end of the exchange between Control and The Machine, this is hinted at:
    Control: What do you want?
    The Machine (via Root): To save you.