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Recap / Person Of Interest S 02 E 16

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Season 2, Episode 16:


"Trust is overrated."
Sameen Shaw

When her partner winds up being killed after asking the wrong questions, government operative Sameen Shaw finds herself on the run from the people she works for and sets out to discover the person responsible for targeting both of them.

This is series creator and Executive Producer Jonathan Nolan's directorial debut.

Tropes present in this episode include:


  • 555: Averted. The phone number Finch gives to Shaw, (917) 285-7362, is a working number. Call it and you get Harold Wren's voicemail at Universal Heritage Insurance. You can't leave a message, though, because the voicemail inbox is full.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Shaw meeting Finch.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Having trained Shaw, Hersh has the courtesy to apologise for killing her.
  • Asshole Victim: The drug dealers who smugly believe they've caught Shaw off guard. They're wrong.
  • Attack Hello: Shaw has a tendency to shoot first and asks questions later, as Reese and Leon find out.
  • Bait-and-Switch: It looks like the Special Counsel will let Shaw live as she does a Menacing Stroll out of their accompanied by the requisite Climactic Music, then Hersh kills her. Then instead of a Downer Ending, Team Machine is able to protect her after all.
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  • Bulletproof Vest: Reese takes several bullets to the chest while wearing one. Ouch.
  • Butt-Monkey: Leon Tao does a cameo appearance when he's roped in to help Team Machine in an area that has nothing to do with his hacking skills. He ends up being assaulted by the ungrateful Damsel in Distress.
  • Chair Reveal: Special Counsel.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Shaw tells Reese what would be needed to revive someone injected with the poison used by ISA. Team Machine puts that to use in saving her life after Hersh injects her.
  • Chew Bubblegum: Despite his Oh, Crap! moment on realizing Shaw is still alive, Wilson engages in a gunfight with her while casually chewing gum.
  • Climactic Music / Awesome Music: "Future Starts Slow", by The Kills.
  • Cool Guns: Shaw uses a Heckler and Koch MP5SK during the op in Berlin to conduct a mop-up of the Islamist terrorist cell. She later uses the MP5K variant in New York, subjecting Reese to half the magazine.
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  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: This episode introduces blue boxes in the Machine's POV, which designate Indigo operatives who are directly following up on the Relevant list.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Shaw.
  • Continuity Nod: Shaw works for Intelligence Support Activity, sent to kill the last person who stumbled upon the Machine in "No Good Deed".
  • Contract on the Hitman: Shaw and Cole are marked for termination by the Special Counsel after Cole starts asking questions about Researchnote .
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: In the introduction, a drone camera POV shows Shaw killing Aquino this way.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For the relevant list and the counter-terrorist organisation "Northern Lights" which uses it to eliminate threats to national security.
  • Death Faked for You: Hersh leaves Shaw dying on the street, but Team Machine is on hand to revive her. Finch then points out to Shaw that she's now officially dead, so can hide more effectively.
  • Demoted to Extra: Every single member of Team Machine. Reese gets three scenes, Harold two, everyone else gets one. The POI is the primary focus character of the entire episode.
  • Destination Defenestration: Shaw rides a poor mook out of a second story window.
  • Distaff Counterpart / Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Like Reese, Shaw leaves government service after being betrayed and losing someone important to her.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Including sealing a door so Knockout Gas can't escape.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Shaw's partner Michael Cole doesn't declare his feelings for her until he's bleeding out on the floor from multiple bullet wounds.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For "Shoot". Root tasers Shaw, ties her up and expresses her admiration before cheerfully threatening to torture her. Shaw admits she gets a kick out of this. Looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
  • Facial Horror: What Shaw does to the mook wearing the gas mask.
  • Failed a Spot Check: People really should learn to search Shaw when she's unconscious.
  • Fiery Coverup: After removing the radioactive material the terrorists were using to make a dirty bomb, Shaw blows up their apartment to make it look like they accidentally killed themselves.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Shaw needs weapons, treatment for her injury and a place to hide out. So she abducts a drug dealer off the street and forces him to take her to his pad.
  • Genius Bonus: The gas that only the Russians (and Shaw) are crazy enough to use is likely fentanyl, a knockout gas which may have been used during the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis. In that instance, the gas (naturally) affected both hostages and the Chechen terrorists who had taken them prisoner, and killed more than 100 hostages.
  • Grenade Tag: Shaw tosses a stun grenade inside a gas mask. See Facial Horror.
  • Hero of Another Story: Shaw and Cole.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: It's even lampshaded with Cole's Famous Last Words.
  • Ironic Echo: Shaw notes that the numbers never stop coming.
  • Lack of Empathy: "I have what's called an Axis II personality disorder . . . That means that when I kill you and your friends, I’m not gonna really feel anything."
  • Licked by the Dog: Bear licks the face of a drugged Shaw, then wakes her up with a bark.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Cole, just before he dies.
    Shaw: We need to move. Now.
    Cole: [suffering from multiple gunshot wounds] Ah, that's gonna be tough.
  • Menacing Stroll: After Shaw plugs Wilson in the chest, she does a particularly awesome one with the Awesome Music "Future Starts Slow" kicking in.
  • Mook Horror Show: That poor government hit team. The drug dealers also get the same treatment when Shaw reveals her suppressed back up gun.
  • My Card: Shaw rejects Finch's number the first time, but reluctantly accepts it at the end. She still isn't willing to trust them however, confiscating their phones and making off in their transport.
  • Necessary Evil: The Special Counsel justifies his actions to Shaw this way. Shaw actually agrees with him.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Shaw spares the life of a cop and a drug dealer who helped her, even though they both saw her face.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Averted with Cole, who clearly has an unrequited attraction to his partner. Root admits to being quite a fan as well. Played straight with Leon Tao.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Shaw shoves a flashbang inside a Gasmask Mook's mask, then throws him through the window as a crash cushion, then empties a few shots into him as a Coup de Grâce.
  • Only Friend: Cole for Shaw. And killing him is a very bad idea.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "A good soldier does both."
  • Pull the Thread: What gets Cole killed.
  • Revealing Cover Up: Cole's death was entirely unnecessary, as Shaw points out. As a patriot he could have been persuaded to remain silent, while Shaw herself accepts the Necessary Evil of 'Research'.
  • Right Behind Me: Shaw turns the corner and finds Wilson calling his hit team, asking if she and Cole and dead yet. Busted!
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Ultimately subverted; Shaw doesn't want to Kill 'Em All. She hands over the evidence Cole found to the Special Counsel to show that his death was entirely unnecessary, then kills Wilson, the man who gave the kill order and messed up her own assassination. Special Counsel is impressed.
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: Root and the Special Counsel both want the POI for their own reasons.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Shaw after a flash-bang grenade goes off nearby.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely in a Little Black Dress.
  • Similar Squad: Shaw and Cole have a Reese and Finch dynamic, but they're working the Relevant List instead.
  • Something Completely Different: In case the title sequence crashing wasn't a clue, this isn't the typical Person of Interest episode. It focuses on the other side of this universe, where government agents deal with the Relevant numbers (as opposed to the Irrelevant numbers, which Reese and Finch handle).
  • So Much for Stealth: One drawback of using an attractive Action Girl is that it draws the wrong kind of attention. A German cop follows her and willingly intervenes when she's accosted by the two terrorists. Shaw is forced to kill them when they panic and draw their weapons. Later when Shaw notices Reese watching her, Cole convinces her It's Probably Nothing and that Reese was just checking her out.
  • Special Edition Title: "You are being watched. The government has a secret system,—" *Blue Screen of Death*
  • Spies in a Van: Cole works Mission Control from a white van.
  • Taking the Bullet: Cole for Shaw.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Wilson sends in three separate tactical teams to take out two operatives - one of whom is a technician. It isn't enough, partly due to Reese's intervention.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Shaw tells Root that she "kind of enjoys this sort of thing", while Root is threatening to burn her with a hot clothes iron. Root is quite glad to hear that, as she enjoys the torturing.
  • Torture Always Works: Averted, which is why the unusual accuracy of Research is so suspicious.
    Root: Did you honestly think the source of the numbers was Guantanamo? Some sad taxi driver rotting away in a cage somewhere? I mean, you should know torture almost never produces good information. (picks up hot iron) Well... almost never. Sadly, we are on a bit of a clock.
  • Tranquil Fury: Shaw, after Cole is shot. Prior to that she's just grumpy.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Shaw, due to being Properly Paranoid. She shoots Reese on sight, assaults Leon Tao who's trying to revive her, and leaves our heroes stranded in the cemetery at the end of the episode.
  • Vehicle Vanish: Inverted with Shaw's first appearance.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out: Shaw digs a hollowpoint out of herself, to the fascination of the drug dealers watching. Earlier she digs out the bullets she put into a terrorist, as I Was Never Here.
  • We Will Meet Again: Root to Shaw, when her torture session is interrupted by the arrival of an ISA hit team.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Veronica Sinclair, last seen Bound and Gagged in the bathroom by Root? We see no indication the ISA squad killed her, so presumably Reese set her free.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Shaw initially thinks she's in an espionage drama like "24" instead of a science fiction show believing that the numbers originate from interrogations at Guantanamo. Root finds this extremely amusing and has a laugh at her expense.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: Unfortunately Cole does want to know, and it turns into He Knows Too Much.
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: Shaw being loaded onto an ambulance. By Leon Tao.

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