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Recap / Person Of Interest S 03 E 17

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Season 3, Episode 17:


Root: Maybe you should be more worried about what happens when Samaritan comes online rather than what happens to some janitor.
Harold: How much do you know about this janitor, Ms. Groves?
Root: Well, he's got some interesting ideas about metaphysical determinism, and...I think he's a Doris Day fan?

Root returns to New York, under instructions to meet up with Cyrus Wells, an investment banker turned janitor. Shortly after making contact with him, Root is approached by Finch, who tells her that Cyrus' number came up exactly at the moment she first talked with him. Whatever she's there to do with him, it's going to put his life in great danger.


Tropes present in this episode include

  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Vigilance seal the building Shaw is in, and Collier offers Shaw a chance to come over to their side.
    Shaw: And if I refuse?
    Collier: In the words of Benjamin Franklin: Join or die.
  • Arc Words:
  • The Atoner: Root had murdered Cyrus' friends back when he was an investment banker and she was a professional criminal.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Reese is standing on a street looking up at a surveillance camera. A red light next to the lens blinks, then a nearby payphone rings...but it's Root calling, not The Machine.
  • Batman Cold Open: The episode begins with Root breaking a car thief who resembles a German scientist out of a prison transport so that he can intercept a package meant for the scientist on his behalf. Then she gives him some advice on how to make his sentence bearable and walks off to let the police recapture him.
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  • Bittersweet Ending/You Can't Thwart Stage One: Team Machine and the PoI all survive the encounter, but Decima gets away with the microchip they need to make Samaritan functional, and Finch, Reese, Root, and Shaw are all at the top of their hit list.
  • The Book Cipher: And the choice of book tells Finch that Vigilance is involved.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Subverted. Decima keeps Cyrus in one piece to open the lock.
  • Break the Haughty: Root, when she loses access to The Machine due to Decima's jamming. Her finding out what she had done to Cyrus, and Decima winning again, further drive the point home.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "It's all part of the plan." Doubles as a sort of arc phrase for the episode.
    • Root: I wasn't talking to you
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Decima has a device that can jam Root's connection to the Machine. At least until she gets a receiver installed in her ear to replace her missing stapes.
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  • Chekhov's Frying Pan: Root, among other things, is directed to heat up a frying pan in Cyrus's apartment. When Vigilance later is about to assault Root and Cyrus in the apartment, Root is about to take them out with her gun. Cyrus strongly objects to this, saying guns make him very nervous and The Machine points Root to that frying pan in response. Root cheers up and, unlike what one might expect, makes tear gas with it. It then crosses into Chekhov's Boomerang territory when Reese shows up in the apartment and uses the same frying pan in a more blunt fashion to finish up the Vigilance Mooks.
  • Continuity Nod: Root tells the Japanese kid who's been following her to meet Casey at the Perth safehouse.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Root. We get a little more insight into what exactly she's doing at the Machine's behest: trying to prevent Samaritan from going online.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Root strolls through the lobby of a building, calmly putting down Decima agents without any more expression than a slight smile as they unsuccessfully try to jam her link to the Machine.
  • Divine Conflict: What Root says is coming if Samaritan goes online; its first priority will be to take out The Machine.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Cyrus, so Root hands her pistols to Fusco and goes Strolling Through the Chaos unarmed to save him.
  • Enemy Mine
    • Finch reluctantly concedes that he needs to work with Root to stop Samaritan.
    • Rejected when Collier offers Shaw a chance for revenge against the government that betrayed them both.
  • Facial Recognition Software: The Machine is shown scanning the faces of the convicts for a suitable Doppelgänger.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Root pushes Billy against a nearby car (though doesn't actually kiss him) as a police car goes past.
  • Fiery Cover Up: Decima torches their Mission Control once they've stolen the chip.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Root is given one of these at the ending. She chooses to save Cyrus instead of the chip.
  • Get into Jail Free: Root hands some eggs to Cyrus, then throws one at a passing patrol car, so he will get arrested and (temporarily) away from Decima and Vigilance.
  • Guns Akimbo: Root and later Fusco.
  • Handshake Substitute: Root shares a fist bump with the Japanese hacker.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: The cons Wolf Whistle appropriately when Root steps on the bus.
  • Heal It with Booze: Finch winces more than Shaw does when he sees her pour alcohol over her shoulder injury.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Root, who finally does something unambiguously good.
  • Honor Before Reason: Team Machine again; they miss another chance to stop Samaritan because they're saving Cyrus.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Root uses the line, naturally enough when referring to her Machine God. When she does work out what the Machine is up to, it doesn't make things any easier for her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Given that she's on a Mission from God, Root treats Cyrus' belief that everything is part of a plan with amusement, until Cyrus mentions the murder of his friends, a contract killing Root did back in her criminal days.
    Cyrus: What happened that day was part of a plan.
    Root: No. No, what... whatever this was, believe me, it was not part of some grand cosmic plan!
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Finch in the park, which of course doesn't hide him from Root.
  • No-Sell: After Decima agents jam Root's open channel to the Machine, she gets herself upgraded with a customized cochlear implant that can communicate with the Machine through cellular signals, WiFi, Bluetooth, and infrasound. Their second attempt at neutralizing the link doesn't go so well.
  • Not So Different:
    • Collier gives one to Shaw in an attempt to recruit her. Shaw refuses.
    • Reese tells Root he also knows the power you get from having direct access to the Machine.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Most of Shaw's fight against Vigilance is missed because the focus of the episode is on Root and Decima.
  • One Punctuation Mark Title: "/", though it's supposed to be read as "Root Path"; see Title Confusion below.
  • Prison Rape: Billy gets threatened with this by the large tattooed crook on the prison bus (who later gets tasered by Root). Just before he's recaptured, Root leaves him a tip for befriending a large cellmate who'll protect him from this fate.
  • Public Secret Message: Root emails Finch spam for a 'performance enhancing' drug. Shaw and Reese quip that it means that Root likes him, but Finch discovers a message encoded in the picture.
  • Reality Ensues: When Root's connection to Machine is cut, she is quickly overwhelmed by Decima's agents. After all, she doesn't have any special training like they do.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shaw counters Collier's recruitment offer by stating that how one goes about doing things is just as important as what you do and why. Collier's methods make him just another terrorist, and she kills terrorists.
  • Redemption Rejection/Anti-Heroism Cannot Comprehend Good:
    Root: And the punchline, is that your Machine keeps telling me to save Cyrus. How badly did you have to break it to make it care about people so much?
    Finch: That didn't break it, that's what made it work. It's only after I taught the Machine that people mattered that it could begin to be able to help them. I'd like to do the same thing for you, if you'd let me...
    Root: In the first thirty minutes after Samaritan comes online, a lot of people are gonna be killed. But they're gonna start with four: you, me, your helper monkey and Shaw. And there won't be a damn thing anyone, including your Machine can do to stop it. You think I don't care about people, Harold? I'm doing all of this to save you.
  • Sadistic Choice: Root is forced to choose between saving Cyrus or protecting the chip that Decima is trying to steal to help bring Samaritan fully online. She chooses Cyrus.
  • Shout-Out: Fusco refers to Root as "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Cocoa Puffs".
  • Shown Their Work: The message Root intercepts in the Batman Cold Open is a set of specifications for a processor chip, written in a shorthand used by computer engineers.
  • Ship Tease: More Les Yay between Root and Shaw.
    Shaw: [examining her injury] Keep 'em dry. Change the dressings every 72 hours.
    Root: I love it when you play doctor.
  • Simple Staff
  • Special Edition Title: Root and Harold alternate narrating duties, until it cuts out. Again.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Root tosses an energy bar down to Shaw, who's been staking out the house in the cold all night.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Fusco says he's not handing over Cyrus to anyone without a warrant. Root produces both a genuine warrant and an FBI badge.
    • Root tells Cyrus that "things are about to get interesting" (because a hit squad is about to kick down the door) when she catches sight of a picture that tells her exactly who Cyrus is.
    • Root tells Cyrus she can protect him no matter where he is. Shortly after Decima takes Cyrus off her.
  • This Is the Part Where...: Root notes that Cyrus isn't asking her the usual bewildered questions.
  • Title Confusion: IMDB called it "Root Path," which is accurate in that "/" represents the root location in a Unix or Linux operating system, or more literally, just the root.
  • Unflinching Faith in the Brakes: Root stops the prison bus by lying on the road in front of it.
  • Unflinching Walk: An upgraded Root in god mode strides through the lobby of the building, shooting Decima agents without breaking stride, without looking at them, and even through walls.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: The first time Decima take on Root, they successfully jam her contact with The Machine, leaving her powerless. Later she has The Machine's access put directly into her head, making Decima unable to do it again.
  • We Can Rule Together: Averted with Samaritan, who intends to wipe out Team Machine the moment it comes on line.
  • Wham Episode: Decima wins again and is one step closer to bringing Samaritan online and Root has to undergo serious Character Development.
  • Wham Line: Probability of Admin death: 68%
  • Working the Same Case: It turns out that Cyrus Wells, one of the assistants Root has recruited for her task, is also one of the Numbers Finch has received from the Machine.
  • Working Title: The episode title was originally announced as "Entanglement."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A non-lethal version when Root lets the crook she freed get recaptured. Played straight with Cyrus once he's used his eye to get Decima into the secure floor.
  • You Will Know What to Do: A variation in the Batman Cold Open where Root doesn't give anything to the criminal she helped spring, but simply sends him into the lobby of a building with no further instructions. He is then promptly asked to sign for a package that The Machine needs him to intercept. Once that's done and the package is in his hands, Root quickly ushers him out before the original intended recipient comes along.

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