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Recap / Person Of Interest S 04 E 01

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Season 4, Episode 1

Panopticon

"The thing we're up against, it has virtually unlimited resources—governments working unwittingly at its behest, operatives around the globe protecting it. You know how many we have? Five. Six if you count the dog."
- Root

"We don't need jobs, Finch. We need a purpose."
- Reese

After several weeks living under the new identities The Machine crafted for them, Reese and Shaw are anxious to get back to the business of saving Numbers. Finch, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the whole project. He's reluctantly pulled back into the team when The Machine gives Reese a new number, an electronics dealer who's "good with computers" and has gotten mixed up with a drug gang. They must help him without revealing themselves to Samaritan.

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  • Animal Motifs/Theme Naming: The Machine gave Harold another bird's name for his alias: "Harold Whistler"
  • Arc Words for season 4: "The world has changed."
  • The Bus Came Back: Elias and Scarface!
  • Call-Back:
  • The Call Left a Message: Misspellings in Finch's dissertation were added by the Machine. They actually form a library book reference, which points Finch to the team's new base of operations.
  • Car Fu: Scarface does this to the Brotherhood.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or rather, Chekhov's Technology. The POI this episode was coerced by a gang to create an untraceable cell phone network, using old-style analog TV aerials. Why yes, our group of heroes hunted by a nigh-omniscient surveillance system could use an untraceable cell phone network...
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The unseen Dominic.
  • The Chessmaster: The Machine is not sitting idle hoping Samaritan won't find Team Machine, but gives them the means to start saving people off-the-grid. Lampshaded with the appropriate Chess Motifs when Reese and Finch play chess in the park.
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  • Cool Guns: Shaw breaks out a rare take-down Nemesis Arms Vanquish sniper rifle during the climax to provide covering fire.
  • Continuity Nod: Ali says he handed the information on the phones to the police but they did nothing. Elias mentions that HR used to handle the import and distribution of the "whale" before it was destroyed, so that's not surprising.
  • Corrupt Politician: Samaritan's analysis of Garrison. It detects multiple cases of bribery, misconduct and alcohol abuse.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The journalist admits that his ramblings about an Artificial Intelligence that's secretly taken over the world and got him fired from his job sound like Conspiracy Theories. The woman providing a sympathetic ear tells him he's right, then kills him.
  • Deadly Euphemism: After the journalist is killed at the beginning of the episode, Greer gets this message on his phone:
    Samaritan: Situation Budapest contained
  • Death Glare: Shaw doesn't quite get the smiling and friendly part of being a sales assistant.
  • Evil Counterpart: Greer to Finch, and it's really emphasized here. Samaritan designates Greer as its "Admin", akin to Finch as the Machine's.
    • And the Mysterious Woman who assassinates the journalist has knowledge of Samaritan (as opposed to being an Unwitting Pawn) making her a counterpart to Reese and Shaw.
  • Fictional Document: Harold Whistler's dissertation: "Ethical Considerations of High Frequency Econometrics"
    • Genius Bonus: "High Frequency Econometrics" refers to the use of data-mining computer programs to trade securities or commodities faster than human investors can react to shifts in market prices.
    • It also seems as if The Machine is trying to tell Harold something.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: See Mythology Gag.
  • Fish out of Water: Shaw working in the department store. Reese seems to fit right in though, despite his complaints of this trope to Shaw.
  • Gangsta Style: With Call-Back.
  • He Knows Too Much: Samaritan is shutting down all research into Artificial Intelligence... and having anyone who realizes this murdered.
  • He's Back: The Machine decides it's time for our characters to begin getting numbers again.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: Finch doesn't even want to say the word Samaritan, for fear the word will be picked up by some microphone.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Greer assumes that Team Machine is hiding "under a rock" somewhere a long way from any cameras or phones. Turns out they're in the middle of New York.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Root turns up at the mall where Shaw sells perfume and lipstick, and flirts accordingly.
  • Iconic Outfit: Reese's new identity, Detective John Riley, wears casual clothing. At the end of the episode, he's transferred from Narcotics to Homicide and dons the suit once again.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Subverted; in a Bait-and-Switch, Reese appears to have been arrested doing his Vigilante Man act on some drug dealers. Turns out he's an actual detective in Narcotics making a bust. Played straight with the female assassin who turns up with a Homeland Security badge which she casually drops into a rubbish bin the moment she's got the information she needs.
  • I Have Your Wife: In this case, I Have Your Son.
  • In-Series Nickname: Root refers to Reese and Shaw as "The Mayhem Twins". It was adopted by the fandom as their designated BROTP name.
  • Jaw Drop: Finch when he realizes that the Machine is not only still talking to him, but found for him a subway station for a new base.
  • Jumped at the Call: Reese (who's feeling frustrated at not stopping people from dying) and Shaw (who just wants a chance for some Percussive Therapy). Finch, however, has Refused the Call, and is only brought out by The Power of Friendship.
  • Little Black Dress: Shaw as a sales assistant, much to Root's approval.
  • Meaningful Background Event/Foreshadowing: Shaw and Reese are sitting in the motivational seminar. Shaw grouses, "Why are we here?" The lecturer then says, "Because we're all here for a reason, right?" Reese and Shaw leave the room, and then The Machine calls them on the pay phone in the hall with a new Number.
  • Meaningful Echo: Reese and Finch, in the park, discuss what's going on, and Reese throws back Finch's words at him: what they do isn't a job, it's a purpose.
  • Meaningful Name: The Panopticon was a prison designed so a single guard could observe all the inmates.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The female assassin just misses catching sight of Reese as he's climbing into his car.
  • Moment of Silence: Reese and Fusco both seem to have one when Reese realizes after being promoted to Homicide he now has Carter's desk.
  • Montage Out: Shaw meeting Romeo and Finch finding the subway station have Jetta's cover of "I'd Love to Change the World" over the scenes.
  • Mysterious Woman: The beautiful female assassin is shown to have multiple alias.
  • Mythology Gag/So Much for Stealth: Reese does a Dynamic Entry with a Grenade Launcher, followed by a Bar Brawl with Destination Defenestration and Perp Sweating, only to be knocked unconscious and dragged out of there by Shaw, as he's doing all his signature moves, which will only draw Samaritan onto them.
  • Never Heard That One Before: The woman in the bar waits for the journalist to start chatting her up. When he asks if she's religious, her response is bemusement. "Seriously? That's the line you're going with?"
  • Oh, Crap!: A Brotherhood member just before his car is rammed by Scarface in a dump truck.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Reese's Grenade Launcher is actually an Airsoft weapon.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Constant throughout the episode. Greer and Garrison have one near the beginning. Ali and Link meet in Times Square where tracking any individual cell phone signal is likely impossible. Reese and Finch have a few; one over a chess game, and another on a park bench.
  • Perspective Flip: Like "Beta", the episode is being presented from Samaritan's point of view.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Both Finch and Shaw have to put up with these, though in Shaw's case it's justified, as she isn't exactly enthusiastic about the work.
  • Poisonous Friend: Reese recruits Elias as one, as he can no longer do his Vigilante Man stuff.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "You should know you're not the only one who figured it out. You're one of three. The other two will die in a traffic accident in Seattle in 14 minutes."
  • Properly Paranoid: Finch and Shaw's worry that Reese's antics will draw Samaritan onto them is correct, when the female assassin turns up to investigate at the end of the episode.
  • Public Secret Message: Harold Whistler's dissertation has a lot of spelling errors in it... which when combined spell out a reference to a library book about a location that Samaritan can't see, giving Harold a place to build a new base.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: See page quote by Root.
  • Ransacked Room: Or ransacked store, in this case.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Or work perfume counters.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: After seeing The Machine ask the team to kill someone Finch wants no part of being involved in its new activities, especially since his library was destroyed and his life's earnings had to be hidden. The Machine and the team are working on him.
  • Sextra Credit: Finch is working as a college professor and introducing himself to the students he's going to be teaching. A very attractive female student sits in the front row giving him sultry looks. When Finch explains that all grades will be final and warns students not to seek out any private conferences with him in hopes of getting any grade increases, however, this student immediately packs up her things and walks out in a huff.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: A woman in a bar in Budapest patiently listens to a journalist's Conspiracy Theory, then kills him the moment the bartender leaves the room.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The secure network that Ali is building for The Brotherhood is similar to improvised wireless networks constructed by the demonstrators in the "Arab Spring" protests in Egypt and Tunisia. Ali is from Egypt.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The Comic-Con preview for the episode showed Greer talking to Garrison saying that his operatives (no longer called Decima) will find Harold Finch and his associates as soon as they emerge from hiding. Turns out, that line of dialogue comes from later on in the same scene after Garrison has left. Greer was talking to Samaritan.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Reese struggles with the fact that he can't act like a vigilante to help out the numbers anymore, and after an initial botched attempt, has to find a way to save Ali's son from the drug dealers without blowing his cover as a cop. He goes to Elias and asks to hire him. Later, outside the dealers' house, Shaw loses track of Reese and is appalled to see a car pulling out of the drive get t-boned by a truck... until Scarface hops out of the cab. Reese then gleefully tells Shaw that he has just observed a suspicious incident, which gives him just cause to investigate the house that the car pulled out of.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: Finch tries to invoke this. Reese, Root, Shaw, and the Machine itself disagree.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Garrison is now talking of accountability instead of Plausible Deniability. Greer suggests to Samaritan that they remove the politician.
    Samaritan: Not yet
  • You Remind Me of X: Elias says that Dominic reminds him of himself in his younger days.

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