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Recap / Person Of Interest S 05 E 04

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Season 5, Episode 4


Do you remember the first time you realized there was something greater than yourself? Some people never experience this state of grace. Not everyone is meant to, but you merely have to ask, and we can show you the face of a god, or we can wipe your slate clean. Which one will it be, Sameen? The choice is yours.

Shaw escapes her captors, who have been experimenting on her ever since her capture, attempting to convert her into an asset. She reunites with Team Machine, but seems a bit too eager to strike back at Samaritan. Her paranoia and reckless behavior lead the team, and Shaw herself, to question whether or not she can be trusted, or if months of psychological torture at Samaritan's hands have already left their mark...


  • Abandoned Playground
  • Absentee Actor: Fusco (Kevin Chapman) doesn't appear, because Samaritan still has no idea he's working with Team Machine. That also means Shaw was able to keep herself from thinking about him during 6,741 simulations.
  • All Just A Simulation / Lotus-Eater Machine: Samaritan has been letting her "escape" over and over, in the hopes that she'll either lead them to the Machine's location, or go full Manchurian Agent and kill her friends.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Shaw openly threatens to kill a hapless corner store employee, knowing that it'll get Team Machine's attention as well as Samaritan's.
      Shaw: Looks like your number's up.
    • Greer knew that Shaw would hunt him down, under the assumption that he would have a way to shut down Samaritan. He implanted a USB drive under his skin, which supposedly contained Samaritan's kill-switch but was actually a trap. Team Machine takes the bait.
  • Batter Up!: Shaw finds the sporting goods section handy.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Reese taking care of the Samaritan agents in the church. Justified when we find that it's all taking place in Shaw's head anyway.
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  • Bilingual Bonus: Shaw converses with a cab driver in Farsi.
  • Bloody Handprint: Preceded by bloody hands.
  • Bloody Horror: invoked The episode is full of Nausea Fuel. Implants being put in and cut out, self-induced brain surgery, operation on a subway car, you name it.
  • Bound and Gagged: Lambert and the store worker.
  • The Bus Came Back: Shaw's back!
  • Book-Ends
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Shaw.
  • Break the Badass: What the Samaritan team has been trying to do to Shaw.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Shaw uses first the nurse against Lambert's fire, then Lambert himself.
  • Call-Back:
  • *Click* Hello: Reese and Root encountering Finch in the church.
  • Coitus Ensues: Shaw turns down Sex for Solace with Root. An add break later and they're having Destructo-Nookie on a table.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Of a psychological variety, rather than physical. Greer doesn't even blink when he orders that the doctors reset the simulation.
  • Convenient Escape Boat: There's a high-speed boat moored off-shore where Shaw escapes. Justified as it's a fake escape.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: Shaw holds onto a shard of mirror, and uses it to cut her straps.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Root mentions that she's wanted to tear Samaritan apart and "turn it into an Atari", but decides that's too nice. "Maybe a Casio."
  • Darker and Edgier: One of, if not the darkest and most paranoia-inducing episode of the series.
  • Decapitated Army: Shaw urges Team Machine to kill Greer for this reason. However when Greer is snatched, he points out that his life is irrelevant to Samaritan. But Shaw is actually targeting Samaritan itself, so the trope still applies.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Root holding a dead Shaw.
  • Downer Ending: Within the simulation, Reese and Shaw are dead, and Samaritan's operatives are closing in on the Machine's location. Outside of the simulation, Shaw is still captive and Team Machine still has no clue as to her whereabouts.
  • Driven to Suicide: Shaw cannot bring herself to kill Root, turning the gun on herself to escape Samaritan's control. It's implied that every iteration of the simulation has ended this way.
  • Evil Gloating: Greer when he reveals his Batman Gambit to Shaw.
  • Exact Words: Shaw promises to Lambert that the first thing she'll do after getting out of her straps is to make him bleed. She later does exactly that by shooting him in the elevator.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Shaw sports those.
  • Eye Awaken
  • Fanservice: Root and Shaw? They Do.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Subverted. Shaw fights herself enough to drive herself into suicide rather than killing Root. Except that it was just a simulation, and Shaw remains helplessly captured in reality with perpetual Mind Rape committed on her.
  • Finale Title Drop: At the end of the episode. It was simulation #6,741 all along.
  • Foreshadowing: The episode focuses entirely on Shaw. Key plot points, such as Finch plugging in the USB drive and seemingly about to be assaulted by Samaritan operatives is left off-screen. The subway HQ is never featured, and Reese also leaves to fight Samaritan operatives on the surface, a battle we never get to see. It's because it's all a simulation on Shaw conducted by Samaritan. Also, since the episode began, there were tons of tips about it being a simulation and not reality.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    Root: Well that didn't suck.
    Shaw: Oh, there was plenty of sucking.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Root cuts away the chip from Shaw.
  • Happy Place: Shaw mentions that her ISA training instructed agents under torture to "take their mind somewhere else. Some place safe."
    Root: Where did you go?
    Shaw: Nowhere. The training was bull. There was no safe place. No escape.
    • However, at the end of the episode, she confesses to Root that there was a place she went to:
      Shaw: With you. You were my safe place.
  • Heroic Suicide: Shaw kills herself to stop Samaritan from using her as a pawn (more specifically because she can't bring herself to kill Root, even after shooting John). Fortunately, it's all a simulation, so she's still alive. Unfortunately, that means she's still in Samaritan's custody, and they can just try again.
  • Hope Spot: Shaw is reunited with Team Machine who get the brainwashing chip out of Shaw's head...only she's still feeling the effect as the chip is just a placebo.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Shaw gets up Team Machine for not trusting her, which she found out because she planted a bug on them.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Root to Shaw after she goes all Manchurian Agent. Shaw wins the fight, but only by killing herself.
  • In the Back: Shaw shoots Reese when he turns his back on her.
  • Ironic Echo: "Dead or alive?" First Lambert to Shaw, asking about figures from her past. Later Shaw to Lambert, about whether he'd survive being force-fed BZD.
    Shaw: Alive! Well what do you know. Now that's what I call being a team player.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Everything that happens to Greer. He's captured, cut and finally shot. Too bad it never really happened.
    Doctor: Good news, she waited an extra hour before she shot you.
    Greer: How uplifting.
    • Also happens to Lambert. Shaw shoots him, forces him to swallow a narcotic, utilizes him as cover when the guards try to stop her and then leaves him to die trapped in a wheelchair. Complete with painful verbal irony.
  • Manchurian Agent: Greer reveals that they broke her months ago, and that his Batman Gambit was actually her idea. She overcomes her programming long enough to kill Greer and herself, but still kills Reese in between.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Though averted with Toplessness from the Back at one stage.
  • Mind Probe: Samaritan knows Shaw is Too Kinky to Torture, so it instead has these plugged on Shaw and runs simulations in an attempt to pry out the location of the Machine from her.
  • Mind Rape: Happens perpetually to Shaw.
  • Missing Time: Shaw keeps having blackouts, waking up with bloody hands or holding explosives and a pistol.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lambert's face is priceless when Shaw shows him the BZD she's about to make him drink.
  • One-Woman Army: Shaw's escape from the Samaritan-run facility.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: Lambert mentions that Shaw has killed six men during her incarceration.
  • Playing Possum: Shaw urges Reese to stay down after he's shot, as Samaritan agents are watching them from the end of the alley.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: Shaw initially turns down Root's Intimate Psychotherapy, but quickly decides that as they're unlikely to get out of this situation, they might as well resolve their Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Professional Assassins Do It On Desks
  • Properly Paranoid
    • Shaw has the cab going in circles for hours until she's sure she's not being tailed.
    • Finch is reluctant to bring Shaw near the Machine until they've confirmed she's not turned or being tracked.
    • Shaw thinks that Greer would have a means of turning Samaritan off, which he'd never trust to someone else.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away
    Root: Whoever's back there, kick over your weapon, and I'll let you keep full mobility.
  • Red Herring: The audience is led to believe that Shaw would turn into asset 6,741, with Samaritan's asset numbers going in the thousands now, and with Shaw being labeled a potential asset. That or that 6741 would mean 6,741 hours of Shaw being kept under Samaritan's clutches.
  • Rescue Sex: Root offers to "repay the favor" of Shaw saving her at the stock exchange. Shaw isn't in the mood, but reconsiders and they have a Pre-Climax Climax instead.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The Reveal casts much of the episode in a very different light.
  • Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics: It's all happening inside Shaw's head, so why not kill off three major characters?
  • Seeking Sanctuary: Finch notes the irony that the one place to hide from a Machine God is in a church.
  • Self-Surgery: When Shaw tries to cut out her chip, she experiences Missing Time and wakes up with bloody hands, the chip apparently still in place.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Root finally gets to "return the favor" for The Big Damn Kiss from Shaw. The scene quickly pans to their trail of destruction.
  • Scar Survey: When Root starts with this trope, Shaw has to inform her the scars are from her previous work as a government assassin, whereas Samaritan's torture was more psychological.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Shaw
  • Title by Number: Referring to the number of the simulation that's depicted.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Shaw realizing Team Machine are going to do field surgery with a buck knife on a moving subway car. And she's the only qualified doctor on the team!
  • Torture Chamber Episode
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Greer hiding the USB drive in his arm.
  • Tricked Into Escaping: Played with, but ultimately averted as Shaw never escaped in the first place.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: A virtual version, allowing Greer to simply reset and try again when it fails.
  • Tracking Chip: Team Machine naturally suspect this.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Shaw knocks aside Greer's gun, which discharges and wounds Root.
  • Walk-In Chime-In: Reese and Root are arguing over whether Shaw can be trusted, when the latter joins their conversation, having been bugging them.
  • Wham Episode
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Shaw accuses Finch of not looking hard enough for her. Finch admits he didn't do so because he assumed Shaw was dead.
  • Whole Plot Reference: to The Prisoner (1967) episode "The Chimes of Big Ben."
  • White Shirt of Death: Reese when Shaw shoots him.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Shaw's heartwarming reunion with Root (and Bear) wasn't real, and she won't remember it in the next iteration.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Shaw realizes she's imprisoned on an island.
  • You Must Be Cold: Shaw is cold, so Root gives Shaw her leather jacket. She offers Intimate Psychotherapy as well.
  • You're Insane!: Greer's expression is this when Shaw is about to cut his arm open. Though he knew it was going to happen...

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