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Recap / Person Of Interest S 05 E 08

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Season 5, Episode 8

Reassortment

Dr. Mason: Lab work indicates that we injected [Ko] with live human flu virus.
Nurse Carroll: What? How could that happen?
Dr. Mason: I don't know, but we just combined two flu viruses and turned a deadly one into a very contagious one.

Finch and Reese get caught in a hospital ER when an extremely aggressive strain of flu virus forces a quarantine. Elsewhere, Shaw makes another escape attempt, Elias helps Fusco with his investigation, and Jeff is having doubts about his new job after Samaritan orders him to kill two people.

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  • All Just a Dream: Averted; when Shaw is told the prison is in South Africa, we see a Samaritan POV confirming this. Lambert tries to convince Shaw that it's another simulation, but with her morale boosted by Root's recent message, it doesn't work.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The superflu combines the lethality of Ko's Avian Flu with the extreme contagiousness of Human Flu, resulting in a strain that spreads easily while racking up deaths quickly.
  • An Axe to Grind: Lambert's men rush to get the fire axe to break down the door, only to find that Shaw has stolen it in advance.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Jeff is told that if he does not follow Samaritan's orders, he will be framed for a robbery and sent back to prison.
  • Artistic License – Biology: There is no known flu strain whose symptoms include Blood from the Mouth, and none that can result in death within 24 hours of infection (both of which are lampshaded by Dr. Mason). However, the concept of a "superflu" is actually possible due to the reassortment process influenza strains are capable of undergoing.
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  • Beware the Nice/Quiet Ones: Elias' assessment of Finch, which doubles as Foreshadowing of what happens to them both two episodes later:
    Elias: Underneath all that intellect, you’re the darkest of all of us. It’s always the quiet ones we need to be afraid of. I just hope I’m not around the day that pot finally boils over.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • This week's Number has a sinister-sounding conversation on his phone that belies his actions, making him look like he's involved in some kind of criminal activity. Instead he dies quite soon and turns out to be an Unwitting Pawn for a much bigger conspiracy.
    • Seemingly convinced it's All Just a Dream, Shaw lets her axe fall to the ground...then shoots Lambert with the pistol she acquired earlier.
    • Jeff looks like he's being set up by Samaritan to be killed. However he was immune to the virus the whole time.
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  • Big, Friendly Dog: Bear is used to calm children in the waiting room. However as always it becomes an Angry Guard Dog on command.
  • Call-Back:
    • After Shaw's escape, Lambert notices the IV line she was shown sabotaging in the previous episode.
    • Jeff discusses his past with his supervisor, including how he used to paint houses for minimum wage and the events of "ShotSeeker".
    • When told the prison is in Johannesburg, Shaw asks if it's on an island, a reference to her simulated escape in "6,741".
    • When Lambert is trying to confuse Shaw over her memories, flashbacks are shown from "Relevance", "6,741" and "QSO".
    • The company that delivered the virus is APS from "Truth Be Told".
    • Elias reminds Finch of the time he gave him a book.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind:
    • Reese expertly takes down two gangbangers, but the third produces a gun and is standing too far away...until Paulie hits him with his baton. Reese treats Paulie with a lot more regard after this.
    • Fusco makes an appearance to stop Jeff killing the doctor.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Paulie the security guard doesn't seem too formidable at first, but he turns out to be competent and helpful.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The POI, James Ko, is so minor that his actor is named only in the post-episode credits. The true guest star this episode is Dr. Mason.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Shaw pinches the uniform of the guard she knocks out for the final part of her escape. When she drives away, she tosses his kevlar helmet out the window in exhalation.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Shaw pretty much pulls this trope on Lambert, shooting him out of the blue in the midst of the conversation they were having.
  • Exploited Immunity: Jeff has a natural immunity to avian flu.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: Reese pretends that Jeff is an escaped mental patient.
  • Great Escape: Shaw, finally.
  • Heel Realization: Jeff is starting to be very uncomfortable with his new employer.
  • He Knows Too Much: Subverted; when Jeff mentions that the 'crazy lady' told him about Samaritan, it looks like Jeff will be killed. Instead he's promoted and let into more of Samaritan's plans.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: No points for guessing who's behind the viral outbreak.
  • Instant Illness: Deconstructed. The speed of the flu killing Ko nets an Oh, Crap! from the doctors. They realize that the onset rate was way too high and immediately take the situation very seriously. It's clear they already suspect it could be a super flu.
  • I Choose to Stay: The African inmate chooses not to escape because he has friends in prison that he needs to protect.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Followed by Blood from the Mouth.
  • Institutional Apparel: Those orange overalls with black circles are indeed what inmates wear in South African prisons.
  • Irony: The hospital administrator working for Samaritan is helping it because he believes automation is better for the health care system than error-prone humans. Funny, given that an automated intelligence is responsible for introducing and manipulating errors within that system and the humans are the ones working to correct them.
  • I Will Wait for You: Averted; Jeff tries to show his childhood sweetheart that he's putting his life back on track, but she's not buying it, knowing the odds are against any ex-con avoiding prison.
  • Lock Down: As obligatory for the escaped virus genre. It's less effective than it ought to be though — Jeff has no problem getting in (and out) but fortunately Fusco is able to Bavarian Fire Drill his way in as well.
  • Magical Defibrillator: The surgical staff attempt to use one on Ko when he drops, but it doesn't work. Considering he has no pulse, the defibrillator wasn't going to do anything.
  • Manipulative Bastard: It's to be expected of Samaritan, but this episode takes it to new levels. It creates a superflu just to get DNA samples from everyone in America.
  • Mind Screw: Lambert attempts to take advantage of Shaw's disorientation.
  • New Era Speech: When the hospital administrator starts ranting about the benefits of automation over inefficient humans, Finch realises he's a Samaritan agent.
  • No-Sell: Lambert's attempt to convince Shaw that she's in another simulation rather than really escaping fails rather spectacularly when Shaw shoots him and follows up with a Bond One-Liner: "I just really had to get that out of my system."
    • Followed immediately by a verbal Kick Them While They Are Down delivered to the mortally-wounded Lambert: "Oh, quit with all the drama. Any second now, Greer will reboot, and you will be just fine."
  • Not So Stoic: Harold was noticeably pissed with Elias when he gave Fusco information about Samaritan's activities, putting him in danger.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Lambert was very surprised when Shaw shot him.
    • Finch when the administrator tramples the antivirals underfoot.
  • One Last Job: Subverted; it looks like Jeff is being set up to be killed by the virus, but Samaritan selected him for his natural immunity, and creates a new identity for Jeff as promised.
  • People Zoo: The African inmate who's been put into a cell with two white South Africans says the prison is like some twisted social experiment.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Ko is used to incubate a superflu.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: Shaw tells a prison nurse, "It's not like I'm gonna spill a glass of water on the nightstand, stomp on your foot, throw an elbow to your chin, and stick you with that sedative." She takes down the nurse, then realises the glass of water is undisturbed so knocks it to the floor as well.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
  • Shout-Out:
    • The hospital administrator does a twisted version of the Cobra tagline by saying that inefficient humans are the disease and automation is the cure.
    • The novel Elias is reading is Twelve O'Clock High.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Finch thinks that starting a viral outbreak just to kill a couple of doctors in excessive even for Samaritan. He's right, as that was never its real goal.
    • Just in case the doctors aren't killed by the infection, Samaritan sends in Jeff to inject them with contaminated blood.
  • There Was a Door: Shaw escapes her room just by hacking through the walls with a fire axe.
  • This is No Time to Panic: Fortunately Reese is there to keep a lid of things.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Reese chooses to help the doctor who has been injected rather than pursue Jeff.
  • Villain Respect: Exasperated as he is by Shaw's constant escape attempts, Lambert can't help smiling at the ingenuity of this one.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Shaw's method of getting out of her cell is the same one used in The Shawshank Redemption. It also doubles as a Stealth Pun: Shaw shanked it out of the prison.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Killing the two doctors was just a fringe benefit, so Jeff's handler isn't bothered by the failure of his mission. The real mission was to gather DNA information on all US citizens to add to Samaritan's database.
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