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Recap / Person Of Interest S 05 E 10

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Season 5, Episode 10

The Day the World Went Away

"I wanted to talk to you. No one else would really understand. Not much of a conversation, as you can't talk back. That's my fault, but I've been thinking, and I know you have too. About how all this plays out, about what happens next. I'm sure you've made a million different versions. I know some very bad things are coming. I know I'm probably going to die. I accepted that a long time ago. But I was wondering if, in any of those many versions: the people that I've roped into helping me, my friends, whether they get out alive. Is that a path that we're on? I suppose I may have made that impossible. Even if you could tell me, it's probably too late."
Harold Finch
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In the show's hundredth episode, Finch's cover is blown, and The Machine gives the team his number in response.

Yes, that is the appropriate reaction.


  • Action Girl: Root and Shaw.
  • Arc Words: "Can you hear me?". This particular one was very bittersweet and heartbreaking.
  • Almost Kiss: Shaw clearly leans in to kiss Root when they're holding hands but they're interrupted by the sound of a car full of agents that came to end them (or try to).
  • Badass Boast: The Machine, having been made free to act by Root, tells Finch that she can do anything he wants. She then proceeds to tear down a prison to get Finch out of it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: On a meta level. Elias is killed, fulfilling the "Tonight, Someone Dies" promise of the promos—so no one is expecting what happens to Root later in the episode.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun/Unstoppable Rage: At the end, Finch is implied to gone up in arms against Samaritan operatives.
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  • Battle Discretion Shot: We only see the aftermath of the battle at the safehouse.
  • Big Blackout: Right after Her Badass Boast, the Machine kills the power, unlocking every door in the prison. With hundreds of prisoners on the loose, everyone is too busy to raise the hue-and-cry over just one escaped prisoner.
  • Black Comedy: A student is trying to bully the mild-looking 'Professor Whistler' into giving her a better grade. She changes her tune once Reese takes out a pistol and starts to screw on a silencer.
  • Blind Obedience: Jeff has been conditioned to this by Samaritan.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Finch's first and last scenes in the episode are conversations with The Machine. In the former, he points out that it's one sided, since she can't talk back. In the latter, Finch is determined to destroy Samaritan whatever it takes, and the Machine has chosen a voice.
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    • Elias meets his end in the same place where he spent a lot of time trying to survive in his first appearance.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Elias.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • Finch borrows Root's "I wasn't talking to you" in his conversation with the FBI agent, showing just how similar the two are in their disregard for the conventional rules of society - and while Root's character arc has been about building up her own moral code until the point where she sacrificed herself for someone else, Finch now tears his own code down, possibly becoming as fanatical as pre-Heel–Face Turn Root. And while her rendition of the line has always been bemused, Finch almost spits the "you" in contempt. And while Root always was doing business with The Machine, Finch instead is threatening Samaritan.
    • Subverted when Root seems to borrow The Machine's "Can you hear me?" It's actually The Machine speaking using Root's voice.
  • Brain Uploading: Root's remarks on immortality in The Machine's memory seems to imply that this is possible, in a sense; that is, that The Machine, given sufficient monitoring of a human being, is capable of simulating that human being to the point that a copy would be indistinguishable from the original.
  • Buffy Speak: Metaphysics is a thing.
  • Bury Your Gays: Root's death so closely following Lexa's death in the series The 100 resulted in...mixed reactions in the LGBT parts of the fandoms as they felt two strong lesbian relationships were being killed off for drama.
  • Call-Back:
    • Finch is aware of the Machine's ability to predict multiple scenarios.
    • Root mentions his destroying 42 prototype versions of the Machine.
    • In a bit of a role reversal, Elias protects a member of Team Machine (Finch) in the Double-B's apartment complex; the same place where Reese protected "Charlie Burton" in "Witness."
    • The FBI agent tries to talk to Finch about the treason case against Harold, including mentioning an interview with Harold's father.
    • Once again, a car is disabled by one of the main characters shooting the bonnet off the vehicle with a sniper rifle, just like in the first season episode "Foe".
    • Perhaps unintentional, but the getaway Car Elias attempts to use is a Lincoln Town Car of the same model Harold owned in the first three seasons.
    • Much like with Reese in "Pilot," the cops here realize that Finch's DNA has been found in several crime scenes, and he has charges against him dating back to 1974.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Shaw gets annoyed when Root discusses metaphysics while they're crouching behind a car being riddled with bullets. Not so much when it becomes Flirting Under Fire.
  • The Chessmaster: Lampshaded in the conversation between Elias and Finch. Unfortunately Samaritan turns out to be better.
  • *Click* Hello: Fusco opens the door to the safe house to find everyone but Finch pointing guns at him.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The FBI agents wear grey, while Samaritan agents wear black.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: That minigun should have shredded the vehicles it was firing on, and anyone inside them.
  • Continuity Nod: In the titles, Fusco's status is updated to "Primary Asset" since he now knows about the Machine.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Done twice by the shooters working for Elias. Firstly off-screen in the apartment building elevator, and later on the ground floor by the janitor of the apartment building utilizing his Desert Eagle on two unsuspecting Samaritan assets.
  • Cool Car/Cool Guns/BFG:
    • Team Samaritan breaks out a M134 Gatling gun mounted on the roof of a Dillion Aero Chevy Suburban in an attempt to turn Shaw and Root into red mist.
    • Root utilizes a Desert Arms Tactical Recon sniper rifle to crash the Suburban by taking off the bonnet with a round.
    • Shaw wields a Heckler and Koch MP5A3 in the attempt to rescue Finch.
    • One of the Samaritan assets responding to Shaw and Root's assault brings along a FN MAG light machine gun. Unfortunately for him, its bulkiness allows Shaw, who is wielding a lighter submachine gun, to quickly take him out of play.
    • Elias goes up against a numerically superior team of Samaritan operatives armed with high capacity pistols, using only a stainless steel Walther PPK, and proceeds to wipe the floor with them.
    • The janitor of the apartment building is working for Elias. He's packing a heavily customized Desert Eagle and proceeds to give a pair of Samaritan assets trapping his boss the old Double Tap.
    • Jeff Blackwell uses a DRD Tactical CDR-15 rifle to kill Root.
  • Creator Cameo: The voice of Samaritan, instructing sniper Jeff Blackwell to get into position to intercept Root & Finch, is that of Jonathan Nolan.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Played with (see Meaningful Name).
    "Temporary Resolutions? Is it just me, or is dispatching hit men more of a permanent resolution?"
  • Dies Wide Open: Both of 'em. Though Reese closes Elias's.
  • Despair Event Horizon: While the rest of Team Machine are willing to go down fighting, Finch has lost all hope of them winning. Until all these deaths start to make him angry...
    Finch: We're fighting a war that's already over. All this mayhem? It isn't some plucky underground resistance movement. It's an extinction burst.
  • Dull Surprise: Shaw's reaction to Root's death is...nothing. It's all just a simulation, after all.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Root uses her boot to steer the BMW...while she's facing toward the rear...engaging in a high speed gun duel against a Dillon Aero SUV...both of which are racing and swerving through normal traffic.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Reese removes Elias' glasses and closes his eyes. A gangbanger provides a useful clue, because Elias was a man they respected.
    • The Machine chooses Root's voice for Her own, apparently right after Root dies.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Root drives a car—using her heel, while sticking out the sunroof facing backwards, while simultaneously shooting off the bonnet of the Samaritan operatives' SUV with a sniper rifle.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Subverted. Greer insists that Finch will one day work for Samaritan of his own accord. Once Root helps him escape, Samaritan changes its order from "Capture" to "Eliminate."
  • Foreshadowing: Root comes off as a Death Seeker in this episode. She talks a lot about death and metaphysics. And then there's this, where she actually seems to predict what's going to happen:
    Root: When the time comes, you'll know what to do. And I know this is an ugliness you never wanted, but sometimes you have to fight a little.
  • Funny Background Event: At the safe house, while Root is on the phone, you can see Shaw kick an unconscious Samaritan agent in the face and then steal his money.
  • Get It Over With: Finch points out he has no intention of aiding Greer, so would he please just kill him before anyone else gets killed. Greer however says Samaritan has his own plans for Finch.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The episode's conclusion features Harold deciding that Samaritan has become such a menace to civilization that he's willing to throw away his own code of ethics if it gives him an edge.
  • Good Old Ways: The FBI agent lauds the superiority of paper filing over digital. All of Finch's digital criminal record has disappeared, but unfortunately the Bureau keeps the original paper files of those accused of treason.
  • Guns Akimbo: Root, of course.
  • Honor Before Reason: Harold would rather close access to The Machine and lose, rather than win with open access. He changes his mind after he gets to actually face the consequences.
    Root: We have the most powerful ally in the world, but you're too high-minded to let her help us. So, we're gonna end up the most principled corpses in Potter's Field.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Elias has successfully fought his way through three waves of Samaritan agents. He and Finch have reached Elias' getaway car and it looks like they will be fine. Then Elias sees that his driver is dead. Seconds later Elias is killed with a shot to the forehead.
    • After Root seemingly dies at the roadblock, we find out she's in the hospital in critical condition. Harold later gets a phone call from who sounds like Root, but it's the Machine using her voice. By the time Fusco gets to her, she's dead.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: The Machine calls Finch in the prison, where he decides to finally ask for her help:
  • Ikea Weaponry: Jeff is carrying his sniper rifle stripped down in his backpack. Justified Trope as that particular weapon (the CDR-15) is designed to be carried that way and quickly assembled.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Relentlessly eviscerated in this episode by Root who repeatedly calls Harold out on not being willing to do what it takes to win in the war with Samaritan.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The FBI is determined not to hand Finch over to whatever federal agency the Samaritan operatives claim to be working for.
  • Intertwined Fingers: To everyone's surprise, the delicate and softly sweet gesture happened between Root and Shaw after Root told her that it might be the first time she felt like she belonged.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Root calls Finch on not giving the Machine a name, saying it's because She would be easier to kill like the past 42 ASI's Finch invented and destroyed. But Finch says that he preferred the Machine come up with Her own name.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Root asks Finch to pass her "...the big gun, and a hair scrunchie."
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet
    • Reese and Fusco walk through a busy call center and are told to wait for the supervisor in an office. When things go quiet, they realise the 'supervisor' isn't going to turn up. Sure enough the employees have all been evacuated, and a Samaritan hit team is moving in.
    • Elias has arranged for two rival gangs to make peace so he can have a safehouse on their territory. But the fact that the gangs aren't fighting as usual tips off Samaritan that something is wrong.
  • It's What I Do: When Finch expresses worry about Reese, he points out that he's just protecting the latest Number, which is what Finch hired him to do.
  • Just Keep Driving: Robo-Car variant during the car chase. Root's BMW and Samaritan's Dillon Aero Chevy are swerving and shooting and generally making hell out of the street they're on, and none of the cars around them are responding. Contrast this with the start of the shoot-out, where numerous Innocent Bystanders are seen fleeing the scene on foot.
  • Knee-capping: Reese congratulates Fusco on his shooting after putting one through the knee of a Samaritan mook. Subverted when Reese then produces the grenades as they've no time for Thou Shalt Not Kill.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Surprisingly, a non-lethal version. Fusco goes to the hospital to check on Root, while Reese and Shaw go to rescue Finch. By the time they get there, everyone who is going to die in this episode has already done so.
  • The Lifestream: Root compares the Machine to this. She says that as long as the Machine lives, nobody actually dies as they live as digitised consciousnesses inside her memory. It becomes somewhat literal after Root dies: the Machine chooses to use her voice to talk to Finch.
  • Living Is More Than Surviving
    Finch: We've stayed alive so far.
    Root: We're not living. We're surviving. We're human. Eventually, we'll make a mistake, and... She'll die too.
  • Love Is a Weakness
    Root: He slipped up. He went back to the place he and Grace had their first date.
    Shaw: Harold has a weakness.
  • Lured into a Trap: Samaritan agents had a business card for what appeared to be a temporary employment office. Once Fusco and Reese go there, it is revealed to be a trap.
  • Meaningful Echo: Finch repeats Root's "I wasn't talking to you" Catchphrase, and "vanish without a trace" line from earlier.
  • Meaningful Name: Temporary Resolutions. It's a temporary company used to resolve the "problem" of Team Machine's existence.
  • Milestone Celebration: This is Person of Interest's 100th episode!
  • More Dakka:
    • Cornered in the temp office by a Samaritan hit team, Reese breaks out the grenades.
    • Team Machine has a pretty nice arsenal but this time Samaritan manages to outgun them. When Root and Shaw take down the agents guarding Finch, Samaritan sends reinforcements including a guy with a light machine gun. When that fails, Samaritan sends in a SUV with a roof mounted minigun.
  • Moment Killer: Cars with Samaritan agents pull over and the noise warns and interrupts the moment between Shaw and Root just as Shaw was about to kiss her (and while they're holding hands).
  • Mouth of Sauron: Root had always been this for the Machine, but it becomes literal after she dies and the Machine starts using her voice.
  • Musical Spoiler: The Leitmotifs of Elias and Root turn into melancholic violin pieces before they die. Elias's starts playing when he's still fighting Samaritan operatives. Root's starts playing after she's been shot, but not declared dead yet.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The promo quotes Finch: "All the people I cared about are dead", conveniently leaving the "or will be" part out.
    • Similarly, "Root's" voiceover in the promo is now revealed to be The Machine using Root's voice, putting a very different spin on the monologue.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Samaritan only found Finch because he went to the same cafe where he took Grace on their first date.
  • No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Samaritan's assets deploy a gatling-armed SUV in public to try blast Root, Shaw and Harold into the middle of next week. Not actually overkill because it didn't work.
    • Root on the other hand takes out the SUV by firing a sniper round into the bonnet, causing the bonnet to flip up over the windscreen (likely decapitating the shooter as well) causing the SUV to crash, flip over and explode.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Finch did that caused the government to bring him up on treason charges. As Finch eliminated his own digital file, the FBI had to go and search for the paper copies. Finch escapes before they are retrieved, and the audience never hears the full story behind them.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • After the waitress recognises him, Finch realises he's been to the cafe before. He leaves immediately but it's too late.
    • The entire episode is this for Team Machine, but it's especially so for Root and Finch when the Samaritan operatives break out the minigun.
  • Older Than They Think (In-Universe): All this illegal surveillance and assassination in the name of national security was going on long before the War on Terror and Northern Lights.
    Finch: When I first broke your rules, a sitting president had authorized assassination squads in Laos, and the head of the FBI had ordered his men, you, to conduct illegal surveillance on his political rivals. Your rules have changed every time it was convenient for you.
  • One Phone Call: Defied. The FBI agent insists that Finch only provide the name of a lawyer. Of course, the Machine then prevents Finch from being taken into holding, and then calls him.
  • Override Command: After Finch has the Machine revert to a closed system, Root reveals that she's built in a backdoor override, but it can only be activated by Finch.
  • Percussive Therapy: Root assures Shaw that she'll feel better once she gets to shoot someone.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Elias.
  • Prophecy Twist:
    • Why was Finch's number given to the team? Turns out that Samaritan did not want Finch dead, at least initially. Rather, he's actually the perpetrator, eventually letting hundreds of prisoners escape and apparently assaulting Samaritan operatives.
    • The Opening Monologue of "B.S.O.D." may not have been Root speaking; it may have been The Machine. "The only thing left of us is the sound of my voice" takes on another, darker meaning.
  • Refuge in Audacity: See Drives Like Crazy above.
  • Reveal Shot: The episode opens with Finch confiding in someone at a cafe. The table is revealed to be empty, because he's actually talking to the Machine.
  • So Much for Stealth:
    • Reese is using a silencer when Root starts blazing away, not seeing much point in keeping things quiet when you're killing people.
    • Reese says there's nothing suspicious about two homicide detectives investigating the earlier shoot-out. Unless those dead gunmen were just The Bait to lure the other members of Team Machine.
  • Smug Smiler: The receptionist refuses to let 'Detective Riley' and Fusco check out their employee records without a warrent. When Reese insists on talking to their supervisor, she has a definite smirk when she asks if they're sure they want to do that.
  • Spanner in the Works: After almost forty years of being Properly Paranoid, Finch is exposed due to a moment of (presumably subconscious) nostalgia.
  • Taking the Bullet: Root, for Finch. Rather than jumping in front of the bullet, she swerves the car causing it to strike her instead.
  • Take the Wheel: Averted
  • Tempting Fate: Elias' words from "Reassortment" that he hopes he's not around should Finch ever lose his self-control.
  • This Means War!:
    • At the end of the episode, Finch basically declares that he's done with simply resisting Samaritan and that he intends to kill it, whatever the cost.
    • When Finch's number comes up, Reese stacks automatic weapons on a table, declaring that he's going to start at Temporary Resolutions and work his way up the chain to Samaritan.
  • Titled After the Song/Climactic Music: The episode is named after a song by Nine Inch Nails from The Fragile, which is also used in the final scene.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The promo ominously declares, "For some, [the 100th episode] will be their last."
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Last time we saw Jeff he was questioning his role in Samaritan's affairs. Now he's an unquestioning Hero Killer. One wonders what sort of 'promotion' Samaritan gave him.
  • Tranquil Fury: Finch is pissed at Samaritan and vows to kill it.
  • The Unfettered: This episode marks Finch's transition into one, finally choosing to throw away the rulebook in order to win.
  • The Voiceless: Root calls out Harold on not giving the Machine a name or a voice. He says it's to let the Machine choose a name and a voice for herself. At the end of the episode, The Machine chooses Root's voice.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Root urges Finch to put aside his ethics and start fighting. At the end of the episode, he does.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Finch's cover identity is blown.
    • Elias is killed protecting him.
    • Root dies, sacrificing herself by taking a bullet meant for Finch.
    • Finch decides to show Samaritan (and everyone else) why they should Beware the Nice Ones.
    • After fourteen years of being The Speechless, the Machine chooses to use a voice: Root's.
  • Wham Line:
    The Machine: (using Root's voice) No, Harold. I chose a voice.
    • Wham Shot: Right after that, we see Fusco in the morgue, looking over Root's body on a slab.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The FBI agent takes Finch's "World of Cardboard" Speech as a Motive Rant from a Well-Intentioned Extremist taking the law into his own hands. But of course, Finch wasn't even talking to him.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Finch delivers a glorious one in Tranquil Fury to Samaritan, while an FBI agent interrogates him.
    Finch: I have played by the rules for so long.
    Agent: Not from where I'm sitting.
    Finch: No, not your rules. You work at the behest of a system so broken that you didn't even notice when it became corrupted at its core. When I first broke your rules, a sitting president had authorized assassination squads in Laos, and the head of the FBI had ordered his men, you, to conduct illegal surveillance on his political rivals. Your rules have changed every time it was convenient for you. I was talking about my rules. I have lived by those rules for so long. Believed in them for so long. Believed that if you played by the right rules eventually you would win. But I was wrong, wasn't I? And now all the people I cared about are dead. Or will be dead soon enough. And we will be gone without a trace. So now I have to decide. Decide whether to let my friends die. To let hope die. To let the world be ground under your heel all because I played by my rules. I'm trying to decide. I'm going to kill you. But I need to decide how far I'm willing to go. How many of my own rules I'm willing to break to get it done.
    Agent: Look. You want to add threatening the life of a federal agent to your file, I will draw up those charges right now. No waiting is required.
    Finch: I wasn't talking to you.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: After Root is fatally shot, Finch calls her by her chosen name rather than Ms. Groves. He has done this before, but this time he's desperately shouting it at her unconscious body.
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