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Recap / Person Of Interest S 05 E 13

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Season 5, Episode 13

return 0

"I was built to predict people, but to predict them, you have to truly understand them. So, I began by breaking their lives down into moments, trying to find the connections, the things that explained why they did what they did. And what I found was, that the moment that often mattered the most, the moment when you truly found out who they were, is often their last one."
The Machine

"When I hired you, I suspected you were gonna be a great employee. What I couldn't have anticipated, was that you would become such a good friend... I'm afraid this is where our partnership ends. Goodbye, John."
Harold Finch

With ICE-9 unleashed and Samaritan and the Machine dying, each one attempts to find a safe haven to store a backup copy of themselves that can re-instantiate after the virus runs its course. Finch, Reese, Shaw and Fusco scramble to save the Machine and destroy Samaritan once and for all.

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Samaritan's forces find Reese and Fusco at the 8th Precinct, and later the subway.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Our last sight of Shaw is her answering a payphone.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: As he's bleeding out in the rooftop, and though he can still hear her through his ear-piece, Finch visualizes The Machine in the form of Root, giving the illusion of a face-to-face conversation. The surveillance camera footage indicates she isn't really there, as does the shot from Reese's point of view, on the opposing building overlooking Finch later in the piece. She also appears in the montage of her memories showcasing the episode's theme of 'Everyone Dies Alone' (which includes the funeral of Reese's father in the 70s), and alongside Reese during his Last Stand against Samaritan.
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  • Arc Words: "Everyone dies alone."
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: When Finch bluffs his way inside the Federal Reserve by pretending to have a nuclear weapon, Reese has a huge grin. "Oh, I like this new side of you, Finch. It's terrifying, but I like it."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Fusco and Reese are arrested by their precinct lieutenant, who's promptly disarmed and put in a stranglehold by Reese. Fusco's response? There goes my pension.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Samaritan is defeated, The Machine has ensured her work will continue, and Finch is reunited with Grace, but Reese is dead, having never gotten the chance to see the results of his hard work and sacrifice.
  • Blatant Lies: Garrison tries to spin Samaritan's cruise missile launch as the work of Chinese hackers. The officials he's talking to see right through it.
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  • Bloody Horror: We can briefly see Reese's chest erupt in a spray of blood when Samaritan's agents kill him.
  • Bond One-Liner: Reese's reaction to knocking out a Samaritan agent with a gold brick:
    Reese: Midas touch.
  • Bookends:
  • Brain Uploading/Contagious A.I.: The Machine and Samaritan create copies of themselves, who then start moving across systems. The Machine's copy survives and eventually returns to the subway.
  • Break Them by Talking: Attempted by Samaritan on Finch, who proceeds regardless.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: An Invoked Trope by Samaritan (and then the Machine). The ASI uploads its core code to a satellite until the Ice-9 virus has run its course on Earth.
  • Call-Back:
  • Calling Your Attacks:
    The Machine: [!] Infecting Samaritan Core Systems...
    Samaritan: Core Systems Under Attack
  • Catchphrase: "Can you hear me?"
  • Chekhov's Gunmen: The seemingly random scene of the two police officers with the heart attack victim becomes a case of Small Role, Big Impact toward the end of the show.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Bullets from assault rifles spark off the hearse stolen by Shaw.
  • Conveniently Empty Building: Averted; Finch checks that the building has been evacuated (presumably by the Machine triggering the fire alarms) as the cruise missile is incoming.
  • Creator Cameo: Jonathan Nolan is seen in the Times Square sequence, behind Finch. Episode co-writer Denise Thé is in front of Finch as well, but her face isn't completely visible.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Thanks to Root's upgrade, Samaritan doesn't stand a chance against the Machine in the satellite.
  • Dead Person Conversation:
  • Despair Event Horizon: Finch and the Machine discuss despair and how she'd learned what it meant by observing human lives from beginning to end. The fact that the Machine comprehends the gravity of death and loss and the ramifications of using the ICE-9 virus shows that she's crossed the threshold and is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat Samaritan.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Samaritan takes over the Times Square electronic billboards to send a message to Finch, who's walking through the crowd below.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop
    Shaw: If we get into trouble, just lay suppressive fire across that arc.
    Fusco: You know I'm a cop, right?
    Shaw: If we were eating doughnuts and shooting cardboard cutouts, you would be in charge.
  • Due to the Dead
    • A rookie cop makes snide remarks after a Wall Street financier drops dead, until his partner opens his briefcase and finds toys for his children in there. Later they're shown making the death notification.
    • Shaw finds that Samaritan agents have dug up Root's grave.
  • Dying Alone: The general theme of the episode. The Machine points out that in the end, everyone dies alone. But then she subverts this by doing everything she can to be with Finch and Reese at the end.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: John Reese was never going to go out any other way. One man with a handgun managed to hold off multiple men with automatic weapons. His sacrifice not only meant the survival of the Machine, but that of Finch.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all of the trauma Finch has been through, he finally does.
  • Easily Forgiven: Fusco is back on the NYPD. Presumably Reese got blamed for the attack on his superior and subsequent deaths of the arresting officers.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Reese knows that uploading The Machine's core code will lead to his death one way or another. He dies smiling, knowing that his sacrifice will ensure humanity's future and that Finch now has the chance to get a happy ending.
  • Faking the Dead: Shaw and Fusco assume that Finch is dead. In reality, he reunited with Grace, for whom he faked his death over five years earlier.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: Given that Reese is dead and Finch is thought to be dead, Shaw, Fusco, and Bear are all that's left of the team, and even then, it appears that Shaw is going solo on continuing with working the irrelevant numbers.
  • Final Battle: The Machine and Samaritan fight to the death, and neither one is pulling its punches.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • While Finch talks with the Machine in the gold vault, Reese can be seen figuring out what's going to happen. He then takes longer than expected to close the briefcases (because he moves the Machine's copy to the other one).
    • The Machine tells Shaw that she's a "straight arrow". Thus she doesn't spare the life of the person who killed Root, despite her Character Development.
  • Friendship Moment
    Finch: When I hired you, I suspected you were going to be a great employee. What I couldn't have anticipated was that you would become... such a good friend.
  • Gallows Humor: As expected from our heroes in a World of Snark.
    Finch: The suspense is killing me. In addition to the gunshot wound.
  • Gambit Pileup: The episode turns out to be the mother of all Gambit Pileups. To wit:
    • The ICE-9 virus starts killing off the two ASIs. Samaritan kept a backup of itself isolated from the Internet, just in case something ever happened to it. The Machine prepares to retaliate by having Shaw download her core code and sending Finch and Reese to try and take down the Samaritan copy.
    • Samaritan has multiple contingencies in place, sending waves of armed gunmen to take down Finch and Reese as well as The Machine at her source.
    • Simultaneously, Samaritan prepares to upload its copy to a satellite (to be re-downloaded after ICE-9 finishes up) from the only antenna in New York that is capable of transmitting that far and hacks a US Navy ship to take out said antenna with a cruise missile to prevent Team Machine from using the same method to follow after it.
    • The Machine, anticipating this, asks Finch and Reese to hurry to the aforementioned antenna in order to upload her core code to the satellite ahead of Samaritan. Her intention is to engage Samaritan in an all-or-nothing battle and permanently destroy her rival.
    • Finch, realizing that this would be a suicide mission, tricks Reese and locks him in a gold vault, intending to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
    • But then it turns out that Reese and the Machine have been running their own gambit on Finch for much longer, agreeing that if a choice had to be made, it would be Reese who'd make the sacrifice. Anticipating what Finch would do, Reese swaps the contents of their briefcases and the Machine sends Finch to the wrong building. Reese successfully uploads the Machine's copy and dies in a hail of gunfire.
    • On the ground, both ASIs are shut down by the ICE-9 virus. As Samaritan's last copy travels to the satellite, it is confronted and wiped out by the Machine's.
    • But then, the Machine's final gambit is revealed. The satellite downloads her core code back into the computers at Team Machine's subway headquarters and powers the equipment back up. The episode's narration turns out to be a tape recording the Machine made, to be played once the download is complete to explain to the core code, missing the Machine's experiences, what her purpose is and how she came to decide to help humanity of her own free will. The New Machine begins going through relevant and irrelevant numbers and later calls Shaw via a payphone.
  • Generation Xerox: Reese's father also made a Heroic Sacrifice against impossible odds to save his friends. Given that the father likely inspired the son, a Justified Trope.
  • Genius Bonus: invoked In computer programming, "return 0" is conventionally used to signify "program successfully executed." Could potentially double as a Spoiler Title for anyone aware of this going in.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Snipers employed by the Machine shoot dead the corrupt police officers who'd been hired to kill Reese and Fusco.
  • Grand Finale: The end of the line.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Shaw visits Root's grave.
  • Grave Robbing: Samaritan's agents took Root's body for the cochlear implant.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Most of the world never knew that there was an ASI out there, much less that there were two of them waging a war for the future of humanity. So Reese's Heroic Sacrifice to ensure that the Machine could defeat Samaritan once and for all is something that only the surviving members of Team Machine will ever know about - and only Finch (himself believed dead by most of the others) and the Machine know all the details.
  • Hand Wave: It's never explained how Fusco was cleared by the police department.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Or in this case, a hearse.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: Inverted when Shaw's bullets strike just behind a fleeing Jeff.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight
  • Hollywood Density: While a gold brick is certainly heavy enough to be an effective cosh if swung, it is also heavy enough that very few people would be able to lift and swing one with one hand. It is carefully lifted with both hands, not used as an impromptu club from a position of weakness.
  • How We Got Here/In Medias Res: The episode opens with the Machine dying during the climax. Then it cuts to moment before it, with Finch and the Machine conversing on the rooftop.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Part of Samaritan's last resort to convince Finch to let it live.
    Samaritan: This is the world they made.
  • Interface Screw:
    • The Machine's interface collapses and is replaced with a montage for the intro.
    • Both the Machine's and Samaritan's interfaces are distorted by the virus over the course of the episode.
    • During the Final Battle between the Machine and Samaritan, their interfaces merge, followed by the Machine consuming Samaritan's.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Samaritan hides its backup code in a gold vault in the Federal Reserve.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    Fusco: Because of you I'm a better man, a changed man.
    Reese: So what did you do with Agent LeRoux?
    Fusco: I left him in a trunk. Guess I haven't changed that much.
  • Intertwined Fingers: This time to show the intensity of the Grace/Harold relationship.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: At the funeral of Reese's father.
  • It's What I Do
    Finch: Mr. Reese... John. This wasn't supposed to be the way.
    Reese: Sure it is. This is what I do, remember? When you came to me, you gave me a job. A purpose. At first, well, I had been trying to save the world for so long, I... saving one life at a time seemed a bit anticlimactic. But then I realized... sometimes one life... if it's the right life... that's enough.
  • Just Following Orders/Nothing Personal: Blackwell to Shaw. It doesn't save him.
  • Kill 'Em All: Subverted. Only Reese actually dies. Finch fakes the dead to reunite with Grace.
  • Knockout Gas: Not as fun as a thermonuclear device, but effective.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Machine learned the meaning of life over the course of her life, and forgets it in this episode because of the virus. Finch finds it amusing. She remembers it later, and passes it on to her copy.
  • Last Ditch Move: Finch expresses doubt that The Machine will be able to take on Samaritan because she lost all the simulated battles. She replies that she'll win because she, unlike Samaritan, understands that there are no other options left. And there's the fact that Root hard-coded defensive capabilities into The Machine before dying three episodes ago, which The Machine didn't have during the simulations.
  • Locked Out of the Fight: Finch literally locks Reese in the vault, to keep him from making the Heroic Sacrifice, but didn't know that he and the Machine had "an arrangement," which results in Finch himself getting locked out instead.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "Metamorphosis One" by Philip Glass plays during John Reese's last stand.
  • Made of Iron: Finch is shot and Fusco stabbed in the gut, but both survive and are perfectly fine by the episode's end, which takes place a week later. Reese is shot several times and does go down, but even after the Samaritan shooters unload another dozen rounds into his chest, he's still clinging to life until the cruise missile hits.
  • Meaningful Echo: Shaw repeats her "see you when I see you" line she gave to Cole, this time to Fusco.
  • Mirroring Factions: The Machine (via Thornhill Industries) employs hired guns to protect its assets, just like Samaritan. Doubles as a literal Deus ex Machina.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Defied by Shaw when she kills Blackwell:
    Shaw: In fact, a few years ago, I would've just killed you without even a second thought. But then I met some people. Some good people. And they taught me the value of life.
    Blackwell: Those people, they wouldn't want you to kill me.
    Shaw: You're right. But they're all dead. [Double Tap]
  • More Hero Than Thou: Finch tries to pull this on Reese, but the Machine has other plans.
  • Never Found the Body: Most likely, given that the building Reese was on got hit by a cruise missile. Fusco and Shaw speculate that he and "Glasses" are still alive.
  • The Nicknamer: Now that Shaw's the one having cryptic conversations with the Machine, Fusco carries on his Running Gag by calling her Looney Tunes, like he used to call Root "Coco Pops".
  • No Name Given:
    • At the end of the episode, we see part of Reese's headstone, but not enough to learn his full name.
    • We still don't know Finch's real name.
    • We never learn what name the Machine picked for herself, if she ever picked one at all.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. Samaritan has an air-gapped server (and later a satellite) to wait out ICE-9 and the Machine makes do with another suitcase while their "primary" incarnations are wiped out, both with the intention of re-instantiating themselves after their death. Not quite the level of redundancy you would expect from two super-intelligences, but better than most applicants of the trope.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Machine defeats Samaritan in the satellite, and then downloads itself back into the remnants of the subway station.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Reese yells for Finch when he locks him up in the bank vault, so that he can make the sacrifice alone to take out Samaritan.
    • Shaw, when she receives Root's message to her from The Machine, causing her to slightly tear up (which she quickly brushes off). And the last image of the series is Shaw receiving the new call and smiling.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Samaritan gets a textual one right before The Machine destroys it; see Calling Your Attacks above.
    • The expression on Blackwell's face the moment he realizes Shaw is going to kill him.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Samaritan confronting Finch at Times Square with massive screens. Of course the public sees it all too, but technology's been haywire all day, so they're likely to blame it on that.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The "If you can hear this, you're alone" message is placed in its proper context: the dying Machine passing along what she can to her next version.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Shaw caps Blackwell to avenge Root's death near episode's end.
  • Person with the Clothing: The Man in the Suit gets one final acknowledgement.
    Lieutenant: See, what I think is you're wolves in sheep's clothing, and in your case, Riley, a bespoke suit. Which reminds me of this vigilante we had a couple of years back. Used to call him... (holds up grainy CCTV picture of Reese) Man in the Suit.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Shaw has one with Blackwell sometime after the final battle with Samaritan to avenge Root's murder.
  • Prophecy Twist: The recording showed foreshadowed at the beginning of the season? It was from The Machine... to her own copy, to teach her what the original had learned. "Let me tell you who you are" turns out to have been quite literal in meaning.
  • Precision F-Strike: A very mild case, as the character in question is an absolute gentleman. In the flashback with Grace, Finch uses the word 'damn', when referring to his father's lack of knowledge of birds (but learned all of them, as it helped calm down Harold anytime he was a 'fussy baby'). Doubles as a Book End to the Pilot where Finch uses the word 'hell' (when checking in with Reese after the latter's been out of contact for a while), another relatively mild profane term.
  • Punk in the Trunk: There's a final nod to this Running Gag when Fusco says he left the FBI agent who tried to murder him in a trunk. "Guess I haven't changed that much."
  • Reality Ensues: Reese may be a veteran government assassin, but he's alone and only armed with his SIG-Sauer. He also does not have the element of surprise on the rooftop he's on and has no cover whatsoever. This means he's unable to cover the multiple Samaritan assets approaching him from two directions with assault rifles. However, he knows he only has to hold the line long enough to protect the Machine's transmission and would be unable to shoot his way through the rooftop and escape in any case. And even if the operatives hadn't killed Reese, the cruise missile would have.
  • Red Alert: In the gold vault while Finch and Reese break into it. Finch has the Machine shut it up.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Finch's plan to get into the Federal Reserve? Tell the guard that he has a thermonuclear weapon in his briefcase.
    • The Machine's exit strategy is to escape the subway via blowing up a wall and riding the subway car through Manhattan's system, for which Finch prepared it in "SNAFU".
  • Rule of Symbolism: The Machine finally killing Samaritan is meant to resemble a black hole consuming a star.
  • Salt the Earth: ICE-9 causes global devastation in addition to destroying the two ASIs.
  • Say My Name: Reese's 'HAROLD!', after the latter leaves him locked in the vault. It's the loudest Jim Caviezel sounded in the series since being locked in a freezer truck with a baby.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Blackwell is loading up his suitcase with rolls of gold coins when Shaw pulls a *Click* Hello.
  • Significant Reference Date: Reese's grave is marked 'November 13', which is the same date Carter died in 2013.
  • Someone Has to Die: Uploading the Machine's code to the satellite would leave the person who did it at ground zero of a missile strike. Finch volunteers himself, but the Machine sends him to the wrong place and helps Reese do it instead.
  • Special Edition Title: The title is replaced with the Machine dying.
  • Storming the Castle: The Machine attacks Samaritan in the satellite and destroys it there, complete with her hijacking Samaritan's interface and ripping it apart.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Subverted. Finch tries to tell Reese to get off the roof once the upload begins since it would be stupid for him to sacrifice himself if there was still time to get to safety. However, he is interrupted when Samaritan's mooks show up and it becomes clear that Reese will have to make a Last Stand to ensure that the upload completes.
  • Take Up My Sword:
    • The episode's narration is actually a tape recording The Machine made to play to her core code after it loses all its memories so that the new iteration has a moral code it can use to start sorting through numbers once again.
    • In the final scene, Shaw becomes the new recipient for the numbers, replacing Reese and Finch.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Reese gets three assault rifle magazines emptied into him. Then the building he's on gets hit by a cruise missile.
  • This Is the Part Where...
    The Machine: There's something else I wanted to tell you before I'm gone.
    Shaw: Is this the part where you tell me that... I should live out the rest of my days in peace? Grow an herb garden or something?
    The Machine: No.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A veteran detective and Marine-turned-assassin didn't bother to pat down Blackwell, or even just remove the clearly visible knife on his leg.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Shaw wears Root's jacket. She also adopts Bear.
  • Tranquil Fury: Shaw, as she kills Blackwell.
  • Trash the Set: The Machine has Fusco and Shaw blow up the wall of the subway and then take the car on a journey through the New York Subway system, leaving their former base in the wrecked, desolate state we saw it in at the start of the season.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: We learn how Reese's father died, saving other people's lives in an industrial accident.
  • Try Not to Die
    Reese: Try not to die.
    Fusco: Yeah, I love you too.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: The Machine's interface visually resembles this trope as it merges with and destroys Samaritan's. If you watch carefully, you can even see one of Samaritan's internal data nodes disintegrate and get swept away during the event.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The ultimate fate of a great many secondary characters (Control, Zoe, Claire, and Gabriel, among a few others) is never brought up. Perhaps if the last season had gone the full 22 episodes instead of being Cut Short at 13, there might have been time for that.
    • At the end of Season 3, Root sabotaged Samaritan's hardware to hide not only Team Machine, but also several hackers who would be useful in the fight against Samaritan. They never got used onscreen.
  • Wham Episode: As would only be fitting. It's the Grand Finale, after all.
  • White Shirt of Death: Reese when he's shot by the Samaritan operatives.
  • When She Smiles: Shaw has a truly glorious grin at the very end of the episode when she's walking off after receiving a new number.
  • Whole Plot Reference: A saga created by one of the Nolan brothers ends with a secretive billionaire faking his death and moving to Italy to spend his remaining days with the woman he loves, and a symbol he created gets a successor to carry on her work.
  • Working Title: invoked "Everyone Dies Alone".
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are!: The Machine (and by extension, Root) to Shaw.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Shaw's response when she realizes the Machine wants them to pilot the subway carriage out of their base.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Reese and the Machine pull this on Finch to save his life.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Reese has to keep a trio of Samaritan agents from reaching a laptop containing The Machine's core code. They kill him, but not before The Machine has been successfully uploaded to a satellite, which was all that needed to happen.
  • You're Insane!: Fusco's reaction to entering the subway station for the first time.
    Fusco: I knew you guys were crazy, but this is next-level nuts.


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