Special Review: Person of Interest S4E11

I'm Back!! Now that my exams are over, I can finally get back to work. Usually I would write about The Goldbergs but since there's no new episode this week, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about one of my favorite television episodes of all time. I'm sure that most of my readers are aware that my reviews normally contain spoilers but this time I've included a spoiler free version for potential fans. I know that the show is ending, but that doesn't mean you can't join the fandom.

(I apologize for any problems with the initial setup. I was dealing with some technical difficulties)

S4E11 " If-Then-Else"

SPOILER FREE: For those unaware, Person of Interest is a show mainly about artificial intelligence. It initially started as a pseudo procedural with serialized elements but it soon became more story driven midway through season 3. Some fans didn't like the new direction, but not me. I love serialized fast paced shows with a compelling storyline and that's what Person of Interest became. What fascinated me about this episode was the unique mode of storytelling presented to the viewers. Instead of a linear story from beginning to end, this episode shows us the various possibilities which can occur in a single scenario. Sure this isn't how every episode is, but it's a great example to show how creative the writers are. Ultimately, it's a violently entertaining hour of television filled with humour and drama. Although it follows continuity,  I think it's a good enough reason to watch the 78 other episodes required to understand this one. All that's needed is to take that first step.

REGULAR: Back in 2003, Harold plays a game of chess with the machine. He teaches the machine about simulating different strategies to identify an ideal route of success. But he also tells the machine that real life is not like chess and that it cannot sacrifice some people in favour of others, a lesson which the machine seems to have taken to heart as shown within the episode.

In the present, Samaritan has started to create chaos by messing with the New York Stock Exchange after its meeting with the machine via Root. In order to fix this, Harold, Reese, Root and Fusco sneak into the Stock exchange to execute a fail safe which the Machine had prepared for them while Shaw went to go get an access code required to enter the room necessary to activate the fail safe. but the gang get into trouble when the elevator shuts down and they realize it was a trap by Samaritan. To make matters worse, Shaw and some other people gets held up by a desperate suicidal man with an explosive just as she is about to get the code from a man on the subway train. The gang go to hide in a cafeteria to escape Samaritan's operatives, which is where the real fun begins. As soon as Root asks the machine for a little help, the Machine starts performing over 800,000 simulations, 3 of which we are about to see while the Machine creates them within a span of 6 seconds, a feat achieved thanks to its advanced processing capabilities.

In the first simulation, Root tells Reese and Fusco to go restart the elevator since it is their only way out while she goes with Harold to activate the fail safe. Shaw tries to get Reese to help her with her situation via bluetooth but he is too busy with the elevator so she takes matters into her own hands. She shoots the bomber but gets arrested and fails to get the code. This leads to Root shooting the access door open alerting the Samaritan operatives hiding in the computer room. Root deals with them while Harold tries to activate the fail safe but then Harold gets shot trying to save Root, deeming the simulation to be a failure. I'll be honest, when I first saw this, I thought Harold had died for real, but I was relieved when the events reversed back to real time.

In the second simulation, Root and Harold go to fix the elevator while Reese and Fusco go to activate the fail safe. This time, Shaw manages to ask Reese about the situation and he tells her to make the bomber think about someone he cares about. But that still fails and she gets arrested for shooting him. Reese and Fusco take out all the operatives in the computer room and Fusco is put in charge of activating the fail safe while Reese guarded him, which was a problem because Fusco wasn't very tech savvy. Reese soon realizes that the plan is going to fail because too many operatives soon showed up so he locks up Fusco in a nearby stairwell and ends up getting killed. Root also gets killed by some Samaritan agents after she gets caught trying to break the tension cord holding up the elevator, but not before trying to convey her feelings to Shaw.

In the final simulation, they all go to the computer room together while Shaw talks to Fusco about the suicidal man. Fusco tells her to make him realize that he is not alone in his problems. Shaw gets all the other people on the train to tell the man their problems and succeeds in solving the crisis, while getting the access code. Meanwhile, the gang successfully implement the fail safe and fix the elevator. Back in real time, the gang is still trapped in the cafeteria and time is running short for the machine so it starts to speed up the simulation which leads to the gang using hilariously simplified sentences. But after that, things get serious as they finally get towards the elevator, with Samaritan operatives in their way. The machine deems their chances of survival as 2% and chooses this as the best scenario.

Back in real time, the machine tells Root to execute the final simulation and as expected, everything goes according to plan, with the exception of Shaw showing up at the end to help the gang escape to the elevator. They all manage to get to the elevator, except Shaw who runs out to press the elevator button to save them all, but not before giving Root a kiss. Shaw is then shot while Root looks in horror as the elevator, with the episode ending on a sorrowful note.

I've had a lot of time to think about this episode and I have many things I would like to say.
First, for a while I thought that the simulations were just a way to fill up episode time, but I realized that this was done to show us the full capabilities of the machine, not to mention this was beautifully executed. Second, I know I sound like an idiot but I did not see that kiss coming. I'm surprised I didn't read the subtext in their conversations. Regardless, it was a pleasant surprise. Lastly, I want to thank the people who handle the music for putting 'Good Fortune' by the Glitch Mob into the simulations. After watching this episode, I fell in love with that song. Overall, a great episode, Period.

Quote of the special: What's the point of saving the world if you can't enjoy it?

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