Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 10 Review: “The Cold War”

Person of Interest 4.10

God, Person of Interest was so close to being perfect tonight. It was 99.9%, one iota, one singular inch away from being perfect. It wasn’t even the content that was objectionable either, but instead, suffered from a craft perspective. Pacing, one of my oft-repeated things, was the issue here.

I don’t want to harp on it, really. There is too much that was too good to focus on the negative but it needs to be addressed, if only for a moment. It has to do with the Greer stuff. Stick with me, I’ll be brief:

Greer has been the Mysterious Older White Guy for several seasons now and they have been seriously sloooooooooow to reveal anything about him. I get that, of course; why upset the applecart when you have, at worst, a top five television show?

This episode sought to rectify that with an origin episode, and while I appreciate the sentiment, it didn’t quite hit for me. The actor they had playing Younger!Greer was excellent, as was the overall premise of his story, but it moved too quickly. Usually, Person of Interest is good with these sorts of things. They let it build and build and then they pull the rug and it’s great, but there wasn’t enough build up for me in this episode. It was more of a bam-bam-bam type of thing.

But (this is both a compliment and an insult), I didn’t mind too much because it really didn’t feel all that important to the episode as a whole. We know about Greer and how he hates the pettiness and violence that comes with nationalism and so-called loyalty, but who cares about the undercard when Samaritan v. The Machine is the main course?

Alright, that’s enough. I’m ready to heap praise.

I’m gonna say this and if you don’t agree, then, you’re wrong: Person of Interest does character beats better than any other show on television. I do this for a living (well, I do this) and I watch an inordinate amount of stuff otherwise and I can tell you that there is not a show on right now that does it as well. You can throw Mad Men or Game of Thrones or whatever, but I’m telling you: nobody does it better.

The opening scenes of this episode, in which Finch picks up a sandwich for Shaw, is pure gold. Shaw’s ravenous tear into the paper bag, Root’s always-welcome flirtations, and especially Finch’s reaction to Shaw no longer being in handcuffs really make it fun. They allow their characters to stretch and shrink and wiggle. And i’m sure that there are other shows that does it as well as they do; but I don’t notice it as much as I do on Person of Interest.

Speaking of excellent character beats, we got to see Samaritan and The Machine explored as real-life characters. Root, unsurprisingly, is chosen by The Machine as her avatar, but Samaritan doesn’t make the obvious choice in Greer. Instead, Samaritan chooses a child prodigy, a little boy with off-the-charts computer skills. It is an interesting contrast; this older woman versus this little kid. But its a telling image, even perhaps a little unconsciously so on Samaritan’s part. He chose this little boy to show how, even in his youth, he is more than a match for The Machine. But in doing so he also revealed his petulance, and his pettiness; he is little more than a toddler with a gun, swaggering around like he actually comprehends or understands what he is doing. The Machine was born with all of the things that Samaritan was, but was also gifted with a moral code, one that has evolved as she has. The Machine’s development closely mirrors Root’s; they have both been through the fire and spilled copious amounts of blood to come to the conclusion that it’s all a big waste of time. To see Boy!Samaritan strut his stuff as Root!Machine sits and watches, you get the feeling that Samaritan has missed the point.

But that doesn’t mean he will lose. The Machine and her “agents” have no actual chance of winning. It’d require a massive undertaking and a lot of lives lost, and that will be what it takes. I have no predictions, really, on who will survive this season; but I can tell you that they all won’t make it out alive.

I love these characters, all of them, but Root and Shaw especially. It will be hard to lose any of them, but it has to be done. There is nowhere else for this team to go but down and it’s just not believable or even acceptable that they all survive. They are fighting a war that they could’ve ended with one death of one corrupt Congressman and they chose the better part of valor and now they have to pay for it.

I suspect, as well, that something will happen to The Machine. She is, afterall, a god herself, and if Samaritan gets to a critical mass I could see her going outside of the group and doing something drastic. But that is rampant speculation.

Next episode’s promo looks like it means business. Someone might even die then. Find your favorite character and hold them tight; I do believe that things are about to get a little bumpy.

Photo via CBS

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