Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 5 Review: “Prophets”

prophets

Oh my god, I am so excited to be here.

I love Person of Interest so much, but never live. I feel like I’ve taken my life to a whole new level. That’s a little extreme. Forgive me; I’m new here and I am so glad to have a reason to watch this show all the time.

What’s always fascinating about this show to me is how much the characters drive my enjoyment. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right (whoever you are): aren’t characters supposed to drive the enjoyment of a show? The answer is, of course, yes! Yes they are!

But how many times do that actually happen? How many times have we seen a show get wrapped up in plot and forget that nobody really cares? Lost was a show that was a character drama wrapped in a sci-fi blanket; the Smoke Monster was cool, the island was fascinating, blah blah blah. I came back each week wanting to see what happened to Jack and Locke and Kate and Sawyer and the list goes on and on. I didn’t watch Breaking Bad for the plot; I watched it for Walter White.

Person of Interest is just like that. I care about Root and Shaw, Reese and Finch, Fusco and The Machine; I want to see them grow. I want to see them break. Every bit of plot that this show has is used to flesh out characters; we learned everything we needed to know about Nathan Ingram and he hasn’t interacted with anyone since the early 2000’s.

The flashbacks from tonight were especially potent. We see The Machine as Finch does, and it paints a really terrifying picture. As you watch Finch desperately try to teach and control this thing he’s created, you realize how much danger they are in. The Machine is a force for good, but only because Finch took the time and the effort and put his life on the line to make sure that his little Goddess knew right from wrong. As Root said, the only difference between The Machine and Samaritan is Harold Finch.

As far as the plot goes for this episode, I really didn’t care for it. It was a pretty boring main plot, to the point that I literally forgot about Simon and his problems and was totally focused on Root’s predicament, though that is a more common occurrence that I’d like to admit. Root is my favorite character on this show; I worry literally every episode that she’s going to get killed off. Amy Acker is my favorite actor working, and second place is much closer to third than first. She is magnetic and charming and utterly terrifying in this role; I believe 100% that without her contributions that Person of Interest would not be the show that it is.

But I will say that I do believe that this show is smarter thematically than people will ever give it credit for. I’ve picked up on undercurrents (or connected dots in my mind that I drew myself) of things that you don’t usually see. Tonight’s episode, for example, featured a woman of color who won the governorship of New York, but won it because Samaritan fixed the ballot. The gang has to take her down, and plans on using her past as an escort (which she used to get through college) to force her resignation. Then, she dies; poisoned by Samaritan’s goons. Her weak-willed, white lieutenant governor takes her place. I don’t think its an improbable read of “Prophets” to see it as a critique of american society. Her life as a sex worker, her work as a minority politician, all points to a different set of values and perspectives than the traditional; but she was the right candidate to defeat such a threat as Samaritan, or else she would still be alive. Take that as you will.

Keep in mind, of course, that these reviews are totally subjective; I am sure there are many people who despise Person of Interest and would rather face a wild boar than watch a show on CBS. But I think that Person of Interest is a rare show that learned the right lessons from the Golden Age of Television. I want to celebrate this show for its strengths and critique its weaknesses, because Person of Interest has made it to the big boy table. It’s subject to the same scrutiny that the best get; I can give no higher compliment.

This is not a perfect show; the dialogue can miss, the plots can be, as we saw, boring; one of my pet peeves is how often they say each others names. But I’m willing to overlook it, if only because they are so damn good at everything else.

See you next week.

[Photo via CBS]

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  1. Kel

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