Airtime: Mondays and Tuesdays at 10PM on CBS
Episode: Season 5, Episode 5 (S05E05)
Tweetable Takeaway: #PersonofInterest mixes AI mystery with mafia mayhem in “ShotSeeker”
PERSON OF INTEREST seems to be alternating between episodes of surreally high-quality and merely fantastic cases of the week, presumably to give our hearts and brains a rest. “ShotSeeker” masquerades as a one-off case but ends up weaving together everything from the old mafia plotlines to a Samaritan conspiracy. At this point, even cases are becoming relevant to the larger plot and I enjoy that type of story immensely.
The Machine gives Harold and co. the number of a man named Garvin who works for company that provides automated system for identifying gunshots in the city. Essentially, it’s a mass surveillance audio system that Samaritan has infiltrated (of course.) Garvin himself is a wonderful detail because he is the human intelligence that makes the automated system functional. Most current automation systems (sometimes referred to as artificial intelligences, though they definitely are not) require a human to double check their initial findings to confirm the data. I tend to call these people “meat robots,” which I’m allowed to do since I’m a professional meat robot myself. Seeing that bit of reality slip into the fringes of Person of Interest is pleasurable. Garvin stumbles upon a case by discovering one of the Samaritan-caused discrepancies in the data and not letting it rest. That he’s a twitchy caffeine addict who can’t let things go which adds to the reality. He’s also endearingly driven to seek justice for people who have been wronged which moves him from creep to hero territory pretty quickly. I like when Person of Interest reverses your expectation like that. It’s what makes all of their cases so humanizing.
Fusco also finally makes a reappearance, first getting threatened by Elias’ old mafia friend and then helping John with his number. The convergence of the Samaritan business with the mafia plotline was smooth, generating plenty of anxiety when it looked like John has been captured by the enemy. The mafia man, Moran, just wants to know what happened to his friend Elias while the Samaritan plot is more open-ended and remains unresolved. I particularly enjoyed Root and Harold debating the morally ambiguous choice of saving one life by revealing information that could have unknown consequences. Their discussions about knowing the motivations of an AI play back into the other side-plot which is Harold running a simulation between small versions of Samaritan and the Machine to find potentially good outcomes of a battle between them. So far, there are none. Person of Interest is, at its core, optimistic about the future symbiosis between technology and humanity, so I’m curious to see what the show comes up with in regard to defeating Samaritan. I’m just along for the ride at this point and trust that the destination will be fantastic.
The twist here was that Elias was alive. Which I just don’t care about. I’m astonished that the mafia plot has made it this far into the series intact and don’t see what utility it still serves. That said, I gasped and swore when he showed up. Didn’t he get shot like directly in the head? Admittedly, I wasn’t paying that close attention. While I can’t see any reason to keep Elias (or Moran) around, it’s nice that the show remembers where it’s come from and what’s happened, and I trust that they’re here for some reason that will eventually become clear.
I find it interesting how well Harold and co. are hiding the fact from everyone that two artificial super-intelligences are silently warring each other. I keep wondering when they’re going to have to tell Fusco, who has to know something right? To be honest, I can’t remember what Fusco knows. I adore this show but I’ve never felt compelled to mentally catalog it the way I do with some things.
Overall, “ShotSeeker” is fun. It’s entertaining. It has a compelling plot and I enjoyed watching it all unfold. I hate to judge it harshly simply because I’m coming off an endorphin high from “6,471.” It’s the kind of episode where I don’t have much to say because it hits all of its formula buttons perfectly well without any attendant sci-fi technobabble in the margins to make me pant. Good. Fun. Liked it.
Dana Leigh Brand | Contributor