Person of Interest Ep. 0401: Panopticon

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Quick Note: This was written to coincide with the Season Premiere last week, but things got wonky. I will be back on schedule to post episode 3 on the day after airing.      

MovieDude Eric here. I can’t explain just how excited I am that GonnaGeek tasked me to write about my favorite show on television right now. For those who have never seen an episode of Person of Interest or perhaps Panopticon was your first taste of the sweet badassery that this show delivers, allow me to say welcome aboard. Few shows with such a deep mythology as POI rarely have great jumping-on points mid-show, but if you were going to hop on without going to the beginning, this isn’t a bad place to start. But before I get started talking about this amazing premiere, allow me to assure everyone that I don’t believe in spoilers, but I might make some speculations near the end. No doubt I’ll tie this episode with earlier ones, but if I need to get deep into the mythos, I’ll post those either in separate posts or towards the end. So are we ready?

Over the last three months, I have been on pins and needles wondering how this show will maneuver after that devastating finale. We are now in the Age of Samaritan, noted now by the new nearly-silent interface transitioning scenes, the blatant sifting of information onscreen as we go from one narrative to another. It amazes me how that cold open set up the situation so well for newcomers by both laying down the new reality of a Big Brother’s wet dream and the worst nightmares of conspiracy theorists everywhere. We ARE being watched. And under Samaritan’s reign, everybody is guilty until not being proven innocent because it already sent the assassin twenty minutes ago.

So where is The Machine, Harold Finch’s benevolent cyber monster? No doubt it is in hiding itself, cut off from the secure feeds that now fuel its rival. One thing that this show does very well is establish all the pieces on the board and gives you an understanding of where they are. The trick comes with the fact that we never know all the players in the game (Control’s emergence last season is a very good example of that). The Machine’s presence is still felt with every text sent to our heroes, every ringing pay phone. But we too are cut off from it, grasping for any proof that it is there watching over them.

This season already seems to be setting up two major themes: the first being that humans desire the feeling of being watched over, we just don’t like being controlled. Person of Interest has always been keen on this subject, but this is the first time it becomes clear. Samaritan, the so-called bad A.I. would use this personal information to exploit and eliminate threats. The Machine was designed to protect and to empathize, which is why it gives the numbers to both the victim and the perpetrator. And tonight’s number easily fits into both camps.

The other theme in play is the one I’ve been begging for nearly since the beginning of the show: Each random life saved has a larger purpose to The Machine’s plans. Root giving sad puppy face Finch a rousing pep talk lays out that there’s more going on than just saving the random life here and there. The obvious question now becomes for what purpose? I want to say that it’s clearly benevolent, but then it did indicate the desire to assassinate a senator that turned out to be the catalyst for Samaritan’s rise. If that isn’t some Skynet tactics, tell me what is.

The number of the week, Ali, gives us a chance to see both themes a little more clearly. He’s a good man who has gotten caught up in a bad situation when he develops an untraceable communications system (off old UHF antennas, which was pretty awesome) that has become a prized possession of a narcotic syndicate that call themselves The Brotherhood (recurring threat?). Reece, now sporting a new badge thanks to the cover given to him by The Machine, aids Ali in getting this nuisance off his back and in the process, gains access to this new and much-needed network. Textbook definition of having one’s cake and making dated Portal references, too.

Is this a great season premiere? If you were to judge this by any other show’s standards, I’d say no. But then Person of Interest isn’t so much interested in hitting the gate fast or letting out their best stuff early. With each season, the game changes as new players and situations arise. This opener leaves me to believe that there’s going to be a slow burn that will build into a wildfire. In a way, I could see this being the best season of the show’s entire run. Samaritan will force each member of Team Machine to face their breaking point and show what they are truly made of. I am not sure if everybody will make it to the end of the season, but it’s way too early to start placing bets. What I’m willing to bet on is that when Root claimed they only had five (six if you count the dog, I do), I think she might be off by a few dozen.

 

Random Things:

 

  • Reece rocks the ski mask and grenade launcher again! This iconic image of the show’s lore is a test of the true fan. I myself shouted “f**k yeah!”
  • You would think that Finch would be at home in a college lecture hall. And after watching the Big Bang Theory premiere, it’s nice to know that he has at least a few more students attending his class than Sheldon Cooper.
  • Root, Shaw, seriously, get a room ladies. You’re pushing the perfume smell out of the mall with the hormones you two are letting off.
  • Wouldn’t Finch be more curious that the Machine allowed for any grammatical errors at all long before now? Or did it take him this long to get over his moral concerns with The Machine?
  • More Elias. Enough Said.

 

Transmission End. MovieDude Out.



Avatar ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Fell in love with film before I learned how to walk. My first mentor was Yoda. My biggest playground is my imagination. My greatest joy is sharing my passions with others and learning new ones along the way.

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