Person of Interest: Honor Among Thieves (4×07)
Synopsis: Samaritan’s people and Team Machine both rush to try and stop the release of a virus with very different motives.
What I got out of this week’s episode is as follows: Samaritan is everywhere. I think as the season progresses we will get to see just how far reaching the enemy is. I don’t even recall the Machine being as involved in the everyday functions of the American government as Samaritan is. Even though the irrelevant of the week provided a somewhat interesting storyline, I believe the point of the episode was to further Samaritan’s question. I say this because everything in this episode pointed back to Samaritan and the lines that are being blurred for Team Machine and their quest against it.
The irrelevant of the week is one who catches Shaw’s eye because he happens to be a jewel thief. Of course the team assumes he’s the perpetrator and they create an opening in his team so that Shaw can get close to him. Team Machine framed one of the jewel thief’s people and gave Shaw a chance to slide right in. Given her current job as a professional criminal, it isn’t difficult to make her valuable. She was able to infiltrate the team and got roped immediately into a job.
While she worked on that, Finch was off working with Root on Samaritan’s latest scheme. Apparently, through the newly appointed governor, Samaritan is spreading money around to suit its needs. The latest project is one wherein a software engineer created a non-profit in order to put a tablet in the hands of every child. Of course the immediate assumption was that Samaritan planned to plant spying software, or some sort of other malicious program on the tablets in order to keep tabs on children and even the household in general. Given this suspicion, Samaritan’s plan had to be stopped, and it involved Root becoming a nanny.
Unfortunately the nanny gig didn’t last long since Samaritan caught on to her hacking and almost caught her. With some information in hand, she left her nanny identity behind and moved forward with the Machine’s plan to dismantle whatever it is Samaritan was building.
The highlight of this episode was probably the interaction between Shaw and Root. I’m sorry, but they are one of the best things about this show. I love Reese, Finch, and Fusco a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ll always love those boys but there’s something about two badass women snarking back and forth and flirting with each other that just fills me with excitement. Their storylines and talents are not tied in directly to the male lead’s talents and storylines. Instead, they have truly stepped into their own on the show and watching them interact is great. I think it helps that Amy Acker (Root) and Sarah Shahi (Shaw) have such great chemistry on camera.
Back to the plot, the jewel thief Shaw is working for ends up stealing a virus similar to ebola instead of actual jewels, as he had been told. Naturally, this leads to the whole operation not going as planned as the two other members of the team whip out their guns and try to kill Shaw and Thomas. Thankfully, Shaw was perceptive and got them both out of harm’s way, but the virus went with the not-so-great teammates who, we found out later, gave the virus to an old teammate everyone had thought was dead.
Since it was a deadly virus that could cause some major chaos in New York City, similar to what the ebola scare has done in the United States recently, Thomas became a relevant number. It has been a while since the show has used the relevant versus irrelevant distinction, but I think it was an important development. It shows that Samaritan is truly up and functioning. It is no longer just a concept, or something that is in the works. Samaritan is actively providing the American government with numbers of dangerous people and is attempting to stop bad things from happening. It has finally taken the place of the Machine, except it has less than admirable motivations behind sending agents to capture the virus.
So Shaw ended up crossing paths with Samaritan agents because Marco, one of Thomas’ old team members, lured them into a trap. He stole the vials of the virus in order to draw Thomas in and, ideally, infect him with the virus in order to get revenge for getting left behind. This was probably the weakest part of the storyline and sort of fizzled out, unless my theory holds true.
I had high hopes that Samaritan was actually behind Marco’s actions and not just his petty revenge. Though I don’t think it was explicitly stated in the episode, I can’t help but wonder if Samaritan was actually the client behind it all. However, there’s a catch wherein Marco made it sound as if the client wanted the virus “delivered” to NYC through a host in order to start a pandemic. Samaritan may be bad, but I have a difficult time seeing it actively seeking to start a pandemic and want to just push it off as Marco taking revenge. It would be interesting to know who was really pulling his strings though.
Nonetheless, whether Samaritan just planned it or is an opportunist, the mission changes for the two relevant agents. They are now told not to destroy the virus, but to capture it and deliver it to a contact who would meet them in the area once they had the virus in hand. One of the agents, a man Shaw herself had trained, obviously objects to the command. He made it clear throughout the episode that he’s not exactly content with how their job has shifted from investigations to straight out killing. While Shaw and Thomas struggle to get the virus back, there are relevant agents breathing down their necks with the order to kill. The agent Shaw trained was their only saving grace.
Thanks to some fancy work by Reese and Fusco, who provided a comedic moment when Fusco was finally filled in on what they were doing and responded with a put out, “it is not cool to ask me to do this stuff with you, man. Not cool.” They shot up the place, distracted the relevant agents, and gave Thomas and Shaw a chance to knock out Marco and his guys and escape with the virus.
Until, of course, they run into one of the relevant agents. However, the moment he realizes it is Shaw he tells them to go. They get out of there and are able to destroy the virus, but not without consequence. As it is found in the final scene, the agent attempted to erase the proof that he’d let them go. In erasing the footage he triggered Samaritan to take a closer look at a very clear shot of Shaw. Her identity may be compromised, but we’ll have to wait until next week to see. It would be a great plot twist if this whole episode was all a ploy by Samaritan to get Team Machine out into the open.
Finally, back to the tablet guy, we see Finch and Root working together to lash out against Samaritan. Since Samaritan wanted the tablets to be created, Finch and Root worked to destroy it. Yet as they walked away from the chaos they’d created by setting all of the 3D printers manufacturing the tablets on fire, Finch admitted that there hadn’t been any malicious code on the operating system. There was no proof that Samaritan had ill intentions and he brought up a good point: Castro built schools when he came into power so people would love him, and perhaps Samaritan was doing the same thing.
Finch was conflicted and told Root, “It was an absolute good and we destroyed it. How much wrong are we willing to do in the name of right?” They are profound questions, but I’m afraid he’s not going to be able to find an answer to it quite yet. If things go as I imagine they will, everything is going to get substantially worse before it gets better. All he can do is trust in the Machine and hope that the artificial intelligence he created is really as good as he believes her to be.
There was a flash of something akin to dismay on Root’s face that I found utterly intriguing, though she didn’t mention anything about Finch’s words. She just watched him walk away because I think, at this point, everyone is probably beginning to question their quest as they continue to journey into the grey.