One of my favorite shows on television right now is Person of Interest. Through thick and thin, good lines and bad, I’ve stuck with it and have yet to regret it. Just under a year ago I had the chance to follow them around the streets of New York City while they filmed, walked in the background of one of the shots, and met a number of members of the cast. My love for Person of Interest knows no bounds. Give me artificial intelligence, a handsome man in a suit, a kind genius, and a couple of bad ass ladies and the show might as well have been written just for me. Regardless of my possible criticism, the show is one of the best on cable television and its currently ambiguous future is driving me slowly insane.
Here’s the thing: Person of Interest deserves a full season, and at least one more season after that. As of right now, its future is still up in the air. It hasn’t even secured its usual Tuesday night time slot as we tip forward into the season of Fall television. Rumor has it that it will be brought in mid-season, and that rumor also claims that it is only being renewed for thirteen episodes. However, CBS executives are still being purposely vague about the future of the show. Even the thirteen episode renewal may actually be more, though the show is already in production and working on season five. I will continue holding out for the entire season they deserve, for the following reasons.
Person of Interest managed to sneak a flowing science fiction plot line onto broadcast television.
In a world where the procedural is considered to be the highest form of television, Person of Interest managed to steal an audience and hold it for four seasons. There may have been a bit of drop off in viewership after season three, but the fact the show continues to pull in a decent number of watchers every week really speaks volumes to the quality of the show. Most complicated shows on cable seem to get dumped the moment they drift away from the tried and true procedural style of television, but Person of Interest has held its own in the face of an ever growing plot line that threatens to leave the procedural format in the rear-view mirror.
This show has some of the best minds in the industry constructing the plot lines.
While executive producer J.J. Abram’s name may have drawn in an audience, we’ve stayed for the genius writings of Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman. They’ve created a set of unique, fascinating characters and have put them in an environment not far off from the world we currently live. As the show has progressed, they’ve kept it relevant, sometimes in startling ways. The only other show I’ve seen that has managed to play the thin line between science fiction and reality was the summer show Mr. Robot. There’s something absolutely thrilling about science fiction writing which sits just outside of the bounds of our reality, which leads me to my third reason this show deserves a full season five.
Person of Interest is presenting the right questions and leaving the answers for the audience to discover.
I have a friend who is hugely into movies, and he’ll be the first to tell you that the best movies are the ones that leave the audience asking questions. Movies that force feed answers or push an agenda have far less impact than those which pose simple questions to the audience. Person of Interest plays it well in the way it brings up a lot of questions about technology, the role of government, and the shades of gray that lie between good and evil. Could an argument be made for Samaritan’s point of view? It can, and scarily enough it seems to be the one that’s closest to reality. Yet there’s the point of view of the Machine, as well, which presents the audience with a question of who is good and who is bad.
Person of Interest looks to keep its audience on the edge of their seat by making them question everything.
While it would seem that Team Machine is the ultimate good, and Team Samaritan is the ultimate bad, the show actually takes it a lot further. As the seasons have progressed and the show has moved away from its procedural roots, the writers have forced the audience to think a little deeper about what it is to be good and what it is to be bad. The quintessential moment came in season three when John Reese (Jim Caviezel) very nearly killed a senator that could potentially unleash Samaritan, because the Machine told him to. It was Michael Emerson’s character, Harold Finch, who pulled him back from that brink and made the point that if killing was what they’d come to, he wanted to get off.
This brings me to my final point.
Person of Interest pushes the audience to think about their own place in the world by producing characters who openly and constantly struggle to find where they will fall.
I’ve seen a number of fans complain about Root’s shift from bad guy to good guy, or the movement away from exploring John Reese and Harold Finch, yet I find the character struggle to be the most convicting thing in the show. Season four may not have had the strongest writing, but it certainly produced an environment in which the audience got a chance to see how characters change. Root shifted from villain to hero, in the face of a villain who was bigger and badder than herself. Shaw sacrificed her life to prot ect a team she initially was sent to kill. Reese explored the idea of a normal life and relationship, only to realize he would never escape the world he’d been brought into. Finally, Finch had to look his creation in the face and see what it was he had truly created, and live with the resulting chaos.
The show doesn’t sugar coat the situation, nor does it excuse the character’s behaviors. None of them are squeaky clean, and none of them seem to know quite where they’ll fall. As in life, the tides are always shifting and churning, and we’re never sure what is going to come next for Team Machine, or Samaritan, or the world that’s caught in between two warring gods. Person of Interest is a show that has provoked my sense of imagination, forced me to ask questions about the world around me, and allowed me to watch characters I love dearly to struggle with their own sense of morality.
All of these things are wrapped into a delightful science fiction tortilla to give them a context that’s just outside of the world, yet speaks so much to our current reality. It deserves another season, and this ambiguous state of not knowing what the future will hold might just drive me insane.