Synopsis for 5×12: Finch works to deploy a virus that will take down Samaritan, but could end the Machine as well. As he does it, the Machine shows him what the world would have been like for each of his friends if he had not created her.
Finch and the Machine discussed his plans to unleash a virus, and talked about his feelings having created the Machine. He seemed to be under the impression that none of the chaos would have happened had he not created her, and the Machine begged to differ. She offered to show him a world for his friends without the Machine in it. First, she showed Finch where he would have been had he and Nathan turned down the DOD contract that led to her creation.
She showed him a relatively bland and lonely life. One where Nathan lived, and their company went on to make them wealthy through other government contracts. However, Finch never met Grace, because the “statistical probability” of meeting her was astronomical had it not been for the Machine’s intervention. Perhaps he would have never lost her, but he also would never had the chance to experience love. As they say, “it is better to have loved and lost than…” and Harold still wasn’t convinced.
Revealed to be having the discussion with the Machine in another man’s house, the owner of the home appeared and wanted to know what he was doing. He was a coder, one who had created a program that Finch needed to unleash the Ice 9 virus and destroy Samaritan. With a bit of blackmail he assumed the other man’s identity and went on his way to the next part of his plan.
Reese and Shaw, still a bit lost, did their best to track him down. The Machine gave them another number, and it just so happened to be Greer. Either he was going to kill Finch, or Finch was going to kill him. One way or another, Reese and Shaw knew they had to find Finch before it was too late.
Fusco, off on the side, went on his own little journey into danger. The bodies had been found in the tunnel he’d been injured in, and of course he had to pretend to know nothing about it. As Finch made his way to where ever he was going, the Machine showed him what Fusco’s life would have been like without Team Machine’s intervention. He would have been a legitimately dirty cop within HR, and apparently would have been the first one to flip, losing his badge but avoiding jail time.
Carter would have remained alive and been promoted, as would a number of other good officers who died in the line of fire. However, Fusco would be an alcoholic, and a miserable one at that. It was clear from the simulation that Fusco’s saving grace had been the team. They gave him a reason to improve himself.
Finch kidnapped a French diplomat and made his way to Ft. Meade, where he stole the gentleman’s identity in order to break into the NSA stronghold and plant the virus. While Fusco continued to investigate the missing persons associated with Samaritan, Finch walked right into the belly of the dang thing.
He and the Machine continued to talk about what life would have been like without her, and Shaw’s fate was made clear. She would have continued working for ISA. Henry Peck, the young man who worked for the NSA and realized what was happening, would have been killed by her hand. Shaw would have continued to be a good soldier and never would have met Root, or anyone else.
With help from the Machine, Reese and Shaw were able to follow Finch’s trail to the NSA facility. Finch had walked right in the front door under an assumed identity and with help from the Machine, before he was cut off from her, he was successful in getting into the servers to release the virus. Shaw and Reese, on the other hand, were forced to use the recycling plant next door and crawl through a chute that would get them into the facility and closer to Finch.
Finch was moments away from executing the virus, but hesitated as he took a moment to say goodbye to the Machine. In that moment he was picked up by Samaritan’s men before he could initiate the virus. Greer decided it was time for he and Harold to have another discussion about all the good Samaritan would supposedly do.
Naturally, Fusco got himself further into trouble and was abducted by the FBI agent who had previously cleared him, on orders from Samaritan to eliminate the good detective.
During their discussion, it came to light that Greer’s Samaritan had decided it did not want the Machine to die after all. Regardless of their previous bickering, the Machine was the only other god in the world like Samaritan, and it wanted a companion. Greer explained that Samaritan was “building an ark” for those who were worthy and that it wanted someone to accompany it into the new age. Of course Finch had none of it, even as Greer showed him around.
Reese and Shaw infiltrated and followed a number the Machine had given them straight to a wireless modem in evidence lockup. They realized they needed to install it to get the Machine into the facility so that she would help them and reestablish a connection. Of course they got caught and had to fight their way out of the situation, but they managed.
Greer made his final pitch to Finch and offered him and the Machine a chance to join with Samaritan to drag humanity to a higher plane. Finch refused, and Greer said that told him all he needed to know. He had not given the password to execute the virus to the Machine, which meant Finch was the only one who knew it, and therefore the only one they had to kill to keep Samaritan safe.
Whether the whole thing had been a ruse or not, Greer locked them both in a room that had the oxygen sucked out of it. He went down hard (RIP Greer) but Finch fought on, making it to the door to try and reach out to the Machine.
Thankfully Shaw and Reese came through on their end and the Machine, in a last ditch effort to save Finch, gave him the code for the door. He got out and had to make a choice: execute the virus, or go back to save his friends. He asked if they were in danger, and the Machine acknowledged that they were and then said that he knew “John was always on borrowed time.” She then showed Finch what Reese’s life would have been without the Machine. He would have been able to save Jessica from her husband, but in the process would scare her so much that she would leave him.
In the end, his body would wash up on the shore of the East River, and he would be buried in a grave marked with only a number and nothing more. If anyone had something to really lose without the Machine, it would have been Reese.
Finch went to rescue his friends who had been pinned down in a corridor. He got them out of harm’s way and the Machine provided an escape for Reese and Shaw. Then, he did what he had to do and left them both, determined to execute the virus. Reese and Shaw got left on the other side of a locked door as Finch told them to go, and leave him.
Fusco, all the way back in the City, managed to get into a high ground position with a gun pointed at the FBI agent who had threatened him. He asked the big question: would killing the agent matter? Would it do any good? Would it protect his family, or would the violence continue? Fusco had a choice to make.
Finally, Finch stepped into the room where he could execute the virus, Samaritan pleaded with him to stop. In killing Samaritan, Finch would kill his own creation too, and he tried to appeal to Finch’s sense of affection for the Machine.
The Machine, in response, showed him one last simulation. This time it was Root, and without Finch and the rest of the team, and especially without the Machine, Root would have ended up working for Samaritan. Samaritan would have happened regardless. She would have never gotten her redemption, never learned to be human, and would have gone on believing people were just bad code.
Finch made his decision, as the Machine gave it to him. She also revealed that she’d known the password all along, but respected that it was Finch’s decision to make, not her’s. The Machine would always ask permission. Finch said the password, a lovely reference to Sense and Sensibility in the form of the surname “Dashwood,” and both Samaritan and the Machine went offline.