R. A. M. – Random Access Memory. This is one of those episodes you can tell will be incredible as soon as the opening credits started rewinding. So everyone lets go back in time to 2010 when Finch was trying out Team Machine with training wheels.
Before there was Mr. Reese, there was apparently a Mr. Dillinger. He was a mercenary and a grade A jerk. After he saves the Number’s life, who happens to be a pretty woman, he immediately hits on the her. He brings Finch tea, but its Chai cause that’s close enough to Sencha green tea that he doesn’t see the difference. Really? Obviously he is not classy enough to hang out with Finch. That is the crux of the relationship between Dillinger and Finch. They do not trust or respect each other and the operations are not smooth at all. Finch disagrees with Dillenger and he jabs at the fact that Finch is welcome to come out in the field himself. Cut to Finch in a wheelchair and a look of desolation on his face. Did someone say jerk? Where is Reese when you need him?
Daniel Casey is the Number of the week and he’s a computer geek with a secret that has way more enemies than his line of work would account. This is where the story starts to spiral into the larger arcs of the show. If you haven’t been watching consistently, the multiple storylines and players may be a bit confusing because the show does not slow down to explain.
Dillinger tracks down Casey at his hotel, but two other interested parties are already there. Mr. Reese and Kara Stanton. Wait isn’t she dead? The beauty of flashbacks is that several people who are dead in the current timeline show up for this story. Reese is the bad guy or the perpetrator this week, which is so strange. They have orders to kill Casey and bring back his teeth as proof. Finch immediately recognizes Reese as a CIA agent. How? They shouldn’t have crossed paths yet. As the episode seems to be about answering question from throughout the series, this is the one question it brings to light that really needs answering.
Casey stumbles into the next group after him at a meeting with a guy that is supposed to be a representative of the SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), but really the guy wants information for Decima. Remember Decima were the big bad from the season two finale who wanted to take over the Machine. They came with a full hit squad and intercept Reese and Stanton stealing Casey from Dillinger. After all the shooting is done, Dillinger made off with Casey. Finally, it’s revealed that everyone wants Casey because he cracked a firewall of some really complicated and secret… Machine. Some of that code is on his laptop. Follow all that? Finch did, since he freaked out on Dillinger and wanted the flow of information to stop immediately.
Oh and the Office of Special Councel (OSC) and Control are running Reese and Stanton. In two quick conversations we find out Control gave to order to kill Nathan Ingrim and the future order to eliminate Reese and Stanton. It always seemed strange extremely valuable agents would be given the suicide mission in Ordos, China. Now we know it was because they failed to retrieve the laptop in New York.
Now that all the teams are identified, bring on the twists and turns. Betrayals run abound starting with the most obvious — Dillinger turning on Finch. He was very much a mercenary that did not care about the mission, only the money. Once he realizes the laptop is worth something, he steals it and knocks out Harold. It’s significant that he chooses to incapacitate Finch instead of killing him. That means that Finch made a mistake picking Dillinger, but he wasn’t completely off. It also explains the level of hostility and mistrust Finch had towards Reese in the first few episodes of season one. The next betrayal is Casey’s friend leading him into a trap, but in his defense he did have a gun to his head. And finally, the most interesting betrayal is Reese defying his mission and letting Casey go free, complete with an escape plan and minus a few teeth. Most importantly, Finch witnesses Reese’s kindness toward Casey when he was sure Reese was going to complete his mission. This might be the biggest piece of the puzzle around why Finch chose Reese in the first place.
At the end of the day, almost everyone was killed by Shaw, but the Chinese have the laptop. That’s right, she makes a cameo to clean up after Reese and Stanton. Strangely, the most heart-breaking thing is watching Finch bury Dillinger in woods. The guy sucked and his greed led him to his death, but Harold made it seem tragic. Jump to present day and Root shows up at Casey’s hideout to send him to South America with the other computer genius the Machine has been hiding. This is getting ominous.
The one thing that felt like a cop out was originally, we thought Finch sold the laptop to the Chinese himself as revenge for Nathan’s death and to free the Machine. With this new information, Harold is not as responsible for the actions set in motion. His interference that led to Reese being sent to Ordos was him protecting a Number, not vengeance. Small quibble, but there you have it.