Review: Person of Interest 4.01 – “Panopticon”

The new reign of Samaritan is here and the teaser illustrates how the new world order operates. If it thinks you are a threat, elimination is just around the corner in the form of a new blonde femme fatale. Plus, Team Machine has to figure out a way to rebound from their sound defeat by Decima and Samaritan.

****SPOILERS BELOW****

Person of Interest writers take great pleasure in naming episodes in greek or vague references which, once defined, give interesting insight into the meaning of the show. This week the word of the day is “Panopticon,” which is a type of prison that allows a single watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The answer to that question is “yes, you are being watched. Always.”

Everyone on Team Machine is hiding in plain sight doing mundane jobs with the possible exception of Root, who does not appear to have a job other than to poke and prod at Shaw and Harold. Shaw as a department store sale-woman is hilarious due her complete lack of social skills and underlying anger at the job itself. Harold seemed somewhat content to be a teacher, but that felt more like consigning himself to his fate because of guilt. He still thinks he is responsible for so much death and everything they have done in the last three years has not balanced the scales. Meeting with both John and Root did not change his mind, but maybe the Machine itself did towards the end. More on that later.

Panopticon

We discover John Reese is now Detective John Riley of NYPD narcotics division. John fits more into this kind of job than the rest of the team since he still gets to express himself through violence and blown out knee caps. Oh, and now he is partners with Fusco — that alone is worth its weight in comedy gold.

The Machine is organizing play dates between the hiding team mates and the gleeful look of anticipation between Shaw and Reese when the payphone rings is palpable. Reese wants to handle the new number the old way, which includes explosions and bodily injuries, but Shaw and Harold advise caution. Have they met Reese? John ends up with a tire iron to the back of head as Shaw resolves the Reese problem. How did she drag a rather large man back to her car? Ignore the wizard behind the curtain and enjoy the ride.

Admittedly, the Number of the week was not particularly exciting. Drug-lord wants to take over and kidnaps the son of middle-eastern old soldier, which results in unexpected bombs. What makes this story a bit brilliant is that it also resolves the communication issue that Samaritan represents. Team Machine can’t use phones since all calls are monitored, but the new Number built a private phone system using old standard definition tv waves that became defunct last year. Not sure if that would actually work, but its still an amazing idea. Reese using Elias to do the dirty work when he is not allowed to anymore was also an entertaining development.

Finally, the funk that Harold can not seem to shake- not even with the help of John or Bear- the Machine decides to address directly. So Daddy (i.e. Harold) is not talking to her or working on the numbers, apparently the Machine thinks he needs a puzzle to get the brain juices going. A hidden code in the fake paper the Machine used to get Harold the job leads him to of all things a book. Very old school or last season of you, Machine. The book then leads to a new bat cave which really stirs Harold’s imagination and the audience’s. What will he do with this new space? How many secret escape tunnels will it have and will Bear be able to play fetch down there without getting run over by a train?

This was a great start to the season and revamp of the show. New secret identities for the team brings new obstacles and humor, plus they have to solve the Numbers in new ways. The most important lesson we learn is that the Machine is working on ways to circumvent Samaritan and get Team Machine back up and running. Now the humans have to hold onto the mission and play it smart.

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Post Author: Libya El-Amin

Site editor, staff writer, reviewer, interviewer and all around TV watcher. Host of TV Campfire Podcast where we talk about all the TV shows I manage to watch each week. Sometimes the number of shows is staggering which means I have some sort of addiction. I also edit for television in real life.

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