In which we learn the Machine wasn’t always so nice, Root is made of awesome, and someone rigged an election.
Of the three topics mentioned above the election rigging seems to be the most tame, but surprisingly it is just as engaging as the other stories. It actually leads into Root demonstrating her awesomeness. Let’s back up. The number of the week is Simon (Jason Ritter), golden boy pollster who is never wrong about his election predictions. This time all his numbers don’t add up to the election results and he smells conspiracy. The problem with yelling conspiracy is that you come off looking like a loon, and if the conspiracy is real then you might end up looking dead.
Simon is correct about his conspiracy allegations, but the culprit is more powerful than he can imagine. Samaritan has grown tired of shaping events with hit squads and wants to shape humanity from the top down.
Team Machine has the daunting task of trying to stay off of Samaritan radar, which is actively watching Simon, and protecting the number. Shaw is comedy relief this week going undercover to as a campaign aid trying to get people out to vote. Her people skills are quite laughable. Once the guns come out, however she is golden.
Reese is benched for shooting out one knee cap too many as a police officer. This puts Reese out of the Number protection game, but he is stuck talking out his issues with a shrink. If you have never watched the show then you might not know that Reese is not very chatty. He tries charm and lies to throw off the psychiatrist, but ends up sharing some truth. He has both a hero complex and a death wish. The death wish has gotten more profound since Carter’s death. Caviezel puts in a stellar performance when he talks about Reese’s grief and his need to save everyone. For that reason alone it is forgivable that Reese was missing during the major action scenes.
The meat of the episode is carried by Root and Harold. The latter had flashbacks showing his first attempt at programming the machine. Harold was quick on the deletion key with the early models of the Machine. He wanted to ensure the artificial intelligence he was creating had a moral center to go with its higher reasoning algorithms. One of his last attempts actually tried to kill him to prevent deletion. Since we are in flashback land it was cool to see Nathan working with Harold again.
In comparison, the present day had Harold and Root working side by side. Root comments that it felt nice to working with Harold that way. It’s ironic considering Root kidnapped Harold way back in season two and promised she would be his new best friend. Now they actually are kind of friends, though Root needs to remember that John is Harold’s bestie. As flippant as Root normally is about her relationship to the Machine and all the identities she takes on, she is a bit lonely. Harold warns her that the Machine will use her up for its cause, but Root is sure it loves her. The Machine really is a god to Root, and she reminds Harold he is the one that taught it compassion.
Done with all the feels? On to the action of machine interface vs. machine interface. Samaritan sends in its machine interface, Martine, to kill Simon but she has to face anomaly, Root. Watching both of them getting instructions from their machine overlords during their shootout was incredible. They are firing shots through walls, floors and completely blind. It looked like a ballet in fast motion. Root was willing to give her life to complete her mission which is in complete contrast to the Root of two years ago. Incredible character development in a way that was believable makes Root one of the most selfless character (hero, even?) of the team. Bravo.
That last line where Harold finally… finally… says to the Machine “we need to talk” Whoa! Is it next week yet.