Feb 1, 2017

[TV] Person of Interest: Season 3

It took a while for Person of Interest to really grow on us. It's a show that leans heavily on the episodic structure for TV shows especially since it's core structure is a lot more like a police procedural sort of deal. And the show's writers seem determined to stick to this formula as much as possible and I feel this tends to hold the show back. Others may not agree, but given the advances the show has made with it's meta-plot surrounding the Machine, it always feels like a bit of a waste of time when they don't push that story forward.

And for a show in its third season, I was expecting a lot more Machine-driven stories apart from the numbers. This is particularly painful give how they ended the second season with a lot of Machine-focused episodes.

So given that you sort of expect the third season to follow on that, the reality of how this season started was a bit of a disappointment. I can only wonder if that contributed to the show's slow progress and relatively early end after only 5 seasons.

Synopsis: Person of Interest is an American science fiction crime drama series created by Jonathan Nolan. The show aired on CBS and ran for 5 seasons.

The big shift for the season is the new status quo with Carter (Taraji P. Henson) being demoted to a beat cop from being a detective. But she's making the most of the feeling that she is no longer a threat by conducting a secret investigation into HR. We also have Root (Amy Acker) with a direct link to the Machine and more and more she begins to operate like an extension of the Machine's will, even more than how Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) do with the investigation of the numbers.

This is also the season  where Shaw (Sarah Shahi) becomes a regular cast member as she's now one of the Machine's primary assets. So this season eventually spends time looking into her backstory and the odd fact that she's rather emotionally cold to the point of being scary at times.

What I Liked: Carter's arc initially seems a little silly since I've always found the HR storyline to be a rather annoying part of the show, but in truth it's an amazing story that really defines this season. Carter is absolutely determined to take down HR and the lengths she's willing to go can get a little scary. But that's what makes for great stories for her and a lot of tense moments as well. But yeah Carter was a major story investment in this season.

And I liked the somewhat creepy growth of Root as a direct agent of the machine together with Shaw trying to acclimate into the team. It totally makes sense that the machine-like Shaw might eventually get along with the machine-obsessed Root but its not entirely expected based on how the show positions them initially. Later in the season we also finally get Samaritan, a potential rival AI being brought in as a direct antagonist for the Machine. And that does show a lot of promise for the future.

What Could Have Been Better: The season begins on a low point as we go back into the routine of the numbers despite the high stakes season finale of Season 2 including the memorable yet also somewhat creepy "Can you hear me?" question. I wanted to tackle that story first but instead we went back to business as usual.

And the only thing worse than HR-focused stories are ones that involve the confusing group Vigilance. It's obvious that the writer wanted to build up the group into some weird technology statement but I don't think they ever really got that far and always felt like a joke. They were only most effective when the plot demanded that they become a threat that's strong enough to challenge our main characters.

TL;DR: The third season of Person of Interest fell back into the trap of starting out a little slow but then picking up much later in the season. The season does try to raise the stakes but there are other changes that felt like more due to external factors outside the show as opposed to being a natural step forward in the narrative. But the big finish at the end helps get this season get a rating of 3.5 moments of near direct intervention by the Machine out of a possible 5.

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