Welcome to EW‘s recaps of Person of Interest! I’m really excited to dive into the series’ fifth and final season with you guys. While it’s a shame to see such a prescient and intelligent series end, it’s clear from tonight’s season premiere that this show definitely won’t go gently into that good night.
The premiere opens in the team’s subway base, and it’s a mess. The computers and equipment are gone. The subway care is nowhere to be seen. As the camera pans around the room, we hear Root’s voice. “If you can hear this, you’re alone,” she says. “The only thing left is the sound of my voice. I don’t know if any of us made it.” It quickly becomes clear that this is a flash-forward of sorts, and apparently things might not have turned out great for the team. But at this point, it’s best not dwell too much on this opening sequence because I’m sure it will reveal its significance in time. If anything, it does a good job of setting the tone for the season and of reminding us of what’s at stake and why we care so much about this show — it’s characters.
Now, the episode cuts to a few moments after the season 4 finale. The team splits up, and each person tries to make his or her way back to the base while being chased by Samaritan’s operatives. Reese is the one in charge of protecting the Machine, which means the briefcase get shaken up a bit. Eventually, he and Finch rendezvous at a ferry to take to them back to the city because it’s the only means of transportation that’s not under constant video surveillance.
However, Finch hesitates as he’s about to board the boat and flashes back to the ferry bombing that killed Nathan Ingram and left him permanently injured. He says they can’t leave without Root, but Reese says there’s no time and that she can fend for herself. The decision on what to do is made for them because the Machine’s battery light turns red, indicating that it’s almost out of charge because it was damaged during Reese’s escape. Now, they have to rush home and recharge it somehow, or else it’s code will be severely damaged.
Throughout the episode, we flash back to the year 2006 to the moment when Finch realized he had to force the Machine to erase its memories every night in order to contain it. His concerns are pretty valid: If the Machine keeps growing and learning, it could one day decide that humans are the problem and wipe us out. That’s a risk the ever-moral Harold knows the world can’t afford. However, he also realizes what this means; essentially, he’ll be killing the Machine every night because memories are what make us who we are.
However, Finch doesn’t arrive at this decision easily. He struggles with it because deep down he knows that his Machine isn’t just a computer, and the strength of Michael Emerson’s performance and seasons’ worth of character building make the scene when he’s about to input the new code work. Watching Emerson emote in front of a computer screen that’s only responding with text is incredibly moving. I haven’t caught this many feels about technology since the movie Her.
NEXT: How to save a life/Machine/something in the middle