Much like its characters, Person of Interest flew under the radar. I don’t care that the CBS show routinely attracted over 10 million live viewers; no one seemed to watch it.
Or maybe, perhaps in the age of prestige TV, the wrong people watched it. Most of these viewers were casual watchers who enjoyed tuning in for one episode here and there. The show began and ended with its time slot, with little discussion being furthered in the greater television community.
Which is a shame because Person of Interest (POI) demands to be talked about.
It’s a layered and intelligent series with an eerie relevance to our times. I desperately wanted people to know that, so I hopped from friend to friend to that random guy at the bar, hoping to convince someone to give it a chance.
I’d explain the show as concisely as I could. “After 9/11, a billionaire genius named Finch built a supercomputer called “The Machine” to spy on everyone and predict terrorist attacks, but since it also predicts smaller “irrelevant” crimes as well, Finch hires an ex CIA operative named Reese to help him act on the crimes The Machine predicts and stops them before they happen. They save a different person each episode that the government deems irrelevant.”
“Oh,” that guy at the bar said, “It’s a…procedural.”
Yes. POI can accurately be described as a crime procedural. It can also accurately be described as one of the best science-fiction shows in recent memory, I just hadn’t gotten to that part yet.
“But then, near the end of season two, you start to learn more about The Machine, and there is this psychopath named Root who is on a mission to set The Machine free from Finch’s control. And then ANOTHER machine, Samaritan, gets made, and the two supercomputers go to war with each other.”
“Oh,” that guy at the bar said, “I’d watch that. Can I just skip over some of the first two seasons?”
I get it. Person of Interest consists of over 100 44-minute episodes. That is a large amount of time to dedicate to one show. Back in 2016, in an attempt to get my friends to catch up before the final season aired, I went so far as to write out a guide of which episodes were absolutely necessary to get one caught up to season five.
The problem behind skipping most of the first two seasons, or the promise that “it gets really good if you just stick with it,” is the implication that the episodes dealing with cases of the week are “fillers” and therefore aren’t as important or relevant as the show’s serialized episodes.
I was guilty of this mindset myself until I watched the finale and heard the show’s final message.
By the time the fifth and final season of POI ends, the plot has taken us through storylines exploring the worrying implications of uncontrolled artificial intelligence. Samaritan (the “bad” computer) is attempting to run the world in the way it deems right, disposing of anyone who is irrelevant to that goal, and our heroes and The Machine (the “good” computer) are trying to stop it from gaining control of humanity. Both machines have become characters in their own right, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for being so taken in by their story that they forget what the show is actually about – people.
The idea that the show is about people; about individuals with lives, dreams, and flaws, is easy to forget when we focus so closely on the serialized plot and the fate of the world.
In the pilot episode, Finch enlisted Reese’s help to save the people The Machine predicted would be in trouble. This was their purpose. As the show forged a grander path in Season 3, they obtained a grander purpose as well. This made for more compelling and thought-provoking television, and in my original viewing of the series, I was looking forward to the day that they’d leave the cases of the week behind.
They never did, and it defines the message of the show.
At the climax of the finale, Reese has an exchange with Finch where it seems as though he is speaking directly to everyone who finds the first two seasons of this show a bit of a slog to get through.
“I’ve been trying to save the world for so long, saving one life at a time seemed a bit anti-climactic. Then I realized, sometimes one life, if it’s the right life, it’s enough.”
Even while saving the world – one life matters.
This is something the finale doesn’t let you forget about, as mere moments after Reese’s words, The Machine recalls a lesson it learned from a police officer who said that “Everyone dies alone, but if you mean something to someone, if you helped someone, or loved someone if even a single person remembers you, then maybe you never really die at all.”
And so, at the climax of the series, when we are so focused on whether or not Samaritan will finally be defeated, The Machine takes a lesson from one of those “irrelevant” people that were so heavily focused on in the beginning of the series. “I know I’ve made some mistakes, many mistakes,” The Machine says, “but we helped some people, didn’t we?”
Every single case of the week episode contributed to this moment. Those first two seasons, which included week after week after week of Reese and Finch saving random people on the streets of New York, mattered. The final lesson here, that we can continue living on through helping others, would be empty if it weren’t for all those “filler” episodes.
As I said before, I get it. It’s a lot of television to get through. Yes, you can successfully understand the plot of the show by watching the most serialized episodes, but skipping the procedural elements of the series will lessen the impact of this final lesson.
I find a certain irony that the episodes we most highly recommend are the serialized pieces that mostly sideline saving an individual. It feels like an almost Samaritan way to watch the show, where we dispose of the irrelevance to arrive at the goal more quickly. Without those first two seasons, and without those procedural episodes, POI is about the birth of artificial superintelligences and a fight for a faceless humanity, because like so many other ambitious sci-fi tales before it, the little people would have gotten left behind.
But POI doesn’t leave them behind. It never forgets that the world is only worth fighting for because of the individual people who live in it, and that long after the battle is won, we should continue helping anyone we can.
That message only carries the weight it does because of those first two seasons. The case of the week “filler” episodes are the backbone of the show’s final message.
I started this piece mentioning that despite 10 million viewers tuning in for the show, the “right” people didn’t watch it, and therefore the series doesn’t rank amongst the more popular peak TV titles. That statement isn’t quite fair, just as discounting the procedural elements of POI isn’t fair.
Every person matters, and every person who watched or was touched by this show matters as well. POI will likely never achieve the recognition it deserves in our current landscape, but perhaps, just as “[one life is enough],” knowing that it touched so many people can be enough, too.
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Best Shay Mitchell Movies and TV Shows to Watch
Shay Mitchell has amassed quite a following on social media with her hilarious and relatable TikTok videos, but on-screen is where she delivers the real gold and pours herself into the most challenging roles.
Here are the best movies and TV shows starring Shay Mitchell to add to your must-watch list:
Pretty Little Liars – Freeform
Shay became a household name after bringing Emily Fields to life in the ABC Family/Freeform mystery drama. Emily and her best friends attempted to solve the mystery surrounding their best friend’s disappearance while fielding text messages from a digital stalker at every turn. Shay’s portrayal was also pivotal as it brought to life one of the best LGBTQ characters for the network!
Dollface – Hulu
After being dumped, Jules (Kat Dennings) rekindles her female friendship with Madison (Brenda Song) and the eccentric Stella (Shay) and re-enters the world where your girlfriends trump romantic relationships. Each character brings a certain personality to the series, but Stella is definitely the most vibrant and worldly.
You – Netflix
In its first season of the psychological thriller, Shay tackled the role of Peach Salinger, the best friend of Joe’s (Penn Badgley) first obsession Beck (Elizabeth Lail). And you know that any friend of Beck’s is an enemy of Joe’s.
The Possession of Hannah Grace – Sony Pictures
Shay flexed her horror muscle as cop-turned-morgue worker Megan Reed, who accepts a delivery of a disfigured cadaver during the graveyard shift and is plagued with horrifying visions as she’s possessed by a demonic spirit.
The film revolves around several different mother’s day events, including one with Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a single mom that finds out her ex-husband is marrying a younger woman, Tina, played by Shay.
7 Hottest Moments Between Thony and Arman on ‘The Cleaning Lady’
Arman and Thony have an intense and electric bond on The Cleaning Lady.
While they let the passion get to them on a few occasions, they’ve mostly kept things PG. So, how can there be so many “hot moments” between them, you ask. Well, good question!
When it comes to these two, it’s not only about the physical connection but the emotional as well. It’s about every longing gaze, stolen glance, and forbidden touch. It’s about all the times Arman helps Thony at his own discretion, and in turn, it’s the loyalty and support she extends to him.
Here are the hottest and steamiest moments between Arman (Adan Canto) and Thony (Elodie Yung) on The Cleaning Lady Season 1!
Not only does Arman spare Thony’s life, but he “hires her” as the cleaning lady in order to justify keeping her alive. He sees something in her that not only piques his interest but also reminds him of himself. When Thony stands up to him at the airport hangar for the first time, she’s setting the scene for their season-long tug-and-pull dynamic. Arman acknowledges that she’s a woman that “commands respect” while noting that he’s “offering that to her.” He also reminds her that as immigrants, they need each other, and she needs him as he can play a huge role in keeping her son alive. It’s a key scene in order to establish the ground rules between these two power players — even if they are told at every turn that they have no power.
When Arman risks his own life to save Thony’s after he realizes he’s basically walked her into a trap, it’s one of the first moments where he admits, subconsciously, that he cares for her. After the explosion, she pays him back for saving her life by saving his, which is when she reveals that there’s much more to her than meets the eye. Arman is impressed with how well she works under pressure, but Thony once again reminds him that it’s a give and take relationship. “You want me to work for you, protect me. Give me the respect I deserve. And if anything happens to me, swear my son will be protected.” He gave her his word… and he never lied.
With Luca dying in her arms, Thony realizes she’s out of options and seeks out Arman and the club, who rushes to her aid and brings her to a private doctor that’s paid off by Hayak. Arman doesn’t just drop Thony off — he carries Luca inside, takes her burden, and sticks around to make sure that she’s okay. While he’s offering a shoulder to cry on, he realizes that he trusts her enough to open up about his past, which reveals that he understands Thony’s predicament all too well as he’s done the unthinkable to protect his family, too. The moment humanizes him in Thony’s eyes and the eyes of the audience. And when he sees that she looks at him with judgment for the career that he chose, it almost seems like he wants to become a better man for her.
When Arman notices that Thony is upset about Luca’s procedure, he comforts her. He allows her to have a full-on breakdown (one of Thony’s only moments of weakness in the series) and cradles her in his arms. And all those heightened emotions lead to a very unexpected yet passionate kiss. I mean… really passionate. You cannot fake that kind of chemistry! Thony stops things before they escalate to the point of no return, but it’s enough to satiate all the fans that have been long shipping the couple.
When Thony informs Arman that she can’t afford the surgery and the liver donor, Arman offers to pay for the surgery, assuring her that he couldn’t have secured a huge deal with Thony’s intel from the FBI. “I’m in too deep now,” he says with an adorable smile, which definitely implies that he’s not just doing this for Luca. However, when Thony mentions that she’ll have to “talk to her husband” who has arrived in the U.S., Arman’s whole demeanor changes. The guy has absolutely no poker face, but it’s because he simply can’t hide himself or his emotions in front of the woman he loves. And while the moment isn’t exactly “hot,” it does reveal just how bad Arman has it for Thony. Plus, he’s still willing to pay for the surgery even with Thony’s husband in the picture, which is admirable.
The kiss right before Luca’s surgery was perfection. Unlike their first make-out session, this kiss was rooted in trust, honesty, and longing. Arman risked everything to get Thony and Luca across the border in a private jet because he cares about her so much and knows he might not have her around for much longer. The kiss is prefaced by a sweet talk where Thony reveals so much happened in Vegas that she’d like to forget, which prompts Arman to suggest, “hopefully, not everything.” “Not everything,” Thony admits.
Arman and Thony are like the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. In one fell swoop, they worked together to take down Hayak and stole the $6 million from the gun sale after agreeing to help the FBI make the arrests. The action-packed episode didn’t allow for any real romantic moments, but the very fact that they trust each other enough to get into bed with the FBI while pulling one over on FBI at the same speak volumes.
Also, the longing gaze and hang caressing while Thony visits Arman in jail is enough to make fans go crazy waiting for more #Armony (should we make that a ship name?).
Come on, FOX. Give us a second season!
I’m sure there are plenty of other moments I could’ve mentioned — which ones would you add to the list? Weigh in in the comments below!
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