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.
The 2021 Emmy’s: A Night Dominated by the same Rotating Nominees: ‘The Crown,’ ‘Mare of Easttown,’ and ‘Ted Lasso’
The 2021 Emmy’s returned in a limited capacity with an attendee count of around 500 compared to its typical several thousand, while also managing to keep its winners capped to the same rotating titles: The Crown, Mare of Easttown, and Ted Lasso.
It was a successfully smooth event with predictable winners, among some important victories for people of color.
Opening the award show paying homage to Biz Markie, Cedric the Entertainer sang and rapped a remix of “Just A Friend” with cameras panning to guests in the audience who contributed their own lines and melodies.
The comedy category was easily dominated by Ted Lasso while dramas were split between The Crown and Mare of Easttown, with the former edging out the latter with nearly double the wins.
Regardless of Cedric the Entertainer’s initial praise about the number of Black nominees, it felt like a shout into the void as many of the categories were still dominated by white actors, writers, and directors.
But, Michaela Coel’s win for her brave and empowering drama, I May Destroy You, was a win that needed to happen, not only for the Black community but also for sexual assault survivors.
“Write the tales that scare you, that make you feel uncertain that isn’t comfortable. I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us, for a while and see what comes to you in the silence,” Coel said.
In another triumph of the night, Debbie Allen (Fame and Grey’s Anatomy) took home the Governor’s Award. Celebrated for her perseverance during her early career as a Black dancer discriminated against due to the color of her skin, it was a deliberate step forward made by The Academy.
Interspersed throughout the evening was a handful of references and jokes about COVID and its impact on television. And in a seamless split, many of the British show nominees including Gillian Anderson and Olivia Colman accepted their awards in London in a separate Emmy’s party.
Later on, Leon Bridges performed a special tribute to those in the industry that passed away during the last year. Some of which include Larry King, Alex Trebek, and Michael K. Williams.
In a highly anticipated award for the final victor of the night for a limited series, it was awarded to Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, in a surprising win over Mare of Easttown.
In a year where TV continued to shine, despite COVID’s impact on the world of entertainment, the 2021 Emmy Awards didn’t realistically honor the amount of amazing content that was put out. Instead, it relied on the crutches of the four or five repeated nominees: The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown, Mare of Easttown, Ted Lasso, and Wandavision.
How Will ‘The Resident’ Write Off Nic?
The halls of Chastain will see quite a shift when The Resident returns for its fifth season.
Emily Van Camp, who plays the beloved nurse practitioner Nic Nevins, is scrubbing out after four seasons on the FOX medical drama.
While it isn’t unheard of for an actress to leave a show, the timing is unfortunate from a storytelling perspective considering Nic and Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) recently got married and welcomed a baby girl.
In real life, Van Camp also welcomed a baby girl with husband Josh Bowman, so she obviously has to do what’s best for her and her family. We also have to assume that the struggles of working during a pandemic impacted her decision, as did her potentially expanded role in the Marvel universe.
But there’s absolutely no denying that it’s a huge bummer for fans of the series, many of whom only tune in because of their attachment to the couple affectionately dubbed #CoNic.
We’ve seen the couple go through their fair share of ups and downs, but the fact that the writers chose to introduce a baby means they likely thought she was coming back for the upcoming season and had more a happier storyline in the works.
While I have ultimate faith in the writers, it’s understandable that fans are worried about how her departure will be addressed.
Nic is a crucial part of the show; some might argue that she’s the glue that holds everything together.
Her exit must be handled with the utmost care and respect in order to preserve the integrity of the character.
Since her character is a dedicated wife and mother, it’s unproductive to mess with the relationship by introducing a cheating storyline or a new job since it isn’t believable.
We know Nic would never prioritize anything over her new family, not even a new gig. Even suggesting that as an alternative dishonors the kindhearted character Van Camp has built.
So, this is where it gets concerning.
All signs and breadcrumbs point to Nic not surviving the premiere.
There are a few indications that the writers are going to kill her off and pursue the “Conrad is a heartbroken and widowed single father to baby Gigi” storyline.
The official season 5 poster pointed to tragedy as Conrad was seen alone in a defeated stance. His back was turned to the camera and the words “healing stars within” were written on top.
We think this will hurt us more than heal us, but we're always in.
— The Resident (@ResidentFOX) August 5, 2021
A follow-up trailer titled “Everything Will Change” opens with an ominous montage of CoNic’s happiest moments. It then shows Conrad standing alone in his daughter’s nursery before cops come to his door to deliver some news. Since it’s never a good sign when cops show up at your house in the middle of the night, many fans to theorized that Nic was involved in a tragic accident.
The gossip Instagram account, Deuxmoi, seemingly confirmed that theory via an anonymous tip.
“I can 10,000 percent confirm she’s leaving The Resident early in the upcoming season, but her character will die in a car accident,” a source told the account, though, these can be hit or miss so take it with a grain of salt!
It’s a frustrating approach considering Nic just survived a stabbing along with pregnancy complications last season, but it’s really the only way to handle it while keeping the character intact.
It also presents plenty growth opportunities for Conrad’s character.
Much like the fans (and probably, the writers), he never anticipated that he’d be a single father, but life threw him a curveball and now he has to step up to raise his daughter, likely with the help of his friends at Chastain.
And while we typically see the plight of working mothers, this would offer the series a chance to dig into the hardships of balancing a thriving career in the medical field while also being a present father.
The only other option on the table is that the accident causes Nic to go into a lengthy coma, which would also leave the door open for any potential guest appearances from Van Camp should she so choose to be involved.
The latter would allow for the character to come back, while also allowing the writers to explain her off-screen existence with a storyline about how she gave up her career to stay at home with Gigi in the aftermath of the accident.
However, Elkoff seemingly confirmed that Conrad will be a single father to TV Line, noting: “He’s really good at it. He’s just going to be the best dad you can imagine.”
He also explained that the season will pick up with a nine-month time jump, which explains why Gigi is so big in the promos already.
FOX entertainment president Michael Thorn told Deadline that it will be an emotional departure.
“The audience is going to be surprised and emotionally engaged with how we handle Emily’s departure and the way that it affects all of the other characters,” he said. “And yes, we will be introducing some new characters as we go along, but I think it’s going to be another excellent season. Amy Holden Jones does an incredible job,” he added.
While everyone involved with the series is staying mum on how Van Camp will be written off, they are convinced that fans won’t be disappointed by what they are calling a “potentially game-changing, development.”
In the wake of her exit (along with the exit of Shaunette Renee as Mina last season and Morris Chestnut as Barrett Cain), the series is also adding new cast members to fill the void and ensure the upcoming season has a robust ensemble.
Miles Fowler will join the medical drama as Billie Sutton’s (Jessica Lucas) estranged son, Trevor. If you’ll recall, Billie opened up to bestie Nic about being raped at 13-years-old and giving up the baby for adoption. While she didn’t want to meet her son, he’s been reaching out hoping to get to know his birth mom.
Regardless of how the series tackles this unexpected cast shake-up, be prepared for an emotional journey ahead.
The fifth season returns on Tuesday, September 21st at 8 pm ET/PT on Fox.
You can catch up on all of our The Resident reviews HERE!
‘The Chair’ Review: A Humorous Commentary on the World of Academia
An entire show focused on a dilapidating university English department had the very real potential of being extremely boring and niche with its heavy ode to literature. However, Netflix’s original series The Chair, starring the fabulous Sandra Oh, is a humorous commentary on the world of academia, cancel culture, ageism, sexism, and transracial adoption.
The bulk of the humor rests on the shoulders of Ji-Yoon (Oh) and Joan (Holland Taylor) the only women in the department alongside Yaz (Nana Mensah). Ji-Yoon is the first woman department head to take the position just as enrollment is crumbling by 30%.
What’s meant to be a momentous moment in her career turns into a shit show when she’s tasked with putting out daily dumpster fires.
In the short six episodes, we’re quickly introduced to the complicated lives of Ji-Yoon and her colleague/lover Bill Dobson, one of the younger professors who’s under intense scrutiny for making an insensitive and ignorant reference to nazis.
There’s a strong balance between personal and professional lives as the underlying tension displayed immediately between Bill and Ji-Yoon ignites a budding romance, amid the dean’s increasing pressure for Ji-Yoon to let Bill go.
Ji-Yoon’s a powerful woman who isn’t afraid to stand up against university systems that oppress women and women of color. And despite her ability to properly handle her work life, her home life seems to be teetering.
Her daughter Juju is a spitfire who is ready to speak her mind at any moment. Whether to diss her halbi, cross personal boundaries scaring off babysitters, and telling Ji-Yoon how she feels about her transracial adoption.
The real dynamic duo is Juju and Bill. As Bill’s healing from the loss of his wife and empty-nesting after sending his daughter off to college, he finds comfort in taking care of Juju while he’s on suspension.
Juju’s lack of connection with Ji-Yoon is saddening, as it stems from Ji-Yoon’s absence due to her tireless job. However, by the end of the season, the growth between mom and daughter is emotionally beautiful.
Yes, I shed a few tears.
The decision to use an English department as a commentary vessel is ingenious. Historically, academia is full of jaded tenured professors who are generationally out of touch. But, an English department is stereotypically overrun with crotchety old pretentious men.
Some of whom are definitely ready for retirement.
Yaz is a Black professor whose class has quickly become the most popular in the English department. With her classes yielding the most students, this causes jealousy among the other educators, putting her tenure track in harm’s way.
When she’s denied the distinguished lectureship and begins to feel helpless as a woman of color at Pembroke, she considers taking an offer from Yale. However, Ji-Yoon’s desperation to rebuild the department full of diverse women convinces Yaz to stay.
Yaz’s character doesn’t receive as much screentime as she deserves. Most of the attention is placed on Dobs and the rest of the professors fighting desperately to hold onto their power.
Furthering the theme of sexism, Joan’s office is displaced in the basement underneath the gym. As a professor who’s been with the university just as long as her male counterparts, she finds her situation outrageous and greatly sexist.
Yet, by the season finale, after Ji-Yoon’s been ousted as the head of the department, she strategically chooses Joan to replace her. This feels like a win for the women and especially Ji-Yoon, as her vision of change continues.
While there hasn’t been any official word about a second season, Season 1 paved the path for deeper topics to be pursued. Especially the romance between Ji-Yoon and Bill. So I can’t imagine the show won’t receive another green light.
If you’re someone who shutters at the idea of being immersed in the academic sphere even fictionally, don’t worry. The Chair is a show you can enjoy on the pure basis of humor and emotional family drama. And of course Sandra Oh!
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