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'Person of Interest' recap: You can't keep a good Finch down

 Season 4 | Episode 2 | “Nautilus” | Aired Sept 30, 2014

The last time we saw Harold Finch, he looked wide-eyed toward a dark, mysterious space that may or may not have reinvigorated his desire to get back in the Machine business.

When we see Finch in the opening of the latest episode, he is hard at work in said space before getting a text alert: “Late-night snack?” At a restaurant, he gets a call from Reese, who promptly stands him up, but not before giving him the latest number from the Machine—belonging to one Claire Mahoney (Quinn Shephard), a sophomore from Oberlin college who happens to be seated in the very diner where Finch is.

A perturbed Finch lashes out at Reese (“We’re no longer coworkers, John!”), who remains unfazed and explains the strange fact that this chess prodigy has lately turned to a life of crime. As Reese continues pleading his case, Finch watches Claire walk out.

In the middle of a job, Shaw, who relishes her new cover as a getaway driver, is visited by Root, who says that as long as she doesn’t get caught or draw too much attention, her cover is secure.

As Finch trails Claire, he sees her stand before a pole sporting a “Lost Dog” flier.  Claire tears one of the number strips off and runs away as Finch walks over and notices nautilus shell symbols superimposed under the phone numbers.  Later, “Professor Whistler” is in his office being hounded by one of his students when he decides to try the number; he gets an automated message stating that the number is nonworking. An offhanded comment by the student inspires Finch to draw the conclusion that the phone number is actually coded GPS coordinates.

Finch arrives at an empty lot, where he notices a nautilus on a heavily graffitied wall. He walks back to find another wall with the same kind of art before being confronted by Claire, gun in hand, who asks, “You playing too?” After a paranoid rant, she shoots at a passing car and runs off, leaving Finch to fend off the two angry men who emerge from it. Luckily, “Detective” Reese arrives just in time, badge in hand, to get Finch out of his bind. Finch says Claire is playing a game, but doesn’t know if it’s real or only in her mind. To keep the cover going, Reese handcuffs Finch and takes him into custody.

In Reese’s cruiser, Finch reveals that Claire has been mentally unstable for over a year and theorizes that the Machine spit out her number because she is a danger to herself. Finch suggests that Reese and his partner (Bear, not Fusco) go and check out Claire’s hotel room. Reese finds and lifts a backup hard drive before being interrupted by Claire’s father, Phillip (David Starzyk), who has been frantically searching for her. To calm him, Reese makes up a story about Claire being a witness to a crime.

At Finch’s office, he shows Reese pictures of the walls of graffiti, which turn out to be puzzles. They solve the puzzles and are led to a three-pronged arch in Central Park. Reese ends up finding Claire in the park late at night, or rather in the street adjacent to the park, and saves her from being hit by a car before being approached by Phillip, whom Claire claims is not her father. Finch concurs that Claire’s parents are in fact dead, and as she flees, Reese and Phillip tussle before one of Phillip’s men knocks Reese down.

Reese and Finch canvass the park looking for Claire and trying to figure out why Phillip would pose as her father. Reese thinks he might be a private military contractor, and Finch goes back to the nautilus symbol, finding a clue in Claire’s backup drive that suggests that data hidden in the i105100_0003bcmage might have something to do with it.

A cab pulls up and a bespectacled young man jumps out. Finch immediately pegs him as one of Claire’s competitors. As the kid freaks at Finch’s appearance and jumps back in the cab, Finch stands at the exact spot Claire was before being “saved” by Reese, finding another nautilus hidden among a series of banners and revealing an address in its code.

Finch manages to track Claire down. She demands that he hand over her hard drive. Meanwhile, Finch recruits Shaw and manages to hack into a security feed in hopes of finding the identity of the game master, who turns out to be a lowly barista.

In typical Shaw fashion (“How many fingers does it take to make an espresso?”), she strong-arms the young barista into spilling the beans about the game. He finally divulges that he received an anonymous email that told him where to put up the poster with the numbers. Reese trails Claire to a biker bar, where he notices a pair of guys watching Claire, while Finch traces the source of the email. When his computer gets hacked, Finch hypothesizes that the game master can only be none other than Samaritan.

Despite Finch’s warning that Samaritan is watching, Reese takes down both men when they approach Claire (one turns out to be Phillip). Finch meets with Root and brings her up to speed on the case. Root divulges that Samaritan might be recruiting and that Claire is the perfect candidate. As Finch pleads for Root to talk to the Machine, she says that it won’t say anything new and that it’s best if they figure it out on their own.

Reese interrogates Phillip and his men, threatening to “arrest” them if they don’t come clean. Phillip finally does, saying that she hacked into the network of a private military corporation called Silverpool and that there is no “game.” Phillip says Silverpool will not stop until they find out how much Claire knows.

At the precinct, Reese tries to solve another puzzle based on a sign found at the biker bar. He gets help from, of all people, Fusco, who says that the letters are actually musical notes, specifically for New York, New York. Reese figures that Claire is going to the observation deck, where a sniper is standing by.

Reese knocks the sniper out, but Claire is being tailed by two more ops. As she enters the elevator followed by the two men, Claire turns out to actually be Shaw. The real Claire has made it to the roof, where she is approached by Finch, who pleads that she forfeit the “game.” She tells him about her quest to find “meaning,” particularly in the death of her parents. She finds another nautilus, and hence another clue. Finch tells her that if she leaves, he won’t be able to protect her. As Finch turns away for a second, Claire is gone.

She arrives at a building with a spiral staircase resembling a nautilus. Still playing the game, she runs to the roof and comes across a switch. She pulls it to find that it doesn’t work. Two men with automatic weapons approach her, demanding she hand over the file. Claire, seemingly giving up, is startled when both men are shot by an unseen assailant. A smartphone hidden in a panel starts buzzing, outputting the message: “I will protect you.”

If there is such a thing as the perfect POI episode, “Nautilus” is it. Smartly utilizing its procedural elements, it nicely expands the mythology from the second half of last season. It’s also a great Harold Finch episode, giving him a kindred spirit in Claire and allowing him to slowly get back in the game. The final moments of the episode reveal the true nature of the short-lived Silverpool, while also explaining the heightening power of Samaritan. But it’s the episode’s very last minutes that prove to be its most triumphant, as Team Machine finally seems to have gotten its mojo back. As Harold reveals their new headquarters to Reese and Shaw, he says, “But we haven’t time for pleasantries—we have to get to work,” and plants himself in front of the monitor. That turns out to be a beautiful thing.

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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