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'Person of Interest' fan react: A number that kicks major butt

Season 4 | Episode 15 | “Q&A” | Aired Feb 17, 2015

Lest we get too comfortable and expect the rest of the episodes to go back to stand-alone procedurals, the latest Person of Interest continues the season’s intense arc by bringing back a character introduced early on—as well as heralding the return of fan favorite Root.

Finch and Reese arrive at Fetch & Retrieve, an Internet company (“nerd nirvana”) where Reese has been moonlighting as a security guard and Finch has set a meeting with its CTO, Calvin Mazer (Nick Westrate). In actuality, they’re looking into the latest POI: Anna Mueller (Bella Dayne), a German émigré who is an employee at the company.

Finch meets with the heads of the company, including CEO Lauren Buchanan (Heléne Yorke), and is introduced to the company’s Siri-like creation, VAL. Meanwhile, Reese surveils Anna and finds she might be in an abusive relationship. He also witnesses her cryptic conversation with co-worker Naresh (Omar Maskati). Finch, back at HQ, busies himself with a new Nautilus puzzle he spotted on the street. After some digging, Finch concludes that this one was not created by Samaritan.

Reese tails Anna as she hurriedly leaves work. He follows her to a factory, which hosts underground MMA matches. Anna is one of the headliners (under the moniker “The Annihilator”). This one turns out to be far from an abuse victim.

Finch arrives at the coordinates gained through the Nautilus numbers to find none other than Claire Mahoney—the creator of the new puzzle. Before she can explain her predicament, Claire is shot by a rooftop sniper. Finch grabs her and takes cover as Claire pleads for help.

As Finch tends to Claire (in a mortuary, no less), Reese continues looking into Anna’s background. He arrives at her and her sister’s house to find the sister in a medical bed attached to a heart monitor.

When Claire comes to, she explains that after she solved the Nautilus puzzle, she was recruited by a group on a mission to “make the world a better place.” Instead, she found their ultra-secretive missions led to people’s deaths—the opposite of what Team Machine accomplishes. Terrified, Claire went on the run.

Back at work, Reese spies an agitated Anna. When she goes to talk to Naresh, she finds no trace of him. She is called into the CEO’s office and chastised for breaking company policy involving security and VAL. Finch, meanwhile, slowly explains Samaritan’s MO to Claire. She reveals a flash drive containing source code that may bring down the nefarious AI.

Person of Interest - CBSWalking home later, Anna is jumped by a pair of masked men. Reese comes in to save the day, but Anna more than holds her own. At the station, she gets into the reasoning for being called into Buchanan’s office, revealing that she was obsessed with a VAL user named Paul Zimmerman. Zimmerman was having suicidal thoughts and she found that instead of recommending a number to a suicide hotline, VAL sent him links on how to quickly end one’s life. When Anna tried to reach out, it was too late—Zimmerman had done the deed.

Finch, with intel from Fusco, calls Claire out on her act, theorizing that she intentionally wants him to access the flash drive to give Samaritan full access to his personal information. Claire recites the report on the victim verbatim, convincing Finch that she is not working for Samaritan.

Anna gets a text alert that her sister’s vitals are crashing and rushes to her house. There she finds the masked men from earlier waiting for her. Reese and Finch conclude that VAL is being manipulated to purposefully target certain individuals, and Anna’s discovery put her life in danger—and Naresh was given a promotion to keep quiet.

Anna manages to put her MMA skills to work and escape from her captors (Reese helps a little), as Finch agonizes over the flash drive. Fusco calls with VAL’s algorithms, and the arrival of a security guard forces the two to make a movie. Finch connects the dots and finds that VAL is targeting vulnerable consumers with either expensive vices or frailties, making them worse instead of sending them aid. The nasty algorithim’s source turns out the be the company’s very own CTO, Calvin.

As Finch and Claire prepare to escape, Claire reveals her true self. She points a gun at Finch and collects his phone and But instead of killing him, Claire instead offers to take Finch to Samaritan.

Back at Fetch & Retrieve, Calvin makes the dumb mistake of laying out his devious plan, giving Reese and Anna plenty of time to arrive at the scene and take him down. Finch and Claire arrive at a school where they enter a class in progress. Claire explains that the charter school is in fact Samaritan at work—an AI doing good, not evil. She offers Finch a chance to join the team as several men in suits approach, waiting for his response.

Finch is simply not convincing, and Claire orders him to be taken. As he’s escorted out, the men are brought down one by one by offscreen gunfire. It’s none other than Root! She gets a piece of Claire, who successfully escapes—but not before dropping Finch’s phone.

As Root once again goes off on her own, Finch calls the battle a draw. He tries to track the laptop via a planted beacon, to no avail. The laptop is now in Greer’s hands. One of his associates reminds him that he is running late for a meeting. It’s no surprise that the meeting turns out to be at Fetch & Retrieve.

“Q&A,” one of the season’s more interesting episodes, sadly confirms that Claire from the episode “Nautilus” has in fact gone to the dark side. It also welcomes one of the better POIs in Anna, a young woman full of moxie and heart who serves the team well. Root’s cameo confirms that even though our heartbroken team member is still out searching for Shaw, she still has one eye set on her boys.

“Q&A” joins last week’s episode in putting the spotlight on Reese and Finch. With Team Machine a boys club again, I’m doubly curious to see where the creators are going with this. With episodes like these, it won’t be hard to stick with the program.

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