Saturday, May 11, 2013

Person of Interest 2.21: "Zero Day"

“Ernest Thornhill is not a spy. But you’re right he doesn’t exist. He’s the product of a survival instinct. Ernest Thornhill is the Machine.”
- Finch

We’ve come almost to the end of the season and it’s getting kind of interesting. As we know, the virus that Stanton planted is almost about to be unleashed. And it’s been messing with the Machine. Our boys haven’t gotten a number in 10 days and Reese is clearly getting antsy. Carter is rather confused, too. She’s had 8 new homicides in the last two weeks. The kind that the boys usually warn her about. But obviously Reese can’t tell her what’s really going on. Since the Machine is on the fritz, Special Counsel and the Northern Lights project haven’t gotten any numbers either so they’ve had issues with trying to catch terrorists. Root finally reveals her plans to him by drawing a gun on him (after he has a conversation with someone that Alicia Corwin believed Decima acquired a portion of the source code for the machine).

Finch is out walking Bear when a pay phone finally rings. Despite all the confusion on the Machine’s end, they get a name: Ernest Thornhill. He’s elusive and runs a data entry company and had been buying up payphones recently. Reese and Finch take a trip to see if they can meet the man himself to find out why his number’s come up. What they find is very odd. Data entry assistants are typing in computer code verbatim from printouts (the kind from really old printers). As they are heading out, Finch gets a call from Root. She wants to know what Finch did to the Machine so that it couldn’t fight the virus. She really is crazy, personifying a Machine as if it were a person. She suggests they work together to stop whatever is coming when the clock hits zero. Finch is not interested.

Back in 2010 Finch pays Nathan a visit with news that he’s going to ask Grace to marry him. He’s even going to tell her the truth about who he really is (which may involve some legal gymnastics since apparently a youthful indiscretion involved sedition and causing mayhem). Nathan is happy for Finch but he’s obviously not been doing so well himself. He’s been fretting over the work they did building the Machine. And as Nathan pops off to find some champagne to celebrate Finch’s impending proposal, a number pops up on his phone and Finch begins to suspect something is up.

In the present, Finch has managed to get some more information on Thornhill. He has a pending charge for a car service from JFK. Reese goes to try and intercept but a Decima lackey uses a drone to blow up the car. There was no one in it save the driver. Carter does a little investigating and learns everyone at the company was hired online. Finch and Reese finally put it together. Thornhill isn’t a real person. It’s the Machine. The Machine has managed to create an identity so that the boys would try and help. It’s definitely a clever thing to do.

There is a small Carter v. HR plot this week so I’ll get that done fast. She’s still trying to find Beecher’s killer. She’s going to take HR down for what they did. She teams up with one of the HR lackeys and ends up shooting a guy near the end of the episode. Uniforms show up as does IAB (apparently they always do with an officer-involved shooting). But instead of taking her statement, they want her gun and badge for shooting an unarmed guy. It’s clear she’s being set up.

Back in 2010, Finch actually proposes to Grace. We get it from the Machine’s POV which is kind of interesting since it was kind of playing matchmaker in the beginning. Too bad Finch can’t be with her in the present. I sort of wish he could find a way to tell her he was alive and that they could be together. Back at the library, Reese and Finch are trying to figure out why a nonexistent person needed a phone and apartment. Finch posits it might be so the Machine could buy up payphones. It’s clear he understands what is happening, even if he doesn’t tell Reese. Reese heads off to the apartment and runs into Shaw. Not a big surprise. They are a lot of fun together. Not quite as much as Reese and Zoe (because they have a different chemistry) but I like Shaw. Of course, when the cops show up, she leaves him high and dry to get arrested. She was there because she was following Root who was looking for Thornhill.

Meanwhile, Finch ends up meeting Root and agrees to work with her so she won’t hurt Grace. Root gives a bit of an info dump for the audience. She knows that Decima is hoping to crash the Machine and force a hard restart so that they can get admin access at midnight. It’s why the Machine was buying up payphones. A specific one will ring at midnight and whoever answers gets the power over the Machine.

We are really getting a lot of back story filled in from 2010 this week. Finch follows Nathan to the library and discovers what he’s been doing. Finch is not happy to see that Nathan is dealing with the irrelevant numbers. He ends up coding out Nathan’s access . Of course, we see at the end that the next irrelevant number is Nathan himself. Finch is probably going to end up regretting that decision very soon.

Things are moving forward with both of our pairs. Root gets Finch to admit that the admin access following the virus taking out the Machine lasts twenty-four hours. And it looks like Decima is guarding the payphones in Midtown. Shaw shows up to get Reese busted out of police custody. We kind of a cool power shot of the two of them walking through smoke with their guns and such. They really do make a good ass-kicking team. Meanwhile, Finch and Root end up back at Thornhill’s offices. Root assumes the Machine has a plan to protect itself. What she finds is that Finch erases everything at midnight and in a self-preserving attempt, the Machine was printing out all of its memory before midnight and having people input it again the next day so it could remember. Root is appalled at the fact Finch basically injured the Machine so badly.

After Root is done freaking out, she gets Finch to tell her where the right payphone is located. It’s in a library which isn’t that surprising. It is Finch after all. Reese and Shaw track them as well (Reese put a bug on Finch’s glasses. Apparently that’s his solution to keeping track of the people he cares about. Wonder if Bear has a bug on his collar). Root forces Finch to take her to the right pay phone and then rewire things so it goes to a phone of her choosing. Midnight hits, the Machine goes down and reboots and the call goes to the phone Root is standing near. She answers and then Finch does a little more rewiring and Reese answers the call on the floor below. It’s going to be a race to see who gets the access and what it all means.

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