Tuesday, January 13, 2015

REVIEW: 'Person of Interest' - Control Becomes Suspicious of Samaritan While Harold Plants a Bug in 'Control-Alt-Delete'

CBS' Person of Interest - Episode 4.12 "Control-Alt-Delete"

Control (Camryn Manheim), who oversees the handling of relevant numbers for the government, begins to question the methods and intentions of the Samaritan program. Also, alarming news reports of a pair of vigilantes rampaging throughout the Northeast begin to surface.

Control is a very important character in the Person of Interest universe and mythology. The show simply couldn't introduce the idea of relevant vs. irrelevant numbers without showing us what was happening on the relevant side of things. When the Machine was the only AI, the system was simple: relevant numbers would be sent to Control and the government while the irrelevant would be dealt with by the Harold and the team. Since Samaritan has risen, the show was been focusing on the building war between the two AI systems. The relevant numbers and the government still remain a very crucial piece of the puzzle. And yet, this is the first time we've seen them this season. They reappear at a critical point of the season as far-reaching complications of the war have started to hit. The stock market almost crashed. The government would have a reaction to that - which makes this the perfect time to check in on Control and her agents and how they've changed since their transition to Samaritan.

Samaritan has an agenda that is much larger than the relevant and irrelevant numbers. It's run as an independent contractor so the United States government can't be held accountable should the truth be revealed to the public that they are being spied on. And yet, that also means Samaritan and Greer can hide in the shadows a little bit and only give Control as much information as she needs. Now, Control is a very competent woman. She sees herself as a true patriot because she has personally helped take out 854 threats to national security. To her, the government and the country would be destroyed without her.

It's only natural that she would start to become suspicious about Samaritan. It was all an elaborate scheme that got the government to sign off on using Samaritan for their surveillance program in the first place. And now, the program is running more efficiently than before. However, Control is no longer in control. She's no longer the person calling the shots. Samaritan is. And she doesn't even really know it. She is helping clean up the loose ends for Samaritan all in the name of protecting national security. Samaritan knows that and exploits it masterfully. There is the seed of doubt planted in her though which could be very dangerous in the future.

It all starts when Samaritan denies her access to the laptop of a suspected terrorist. That's information that she sees relevant to her investigation and to finding and stopping the terrorist before he causes any damage in Detroit. To Samaritan, it's the thing that the whole mission is about. According to one of its operatives, the laptop has nuclear data. That's code that could be very destructive - and Samaritan essentially helped this team of friends craft it and then had the government kill them when they finished. That's apparent to the audience but Control is still putting all the pieces together. Yes, Samaritan and its operatives present a more present obstacle for her to deal with on a daily basis. The Machine never had a representative on its behalf watching Control and her team. And yet, the information Samaritan provides has always been factual and crucial.

And then, John and Root come out of nowhere with a bazooka - thus allowing her terrorist to escape to Canada. That infuriates her to the point that she's not willingly going to believe anything that John, Root or Harold tells her. To her, they are enemy combatants. They've always been problems for the program. And now, they desperately need her help because they are clinging onto the hope that Shaw is still alive and Control can lead them to her. They are grasping at straws. But what else are they suppose to do? The loss of a member of a team with such small numbers is devastating. Root loves Shaw and John sees her as one valuable friend and ally to have in this fight with Samaritan. They need Shaw in order to win. Yes, it's fun seeing John and Root together in action sequences. But they both are feeling pain and need answers in a world that likely won't provide them.

Harold has a much more reasonable head on his shoulders and knows that it is much more likely that Shaw is dead. He still needs to support his team though and the grieving they are going through. He has grief too. He confides in Bear that he misses Shaw. Taking Control in the way that they do can be a very risky venture. She is a figure of importance to Samaritan - at least for right now. And yet, she has information that could help them get the upper hand. That's what they head into this confrontation believing. And then, Harold talks with Control and sees just how in the dark she actually is. Samaritan must be doing that for a reason. That reason is likely so she'll keep cleaning up its messes out of a false sense of patriotism.

But Harold's conversation with Control opens her eyes a little further to the war that is happening right in front of her. Yes, she still goes to Canada and executes the man she believes to be a terrorist. He pleads for mercy and she doesn't want to hear it. She's a very mission-centric woman. At the top of the hour, she was presented with this mission of terrorists in Detroit and she will not stop until all of them are swiftly dealt with. That's simply how she conducts business. Her firing that gun would give the impression that she hasn't learned anything and will continue to blindly serve Samaritan. And then, comes the concluding scene where she visits the heart of the stock exchange and notices the fresh coat of plant on the walls. That means some part of her knew that what Harold was saying was true. And now, she has confirmation that something else is doing on. But what does she do with that information? If she acts out, Samaritan will have no problem taking her out of the picture. And Samaritan has too much at stake for Control to get in the way. It's a precarious situation that will likely only get worse moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Control-Alt-Delete" was written by Andy Callahan and directed by Stephen Surjik.
  • The "Flash Crash" is a descriptive way to refer to what happened to the stock market last week. It just kinda seems bland though.
  • Control also has a daughter, Julia, who will without a doubt factor into what her actions will be moving forward. Root is willing to exploit that connection and she has somewhat of a conscious right now. Just imagine what Samaritan would do.
  • Even though, he's a regular over on FOX's Gotham, it's intriguing that John Doman was able to come back as Senator Garrison - even for just an abbreviated scene.
  • Michael Gaston also pops up as the Chief of Staff to the President. I'm guessing that will be a bigger role in the back half of the season as the young boy Samaritan uses as an interface demands a sit down with the leader of the free world.
  • Here's hoping the bug that Harold uploaded to Samaritan's communication network will provide meaningful data.