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Person of Interest: Super

Person of Interest Person of Interest: Season 1

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#1 Christopher

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 12:06 PM

Some interesting developments here.  With Reese recovering from his injury, Finch has to do the legwork, so they're both out of their comfort zone -- and Finch takes the opportunity to recruit Carter as a second operative, which should add some new twists to things.  I wonder how far her police oath and ethics will allow her to go.  And I wonder how many of the secrets she'll be let in on.  Will Finch and Reese continue to run both Carter and Fusco as assets without letting them know about each other?

We also get some more flashback insights into the creation of the Machine and why it's such a black box.  I'd been assuming that the government got more detailed info from the machine and that Finch only got the numbers because that was all he could get out of it through the backdoor he installed before he left.  But now we see it was designed to give only the numbers, and not to share its surveillance details with the government, to minimize the violation of the public's constitutional rights.  Ingram, Finch's partner played by Brett Cullen, comes across as an ethical figure worthy of respect.  And yet we saw a caption on the Machine's-eye view marking Ingram as a potential threat to the Machine.  I have a feeling that's going to turn out to be why Ingram isn't around anymore, and a factor in how Finch got his injuries.  Perhaps Finch forgot to program the Machine to put the First Law above the Third Law.

What I found particularly noteworthy was something so subtle it wasn't even remarked on.  And that's the fact that we've discovered a third category of person of interest.  Trask was neither the victim nor the perpetrator, but a fellow defender, someone trying to protect the victim.  Finch and Reese haven't encountered that type of PoI before so it threw them off.  But it ties into the theme of finding new allies and of working with characters (Carter, Ingram) with genuinely noble intentions.  Maybe there's an extra meaning to naming the episode "Super."
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#2 Cardie

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 12:43 PM

I thought this was one of the stronger episodes and like the new direction (which I've read was "suggested" by the network.) I wasn't sure whether Ingram was perceived as a threat or whether the machine had come up with his number as someone involved in a threatening situation, like it does with all its numbers. I'd hate to think that he betrayed Finch, since they seem so close, and I'd like it even less if Finch was involved in his death (even though he seems to have been injured at the same time.)

They keep having Ingram only call finch "my friend" because they don't want to reveal his real name, but it makes their conversations sound a bit odd.

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#3 enTranced

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 12:49 PM

I agree this was a very strong episode. As well as what everyone said I enjoyed the show's new ability to have some fun with the characters. I thought Finch's reaction to Reese's combat suggestions was very funny. "And then you stick your thumb in the eye socket..." "Please stop!".

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#4 DWF

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:18 PM

Reese's story seemed to be inspired by Rear Window but it was nice to see Finch have more a role in the storyline and we got some more backround on Finch. But I have to wonder how Reese, Finch and Carter can withstand the constant pressure that they're now under.

Edited by DWF, 13 January 2012 - 03:23 PM.

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#5 Christopher

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 06:41 PM

View PostCardie, on 13 January 2012 - 12:43 PM, said:

I thought this was one of the stronger episodes and like the new direction (which I've read was "suggested" by the network.)

What new direction was that?  Carter being brought onboard?

And you're right about Ingram.  I thought that the flag the Machine gave Ingram was the same one it gave to the DOD guy earlier, which was "Threat to system."  But according to io9's review, it's actually "Possible threat detected. Subject: Ingram, Nathan C."  So maybe Ingram's the one being threatened, and it's probably the smarmy DOD guy who's a threat to him as well as to the Machine, since smarmy DOD guy wants to control the Machine and use it his way.

Edited by Christopher, 13 January 2012 - 06:51 PM.

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#6 Cardie

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 08:16 PM

View PostChristopher, on 13 January 2012 - 06:41 PM, said:

What new direction was that?  Carter being brought onboard?


Yes, they felt that she was marginalized and didn't really have a lot of story possibilities. Taraji P. Henson had an Academy Award nomination for Benjamin Button and I suspect is costing them enough in salary that they want to see her on screen more.

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#7 Lambsilencer

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 05:22 PM

^^ That's what I was thinking as well when I watched earlier episodes. Why have an Oscar nominated actress in a role that is not nearly of her caliber?

Aside from that, I think I read somewhere that CBS was also asking for a tiny bit more humor, if nothing other than to make Reese a little more accessible.

This was one of their best episodes yet. And the mixture of drama, thrill and humor was perfect. Loved the moment when both Reese and Finch started to bend to the side while looking at the woman doing her exercises. :)

Reese's comment about there being no machine, and that it was all Finch threw me off for a moment, but I think that he meant it metaphorically. Otherwise the whole visual gimmick with the camera and the scanning of random people would just be a misdirection. I couldn't buy that.

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#8 Christopher

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:19 PM

^Or it could be that Reese genuinely suspected there was no machine, but he was wrong.  Remember, he's only privy to the limited amount of information Finch chooses to share with him.  At this point, we in the audience know more than he does.
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#9 Cardie

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:26 PM

There's certainly a massive, data-collecting apparatus but I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers come up because of Finch's brainwork sifting through patterns the machine highlights.

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#10 Christopher

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 08:46 PM

View PostCardie, on 15 January 2012 - 07:26 PM, said:

There's certainly a massive, data-collecting apparatus but I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers come up because of Finch's brainwork sifting through patterns the machine highlights.

I doubt that very much, given how often Finch is taken by surprise by who the persons of interest turn out to be.  Given that his goal is to prevent the crimes before they happen, I don't believe he'd deliberately hide his knowledge of the specifics and thereby risk letting the crimes happen before Reese pieces the answers together.
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#11 DWF

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 08:53 PM

It's highly unlikely that there's no machine and that it's all coming from Finch, he seems to be in the dakr as to whether or not the number generated is the victim or perp.
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#12 Cardie

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 12:42 AM

View PostChristopher, on 15 January 2012 - 08:46 PM, said:


I doubt that very much, given how often Finch is taken by surprise by who the persons of interest turn out to be.  Given that his goal is to prevent the crimes before they happen, I don't believe he'd deliberately hide his knowledge of the specifics and thereby risk letting the crimes happen before Reese pieces the answers together.

Supposedly the machine itself only comes up with the number linked to the person at the center of the threat nexus. So finch could generally only be able to go that far with the data the system provides, needing legwork and investigative skills to see how it all falls out.

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#13 Christopher

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:09 AM

^But the Machine has all the information about what the threat actually is -- that's how it knows there's a threat in the first place, by actually listening in on conversations where people express the intent to commit violent acts, observing their hostile behavior through ubiquitous security cameras, etc.  But as we learned this week, Ingram and Finch designed it to keep all that to itself and share only the numbers, so that no human being would be involved in this gross invasion of privacy.  If Finch were actually able to read the patterns the machine uses to draw its conclusions, then by definition he would know what the threat was and would not need to do legwork to reconstruct that information.
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#14 Cardie

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 11:37 AM

^^So finch says. I just don't think they'd drop a line like that about Finch being the machine without there being at least some truth to it.

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#15 Christopher

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 11:48 AM

^I don't see how what you're proposing could possibly be true.  If Finch knew in advance who the persons of interest were, then he'd know something about what the source of danger was, and so he'd have to be deliberately putting people's lives at risk (including Reese's and sometimes his own) by pretending not to know things he already knew.  That just doesn't make one damn bit of sense.
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#16 Cardie

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 07:49 PM

I am definitively not swaying that Finch knows the precise nature of the threat before they investigate. I'm saying that he is the one who looks at the strings of connections the computers find and comes up with the number. At that point, he can't be sure what the precise nature of the threat is except by "going live" in his efforts to avert the threat.  If the machine as described only gets as far as spitting out the number, Finch-as-machine would work the same way.

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#17 Christopher

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:31 PM

View PostCardie, on 16 January 2012 - 07:49 PM, said:

I am definitively not swaying that Finch knows the precise nature of the threat before they investigate. I'm saying that he is the one who looks at the strings of connections the computers find and comes up with the number.

But those are contradictory statements.  The connections are threats.  They come from the Machine monitoring video footage and phone calls -- actually seeing and hearing people making threatening statements, making preparations for crimes or violent acts, etc.  The Machine's power isn't some magical electronic intuition, it's simply the ubiquity of the surveillance sources it has access to and its ability to monitor them all at once and flag the warning signs showing that someone is planning to commit a violent act.  (We're shown this every week in the opening sequence, where we see the computer flagging threatening language in a phone conversation, aggressive behavior, things like that.)  It's basically just a citywide wiretap, preemptively monitoring every phone conversation and surveillance camera, and when somebody starts making threatening comments about someone or begins making preparations to commit a crime, the Machine sees/hears it happening, because cameras and mikes are everywhere these days.  It's actually very straightforward.  But there's just so much information coming in at once that no human being could keep track of it all -- and Ingram and Finch, aware of what a gross invasion of privacy this is, built the machine so that it wouldn't reveal this information to anyone.

So if Finch had access to that information, he would know the nature of the threat.  At the very least, he'd know whether the number represented the victim or the perpetrator.
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#18 Cardie

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 11:48 PM

I don't think there's definitive proof that the aggregated information that puts someone in the midst of a threat situation, which is when a number pops out, also must contain a clear picture of how that person is involved and what exactly is going to happen. All the machine may do is find someone who is a nexus of inter-related threat streams. If Finch is telling the truth, the machine identifies only the number of that nexus-person. I'm just speculating, based on the anvil dropped about Finch possibly being the machine, that the final step when the person at the threat nexus is identified is made by his brain rather than the Machine's.

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#19 Lambsilencer

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 07:07 AM

From your lively discussion, which is very interesting, I gather the following:

- Finch might have deeper access to the machine's data than just the numbers. Which means the machine might give him all the people involved in a threat, and Finch is the one to figure out which person is the key player, the titular "Person of Interest".

- If the machine is only popping out the number of the POI, then Finch was telling the truth, and he is just what he says he is.

- I don't see it possible for Finch to go through the raw data and find the threats himself. There's just way too much data in there to find anything without the machine somehow guiding you to it.

Just a bit of brainstorming. Please continue... :)

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#20 Christopher

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:37 AM

View PostCardie, on 16 January 2012 - 11:48 PM, said:

I don't think there's definitive proof that the aggregated information that puts someone in the midst of a threat situation, which is when a number pops out, also must contain a clear picture of how that person is involved and what exactly is going to happen.

Maybe in some cases, but in others it would be pretty obvious.  What are the odds that Finch would only pick cases where he has as little information as possible?  We've had too many episodes where Reese and/or Finch and/or innocent people ended up in danger because Finch couldn't tell whether the PoI was victim or perpetrator, even though it was obvious once they had enough information.

Quote

All the machine may do is find someone who is a nexus of inter-related threat streams. If Finch is telling the truth, the machine identifies only the number of that nexus-person.

That's all it outputs for human observers, because of Ingram's privacy concerns, but as we saw in the flashbacks here, it has a lot more specific information available internally.  Basically it's an oracle.  It sees all but only gives cryptic hints to its petitioners.


Quote

I'm just speculating, based on the anvil dropped about Finch possibly being the machine, that the final step when the person at the threat nexus is identified is made by his brain rather than the Machine's.

I'd hardly call it an "anvil."  It was either a joke or just a bit of throwaway paranoia in a show that's already laden with it.

And the idea just doesn't make sense to me.  Finch's whole driving purpose is to save the lives of people in danger.  He's gone to extraordinary lengths, spent a great deal of money, and taken extreme personal risks in pursuit of this altruistic goal.  The idea that he would deliberately hide information that could help save those innocents, and thereby increase the chances of death for them, Reese, and sometimes Finch himself, is contradictory.  Any information he had that led to the identification of a PoI could save them valuable time, so any information concealed increases the risk of failure.  In order for Finch to hide that information, he'd be working directly against his own overriding purpose as a character, and that just makes no damn sense.
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