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Person of Interest - Control-Alt-Delete - POLL + Review + Roundtable Discussion

After ‘If-Then-Else’, I was sceptical going forward. Not because it was a weak episode by any means, but because it was so unbelievably phenomenal that I doubted the show would ever produce as an episode as stunning. While ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ didn’t reach the heights of the previous outing, the episode was outstanding nonetheless, giving us an in-depth look into the world of Control.

Something that I’ve felt since her real introduction back in ‘Lethe’ is that she hasn’t had nearly enough development for such a crucial character. Instead, she has simply lingered in the background. That is, until this episode. She was given tons to do and Camryn Manheim was excellent.

The opening scene was a great way to start the episode off. It was so simple, yet so effective. Showing us that Control has a daughter humanises her, which adds so much more to her character. Control isn’t an all-out evil villain, and her antagonist label is simply down to her being on the opposing side of Team Machine. She isn’t a villain, and as such, though we aren’t supposed to like her, we also aren’t supposed to hate her and this scene helped with that.

Conversely, the scene towards the end in which she shoots Yasin Said reminded us that Control certainly isn’t one of the good guys, at least not from our standpoint. She still believes that she is doing right by adhering to Samaritan’s orders to terminate potential threats, and though she is technically correct to do so, in this instance, she got it wrong, despite previous warnings from Finch (because, let’s be honest – Said was a set-up by Samaritan, given that he said he won the Nautilus game).

However, the final scene was very interesting. I had thought that Control had completely disregarded what Finch told her, but in actuality she was, in a way, playing both sides. She killed Said to protect the country, because Samaritan had told her Said was a threat. She still took on-board what Finch told her and went to see if there was any truth behind it, and that is a huge thing moving forward.

The biggest question currently on my mind is where Control goes from here. Now that she knows that Finch is telling the truth (at least to some extent) and she may in fact be losing her control (pun very much intended), will she begin to doubt Samaritan? I think that somewhere along the line, Control will decide that she wants the Machine back and that will cause a huge problem between the government and Greer (and this connects in to my next point).

I was impressed with how they portrayed the way that Control works now. Obviously, we got an insight into how relevant numbers are handled back in ‘Relevance’, so seeing Grice and Brooks going in to eliminate threats wasn’t out of the ordinary. What was interesting to see was how things worked behind the scenes. I always expected Samaritan to eventually be trouble for the government. Greer promised a system that the government had full control over, yet he went back on that statement.

Obviously, had Travers granted Control access to Said’s laptop, it would have potentially compromised the mischievous work that Greer is doing. But Greer still backed out of his original promise. With Northern Lights, the government controlled it – up until ‘God Mode’. The government couldn’t stick with Northern Lights after Vigilance released the black budget report, but something I’ve felt is that with Samaritan being used since, how is one any better than the other?

My reasoning for bringing this up is that Northern Lights never gave the government a problem. Even when it took control of itself, it still provided relevant numbers to Control for her to “handle”. Samaritan hasn’t been around very long, and problems are arising with it. What I think may happen at some point is a consideration by either Control, Garrison or any other government official into whether they could go back to Northern Lights. Of course, Greer and Samaritan won’t take that lightly, and the latter’s desire to have a conversation with the President may squash any hope the government have of reverting back.

Speaking of that desired conversation, I thought that Oakes Fegley was again fantastic as Gabriel. I felt he wasn’t quite as good as in the conversation with the Machine, but he was still chilling to watch in his two scenes. Samaritan’s request was an odd one, I felt. I’m not yet sure quite what the system expects to achieve from such a conversation, but I’m very intrigued to find out.

Team Machine didn’t come into the episode properly until halfway through, and given the way ‘If-Then-Else’ ended, I was surprised they didn’t choose to address it right away. However, I felt that they handled it well, and in the end, the team didn’t need focus from the very beginning.

The episode ended with no real resolution to the question of ‘Is Shaw alive?’ and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about that. Moving forward, what I’m hoping is that the investigation into whether or not she’s alive dies down, because with Shahi not expecting to return for about two years (if at all), Shaw isn’t going to be popping up any time soon, and the show cannot go on that long with the group attempting to find Shaw. By all means keep the search going in the background and don’t forget that she existed, but it does need to be pushed to the background.

What this search did do, however, was allow Reese and Root to work together. I loved seeing them work together, especially given the sheer lack of it to date. The partnership when interrogating Control was very much ‘bad cop, worse cop’. Jim Caviezel does the quietly angry moments so well, and when emotion is combined with that it’s a joy to watch. It wasn’t as full on as with Carter’s death, which makes sense given he was closer to Carter than he was Shaw, and that he still hopes Shaw is alive. Still, it was clear to see that Reese was struggling.

However, it was Amy Acker who really amazed me. Her portrayal of the broken Root worked to perfection. I loved how resilient she was in her scene with Control, and that through all the pain she was able to seem much like her normal self. Her final scene, however, in which she fought to hold back tears in the car with Reese was superb. It was clear to see in that moment how much Root cared for Shaw, and Acker portrayed it magnificently.

Odds and ends:

  • How awesome was Finch when he was aggressive?
  • That altered intro was fantastic. It’s always great when the intro gets changed.
  • Equally, the music played at the end of the episode was also great. Though, unlike previous songs (such as last week’s Fortune Days by The Glitch Mob), this one gets slightly annoying if you listen on repeat (trust me, I did it). It was called The Violent Bear It Away, by Moby, and you can listen to it here.
  • They finally found a use for that rocket launcher!
  • Fusco was barely in the episode, but he did get a couple of great lines with “You almost done checking email?”, “Sorry, were you talking to me?” and my personal favourite (in response to the Samaritan operative asking if anyone had eyes on the target) “Yeah, I do.”
  • I will NEVER tire of hearing Control’s theme. One of Ramin Djawadi’s best.
  • How easily did Grice and Reese both have the gun removed from their hands in that fight?
  • “I asked for my personal detail, my regular guys.” I still miss Hersh, damn it.
  • “We gave you a marvellous car. Surely you didn’t think I’d let you drive it yourselves?”
  • The short Bear/Finch scene was sad.
  • There's no new episode until February 3rd, which is terrible.

‘Control-Alt-Delete’ didn’t live up to the standards of ‘If-Then-Else’, and I doubt any POI episode ever will. But it was a fantastic episode nonetheless; certainly one of the best of the series. Below you can find our roundtable discussion about the episode. Thanks to all those who participated!

The first half of this episode was very light on Team Machine, and instead was very focused on Control. Do you feel this worked after last week’s ending?

Jimmy Ryan: Yes, I was amazed at the extended period of absence for more than half the episode, but somehow it worked beautifully. It shows that life goes on, Samaritan continues to do its thing, targeting relevant numbers, while The Machine works to protect its own and those considered irrelevant.

DarkUFO: It was an oddly strange start of the show. At first I was wanting to see the fallout from the end of the last episode but as usual POI writers soon had me hooked in on the story.

Diana Mack: Yes, I think it worked. We needed some break from last week’s episode, which was very intense and thrilling. I found the first half dedicated to Control really interesting. Like Jimmy said, life goes on, and the Machine keeps doing its job in spite of everything.

Brandon Rowe: Overall, yes. I was very interested in getting back to our main characters, but the writers also made it very easy for viewers to pickup on what was going on with Team Machine without just focusing on them. I liked getting to know Control more.

Robert Fruin: I would say that it did work well. I was expecting the episode to focus mainly on the fallout from the events of the last episode, so when the first half was focused mainly on Control, I was quite surprised. I did like it though as it showed us no matter what happens the numbers will always keep on coming, also It was good to see a little more of Control.

Ben Norton: I always liked the character of Control, and it was great to see some character development on her behalf. I felt that focusing on Control after last week’s astonishing ending worked very well and I was utterly surprised at how it impacted the rest of the episode.

We learned more about Control’s backstory this week. How have these character developments changed your view of her (if at all)?

Jimmy: Camryn Manheim did an excellent job throughout, but the main thing I took away from her time in the spotlight is that she is human, and that she has a bit of a conscience, which was proven when she questioned Samaritan’s evidence on the four suspected terrorists.

DarkUFO: It was certainly nice to understand the character better and see her as a real person. However, just when you started to feel, dare I say it, sorry for her, the POI writers bring her right back again.

Diana: We learned that she’s human too. She has feelings, she wants to protect her daughter (the writers marked this with a simple action: she picks up her daughter at school).

Brandon: I think it's very clear that Control sees herself as a hero and, to an extent, it's hard to argue with her logic. She is working as a Patriot for her country and obviously trying to do the right thing, while also not compromising her own safety.

Robert: Camryn Manheim did an excellent job this episode, she completely nailed every scene. I thought learning more about Control’s backstory was needed, and it actually made me see Control in a different light, she does have a conscience, and she does have feelings. When she started to question if she was being lied to, it made me, dare I say it, root for her to uncover the truth.

Ben: We learnt that Control actually has a real life, she isn’t all bad news, she actually has a daughter that she cares for. Through learning about Control’s backstory, it made me understand the character a lot more, and also wonder what is coming next.

This was the first time since Carter’s death that we’ve seen Reese so miserable and angry, though it was a little less visible than a year ago. Would you agree that Reese wasn’t as close to Shaw as he was Carter, and that was the cause, or was it that glimmer of hope that she may still be alive?

Jimmy: Its important to remember that Reese had Carter to thank for bringing him back from eventual suicide shortly before Finch introduced himself. That’s something that cannot be topped by anyone in his mind. Carter also passed in Reese’s arms, meaning that he had immediate closure of sorts. Everyone knows there is a chance Shaw survived, and Reese knows that if there’s anyone who would take on odds of 2% and win, it would be Shaw.

DarkUFO: I think it was a mixture of both. I agree that Reese was probably closer to Carter on a personal level but I think he still feels there is a chance Shaw is alive.

Diana: Reese’s relationship with Carter was different. She saved his life once before his meeting with Finch. I think this created a special bond between them. Also, she died in his arms. I see Reese’s relationship with Shaw as friendship. The problem is during season 4, Shaw became closer to Root more than Reese, so apparently his reaction after her apparently death was a bit strange. But I agree to think he wants her to be still alive. He also cares for Shaw.

Brandon: I think it was a bit of a combination of things. He has a different relationship with Shaw than he did with Carter. For Reese, Carter was this person that he brought into the world of the Machine. Carter was Walt's definition of good. Shaw, on the other hand, was probably in the game longer than Reese. He does also still have that glimmer of hope that Shaw is alive though so that also had something to do with it.

Robert: Carter’s death was heartbreaking for Reese since she died in his arms, he had a very close bond with Carter as she saved him, from himself. It’s different with Shaw, sure he cares for her, but I think he sees her as more of a partner than someone who he can connect with on a personal level. If there is a slight chance Shaw is alive though, I think Reese will want to take it. He also knows if anyone can survive at impossible odds Shaw can.

Ben: Reese hasn’t worked with Shaw for as long as he did with Carter to understand Shaw, so that would be understandable. Although saying that, Reese still cares for Shaw, and I think he will do anything in his power to save her.

Finch’s conversation with Control became quietly aggressive on Finch’s part. Is this something that’s being built into his character after all the loss he has suffered, and do you like it?

Jimmy: What this episode did was lock Finch at the top of the character food chain. Michael Emerson was outstanding and the character was expertly leveraged despite not appearing until the 30 minute mark. Since the start of the season Finch has come to realize that the war he is in the middle of is murky and dirty. He has realized that he has a lot of power in areas starkly different to anyone else, namely his intimate knowledge of his Machine and its capabilities. To Finch, everything The Machine does is logical and makes sense because that’s how he programmed it. Samaritan is not anywhere near as predictable, and its administrators haven’t yet realized this. This puts Finch in a unique position which he is beginning to leverage.

DarkUFO: Finch, as always, was awesome and is the show’s voice of reason. He has certainly "toughened" up since the early days of Season 1 and it's something that's good to see.

Diana: I think Finch’s always known the power behind the Machine. In season 4, he’s started to understand what kind of power Samaritan has.

Brandon: I think Finch has always been quietly aggressive. He has a strong set of ideals and is unrelenting in this thinking.

Robert: After losing Carter, Finch said “I have already lost a friend, I don’t intend to lose another”. So it was clear back then that losing someone who he deemed a friend, and someone who he trusted has made him realize that he can’t always be the good guy. So it’s understandable that he has become more aggressive since he has now lost two friends who were helping him deal with the numbers he was getting from the machine he had built.

Ben: I think Finch is stepping up his game a lot lately, getting out into the field more often is a perfect example. I think he has realized that in order to defeat Samaritan, he has to be more aggressive. I like aggressive Finch, a lot.

After Control’s discovery at the end of the episode, do you think there will soon be a point where Control attempts to go back to using Northern Lights?

Jimmy: This episode did Control some justice by proving she’s reasonably resourceful and intelligent. However she learned Samaritan and its connections are far more passive-aggressive than she first realized so her actions will be radically different to those she’s tried thus far. I’m leaning towards Control approaching Finch asking for his help, or to reveal more information if she has it. Control is definitely a woman in the middle of two powerful forces, so she will have to pick a side very quickly to ensure the safety of her and her daughter.

DarkUFO: My guess is that at some point she'll uncover something that shows her that Samaritan manipulating things. At this point I can see her joining Team Machine.

Diana: Yes, I think at some point Samaritan and Control will have to put a fight, or at least, confront each other in technical terms.

Brandon: Possibly, but I believe the threat of Samaritan is a more glaring issue for her at the moment.

Robert: I don’t think she will go back to using Northern Lights, but I can’t see her trusting Samaritan anymore, especially after all she has discovered. She has always been in the middle of a chess game, and has never really chosen as side, but this season she will surely have to pick which side she’s on if she wants to remain alive. If she is smart she will call upon Finch for help.

Ben: I think that there may be a time, that she will attempt to go back, but not for a while. In the near future I can expect that Control will find something out about Samaritan that makes her mistrust it.

Gabriel (Samaritan’s interface) was back this week, and was very forward in his demands. What is Samaritan’s end game here?

Jimmy: Samaritan is flexing its muscles. I don’t think it’s after world domination, but it is definitely out to protect its own security, hence its constant attempts to capture Team Machine. As for its endgame, it’s anyone’s guess

DarkUFO: Absolutely no idea what the end game is... It’s a very good question.

Diana: That kid scares me a lot. Anyway, I have no idea about it. And that’s probably the best thing in this show: the plot twists.

Brandon: I have no idea. Obviously, getting into a position of power is very advantageous for Samaritan, but it seems like an odd way of going about it.

Robert: It is clear Samaritan wants power, so getting the president to side with them will give them a huge advantage, but as far as the end game goes I have no idea what it could be.

Ben: I have no idea what Samaritan is planning, but whatever it is I think it’s going to be big. As far as Gabriel goes, I think talking to the President will give it more power, and that is something Samaritan wants very much.

There was no real resolution to whether or not Shaw is alive, but Root and Reese are chasing a potential lead. With Sarah Shahi not expecting to return to the show for two years (because of her pregnancy), how much longer should this search go on?

Jimmy: This is anyone’s guess. If the series lasts long enough, and Shaw does return, the creators should get a heads-up a few months in advance and will be able to write her return in as a slow buildup of sorts, even if they use a body double to play Shaw in a long distance grainy shot that The Machine occasionally spots. I’d be more in favor of The Machine continuing the search for Shaw, perhaps under Finch’s orders, or autonomously. That leaves the team to continue their work in the knowledge that someone is keeping an ear to the ground.

DarkUFO: My guess is that there will be some resolution to this next episode. Whether it's a case of we know for sure that she is dead or that she is "lost" for the foreseeable future, but my guess is that the team will stop the search at this point.

Diana: I think we’ll see some resolution next week, or possibly in the season finale.

Brandon: I'm unsure of this. They can't admit defeat, but they also can't keep looking until Sarah Shahi decides to return. To me, that story has to come to some sort of a conclusion.

Robert: As much as I like Shaw, I think having the possibility of Shaw being alive continuously dangling over the teams heads will be frustrating to see, so I hope she is either confirmed dead or the team stop the search for her soon.

Ben: I don’t think the search can go on too long, I’d like to see either some evidence that Shaw has gone overseas, or something that can confirm that Shaw is indeed dead. It will create a nice plotline for the show.

Any standout/favourite moments from the episode?

Jimmy: I thought Finch’s entrance was beautifully done. As I said earlier, Michael Emerson was stunning tonight, but his entrance was used to assert his unique position of power.

DarkUFO: There were a lot of great scenes, both action and emotional but my personal favourite was at the end with Root tearing up with Reese asleep next to her in the car. It was a simple but very effective scene that showed just how much Root cared for Shaw.

Diana: The episode was quite enjoyable, a lot of intense moments from the emotional point of view. Root and Reese were both angry, lost and hopeless because of Shaw’s disappearance, and the moment when they show this weakness is in the last part with both of them in the car. Two different personality who are going to support each other and believe Shaw is still alive.

Brandon: Root's interrogation of Control and Root & Reese shooting Control down with a rocket launcher!

Robert: I liked the scene at the end that had Root tearing up, it showed us that Root does have feelings, whilst also showing us how much she cared for Shaw, and even loved her. Another great scene was when Root was interrogating Control, it showed us that the team were willing to do anything to locate their friend, but the absolute standout scene was when Finch walked in on Root tasering Control. It showed us just how much power Finch holds over them, and also how much they respect him enough to listen, and follow him.

Ben: Probably the interrogation between Reese, Root and Control. Brought back some great memories from season 3.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Jimmy: This series is just awesome. It is without question television’s number one show. Everything about it is incredible. If a Tuesday night has no new episode scheduled, it feels so boring and dull without it. 2015 is off to a flyer, and its first 2 episodes are surely just the tip of the iceberg.

DarkUFO: Bring on the next episode ASAP!

Brandon: I'm disappointed that we will be losing Shaw for a bit, but am extremely excited about the possible increase in action screentime for Root and Reese. I am also interested to see if the writers decide to "replace" Shaw's character for a bit.

Robert: This episode, like last week’s, proves again how this show is simply the best show on television.

Ben: Just that this show keeps on getting better and better by the week.

About the Author - Bradley Adams
16 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, as well as being in charge of the yearly 'Favourite Episode Competition'. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, with some of his all-time favourite shows including 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Arrow and The Walking Dead. He also runs an Arrow blog, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email
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