LezWatch With No Context – Person of Interest

Person of Interest - No Context Header

The overthinking journey continues! I watched selected episodes of Person of Interest with no context to run through several simulations and feelings about Root and Shaw, aka Shoot.

Warning: This post contains spoilers and show theories!

Person of Interest

The two things I’m sure of regarding Shoot is that the characters are played by Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker, and that both of them are lovely individuals in real life. Tracy selected the following episodes for me to watch:

  • Season 2, Episode 16 “Relevance”
  • Season 4, Episode 11 “If Then Else”
  • Season 5, Episode 4 “6,741”

Before Viewing “Knowledge”

Two organizations are trying to change the outcome of events by using math and computers. The morality of these decisions will probably play a big role in the show. One of the organizations has a dog, so I’m going to assume they are considered the “good” guys. Everyone is super serious, but Sarah Shahi’s character is also emotionally stunted (probably a medical thing like a brain injury**). I think Taraji P. Henson was in this show in early season.

**In a previous version of this post I omitted the details for why I thought Shaw’s withdrawn emotions could possibly be a result of a “medical thing like a brain injury.” In 2012 I had a cervical spine and brain injury that resulted in partial facial numbness, twitching, and changes with my emotions. For months I struggled with feeling emotionally numb and detached, impatience, and a reduced sex drive. I related what I had seen of Shaw (prior to watching the three selected episodes) to how I remembered being while recovering from my injury. My word choice (“probably”) and omission of these details makes that particular sentence ableist and rude. I apologize for the omission and further apologize for any inference that how Shaw experiences emotions is a deficiency.

Character GuessPre-Viewing AssumptionActual NamePost-Viewing Comments
ShawI think this Sarah Shahi’s character? Shaw seems like a tough, broody name so it’s probably her. Works for “good guys”. Has a tragic backstorySameen ShawI enjoy her sarcasm and with things worked out better for her in life. Based on the nature of this show she may die.
RootRoot has a slightly more uplifting tone when you say it, so this is probably Amy Acker’s character. Either works for the “bad guys” or is a free agent interfering solely for self-interest. I want to say violently flirty?Root /
Ms. Groves
No idea what her first name is. HR would have a field day with her constant flirting with Shaw. Based on the nature of this show she may die.
Very Smart PersonSocially awkward geniusHarold FinchYup
Science & Tech GuyOne of the “good guys”. He explains all of the things, provides gadgets, and runs comms.There wasn’t a designated tech person in the episodes I watched
Super AgentAction movie style leader. Always finds a way out. Any relationship that starts to work out, ends tragically. Has father or step-father issues. Probably named Hank or Garrett.John ReeseI would argue that he and Shaw are basically the same
Comfort DogIs a very a good dog. Smart and resourceful. Probably a german shepard or a border collieBEAR!A very good dog and super sweet
Ominous VoiceThe head of the “bad guy” organization. Primarily communicates through the phone or other audio medium. Loves hacking into your systemsI didn’t really get one head bad guy in the selected episodes
Person in Over Their HeadEither the new person in the group or someone who did something stupid and it blew up in their faceMichael ColeLooked into the Aquino event and started questioning Control.

Season 2, Episode 16 “Relevance”

I caught the words “lethal and sexy” in the Netflix episode description before the video started playing so that either means sexy people fighting or a deadly sex-related accident. The first words of the episode are, “You are being watched” spoken by a voice that I assume is resident science/tech guy. I’m curious when this show aired in relation to major US surveillance controversies timeframe. “There is a government system” and now the screen suddenly turns into an upgraded Matrix-style code scrolling screen saver.

It’s 2013 Berlin, Germany. There’s a coffee/pastry stand, a bus goes passed the camera, and *poof* Sarah Shahi appears.

Person of Interest - Shaw Appears

Film and television like to suggest a sudden appearance as stealthy but here’s the thing about a person suddenly appearing in a large open space, it’s not stealthy. Suddenly appearing in a confined or small space is stealthy and intimidating. Suddenly appearing in public makes it easier to pick out the difference. If I were part of a major tech surveillance team or crime scene investigator I would be closely studying footage for clues, looking frame by frame to see if anything jumps out at me. A person suddenly popping into frame would absolutely stick out. On the other hand, sudden appearance in small spaces (like a lair or secure area) feels impressive and/or threatening. All that said, I do enjoy when shows make fun of these entrances.

The Flash - Malcolm Appears

Sarah Shahi’s character (Shaw probably, not sure yet) takes her coffee and walks down a busy sidewalk. She nods at a policer officer passing by, which feels uncomfortably purposeful. Not a “sup” nod or a “thank you for your service” nod, but more of a “I should knowingly make eye contact with this officer until he acknowledges me” nod.

Person of Interest - Shaw Nods

She walks into what I think is an apartment complex and is confronted by two men. They ask why she’s following them and she replies with an unconvincing, “I’m sorry I don’t speak German.” Friendly face officer shows up and I bet he wouldn’t have done that if she didn’t do that weird nod. He tries to deescalate the situation and fails miserably. Bad guys pull their guns, but they are quickly shot and killed by Shaw (Surely, this is Shaw. Right?). She knocks out the officer and is talking to a male via comms that were hidden by her voluminous hair. The male voice belongs to a guy in a surveillance van who confirms that Sarah Shahi’s character is indeed Shaw. She and surveillance van guy are looking for someone named Bekhti.

Shaw and surveillance van guy, Cole, head up to the roof to check different apartments by putting a colonoscopy camera down different exhaust vents. When they find the correct apartment they see the bad guys sitting a table making a bomb and watching tv. One of the bad guys gets a phone call and tells the person on the other end that they’re basically done and will be moving in an hour. Shaw decides to call control using a giant sat-phone. They give her the green light to engage.

Person of Interest - Shaw Calls Control

I’m a little confused. Does Shaw like killing people or is she just indifferent about it? Cole seems uneasy about Shaw and guns which is weird considering their occupation.

They use exhaust vent to gas the apartment to knock everyone out. Shaw goes in with what seems like a larger than necessary gun given the size and layout of the space. All of the dudes are on the floor having a snooze while Shaw takes the chemical out of the bomb. Then some papers rustle like a plastic bag in the wind. The most beautiful thing Shaw has ever seen. The papers were dancing with her. More importantly it means that the window is open so either someone escaped or the breeze will dilute the gas enough for someone to wake up.

Person of Interest - Shaw sees paper rustle

It was the later! One of the bad guys is awake and comes at Shaw with a knife. They wrestle briefly but the bad guy slips away. Cole helps Shaw via comms but he is way more panicky through the ordeal than I would have expected. Maybe he’s not usually in the field like this? He manages to help Shaw know where the bad guy is and she shoots him through the wall. Violence aside, the way this part of the fight scene is shot is pretty cool.

Person of Interest - Shaw shoots through a wall

We jump to New York where Shaw gets a new number from a shady looking guy named Wilson. They throw some terms around in the conversation:

  • Number – I think is an identifier of a person or a file about a person that needs to be taken care of.
  • Control – is either the name of one of the big organizations or the group of decision makers of said organization.
  • Operator – is a person hired by Control to take care of a Number. I would assume Operators and Control members are obscured/protected from surveillance so they can complete jobs.
  • Research – does whatever it takes to get the Numbers.

This sounds like a perfectly reasonable organization. Not corruptible in the least (*sarcasm*)

Brooklyn Nine Nine - Rosa sarcastic laugh

Shaw and Cole are in the van preparing for the assignment Shaw got from Wilson. Cole questions that this system may not be all that it appears but Shaw is firmly denying it. My guess is that Shaw has some regrets about what happened during a specific event and if what Cole says is true then it would undermine everything from said event and/or completely invalidate a major part of Shaw’s identity. Cole is still looking into it and even asked for an internal investigation. Oh, Cole. Questioning things in a crime drama will get you killed.

Person of Interest - Research is never wrong

They go to investigate hack into the computer of the Number they’re assigned to and Cole logs in way too easy (uh oh). Then the emails are addressed from Cole and Shaw (red flag). Then, *boop*, a little pop up window says what we’re all thinking. This is a set up! It’s a trap! Get out! Flee! Go!

Person of Interest - It's a Trap

Blue eyes Cole gets shot several times getting Shaw out of the line of fire. Shaw kills the intruders and grabs one of their radios. Cole dies after sort of saying that he loves Shaw, but there’s no time to grieve because the bad guys are sending in a second team!

Second team is on the way, the music changes, and Shaw is full badass mode. Shaw kills team two and team three moves into position. Okay, that’s three teams. Now I feel really bad for team one. Their bosses had no faith in team one’s performance. Could you imagine being on the first team if you knew there was a second and THIRD team assembled for when the your team inevitably failed? That’s rough.

Somewhere between team two and team three a guy name John pops in to say hello. He’s here to help Shaw, but she shots him a bunch and moves on. He probably had a vest on so I’m sure he’s fine. Shaw makes it out of apartment and finds that Wilson orchestrated the whole thing (I thought he seemed shady!). He’s casually chewing gum while he’s trying to kill her which is unsettling.

Person of Interest - Shaw and Wilson

Shaw gets away and Wilson calls his boss to tell him he lost her. He’s boss does the evil mastermind chair turn reveal and it’s a guy I don’t know yet but the music suggests that people who have seen the series thus far know this man and it would be a big reveal for them. While the big guy in charge of the hit is on the phone Amy Acker shows up to bring him files. She’s undercover and while I don’t know why I am very happy to see her.

Person of Interest - Amy Acker Appears

Shaw was shot in the gun fight so she kidnaps a drug dealer, who we soon learn is named Lewis, to use as a decoy to get his boss to open the door. This is actually pretty smart because boss drug dealer has a bunch of helpful bullet removal and pain management supplies. In theory, if Shaw chose a drug dealer randomly then Wilson won’t find her as easily. Shaw passes out and more drug dealers show up. They are beating up Lewis and I really feel for him in this moment. He was just minding his business, working his post, when Shaw pulls him into the car, forces him to take them to his BOSS, and when the higher up drug dealers show up they immediately punch him in the face.

Drug dealer management is still punching Lewis when Shaw regains consciousness. She spills this bit personal medical information as a means of threatening them, which is a choice. They don’t take her seriously, so she’ll absolutely kill all of them. Except for Lewis, I hope.

She kills everyone except of Lewis (Yay!) so maybe she does have some feelings after all. She calls up Cole’s CIA contact, Veronica Sinclair, and sets up a meeting at a hotel for the next day. Based on Amy Acker’s sort of rogue spy situation right now I bet she’ll show up at this meeting with Shaw.

Shaw goes to the hotel and looky it’s Amy Acker. I’m not entirely sure if Veronica Sinclair was an alias for Amy Acker’s character. They haven’t said it yet, but she’s Root. I’m curious if this is Root’s introductory episode. It seems like it but it’s the 16th episode of the season and that is kind of late in the season to add someone so integral the investigation.

Person of Interest - Root as Veronica

Root (as “Veronica Sinclair”) tells Shaw about the information she uncovered surrounding the Aquino event. The wire transfers came from the “Intelligence Support Agency” which is the very agency Shaw and Cole worked until they were set up. Shaw is starting to piece things together as keywords trigger recognition in her face.Started 5 years ago, a big project called “Northern Lights”, research.

Person of Interest - Shaw learns the truth

There’s a noise coming from the restroom. Shaw opens the door to find the real Veronica Sinclair! Root tases Shaw and begins to show her real personality. I don’t know how I feel about it, but this next part is extremely intense!

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw Flirty Torture

Flirty torture interrogation is interrupted by men with guns. Root leaves safely and Shaw defends herself. John pops up to help again. Remember him from the big three-team shoot out? Shaw goes with John to an empty floor of an office building to meet Harold. Harold explains a lot of things but it all boils down Harold and John wanting to help Shaw. Harold offers Shaw his phone numbers, but she refuses (stubborn) and wants to do things her own way.

Unfortunately, Shaw’s way doesn’t really work out because she is super murdered almost immediately after leaving that conversation with Harold and John. She is killed by a toxin injection, but would you know it Harold and John found her and injected the antitoxin in time.

Many sarcastic comments ensue and the episode ends with Shaw taking Harold’s phone number and leaving.

Season 4, Episode 11 “If Then Else”

Skipping two seasons. Harold, John, Root, Shaw, and some guy named Lionel are the main team. The episode title suggests that this will be a looping episode wherein we, the viewers, will see a moment play out multiple times. Each time something will vary and that variance will change the outcome.

The episode starts with stock markets and I’m immediately confused. “Samaritan” is taking down the market. That must be this season’s bad person/organization.

I see the team upgraded their comms to the magic TV comms that work everywhere and are invisible. The comm lines are also apparently always open because Root is able to talk to immediately talk to Shaw despite them being on separate tasks across the city. Flirty comms. Whatever happened in two seasons has made Shaw a bit more fun and even mildly upbeat.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw flirty comms

They’re making their way down to the stock exchange servers to deploy a counter measure to block Samaritan. Root says it wont be easier by they’ll have some help from a friends (Aww, they’re friends now). Shaw is on a metro trying to get a code from someone from the security company that designed the server room biotech palm scanners. Shaw is about to approach the guy but just then a suicide bomber threatens the train. Shaw tells Root she’ll have to wait on that code. I love how these magic TV comms work on a train and in the subbasement of a 100 year old steel and limestone building.

Root deduces that the subbasement is a trap using what some kind of ability to electronic systems. I’m pretty lost here, but it does feel like Root has a connection to an outside electronic system or bionic eye or something. Is she able to see the camera feeds or is there a voice in her magic comms that we don’t hear? This feels like an important detail about Root’s character and I’m sure there it was explained in detail in a previous episode.

Person of Interest - Root Online Access

It’s a trap (seems to be a theme with this show) and the team gets stuck in a very nice break room. They ask “The Machine” for some assistance. I’m assuming this is whatever system Root is communicating with? Time slows down as The Machine evaluates possible options. There is a flashback to Harold and The Machine playing chess all while Harold discusses the infinitude of probability and possibility.

The Machine has the divide and conquer. Half of the stock market team will go to the server room and the other half will go to the mechanical room. Sure, everything just became more difficult with people actively trying to kill them, but that is not enough to stop Root from being flirty on comms.

Person of Interest - Root calls Shaw honey

I hope they have their own comm channel because otherwise the rest of the team is probably rolling their eyes right now like,

The plan plays out and it does not go well at all. They failed, Shaw is arrested, and Harold died. So now I know this is a simulation and this will be the moment repeated through the episode. The situation resets to the scenario to prepare for a new option to play out. I really appreciate the use of slow motion to emphasize the volume of possibilities the machine is going through in such a short amount of time. There is also something satisfying about seeing a baked goods explode in slow motion.

Person of Interest - Slowmo Machine Thinking

I’ll save you some time. The second attempt doesn’t work either. The teams switched who went to the server room and mechanical rooms, in the end Shaw is arrested, John dies, and Root dies. Before Root dies and the scenario resets Shoot play with our emotions.

Okay, Root. I see that look, something is wrong.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw maybe someday

Okay, Shaw. Pick up on the situation already.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw maybe someday

You’re giving her hope and yet she’s sooooo sad!

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw maybe someday

Don’t do it TV show, don’t you dare do it!!!

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw maybe someday

The look on Root’s face before she contacts Shaw and look on Shaw’s face when she hears the gun shots. Those are the sad faces of two people having the same realization, that now they’ll never be together. They’ll never see each other again.

Second attempt was the worst! Thank goodness the scenario resets. Every time there is a reset we see the counter to “asset destruction” getting closer to 0. It’s currently at 4 minutes, but no worries because Hollywood loves a rule of three so this next option will probably be the winner.

The third simulation starts and I was not expecting this at all. I don’t think Root, even simulation Root, would be so chill about a surprise kiss from Lionel. It was definitely off-putting.

Person of Interest - Lionel kisses Root

The biggest difference in the third simulation is that the stock market team doesn’t split up between the server and mechanical rooms, instead all four of them with stick together. Shaw talks down the bomber so she isn’t arrested and she is able to get the server room bypass code. Stock market team gets into the server room and this next bit amused me. The “asset destruction” clock is almost out of time so The Machine simplifies the simulation by making everyone’s dialogue generic. Naturally, the best part of this sequence is Root and Shaw’s comm flirting. It. Is. Excellent.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw simplified flirting

The third simulation cuts short with a 2.07% survival rate for the team at the stock market building. The Machine selects that options and sends it to the “analog interface”, Root (that sort of answers my earlier thought about Root’s electronic connection). The simulation never finished so that 2.07% survival rate does not factor the potential for Shaw to meet up with the team, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she did that somehow. Somewhat related – seeing the generic dialogue made me realize that Shaw and I speak kind of similarly. I don’t know if that’s cool or alarming.

No more simulations, time to go through everything for realzies. Shaw talks down the bomber and gets the code, the team sets up the counter device to fix the stock market, they go to the mechanical room to restart the elevator, and they get into a gun fight with Samaritan. John is shot, Root is grazed, and they’re running out of ammo. Root starts the emotional conversation she had with Shaw in simulation option two (before she died) and then Shaw shows up to join the fight!

Person of Interest - Shaw shows up

We upgrade from comm flirting to gun fight flirting, which I am totally here for and helps to clarify a number of gifs I’ve seen in the past.

Root and Shaw - Four Alarm Fire

The elevator won’t work. Shaw sees an override button. THEN THIS HAPPENS AND I AM DEVASTATED!!!!

Person of Interest - Shoot kiss

I was kind and spared you the absolute horror on Root’s face as Shaw was getting shot multiple times. They don’t show the final gun shot that would have killed Shaw, so it’s possible she’s still alive to be potentially reprogrammed or tortured by Samaritan.

It’s shot beautifully. The music is great. Amy Acker’s acting is fantastic. But I have to ask the LezWatchTV Team. Why? Why do you hurt me so??

Person of Interest - WHY
Season 5, Episode 4 “6,741”

The episode title is a very specific number. Maybe that is how many times something happens to someone or an amount of time between two events that happened on the show.

The episode starts with a black screen and the sound of a heartbeat, which is slightly unsettling. The sound gets louder. A woman gasps and opens her eyes wide. It’s Shaw and she is in a terrible position. She is barely conscious but aware of her surroundings. The doctors are implanting a chip in her brain with the goal of controlling her so they can use her as an asset. One bad guy mentions that Shaw has killed six of his men in the last nine months. This means that the title of the episode is very likely a duration of time. Hours to be specific. 6,741 hours is a little over 280 days which is approximately 9 months.

They are keeping Shaw restrained, heavily sedated, and subjecting her to mental torture. She’s still got enough of that Shaw sarcasm though, which is a good sign for us but will probably mean the bad guys are going to try harder. For now they just give her more drugs.

After that Shaw breaks a one-way mirror (also known as two-way mirror, not confusing at all) and keeps a shard of the glass for her escape attempt. I want to believe that she’s escaping for real but based on how this show plays with simulations this is probably in her mind. It’s a pretty solid escape sequence and I think we should take a moment to appreciate Sarah Shahi’s arms while she runs down the hall and again as she starts to climb this fence.

Person of Interest - Shaw escapes Samaritan
Person of Interest - Sarah Shahi's ARMS

Shaw finds a boat and makes her way to New York. She goes to a convenience store to try to remove the chip from her brain. The screen flashes with the same fuzzy bright rapid fire clips that were used previously when Shaw was being tortured. This further supports my “it’s all in her head” theory. It happens anytime she touches where the chip is like her mind is fighting it.

She makes a call to try to lure out her team (Root, John, etc) knowing full well that Samaritan will also show up. Samaritan shows up first and there’s a fire fight across the aisles of the store. Root shows up and Shaw has the flashes again (probably means something). They end up on an empty, moving subway train. I guess that means it’s night time now otherwise there would definitely be other people on this train, even in Shaw’s mind. Root and John figured out the brain chip thing and Root is going to remove it right then and there. That implant site would have been infected five times over by now anyway, so they might as well do some impromptu subway train surgery. Before she does we get this call back to when Root and Shaw first met.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw callback

Shaw wakes up in a comfy bed. Root’s bed. Because they’re at Root’s place… Okay, this can’t be real…. Root does her signature blatant come-on (much to Shaw’s chagrin) and then I finally learn the doggo’s name. Bear! Such a good pup. All of the interactions happening are exactly how I think Shaw sees each of the characters including her love of Bear the dog.

Person of Interest - Root's place

This next part I found surprisingly uncomfortable to watch as it made no logical sense to me. Root and Shaw start hooking up. That’s fine and I want to be interested, but I don’t feel convinced that Shaw would proposition Root in this specific moment just a couple of days after having the chip removed. I could see it happening under different circumstances, but this felt like very bizarre timing. Now that I think of it it could be possible that this brain injury** changed Shaw in a way that impacted how she experiences impulses and desires. The brain is a very mysterious thing and injuries to it often involve emotional changes.

Person of Interest - Shoot kiss

**In this case the “brain injury” I am referring to is Samaritan implanting a chip into Shaw’s brain. Shaw had previously established having Axis II Personality Disorder. Honestly, I did not do a good job here. I am not an expert on brain injuries or psychology. I only have my own experiences for each to draw from. If you couple that with the fact that I skipped three seasons of Shoot interactions. Not good, and Twitter rightfully called me out on it.

On the one hand, it’s great to have a moment showing that the feelings between the characters are canon. On the other hand, it’s almost definitely happening in Shaw’s mind. It would be cool if the something happened between them in real life if Shaw survives this mental torture. This show has probably killed off main characters before, I wouldn’t be surprised if Root or Shaw don’t make it through the end of the series.

Then this happens.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw

Y’all. If Shaw says “You’re my safe place” to Root at some point in episode I will screenshot this from my notes and send it to the LezWatch Team.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw stay with me

After this tender moment a lot of stuff is happens and the pace of the episode is picking up. They captured one of the main Samaritan guys and there’s something about a USB in his arm. The flashes are happening more frequently. Shaw is getting increasingly sweaty and paranoid about being under Samaritan’s control. Shaw kills the guy and then mentions how it was a trap. Is this whole show about how Root and Shaw’s team are always getting caught in some trap? She is so sweaty it is obviously on purpose. I wonder if that is to illustrate how hard her mind is fighting the chip. TV and film love to make someone who is sick or poisoned become increasingly sweaty to show how their illness is getting worse.

Person of Interest - Shaw is losing it

Shaw goes full downward spiral, killing John in the process. She makes her way to a very sad little playground. Root shows up to talk her down (as a good girlfriend would). Shaw starts opening up to Root about the torture. She lied when she said she couldn’t escape it. When things got to be too bad there was one place Shaw would go in her mind.

Person of Interest - Root and Shaw safe place

SHE SAID IT!!! I absolutely sent that screenshot to the staff slack channel the second she said it.


Well, that prediction was the only happy bit of the episode. Shaw was indeed in a simulation. A simulation that the Samaritan doctors can watch, which is gross. The name of the episode title, 6741, was how many times something happens to someone (in this case a simulation) AND how many hours are in approximately 9 months. I see you writers room.

Person of Interest - start simulation 6742

That entire episode was exhausting and I’m both relieved and upset that it’s over.

Final Thoughts

This show takes a decent amount of focus to follow along, but once you figure out the rhythm it gets a little easier. There is a lot more violence than I expected, but I wouldn’t consider excessively violent. If you can watch a Marvel movie then you can watch this and be fine. I might go back and watch the series at some point, but honestly these three episodes required a lot of head space to follow and I don’t know if I can do that for five seasons.

The episodes I watched did not give me much of a sense of anyone’s goals or motivations beyond the scope of the specific episode. I would have loved to see Root and Shaw as an actual couple on the show. The two of them in a relationship would have brought a number of challenges and potential story lines to be explored. I appreciate that the show made the feelings canon, but I still feel teased by their whole dynamic.**

**The fact that I felt teased after three episodes across multiple seasons means that I felt a connection there, but something was missing. What was missing was three seasons worth of them interacting, learning about each other, working together. This show does not work well for out of context viewing. Aside from the pure logistics/plot of the story, three episodes was not enough to keep up with the action and learn character relationships, goals, etc. Person of Interest is not your standard procedural. It is a very intricate drama with layers upon layers of complexity.

Feel free to reach out to me in the comments, on Twitter, or on LWTV’s Slack channel to share your thoughts on Person of Interest or if there are other shows you think I should watch with no context.

About Carmel

Carmel is that one queer friend who seems to be involved in every project or convention somehow. In person she holds herself with the same level of energy and sarcasm as MTV icon Daria, but online.... so many gifs. A universe of gifs and yelling about queer things
%d bloggers like this: