Movies/TV

Person of Interest Nautilus Review


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When I realized that Nautilus would be focusing on Finch and his unwillingness to accept new numbers, a couple of alarms went off in my head. It didn’t help that the synopsis for the episode described a “brilliant college student involved in a dangerous scavenger hunt.” After reading that, I was ready for a cheesy and improbable case-of-week that spent much of its time trying to resolve an unnecessary crisis of character that had seemingly been resolved last week. I wonder when I first got in the habit of grossly underestimating the writers for Person of Interest.

First of all, Finch’s reluctance isn’t tied to a mistrust of the Machine.  It’s grounded in a fear of committing himself to an ideal only to have it all turn out to be futile. After having the very foundation and structure that he spent so long building up fall apart in an instant, Finch is questioning the meaning of it all. In order to motivate him, Reese essentially forces this week’s number on Finch. That number belongs, of course, to the brilliant college student mentioned in the synopsis. The student’s name is Claire and she is convinced that she has stumbled across a complex “game” that led her to hack into a private military contractor’s database.

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Strictly speaking, the scavenger hunt is probably the weakest aspect of the plot, but not for the reasons that I would have assumed and, as it turns out, is merely a testament to how good this episode is. Rather than playing out the scavenger hunt with a tongue-in-cheek approach, like I expected, the show instead plays it straight. In fact, Nautilus handles the scavenger hunt quite intelligently. The only reason that it’s the weakest part of the episode is due to the fact that it relies a bit on coincidence; Finch happens to figure out the first clue he encounters and arrives at the second one at the EXACT same time as Claire. There’s also not a lot of exploration of her character. She gets a chance to explain some of her motivation towards the end of the episode, but even that serves simply as a tool to examine Finch’s current doubts.

Finch spends a while assuming that the scavenger hunt is simply a delusion. However, once he analyses the clues for the game, he realizes it’s real and tries to trace it back to it’s source. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that Samaritan is behind the scavenger hunt. Most viewers will probably catch on to that pretty quickly given the fact that every aspect of the scavenger hunt seems to hint at it. It’s too well coordinated to be by human design. Even the reason behind the game isn’t all that surprising, but the implications are quite interesting.

Shaw and Root largely get to sit this episode out. Shaw is busy getting used to the flip side of her cover identity as a thief, while Root’s cover remains unknown… but apparently it involves keeping a man named Larry in the trunk of her car. Fusco gets to do a little more than he did in the premiere, but, aside from having fun with his role as Reese’s senior officer and helping with one of the clues, he is still mostly absent from the episode.

In many ways, it’s harder to talk about an episode when it has so few flaws to pick at and analyze. It’s a little amusing how the Silverpool mercenaries who were pursuing Claire were largely ineffective. Claire was off in her own little world, and barely notice the heavily armed individuals who were out to kill her. It was actually slightly comical to watch.

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Before wrapping up a few Notes and Nitpicks:

  • I thought the show was implying that Shaw was being recruited for a robbery last week, but I wasn’t positive so I didn’t comment on it at the time. It turns out that I was right. I can imagine a number of ways that cover could prove to be useful during the course of investigating numbers.
  • The “pep talk” that Root gives Shaw in the middle of a robbery was pretty amusing and informative. The Machine’s decision to give Shaw the cover identity of makes a lot of sense now.
  • Wait… so their new base is an abandoned subway line? …Reese isn’t Batman! He’s V!
  • Quinn Shephard (previously on Hostages) was the actress who played Claire, and while the script didn’t give her a lot of moments to shine, I largely felt that she did a decent job with the character. I don’t know if we’ll be seeing more of her character, but I wouldn’t mind. I’d particularly like to see what would happen if she met Root.
  • The moment Claire’s “father” showed up for the first time, I outright said “Her parents are dead aren’t they?”

Nautilus does an excellent job of exploring Finch’s character and how the emergence of Samaritan has shaken his convictions. It’s a strong episode that shows how effectively the writers can take what seems like a silly premise and turn it into an incredibly solid and smart hour of television. Next week’s episode, Wingman, looks like it might be a slightly silly one involving a pickup artist… but given how my predictions for this one turned out, I suspect that the next episode might end up being a masterpiece. Either way, it looks like we’ll be getting to see a bit more of Fusco.

Person of Interest Nautilus Review

Final Thoughts

Nautilus provides an interesting look into an aspect of Samaritan’s method of operations. A couple storytelling issues prevent this one from getting a perfect score, but it’s a strong episode nonetheless.

Overall Score 4.5 Excellent

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