One of the things we've always loved about Person of Interest has been the way it juggles its global "artificial intelligence" and its local "urban organized crime" storylines. And last night's episode was a great example of this, with stories in which two of our favorite characters were exposed due to the power of surveillance. Spoilers...
In last night's episode, Reese is trying to protect Silva, a trainee at the police academy, who turns out to be an Internal Affairs investigator looking for a mole who works for Dominic. And that mole, Ortiz, turns out to be working for Dominic, who's hacked into the NYPD systems to get info about Elias, our favorite gang leader. So now Elias is going to be Dominic's next target, and we've already seen how effective Dominic is.
Meanwhile, in the "B" plot, Samaritan now has a smudgy partially reconstructed image of Shaw's face and is trying to track her down. Samaritan's main operative, Rousseau, tracks down the leader of the diamond thief gang that Shaw used to be getaway driver for. And then she actually tracks Shaw to the store where she's working at the makeup counter — and gets a bead on her.
There's a theme running through this episode of "human intelligence," as Greer puts it in an early conversation with Rousseau. Samaritan has a blind spot when it comes to Shaw and the other members of the Machine Gang, thanks to the computers that Root installed at the end of last season. So it's up to Rousseau to track her down the old-fashioned way, through known associates — and this sort of gets to the idea that even if you try to hide from digital surveillance, your real-world connections to other people will be your undoing.
Rousseau is basically an unstoppable badass — she might be the best villain this show has had yet — and she uses one crook's daughter against her, while facing down Romeo, the leader of Shaw's ex-gang. She gets a very Reese moment when she realizes the Elvis lookalike behind her has an unloaded shotgun. And it all culminates in a moment where Samaritan still can't locate Shaw even when they're right near her, but Rousseau is able to spot her and get a bead on her.
Meanwhile, in the "A" plot, Silva gets into trouble because her undercover status leaves her without much documentation. She's completely dependent on her lone contact within IA to vouch for her, and when she's framed for her contact's murder, she has no way to clear her name. Except that Reese, who's posing as her instructor, steps in and says that she has a new "friend on the Force," and the two of them team up to capture Ortiz before he's crossed off by Dominic's allies.
This is also the episode in which the Machine Gang finally figures out that "Mini," the guy whom Shaw had at her mercy a few episodes back, is actually Dominic. And Dominic delivers a few speeches that are worthy of Finch himself, talking about his math teacher who taught him that a circle contains all the possibility in the universe. (Plus Dominic also proves he's superior to random thug #5, because he knows what a compass is for, beyond stabbing people with it.)
And Dominic's whole plan to take down Elias is based on studying Snowden, who exposed the NSA without actually being an NSA employee — Snowden worked for a satellite office and got access to information in the same way that a cadet in the NYPD academy can get NYPD files.
As Dominic keeps saying, it's not about numbers — meaning who has the most soldiers — but about relationships and what you know. He proves this by getting the #2 guy in his ally gang to execute the #1 guy for him, even though those other gangsters have more guns in the room at the time. These kind of human networks is what Samaritan is still learning to exploit, through proxies like Rousseau.
In any case, this episode sets up two huge cliffhangers, involving two of the most beloved characters. And if they kill off Shaw any time soon, I'm going to sic Bear on them.