Sarah Shahi's nervy, ruthless performance as Shaw has been one of the greatest reasons to watch Person of Interest for the past couple of years. And with tonight's episode, she's going to be in her stickiest situation yet. We talked to Shahi on the phone, and she told us about Shaw's biggest upcoming showdown.
Tonight's episode "is kind of dangerous" for Shaw, says Shahi. Shaw is accompanying the "person of interest" in this episode, and "she kind of develops a little thing for this POI." She joins a group of international jewel thieves, and a "dangerous turn of events" puts her in danger of being detected by Samaritan.
"This episode turns out to be a little different than the other episodes," Shahi adds. "You definitely want to watch the last 35 seconds of the episode, because that sets up a lot of fun, dirty, awful, nasty, wonderful things that are coming. It's a pretty big deal."
"It's going to get messy and bloody," she adds.
A sexier episode
"This episode is a bit sexier for Shaw," says Shahi. Shaw gets to wear some slinky outfits, and "she gets to bring the girls out a couple times." She adds that Shaw is aware of her own femininity, "but for her it's all a weapon. The dress is a weapon, boobs are a weapon, ass is a weapon — it's all a weapon of manipulation to get what she wants."
For Shaw, "it's never a case of 'I'm on a girls' night.' Everything is very mechanical in her mind. As long as she has that order to fulfill, as long as she can be a soldier, she can hold a gun, she's happy." She knows that, and the Machine knows that, which is why it gave her the crew of robbers to join in the season opener.
In tonight's episode, Shaw bonds with this week's person of interest, and runs a huge risk because of it. Shahi says this episode was written by David Slack, who also wrote "Razgovor," the one last year where Shaw bonded with a little girl and we saw a bit more of her humanity.
"They don't give Shaw too many cracks in her veneer," says Shahi. "I love those moments where you see some vulnerability and you see a flaw in the character, because I think it's boring when you see the same thing over and over, and I also don't think it's true." The show peppers those moments in to keep the actors happy and the audience wanting more, she adds.
"I think the person who's gotten through to her the most is Root. Shaw wants to punch her one moment and kiss her the next," says Shahi. "They're kind of each other's number one crushes."
"I've always said I'd want to have [a scene of] Shaw having sex, because we'd learn so much about her in a sex scene. But I don't believe anybody has any genitalia on Person of Interest," Shahi jokes. "They're all just these kind of killing machines [or] superheroes." She says Shaw's sex scene would have "maybe a couple of people involved, maybe some guns, maybe some knives."
But what about Bear, I ask. Isn't that Shaw's most important relationship? "I agree with you there," says Shahi. "She has been very vocal about saying the only reason she's there is for the dog. No doubt."
Shaw is "a child, and she needs to be entertained."
"I've always pictured Shaw from the beginning as Robert DeNiro's character in Heat," says Shahi. "She's part of a team," adds Shahi," but at any moment, she can turn around and say, 'Fuck you guys, I'm out of here.' She's very much a lone wolf."
Shahi feels like that aspect of Shaw has gotten softened a little bit lately — she hasn't shot anyone in the kneecaps yet, this season — but she's had a couple of tough moments already, and we'll see more soon.
Shahi adds that Shaw "doesn't like to be bored," and there was a great scene cut from episode one where Shaw goes and deals with an "irrelevant" number from the Machine on her own. The scene culminates with Shaw beating the hell out of the perpetrator.
"She's a child and she needs to be entertained, and for her the answer is violence," says Shahi. "It's life threatening, it's adrenaline-pumping. That's what she gets off on. Her joining the smash-and-grab crew at the end of the first episode is a way to keep tabs on her, so you're taming the beast a little bit. You're keeping her at bay."
Now that Shaw has been with the team for a year, she's learned to develop "a certain amount of trust with these guys," says Shahi. "I wouldn't say she trusts them completely, because I don't think she's that kind of person. She's trusting them as much as she can."
But Shaw isn't ideological about any of this stuff — "she could as easily work for Samaritan as she does for the Machine."
Shaw vs. Rousseau
Speaking of which, when will we get to see Shaw face off against Martine Rousseau, the deadly operative for Samaritan?
"There's some stuff coming up with Shaw and Martine," says Shahi. "We've got some pretty good showdowns coming up between them. Things are going to get pretty hairy, pretty quickly."
Samaritan is still keeping underground "but is getting stronger by the day," with more eyes and ears out there. "Our team is struggling to keep up with them. And as far as Martine goes, she kind of is the Terminator on Samaritan's side."
Could Shaw replace Reese?
If Jim Caviezel ever leaves Person of Interest, could Shaw step up and become Finch and Root's right-hand woman? "That's an awful question to answer," says Shahi. "As an actor, I don't think [I] could ever replace Jim, and as far as the characters go... it would be a very different show."
"As far as their capabilities are concerned, they're equal," Shahi says of Shaw and Reese. But there is one important difference: "The beautiful thing about the Reese character is you see the vulnerability in his eyes, you see the care in his eyes when he talks about the POI or he's out trying to save someone," explains Shahi. "With Shaw, it's much more mechanical, and so it would be different. "It definitely would be funny trying to get Shaw to that place."