Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
Even better than the Season 5 premiere, “SNAFU” (shorthand for “Situation Normal, All F***ed Up”) was a predominantly hilarious outing with some darker, more meaningful undertones.
Seriously though, this was a funny episode. Person of Interest has had humorous moments before. Bits of snark and glib dialogue every so often, usually at the top of an episode, but there was an abundance of that here. From the opening “facial recognition” errors, to Root and Finch going stir crazy while trying to rebuild the Machine (bunny slippers!), to Reese and Finch’s awkward fist bump before their impressive server heist, there were a lot of jokey parts here. And I enjoyed that immensely.
Even the premise of the episode itself – the Machine’s glitches moving from harmless to deadly – gave the episode a sort of inward-looking appeal. A time to analyze Team Machine itself as the sins of their past were brought up by an ASI incapable of recognizing the progression of time and transformative arcs. Everything was everything and context was unavailable.
And then underneath even that was the debate over whether or not to keep the Machine as an open system, Fusco’s growing frustration with being kept in the dark (he even heard the term “list” while being led on some wild “irrelevant” goose chases), and Finch’s own mental glitch that made him see Grace appear on the Machine’s surveillance monitor a few times. Purely due to his own repressed regret and stressed-out psyche. Yes, Admin had a “bug” in his own system.
The very idea of the Machine seeing its own assets as threats was a great gimmick. And sending an assassin to kill John was a genius touch here as the lines between the Machine and Samaritan become more and more blurry. Here, the Machine was ready to wipe out a killer using another “paid in advance” killer, much like Samaritan would do. And Paige Patterson’s gun-toting “tourist,” Laurie, gave our Man in the Suit one hell of a shootout in Chinatown.
Of course, also worth mentioning is the fact that she almost lured Reese into a lethal trap by inviting him to her apartment around the corner. An offer he was ready to take her up on had he not gotten an emergency call. Another brief, funny part here.
And then, in the end, a Mr. Jeff Blackwell (Fargo’s Joshua Close) got a job offer. One of the numbers who got overlooked in the swarm of bad calls and blunders wound up actually being a person of interest. Reese drove away from him (didn’t appreciate watching paint dry) and then Blackwell wound up getting an offer from a woman named Mona that was very similar to the offer Finch gave to Reese back in the pilot. Employment. A purpose. An extension of the Samaritan recruitment theme that began back in Season 4 with Claire Mahoney. More parallels between the ASIs and their respective agents. Both systems offer opportunity and redemption.
In the end, after Root took herself out of the game and Harold was able to mend the Machine using past numbers/cases as a time anchor (as its “lighthouses”), Team Machine rewarded themselves with a picnic in Central Park. Reese in a bowling league shirt, Root reinstated to her old rotating persona-self, and Fusco deemed a hero cop by the local papers. A fun ending to what could be seen as the “calm before the storm” episode of Season 5.