Person of Interest Review: Fairly Lethal

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This was a wildly different episode of Person of Interest that attempted to bring a new important character to the mix, while digging deeper into the government affiliation with the machine and the secret programs connected.

Rather than follow Reese and Finch around, "Relevance" switched the point of view to follow Sam Shaw, an operative working for a secret government program that received numbers in order to prevent terrorist and/or bad guy plots around the globe. Something very similar to what Reese and Finch do in New York.

Finch, Reese, & the Government Agent

In a lot of ways, the whole concept of focusing on Shaw reminded me of The Bourne Legacy: creating a fresh character within the same world that's connected to the same people, but with different motives and a different direction. Except, here, the result was successful, in large part to the fact that all of the main characters were involved.

The story ultimately revoled around Shaw, but she was just a piece of the larger puzzle. Plus, Reese and Finch, who are the core of that bigger story, weren't absent.

The episode was directed by series creator Jonathan Nolan, and even written by Nolan and Amanda Segal, which meant right from the get-go, I knew it was going to be a hour full of crucial information and major story arc focus.

Similarly, an episode like this I don't think could have even been done back in Person of Interest Season 1. Rather, now that the central characters have been pretty well established, Nolan and company decided to go for a bold game changer.

I can certainly see people sticking up their noses to not really having Reese or Finch at work in the forefront, but this was ultimately the perfect way to introduce Shaw while garnering another perspective on one of the major enemies to Reese and Finch.

Sarah Shahi, who has worked on shows like Fairly Legal and Chicago Fire, was a wonderful spitfire addition as Shaw, with killer instincts, attitude and skills. She's certainly a lot darker and mistrusting of a character than Reese (at least for now), and she had no hesitancy in killing people. Heck, she even shot Reese!

I kind of was hoping her own Finch, Cole, would have survived - but it did lead her to start her own investigation that sort of rattled the government cages.

At the same time, it was fantastic that Root was involved as well, except on her own mission to find the Machine, something that Shaw hadn't really comprehended yet. Shaw still believed that the numbers she received were from a group called Research.

We all know where the numbers come from, though.

I was a bit confused with Root being Cole's contact and thought maybe she really was going to turn into a good guy, but after finding the real contact bound and gagged, I knew this was the same crazy character all along. She desperately wants to find that Machine, which it sounded might be housed in a new location?

I was so pleased when Reese came to save the day and it was fun seeing Shaw hear what Finch had to say about the numbers and her job. It was like finally letting her into the group and the dark empty room added to the cool factor and level of importance when it came to telling her what was going on. And yet, I was surprised that she turned Finch down.

Even still, I was shocked that she met up with the Washington official who has been running the show, but was apparently not the highest point of command. He also happened to be the one who hired the assassin (who happened to have trained Shaw) to take out Reese, as well as the person Root was pretending to be a secretary for.

The real kicker was that she handed over the information Cole had uncovered and simply wanted to get revenge on the guy who had put out the hit on them. Shaw wanted to protect the program, even though she didn't really know all the dirty details behind it.

Of course, it was no surprise that she got taken out after all was said and done.

In true Person of Interest fashion, however, the series gave a wonderful twist that included Fusco, Carter, and yes, Leon, scooping her up, reviving her and taking her back to Reese and Finch.

All the dots were connecting, the government connection to the Machine was becoming more and more riveting, and I was finally ready for Shaw to join the group. I mean, c'mon, Bear gave her the perfect welcome lick!

Except a fantastic final twist involved Shaw turning down Finch again, except this time at least taking his number. Fun fact, if you dial 917-285-7362, you'll get a voice recording from Harold's phone.

It was kind of nice that Shaw didn't jump right into their arms in true happy ending style. We all know she'll be back, but her introduction and her invitation to the show fell right in sync with the drama's ability to avoid the cliche and keep that fresh spark of creativity going.

It really was such a different direction for the show to go, but I'm already a fan of Shaw's kick-ass character, and the fact that the major story was expertly expanded upon made the episode that much more interesting.

Who knew that there were operatives running numbers all around the world? Who knew all these crazy connections existed bringing more of the mystery behind the Machine to light?

This was a well done episode that proved that Person of Interest really knows how to create interesting story and characters, stand alone episodes and one's that connect to the overarching plot, and a series that never settles for the same old, same old. I'm chomping at the bit for whatever's coming next.


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (394 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


When Jim Caviezel leaves the series, Sarah Shahi will be the eventual replacement


Sean, I'm glad I read your post, because I was one who at first was thinking I didn't too like the fact that the show was more about Shaw. But your explanations make it so much clearer as to why we needed an episode like that. I must admit the drama, the fighting, the hunting, the killing, all made for a very exciting trip, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here. I wonder who the Head of "Research" really is! I thought was the guy Root is now working for, but seems there's a bigger guy than that. Can't wait to find out.


Carter-Army WO, Stanton-Naval Academy, Shaw-Marine, ALL BADASS!!


While I liked seeing how the Machine worked in taking out terrorists, I wanted John, Harold and Carter to be more involved. Those are the characters I've cared about for two seasons--they were pretty much window dressing here and could easily have played more prominent roles. POI is starting to generate too many renegades--the government, Root and now Shaw. I can handle that, but not if my faves are not on-screen. Relevance is my least favorite POI ever.


I thought this episode was a bit slow, and I didn't like the different point of view with Shaw and Cole instead of Reese and Finch, but by the time we were 2/3 of the way through, I was enjoying it. I think that Sarah S from Fairly Legal is a marvelous young actress, beautiful and focused and a great contrast to Reese, though she's just as bad assed as he is! I also was gratified that she finally accepted Finches phone number, and that Bear welcomed her back. I hope that in the coming battle with Root, she will help Reese and Finch kill that complete nutjob of a sociopath. If Root ever got ahold of the machine, heaven help us all. I do think this show needs to do odd episodes in order to grow, and I can hardly wait to see what they come up with next week!


Fantastic episode!!
A "Relevant" number for the first time.
Where will Shaw take us? Let Jonathan Nolan take us there. Let him keep the show fresh. Build a game around the main characters Reese and Harold. To other fans, please let the show grow. There is space for the "irrelevant" and the "relevant" sides to coexist. Every character, Zoe, Carter, Fusco, Root, brings their own fandom to the table with the integrity of their characters. The addition of Shaw to the game will bring the "other side" of the machine to the POI Universe. Good job J. Nolan.


I disagree with the reviewer almost whole heartedly. The episode was mostly abysmal.
Sarah Shahi is ratings kryptonite. She killed Fairly Legal and that Damian lewis show she did. Shes wooden most of the time (yeah I know Reese seems wooden as well, but its a different type of wooden). Not an action capable performer, and shes not overly attractive (not that it SHOULD matter...but when you make more than 1 character suggest she is in the episode...cast someone that is then). This was a miscast role. Then theres the episode itself. Its fine to show us a "the other side" ep, but you need to implement Reese, Finch & the cops a lot more than 3-4 minutes of a 40 minute episode. Supernatural tried doing a similar thing earlier this season & its commonly referred to as the worst show in the series 8 season of episodes by many. This POI ep, will likely get that same criticism for years on end. People DONT tune into POI to see others doing Reeses job.
The sad part is, they didnt kill off the character, so theres the chance that somewhere down the line they might be stupid enough to bring her back. It actually felt to me, like a backdoor pilot was being slipped in to the fans for a POI:insert random city that isnt NYC show that Shahi will carry for the 2 or less yrs it takes them to realize shes tv kryptonite. I really dont know how much the writer of this article gets paid to endorse projects that he knows arent good, but you definitely didnt get enough to pimp this episode as being anywhere close to as good as you claim it is.


Wow! Surprised at some of the dissent. I loved this episode. Its difficult to build up a new multi-layered character in a way that gets the viewers invested, in such s short time. They did it masterfully with Shaw and if ever there wasn't proof that you could become invested in a character in ten minutes than Cole is an example. I was devastated by the time he died. That's writing at its finest. I enjoyed the parallels of Shaw and Reese right down to the speaking in a lower register, however she still came across as her own character with the self proclaimed sociopathy etc. I loved her. It was a huge risk barely using the four core but it paid off and was successful. Plus we got to see Leon again which always makes me chuckle. I like the idea of having multiple assets with different but strong personalities recurring. It was different but great. Ii missed the gang and Bear but it worked.


This one didn't work for me... while I appreciated the symmetry of the Shaw and Reese I found I really couldn't care-- I was just waiting to get back to "our" characters. The FIRST POI I was disappointed in. Sigh.


I was extremely disappointed in the Person of Interest episode Thursday night. I did not care for this character and hope she doesn't become a regular. It will ruin the show for me. Leave the four main characters alone to do what they do best!!

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Person of Interest Season 2 Episode 16 Quotes

You think she'll call us a taxi?


I hear dying makes you thirsty.