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As Benjamin Franklin said, Three men may keep a secret — if two of them are dead.
Person of Interest, (POI) unlike Game of Thrones and Madmen is neither fantasy nor nostalgic but contains evil both massive and banal. The story now in its fourth season is described as "A former CIA operative is recruited by an enigmatic billionaire to prevent violent crimes.". However, more relevant to DK is exactly the kind of humorless matter that causes DK pie fights over security theater and its security state except the drones and digital surveillance actually have a certain reality given pathos by its characters or rather their shifting identities. Unlike the Brazilian pubic wax of most TV fare, this series is more like the Terry Gilliam film, Brazil, where small details matter in a large cybernetic bureaucracy and the fears and criminality of a National Security State are in full flower. The series began much like series like Leverage or the much older Equalizer, where the conflict was solved by human agency with POI's difference located in the seemingly random selection of numbers representing individual people sentenced to die not so much by random fate but by a massive global supercomputer network "The Machine" whose probability estimation of that individual's demise where the notice of that forthcoming death is transmitted to a small team of vigilantes including its original maker. Every one of this series's heroes is psychologically damaged in very serious ways related to actions performed for the government whether National or local since the series is mainly set in NYC. Death for them ultimately gets cheated by a “Deus Ex Machina”, the name of this season's finale. The beauty of POI is the plausibility of the first season's narratives as being relatively local to New York and highly relevant to primarily police corruption by an NYPD rogue organization called HR, but the lingering omnipresent machine tracking us via the complex CGI graphics that bracket each episode and its scene breaks comes to the anachronistic payphones that we see less and less in urban areas. A payphone will ring just as one of the main characters passes by. Less clear is how the potential victim is identified so quickly, which in some ways moves the narrative, that we all including the Machine don't have all the information. This is a program with very strong female characters and plenty of close quarter battle situations, as well as the usual cellphone or computer interaction with some omniscient supercomputer network. What has changed in this season's last episode is the issue that a competing machine was created as well as the projection of artificial intelligence into the overarching narrative such that the Machine like its competitor, Samaritan has the capability for human dominance even to the ability to move itself out of danger or in the case of Samaritan, to become precisely what our dystopian fears imagine - a machine operated by private capital that takes over government information and executes all presumed enemies without democratic processes using human agents with embedded RF-ID chips. Survival is the concluding message this week as all of the major characters will have new names in the next seasons since they only just escape a libertarian terrorist organization unknowingly created by the owners of Samaritan, one of whom is a former MI-6 agent.

Coincidentally PBS Frontline presented United States of Secrets a reconsideration of the case of Thomas Drake who was charged with violation of the Espionage Act in terms of leaking classified information extending from the Bush administration through the Obama administration. This of course moves to the Edward Snowden intelligence leak of 1.7 million documents which will be covered in Part II "Privacy Lost". Reality meets fantasy in far more imaginable contexts as we enter the Summer, noting of course that the same issues exist in the series on AMC Turn which is about the American Colonial spy ring.

Tonite's season finale article featured POI's executive producers' Jonathan Nolan & Greg Plageman take on the  season finale broadcast on 13 May. This is its IMDB synopsis and hope that previous episodes are worth your time:

A billionaire software-genius named Harold Finch creates a Machine for the government that is designed to detect acts of terror before they can happen, by monitoring the entire world through every cell-phone, email and surveillance camera. Finch discovered that the machine sees everything, potential terrorist acts and violent crimes that involve ordinary people. When the government considered violent crimes between normal people "irrelevant", Finch built a back door into the system that gives him the social security number of a person involved in a future violent crime so he could act. Partnered with John Reese, an ex-CIA agent, the two work in secret to prevent violent crimes before they can happen. Eventually their activities lead to being hunted by the New York Police Department, CIA Agents in pursuit of Reese who was listed as dead, a computer hacker named Root who wants access to the Machine, and government officials who want to keep all knowledge of the Machine a complete secret
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Tue May 13, 2014 at 09:29:09 PM PDT

  •  I love this show (8+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure where it's going to go from here. Can't wait for next season.

    utahgirl

    •  liked how they integrated women characters (5+ / 0-)

      seamlessly in terms of major action or activity

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

      by annieli on Tue May 13, 2014 at 09:50:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Best Season Finale of the season. (4+ / 0-)

      Most of the shows we watch just kind of ended the season with a thud.

      I kind of muktitask while my husband watches this show. But the last few weeks have been very good. And tonight had me very interested to know what happens in the fall.

      I love that Root will somehow be pivotal to solving the problem.

      Well, I'm guessing she will. Who else could? Although, it'd be awesome if Bear does.

      ;)

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue May 13, 2014 at 11:13:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope Amy Acker gets an Emmy. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli, cbabob, SanFernandoValleyMom

        Root is one of the most fascinating characters I've ever seen on TV. She went from a minor role as a crackpot sociopath to a Warrior Goddess and the star of the show. I wonder if it was planned that way or just developed on the writer's desk?

        When she did that Pandora's Box monologue at the end, I knew what she was going to say, yet I teared up anyway. The only thing left in the Box was hope.

        We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

        by PowWowPollock on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:23:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Amy Acker is really good! (0+ / 0-)

          I first saw her in Angel, playing Fred, the physics genius that got trapped in a demon world for a while.



          Women create the entire labor force.
          ---------------------------------------------
          Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Thu May 15, 2014 at 07:18:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks annieli. I watch all of the first two (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbird, annieli, SuWho, MTmofo, hbk

    seasons which were excellent.

    Somehow I missed the last two seasons.

    Although I like the show a lot I felt they may have needed another two characters with a little more liveliness and humor - sort of the metaphorical role of Abby on NCIS, or Garcia on that FBI serial killer profiling show - Criminal Minds that had a tendency otherwise to become so relentlessly morose as to become oppressive.

    The writers figured that out from feedback or focus groups or something and started doing lame "fixes" where they would tack on totally gratuitous 1 minute after episode "vignettes  of Giddeon laughing by himself while eating popcorn and watching silent films of Charlie Chaplain in his basement, and Hodges almost smiling loving while he tucked his  little four year son into bed so we could see what true "regular" human beings they would have been had they not had to embrace the herculean task of protecting America nearly single-handedly against the never ending army of serial killers that incessantly rise up as fast as they can knock them down.

    A little too contrived, like an afterthought. I feared that POI had perhaps, fallen into the same trap portraying the fearsome and dreadful reality of a total surveillance state and corrupt social system as so oppressive that any smile or  light moment might betray a lack of serious intent to put every fiber of ones being into the fight for justice.

    And attitude that seems all too familiar for some odd reason.

    Not for me. I like those movie or heros who, even at the most dreadful moments, have enough surplus talent, compassion and empathy that they can get the job done and still crack or joke or smile as they snap the neck of the sociopath - sort of like the Sean Connery James Bond. Well - not that far. Some kind of compromise  -- some tiny flicker of non- complete moroseness.

    I was hopeful when I saw that one new female character on POI, but I wasn't sure if they killed her off or not.

    I'll have to check.

    Thanks for reminding me Annieli.

    BTW I just posted on Magic Johnson praying for Don Sterling, which is pretty classy considering what a skunk Sterling has been.

    Cheers

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Comments and Posts intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited.

    by HoundDog on Tue May 13, 2014 at 09:53:14 PM PDT

    •  actually I find it quite witty despite darkness (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, hbk, grover

      and the new characters make it less morose than the earlier seasons


      Not for me. I like those movie or heros who, even at the most dreadful moments, have enough surplus talent, compassion and empathy that they can get the job done and still crack or joke or smile as they snap the neck of the sociopath - sort of like the Sean Connery James Bond. Well - not that far. Some kind of compromise  -- some tiny flicker of non- complete moroseness.

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

      by annieli on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:00:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well I said I like it, and agree it is witty, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli

        especially the first season, I watched every one of them on regular TV and arranged my schedule so I could watch them something I rarely do.

        My issue was the difference between 94% and 99% on the grading system.

        Sorry if my critique implied I would give it a score in the 80s

        Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Comments and Posts intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited.

        by HoundDog on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:03:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  understood the new characters of (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, grover, PowWowPollock

          Root and Shaw make it more vibrant an the patter more lively

          Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

          by annieli on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:05:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, good. I haven't seen them yet. So I wasn't the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annieli

            only one who felt this way? The truth come out? LOL

            Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Comments and Posts intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited.

            by HoundDog on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:38:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Agree. It's a Jonathan Nolan series. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annieli, SanFernandoValleyMom

            It's never going to feel like a Bellisario show.

            That's a good thing. I liked JAG and I like NCIS LA because they're light and rely on personable characters. But there is only so much room on TV for Bellisario shows.

            Nolan means dark, whether it's Christopher's films (Momento, The Dark Knight, Inception), or Jonathan's work,  (Person of Interest, The Dark Knight, etc)

            I think the smart witty interaction between the main characters is often cerebral and clever. John and Shaw often have great exchanges that are amusing.

            I watch the show while multitasking. I don't want to spend all of Tuesday night watching TV. But I always try to look up look up or step into the room when John, Root and/or Shaw are conversing. They're just funny in the way that smart sarcastic people in really bad situations tend to be.

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Tue May 13, 2014 at 11:35:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Root to Shaw last week. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annieli, live2learn, Box of Rain

            "Use your words". Still makes me laugh.

            We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

            by PowWowPollock on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:28:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  oh you meant THAT kind of kill ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, SuWho, SanFernandoValleyMom

    ... this kind has happened already.

    How did the government come to spy on millions of Americans? In United States of Secrets, FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to reveal the dramatic inside story of the U.S. government's massive and controversial secret surveillance program -- and the lengths it went to try to keep it hidden from the public.
    like, i'd tell ya but then i'd have ta kill ya.
    but i won't.
    Glenn. Snowden. moi.

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Tue May 13, 2014 at 09:53:24 PM PDT

  •  It's great propaganda (0+ / 0-)

    That's how you do propaganda. The issue at hand shouldn't even be discussed, it should be treated as a common thing.

    In the case of POI, it's the too much surveillance and not enough privacy bit.

    A poor attempt at "public diplomacy" would be a show where the topic of installing cameras, capturing texts, recording phone numbers, etc., are debated, shown to be good (capturing some "bad guys), shown to be bad (snooping revealed a friend's extra marital affair), and discussed some more.

    A good attempt, like with POI, starts with the issue already done: surveillance is good. Period. The series then revolves around the adventures as the Good Guys(tm) beat the Bad Guys(tm).

    If POI was a western, the heroes would be the cowboys with the white hats, the criminals would be the cowboys with the black hat, and surveillance would be the horses (or train) that they ride on. Without those horses, the good guys wouldn't be able to save the damsels in distresses. We would also get good, wonderful shots of those beautiful horses. But the horses are never the topic of the series.

    Or something like that.

    •  Well keep in mind that the only reason the (0+ / 0-)

      surveillance in POI is doing good like that is because the AI running it went rogue and decided to help ordinary people even though it was not programmed to.  Since there is no such thing as strong AI (and even if there were, the chances of it deciding to do such a thing are unknown) there is no comparison.

      Or to put it another way, mass surveillance can be good provided you have a sentient AI running it that goes against it's programming and decides to use it's capabilities for good.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Wed May 14, 2014 at 07:34:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I haven't seen the last 3-4 episodes, but (0+ / 0-)

      I am seeing that it isn't as clear cut as you made it above with the white hat/black hat bit.

      Maybe I am projecting, but I am seeing some cracks in some of the characters (especially Harold) about this really being a good thing overall. He is a very torn individual and I think the relationship he has with the machine is not a simple one as you portray it.

      You also have 3 sides in the story arc, the group using the machine to help people, the group who wants to own it and all that it can control, and the group who wants it destroyed.

      You are made to feel nothing but contempt for the middle group, but I do not get that feeling from the latter group.

      There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

      by cbabob on Wed May 14, 2014 at 08:25:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Propaganda/Not Propaganda (0+ / 0-)

      POI has addressed some of the issues that Snowden's leaks brought up before Snowden's information was public.  I suspect it was not because they were preparing the ground for the Combine (you know, THEM, our invisible rulers) but because the issues were obvious once we have a glimpse of the levels of surveillance available.  

      Seems to me, a regular viewer, that POI is actively ambivalent from the get-go about the Surveillance State.  All of the putative good guys have doubts about what they are doing (with the possible exception of Root) and express them from time to time.  The playing field is a little more complex than has been explained:  Harold's crew with the Machine, Root with her direct line to the Machine, Control and what is possibly the NSA, the Congresscritters who are supposedly overseeing Control, the corporate Decima which is now operating the AI Samaritan, and Vigilance which has now been revealed as a false flag citizens' privacy movement.

      Another show which has been discussing some of the realities of the surveillance state and our Internetworked world is "The Good Wife."  They've dealt with a lot of online privacy issues, including the NSA and their two hop or three hop surveillance dragnets.  Again, not propaganda as such but writers and producers interested in interesting contemporary issues.

  •  It's an interesting show (0+ / 0-)

    With quite a bit of character development. I really like the computer guy Harold Finch, played by Michael Emerson, the guy from Lost that was soooo creepy.



    Women create the entire labor force.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Thu May 15, 2014 at 07:16:44 AM PDT

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