*Attention: This recap contains major spoilers about last night’s Person of Interest*
Well, friends, it looks like our time together will be short and bittersweet.
Let us raise a glass, probably of whiskey, knowing her, in honor of Sameen Shaw, our favorite bored hard ass and my foremost TV girlfriend. What a woman. What a character. What a jokester. What a hero.
To be honest, I halfway saw this coming, except I thought it was Root who would die—her character arc is pretty complete (redemption), and story wise it would be interesting to see how the Machine managed without Her analog interface. I figured Shaw was safe, since part of the reason for her creation was that Jim Caviezel was getting too old and tired to do all the action the show required of him, and Sarah Shahi relieved him of some of the burden. Shows what inside baseball will do for you. (I should have listened to my instincts when she said goodbye to Bear! That’s Upcoming Death 101!) I predicted it, but I never said a word about it, because of some sort of superstition that if I said it out loud it would be real. Oh, to have that power. TV would be so different.
I spent most of the episode still being terrified for Root, and the script very much encouraged that fear; it pulled a classic bait and switch. Root making comments like “whatever happens to me” and Harold’s monologue about the Queen in the chess game being a powerful, yet vulnerable piece, all seemed to be foreshadowing her death. (“Can move in any direction and do anything” is pretty much Root’s job description as a character, after all.) And indeed that monologue was about Root; it’s why the Machine was so careful with her at this critical juncture. Root was right when she told Harold that the Machine remembers everything he taught Her.
Similarly, the discussion of pawns being sacrificed and the absolute equal value of all human life seemed to be pointing to Fusco. I remain convinced that the simulation shot right before the final ad break that showed odds of survival was a brilliant bit of misdirection (don’t get me wrong, I’m upset, but credit where it’s due): they placed that red 2% right next to Fusco.
And I think we can all be excused for seeing him as the most pawn-like of Team Machine’s members. Who else do we see here that could be “Secondary Asset” but Fusco? I can grudgingly admit that while I would have VASTLY preferred his death, for that precise reason it wouldn’t have been nearly so affecting; while there are some viewers who I know adore his character and would be miserable to see him go, I think most of us are more invested in Shaw (even the willfully blind non-shippers).
None of that makes this okay, though, and before talking about everything that happened between Root and Shaw before Shaw’s death, I’m gonna take a soapbox interlude:
STOP WITH THE DEAD QUEER WOMEN, WORLD. STOP WITH THE DEAD WOMEN IN GENERAL, BUT ESPECIALLY THE DEAD QUEER ONES. How pathetically classic is it to have the queer romance finally, incontrovertibly validated, and then immediately kill one of the participants off? (I predicted that part, too. I sincerely feared that Root was going to die a hero for Shaw’s sake. SOB.) It’s infuriating for the obvious reasons of representation and tokenization and the fact that we rarely get to see queer love, just queer longing. Relationships snatched away at the moment they fully enter the sun. The insult added to injury is that frankly, it’s beneath Person of Interest. This show has usually been above such rote enactment of tropes.
And now for the first time, PoI has displayed something we can (ungenerously) call a pattern: that’s two female members of the core team who have died (both WOC, in fact), and the same three white guys who just keep surviving. Such disparities have never been apparent until now, really—Carter’s death was extremely sad, but there were offscreen reasons for it, and it was singular, an anomaly.
Now we have two. I know Aristotle or some damn Greek said never to generalize from fewer than three examples, but fuck it, I’m pissed off. If the next important good guy to die isn’t Fusco, I will be livid.
END SOAPBOX INTERLUDE.