“Person of Interest” recap (4.13): Schrödinger’s Cat


Hi, everyone! Sorry this one was so late; I have had Computer Problems, which I’m sure you all recognize as the total bane of any Internet Person’s life. Let’s all thank my academic institution’s library computers and carry on with our very important shipping lives

This episode was the end–for now–of Team Machine’s search for Shaw, of course. More interesting, however, is its meditation on the theme of Schrödinger’s Cat. The basic explanation of the concept was straightforward enough, and it was not explicitly discussed after Root’s introductory speech. But it hovered over the whole episode: Was Shaw dead or alive? Was the number of the week a hitman or just a schlub? Would Team Machine be monsters or heroes? Was the town of Maple a utopia or a dystopia? We got answers to most of these quantum uncertainties; the one that remains is the question of Team Machine’s place in the moral universe. What does it mean to follow orders? What does it mean to question them?

Perhaps more important than all of this: SILVA IS BACK!!! SILVA IS STILL AWESOME AND STILL HOT, in case anyone was, like, concerned about that.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 3.30.45 PMARE YOU GONNA BE AROUND ALL THE TIME NOW???

But none of that is what we are here to discuss! We are here to discuss Root and Shaw. First of all, yes, I was wrong: Shaw is not dead. This is wonderful news, naturally, though at this point it wasn’t so much a surprise (hence the lack of screeching here). I will be forever depressed that we never got to see what Root and Shaw were like together, not courting or in pursuit; but I’m glad the door is so explicitly open. (While of course it is theoretically possible we’ll see what that looks like one day, even in the best case scenario that won’t be for a fairly long while.) Yes, yes, I know the show doesn’t tend to go in for much on-screen datin’ and relatin’, but 1) these two are a unique case because they worked so closely together, and 2) I’m not asking for a rom-com here—something not unlike what we saw of Harold and Grace would be lovely.

BUT STILL: SHAW IS ALIVE. Also, I am delighted to learn that before Sarah Shahi came to the showrunners with her pregnancy they were gearing up to eliminate Reese. This is precisely the choice I would have thought was most powerful and organic to the story but also the least likely for almost any show to actually execute, and it is most pleasing to know that they were actually going to do it!

At any rate, while our nine-lifed Schrödinger’s badass was recuperating offscreen, Root and Reese went on an idyllic autumn rampage through the Hudson Valley.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 3.31.11 PMTake professional killers leaf-peeping at your own risk

 Both of them are on edge throughout the episode, but naturally Root is particularly tightly wound.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 3.31.42 PMThis is literally the LEAST concerned she looks the entire time. Also: Hi, Root, you’re pretty.

Root is desperate to locate Shaw. She always insists that Shaw is alive, against all odds and despite all doubters. Since a fair amount of the episode’s middle was taken up with the number back in and small-town hijinks, we got Root’s mission statement pretty early on:

Reese: You really are sure she’s alive.

Root: You know about Schrödinger’s Cat? There’s a cat. Trapped in a box with something lethal. There’s a 50% chance the cat’s been killed, but until you open the box, there’s no way to know one way or the other. Quantum physics says before you open the box, the cat isn’t dead or alive. It’s both.

Reese: What about after you open the box?

Root: Reality collapses back onto itself. Cat’s either alive or it’s dead.

Reese: Well we’re gonna see reality soon. But you don’t bet against Shaw.

Root: No. Nothing kills that cat.

 Well, let’s all just sob ourselves into oblivion then. Root’s faith in Shaw is so far away from the person she was when we met her. Remember what a callous nihilist she was? Remember how completely disinterested she was in human beings and their capabilities? The only faith she has ever demonstrated on this show thus far has been in The Machine and, to some extent, in Harold’s ability to be interesting. She has shown a whole range of emotions toward Shaw (concern, love, lust, humor, interest, grief), but faith is a new one. I am extremely verklempt.

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