“Person of Interest” recap (5.13): The sound of my voice

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What Shaw thinks matters much more than what I think. And Shaw very nearly cries.

tumblr_o95oaqA7hA1r69l1fo3_400If you look closely, you can see the tiniest of lip quivers. Then you can join me in lying down and never getting up again. (Via amunets)

Shaw has very rarely been fully seen and accepted for who she is, and she tells us so in this same scene when she asks the Machine, “Is this the part where you tell me that I should live out the rest of my days in peace? Grow an herb garden or something?” She’s used to having to shoot down people’s typical rituals and expectations. When the Machine responds to her quip with “No, I chose you for exactly who you are,” it’s hard to know if this means simply that the Machine chose her as an asset for this reason in the first place; that the Machine has already planned to choose her, after reincarnation, as the new guardian of the irrelevant numbers; that Root chose her to love; or all of the above. Whether we see it as the Machine passing a message for Root or an aspect of Root speaking through the Machine (what really would be the difference?), this moment has an enormous effect on Shaw because she’s being told she’s neither broken nor defective, but a beautiful, deadly shape in the infinite; moreover, a shape that was—and is—recognized and cherished. Her self-perception is being reshaped by memory: the Machine’s memory of Root, speaking to Shaw on the thin thread of words, a voice, a bundle of cables. Part of the point of this episode (and this season), as I’ll discuss more later, is that memory is terribly fragile—but, equally, terribly powerful. Here, it moves Shaw more deeply than anything yet has in her life.

It’s shortly before that exchange that Shaw begins to confuse the Machine for Root—by voice, but also by nature (“You’ve got her bad timing, too”). She has to remind herself that the Machine isn’t Root (though Root might say at this point they’re a hybrid, or that the Machine can “be” Root if and when she wants to). I’ve seen a lot of #discourse about how the Machine is or isn’t “really” Root. I don’t want to try to arbitrate people’s feelings on that question. All I want to point out is that Shaw is uniquely prepared to accept the Machine’s Root-ness as authentic (even if it isn’t total), because she has spent weeks of her life in a state the line between “real” and “unreal” has become very blurry, and certainly not defined by corporeality. For her, at this point, a virtual Root is about as real as anything else. It’s not the same as a Root incarnate. But it’s not categorically Not Root for her the way it is for some of the audience.

What we were intended to learn from Shaw’s simulation purgatory and Root’s speech about her and Shaw representing not necessarily physical bodies but “a dynamic,” is that their relationship—their particular push-me-pull-you, very literally their dynamic—can persist in more than one form of “reality.” Of course Shaw understands that Root died, and will miss her, but the Machine’s Root can be more of a comfort to her than to most people. I think that’s reflected in her response to the Machine’s words. This is a woman who can remember thousands of things that never happened; accepting the presence of someone who’s not physically there doesn’t need to be a stretch.

tumblr_o95ezj2sZr1qk0j55o2_500Look at this beautiful Art Nouveau portrait superimposed on a German Expressionist painting (via larry-gergich)