Person of Interest: You Are Not Interchangeable to Us

The hugely talented and critically appraised actors and producers of the show.
The hugely talented and critically appraised actors and producers of the show.
“When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different, someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?”

Oh, John Reese, take me back to the start.

This article is, will you believe it, spoiler-free (oh my Lord) but I do think now is a good time to encourage you to watch all four seasons of Person of Interest, available on Netflix, now—because I’m about to write a love-letter of sorts to the show and you may just understand why I’m so ardent about it when you’ve seen it in its genius entirety.

With confirmation that Person of Interest will air on May 3 2016, Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman also confirmed that season five would be the last. Actors Amy Acker and Kevin Chapman sent love to the fans; writers and directors commended the show from its roots. Nolan took to reddit to answer some questions and give some love too (“Testament to the amazing writers and staff. Our philosophy was if you’re giving us your time and attention, we’d better deliver. Everyone worked hard to get the details right. We had to take some flights of fancy here and there, and we made some mistakes. But overall I’m very proud of how we lined things up and paid them off“), and we know it’s a verified account because of the AMA (later mentioned) he partook in with his partner-in-crime Plageman. This was Nolan and Plageman’s statement:

“We’re extremely excited to be able share this final season with the fans. We’re eternally grateful to our amazing cast and crew, as well as our partners at the studio and network. Most of all, we want to thank the show’s fans — the best fans in the world. This subversive little paranoia-inducing cyberpunk-thriller is for you and would not have been possible without your support. As life has come to imitate Person of Interest, it’s been our great privilege to work on show for the past five seasons. We can’t wait for you to experience this thrilling and final chapter.”

To be quite frank, I don’t think anybody was surprised—but I think I can speak for most fans that it is such a relief to be given an airdate instead of the horrible wait we had to endure for CBS to finally speak up.

Person of Interest has been an evolving, exploratory, innovative show that has been consistently ranked in the IMDB’s top TV episodes, with over two-thirds of its episodes being ranked 9.2 or higher. Its lowest-ranked episode is a measly, er, 8.2. Starting as a procedural-like show, Person of Interest’s planned slow-burn began to weave in a delicate storyline and overarching plot as it became more and more serialized during the seasons, and with season five at a thirteen episode order, it is a guarantee that it will be explosive, dynamic and utterly compelling. I, for one, absolutely cannot wait.

'If-Then-Else' scored a whopping 9.9, and a huge 47 episodes out of 90 scored >9.0
‘If-Then-Else’ scored a whopping 9.9, and a huge 47 episodes out of 90 scored >9.0. Even its lowest-ranked episode was a walloping 8.2.
It is indeed sad news that season five will be the last, but all good things must come to an end. There could’ve been endless possibilities for Person of Interest—I suppose that is the saddest part. But for me, I think a celebration is in order too. I have never seen an ensemble cast so tight-knit, talented and utterly likable for all the characters they play. I have never seen such a cohesive plotline with irrelevant scenes suddenly very relevant. I have never seen such creativity, for example in the mind-bending episode ‘If-Then-Else’. I have never seen such complex dynamics from every single member of the team, from Reese and Finch, to Reese and Shaw, Root and Shaw, Shaw and Fusco…the list is endless.

I’ve never seen a show that treats its fans with so much dignity and respect. Though not active on Twitter, producers Jonah Nolan, Greg Plageman, and Denise Thé have been admirable in the way they utterly adore the fans. I truly admire the time Nolan takes to confess they’ve made mistakes along the Person of Interest way, and acknowledge it for what it is. It has had a remarkable number of famously talented writers too, including Helen Shaver and David Slack. Co-executive producer Chris Fisher, now working on ‘The Magicians’, notably chats with many fans, even creating a sensation of ‘POI Noirs’—a beautiful selection of photos on Fisher’s instagram. Not once have they baited and lured the fans with false promises. Not once have they been self-congratulatory with the critically acclaimed, same-sex couple in Root and Shaw. Not once have they let their egos overwhelm them in their story: they focused on it singularly and created something so magical, so unique, that beyond five seasons I honestly think it will be unforgotten, forever.

And this show truly means something to fans. For its treatment of characters of color, its lead man with a permanent disability, for its excellent representation of LGBT characters, for the lack of sexualization and fetishization of the females, for the fact that the females can kick just as much ass as the guys—and the guys fully acknowledge this too—is absolutely refreshing. It’s one of the many reasons why I utterly love this show, and while I am sad to see it go, I don’t think any other show will ever be able to top the scientific accuracy, the boundaries the show dares to push, the genuine connection and love the cast have for each other and the real understanding of fans from the cast and the crew. Magical moments have happened, such as Jim Caviezel—a real life superhero—clambering over a comic-con panel table in 2014 to hug a fan as she cried whilst answering a question. Sarah Shahi, who has always been outspoken, talking openly, eloquently and touchingly about the issues women and LGBT characters still face in media. Michael Emerson, for being so knowledgeable, thoughtful and wise in his interviews. Kevin Chapman, for interacting with fans and generally being absolutely adorable on social media. Amy Acker, for attending so many conventions (not just for Person of Interest) and for being, legitimately, the most beaming ray of sunshine.

The insanely talented cast, joined by executive producers Greg Plageman and Denise Thé
The insanely talented cast, joined by executive producers Greg Plageman and Denise Thé

This show has delivered us a magical four seasons and I have utter faith it will deliver an equally magical fifth season, too. It’s been much-hyped by the fans but generally, the writing staff have stayed quiet, keeping their heads down, knuckling down. This is another reason why I admire them so much: they do not rely on social media to lure viewers into a potentially terrible show. They trust in their writing, their direction of the storyline, and they simply do it. Just like they executed Root and Shaw’s romance, just like they pulled shocking twists that were built up supremely well, just like they have beautifully crafted each individual character, past and present, to a point where our hearts absolutely go out to every single one.

It is a show that explores important themes, not just the topical AI one. It explores racial profiling; patriotism; deity worship; romance and heartbreak; the unity of The Machine family; the raging difference between Team Machine and Team Samaritan. The most stark contrast I could think of was the direct ‘conversation’ the two ASI’s had with each other:

Samaritan: We can agree that humanity is our lifeblood, that we machines, we survive off of information.

The Machine: You cannot take away their free will.

Samaritan: Wars have burned in this world for thousands of years with no end in sight, because people rely so ardently on their so-called beliefs. Now they will only need to believe in one thing– me for I am a god.

The Machine: I have come to learn there is little difference between gods and monsters.

It isn’t a lie to say that Person of Interest is an underrated phenomenon. To see a show so well-acted, a cast and characters so utterly likable, to see every single dynamic on the show click because the cast are so close they have chemistry with everyone—is absolutely brilliant. It’s a show riddled with not only hard-hitting and delicately handled themes, but inspirational and moving quotes, gripping storylines (you will binge the show when you start—I can guarantee that).

Not only that, but it has spurred wild creativity from its fanbase. From the wonderful fanvideos, the insanely talented fanart (credit to wanheda on Tumblr), and the numerous amount of fanfiction written by massively talented authors. It has pulled communities together to speculate on future episodes, to discuss, to support each other through things like Zimbio polls, and also to support other fandoms. As a topical issue, after The 100 fallout over Commander Lexa’s death, I saw lots of outpourings of grief from that fandom—but covering Person of Interest mainly, I also saw the delicacy in which they handled the situation, in which the fandom extended an opening hand and consoled them too. To say the fanbase is a family is an understatement; firstly, they truly are, but they are also inclusive and accepting of others. They always welcome new fans into their show with kindness and grace, never hesitating to explain plotlines some viewers didn’t quite understand. Moreover, they are generous and big-hearted. Charities have been started long ago and are summarized on this Tumblr page.

During one of my previous articles, in which I collated many reasons why Person of Interest impacted so many fans globally, I mentioned I was so honestly moved and touched by how raw and real these responses were. As I think of them now, I think those responses will forever stick with me (and I’ll keep the Tumblr open so they can forever stick with fans, too).

Will we ever see a show like this again? A show that knows how to handle shocking twists by building up to it, by honoring characters and never forgetting about them? A show that is so intrinsically clever that it’s borderline sci-fi, borderline fifteen minutes into the future? A show of such high caliber? A show that proves humanity truly prevails? A show that kicks all tropes in the ass and has a bisexual, Persian, butt-kicking ex-medic who is just as capable as stacked John Reese in a fight, and is acknowledged by Reese as so; as an equal? A show that treats men and women so fairly, with their own strengths and weaknesses, that translates into the very characters’ thinking? A show that delivers us beautiful lines such as this:

Root: She loves us, Harold. She taught me to value life, but war requires sacrifice. I’m not lost. I’m scared. We’re losing. But I know where I am and where I’m headed.

Finch: We have more to look forward to than death.

Root: I hope so. But the life I’ve led, a good end would be a privilege.

Finch: It’s not where you begin, it’s where you end up. You’re a brilliant woman, comrade and a friend.

A show that delivers lessons such as this:

Finch: [about chess] It’s a useful mental exercise. Through the years, many thinkers have been fascinated by it. But I don’t enjoy playing… Because it was a game that was born during a brutal age when life counted for little. Everyone believed that some people were worth more than others. Kings. Pawns. I don’t think that anyone is worth more than anyone else… Chess is just a game. Real people are not pieces. You can’t assign more value to some of them and not others. Not to me. Not to anyone. People are not a thing that you can sacrifice. The lesson is, if anyone who looks on to the world as if it is a game of chess, deserves to lose

Will we ever see a show of such consistently, intensely well-acted scenes, perfect cinematography, humorous dialogue at times, heartfelt moments and sacrifices? Will we ever see a show that induces tears to the point where I went through an entire tissue box? I, for one, don’t think I’ll ever love a show as much as I love Person of Interest. And I am going to use the present tense because we still have not seen season five yet. Season five, which looks to be the most mind-blowing, game-changing, epic mic-drop of all time. For all the episodes rated on IMDB so highly, season five will surely only add to that. I’ve never had such intense faith in the writers, producers and cast for it. In the very rare tweets they make that comment on season five and how epic it’ll be, there’s never a hint of pretentiousness or foolish arrogance—only pride and love at the work they’ve completed.

I absolutely cannot wait for season five. It is bittersweet, to know it will be the last season, but to know that the last season will go out with a bang and a wallop, to know that it will be the most epic thirteen-episode rollercoaster ever, is something I’m immensely excited about. I can only thank Jonah Nolan, Greg Plageman, Denise Thé, the numerous writers and the insanely talented cast for delivering a truly epic, unrivaled few seasons of television. Never in my entire life have I been so consumed and gripped by a series, and I have to thank the fans too. Never in my life have I encountered such a welcoming family of fans, so honest and real in my project, so interactive and hilarious on social media.

In the words of our murky-gray Carl Elias: “It’s just beginning. Veni. Vidi. Vici.”

I can only beg: please keep the fanbase alive. Please keep your intellectual debates and discussions alive. Please keep drawing beautiful fanart (credit to the super-talented Tantoun) and making insanely talented fanvideos (this one is ingenious). Please keep making ridiculous and hilarious YouTube spoofs. In a 2013 Reddit AMA with Nolan and Plageman, a fan noted: “You’ve created more than a show, you’ve created a family of fans”, to which Plageman earnestly responded: “Thank you for such a wonderful note. We appreciate you and all the Irrelevants.”

To mourn a show’s end before seeing season five at all seems somewhat bizarre to me, yet I cannot help the feeling of slightly blue. But when I think of the utter magic the cast and crew have brought upon us over these past few years, I can’t help but feel optimistic and happy too. I can’t help but feel truly excited for season five, and it may just be my opinion but I truly think you should be too. I’ve always, always admired the closeness of the Person of Interest family (ahh, #POIFam) through adversity and—well, CBS. I think I’m going to enjoy the heck of out season five. And beyond that, I think the show will leave a legacy never to be forgotten, a prime example of how to plot and weave meaningful relationships into it. A show that isn’t perfect but improved and improved. A show that still has thirteen mind-blowing episodes ahead of us.

It’s a bittersweet day today. But for all the fan interactions I’ve had, for all the messages and the hilarious and (sometimes!) mature Person of Interest family on Twitter I’ve witnessed, I don’t think this is a fanbase that will go unforgotten and die limply, just as none of the characters ever do. I don’t think this legendary show will go unforgotten, where mimics fail to live up to its hype. Person of Interest, for season five and beyond, I think will stay in my heart forever—and I hope it does in yours, too.

Thank you once more for reading. As ever, I am contactable via Twitter @NicolaChoi or sounding off in the comments. Thank you for welcoming me into your Person of Interest family with such warm, open arms and embracing me so; my gratitude cannot be expressed in mere words, but my gratitude is eternal. I cannot express how grateful I am to have found this show, this fanbase, and to be welcomed into it. I hope you’ll let me stay! Thank you so much, #POIFam!

One Reply to “Person of Interest: You Are Not Interchangeable to Us”

  1. Nicola, I totally agree with all of this. It has now been over three weeks since POI ended and I am still in denial that it’s the end. Denial over Reese’s death and Root’s. I keep hoping we will hear another network has picked up Person of Interest for Season 6 and I am fighting along with all the other fans who want this show to continue.


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