The 100th episode of Person of Interest, The Day The World Went Away, was a game changer and the best episode of Jonathan Nolan’s masterpiece television series yet. Not only was it mired in tragedy, but it was very much a love story between two of the most interesting characters on the show: Finch and Root. While the show started as a partnership between Finch and Reese to help those in need, it has grown into so much more than that, and this time, it’s Finch’s number that is up as he slipped and Samaritan is quick on his trail. With his cover blown, Team Machine is doing everything in their power to protect Harold from whatever fate may await him.
One of the most interesting things about the 100th episode of Person of Interest was that former adversaries, Elias and Root, ended up being the two characters who put their lives on the line to protect Finch at any cost. They have become close friends, and as Harold once put it in an earlier episode, “comrades in arms.” While Elias’ fate was actually quite surprising, although fitting for the character, Root’s fate was clear from the beginning of the episode. She has had so many close calls over the last few seasons, and this episode was very much an episode about the relationship between Harold and his former adversary. Root believes so strongly in Harold and what he has created. Finch brought light to Root’s darkness and the Machine, which Harold instilled values in, taught Root the meaning of humanity. She believes in the Machine because Harold is the one who built it. This is such a far cry from where she began, murdering Alicia Corwin in cold blood and abducting Harold, threatening his life. Harold and Root are actually so similar, and Finch admitted he locked himself out of The Machine not because of what others would do with it, but because he was afraid of what people like him and Root would do with it; the need to fix people, to control them, and this may be a key point in the end game of Person of Interest.
“I’m going to kill you. But I need to decide how far I’m willing to go. How many of my own rules I am willing to break… to get it done.”
Root had her moment with Shaw, and their flirting during a firefight was perfect for the couple because let’s face it — Shaw is enjoying herself most when she’s committing violence. It was okay that they didn’t have their moment in this episode though. Root has an epiphany in this episode though. She realizes that in a sense, because of The Machine, we’re all simulations. Even if we’re gone, we’re not really gone because we live through The Machine because it is constantly watching us. The Machine IS God and knows people better than they know themselves. This conversation with Finch, and Root telling him he would know what to do when the time came, was when I knew her fate was sealed.
Root died protecting Harold, who she truly cherished. If anything Harold was her true soulmate, the one who understood her best. In the end, they considered themselves not only allies but very good friends. It was her death that now, with three episodes left in Person of Interest, that has set Harold on the path to do what needs to be done in order to kill Samaritan once and for all and set the world free from its grasp.
Michael Emerson channels his inner Benjamin Linus in this 100th episode of Person of Interest and shows Finch’s inner darkness, finally, after what appears to be and is later confirmed to be the death of Root. He gives a chilling speech about “his rules”, how he’s always played but what seem to be the right rules, but was wrong. These are the same rules that he instilled within The Machine. Those rules are out the window now. He is hellbent on killing Samaritan; he just doesn’t know how many of his rules he is willing to break, and by extension, what rules The Machine will break, to get it done. Michael Emerson is absolutely chilling in this scene and to be quite honest, at least deserves an Emmy for it. When he tells the FBI agent, “I wasn’t talking to you”, and then stares up at the camera, with Samaritan watching, it was clear that Finch is clearly ready to take action.
On the one hand Root’s death in the 100th episode of Person of Interest was expected, but on the other hand we see people shot all the time on the show and come out just fine. When Finch received the phone call though and the Machine has chosen Root’s voice, her fate was all but obvious, and we see her body to boot. Root’s journey has come full circle though: she is now literally the Machine in one way or the other, her communion complete.
In The Machine’s eyes, we are never really gone; we forever live on and it is always watching us. Root had the most dynamic character arc in the entire show and the 100th episode of Person of Interest was the perfect send off for the character. She and Harold came a long way, but it was her belief and love for him that will be the catalyst for these last three episodes.