If last week’s episode” If – Then – Else” was difficult to write,” Control – Alt – Delete” is a breeze. Another title for this episode could very well have been,” The enemy of my enemy is my friend” which gives a good indication of what it is all about.
This episode is the last installment of the trilogy and it was nice to see its focus shift to the development of the storyline that will end Samaritan, an arc many fans never liked in the first place. Many wanted it to continue on the ‘where is Shaw’ story but its high time the series starts dealing with its rating drop and the AI arc is sited as the main reason. While Shaw was a liked character, it is well known that she was being written out of the show for personal reasons, so another hour of looking for her would have done little to advance the series. Shaw is gone and will be for a long time if not forever. She is choosing to devote herself to the birth of twins and motherhood at this point in life. That is certainly understandable for any fan.
So what does this episode deal with? Control and her realization that Samaritan is not what she thought. She begins to question the methods and intentions of Samaritan something our team already knows but something Samaritan has kept hidden from the rest of the world. Now it begins to show its true colors.
Control has always been portrayed as a ruthless, almost sociopathic character that works the relevant side of the series. She has never had layers to her character not like the ones of style and charm that Elias and Dominic were given making them a lot more appealing to fans. This episode adds some of those layers, giving us a much more rounded picture of her and a good reason to hope she may fall in line with Reese and Finch in Samaritan’s down fall.
In last season’s finale, Control’s character changed somewhat. She was portrayed as a more understanding personality, more considerate and less like a sociopath. That was continued here by bringing in her daughter and some of the motherly feeling she has for her. Control is being written now as more complex and very patriotic. Her motivation for all she does is simply to protect the country. She also seems to be more attune to all the blood she has on her hands but that will still take some getting used to. It certainly was weird seeing her chastise her daughter for playing violent computer games, when she spends her days killing and torturing people, all in the name of her country of course. She even gives the total number of her kills as 854. Hmmm…… Wonder what she would say if her daughter found out what she did, or wanted to follow in her footsteps. Guess it’s one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do’ moments.
By the end of the episode, it clear she is having doubts about Samaritan which gives fans a hope that she may be willing to get on board with Reese and Finch if only for a short time. She is demanding and resourceful in her job, and no way will Samaritan’s deceptions be tolerated. You don’t want to mess with Control. She will always have her own agenda but she would be a great collaborator under the right conditions.
Samaritan’s subversiveness is depicted on three different levels in the episode. Control’s experiences with a terrorist attack the AI unit sends to her operations, a White house connection by Gabriel and Senator Garrison, and the real reason of the stock market crash which Reese and Finch explain to Control in a rather unpleasant way.
The episode had a lot of edge-of-your-seat action as usual graciously supplied but Reese, Finch, Fusco and Root intent on finding Shaw. The action included gunfight, fist fights and rocket attacks culminating in a massive shootout between our team and Samaritan’s forces while Finch uploaded a virus into Samaritan’s communications. The worm is to locate any info on Shaw, but no reason Finch wouldn’t have set it up to locate other information as well. Anytime the group gets a way to learn anything about Samaritan, it would make sense to get as much information as they can. At least I hope so.
Also as Reese and Root held Samaritan’s forces at bay, Finch powered home to a captive Control the reality of what Samaritan really is, its methods of operation and what really happened at the stock market which only added to the mountain of information she has already been exposed to. Non-trusting of our team or not, Control couldn’t ignore what she had seen. And in the end, she believed Finch and Reese enough to check out their story on the stock market crash herself. Guess what? She discovered they were telling the truth which will add a lot of weight to the credibility of their other information.
Though the episode, Reese was in the thick of things even with the gunshot wound he received saving Finch last week. It didn’t seem to have been treated at all which is something we have seen our superhuman hero doing many times over. One thing Reese is, is reliable and he was determined to get all information her could on Shaw. He even held his own in a hand to hand fist fight with Grice, the relevant agent we saw spare Shaw in the jewelry heist. Grice spared Shaw, Reese spared him. Works for me and a very good way to get another ally in the fight against Samaritan. Besides Grice liked Shaw, thought she was a good agent and won’t be happy when he learns of her loss at Samaritan’s hands. In addition, Grice was written as Control’s right hand man, a prime component in her uncovering some of Samaritan’s deceptions. I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of Grice in future working closely with Control.
The episode open with news casts regarding the recovering economy from the “flash crash” of the stock market, the cause now reported as a computer glitch, and the alarming reports of a pair of vigilantes rampaging through the Northeast. Of course the pair is Reese and Root searching for evidence of Shaw. An injured guard, recovering from a knee wound, reported in an interview that one of the vigilantes apologized for injuring him, explaining they were looking for information on a friend. At least we see Reese hasn’t lost his respect for humanity or the writers their twisted humor. We periodically get updates on the pair until they, in a dramatic car explosion, take Control hostage, the main reason for the episode.
The first subversive measure is a terrorist attack sent to Research and eventually Control. I was impressed with Control’s handling of the documentation. She didn’t accept the information at face value but instead reviewed all that was sent. In the past it seemed that assassination crews had been dispatched with no second thought to the accuracy of the target, the sociopathic side of Control, since she is the only one to allocate her crews and assign their missions. But now we are being given a different perspective, which is good, because in reality, very few sociopaths make their way into any governmental agency. Psychological tests prevent that and, while nothing is perfect, those that might slip through are nowhere near the number the POI universe has been depicting.
The ‘attack’ is a bogus scenario set up by Samaritan. We find out as the episode progresses, the four ‘terrorists’ played and won the Nautilus game, Samaritan’s underground recruitment program. It garnered them a job writing sophisticated computing code for a bioinformatics company creating climate change models at huge salaries. Maybe they should have questioned the windfall closer but they didn’t. That was their only crime, that and being minorities. They are completely in the dark about their supposed involvement in the plot, a fact Control begins to suspect when Samaritan interferes with her desire to validate Samaritan’s information.
First Samaritan’s agent, Travers, in the Research area denies Control access to one of the ‘terrorist’s laptop and when she challenges his authority, he shuts the system down completely, arrogantly holding the entire operation hostage until Control agreed to stop investigation. Travers simply said she should accept the information as valid because Samaritan told her too, and she was a guest in Samaritan’s operations hinting that she could be eliminated at any time. Greer’s comment to Senator Garrison when he questioned the situation, “I hope you didn’t think we would give you an expensive car, and let you drive it.” Yeah….that didn’t go over well.
Without the ability to validate Samaritan’s information and with the possibility of civilian deaths hanging in the balance, Control authorizes the assassination but with a hidden agenda. This is where her work relationship with Grice begins. Control sends Grice and his partner to assassinate the group but to also acquire a terrorist’s laptop without Samaritan’s knowledge. It doesn’t work. When the one remaining terrorist is found and Grice tries to access the laptop, Samaritan fries it…..literally. In the process, Control learns that Samaritan has her under continuous surveillance and has been assigning her operatives to missions without her consent. Good news, the target does get away.
Now Control wants information from him before he is killed. Learning he is trying to board a freight train to Canada, she waits for him at a train yard. She wanted to take her bodyguards but finds their car had been T-boned by a Mac Truck driven by the NY vigilantes. Yep, that’s Reese and Root and somehow they got from New York to DC in a very short time. 🙂
What were they after? …the guard’s security phones which gives them the location of Control and just as she is about to apprehend the final ‘terrorist’, Reese blows up her car and takes her hostage. Reese does like his rockets! LOL No question, Control is not having a good day…BUT it is necessary to give her the next installment of Samaritan’s deceptions and this time by our heroes and in a not too pleasant conversation.
Reese talks to Control first about the loss of Shaw which Control knew nothing about. He does give her a rundown of the information they have been collecting including proof that Samaritan’s operatives have been watching her house. Yea, Control. Listen and learn! More reason for Control to doubt Samaritan. The evidence just doesn’t stop which is good to see. The sooner they get rid of the AI arc, the sooner the show can return to its more procedural elements which many fans have been wanting for a while.
Of course Control can’t help them, but they aren’t yet aware that Control has been kept in the dark about Samaritan. Finch eventually figures that out, but not before Root tries her “persuasive” interrogation technique. Have to say, I was very disappointed in the way they wrote Reese here. Reese’s morals, for both victims and perpetrators ,has been very well established for many seasons, as is his very good judge of character and that shouldn’t have been forgotten. I was sad to see they would have Reese bend his rules that way. And what happened to the Machine telling Root to be compassionate? There is no good cop here? Of course there is! Reese is everyone’s champion and the writers should have upheld that. It would have gone a long way to solidifying a bond between the group and her. At least Finch put a quick stop to it. But it never should have been allowed in the first place.
Finch’s talk with Control confirms she knows less than they do about Samaritan, its motives and methods. He called her nothing more than a janitor for Samaritan, and basically she is. Of course, Control found a way to activate a location device which brought her operatives to her rescue, as concept that the team counted on. But their arrival didn’t stop Harold from forcing Control to confront the truth. He persists in giving Control an earful of Samaritan’s methods of operation including a private encrypted phone network for communications, a private army to do it’s biding, a spy in Control’s organization and the assurance that spy is one of the agents coming here to rescue her bringing his encrypted phone with him, which is why Finch is here to begin with. He also tells what really happened in the stock market, the massive gunfight that took place in the basement of the exchange, six floors down, and the loss of Shaw during the attack.
The third subversive measure doesn’t involve Control but her supervisor Senator Garrison. He gets the pleasure of meeting Samaritan’s avatar, Gabriel. Now, for me, I am still opposed to the use of a child as Samaritan’s avatar. It was interesting when he was talking to Root about philosophy but here in a Whitehouse setting it just doesn’t work for me at all. It would have been more effective if it has been Greer but any adult would have worked. Still the Senator had to experience these subversive measures first hand. First from Travers with Control, and then alone with Gabriel. The purpose of the scene is necessary to the storyline, its delivery is not.
Gabriel informs Garrison that he, i.e. Samaritan though the name is never used, takes responsibility for the stock crash and to prove it, tells him the level the market will close at and that his personal portfolio with drop by 16%. Gabriel returns later to make sure the Senator sees the predictions the boy gave were correct. He then says he wants to meet the president and will contact the Senator at a later date. Can you say egomaniac! I was very glad to see they are touting Samaritan’s evil to more than one level. Sure hope Control and Garrison compare notes. The writers pulled out all the stops to set up the end of Samaritan and they did it very well. And while these scenes may seem out of place, remember this was an episode to move the series along. Its purpose is to give reason for the destruction of the evil twin and that information has to come from more than one source. Now there are two high ranking officials with direct contact experience with Samaritan. Hence these interactions, while appearing bland, are quite necessary.
At the end of the episode, we’re told the worm has located a possible location for Shaw and Reese and Root head out on a road trip. Finch warns that it could be nothing, but we have to wait till Feb 3rd to learn for sure. As Shaw is being written out of the series, and as the episode title, “M.I.A” would indicate, Shaw won’t be found but they will find something. Here’s hoping it is another piece to Samaritan’s downfall.
We also see Control has tracked the final ‘terrorist’ to Canada and though he tells her he was not part of any plot and asks her to consider the possibility that she has been lied too, she kills him anyway, adding his blood to her hands. Did she really feel she couldn’t take a chance that he really was a terrorist, or did she just not want to admit she had been played for a fool? Her ultimate decision to actually seek some answers and follow up on Harold’s story about the stock exchange is very positive. And yes, she finds the evidence she is looking for, with something as subtle as a fresh coat of paint, upending her world and opening her eyes to the truth.
I no uncertain terms, the point is driven home to Control that she isn’t in control at all. And one has to wonder how none of this surfaced before now. Did Control see some signs and just look the other way? At least now she has to realize she has been putting her trust in information that could be based on bad intelligence. That can lead to disaster, hence it was especially appropriate to bring in the racial profiling issue.
It takes a lot of strength to ask the right questions and start all over, but if the additional layers to Control’s character are any indication, she will become a team ally and use her ‘crews’ to eliminate Samaritan and its goons. After all the two faction do have a history together and not all of it is bad. Finch’s group definitely needs manpower and the governmental section of the serial story is a definite way to go. Control was given a good look into the real Samaritan and her perseverance of the discrepancies should give her a lot more. In addition, she knows Finch’s Machine is still out there, never betrayed her and was just as effective at the relevant numbers as Samaritan so the country would never be in jeopardy. Maybe the next time we see Control, she will be a number for Reese to protect from Samaritan. Or maybe it will be her daughter that Samaritan will threaten. And we saw how much Control loves her girl. Either way, down the road I can see Control needing Reese and Finch to stay alive.
“Control-Alt-Delete” holds a lot of promise that the end of the AI wars is on its way. It’s something fans have been asking for and it’s good to see the series acknowledge them. Really it was inevitable but how long they were going to let it continue first was a definite question. With only 10 episodes left and we see the first glimmer of hope that it will be gone, hopefully way before the season finale. One thing is for sure, if TPTB start down that road, showing episodes which give promise of the arc’s elimination, and then they don’t go through with it, fans won’t give them another chance.