After “Control – Alt – Delete,” the episode “M. I. A.” was a disappointment for the most part. It tried to do too much in an hour and ended up have two B-plot themes that fell short of their intended mark. In addition, the components that fans want to see in the series, episodes similar to those of earlier seasons, were not there. This episode involved the serial portion of the series primarily which is just not as interesting to many fans. Sameen Shaw fans would have been appeased by her reappearance, but if for those who are not a fan of the character or the Samaritan arc, the episode would have held little interest for viewers, especially the casual viewer and casual viewer are what will make or break a series. Even within the Samaritan arc, the episode overall didn’t tell us anything new. In fact, it almost seemed like a step backwards.
Being as the episode “Control – Alt – Delete” set the stage for the inevitable downfall of Samaritan, it didn’t seem necessary to write an episode detailing more of Samaritan’s learning process. The arc is ending anyway. It’s possible this will figure into its collapse later, as may the current location of Shaw, but that in not a guarantee and with this being the February sweeps, that hour could have been used to better advantage. Continuing the downfall of Samaritan, which seems very slow in coming, would have been a good way to go, or writing a high quality human interest number’s case handled by Reese, Finch and Fusco. That particularly would have been more appealing to fans that aren’t invested in the AI arc. And fans are especially important during February sweeps.
The serial portion involved Reese and Root in the hunt for the whereabouts of Shaw. With the help of Finch, they tracked her possible location to Maple city in Northern New York State. There they found Samaritan was using the town as a toy, a testing ground if you will, to learn more about humans and what makes them tick . Samaritan’s plans are thought-provoking, but the details required to completely develop this ruthless scheme are skimmed over in favor of a B-plot storyline. Some comical antics were seen, but it was not sufficient to carry the story through. Bottom line is if the writers wanted to tell that story, they should have delved deeper into the dynamics of the takeover. As it was, it gave the impression of a very slow and incomplete plot.
As for Shaw, she was not found there but the wild goose chase to Maple wasn’t a complete waste of time. It did lead Reese and Root to a missing secretary and once she was found, Reese returned to his superhero nature which had been missing up to this point. For a large part of the episode, Reese was not written as Reese at all. Finch was his normal compassionate self but Reese was a disappointment and his worry over his friend, Shaw, was no excuse. Once again the writers were not true to the character and that left a mark on the episode.
As for Root, I feel very sorry for her. She lost a very dear friend, probably the only one she had, or has ever had, and she has nowhere to turn for answers. She was still filled with anger over the loss of Shaw and while I sympathize with her, I still cannot condone her violent side. Many people suffer greatly over the loss of a loved one or an exceptional friend but they don’t resort to the level of violence Root does. Her proclivity for torturing innocents was unchanged. And when she didn’t find Shaw, her fury instigated an uncontrollable rampage killing anything that walked on two legs. Team Machine doesn’t do that. That’s what makes them better than Team Samaritan. Even Shaw has corrected her at times. Didn’t the series devote an entire episode to Root’s redemption? It’s easy to be good when there are no obstacles in the way, but harder to stick to your ethics when evil pulls you in a different direction. Root was initially written as a total sociopath and in the real world, sociopaths are not redeemable. If the POI universe feels they are, then that redemption is for all time, not just when it fits the storyline. Consistency in mythology and characters is a hallmark an audience looks for in a piece of literature.
The conclusion of the episode indicated that Root will be missing for a while. She appeared to be at odds with the Machine for not giving her Shaw’s disposition, and with Reese and Finch for abandoning any further investigation into Shaw’s whereabouts. Even the Machine requested they stop looking. It’s an appropriate direction for the show to take as we know Ms. Shahi is leaving the series. The show has to move on. I actually thought it had last episode.
But the situation does open the door for some speculations. We know from past episodes that Greer talked to Root before about how similar the two of them were and how she would benefit from working with him. Now that he has Shaw, I can see her changing sides once she finds out, and I seriously think she will continue her investigation on her own. It’s possible down the road; Root might abandon Team Machine to save her friend. In fact, Greer may give her little choice in the matter. It might be Shaw or the Machine which I hope never happens. Betraying Reese and Finch is not something I would like to see. TPTB have written her as a loyal part of the team and they should stick with that.
Besides falling short in the serial portion of the episode, it didn’t fulfill the need for an endearing human interest case either. That was also a B-plot story and while there was some tension and suspense, it fell short of the quality normally seen in a well written plot. It also seemed a bit redundant as we had already met Dani Silva in “Point of Origin” when her number came up. It was already assumed at that time that she would be more involved with Reese and Team Machine in the future so restating it here seemed like going over old ground. But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.
With Reese otherwise engaged, Finch asked Fusco to handle the new number and, in the process, he ended up working with Silva. She and Fusco had met in the prior episode when she was an Internal Affairs detective. Dani Silva’s life was jeopardized when the undercover operation she was working on went awry, killing her handler. Reese saved her life and in the process, she and Reese developed a mutually respectful bond over the difficulties of their undercover work and the emotional devastation from their personal losses. In the process he secured a very important friend for future police cases and a possible asset for future numbers, at least that’s the speculation that fans drew from the episode.
She is another individual who was given a second chance in the POI universe. She started out as a runner for Dominic in the Brotherhood but ended up enrolling in a community college, acquiring a Masters in Criminal Justice and performing exceptionally well at the police academy. She changed a checkered past into an exceptional career as a police Detective, first in IA and now in the Gang Division. This is where she picked up on Albert Weiss, the number for the week. Silva noticed his name on witness lists of unrelated missing persons in gang cases over several years, which was a little bewildering to her. Turns out she was right. Seems this number isn’t a victim at all but a perpetrator. He’s actually a hired killer and a very devious and intelligent one. Fusco and Silva had their hands full bringing Weiss to justice and in the process a friendship began between them as well. Fusco even hinted that she reminded him of Carter and Reese as well.
It was postulated after her first appearance that Silva would be a definite asset to Reese in his fight with Dominic, not only because of her familiarity with gang culture in general, but also because of her familiarity with the Brotherhood in particular. She was also seen as a good replacement for Detective Carter and her recurrence here would seem to support that. Carter herself can never be returned, but a character with similar morals and integrity could fill the gap for fans that Carter’s departure left. I’d say so far they have given the character of very good start and, down the road, she could easily be a good addition to Team Machine as well. Carter certainly was! This is why the series would have benefited greatly by investing more time to this portion of the episode. By flushing out the character more and continuing to develop the trust between Reese, Finch, Fusco and Silva, it would have started the series on a road back to more familiar ground; back to the Core Four, and possibly improved ratings along the way. As it was, the plot seemed hurried and unfinished.
Next week’s episode gives all indications that the series is returning, hopefully for the rest of the February sweeps, to the design that fans have been asking for, the format of the earlier seasons. That’s could greatly improve their ratings which were down again since “M. I. A.” aired. Not something you want to see in February when the show is in negotiations for renewal.
What would really be in the series best interest is to end Samaritan quickly and focus on humans and their interactions and not on a war with AI units. The writers are very adept in their abilities to produce highly complex and beautifully written scripts but their current main storyline doesn’t seem to be working well. Going back to what made the show popular initially may hold the answer, but only time will tell.