Created by Jonathan Nolan
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
Composer(s) Ramin Djawadi
Original language(s) English
Final episode date 21 June 2016
|Starring Jim CaviezelTaraji P. HensonKevin ChapmanMichael EmersonAmy AckerSarah Shahi|
Theme song Person of Interest Theme Song
Genres Crime Fiction, Action Film, science fiction
Cast Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Sarah Shahi, Amy Acker, Kevin Chapman
Similar Joey (TV series), Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory
Person of Interest is an American Science fiction crime drama television series that aired on CBS from September 22, 2011, to June 21, 2016, over five seasons, comprising a total of 103 episodes. The series was created by Jonathan Nolan, and executive produced by Nolan, J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Greg Plageman, Denise Thé, and Chris Fisher.
- Person of interest tv series title sequence
- The Government
- The CIA
- Decima Technologies
- The Brotherhood
- The Machine
- Critical reception
Person of Interest centers on a mysterious reclusive billionaire computer programmer named Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), who develops a computer system (known as "The Machine") for the U.S. government that is capable of collating all sources of information to predict and identify in advance, people planning terrorist acts. He finds that the Machine also identifies other perpetrators and victims of deadly intentions, but being considered "irrelevant" this information is deleted each night, and he realizes the Machine has developed into a superintelligent artificial intelligence, leaving him wrestling with the questions of human control and other moral and ethical issues resulting from the situation. His backdoor into the Machine allows him to act covertly on the non-terrorism cases, but to prevent abuse of information he directs the machine to provide no details beyond an identity to be investigated. He recruits John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a presumed-dead former CIA agent, and later others, to investigate and act on the information it provides.
The series received a highly positive reception from some critics, including an increase in acclaim when the series introduced more serialized storylines and deepened its exploration of the varied implications of superintelligent artificial intelligence in later seasons. A 2016 critique of the series on Gizmodo stated that by the end of its first season, Person of Interest had transformed from a "crime fighting show" with a plot twist, to "one of the best science fiction series ever broadcast", a change said to be due to the series "put[ting] the Machine, its intelligence, and the ethics of [..] using it, at the center of an ideological battle", and an unintended consequence of giving the Machine a voice, compared to its initial presence as a simple background plot device.
Person of interest tv series title sequence
John Reese, a former Green Beret/Delta Force operator and CIA operative, is burnt out and presumed dead, living as a vagrant in New York City. He is approached by Harold Finch, a reclusive billionaire software genius who built a computer system for the U.S. government after September 11, 2001 which monitors all electronic communications and surveillance video feeds, in order to predict future terrorist activities. The computer – known as "The Machine" – also predicts other lethal crimes as well, but being irrelevant to national security these were deleted daily. After the death of his partner, Finch decides to act covertly on the non-terrorism predictions, and hires Reese to conduct surveillance and intervene in these cases. To prevent abuse of its capabilities, Finch had programmed the Machine to only provide an identity of a person predicted to be involved in an imminent lethal crime, in the form of a Social Security number, but no details of the crime or whether the POI (person of interest) is a perpetrator or victim. Finch and Reese (and later others) then attempt to understand the case and stop the crime from occurring.
They are helped by NYPD Detectives Lionel Fusco, a formerly-corrupt officer whom Reese coerces into helping them, and Joss Carter, who initially investigates Reese for his vigilante activities. Reese arranges for Fusco to spy on Carter by becoming her partner, but Carter eventually becomes Reese's ally and drops her investigation on him. Nevertheless, for the entirety of season one neither Fusco nor Carter is aware that the other is also working with Finch and Reese and both detectives are kept in the dark about the Machine. Periodically, the team enlists the aid of Zoe Morgan, a professional "fixer" who applies her skills to particularly difficult tasks. The series features several subplots. One significant story arc involves "HR", an organization of corrupt NYPD officers who are initially in league with budding mob boss Carl Elias and later with the Russian mafia; in earlier parts of this arc, Fusco is forced to go undercover. Another important story line revolves around Root, a psychopathic hacker who is determined to gain access to The Machine.
During season two, another organization of powerful business figures, Decima Technologies, is revealed to be attempting to gain access to the Machine. Carter vows vengeance against HR after they have her boyfriend, Detective Cal Beecher, murdered. Reese and Finch encounter Sameen Shaw, an ISA assassin, on the run after being betrayed by her employers. Shaw learns about The Machine in the season two finale and subsequently becomes a member of Reese and Finch's team.
In season three, Carter delves deeper into her investigation of HR, eventually uncovering its leader; but she is killed. In his grief, Reese briefly leaves the team. The team also battles Vigilance, a violent anti-government organization devoted to securing people's privacy. During the second half of season three, Decima Technologies starts to acquire hardware to create a new artificial intelligence called Samaritan, using the code from Harold's old college classmate, Arthur Claypool. In the season three finale, it is revealed that Vigilance was created by Decima to make them appear as domestic terrorists. This allowed Decima to obtain all the NSA feeds to make Samaritan operational. The Machine creates new identities for the Team so that they can fly beneath Samaritan's radar.
Season four covers the team's life in hiding. They continue to work on cases, but must now also evade Samaritan, which lacks the restrictions and human-oriented perspective Finch built into the Machine, and which is seeking to resolve perceived problems of human violence by reshaping society, sometimes violently. Samaritan is seen to change election results and cause stock market crashes, kill those seen as threats, change data to gain results perceived as beneficial, buy useful corporations, and to be building an organization to support its own goals. Samaritan finally decides to find and eliminate the Machine, and engineers a general electrical failure across the entire United States to do so. The Machine apologizes to Finch for its failure to prevent the present situation and ceases to function, just as Finch finishes making a copy of its core systems into a temporary storage system within a briefcase.
In season five, the Machine is reinstated onto a makeshift network of computers in hiding, but takes some time before it works reliably again due to damage sustained from power failures while it was in storage. Shaw is captured by Samaritan operatives and an implant is placed in her brain stem, which is used to run thousands of neural simulations in order to find a means to persuade her to reveal the Machine's location. She later escapes, but takes a long time to be sure whether the escape itself is just another simulation. Samaritan engineers a lethal infection in order to force people to provide their DNA during vaccination, which will be used to decide who will be allowed to live. Root is killed. Finch is taken into custody for treason, where he delivers a soliloquy via CCTV to Samaritan, in which he states that he feels forced to abandon some long held principles and destroy Samaritan; he is freed by the Machine which has taken on Root's voice as a way to begin to determine its own individuality. Determined to destroy Samaritan, Finch weaponizes Ice-9, a virulent computer virus capable of infecting and destroying Samaritan, although it will also destroy the Machine and much of the global computing infrastructure as well. Samaritan attempts to change his mind and urges him to consider his actions, but Finch responds that he has indeed considered them. Along with Reese and Shaw, he infiltrates the NSA and uploads the virus to its system, allowing it access to all systems the NSA is capable of reaching, as well as destroying Samaritan's backup at the Federal Reserve which they also infiltrate. A final copy of Samaritan, uploaded as a last resort onto an orbiting satellite, is destroyed when Reese sacrifices himself to upload a copy of the Machine there as well. Finch survives and reunites with his former fiancée, and a while later Shaw is unexpectedly contacted by the Machine, which has restored itself from the satellite back to a land-based computer in order to continue its work.
The following characters are tied to a government project related to the development and use of the Machine:
The following characters are involved in the HR storyline, in which a group of corrupt police officers work to control organized crime in New York:
The following characters are part of Reese's backstory relating to his time with the CIA:
The following characters are involved in the Decima Technologies storyline, a shadowy organization that is in possession of the Samaritan AI:
The following characters are involved in the Brotherhood drug gang storyline:
The Machine is an artificially intelligent mass surveillance system created at the request of the U.S. government, that is able to accurately predict premeditated lethal crime by monitoring and analyzing all surveillance cameras and electronic communications worldwide. It divides those crimes based on whether they are relevant to national security; those relevant cases are handled by the U.S. government, while the non-relevant cases in New York City are the focus of the show. Built by Harold Finch following the events of 9/11, it was originally housed in two unoccupied floors of IFT, the company run by Harold and Nathan Ingram (his best friend from college), being moved to a fake nuclear reactor in Washington State when delivered to the government. Finch keeps to himself (only later telling a very few associates) his early discovery that the Machine he created is actually superintelligent; the discovery leaves him wrestling throughout the series with the moral and ethical issues of human control, and risk of abuse or misuse. Initially, Finch wipes its memory daily as a precaution to prevent it becoming too capable, but eventually relents when the machine identifies the memory-wiping program within its own system and asks how it can learn if it is unable to accumulate memories over time.
During season two, the Machine moves itself, piece by piece, to an unknown location or locations; during season four it is shown to have distributed itself to control boxes on utility poles throughout the U.S.
An intense believer in privacy rights, Finch originally designed the Machine as a complete black box, providing only the Social Security Number of people involved with a lethal crime for subsequent human investigation. While this meant that the government was not able to misuse it or disregard privacy, it also meant that the numbers produced could belong to either a victim or a perpetrator.
When Finch discovered that the Machine was tracking all premeditated crimes (episode 2, "Ghosts") rather than just terrorist activities, he initially programmed it to delete the "irrelevant" cases every night at midnight, explaining to Ingram that the Machine is not built "to save somebody, we built it to save everybody." Unknown to Finch, Ingram created a backdoor function called "Contingency", on the eve of the government handover, to allow access to the non-relevant data (shown accessed in the season 2 episode "Zero Day"). Finch is appalled that Ingram has this data sent directly to him and shuts down the routine, but reactivates it after Ingram's death. To minimize detectability, The Machine feeds him numbers in coded messages through public telephones.
Within the ISA, the program responsible for The Machine was known as Northern Lights before—after being leaked to the public, Northern Lights was shut down. The private technology firm Decima Technologies steals a hard drive containing code from a separate artificial intelligence, Samaritan, which was commissioned by the ISA as a contingency in case Northern Lights/The Machine became unavailable. In season three, Samaritan is built and completed by Decima, and replaces Northern Lights in supplying information to the government. Samaritan takes a much more active role in covertly shaping society towards the goals set for it, including use of violence and recruitment and deployment of people in furtherance of its aims, and The Machine and its human associates go underground, spending season four under cover.
Much of the series is from the point of view of the Machine: scene transitions are framed as video feeds of surveillance camera footage and satellite imagery, and flashbacks as the Machine reviewing past recordings in real time. In the Machine-generated perspective, individuals are marked by dashed boxes with different colors indicating the person’s status in relation to The Machine and whether they pose a threat. Season four features Samaritan’s point of view, using a different user interface, with some episodes jumping back and forth between the two AIs viewpoints. Over the course of the series, the internal "thought processes" of The Machine are shown, including the prediction models and probability trees it uses.
The Machine in its current iteration started running on January 1, 2002, following 42 failed attempts. During the season four episode "Prophets", a previous generation of The Machine's source code was shown on screen, which was that of the Stuxnet worm. It generated the first perpetrator and victim data on February 8, 2005, following three years of training by Finch.
Near the end of season five, after Root's death, Finch agrees with his associates' request and allows the Machine to communicate by its own volition with them, using a voice. The Machine uses Root's voice (who had recently been killed) and begins guiding Finch to destroy Samaritan using the virulent Ice-9 computer virus even though this will also destroy the Machine. Ice-9 destroys both Samaritan and the Machine, with Reese dying as he uploads a copy of the Machine to a satellite to destroy Samaritan's final backup of itself. A week after Samaritan's destruction, the Machine undertakes its own return to earth and restores itself to full functionality there. It contacts Shaw and begins to resume its work through her.
Initially developed by Arthur Claypool (a former MIT classmate of Finch and Ingram) at the NSA, Samaritan was the result of a second, similarly-targeted project, that was terminated by the government when the Machine was developed first. Later the Samaritan project was resurrected by Greer, Director of Operations at Decima, and Samaritan became adopted by the U.S. government as a replacement for the Machine.
Unlike the Machine, Samaritan is designed as a more open system rather than a black box, lacking the precautionary restrictions Finch had built into the Machine, and can be directed at specific targets. It is very aggressive in its approach to "threats", and often orders the elimination of persons (labeled "Deviants") that it considers threats to the U.S. or – later – to itself. It identifies a group of several hundred individuals (including Elias and Dominic) that will prevent its plans and sends agents to kill them all in an operation called "The Correction".
Although nominally under Greer's control, Greer wants to allow Samaritan to reshape the world and guide humanity. Season 4 shows Samaritan gaining power and building a global network of agents and companies while seeking to find and eliminate the Machine and Finch's team. Samaritan has agents within the ISA (and possibly other agencies) and (according to Greer) has rigged at least 58 national and state elections in the U.S. to position its favored candidates. In season 5, Greer states that Samaritan is beyond his control and he sees it as the next level of evolution.
In the final episodes of the series, Finch uploads the virulent Ice-9 computer virus to the NSA's computer systems and other systems containing backups of Samaritan. The virus destroys both Samaritan and the Machine, while also causing significant damage to global computing infrastructure. Samaritan's last backup, transmitted by Samaritan to an orbiting satellite as a last resort, is eliminated when Reese uploads a copy of the Machine carrying the Ice-9 virus to the same satellite.
The series was officially picked up by CBS on May 13, 2011, and debuted on September 22, 2011. On October 25, 2011, the show received a full season order. It was renewed for a second season on March 14, 2012, by CBS, which premiered on September 27, 2012. CBS renewed Person of Interest for a third season on March 27, 2013, with Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker promoted to series regulars. The series was renewed for a fourth season on March 13, 2014, and was renewed for its fifth and final season on May 11, 2015. ADR recording for the series was done at recording studio Cherry Beach Sound. The music is composed by Ramin Djawadi. The first season soundtrack was released on November 12, 2012. The second soundtrack was released on January 21, 2014. The third soundtrack, which contained music from the third and fourth season was released on January 29, 2016.
According to CBS, Person of Interest received the highest test ratings of any drama pilot in 15 years, what one CBS executive called "crazy broad appeal you don't usually see", prompting CBS to move CSI, which was broadcast on Thursday for over 10 years, to Wednesday, opening up a slot for Person of Interest. The pilot episode won its time slot, drawing 13.2 million viewers.
The first season of Person of Interest received generally positive reviews, with the pilot episode drawing a favorable response from critics and later episodes receiving higher praise. On Metacritic, the season scored a 65 out of 100. Of the pilot, David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said "Person of Interest separates itself from the gimmick pack, not only because of superbly nuanced characterization and writing but also because of how it engages a post-9/11 sense of paranoia in its viewers." David Hinckley of the New York Daily News gave the pilot four stars out of five, commenting on Caviezel's and Emerson's performances, saying Caviezel "brings the right stuff to this role" and Emerson "is fascinating as Mr. Finch." Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times stated that in regard to the pilot, "the notion of preventing crimes rather than solving them is an appealing twist... The surveillance graphics are very cool." The episodes "Many Happy Returns" and the finale "Firewall" were particularly acclaimed. Tim Surette of TV.com called the former one of the series' "best episodes", commending Caviezel's performance and the episode's character exploration, while the latter was called "exactly what a season finale should be", with Surette concluding his review by saying "'Firewall' was a spectacular finish to what has been an incredibly surprising first season of Person of Interest."
The second season received highly positive reviews. Surette praised the premiere episode as "vintage Person of Interest amplified, showing off its trademark combination of complex intrigue, creative action, and clever innovation in bigger ways than ever before." He praised guest star Ken Leung's character as "one of the greatest POIs the series has had" and praised the episode's overall narrative, as well as the flashbacks. "Prisoner's Dilemma" and "Relevance" were the two highest-rated episodes of the season, with Surette calling the former "as complete an episode of Person of Interest as there's ever been" and The A.V. Club's Phil Dyess-Nugent praising Jonathan Nolan's directorial work in the latter. The season finale "God Mode" also attracted positive reactions. Nugent called it an "unapologetically kick-ass episode" with some "terrific action set-pieces". The episode "2πR", meanwhile, garnered 16.23 million views, making it the most watched episode in the series to date.
The third season received critical acclaim, and is noteworthy for drawing in more critics for its exploration of artificial intelligence, as well as its timely storytelling format. In regards to the season, Slant Magazine said that the show "is at its best when sticking to cutting-edge topics" and called it a "solid action-thriller that intersperses twist-filled standalone episodes into its season-long arcs." The A.V. Club said that the show captures the "national post-post-9/11 mood" and that with the mid-season arc in season three, "turns conspiracy theory into art". The season's two story arcs both received a considerable amount of praise: the two episodes ending the HR storyline are commonly considered to be some of the best episodes of Person of Interest. Matt Fowler of IGN gave "The Crossing" a 10 out of 10, reacting extremely positively to the cliffhanger at the ending. The episode to follow, "The Devil's Share", was the most acclaimed episode of the season, being praised for its opening sequence, its writing, Chris Fisher's direction, and the acting performances, especially those by Jim Caviezel and Kevin Chapman. Surette called the episode a "stunner" and declared it as the series' possible best episode, praising the opening sequence as the "greatest sequence the series ever put together", feeling it succeeded in eclipsing the devastation induced by Carter's death. Surette also praised Fusco's effectiveness and character development in the episode, as well naming the cinematography and direction to be the best of the series, and identifying points of symbolism in the episode he felt were noteworthy and effective. Fowler gave the episode an "amazing" rating of a 9.3 out of 10, also praising the opening sequence, as well as the flashbacks and the ending scene. Phil Dyess-Nugent of The A.V. Club gave the episode a perfect A rating, praising the atmosphere of grief the episode built and feeling Fusco's character development served as an appropriate tribute to Carter. Sean McKenna of TV Fanatic called the opening sequence "brilliant", while Courtney Vaudreuil of TV Equals praised the ending.
The fourth season has received critical acclaim, with critics praising the thematic value of the Samaritan storyline. The episode "If-Then-Else" garnered near-unanimous praise from critics and audiences alike, with many considering the episode to be the best entry in the series. Fowler gave the episode a perfect rating of 10 out 10, indicating it to a "masterpiece", and praised the simulation format, the action scenes, the emotional value, and the ending. He called the episode "next-level inventive" and a "jolting, exciting, heart-wrenching episode". Fowler said the ending scene "crushed" him, and he also offered praise to the significance of the flashbacks to the chess games. Alexa Planje of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A rating, and in her review, said that though the task of executing a story structured like "If-Then-Else" was difficult, the episode did so "elegantly" – she cited the "interesting score, vibrant color work, and humor" as the key elements. Planje said the episode "aces every scenario" during the simulation segments, and appreciated how the episode transformed itself from what appeared to be a "standard mission-focused story" into a "moving ode" to Shaw. She also praised the episode's exploration of the parallels between being a human and being a machine. Shant Istamboulian of Entertainment Weekly lauded Emerson's performance in the flashbacks and felt the season marked the series' "creative peak". He concluded by saying "Moving like a rocket, this episode is fast, funny, exciting, and, ultimately, sad, ending with what seems like the loss of another team member. We’ll have to wait until next week for the outcome, but as it stands, “If-Then-Else” is an instant classic." Surette also had high praise for the episode, calling it "playful, mind-bending, heart-breaking, and flat-out excellent." He praised the episode's incorporation of its "recurring theme of sacrifice", and called the flashbacks "as fascinating and provocative as anything the series has done." Surette cited his favorite part of the episode as the exploration of the Machine's perspective, and additionally praised the humorous segments.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave a 100% approval rating for seasons three and four with an average rating of 7.7 out of 10 for season three and 8.4 out of 10 for season four.
Person of Interest has been picked up by many networks for broadcast outside the United States. It premiered in Australia on Nine Network on September 25, 2011. The series is simulcast in Canada and premiered on City on September 22, 2011, and moved to CTV in 2013. It premiered in the UK on Channel 5 on August 14, 2012.