In defense of television

I came across an article this afternoon entitled “11 Reasons You Should Stop Watching Television Now” that I found pretty dim. An outgrowth of the “I don’t even own a TV” fad I thought was dead, the article isn’t just smug, it’s wrong. Let’s count the ways.

Wasting Time

It’s pretty obvious that when you’re watching TV you’re not doing anything else. Time spent watching television is similar to being asleep (although you will see some other consequences below). The question is whether you want to spend even more time in your precious day asleep.

Oddly enough, the author posting in the “productivity” section of a life hacking website has apparently never heard of second-screening. Thanks to tablets and smartphones you don’t have to sit in front of a television screen like a zombie anymore. Second-screening is productivity. Some might even call it a life hack. Why, here’s a piece in a newspaper all about it, but it’s from someone who actually works in a television network, certainly not the the kind of expert productivity blogger you’d find on a life hacking site.

Missing Out on Social Interaction

Every hour you spend in front of the TV is another hour you’re not making the most of your life. You could be playing with your family, hanging out with friends or doing an activity you enjoy. Connection is one of the basic human needs we all have and it will never be fulfilled by your television set.

If you look to the left of the article you’ll see colorful little buttons with various symbols in them. Those are for sharing on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the like. Funny thing about those sites: You can use them while you watch TV, too. I know, right! When you’re watching — and I’m being totally hypothetical here — a show about a tornado full of sharks, you can talk about it on social media and — hold on to your butts — other people will respond. Are you sitting down? THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. 

Allow me to be serious for a moment to say that there is social value in watching television. This article appeared on August 15, an ordinary day in the Gregorian calendar…unless you’re a devoted fan of Lost, then today is 8-15 and you get to talk about it with complete strangers on Twitter. Or next year in Hawaii when you’re celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its debut: lost2014.com My life would be less without these conversations.

So in fact watching television isn’t costing you social interaction. It is actually increasing it in ways we couldn’t have imagined even on September 22, 2004.

I made my name on Twitter tweeting the most partisan political spew you can imagine. It was fun but it was a recipe for very isolated online interaction. I needed to branch out and chose television as one of the ways I would do so.  I tweeted as incessantly about Lost as I did politics and a bizarre thing happened: Democrats responded.  You see, television brought us together to create social interaction where there would otherwise be none. What a concept. But I’m sure our lifehacker’s life doesn’t need such richnesses.

Programming Yourself with Negativity

Just about every television show, from comedies to drama to reality TV and the news, is negative. If you look at almost any TV show there is a complete lack of positive redeeming messages. While there are exceptions to this rule they are few and far between, so choose carefully what you decide to spend your time watching.

Nice opinion, and in many ways it can be true. But in many ways, if television is where you turn for positive redeeming messages you are doing life wrong. There should probably be a hack for that.

TV Poisons Your Belief Systems

In comedies, we laugh at the stupid/overweight/socially awkward/racial stereotype/different people. The news is filled with stories of pain/suffering/disaster/death, and arguing and drama has to be about problems in order to create the drama. All of this is affecting your outlook on life and the way you see the world.

Wow, now that is some serious literary dissection. “Arguing and drama has to be about problems in order to create the drama.” Slow down, buddy, I’m not a computer. Yes that is what drama is about. Next you’ll be telling us to avoid watching the weather because it’s only notable when there’s a storm.

I’m putting the next two together…

It Creates Unrealistic Expectations

Television distorts our understanding of reality. It’s filled with beautiful people doing amazing things and having great adventures every show. Ask any TV or movie star with half a brain and they’ll tell you that the images you see of them on the screen and magazine covers are completely fake.

Careful going after the half-brained now. #mirrors

Feelings of Inadequacy

Life is never going to be like a TV show and this can make people very disillusioned when they compare it with their real life. The messages within television imply on a regular basis that we’re not pretty/smart/funny enough. Our lives can feel quite empty when compared to the perfection of the TV world.

I could not agree more, actually. Television is not real and viewers should never forget that basic fact. Even “reality” television is not real. Despite all the changes brought about by DVRs, online delivery and binge viewing, one foundation of television remains unchanged: It is made to sell. Ads, subscriptions, clicks, merchandise, DVDs. That’s why television exists. Television is not how most women look; it’s not how most men look. It’s not how most crimes are solved. It’s not what being president is like. It’s not the likelihood of surviving a major hull-loss incident. It’s only when your suspension of disbelief transforms into pure ignorance that a television viewer develops unrealistic expectations and feelings of inadequacy.

Subliminal Programming and Advertising

Make no mistake that there is only one reason why television exists, and that is to sell products. No one is producing TV shows because they want to create great art. Every single part of every single TV program is designed to keep you in front of the TV and prepped to buy the advertised products through traditional advertising or product placements.

I already said this.

Television is designed to make you feel bad so you will buy products that make you feel better. It’s the ultimate in mind control systems. Companies figured out how to get us to voluntarily brainwash ourselves for their benefit.

Why do I want an ice cold Coca-Cola all of a sudden? Seriously. Now you’ve added an anti-marketing screed to your arrogance. You live in the real Uptown, don’t you?

It Degrades Your Self Control and Discipline

Thanks to the incredible psychological hooks that television uses, it’s very hard to stop watching it. We lose our self control and cannot turn off the television even though we may want to. As this continues, our self control and discipline decrease even further and the harder the battle becomes.

I think this is what gets thrown in as part of the standard holier-than-thou smugness that comes from people who look down their nose at television. We’re not supposed to turn it on, therefore we cannot bring ourselves to turn it off. Prediction: People who don’t watch TV still masturbate.

The Health Effects of Sitting Down

We now live a more sedentary life than ever before with most people having jobs behind a desk. We compound this problem when we go home and sit down in front of the TV as well, because the electrical activity in our muscles stops when we’re sitting. Research is showing even the most basic movement of walking or moving our bodies in subtle ways can make a big difference to our health.

Ermagerd, I’m gonna furking die. Not sitting down is the new grass-fed beef so it does make sense that the War on Sitting gets included here. Let me guess, you also drive a hybrid, don’t think Chipotle is real Mexican and make your own detergent? If only there was a way to — again I’m being totally hypothetical here — do 10 sit-ups during every commercial break or sneak in some push-ups during a pitching change. Alas, the unfortunate truth remains that once you flip on the tube you are invariably bolted to the couch through your ass. It’s like prison. Comfy, comfy prison.

We Teach Our Children These Habits

Children are now being trained to watch TV and live a sedentary lifestyle. There is a lot of research showing the negative effects on a child’s development due to both inactivity and the influence of television. Your children will imitate your lifestyle. [sic] so any choice you make will be echoed in the generations that follow.

If all your children see is you watching television you’ve got bigger problems. Parenting is hard, maybe you should try a goldfish.

Is It Really Relaxing?

My personal argument for watching TV is that it’s easy. You stop working for the day and get to relax and turn off your brain for a while, but the reality is that what is good for us is hardly ever the best thing.

I also get to relax when I’m out at a kung fu or dance class. I get to relax when I’m hanging out with friends or spending time with my girlfriend. I also get to relax when reading a book, listening to uplifting audio or even watching uplifting videos (like TED talks or educational materials).

OMFG wait…you know kung fu, too! Jeepers! Let me guess, all your chicken is free range and your software is open source. You have a girlfriend?!? You can read?!? YOU LISTEN TO TED TALKS?!? Shit, bro, the Dos Equis guy has nothing on you, my friend! I cannot believe I have been wasting my life away for the past two decades talking with my mom about last week’s The Young and the Restless when I could have been sitting in the corner of a coffee shop with my nose buried in a book and my hand warmed by a free trade frappuchino mocha with non-fat. (Non-fat is still cool, right?)

Our life-hacker closes:

We get one life to live … 

Clever bastard.

…and it’s up to us to make the most of it. Every hour of the day is an investment that pays off right now and in our future. Invest wisely and your life will actually be filled with truly beautiful people doing amazing things and having great adventures.

It’s time to stop watching television and start living instead.

Sorry, I guess my life sucks. Even though what you’ve done here is waste my time, which I could have spent looking for a job, and blasted me with negativity that changed my belief systems in a way that left me feeling very inadequate about myself.

Worst of all, I read it sitting down.

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Cliffhangers, cult followers and Stan’s Soviet mole

I’m a lot better at season finale cliffhangers than I used to be. I’ll credit Lost for that. After all of those agonizing waits between seasons I learned to let a show recede from my memory. Besides, how could any show ever leave us hanging as hard as Lost did every May? Cliffhangers now are a cakewalk in comparison!

I also stopped watching previews for future episodes of the shows I watch. Those are done by marketing departments, not story writers, and are designed to leave you feeling anticipation for the next episode. If the show is good, you’ll want to watch the next episode. If not, you won’t. Ain’t nobody got time for marketing departments.

Here are some quick thoughts on a few shows I watched that ended with life-and-death cliffhangers. On The Americans we know that the Keri Russell character is not going to die. The Following gave us three life-and-deathers: Joe Carroll, Ryan Hardy and Claire Matthews. Carroll might actually be dead, but we can be pretty sure Hardy and Matthews are not. Is the point of a cliffhanger then to really leave us wondering if a character will survive? Most of the times not. Instead it usually leaves us wondering, “How will they get out of this one?”

The Following

I liked The Following from its beginning but was apprehensive about what would happen when the shock value from its brutal violence wore off. If you remember the first season of American Horror Story, The Following was similarly messed up in psychology but with a startling level of violence. The disturbing apex of that quality featured escaped serial killer Joe Carroll honor killing one of his cult members, followed by Carroll – covered in blood – having sex with a follower as two other followers achieved the mood by choking each other.

The show did lag in parts of its 13-episode first season, but overall The Following remained very strong. It has a similar feel to the early episodes of Revenge, a story fitting together so perfectly that it almost has to be being told in review. Former college professor, failed author and Edgar Allan Poe worshiper Joe Carroll is writing a new story  about the FBI agent who put him in prison and stole his wife.

The continuing revelations of more followers is something I will grant, for now. If they show up too conveniently too often they will cross the line from being part of the story to being a “hand of God” to bail it out. It got dangerously close to that point when people kept appearing out of the woods to help break out of the farmhouse.

How will the story change? Joe is dead, I will buy that for now yet not be surprised if he isn’t. He’s too good to remove from the show entirely, so some flashbacks wouldn’t be out of the ream of possibility. The scene of the girl in the restaurant reacting to news of his death might indicate some sleeper cells.

The Americans

I wasn’t wild about the pilot. I can’t quite put my finger on the uneasy feeling it left me with, maybe I thought it was a little forced. Having Stan suspect his neighbors of being spies to the point that he would break into their garage seemed too convenient to me. We can’t expect television to always portray realistic situations, but that felt like it went too far. In any case I wasn’t sure I would stick with the show and put it on the DVR level. An article detailing how the series creator had a background in intelligence convinced me to give it a chance. After a couple episodes I was not just enjoying the show, I was loving the drama. Most times a show generates its drama with action, but not The Americans. It carried drama throughout its episodes by placing the characters’ dialogue gently on top of its already tense Cold War setting. Very nicely done.

I didn’t like the choice of making Stan’s Soviet mole as someone so obviously sexy, I felt it undercut Stan’s reason for falling for her in the first place. He didn’t carry on an affair with her because she is gorgeous and he is horny. He couldn’t stop himself because spending years under deep cover with a white supremacist group cleaved his marriage. His wife hoped his new assignment in Washington would give her back the Stan Beeman she fell in love with. It hasn’t. Stan is as preoccupied with his work as ever, barely knows his teenage son and his wife dangerously close to leaving him.

He sees Nina as someone vulnerable who understands what it is like to live a lie, something his wife just cannot do for him. Had they cast someone less drool-inducingly sexy I think that would have played better.

(Stan’s wife is played by the perfectly beautiful Susan Misner, leading me to quip, “Yeah, I’d cheat on my wife Susan Misner. Sure I would, right after I spy for the Soviets.” Meaning of course that I would never.)

Otherwise I thought the show was pretty well done.

Finding their way after Lost

Not leaving, no. Moving on.

Where are we going?

Let’s go find out.

It’s been three years since Lost went off the air. It came along at the same time social media gave us a way to interact across the globe in real time and gave rise to what we now call second screening. The show’s sprawling mysteries and rich character development fed perfectly into these new platforms. Fans took online communities to more engaged levels than any show previously, debating theories and sharing background information on things mentioned in the latest episodes. In that way Lost was probably the first truly social television show. Its serendipitous timing helped it create some amazing bonds with its viewers.

That worked out marvelously for ABC and the show itself while it was on the air. How has it worked out for the show’s stars since May 23, 2010? Have their careers continued to grow or have they sunk like poor Michael’s raft? The answer is mixed.

Some found new lives with new characters. Michael Emerson is killing it as secretive computer genius Harold Finch on Person of Interest; Daniel Dae Kim is doing just fine on CBS’s remake of Hawaii Five-0. Emilie de Ravin floated for a while before landing on Once Upon a Time, which is led by former Lost writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Everyone’s favorite Scot, Henry Ian Cusick, found parts on Scandal, Fringe, The Mentalist and ABC’s recently canceled Body of Proof. Ian Somerhalder didn’t even make it to Exodus but will always be Boone, even though his star has risen on The Vampire Diaries.

Others (no pun intended) have roles in the works that could put them back on TV’s map. Naveen Andrews and Josh Holloway will be on CBS this fall. Holloway sans locks (again, no pun intended) as some kind of cyber cop in Intelligence, and Andrews opposite Stephen Lang in Reckless. Holloway improved as much as any of the actors who stayed with the show from start to finish so hopefully CBS is giving him something to work with. Andrews also has a huge role opposite Naomi Watts as Princess Diana’s lover, Dr. Hasnat Khan, in Diana, which will be released later this year.

Yunjin Kim, who doesn’t do much American work, co-stars with Alyssa Milano in ABC’s upcoming summer drama Mistresses. It’s hard to come to any conclusions about her post-Lost career because I simply don’t pay much attention to Korean entertainment.

A couple fan favorites landed roles on new shows that never made it beyond infancy. Jorge Garcia had a role in FOX’s Alcatraz in addition to three appearances on a Matthew Perry show you’ve never heard of. Terry O’Quinn starred in the short-lived 666 Park Avenue after appearing in 11 episodes of Hawaii Five-0 with Daniel Dae Kim. Elizabeth Mitchell did V and now co-stars in Revolution. Dominic Monaghan’s post-Lost career still hasn’t taken off after Flash Forward was unfairly canceled.

Matthew Fox tried his hand at a movie before Lost was even over. Since The End his most notable work has been the freakish way he transformed his body for the Alex Cross movie, not his role opposite Tommy Lee Jones in some World War II movie. He’s also in World War Z, a zombie movie. Yikes.

Evangeline Lilly is a face for L’Oreal Paris but her only acting work has been in The Hobbit, which she began just three months after giving birth.

This is surprising and probably disappointing to a lot of us who still want to see our favorite stars every week. I think the way we expect actors to move from one successful show right into another ignores how difficult it is to find success in Hollywood. Networks just finished announcing their fall lineups full of new shows that will most likely fail or sputter for a season or two before being put to sleep. Few will make it beyond that and fewer still will become legitimate hits. To expect this handful of actors to be in those few shows is asking lightning to strike twice.

I also have to wonder how much their strong identification with one character might hurt them. O’Quinn did well on 666 Park but will we ever see him as anyone other than John Locke? To his credit, Michael Emerson plays his character so well on Person of Interest that I rarely think of Ben Linus. (Much of that is probably due to his character’s limp.) It’s a sort of catastrophic success unique to Hollywood: Being so good at your job that no one can forget it. Time will tell if Josh Holloway can make us forget Sawyer or if Evangeline Lilly’s freckles will always make us think of Kate.

As Lost’s stars find new roles, on television or the big screen, they will find a dedicated portion of their new viewers who look quite familiar, thinking back and smiling at the show they shared together, with a simple message:

We’ve been waiting for you.

Revenge season finale delivers needed change

The season two finale of Revenge was everything its preceding episodes were not: Fast, dramatic, intriguing, surprising. The two-hour ride was creator Mike Kelley’s last time at the helm after having left the show following taping. It was like a game seven of the World Series – leave nothing in reserve. His goodbye was a throwback to the early days of the show that viewers longed for too often in season two.

Like the best season finales it converged its storylines in an explosive fashion that will fundamentally change the show starting next season. Conrad is Governor of New York. Conrad is part of The Initiative. Daniel and Victoria are disillusioned with Conrad. Charlotte is pregnant, Declan is dead. Jack knows Emily’s true identity.

Waitwaitwait – what?!?

Emily revealing her identity beyond her circle of Revenge-minded friends fundamentally alters the show. Fans who hated this season should welcome her confession. I opined earlier that Revenge needs to set a firm ending date so its writers can know how they have to pace the story. It also needs to show that it is about more than when Emily reveals her true identity. The best way to do that? Tell Jack, her childhood friend.

It’s a cat they can’t put back in the bag. For the rest of the series, Jack Porter will know that Emily Thorne is really Amanda Clarke. Their relationship is changed, so is her journey of revenge. So is the story itself. That’s a good thing. Revenge needs this kind of change. Lost’s storylines exploded in every direction when it revealed that getting off of the island would not wait until the series finale. Revenge’s story is flatter than Lost’s was but it can still see improvement from changing one of its fundamental relationships.

Disgruntled viewers can come away encouraged from the finale’s other changes as well.

Conrad’s character had fallen off this season after Daniel ousted him at Grayson Global.  The half-hearted attempt they made at a political storyline didn’t give him much to work with. In this episode, Conrad the mastermind is back. From the midst of the blackout to his closing speech and the bombing at Grayson headquarters Conrad seemed as if he was waiting out a script, not bouncing around amidst chaos. The calm confidence he displayed when Daniel told him the family fortune was wiped out came off as almost crazy, as if the pressure of his campaign and trauma of the bombing had driven him mad.

Then it all came pouring out on the balcony with Victoria. There is no Initiative, only business elites profiting from the creation of fear and Conrad is fully vested in their sick manipulations. The blackout, the bombing, the aftermath, all of it done to create a fear that will drive government to act in ways that the orchestrators are perfectly positioned to reap the benefits from. Billions upon billions of dollars, surpassing the wealth the Graysons earned from framing David Clarke. Even Victoria Grayson, party to David Clarke’s demise and perpetrator of so many misdeeds of her own, cannot seem to stomach her husband’s revelation.

The Initiative’s missing role in season two was one of the things I criticized in summing up where Revenge went off the rails. Now that we know the full story, that criticism has to be re-examined. Was Conrad’s revelation a bombshell? Thru the lens of the story, yes. But dramatically speaking it could have been a lot better if The Initiative had been given a strong presence throughout the season.

Think back to how Lost handled The Others. The entire second season was about building up that mystery and anticipation so that by the time Live Together, Die Alone aired we were practically on our knees begging to know who they were and what they were doing on the island. Revenge didn’t do that and as a result never gave us one of those, “We’re the good guys, Michael” moments. I’m not criticizing the revelation as it affects the story, I think it will be great in that regard. Rather, the way it was handled throughout the season is a clear failure of creativity, which robbed us of the kind of epic dramatic twist that makes a finale memorable.

Setting that aside, it will still change the story. The Initiative (let’s still call it that) isn’t just in position to profit from fear, it has the Governor of New York to help make it happen. Not so fast! Victoria is non-plussed and Daniel doesn’t even know what to think. Dumb Jack (more on him shortly) is clued-in to Emily’s big secret. Nolan Ross is in custody and won’t just roll over and take the fall. There is a lot threatening Conrad’s re-emerged dominance.

Before we chronicle Jack’s Machiavellian ineptitude, a quick sidebar on what happened to Nolan. Someone obviously had this all set up to unravel the moment he drained the Grayson’s bank accounts. But whom? Maybe that’s a mystery to unfold in season three. Padma’s involvement indicates she may not be room temperature after all, but why would she have turned on him? Is she somehow part of The Initiative? I have a bold theory: Aden did it. He was the only one who saw supposedly-dead Padma. But what does he have against Nolan Ross? Nolan is a key element of Emily’s quest for revenge. With his moral support and computer wizardry behind bars, Aiden must see he has a better chance at convincing her to abandon the Hamptons with him. Remember: Aden was the one moving Grayson Global’s money around before Nolan drained it. I refuse to believe that a character we only saw in one episode, Falcon, will be allowed to frame a major character.

Okay, now on to Jack.

Jack and Victoria are together at the bar when the blackout hits, giving us a great look at Jack once again showing he just doesn’t have the brains to compete with the Graysons. He breathlessly tells Victoria that he knows Conrad framed David Clarke, brilliantly reminding her that she loved him. Yes, Jack, she loved him so much and is so clueless about her husband’s life that she had no idea David was innocent. Dolt. Victoria played along the way an adult pretends to enjoy playing Go Fish with a five-year-old.

Back at the mansion, Jack is so eager to find the computer in the safe Victoria never knew about that he throws his own file on Conrad’s desk without even knowing it. His Brilliancy then accidentally reveals to Victoria that he is working with Ashley to sabotage Conrad’s campaign. First rule of being a schemer: You gotta remember who knows what, Jackie boy.

Why did the good Porter have to die? Revenge fans have lambasted Declan for two seasons, but I dare any of them to not love him and love Charlotte’s love for him after this episode. His death and Charlotte’s pregnancy will probably elevate her as a character, which would be good for the show. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. We will probably never know why Declan was in the Grayson office when it blew up, maybe it doesn’t matter. My only last beef is that he didn’t get to tell off Victoria in their last conversation. It would have been a nice parting gift to the character for enduring all her uppity crap. Here’s to hoping Connor Paolo gets more work.

Speaking of death, is it just me or was Takada’s role in the show severely wasted? The finale briefly diverged from its core storyline to tell us that his fiancé was on the flight The Initiative bombed, revealing that Emily and Aden were really a part of his grand scheme to get revenge for her death. That had a Jacob-like feel to me and could have been used to great effect later in the series, just like Jacob and Man In Black were. A reveal in later seasons that our main character is just a pawn in a larger game would rock our world. Instead it’s a few scenes in season two. Blame it on that failure of creativity again.

For some fans, no finale will be enough to fix the mess Revenge made out of its second season. I think this finale should at least earn a look at season three. With a new show runner coming on board and big changes to the storyline, Revenge has a chance to get back on top as one of primetime’s sexiest dramas.

Can you hear me?

Person of Interest makes it difficult for fans to draw conclusions from its season finales. Its two so far have done more to upend its story than resolve it. Season two’s “God Mode” gave viewers a nice mix of excitement before a good cliffhanger left us with questions about what comes next in the story, not who may or may not be dead. Open some new directions, close up some old ones, that’s what I like to see from a season finale.

God Mode began with a vicious video game style shooting rampage directed by The Machine to enable Reese, Shaw, Finch and Root to escape the library where Reese and Root answered The Machine’s phone call. This and its subsequent actions directing them all to safety reveal the show’s most exciting new direction: The Machine’s emergence as a full character.

For most of the first two seasons Harold’s baby has been fairly static. In this episode it became true artificial intelligence, which is exactly how Shaw described it after Reese revealed it to her. Instead of just spitting out numbers The Machine is now a service for whomever it allows to access it. To illustrate this, the writers sent Reese and Shaw after some non-relevants as a way to show what the sentient machine can do. Need a car? Just ask. Need glasses? Just ask. The combination to Harold’s safe? Anything The Machine can know it can give you. Characters don’t just react to it, they interact with it. The Machine is not just numbers anymore.

The ensuing race to find The Machine supported an episode that threw a tremendous amount of storyline at its viewers and reshuffled its setting for next season.

Root leads Harold to a nuclear waste facility in Washington State where they believe The Machine is located. Finch warns her to keep her expectations under control and when the door opens we find out why: The Machine is missing. Yeah, missing. The largest, most powerful computer system ever developed ain’t where it’s supposed to be.

Or is it? Harold explains that he designed the virus Decima unleashed, which in itself was not a surprise to viewers. He goes on to explain how he programmed The Machine so the only way it would alter its code would be in response to an attack. By building the attack himself, he was able to implant instructions within the virus that directed The Machine to relocate, in essence teaching The Machine how to hide from its enemies. Putting the virus into the world with reliance on the fact that someone would someday unleash it shows how building The Machine dampened Harold’s faith in human goodness.

We learned where The Machine used to be, and chasing after it could easily be one of the storylines that bleeds over into the start of next season. But I hope the writers are approaching The Machine’s existence the same way Lost’s writers approached explaining their story. Darlton used the example of midi-chlorians in Star Wars ruining the mysterious nature of the force as proof of why they never wanted to fully explain the show. Star Wars sucks so I don’t know a lot about midi-chlorineians or whatever, but I feel the same way about The Machine. Don’t ruin it by trying to tell us every last detail.

After Special Counsel learns The Machine got away, a phone call from a woman we only know as Ma’am instructs Hersch to eliminate him. Knowing what was going to happen and resigned to the fate he long ago consented to, Counsel stared down the barrel of Hersch’s gun and said simply, “Fair enough.” Near the very end of the episode, Hersch (outlined with a yellow square) tells her The Machine has sent a new number, she instructs him to put a team together.

With Counsel gone we need a new figuree for the government’s use (or abuse) of Harold’s invention, expect Ma’am to fill that role. Now that Hersch knows Finch was the brains behind Ingram, Harold isn’t safe. I would look for next season to feature the paths that will eventually bring Harold face-to-face with Ma’am.

One of the things we are left wondering is what kind of number The Machine gave out? After the reboot and implementation of Harold’s new code, he explains that no one controls The Machine anymore. It and only it will decide if it keeps giving numbers and whether they will be relevant or non-relevant. Its decision – there it is being its own character again – will shape the show going forward.

To give us one last teaser going into the summer, a psychologically-broken Root wanders down the hallway of a mental hospital when a phone rings. She picks up the yellow receiver. “Can you hear me?”  This wasn’t like the call pre-programmed to ring in the library regardless of who would answer. The Machine located her in that hospital and called her specifically. Why? We do not know…yet.

The only small surprise in the finale was the way the wrinkly man and Decima Technologies disappeared. Instead of a real player in the future of the series and a rival to Finch it turned out to only be a storytelling tool for unleashing the virus. That would be too bad but there are plenty of other storylines, so it won’t be missed.

 

For Person of Interest to wrap all this material together without letting it collapse on itself is proof that it is one of the best shows on television. There’s every reason to expect it will continue to be in season three.