Yesterday’s episode was certainly a great beginning to a three episode “event” as CBS wants to put it. It’s the beginning of the end it seems for the Machine. Also seems to be that they’re wrapping up the Samaritan story arch, or perhaps just putting a major piece of it to bed. Either way it’s shaping up to be good.
I enjoyed how this episode started out, especially since it got pretty heavy towards the end. Finch buying a sandwich, which had to be specific or else he’d have to come back, for Shaw who is “locked up” in the train station. What was most interesting about this scene was the entrance into the station, a code on a snack machine. Not sure if this will be important later or if it was just something they wanted everyone to see, to show Harold’s creativity in the area of hiding.
Harold returns to the station to find Root in a big teddy bear suit having just finished up doing a party. Amy Acker on Twitter said she wanted to do a whole episode as that bear and Amanda Segel said she’d get right on making a script for that.
The beginning started off with Samaritan doing the right thing, helping even the irrelevant numbers, making the team’s jobs useless. Samaritan managed to stop most crime in the city for a full day. The ability for a machine to do that is questionable in general but you have to question the kind of power Samaritan does have since it’s able to effectively eliminate crime. Or at least what power it thinks it has.
Of course the team is thoroughly confused by why Samaritan would suddenly be interested in helping everyone but we come to find out that Samaritan is trying to get The Machine to communicate with it.
Shaw begins to question if Samaritan is really doing a bad thing, helping people and also eliminating bad guys in the process. This highlights some of the old Shaw we used to know, and shows her unreliability and lack of real loyalty to the team. She doesn’t see things the same way most humans do. She sees things in an good or bad (black or white) manner which Harold has worked on changing. Shaw can’t see how executing a man who beats his wife, is a bad thing.
Harold has to explain it, and honestly I think this is the first time the writers have explained why artificial intelligence is in fact insanely dangerous in general in a manner that highlights the seriousness of the issue. Kudos to them on that.
Harold explains that you can teach a AI right from wrong, give it a code to follow, but what you can’t do is give it morals. No matter how much code you put into it, it will never have morals. So even for The Machine it can slip and do horrendous things because it believes it’s the right thing to do, because it doesn’t know better. For instance The Machine could end world hunger by killing off half the population of the planet. That would be good for ending world hunger, obviously bad for those who die in the process.
Not only did Harold’s speech explain accurately the dangers of AI, it also seems to me to be a glimpse into how Samaritan thinks. It looks at the greater good and has no issue killing off people to achieve that greater good. It has no moral code, just a strict understanding of what an ideal world would be. And, well, that understanding is an extremely dangerous one to humanity.
Samaritan sends out one of its agents, Lambert, to deliver a message to The Machine who has sent Root out to receive it. I have to say in this episode the only person who has ever seen most of the team is Greer and last night several revealed themselves as agents of Samaritan and frankly that concerns me.
During the message exchange, though, the Machine basically says that it will not be talking to Samaritan in which Samaritan decides to wreck havoc on the city in exchange to show The Machine and team just how much power it does have.
Finally, though, after a day of significant crime and chaos in the city, The Machine relents and agrees to meet with Samaritan. The exchange of info happens in a church which I will say, I enjoyed this scene a lot. Although as I said before, I’m concerned that John has now revealed himself to Martine. Although he was partially obstructed by his really big gun, maybe it’s okay (well you know better if you watched the preview).
The meeting with Samaritan and The Machine happens in New Rochelle. Either the writers of this show enjoy reusing places they’ve been before or there is some sort of significance to this little detail. I can’t even begin to try to figure out what significance there possibly could be, but I found it very interesting anyhow.
We meet Samaritan’s communicator, a boy. I didn’t exactly catch why this boy was chosen to be Samaritan’s communicator but he was damn good at it. And here we learn that Samaritan’s only goal is world domination. It wants to control people, provide people with stability and safety but the only way to do so is completely control people. Take away their free will. Show them they need that control. Samaritan really believes that it can save the human race.
Oddly enough, the difference between Samaritan and The Machine is not that much, just a little code really. The Machine wants to save humanity as well, but it’s been programmed to recognize that all humans matter, and deserve to live, face trail, that humans are in control, etc. Samaritan wasn’t written that way, its end goal is to save humanity, but it has come to the conclusion that to do so, it needs to dominate and eliminate threats with humans having no control over the process, no input into who lives and who dies.
Samaritan gives The Machine a choice, surrender to Samaritan and the team will be safe (as if anyone would believe that), or all will be destroyed. Of course The Machine knows full well that even if it did surrender that the team wouldn’t give up on its goals, which is to destroy Samaritan, so it doesn’t surrender.
This means war is on, and by the looks of it, it’s going to be a wild one. The episode ended with Samaritan bringing the nation to its knees the only real way you can ever really do so, by ruining the economy. Plus, not only does a stock market crash effect the US, it is a worldwide event.
During this episode Shaw had been relegated to just sitting and watching but by the end she’d had enough and she decides she can’t sit around and watch anymore. Obviously this will not turn out well for her.
This is where I will go into my little speech about not believing any promos. The promos are often misleading, especially when marketing a three-episode event such as this. Will someone die? Possibly. But is it going to probably be anyone who was show “dying” in the promo, probably not. And because I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, I’m not going to tell you why I’m pretty confident that most, if not all, of the team will survive this ordeal.
What was good about this episode also was the background on Greer. Everyone’s been asking to have it and we were given it. It seems to be a common theme with this show, a secret agent who’s been slated to be killed, finds out and turns on its own government. It’s interesting because I originally didn’t think Greer had the same goals as Samaritan but it seems to me they do. While Samaritan is about control and domination, from that comes safety and fairness to everyone.
Greer seemed very disillusioned about how unfair the world is, how the playing field was tipped towards those who had power, and that really bothers him. So he’s been working to even that playing field, to bring about more fairness in the world, less dependence on powerful people and trust for them to do the right thing. I think Greer likes Samaritan and its potential because there is no “what ifs.” Although honestly, I wouldn’t trust Samaritan at all. I’m sure if you are deemed unnecessary it will eliminate you.
Well, episodes return on January 6th. Enjoy the holiday break. Don’t worry too much while we wait. Follow Twitter to hold yourself over if you want.