Person of Interest Recap: If-Then-Else

By Kitin Miranda | 2 years ago
Person of Interest Recap: If-Then-Else

“Person of Interest” Season 4 Episode 11 “If-Then-Else” aired last Jan. 6, 2015 at 10:00 p.m. on CBS. In this episode, The Machine became the star of the show as it calculated all the possible options in simulations in a time-shifting episode, in which the team raced against time to prevent Samaritan from plunging the world into economic chaos after it hacked the New York Stock Exchange. This episode, the second in a trilogy, also revealed how The Machine learned to calculate all possibilities back in 2003 with its creator, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson). Read on to learn more about this episode.

Genius hacker Samantha Groves, also known as “Root” (Amy Acker), and The Machine’s creator, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), stood outside the New York Stock Exchange and watched as the market plummeted, thanks to Samaritan. In order to stop the failsafe measures from kicking in, Samaritan would create temporary rebounds. Root then informed Finch that The Machine had a software commissioned in order to stabilize the market, but it needed to be deployed on site. As all hands on deck were needed, while Finch instructed New York Police Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) and Detective John Riley, also known as John Reese (Jim Caviziel) to join them, Root contacted their other ally, Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi). Shaw, who was currently busy with a number, was instructed to get on a train.


At Samaritan’s headquarters, John Greer (John Nolan) smiled and told Lambert  (Julian Ovenden) to be ready for Finch and the rest of the team when they got there.

Inside the building, John took out one of the camera feeds to allow Finch to pretend to fix it so that he got grant encrypted access to The Machine so that it would be able to see inside the building. They then met up at the service elevator and went down, as the main server room was in a sublevel in the building. She then informed them that they would need to get past the server room’s biometric scanner, which was where Shaw was going to come in.

On the train, Shaw found her mark, a man who worked for a company that handled all security for that building. He hand an access code that could bypass the scanner. However, Shaw became a little bit busier after a man with a bomb vest handcuffed a businessman to himself.

As soon as they arrived at sublevel six, The Machine came online and informed Root that they had walked into a trap as it had detected more than twenty Samaritan operatives inside the building. At that moment, the lights went out and the elevator was locked. They shot back at the operatives gunning them down and followed Root into a break room where they hid behind a counter. Root looked up at a camera and asked for some help from The Machine. Harold then reassured Reese and told him to give The Machine a few seconds as it had a lot on its mind. Everything then went in slow motion, and The Machine began evaluating of its available options.

The Machine’s interface then showed that it was reviewing training protocols and re-evaluating its core precepts.

The entire scene flashed back to 2003, to the first time Finch taught The Machine how to evaluate decisions of magnitude as it had asked him to teach it how to play chess. Finch informed The Machine that each time a move is made, more and more ways of playing the game unfolds. Finch then deduced that The Machine was scared to make the first move, which was why it was being very indecisive. However, Finch told it to relax and play as there were also an infinite amount of ways to fix things.

Back to 2014, to the present, it selected one option. On its interface, another box appeared, which counted down how many seconds left it had to consider its different options. As soon as it had selected a particular option, Root told them that she and Finch would turn left to the server room, while Reese and Fusco headed over to the mechanical room, where they would secure the escape route by going to the mechanical room in order to cut the tension cable which would manually release the elevator’s lock.

As they went to the server room, they encountered several operatives whom Root gunned down. However, in the process, an original Degas drawing was peppered with bullet holes, and as the gunned down operatives did not respond, Greer quickly alerted Martine Rosseau (Cara Buono)  that Team Machine was inside and instructed her to make sure that they don’t escape.

Meanwhile, John and Fusco were trapped in between two walls of Samaritan operatives, which included Martine in the mix. Shaw contacted Reese to get some advice on how to talk down a man in a bomb but wasn’t able to help her out as he and Fusco were locked into battle with Samaritan operatives.


On the train, Shaw drew her gun out and after trying to talk him out of it, but to no avail, shot the would-be-bomber. This got her arrested, which resulted in Shaw shooting the keypad lock in order to get in. Root covered Finch while he started installing the software. However, he ended up getting shot. As Root looked helplessly at the camera, The Machine noted that that simulation was a failure and reset it’s options. It went back to the present where the same scene of Team Machine hiding in the break room, getting barraged by bullets, played out once more.

The scene flashed back to 2003, where The Machine was engaged in a chess match with Finch. Finch noted that The Machine concentrated on the most aggressive moves and favored using the Queen as it was one of the most powerful pieces on the board. Finch also reminded The Machine that the Queen was also very useful to be used to trick the opponent when it was sacrificed. After learning that The Machine had considered around 647,000 moves before taking the next one, Finch commented that The Machine could take all the time it needed to consider everything. However, Finch noted that it didn’t consider everything, as he managed to knock down its Queen.

Back to the present day, Root gave a different instruction. John and Fusco were to head over to the server room, while Root and Harold secured the escape route. Because of this, when John and Fusco gunned down the Samaritan operatives on the way there, Fusco answered as Alpha, which resulted in Martine proceeding with plan, as if nothing had happened.

At the mechanical room, Finch was given the task of resupplying power to the elevator by kickstarting the generator. Root then took the axe used in case of fire emergencies in order to cut the cord to disable the elevator’s lock.

Shaw then contacted John to ask for advice to handle a man with a bomb vest, to which John told her to convince him that his life does matter. However, as he refused to disarm the bomb, she shot him, which resulted in her getting arrested.

John then shot the keypad lock, and Fusco slowly began to type in the code. However, as more and more operatives poured in, John locked Fusco out and started to do it himself. However, he was unsuccessful as Lambert and his operatives fatally shot him. However, before he died, he released the pin of the grenade he was holding and blew them up.

Upstairs, while Root waited for the right time to cut the cord, she contacted Shaw, who was busy picking out the lock from her handcuffs. Root tried to talk about her feelings with her, and Shaw agreed to talk about it someday. She then said goodbye to Shaw, and as she lifted the axe to cut the cord, she was shot dead by Martine.

Because of this, The Machine terminated the simulation and reset back to the present where it considered a new option. Root then instructed that they would go as a team to the server room and would move as a team to the mechanical room. Before they opened the door, Fusco kissed Root on the cheek, as it really didn’t matter, as they were just in a simulation. Root made sure that the Degas didn’t get peppered with bullet holes, and Martine proceeded as planned. Shaw got excellent advice from Fusco, who told her to tell the bomber that he was not alone. Because of this, they managed to get the access code, and Finch was able to put in the code to install the software, which meant that the first mission, prevent a financial crisis was complete. The Machine then simplified the simulation by cutting out the small tack as time was currently running low.

John covered Fusco while he waited for Root’s signal to cut the cord. Finch got the power up and running just in time as Martine and her group came, which resulted in a shoot-out with a calculated 2.07 percent chance of survival for the entire team.

The Machine then chose this option, as this was the best option available to them.

The scene then flashed back to 2003, where Finch and The Machine ended their game of chess, which had resulted in The Machine checkmating Finch. Finch then informed it that he did not like chess as it had been created during a time where people could be considered expendable. He then told it that real people aren’t pieces and that the lesson was that anyone who looks on the world as a game of chess deserves to lose.

Back to the present day, the entire team moved as one to the server room. Shaw was not arrested and managed to give them the code in time, as she managed to talk the bomber into disarming it so that Finch successfully installed the software and stabilized the market. They then headed to the mechanical room where John covered Fusco who waited for Root’s signal to cut the cord while Finch restored power to the elevator.

The Samaritan operatives came early, and they followed Root to get to the elevator. On the way, they were met by Martine and her operatives who shot at them. In the process, John took a bullet for Finch. All of a sudden, their chances of survival shot up as Shaw appeared and blew up a dynamite that she had taken from the disarmed bomb. Root and Shaw then covered the rest of the team as they moved to the elevator. While they did so, Shaw admitted that Root was indeed her type. However, when they stepped into the elevator, it did not work at all. Shaw then remembered that there was an override button near a desk, which was right in front of her. Shaw then grabbed Root and kissed her before shoving her into the elevator and closed the cage as she pressed the button. As the elevator slowly moved down, Samaritan operatives, including Martine, came forward and shot at her, which resulted in Shaw getting gunned down. As Martine came forward to shoot her once again as she lay on the floor, Shaw caught Root’s eye, who was screaming and being held back by Finch and Fusco as the elevator left sublevel six.

The scene then faded to black as one more shot was fired.

And that was all for the recap on “Person of Interest” Season 4 Episode 11 “If-Then-Else.” For more news and updates, including spoilers and recaps, on “Person of Interest” and other television shows, keep following Movie News Guide (MNG).

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