During the preview of this weeks episode of PoI ‘Lethe’ I speculated that it would be a jumping board for the second half of the season. Oooh boy was I right. Sadly the episode ends on a major cliffhanger that won’t be answered until January 7th. ‘Lethe’ takes a while to get going, using old enemies such as ‘vigilance’ as a red-herring and not resolving the plot of Reese being AWOL. However, when the episode does get going it goes of like a rocket. It’s last moments unveils such a conundrum for Finch and Shaw that you would almost suspect one of them not to live by the end of the next episode. Can PoI lose another major character this season? Probably not, but this show was written by the man behind the Dark Knight trilogy so anything is possible.
After the death of Carter and the war with HR, Reese leaves the POI team behind. Meanwhile the machine provides a new number to Harold, who at first is reluctant but eventually accepts it on the insistence of Root. The number belongs to Arthur Claypool, a close buddy of Harold during his days at MIT. He has been diagnosed with brain tumor and is being monitored at the hospital. Shaw disguises as a doctor to get close to Arthur, who is kept under the protective detail of Secret Service as he inadvertently spills some top-secret information about a project called ‘Samaritan’. Flashbacks about Harold’s teenage life is shown, where the initial idea for creating ‘The Machine’ emerges after seeing his father suffer from sort of dementia or memory loss. Shaw finds out from Arthur’s wife that he works for NSA and Collier’s group ‘Vigilance’ tries to abduct him.
Shaw, Harold, Arthur and his wife escape to a hotel and take refuge. Harold talks to Arthur to get more information on ‘Samaritan’. Arthur reveals that he was involved in the creation of an AI like ‘The Machine’ but as someone else (Harold) had already created one, his project was shutdown. It is seen that Harold had sent Fusco to keep an eye on Reese. Both Reese and Fusco end up drinking and fighting outside the bar. In the meantime, Arthur remembers that he had buried his wife two years ago which makes the woman pretending to be Arthur’s wife reveal herself as ‘Control’. Immediately agents barge into the room led by Hersh and capture Shaw, Arthur and Harold. Control says that whoever gives her the location of their machine will survive. The episode ends with the Machine analyzing threats to its assets and itself.
‘Lethe’ opened a storyline that for so long has been kind of simmering beneath the surface. Besides Harold Finch it stood to reason that someone else could also build something similar to ‘The Machine’. Adding this possibility to the fray makes the suspense more realistic as the stakes are now much higher. Not only does Finch need to protect people from violent crimes he also needs to protect them from oppressive government surveillance and control. The revelation that Diane was ‘Control’ took me by surprise though I did suspect her of being a mole. Arthur’s repeated denial of recognizing her as his wife should have tipped me off sooner. As Arthur revealed that ‘Rudy’ has got the discs with the surveillance program to ‘Vigilance’ we will also be seeing them again next episode.
The episode had an underwhelming Reese/Fusco storyline, their fight felt staged. For the next episode both will be needed to safe Finch and Shaw, maybe even Arthur Claypool. As both are presently standing in the rain outside a bar in Colorado it could be a close thing. Root was also underused in this episode but her role will probably expand during the next episode as her down to earth character can complement Finch perfectly. With her being locked up in Finch’s lair in New York I give her good odds at saving Finch and Shaw.
Lethe did what it needed to do. It laid the groundwork for the next episode and indeed the rest of the season, but at the cost of taking it’s time and at times boring the viewer.
Score; 8.1 / 10.