The episode opened with things looking bleak. Control (Camryn Manheim) and Hersh (Boris McGiver) had the upper hand, with Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), Arthur Claypool (Saul Rubinek) and Samantha Shaw (Sarah Shahi) all under the barrels of guns in a supposed safe room. Shaw was just about to be taken out with two shots when Root (Amy Acker) burst in, wielding dual pistols. After a frantic shoot-out, Hersh wound up shooting Root from behind while Shaw, Finch and Arthur got away. So did Control and Hersh, with Root in their custody.
Finch and Claypool, who was dying from a brain tumor, found a bank deposit box that was supposed to hold the code for Samaritan, Claypool's creation that was similar to the Machine that Finch had created. Problem was, the privacy zealots Vigilance also joined the party and took over the bank while Finch and Claypool were in the vaults below with the bank manager. Finch locked the vault door to keep Vigilance out, but not before the manager got wounded in the leg in a shootout. To make matters worse, Hersh was one of the people leading the SWAT team outside the bank. (I would not have taken the odds on Vigilance were I were a betting man.) Shaw was still hiding in the bank lobby, communicating with Finch.
On the other side of the country, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) were in a holding cell, hashing out the meaning of what they were doing. Fusco said he wanted to keep fighting the good fight while Reese saw it as pointless. Fusco gave up in disgust and signaled that he was ready to leave. He did mention that he hadn't heard from Finch and suggested that he might need their help.
After some time, Vigilance ran out of patience and decided to blow the vault, but Shaw rigged another bomb nearby so that an escape route through the sewers would be available. Claypool smashed the code for Samaritan under his foot. They were nearly ready to leave when Vigilance caught up, only to have Fusco and Reese appear to save them. Hersh had some Vigilance pinned down as well, but one of them was holding a grenade and detonated it. Chances are very high that Hersh survived, though, since he could probably live through a nuclear bomb.
Root's situation played out thusly: She was held in a cage by Control and was alternately being given barbituates and uppers to get her to talk. Root kept begging the Machine to help, which caused Control to smirk and keep asking her to tell her where the Machine was. Root scoffed and said that the Machine was too complicated for the likes of her Finally, Control cut an important bone out of Root's head - one that controlled sound from the ear to the brain. But it turned out the Machine had been talking... at a level of sound that Control. who was in her 50s, could not hear but that the younger Root could. It gave her important information, like where Control kept an extra scalpel on her body, an area that Root could reach when Control was performing her 'surgery.' Root freed herself and took control (snort) of Control. She talked to the Machine and it told her to tell Control to leave it alone, telling Control that it was watching her at all times.
Finch sat with Claypool, who was back in a hospital bed, waiting to die. He told Finch that he was losing memories. Finch said that they weren't destroyed and then Root called and told Finch that finding the Samaritan code was her problem. She then had the machine play back memories, happy ones, for Claypool to watch before he passed on.
Reese, who had just rescued Finch, said that he couldn't stay. He felt the Machine had let him down when Joss Carter died and that it didn't really care who lived and died. He left while a bereft Finch could only watch.
Apparently the bank manager had actually been a plant - the real manager was killed just before the three had entered. Unfortunately, that loose end was tied up by the mysterious man who has Finch in his sights. He shot the woman and he now had the Samaritan Code.
The episode also showed flashbacks to Finch's life, including his talking to his increasingly dementia-addled father about machines and his hacking the government. It also showed the genesis of the Harold Finch name: He pressed a bird-watching book into his father's hand as he was fleeing being questioned about the hacking. Hopefully this will end up in something really good.
The episode opened with Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi) asking Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) where John Reese (Jim Caviezel) was. Finch said Reese would return when he was ready. Finch then ignored the Machine trying to give him numbers. It turned out Reese was at a bar in Colorado. Clearly still hurting from Joss Carter's (Taraji P. Henson) death, he walked away from saving someone who was being beat up and also he started drinking heavily.
Back in New York at the Library, Root (Amy Acker) was somehow communicating with the Machine too and told him that he was still needed and that he shouldn't ignore Her, meaning the Machine. He decided to help out and recruited Shaw to take over in Reese's absence. She was sent to play doctor at a local hospital, since the Number was a guy with a terminal tumor: Arthur Claypool (Saul Rubinek). Finch seemed stunned at first when he saw Claypool's face on his computer monitor. The tumor was affecting Claypool's memory and he was saying things that shouldn't be leaked, possible state secrets, and he had a Secret Service detail monitoring him.
There were a series of flashbacks throughout the episode, spanning a decade from 1969-79, with a young Finch and his increasingly-forgetful father who was suffering from what seemed like Alzheimer's. The phrase "If they want to keep me out, they need to build it better" was said often. It was interesting to see, though the flashbacks didn't illuminate much else about the character of Finch except to show how incredibly smart he was, which we all know anyways.
Claypool's wife, Diane (Camryn Manheim) came to the hospital. After an unsettling scene where he kept saying he didn't remember Diane, Shaw talked Diane in the coffee room. It turned out Claypool never talked to her about his work. She was broken up over how he had changed. After the conversation, Shaw found Claypool out of his room. It turned out he was in radiology. Finch chirped in and told her that he was in the NSA, which meant he was likely shouting secrets that many Bad People would love to get their hands on. Seeing a security detail outside the radiology room, Shaw got in there via a more unconventional way, through a ceiling tile. She found a syringe with sodium pentothal: Claypool wasn't be examined, he was being interrogated. She saw the would-be interrogtor -- a woman -- leave the control room and then of course, the Secret Service burst in. Side note: Shahi was doing really good job playing the "Reese" role with Finch during this whole thing.
Shaw was locked in a hospital office. A cell phone in a desk rang. It was Finch, who had driven to outside the hospital. He was reluctant to come inside, electing instead to try to figure out who was trying to interrogate Claypoool: it turned out to be a woman named named Elizabeth Ross. The agent began trying to question Shaw, who gave him a very hostile glare.
They cut to Reese at the bar. He walked past a table with a guy reading the paper. He yanked off the cap the guy was wearing: it was Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman). Reese kept him at arms length, but Fusco was not going anywhere.
Back at the hospital, the Secret Service agent interrogating Shaw got flushed and collapsed. His food was spiked. Shaw extricated herself and got to Clayman's room to try to get him and Diane to leave. There were people coming into the hospital: it was the Vigilance group I mentioned before. Things were going badly, Clayman was refusing to listen to Shaw, but then Finch came into the room. Clayman recognized him. Now mollified, Shaw and Finch got him out of his hospital bed, with Claypool reminiscing as they were walking along. Apparently the two went to M.I.T.. There was a brief shootout between Shaw and the Vigilance people, but Team Finch was able to get Claypool and Diane out.
At a hotel, Finch was asking Claypool about the things that Vigilance was asking about in the radiology room - about someone named Rudy and a program called 'Samaritan'. It turned out -- get ready to have your minds blown here -- Claypool had made ANOTHER Machine. It could remember and learn and was a real AI. I'll wait while you process that. Claypool said that Samaritan was destroyed in the wake of 9/11 and also because someone had already built a machine (Finch tried to keep a poker face at that but seemed to fail miserably).
At the bar, Reese chided Fusco for not drinking, only to have him retort that he was two years sober. It was because of Reese and then he got on him for his self-pity, saying that he wasn't the only one hurting. Reese said that that it was all pointless, which set Fusco off, since that pretty much intimated that the cop was pointless. Fusco decked Reese through the door outside and they fought, though Fusco lucked out, what with Reese having his reflexes dulled slightly by the drink. After a fight that was coordinated as well as a WWE match, police sirens broke it up. Carter would have probably smacked both of them for fighting.
At the hotel, Claypool was arguing with Diane again, and Finch tried to reassure his friend that it was his memory playing tricks on him again due to the tumor. That's when Claypool said something chilling: "No. I remember my wife. I buried her two years ago." "Diane", realizing that that the ruse was up, spoke into her watch and a bunch of agents burst in, subduing Shaw at gunpoint after a bit of a fight. Then even more of a shock: The assassin, Hersh (Boris MacGiver) entered. To make matters even worse, it turned out that "Diane" was really Ma'am from Control, Shaw's previous employer. She said that only one person between Claypool and Finch would leave alive. It cut to the Machine calculating survival percentages (Shaw had nearly an 85% chance of dying - yikes). Then ... from somewhere ... Samaritan seemed to be activated again.
The next episode is going to be on Jan. 7, which should be enough time for people to re-assemble their brains after all this. See you all in 2014.