orockthro: George with glasses and "NERD" written on her forehead (Default)
orockthro ([personal profile] orockthro) wrote in [community profile] pofinterest_chat2014-01-08 05:43 am
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Episode Discussion: Aletheia

 Sorry I didn't get this up last night, but we had an episode! 
(Spoilers abound!)
Let's talk about it!

Things are changing in POI land, and it's getting interesting....

Tell me your thoughts, and I'll tell you mine. :)
hedda62: Harold Finch, half in shadow, text: Oh, Mr. Finch (finch)

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-08 01:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I might have real analysis later, but for now I'll share a late-in-the-episode thought: oh, thank God that plaid suit ended up in the sewers and he had to toss it. Sorry, Harold.
hedda62: Harold Finch, half in shadow, text: Oh, Mr. Finch (finch)

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-10 04:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, it is quiet here! But we can talk. :)

I agree that Root and Shaw were the highlights of the episode - both so awesome! And Fusco was also wonderful. And JC and ME are both playing what's given to them beautifully, but I am wondering what the heck is up with Reese. Yes, he's upset and losing faith; yes, he came back to save Harold (how? did the Machine give him a location? but he doesn't trust the Machine!) but… it's not like Harold is that much safer going into the future, so if it's important for Reese that he remains alive, how can he leave? (Looks like, from next week's promos, that the Machine has no intention of letting him leave, but that only underlines his betrayal.)

I'm still upset that all the characterization and development in the first two seasons seems to have been thrown out for the sake of Reese having a crisis over Carter's death. Not that it's impossible for Reese to break down that way - he's done it before, though he didn't have Finch then, or a job, and it feels like going back to the beginning for no discernible reason. And he's talking about Finch as though his only importance is as an employer or colleague, not a friend. I mean, even if the "no homo" sirens are screaming for the showrunners, they set these guys up as close. And now it's as if Fusco is closer to Reese than Finch is. I can live with it if we get payoff, but I'm wondering if we will - will they drag Reese back kicking and screaming and then have him just settle back in to occasional kneecapping while Finch works out his issues with the Machine? Because I want everyone to settle their issues.

On the other hand, speaking of payoff, I'm enjoying Finch and Shaw working together, and I'm suspecting that Finch is coming to appreciate "hammer time" more (although. Reese is a scalpel? Seriously?). But in that case it would have made a better story for Shaw to save the day, all the way through, and Reese and Fusco to arrive after it was all over. Because considering what an idiot Reese can be, realizing that he wasn't needed might be the thing that made him stay.

Also, hurray Decima, and yeah, I spent that whole locked-in-the-vault scene saying "but what about the bank lady?" - it was so not like Finch to leave her behind, and they never mentioned her again - so I'm glad that came to something!
sarcasticsra: A picture of a rat snuggling a teeny teddy bear. (Default)

[personal profile] sarcasticsra 2014-01-11 04:33 am (UTC)(link)
Also, it's totally ignoring the point that the Machine had zilch to do with Carter's death. Carter was taking down HR, which was an entirely separate plot! I mean, fine if Reese just needs something or someone to blame and can't bring himself to blame Harold (which would, I admit, be interesting, if done right) but maybe we could have another character point this out? Fusco can't, obviously, not knowing about the Machine, and Harold's clearly too close (lol, a scalpel, I want to visit your planet some day, Harold.) Shaw, maybe?
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-11 08:34 am (UTC)(link)
I figure his issue is that the Machine didn't save her. I mean, this season is all about the Machine being God now, right? And the fact that bad things happen to good people is an absolutely classic reason for people to question their faith.

Not that I wouldn't give a lot to lock him in a room with Shaw -- or possibly with Bear, who probably doesn't have enough English to be bothered by Reese's non-logic. Maybe we could alternate between Bear and Shaw like applying heat and cold to an injury?
sarcasticsra: A picture of a rat snuggling a teeny teddy bear. (Default)

[personal profile] sarcasticsra 2014-01-11 04:25 am (UTC)(link)
(although. Reese is a scalpel? Seriously?).

Lol, right?!?! What the fuck planet is Harold LIVING ON that he categorizes John "oh let me CRASH THIS CAR INTO BAD GUYS AND PLANT LISTENING DEVICES AS A SIGN OF AFFECTION" Reese as a SCALPEL.

I mean, come on, Harold. You misspoke, right? Obviously you meant to say he's a truckload of C4.
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

oops essay

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-11 07:10 am (UTC)(link)
Has Reese gone back to the beginning, though? In the pilot he was skeptical of Finch's job offer and clearly less than enchanted with life, but we also know (since 1x16 "Risk") that he'd grown close to at least one person during his time on the streets. Maybe it's only familiar faces that he's avoiding now, but I'd hazard that it's connection of any kind. He's arguably worse off now than he was before he met Finch.

IDK, I know a lot of fans view his recent characterization as incoherent, but although I'm furious with him (and even more unhappy at the show itself), his reaction makes perfect sense to me. I'm imagining a sculpture made of glass that's shot through with cracks, but which still holds its shape: it's broken, but it hasn't yet fallen apart. I think that that, give or take a little added tape to stabilize him pending future repairs, was Reese before "The Crossing" -- and when Carter died, the statue shattered.

Some people find that emotional pain recedes if they hurt themselves physically. I think it's also possible to numb one kind of emotional pain with the infliction of another, and I think Reese's way of handling the accumulated agony, not just of Carter's death, but of everything before it that he never adequately dealt with, is to hate himself so intensely that there's no room left for anything else -- not for grief, and especially not for love.

Because Reese thrives on love -- not just the receiving of it, but the giving. To hate himself but continue to love others would not be nearly painful enough for this purpose. And it's love that's hurt him, after all, over and over -- agape, the helpless intensity of feeling that's both driven his choices and made many of them almost unbearable -- so no, he won't love anything now, at least not more than he can help. He cannot actually stop caring about Finch -- he can't even fail to care about Fusco, if his dismay when he realizes what Fusco risked by picking a fight with him is any sign -- but he can push that caring far away inside his mind, and pay attention to it only when it becomes unavoidable.

The thought of Finch in imminent danger is unavoidable. So is the presence of Finch in the same city, let alone the same room. That is why he had to come back, and why he has to leave.

I basically disregard everything Reese said about the Machine, except as it hints at his mood; I think his speech about entropy was much more to the point. The only thing he can contribute to any ethical or philosophical debate is the posture of a hedgehog curled inside a mantle of spines -- he isn't reasoning anything, he's just trying instinctively to avoid pain. He would have died in "The Devil's Share" if Finch had let him, but since Finch wouldn't, this is the next best thing he's found.

He's hurting everyone who cares about him, he's turned his back on everything he used to think mattered, he's essentially spitting on Carter's memory, but the one thing I don't feel is confused.
hedda62: pay phone with "green roof" (phone)

Re: oops essay

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-11 01:45 pm (UTC)(link)
This actually makes a lot of sense to me. Except I don't think the show is that subtle - if they have him blaming the Machine, then he blames the Machine; if he's talking about Finch as a person the world can't afford to lose, he doesn't mean "a person I can't afford to lose, but can't bring myself to believe in" or any variation thereof. Or, shall I say, the show hasn't yet shown itself to be that subtle, and the scripts have tended toward surface value; it's possible they're delving deeper now. Just… I doubt it.

But as a justification of what's going on psychologically with Reese, this is excellent. And I could work into this a justification for Reese kissing Carter and projecting onto her his being saved, if that's the point at which the taped-together man is starting to feel whole. It could have happened that way with Finch, but if Reese is mostly heterosexual it's more likely to happen with Carter, both the sense of sexual healing and the worship. And also - I liked [personal profile] orockthro's "running on faith-fumes"; all the saving-people washing-dogs going-to-the-movies being-useful with Finch was heady stuff, but as he got closer to Carter the connection with the real world became more tangible - I mean, he could go so far as falling in love with Finch and sleeping with him and still be just two guys hiding out in a library and secretly rescuing people, but Carter had a life, and it was powerful stuff to think he might be able to share that life with her. (How realistic that was is another matter. I don't think it would have gone beyond the one kiss, really, since Carter was pretty self-protective and she knew Reese was still seriously messed up. But who knows.) So, when she died, it was more than losing a friend; it was losing the world. And insofar as it felt like God was sticking a knife in his ribs, I guess blaming the Machine makes a kind of weird sense, if that's the only god Reese knows.
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

Re: oops essay

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-14 03:01 pm (UTC)(link)
I've taken a while to respond to this comment partly because I was distracted by an epic Carter-centric plotbunny (which I only wish I believed I was ever going to write) and partly because it's so strange for me to think of this characterization as particularly subtle. I mean, I spent a lot of words attempting to justify my interpretation of his recent brand of irrationality, but that's just the way I talk -- I didn't have to put in that much thought simply to see it. On the other hand, the fact that I'm working from feelings of recognition here does mean there's a real possibility that I'm projecting.

Your thoughts about what Carter might have meant to Reese make painful amounts of sense -- if I take their interactions in "The Crossing" as elevating their relationship over his relationship with Finch, which I actually don't tend to. Granted that it takes some pretty creative interpretation to make parts of the dialogue work at all, the biggest change to my headcanon after the morgue scene was the conclusion that Reese is much less monogamous than I'd previously supposed. Which I guess is my way of trying to reconcile, not even the kiss, but the recycled redemption story, because if he isn't stealing that from Finch and trying to pawn it off on Carter, it has to be that in his head, it can belong to both of them at once.
hedda62: Harold Finch, half in shadow, text: Oh, Mr. Finch (finch)

Re: oops essay

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-15 12:28 am (UTC)(link)
Well, there's a difference between the characterization being subtle (and I guess I mean "realistically complex" rather than "hidden from plain sight" by that) and the writing being subtle - and hey, this is fast-paced TV, and mostly so far when they want to say something they just say it. There's a lot of deductive reasoning that can be wrapped around some characters, but with Reese in particular it seems to me that either words have come out of his mouth as truth, or the direction and acting have made what he thinks and feels pretty obvious despite silence. Especially about Finch - I mean, there are degrees of interpretation about what all those devoted stares mean exactly, but the redemptive part of it has been out in the open. So I don't see why they should suddenly switch gears from "Reese says or shows what he feels" to "Reese says something different from what he feels" - although, it could just be bad writing, and when I say bad writing, I mean "whoa we really meant to make how Reese feels and why he's saying something different than that entirely clear and obvious, but whoops, too much plot, out of time now."

From a Watsonian standpoint I am totally with you and I hope it's all true because it would be really terrific stuff even if the characters all go down in ruin and despair. I just have a knee-jerk Doylist viewpoint sometimes.

About Reese and Carter - I actually think it would be more interesting (and subtle!) if he was peeling the redemption story off Finch and pasting it onto Carter. If they'd built up an arc where he comes to distrust Finch, which would totally work following the end of season 2. Instead we get an indeterminate mess of devotion and withdrawal and redirection and professional relationship and hissy fit. Which may be psychologically true, but makes a terrible story.
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-11 08:15 am (UTC)(link)
Shaw and Root (and Control and the Machine) were undoubtedly the best parts of the episode. The Machine is alarming, no question, but the Machine/Analog Interface dynamic delights me. I guess maybe I should be perturbed that after the Machine's orders resulted in capture, torture, and permanent physical injury for Root, she still thinks the Machine is "the best", but they're a really compelling combination, what can I say.

It's funny; pretty much everyone, myself included, compares Root to Finch, but ultimately, she's really pre-crisis Reese -- out in the field doing what her boss can't, sometimes taking damage, but still ready to tell anyone who will listen about her devotion to the friend who's given her life meaning. You're absolutely right about there being parallels between them, OMG.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-11 01:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Which is yet another angle on the betrayal he feels, if he was thinking of Finch as a sort of god. He kind of was, too, all that raining down beneficence and worldly goods, while expecting devotion to a task.

But yes! Root and her boss, what a combination. That's the scalpel you're looking for, Harold.
kiranovember: photo of my recently deceased cat Jellybean (Default)

[personal profile] kiranovember 2014-01-09 12:01 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, I had a feeling. If Vigilance didn't have it, and ISA didn't have it, and Harold and Arthur thought they'd destroyed it... who did that leave? And then I saw a flash of white hair and I knew it. I like the thought of Root vs. Decima.

Yes the women were awesome! But I never thought Reesr and Fusco would make it back in time, and let us just handwave how they found where Harold was. And now John is leaving because he only came back to save Harold. Harold is just going to have to put himself in danger every week until John comes to his senses and stops muttering about entropy. Apparantly only the heat-death of the universe can come between him and the mission; no lesser force could stop him.

Mr. Reese is a scalpel? Well, compared to Shaw, anyway.
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-11 10:19 am (UTC)(link)
only the heat-death of the universe can come between him and the mission; no lesser force could stop him.

Okay, not a lot about recent storylines can make me laugh, but this did. Well done!
hedda62: pay phone with "green roof" (phone)

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-11 02:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Okay, so I agree that the Harold-flashbacks are a bit anvilistic, but watching them makes me want to draw comparisons between his childhood and Root's.

They both lost people: Harold, his father, by the slow decline of dementia, right in front of him; Root, her friend, by violence, but really by disappearance. We don't know a lot about Root's childhood (more flashbacks coming, maybe?) but she may have been raised by her mother alone, and she didn't fit in, and may have had just the one friend. Harold was raised by his father alone, and probably didn't fit in either, though he did seem to have some friends (they didn't understand him, though). Both already had some talent with mechanics/computers before the crisis of loss hit them, and then developed them afterwards. Harold's reaction to his father losing his memory was to try to build a machine that remembered everything - eventually, he does this, only to strip it of its memory daily.

So what's Root's reaction to Hanna's loss? All we know about her early prowess is that she's stunningly good at Oregon Trail, and then by the time she's a teenager she can hack banks. I'd say that maybe while Harold's passion is creation, Root's is control; she wants access to everything so she can turn it to her ends. What she really wants is revenge on Hanna's killer, but she can't even prove that he is the killer, or that Hanna's dead, and she's sure no one will believe her accusations. So it's not really enough that she succeeds at revenge; once that's done, she needs more; she needs to be the best hacker in the world, but it doesn't occur to her to build anything beyond what helps her break into things. It's kind of like both she and Harold are taking that wee-Harold catchphrase to heart, but Root just keeps saying "they didn't build it better, ha ha" and Harold goes ahead and does build it better. (Let us also note that he does get to go to MIT, and makes connections there, and earns a hell of a lot of money legally. We know nothing about Root's formal education, if she has any. But considering her talents, she could also have gone the legal route to work and money if she wanted to.)

Perhaps the irony of Harold handicapping his everything-Machine once he's created it is mirrored by Root's decision to let go control and submit herself to that same Machine once it's free? Noting that she's also somewhat free of childhood guilt at that point, thanks to Reese.

Thoughts?
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-14 03:19 pm (UTC)(link)
A scattering of thoughts before the new episode airs:

Root was betrayed by people and systems who should have helped her: the police who couldn't help Hanna, and the librarian who wouldn't. If Harold felt betrayed at all, it was mostly by his own inability to fix the unfixable, as far as I can tell, or maybe ultimately by his arrogance in thinking he ever could. (His hubris did exact a higher cost than disappointment: how many conversations with his father did he forfeit when he had to go into hiding? There's no way to tell.)

Root, incidentally, got a double dose of worry and loss -- her mother didn't die until Root was in her early twenties, but that she wasn't well was apparently an established fact by the time of Hanna's abduction.

This might be too fanciful, but I wonder if part of the difference in Harold and Root's priorities can be explained by the role of imagination in their lives. I'm having trouble putting this into words, but your comment about the ways in which they lost people has me thinking about Harold, who could see every day what was happening to his father, and about Root, who had no idea of what specifically had happened to Hanna, and -- I guess there isn't really anything about their situations to have made escapism a better option for Harold than for Root, but I'm stuck on the idea that while he dreamed about solving a known problem, Root probably envisioned horror after horror in a futile attempt to understand what her friend endured. I'm guessing that Root was not able to believe for very long that there was any real hope of rescue or escape for Hanna, which would have left her with no brighter thoughts than of what should have happened, or else of revenge -- fantasies of control, but not really of happiness, let alone growth. I can believe that after years of that, it might not occur to her to turn her inventiveness towards creation.
hedda62: Harold Finch in his HAT (hat baby)

[personal profile] hedda62 2014-01-15 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
*nod* I really like the distinction about the role of imagination. It's odd to say that Harold has less imagination, because clearly he had dreams and speculations galore, but maybe his imagination haunts him less, and perhaps because of that reality surprises him more? It's also interesting to note that, as you said, Root was directly betrayed by the police and other officials, or felt she was, while Harold, apparently under pursuit by the law/the government, didn't let that stop him from trusting them in some form later on: turning over the Machine; relying on police detectives. Though both of those can be interpreted as succumbing to inevitability.

I read somewhere recently about the evolution of the words "hack" and "hacker," starting as a counter-culture marker that didn't necessarily have anything to do with computers, and changing into something more data-centric and criminal in intent. Harold and Root are from different generations, so they probably fit into this evolution pretty well.
enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)

[personal profile] enemyofperfect 2014-01-15 09:06 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, I love the idea of reality surprising Harold more. I would never have thought of that, but it feels very true. That's a nice linguistic/cultural point about the meaning of hacking, too.