Episode Overview   Summary   POI   Cast and Characters   Crew    
← Season 4 Person of InterestSeason 5 (Flashbacks in parentheses)  
501B.S.O.D.” (Finch) 506A More Perfect Union511Synecdoche
502SNAFU” (The Machine) 507QSO512.exe” (Multiple simulations)
503Truth Be Told” (Reese) 508Reassortment513return 0” (The Machine)
5046,741509Sotto Voce 
505ShotSeeker510The Day the World Went Away

POI 0502 Finch and Root Designated as Threats



Air dateMay 9, 2016

Running time43:50

Production code3J6002

Written byLucas O'Connor

Directed byChris Fisher

Viewers5.80M (18-49: 1.0 rating)
Jeff Blackwell
Laurie Grainger
and 28 others
POI 0502 POIs

Images (31)

"SNAFU" is the second episode of Season 5 and the 92nd produced hour of Person of Interest. It originally aired on May 9, 2016.


The Machine experiences a glitch during rebooting, supplying Reese and Fusco with the numbers of dozens of people not actually involved in crimes, while also locking Finch and Root out after identifying them as threats based on past violent behavior.

Origin of the Title

SNAFU is the acronym for the military expression "Situation Normal: All Fucked Up." The expression was coined by U.S. Army troops during World War II. Over time, it has come to mean a situation that is screwed up, but fixable.

Main Plot Points

The events in this episode are in Machine point of view and Samaritan point of view.

  • Person of Interest: Jeff Blackwell, Laurie Grainger and 28 additional numbers. The Machine, unable to place actions in context, generates a large stream of numbers that Fusco and Reese must investigate.


Episode Notes

  • Real numbers symbol

    Symbol for the set of all real numbers

    After Root and Finch fixed its facial recognition glitch, the Machine was unable to maintain an anchored perception of time, nor place events in its memory along their timeline. Instead, the Machine believed that all recorded, archived feeds and current events were taking place simultaneously in real time, which it identified as "Day ℝ". In mathematical terms, ℝ is the set of all real numbers, that is all positive and negative whole numbers, fractions and decimals arranged along a continuous line. For the Machine, that meant that it had lost its sense of time, and that everything, past and present, was happening in the moment. Because of its instinct for self-preservation, the Machine automatically identified all of the violent acts committed by Reese, Finch, and Root all of whom it was asked to contextualize.
  • Brown-bag
    The assassin hired to kill Reese carried her big gun in an iconic Bloomingdale's Big Brown Bag, the store's shopping bag. The instantly recognizable bag was designed by Italian designer Massimo Vignelli in 1973, and comes in three labeled sizes: big, medium and small. They are a common sight on the streets of Manhattan, as upscale Bloomgindale's shoppers carry their purchases home.

Production Notes

Bloopers and Continuity Errors

  • While Reese is pinned down by the hit woman he has a phone conversation with Finch. In the conversation Reese tells Finch he is out of ammo and the scene clearly shows his handgun with the breech fully open indicating the weapon is empty. In the next sentence of the same conversation we see the handgun again with the breech closed.
  • In the SPOV view, there is a camera labeled "CHRYSLER BLDG BALC CAM". The Chrysler Building does not have an observation deck, and this camera is actually on top of the Rockefeller Center.



POI 0502 MPOV Contextualizing Denton Weeks
  • While the Machine compiles the personal files by finding the past events of Finch, Root, and Reese, there are 11 scenes from different previous episodes can be seen briefly, include:
  • Mikey, Fusco's colleague who invites him to a bowling game bears striking resemblance to Fusco's Doll.
  • This is the third time Tulsa, OK is mentioned in the show. In “Root Path (/)”, Root gained access to a nuclear power plant in Tulsa. In “Death Benefit”, Reese's Secret Service alias was from Tulsa, and in this episode, Laurie Granger, the assassin the Machine sent after Reese also hails from Tulsa.


  • "John. Run for your life." (Finch, to Reese)
  • "You need a purpose. More specifically, you need a job." (Mona, to Jeff Blackwell)*
  • "I suppose that everyone feels that he is the hero in his own story. But there are no heroes; no villains. Just people doing the best they can." (Finch, to the Machine)
  • "There is good, and bad, in everyone; but this act, saving lives... it is a pure good." (Finch, to the Machine)
    • This is the same line used by Finch in the pilot episode when he persuaded Reese to work with him.



Start a Discussion Discussions about SNAFU

  • Discussion for Episode 502: SNAFU (May 9, 2016)

    14 messages
    • Bit late to the party here, and while I saw the episode when it aired, I'd like to single out SevereCMaddictBF for his/her wonderful revi...
    • TJlive800 wrote:Bit late to the party here, and while I saw the episode when it aired, I'd like to single out SevereCMaddictBF for his/...