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← Season 4 Person of InterestSeason 5 (Flashbacks in parentheses)  
501B.S.O.D.” (Finch) 506A More Perfect Union 511Synecdoche
502SNAFU” (The Machine) 507QSO 512.exe” (Multiple simulations)
503Truth Be Told” (Reese) 508Reassortment 513return 0” (The Machine)
5046,741 509Sotto Voce  
505ShotSeeker 510The Day the World Went Away

POI 502 Episode Image.png



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.png

Images (31)

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"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.
  • The Machine glitches with facial recognition and can not identify her assets or Samaritan.
  • Root gives Reese and Finch her grocery list which includes mouthwash, floss, a rug, and two pairs of slippers one for her and one for Bear to chew on.
  • Reese and Finch break into a warehouse containing blades that are going to Samaritan. The Machine sees this and mistakenly marks them as hostile.
  • The Machine has no anchor point in time and errors appear at the start of the flashbacks and in the opening credits.
  • The Machine gives the Team false numbers some of them turn out to be real numbers but the rest are irreverent and others are Samaritan agents.
  • The Machine mistakenly identifies the Team as hostile, locks Root and Finch in the car, shocks Root in her implants, and also mistakenly orders a hit on Reese.
  • Finch tries to reason with The Machine and is shown all the times he tried to kill her.
  • The Machine shows Root all the assassinations she did but Root explains to the Machine that Denton Weeks had to be eliminated because he was a security risk and Finch tells The Machine that Root changed and she helped her after the events of Bad Code. The Machine shows Elizabeth Bridges and Root explains that she did not kill her and Finch tells The Machine that he and Reese stopped Root before she pulled the trigger in Skip. The Machine then shows Martine Rousseau and Root says she did kill her because she is a Samaritan agent and Martine kidnapped and tortured Root in Asylum.
  • Fusco's POI Gerald Mancici is legit and Finch tells Fusco to tail him.
  • Finch sedates Root to prevent The Machine from shocking her implants.
  • The Machine tells Finch she placed a hit on Reese and Finch tells her to call it off.
  • Realizing The Machine has bugs in her code Finch plugs in all the POI's and The Machine is reset and finds her anchor in time. Showing Megan Tillman marks her as Asset to Assist and resets the Ethical Algorithm and Facial Recognition it also recognizes Reese as Primary Asset, showing Joseph Durban resets the contextual data and flags him as Asset to Assist, showing Zoe Morgan resets the MPOV and flags her as Asset to Assist, showing Elias sets the anchor in time, showing Root resets her as Analog Interface, showing Logan Pierce resets the Threat Assessment Protocol and resets him as Asset to Assist, showing Caleb Phipps resets The Machine's code, showing Reese resets him as Primary Asset, showing Shaw resets the Search Program and flags her as Secondary Asset, showing Arthur Claypool resets the Core Programming and marks anyone connected to Samaritan as hostile, showing Daniel Casey resets the Assets, showing Control resets the Identity Protocol, showing Malcolm Booker resets the Tree Graph, showing Simon Lee places the anchor in time, showing Harper Rose resets her as Asset to Assist, showing Dani Silva places the anchor in time and marks her as Asset to Assist, showing Sulaiman Khan sets the date and the year, and showing Grace resets The Machine's memory. With the numbers in Finch is re-flagged as System Administer.
  • Reese manages to get the amateur assassin off his tail.
  • The Lithuanian Mob makes their appearance in the series
  • Fusco saves a family from the Lithuanian Mob.
  • Jeff Blackwell is revealed to be a Samaritan agent.


Finch is shown all the times he tried to kill the Machine

Root is shown Bad Code, Skip, and Asylum which is all the times she killed someone or almost killed someone.

Episode Notes

  • 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.jpg
    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.png
  • 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)
  • “John has the heaviest heart of all of us, but he's fighting hardest to be good. He's not a bad man.” (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.