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← 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 0511 MPOV Washington DC Relevant-One



Air dateJune 7, 2016

Running time43:04

Production code3J6011

Written byJacey Heldrich
Josh Brown

Directed byTim Matheson

Viewers6.36M (18-49: 1.0 rating)

ID(s) from IntroID.008/2720.10 (Reese)
Relevant One (The President)
The President of the United States
John Reese

Images (26)

"Synecdoche" is the 11th episode of Season 5, and the 101st produced hour of Person of Interest. It originally aired on June 7, 2016.


The team must unravel a conspiracy and stay ahead of the Secret Service when the President of the United States becomes their newest POI. Also, Finch separates himself from the team and considers taking drastic action to combat Samaritan.

Origin of the Title

Synecdoche is a rhetorical term where a part of something is used to label the whole. Among the most commonly used of these expressions is "The White House", which refers to the Executive Branch of the United States Government (i.e. the office of the President of the United States.) In other uses, an individual proffering assistance might offer to "lend a hand", the hand serving as a metaphor for the whole person.

In this case, the President is the part that represents the whole: the American people. The U.S. system of representational government operates on the principle that each representative, whether they be a congress person, a senator, or a the President, is the voice of a specific group of people he/she represents.

Main Plot Points

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

  • Finch converses openly with the Machine (which has assumed Root's voice as its own), while trailing someone in a Texas diner.
  • Only Reese and Fusco are present at Root's burial. Her grave bears only a six-digit number. Mourning Root's death in her own way, Shaw refuses to rejoin Reese and tries to expose herself to Samaritan. The Machine intervenes, sending a representative from Thornhill who provides Shaw with a new cover identity.
  • The Machine assigns the team a relevant number: the President of the United States. The Team (minus Finch) infiltrate a fundraiser where the President is due to appear. Former POI Logan Pierce makes an unexpected visit, shortly after publicly decrying the country's program of mass surveillance. Reese and Shaw manage to divert a bomb, forcing the would-be threat to issue a public challenge.
  • Finch's target is an engineer at the U.S. Cyber Command who has access to the high-risk virus Ice-9. Finch tells the Machine that he had foregone back surgery as penance for his misdeeds. He alludes to Thomas Midgley, the scientist who created freon as a safe alternative for more dangerous refrigerants, but also the resulting threat to the planet's ozone layer.
  • Reese and Shaw have captured an infiltrator who posed as a server at the fundraiser. They torture him for information, and permit him to escape. The next day, the Team overlooks the heightened security detail while the President issues a speech. Shaw and Fusco follow the infiltrator to a building where they discover a surveillance center. A senator's wife (whom Shaw had crossed paths with at the fundraiser) reveals herself as a traitor, leading an assassination attempt in response to increasing mass surveillance. Although Shaw is captured and surrounded, she is just as quickly freed by Fusco and a convenient but mysterious diversion.
  • Reese uncovers a mole within the Secret Service, as well as another former POI: Joey Durban. Shaw helps him identify the likely assassin: a surveillance drone commandeered by the traitors that will destroy the President in his SUV. Shaw replaces a Secret Service counter-sniper, using his weapon to goaltend the SUV as the drone strikes. Although she and Reese have saved the President, they are marked as targets by the Secret Service.
  • Various DoD personnel were overpowered on the way to the terminal containing Finch's desired virus. Although results are similar to when Reese and Root used God Mode, the Machine itself appears to have done the brunt of the neutralizations, turning DoD security upon itself, and even going so far as to turn a would-be captor by fast-tracking an organ donation for his daughter.
  • Durban returns to help extract Reese and Shaw from their rooftop, while Harper Rose—a third former POI—appears to draw Secret Service away from Fusco. The former POI's finally reveal themselves as a second Team, and the source of the diversion at the surveillance center. Reese was assigned to them as their "irrelevant number". The two teams depart to tackle new numbers, the original team being reassigned to cover Finch.

Episode Notes

  • The episode features several modes of Presidential transportation, including "The Beast", his super-secret highly secure limousine, the Presidential jet (call sign "Air Force One" only when he is on board), and the Presidential helicopter (call sign "Marine One"). In keeping with his transportation call signs, the Machine designates the President as Relevant One.
  • This episode can be seen as the first episode of the 'endgame', in which Samaritan and The Machine battle.

Production Notes

Bloopers and Continuity Errors



  • The virus that Finch procures from the military base in Texas is called ICE-9. This is a real computer virus which self-replicates recursively, meaning that infected systems will go on to infect any other systems they are in contact with.
    • One of the symptoms of this virus is that hidden computer files become unhidden.
    • The name of the virus is a reference to Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle", in which a crystalline substance called Ice9 is discovered, which can be used to freeze any water it comes into contact with (even water inside human cells). A single crystal can catalyse a reaction in any body of water, even oceans, and will convert the water molecules it touches into more Ice9 crystals, which will convert any water they are in contact with, and so on, just as the ICE-9 Virus converts infected systems into virus-spreading systems.
  • Date on Shaw's invitation is 4th of November. Then the President murder attempt was on 5th of November, Guy Fawkes day.
  • Reese tells Shaw and Fusco he once considered joining the Secret Service but decided against it as the Secret Service works around the clock, has no choice in who they protect and threats never stop coming. Fusco humorously points out that that describes what Reese currently does for the Machine.
  • This episode also serves to give further insight into Shaw's grieving process in the context of her Personality Disorder. Both Reese and Fusco acknowledge and discuss her grief many times throughout the episode, and Shaw's speech to Charlie in the hotel room very closely resembles--and perhaps is a callback to--both what she says to the thugs in “Relevance” and her talk with Gen in “Razgovor”.
  • Root's grave number os 030513, which is the air date of Zero Day. (March 3, 2013), the day when Root first met The Machine.
  • This is the third episode where the story is told from the irrelevant number's point of view. In "Get Carter" the story was told mostly from Joss Carter's point of view with frequent cuts to Reese and Finch. In "Relevance" the story was told from Shaw's point of view until she apparently dies and for the last few minutes the story is told from the team's point of view, though the audience is aware of what Reese is doing all along. In this episode, the story is told entirely from the point of view Reese and his team, and the existence of the team that got Reese's number is only revealed to the audience when it is revealed to Reese.
  • HMX-1 is the unit and flight number of the President's chopper when he is not on board. It becomes Marine One the moment he boards the aircraft and it takes off.


Finch & The Machine

  • "You taught me to see everything, see everyone. And I do. But I see thousands of versions of them. What they were, what they are, what they could be. And what is love, if not being seen?" (The Machine, to Finch)
  • "I watched her die 12,483 times in the seconds before she expired. I couldn't save her but I kept trying. You can't conceive of my grief because you can't experience it like I do. but it's there." (The Machine, to Finch)
  • "Oh, I've learned to deal with pain. I'm not quite sure who I'd be without it. Pain tethers me to the world." (Finch, to The Machine)
  • "Intentions can be a fickle business" (Finch, to The Machine)

Reese & Shaw

  • "You want to ask how I'm feeling?" (Shaw, to Reese) "Okay. How are you feeling?" (Reese) "I'm not feeling anything" (Shaw)
  • "I need you to decide to fight" (Reese) "I have made a decision. This simulation sucks, and I'm ready to start again." (Shaw) "This is not a simulation!" (Reese) "Yeah, I've heard that before." (Shaw)
  • "Shaw, we need you." (Reese, to Shaw) "Gotta kill time somehow" (Shaw, taking the Thornhill envelope)
  • "No way. I am done helping little old ladies cross the street, Reese! No more numbers. We get Finch, we go after Samaritan. That's it" (Shaw, to Reese)
  • "They really don't teach you spec op guys anything, do they? HMX-1: it's Marine One, hotshot" (Shaw, to Reese)
  • "If this threat is real, why didn't Samaritan warn the ISA? I mean, this is about as relevant as it gets!" (Shaw to Reese)
  • "Semtex... enough to make this my kind of party." (Shaw, to Reese)
  • "No more good cop. Out of my way Reese. So your cover identity is your real identity. It's airtight that way, right? You know what that says to me, Charlie? Says you have no idea what you're doing." (Shaw, to Charlie Vaida)
  • "See, I'm made for this kind of work: none of this bothers me. I don't feel guilty or scared; I don't make friends so I have nothing to lose. But you, you're just a normal guy with a normal life. ... If you don't tell me what I want to know, you have people I can go after. Are you starting to worry about them, Charlie? You should. You probably won't like what I do to them. If I could feel sympathy for you Charlie, I would. But I don't. What i do feel is anger. I'm angry that you're trying to kill the President. I'm angry that we're stuck in a room with you. But most of all, I'm angry that you have people that you can love. And you chose to sign their death warrants. You want to play terrorist, Charlie? I'm more than happy to oblige." (Shaw, to Charlie Vaida)
  • "Our number, our fight" (Shaw, to Fusco)
  • "Take a shot at the President, now!" (Reese, to Shaw) "Whatever you say, Wilkes Booth." (Shaw) "You know I didn't mean that literally, right?" (John) "I missed on purpose... jackass" (Shaw)
  • "Told you it's not a simulation. Feel real yet?" (Reese, to Shaw) "Real enough" (Shaw) "How you feeling now?" (Reese) "Better actually" (Shaw)
  • "The threat to national security was real, but ISA didnt step in. We only get irrelevant numbers Reese. ... I'm saying that Samaritan decided that the President of the United States was no longer relevant. If Samaritan wants to take down the entire world, I'm sure as hell not gonna make it easy for it. That's what Root would have wanted." (Shaw, to Reese) "She's intense." (Joey Durban, after Shaw leaves) "She's in mourning." (Reese)


  • "This is as close as I'm getting while he's still at home. Unless of course I wanna attract the attention of the Secret Service." (Reese, to Fusco and Shaw) "Oh please. Those suits are just a bunch of glorified wallpaper." (Shaw) "They're not so bad--even considered joining their ranks back in the day." (Reese) "Oh yeah. What stopped you?" (Fusco) "They work around the clock. No choice in who they protect and threats never stop coming." (Reese) "Well you really dodged a bullet there." (Fusco)
  • "Hey, I'm a little worried about Shaw. Shouldn't she be, I don't know, grieving or something?" (Fusco, to Reese) "Just because you don't see it doesn't mean she's not grieving. Just give her some time." (Reese)
  • "Yeah, Ms. Stability decided to go rogue. I'm on it." (Fusco, to Reese about Shaw)
  • "You guys do what we do?" (Fusco, to Joey Durban, Harper Rose, and Logan Pierce) "What, you thought New York had the market cornered on murder?" (Harper) "How many more of us you think there are?" (Fusco) "Could be none, could be many. Who's to say?" (Logan)
  • "We have no idea what's coming" (Fusco, to Reese) "Whatever it is, it's going to be a hell of a fight" (Reese)


  • "This is what we're fighting against .... What are you going to do with me? Make me vanish? Not arrested; not detained... the government is decimating our rights." (Charlie, to Shaw and Reese)
  • "Washington's tearing at the seams and your solution is to rip it apart?" (Shaw, to Tracy Phillips) "I don't need to tell you the atrocities this government is committing in the name of 'freedom'. But our rights haven't just been lost, they've been put to market. This whole town is bought and sold: Google, Facebook, Palantir--a vicious cycle engorging the surveillance industrial complex." (Tracy Phillips) "A Presidential assassination would destabilize regions--cause thousands of deaths and that's just... What? An unfortunate side effect?" (Shaw)



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