|Episode Overview||Summary||POI||Cast and Characters||Crew|
|← Season 3 Person of Interest — Season 4 (Flashbacks in parentheses) Season 5 →|
|401 “Panopticon”||409 “The Devil You Know”||417 “Karma” (Finch)|
|402 “Nautilus”||410 “The Cold War” (Greer)||418 “Skip”|
|403 “Wingman”||411 “If-Then-Else” (The Machine)||419 “Search and Destroy”|
|404 “Brotherhood”||412 “Control-Alt-Delete”||420 “Terra Incognita” (Reese)|
|405 “Prophets” (Finch)||413 “M.I.A.”||421 “Asylum”|
|406 “Pretenders”||414 “Guilty”||422 “YHWH”|
|407 “Honor Among Thieves”||415 “Q&A”|
|408 “Point of Origin”||416 “Blunt”|
|“||Samaritan wanted to show your Machine what the city looked like under its control... Now you'll see what life is like through a less charitable looking glass.||”|
— Lambert, to Root
Origin of the Title
"The Cold War" describes the post-World War II era, when the U.S. and western Europe fought a war of words and political ideals with USSR and the Soviet bloc countries. The period was marked by heightened espionage, expansion of the peace time military and proliferation of nuclear missiles, the building of the Berlin Wall, and a series of pivotal events, notably the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963. The term has become a metaphor for any conflict where the parties threaten, but do not act.
Main Plot Points
- This episode has multiple persons of interests.
- Samaritan tries to prove how it can control the city to its benefit by improving train service to its maximum, preventing crimes by executing guilty people without trial, and thereby bringing down the crime rate.
- Greer's second man, Lambert, invites the Machine to a talk with Samaritan.
- Samaritan then tries to prove how terrible it can be by causing chaos and crime.
- Flashbacks to 1973 demonstrate why Greer believes an AI should govern all mankind.
- Shaw can't contain herself and decides to leave the safety of The Subway.
- Samaritan threatens The Machine.
- At the end of the episode, Samaritan accesses the NYSE and installs a virus to prompt a stock market crash.
- A series of flashbacks recount a pivotal event in Greer's career with MI-6, when he discovers his superior is a KGB (Russian) double-agent.
- This episode explores modern technological analogs to the Cold War during the 1970s. The Cold War created political and military tension between the U.S., Britain and their North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies; and the Soviet Bloc. Although there was no major military aggression during the period, the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, vast networks of intelligence and counter-intelligence agents deployed, the development of stores of nuclear weapons, and the diplomatic conflicts between sides lead to the constant threat of nuclear war. Just as Root and Gabriel met, so did the leaders of both sides, often resulting in threats of war, but very little reduction in tensions. This was also the era of the Space Race, when the U.S. and the USSR implemented major space exploration programs with the goal to put a man on the moon, and beyond. Although U.S. President Nixon had initiated a program of détente that lessened tensions in the early 1970s, relations began to deteriorate in the mid 70s, when the episode is set.
- The KGB (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti, or Committee for State Security) was the USSR's security agency during the Cold War. Formed in the 1954s, it continued to operate until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The KGB served as a combination internal security (much like Britain's MI-5), intelligence service (similar to MI-6 or the CIA) and secret police, gathering intelligence on activities of ordinary Soviet citizens on the thinnest of pretexts. Feared within the USSR, they engaged in counter-intelligence activities, principally in the U.S., western Europe and Asia. They also built a network of comparable agencies within the Soviet republics. Untroubled by legal constraints that limited the activities of western intelligence agencies, the KGB engaged in both legal and illegal intelligence gathering, and were believed to have planted numerous "sleeper agents" believed to be living and operating quietly within western countries, including the United States.
- Finch refers to the sandwich he brings to Shaw as a "Beatrice Lillie". Beatrice Lillie was a comic actress active from the 1920s to the mid-60s. Her final role was in the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie, where she played the house mother at a women's rooming house who is actually the leader of a white slavery ring based in New York's Chinatown, thus the name of the sandwich.
- For the first time, Samaritan and the Machine communicate directly, by means of human avatars. In technology, an avatar is the graphical representation of a human user. In this case, the reverse is true: Root and Gabriel are the human representations of the two AI's. The term originates in Hinduism, where it refers to the human representation of a deity come to earth. It was adopted into video gaming in 1985, and has since become the common name for a graphic representing a user in a variety of technological applications.
- Similarly, Gabriel, Samaritan's avatar, takes his name from the Angel Gabriel, who is one of the few angels who stands in the presence of God. He is the angel who announced to Mary that she would give birth to the son of God.
Greer's Activity in MI-6
Greer served in the Special Intelligence Services (MI-6) during the later years of the Cold War. While on a mission uncover a Russian mole, he discovers his superior is a KGB (Russian) double-agent. This leads to Greer's belief that political lines are meaningless, that the ideal of "King and country" held by the British is an illusion, and that loyalty can be purchased for the right price.
- Double-agents were common among the upper echelons of MI-5 and MI-6 as well as the CIA. Most were greedy or disaffected field officers cultivated by the KGB or East German Stasi, who passed NATO, British and American intelligence to the Russians, more often for money than because they believed in Communist ideals, working for two governments at once. Double agents differ from moles, politically idealistic private citizens who infiltrate an organization in order to gather intelligence, or who are recruited to spy for an agency because of their access to intelligence. Intelligence agencies often refer to their own moles as assets.
- Greer is based at Century House in London, the headquarters of MI-6 from 1964-1994, during the later days of the Cold War.
- Greer uses a Walther PPK to shoot Blackwood. The Walther PPK is small automatic weapon favored by James Bond. Later, when Greer retrieves his file, the initial, M, is on view. This may be a wink to the fictional M, the head of MI-6 in the James Bond universe.
- Greer drives a black 1965 Jaguar Mark 2, number plate CJO 4960. This model became famous as the car driven by Inspector Morse in the ITV/PBS television series.
- The shooting of Greer's colleague Joshua takes place in the Soho neighborhood of London. In the 1970s, Soho was a hotbed of vice, the center of the London sex industry, and a magnet for well-placed men seeking nightlife with glamorous young women.
- Blackwood mentions the Cambridge 5, a ring of five British agents recruited by the KGB during WWII, while they were students at Cambridge University. One of MI-6's now acknowledged weaknesses was its practice of recruiting from among the upper classes, where the desire to maintain a privileged lifestyle made officers vulnerable to KGB enticements.
- The plotline is similar to that of the classic 1974 John le Carré spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in which an intelligence officer forced into retirement must quietly discover the identity of a mole within the leadership of MI-6. It was le Carré who first introduced the term mole in the novel.
Parallels Between Finch's and Greer's Teams
Over recent episodes, Person of Interest has introduced a series of characters serving Samaritan who are parallels to Finch's team. Although the parallels are not exact (Martine is an assassin, whereas Shaw is a sharpshooter who only kills in defense of a POI, and Lambert's activities have far less range than Reese's), the parallels between the characters were fully articulated in this episode.
|Team Machine||Team Samaritan||Role|
|Harold Finch||John Greer||Team leader, directs operations and technology|
|John Reese||Jeremy Lambert||Field operative/directs field activity|
|Sameen Shaw||Martine Rousseau||Sharpshooter/assassin in the field|
|Root||Gabriel Hayward||Analog Interface/human avatar|
- Samaritan has assigned identifier to Greer's team: Greer as "PRIMARY", Jeremy Lambert as "Asset 401" and Martine Rousseau as "Asset 029". The Machine identifies Finch as "Admin", Reese and Shaw both as "Primary Assets".
- This episode drew small parallels between the various players: Lambert walks away from his meeting with the first POI, pulls up his collar and talks to a camera, as Reese has done. Later, Martine sits cleaning her guns, a habit Shaw also exhibits. In earlier episodes as well as this one, Greer is seen directing activity from an array of monitors, much as Finch does. However, unlike Finch, he does not actively use technology aside from a cellular telephone.
- This is the first episode of the Person of Interest Trilogy arc. The arc continues with “If-Then-Else” and concludes with “Control-Alt-Delete”.
Bloopers and Continuity Errors
- The title screen shows that Shaw's identity in Samaritan is still irrelevant, although she is identified by Samaritan in previous episode.
- When Lambert walks out of the building he pulls up his collar, but when he speaks to the Machine, his collar is down.
- Greer's MI6 boss in 1973 is named Blackwood. John Nolan played a character with the same name in the same year in a film called The Nelson Affair.
- The passcode to the entrance to The Subway is 3141, the first four digits of pi.
- The Church scene became an Instant Meme in the late 2020.
- "Guilt, Harold? Really? Normally that wouldn't work on me, but I wouldn't want anything to happen to the dog." (Shaw)
- "We know you're watching, you're always watching. I have a message for the Machine and its agents. Samaritan says hello." (Lambert, to the Machine)
- "Samaritan may be a god, but you're just flesh and blood." (Root, to Lambert)
- "Harold Finch's machine must learn mankind requires oversight, not coddling." (Greer)
- "Besides, one day, these invisible lines will soon be erased. And the wars between nations will be as antiquated as this agency." (Young Greer, to Blackwood)
- "She's going to meet an all-seeing, all-evil god by herself. That doesn't sound fine to me.." (Shaw)
- "I was built with something you were not. A moral code." (The Machine, to Samaritan)
- "I have come to learn there is little difference between Gods and monsters." (The Machine, to Samaritan)
- "Human beings need structure, lest they wind up destroying themselves." (Samaritan, to The Machine)
- "Is that why I'm here, to meet my destroyer?" (The Machine, to Samaritan)
- "Will you give your life to save your human agents?" (Samaritan, to The Machine)
- "It has begun" (Samaritan, to Greer)