venerdì 13 maggio 2016

Person of Interest, greatest show of recent years

There is little to do, when a show has an interesting plot, well-designed characters and stories that go beyond the case of the week and embrace a long arc of time with a non-linear development and showing surprising twists, we can only talk about a masterpiece. 
Behind all this could be only a wizards like J.J. Abrams, author of Alias, Lost, of the new Star Trek films and behind other series and movies, here as producer, while the deus ex machina is Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher who has given so much to the imaginary, with the trilogy of the Dark Knight (aka Batman) or other pearls like Memento or Inception movies. 
But back to the show in question. Let's say that gives a nod to those who have roughly forty years and have witnessed the evolution of computers since childhood from simple boxes with low memory and limited functions until modern mega processors that can do billions of operations by second and run more applications at once without (apparently) minimum effort. 
Well, for those whom like myself saw films in the early '80s on the drift of so-called artificial intelligence, with catastrophic results for the most part, see for example "Wargames" with a computer playing at Risk with a boy pointing the true missiles to the Union Soviet or "Terminator" with Skynet computer who understands that the real problem for the planet is mankind and decides to eliminate it by creating the title robot, for those who have this background about dangers of leaving too much decision-making power to not human brains, this is the right product. 
The brilliant Finch develops one intelligences that resets every night not to become too "expert" and with its algorithms allows to anticipate the crimes that occur in the city of New York, by monitoring the common people through the cameras present everywhere. This intelligence provides daily a social security code that then it is up to Finch decipher to understand whether it refers to a possible victim or a perpetrator. 
Our programmer, unfortunately, following an accident that maimed him and killed another inventor of the machine, does not have the physical ability and prowess necessary to protect or secure the person of interest the system has indicated and here comes John Reese, a former soldier who at the beginning of the series is a homeless who wanders aimlessly around the NY tube but hides behind a shabby appearance uncommon skills. Reese is recruited by Finch along with Detective Fusco, Root, a sympathizer of the machine crazy like an horse and other characters masterfully conceived in their nuances and their humanity, which form the core and the glue of the whole affair, that at some point will also assume a dark tone when a second artificial intelligence, known as "Samaritan", is added to the scene, a machine much more paranoid and perverse than the one created by Finch (because it does not reset daily!) and that see our characters as a threat to be eliminated. 
And we are right in this situation at the beginning of the fifth season, which will be the last, with only 13 episodes that separate us from the end of this adventure that for me was really exciting. It started a bit subdued, as if it were a minor show, without much expectation, but the ability of writers to add new variables and create an articulated plot made extremely enjoyable and interesting the episodes, leaving the viewer the desire to understand what will happen and what consequences will affect characters' decisions. For sure it can not be defined as a series of science fiction but certainly conveys some interesting issues that are extremely relevant, the most important of which is definately the post 9/11 american paranoia for communications and message control on the national territory which has in recent years led to numerous debates and driving to least questionable positions.  
This series brings to the extreme the concept of privacy violation, for which no one is immune from being monitored and checked 24/7, in a way to allow the use of every mean necessary to foil possible terrorist threats reaching security of good citizens. 
The problem is that the decision-making power on the severity of a possible threat is attributed in the fiction to a machine, that has not the humanity to ensure the best choice, because it can only taking into account the objective variables. 
In any case, I recommend to everyone to watch this beautiful show, with the regret that we have eventually come to the end of a long journey started five years ago and that it will surely leave in the collective imagination some issues that will surely of public domain in the next decade.

Update (06/22/2016)

Unfortunately, the series has ended ... The last 13 episodes were rich in twists and certainly it can not say that there was a "happy ending", as some of the main characters perished in a desperate attempt to stop Samaritan. The same "machine" has kicked the bucket to allow for an end to the antagonistic artificial intelligence domain. 
I must say that I fell over a tear when the end credits of the last episode passed but I can not say that the ending surprised me, because it was basically consistent with the general tone of the series, clearly inspired to the inevitability of fate and the fact that, as we try, our actions, albeit following different paths, will always lead to the destination that fate has decided for us. And this is well represented by an episode where the machine virtually recreates the lives of his "assets" by deleting its existence and the impact it has had in their choices. As you'll see many of the characters will still meet the fate that was destined to suffer, albeit with very different motivations and states of mind.
If someone could think that I've changed my mind with respect to the series, nothing more wrong! It continues to be a masterpiece that deserves to be seen (and enjoyed) by the general public.

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