The decline of Person of Interest into viewership oblivion was swift and quick. Over three seasons, the show lost viewers continually, until it became too costly to produce the show for that level of viewership. There are obviously multiple reasons why this took place. But there is one such reason which has escaped discussion, because many deem it to be ‘politically incorrect’ to do so.
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Samantha “Root” Groves immediately became a hit when she made her on-screen appearance in the finale of Season 1, as a therapist initially. But over time she apparently reformed and became a better person, and joined Team Machine. But it is clear to see, that once she became a mainstay in the show, the viewership saw a clear decline. Season 3, where the original and best Team Machine tried to keep Root captured, by first admitting her to an asylum, and then by keeping her locked in the Library, was when cracks began to show in the viewership. From the heady days of mid-Season 2 where 16 million people tuned in, by the end of Season 3 it was down to 11 million and by Season 4 it was further down 8 million. Many attribute this to the Samaritan story-line. And the lack-luster intrusion of Vigilance. The point of this rant, is not to say that these had no effect. It is to say that these factors have been extensively discussed. But the Root factor has not been discussed. Root and to a large extent, Shaw were seen to be the ‘equity’ inclusions in Team Machine. The ‘woke’ media was probably appalled with the fact that POI was succeeding with two males at the helm of it. It is my personal working theory that Shaw and Root were made mainstays in the show to appease these ‘woke’ villagers with pitchfork.
But Root is an inherently selfish character. She only uses the ‘bigger picture’ when it suits her. She was perfectly happy to abandon the pursuit of the bigger war against Samaritan, to find Shaw. She was willing to sacrifice everything for Shaw. While, for Reese, all she had was a few words of passive comfort to Harold. When Dominic is about to kill Reese in the finale of Season 4, when Harold needs to go help his friend, she claims The Machine will look after him. And apparently she needed him to pick up bags of ice. Root has never valued Reese. For her, he is simply a bag of muscle capable of shooting people-no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Root fails to understand why The Machine should be kept in check and she fails to comprehend Harold’s philosophy of chaining its (Yes, its) capabilities. She is comfortable in sacrificing the life of Max Greene as long as she can send a message to Shaw. His life apparently has the value of a strand of Morse Code. It would seem that the “sacrifice” she keeps harping on about does not include that of Shaw. She has a few redeeming qualities, among which one is loyalty to The Machine. But, when one plays Chicken with their God, I’m sure that requires some wavering of that devotion. Furthermore, she went against her deity in stopping Harold from infiltrating Samaritan’s organisation through Elizabeth Bridges. Root fails to understand that the reason why the Machine is ‘good’ is because of the restrictions placed on it. Essentially, she does not believe in the premise that human life is inherently valuable, and that all people must be treated equally. Fair enough, Reese too was initially guilty of this. But over time he understood this. She did not. She has no moral compass.
The preferential treatment of Root by the writers therefore infuriates me. She has lost the least. Fundamentally she has not changed. She simply has attached herself to a group of people who do not allow to be herself. Root apparently is above everyone. The Machine somehow has a soft spot for her, which makes no sense. Root apparently can transform a sociopath incapable of feeling emotion into a lesbian. The Machine adopts her voice as its own- which did not come as a shock given all this. The writers shifted away from the dynamics of Finch and Reese and the numbers, to a dynamic of Root, The Machine and Samaritan. This was clearly not appreciated by the viewers. She and Shaw were being touted as the “Equity” option. (Oh look! Even women can shoot people and can hack computers). It is so overt, its pathetic. Don’t get me wrong. I liked Root, as the antagonist. The first two seasons. I liked Shaw in Season 3. She was amazing. But this was so obviously done to be politically correct, that the regular viewers saw through that.
In conclusion, this rant is an incoherent summation of 4 years of frustration. Political correctness played an important role in bringing down this great show. Not that anyone cares anymore. And the final frustration among these, that all of this was done at the expense of John Reese. His value became non-existent in the eyes of Team Machine. The writers probably appeased Jim by giving one episode a season that focused completely on Reese and his history. But Jim noticed this fall from Grace in the eyes of the writers. You can see his grumpy disposition and his careless attitude in the latter Comic Cons. It would be amiss to acknowledge however the central roles played by both men in the Finale. But it becomes a moot point when the entire season has been doing the opposite, thereby costing viewership. Again, I repeat that Root was not the sole cause of the downfall, but was one among the numerous bullets used by the writers to execute Person of Interest.