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Jonathan Nolan couldn’t do a Batman series on tv, he did this instead, and this is the next best thing.
We are getting closer to the 13 episode long fifth season of this great action/mystery series, and a lot of signals indicate it may be the final season of the show on CBS. I strongly suspect this grounded and gritty crime series was born out of the Nolan’s need to tell more Batman stories in serial form, and this show is the result. A series with all the action and mystery, but without the capes and costumes.
In case you are not familiar with this series here’s the premise its based on:
You are being watched. Super computer genius and billionaire Michael Finch (Michael Emerson) creates an actual functioning AI (artificial intelligence), unceremoniously dubbed “the Machine”, for the government, designed to watch everybody 24/7 for the purpose of national security to aid in the fight against terrorism.
The Machine can predict the likelihood for future events based on an algorithm that calculates probabilities and potentials and predicts real-world things that will occur. The government is only interested in cases relating to national security, and classifies all other cases as irrelevant, but the machine spits out anything that could lead to bad things happening everywhere to anyone.
After the project is scrapped by the feds, Finch continues to employ it to help fight everyday crime by addressing these “irrelevant” cases, and attempt to help the everyday people that could be harmed when these crimes are committed. He hires an ex-black-ops agent, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) as the muscle to help him in this crime fighting enterprise and together they form “team machine” that tackles the cases the impartial “machine” spits out for them.
The only thing about the machine is sometimes it spits out the clues that lead to the victims and sometimes it gives clues that lead to the pertinent villain, and its up to “team machine” to figure out who’s which and the nature of the crime before they can take action to prevent it. There have been indications the Machine has a “heart”. It is also implied it thinks of Finch as its father.
Of course this entire project has always been top secret in nature. Public outrage alone would be a huge mess, and other governments and private parties have to be prevented from learning how to build their own versions of the same technology.
So we have two guys waging a war against violent crime in the streets of NY (where the duo is based) working out of Finch’s (Finch is not his actual name but he always uses a name taken for bird species – think Robin) “batcave” which is a defunct public library. with Reese doing all the leg work, along with fighting violent offenders and/or shooting felons in their kneecaps and/or getting them arrested to help people that need to be rescued from modern day human predators.
Finch is a sympathetic soul and a long time recluse/nerd with a heart of gold. He seems to remain unaffected by the constant and repeated exposure to the worst humanity has to offer. As the creator of the machine he has a special, almost fatherly relationship with it
As “the man in the suit” Reese is almost the polar opposite of Finch. He’s a bad person and he knows it, and welcomes the opportunity to use his particular skill set in this situation that may serve the purpose of putting his life on a track for good. Reese, like Batman, is driven by inner demons, is the consummate man of action, and has been trained to be a stealthy, efficient killer who is, for the most part, a sociopath. He is realistic about his nature and summed it up at one point by saying “Maybe the reason bad people exist is to do the things good people can’t do”
As time passes the team is joined by other members/characters of interest. First is a black female cop named Carter (Taraji P Henson) who Reese falls in love with, and tells her shortly before she is killed by bad guys. There is also NYPD Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) a dirty cop the team extorts into providing info and favors from. Fusco is a stocky working class schlub with a wise-ass attitude, and the features of an ex-boxer, but a good cop, who eventually reforms and becomes a heroic member of the team.
Then comes the girls, who also become off-and-on freelance rogue affiliates of the core team. There is Shaw (Sarah Shahi) who is another trained killer similar to Reese, who initially becomes a hit or miss part of the team, but later, reluctantly, joins the gang as a regular team member. Shaw is a darkly amusing character, small in stature, but a naturally sociopathic, paranoid, misanthropic badass, with few regrets, and little remorse regarding the nature of her work. She is also portrayed as being constantly hungry displaying little in the way of polite manners or social graces. She and Fusco are the only team members depicted eating on screen. Shaw is hilarious.
Which brings us to Root (Amy Acker) a master computer whiz equal or maybe surpassing Finch in skill. She also has skills similar to Reese and Shaw, and has been a contract killer. She sees the Machine as a god and herself as its willing acolyte. She discovers the Machine along with Finch and Reese on her own. She is portrayed as a religious zealot determined to carry out her agenda without hesitation or consideration of the consequences in terms of loss of human life. The machine speaks to her. Acker is excellent in the role.
The series reached a cliff hanger of a climax last season. Shaw has fallen into the hands of the enemy and Root, who loves her, is determined to get her back. A new machine called Samaritan has come online and has been challenging Finch’s creation for supremacy in a war where only one of the AI’s will survive. Things look dire for the team when they are outgunned and outnumbered by the forces they oppose, and it looks like Finch’s creation has already lost the war.
I think its safe to assume that season five promises to be the best one yet, with the looming conclusion to the AI war with Samaritan, and the return of Shaw, along with an explanation of what she has been through. Who will die, and who and what will survive?
The season Five premiere has been announced for May 3rd, 2016.
A season five tease is part of the videos below: