‘Person of Interest’ Bosses Tease the ‘Delicious Fun’ Series Finale

Person of Interest
Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
"Return 0" -- The team must embark on one last suicide mission to prevent Samaritan from destroying The Machine and cementing its hold over mankind, on the series finale of PERSON OF INTEREST, Tuesday, June 21 (10:00 – 11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Behind the scenes with Jim Caviezel, Kevin Chapman, Sarah Shahi, and Michael Emerson Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. ©2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

Person of Interest established from the show’s first hour that Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch’s (Michael Emerson) journey to prevent crimes could be a suicide mission. In Tuesday’s series finale, as warring artificial intelligences, Samaritan and the Machine, engage in one final battle, “I think the drinking game becomes who makes it,” executive producer Jonathan Nolan says.

After the loss of Root (Amy Acker) earlier this season—and with longtime foe, Greer (John Nolan), dying in last week’s penultimate hour—”we limp into [the finale] with some of our team intact,” Nolan previews. “And some of them make it out. It’s a bit of a bloodbath. [It’s] delicious fun watching the final confrontation between these two titans: Samaritan and the Machine, and all of the folks who work for them. That kind of cataclysm of how do you stop an unstoppable force? And the answer is, through a great deal of sacrifice.”

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Of course, given the stakes of Person of Interest, it’s a surprise that four members of Team Machine—Finch, Reese, Fusco (Kevin Chapman), and Shaw (Sarah Shahi)—are still around for the show’s last hour. “You have to shoot someone with a camera,” executive producer Greg Plageman laughs. “There were moments where we talked about the jeopardy some of these characters were in. Obviously, Fusco, Shaw…it was a weird season in terms of the [limited] order and then Sarah’s availability [due to her maternity leave]. It all kind of worked out in the end. But I feel like we have the right number left right now.”

As the war rages on, the outside world will remain (largely) in the dark. “Season after season, we always had this conversation of, ‘What’s the press conference moment?'” Nolan says. “And always feeling like our show lived in the shadows, most successfully. There’s something quite tragic about this massive contest between these two forces would play out and none of us would have any idea. Certainly, it gets a little messy … But largely, the resolution to our story plays out the way the rest of our story has; which is to say the world is largely none-the-wiser.”

“We thought that was a beautifully tragic component: here’s Reese and Finch and Root and Shaw and Fusco and Carter and Elias and all of these great characters throughout the years,” he continues. “They’ve been engaged in this massive content fight for the future, and no one has any idea. That goes all the way back to the pilot, with Finch being a very private person. This has been a very private war, and the resolution of it is equally private.”

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But one aspect fans shouldn’t expect to see resolved? Control (Camryn Manheim), the ISA head who betrayed Greer at the end of Season 4, and has not been heard from since. “We just didn’t get the chance to come back to it; we loved working with Camryn,” Nolan says. “[Control] is in a deep dark hole, to be pulled back out in the inevitable revival of the show…They asked us in the [ATX] panel if they had anything we regret. That storyline is one. But we had a lot of ground to cover.”

A vital part of the series finale will be the season-opening voice over, which originally seemed to be Root sharing an ominous message about the end of the A.I. war—only for the Machine to take on Root’s voice after her death. So what led to that message being played? “For fans who were wondering what that voice over in the very beginning [of the season] is all about, that will be answered,” teases Plageman.

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And then there’s the end of the show itself. Many drama shows—especially genre series—have had their final hours hotly debated in the aftermath of the end of the show. The Person of Interest writers found themselves in the position of having to end their story without actually being sure the series was concluding with the end of Season 5. (The cancellation only became official in March, months after the show wrapped.) “This is definitely the end of our story, but given the scope and the scale of the universe, the world we’ve built, and all these talented writers and all these talented actors over the years … You don’t want to close it off,” Nolan says. “Not just for the cynical possibility of hey, spinoff; we don’t give a s–t about that. It’s more about the ongoing life of the show, in the imagination of us and the fans and everyone else connected to it. You don’t want to imagine this is the end.”

“The fact that the show is about A.I. and points like an arrow into the f—-ing future—we’ve always been hanging out five years in the future on this show,” he continues. “To say it was all a dream or throw things away or blow up the whole f—ing universe doesn’t feel like it would be fair to the fans or us or be true to the concept. That question of where does our story go from here is one we want to entrust to the fans and to everyone else as it lives on in everyone’s imagination.”

Person of Interest, Series Finale, June 21, 10/9c, CBS.