"God Mode" is about as fun an episode as Person of Interest has had in its two-season run, and is probably the best in terms of quality, as well. I found myself on a bit of a roller-coaster ride when it came to the finale's episode title. When I first saw "God Mode," my brain went straight to a video game metaphor. I figured Reese would, for whatever reason, be granted some rage-borne Super Saiyan-like powers. God Mode. Well, the previous episode made me feel like I was probably wrong, as Finch explained that the "god mode" of the finale's title referred to a condition in which a single user would be placed in charge of the Machine. God mode. But then this episode again made me feel like I was wrong, and revealed that the title also referred to my original idea: sure enough, it starts with an almost Matrix-indebted scene where the Machine, sentient and working hard to protect itself, tells John where his incoming threats are coming from, using chopped-up vocals and clock position. It's sufficiently awesome, and basically feels like it's the show's writers finally getting to stretch their legs and really play around with the capabilities introduced by the show's premise.
For the duration of the episode, John and Shaw run around chasing Root and Finch, and both pairings make for a great viewing experience. Indeed, it's to the writer's credit that Root is a fun and interesting enough villain that we don't mind hanging out with her for an entire episode. She's well-drawn enough that we, as an audience, feel like we know her limits. Her motivation is clear enough that we don't really fear for Finch's life. Rather, we're like him, concerned a lot more about what will happen if she actually gets to the machine. Of course, by the hour's end, we realize that Finch isn't even actually concerned with that.
"God Mode" was an unflinching reward to anyone who's stuck with show for the entirety of its two seasons. Anyone who thought we were going to be plagued with annoying Lost-esque mysteries that persisted over the course of several years were relieved. We learn all about the Machine, all about where it came from, how Finch got his injury, and how his buddy Nathan Ingram wound up biting it.
Some of the aspects of all the backstory get spooled out are pretty simplistic, but in ways that work very, very well. Ingram's death isn't a complicated web of conspiracy, like we might have come to expect. Rather, it's a pretty straightforward case of guy-who-needs-to-get-quiet, as far as the government confirms. Along the way, though, we get to see that a lot of our story's presently-key players were involved, which is yet another way that Person of Interest succeeds when it comes to building a believable, lived-in little universe.
Despite all the serious backstory, "God Mode" still manages to be the most fun this show has had in a good while. The action doesn't stop for more than a few minutes at a time, and just about every plot line we've been following throughout the season comes to a head nicely (but not without a bit of setup for what'll come next season).
Person of Interest draws a lot of its success from the fact that it really shouldn't be as good as it is. The premise (and network) don't immediately suggest a show that's as fun and thoughtfully-written as this one is, and the first half of the first season really didn't suggest that the show would reach such impressive levels, critically. But as it stands, Person of Interest is the best action show on TV, without question.
Oh, and also...
• I love that it looks like we'll be getting more Root next season.
• The wedding gag was beautifully pulled off. "Congratulations!"
• I'd also love more Shaw next season. Her character has been very well-written so far, and the Shaw/Reese combination is a fun one.
• "Fair enough."