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Major spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched Person of Interest's excellent series finale.
After five seasons of knuckle-grinding tension and action-packed rescues, CBS' under-championed drama Person of Interest came to an emotionally driven end tonight with an episode packed with everything viewers could hope for. Well, everything but another season. Is it possible, though, that the smiling Shaw's pay phone call at the end was a sign that the show could live again in the future? Here's how creator Jonathan Nolan put it.
I think [the smile] is much about hearing Root's voice. And one of the few regrets I have about the way the finale cuts together is that's not totally clear. We had a moment between them at the end, dialogue in that moment with Sarah on the phone, and it just didn't 'fit.' At that point, 'the train was running,' the main score was going, and it felt like it stepped on the moment. But the clear implication is that that relationship continues in this new form --- and that the franchise continues. It felt to us not like a naked attempt to try to build a spinoff.
So that's about as intelligently wishy-washy an answer as one would expect, in that Nolan is saying that he wrote the ending as a way to continue the story within its own fictional universe, but not necessarily in any live-action form that TV viewers can tune into on a weekly basis. That's exactly what a good audience member should want from this concept, too.
Yes, Reese died, and his death was absolutely meaningful enough that its weight could easily hold down any successive chapters from being opened. But as touching as it was to watch Finch and Reese reflect on their years together, and as incredible as it was to realize that Reese and The Machine went behind Finch's back to keep him safe, he was merely a character who entered the world of Harold Finch and his creation, and his absence wouldn't stop me from enjoying a spinoff in another location where Shaw, Fusco, Bear and eventually Finch (because come on!) are once again bringing order to the chaotic world around them. Assuming it would happen.
Nolan does mention another point in the show's past when a spinoff might have been something to immediately jump on.
There could easily have been a conversation about a spinoff in Season 2, with the show riding high and Sarah Shahi's character making such a splashy debut, but Greg and I weren't interested in that. We were interested in doing one great show. We wanted everything to echo within the show itself, so in that moment at the end, the idea is just that The Machine keeps going, the mission keeps going. Shaw is like Reese, there's the sense that this mission has given them meaning in their lives. And she leaves with a relationship with a dog and a god.
And another 13-episode season? No? Dammit.
People like me thought that maybe Person of Interest was setting itself up for a companion series a few episodes back, when it was discovered that The Machine had set up a secondary team in Washington D.C. comprised of people that Finch & Co. had saved in the past. It opened up the chance to take this concept anywhere in the world, and while co-showrunner Greg Plageman told TVLine "Never say never" on that front, he also said that the whole point of meeting the other team was just another way to broaden the unseen universe of the franchise while addressing an oft-referenced question about The Machine's reach. How disappointing.
Sadly, it appears as if this really is the end of Person of Interest, unless someone comes along and makes a wildly admirable last-second save to bring it back for more. Is there anyone like that out there? Are there any Root-voiced machines that could help me narrow the list down?