We have free will, and with that comes great responsibility. And sometimes great loss.
— Finch, to Reese
"4C" is the 13th episode of season 3, and the 58th produced hour of Person of Interest. The episode originally aired on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.
Reese boards an international flight in an attempt to put the team and the past behind him, but is angered when he realizes his travel plans have been manipulated.
Origin of the Title
4C, while literally Owen Matthews' seat number, is also a play on the word "foresee", that is, to anticipate a coming event. In this story, Reese, having said goodbye to Finch and broken down his telephone, expects to travel to Istanbul to put his life behind him. What Reese does not foresee is the Machine's determination to give him a reason to return to Finch, and its influence, even on a plane in flight.
Main Plot Points
Leaving his old life behind, Reese attempts to board a flight to Istanbul but his flight is overbooked and he is redirected to a flight going to Rome first.
Once in the air, Reese gets a message on a passenger's phone directing him to seat 4C where he finds a man guarded by two US Marshalls. Soon after, Reese finds one of the Marshalls unconscious and his gun missing.
Contacting Finch, Reese learns that Finch didn't put him on the flight. Instead it was the Machine itself.
No longer wanting anything to do with missions from the Machine, Reese instead warns the Marshall who ends up drugged. Reese then stops an assassination attempt on Owen by a cartel assassin. Owen claims to have no knowledge of why he was taken by the Marshalls to testify in an international court.
Suspecting that Owen is a Relevant Number rather than an Irrelevant one, Finch enlists Shaw to learn from her old colleagues more about the situation.
Reese questions Owen who admits that he built the Black Market Bazaar and can thus identify "the Sphinx", the site's creator. Reese then prevents two ex-Mossad assassins posing as a honeymooning couple from killing Owen with the help of the flight attendant Holly.
Shaw visits World Mapper Travel where ISA agents are dispatched from and brutally questions Foster who gives her the name of the ISA assassin on the flight, Indigo 6A, Shaw's successor. Reese spots the man and stops him from killing Owen.
While Reese is distracted, Owen briefly escapes but Reese recaptures him and takes Owen to the cargo hold after learning that they can't turn the plane around or land it.
Trying to figure out the motives of everyone targeting Owen, Reese realizes that he's not just the builder of the Black Market Bazaar but the creator as well. Owen is actually "the Sphinx" and everyone is determined to stop him from testifying. Indigo 6A recovers and fights Reese, nearly killing him before Owen knocks him out with a golf club.
Shaw visits Hersh who survived Vigilance's attempt on his life and drugs him to find out the ISA's interest in Owen. Hersh explains that the ISA was skimming 30% off the top of Owen's operation to add to their own budget and would be embarrassed if it was exposed. Shaw leaves Hersh, who shows worry for her current situation, alive but unconscious.
Finch realizes that there is a greater threat than to that to Owen as Relevant Numbers are meant to prevent national tragedies, not national embarrassments. Finch learns that the cartel leader is willing to kill many people to get at one and learns from the cartel assassin's email that there is a second cartel killer on the plane and he is under orders to crash the plane if necessary.
The second assassin turns out to be the flight attendant Carlos who shoots the plane's captain, knocks out the co-pilot and attempts to crash the plane before it can land in Rome. Reese is able to break into the cockpit and knock out Carlos while Finch uses a joystick to remotely take control of the plane and land it himself in Rome, though the landing is slightly bumpy.
After everyone is safely off the plane, Reese smuggles Owen off in luggage. Reese sends Owen off to an address to wait for Finch to give him a new identity and Owen realizes that Reese's job is saving people.
After a date in Rome with Holly, Reese finds Finch at a nearby café. Finch explains to Reese that he designed the Machine the way he did as he wants the fates of people's lives to fall into the hands of other people, rather than an AI. As a result, they have a great responsibility but that sometimes comes with great loss. Reese asks for a new suit and a flight with Finch back to the United States, deciding to return to work for Finch and the Machine.
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is a technology that enables communication and multimedia sessions to other parties via connection to the internet. Communication services (voice, fax, SMS, voice-messaging) are converted from analog audio signals into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet.
The film playing on the main screen in first class was Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic, "North by Northwest". The film stars Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. A reference to the film was previously made in “Zero Day” with the Machine's alias Ernest Thornhill. The name of the lead character played by Cary Grant is Roger O. Thornhill and the name of the writer of film is Ernest Lehman.
The drug Shaw used on Hersh was scopolamine, a drug generally used for motion sickness, which in larger doses has been used as a truth serum. Hersh was easily able to identify it because of the recognizable, and unpleasant, side effects that accompany the dose he was given.
This episode features the use of the green triangle, which the Machine uses to mark and identify commercial aviation traffic. The Machine tags planes in flight with their flight number and IATA codes for the departure and destination cities, in Reese's case ZA427 JFK-FCO. It also introduces a red triangle, used to identify a flight in imminent danger.
Reese's flight lands at Fiumicino - Leonardo da Vinci Airport (IATA airport code: FCO), Rome's principal international airport. Rome is a common hub for flights to the Middle East and Balkan regions, such as Reese's onward flight to Istanbul. His flight departs on December 21, 2013 at 15:20 (3:20 pm in New York or 9:20 pm in Rome.)
The Machine calculates the probability of Reese's death at over 26%. By contrast, it estimates the likelihood of the situation resolving itself at less than 1%.
The Machine Object ID in the picture provided is: 313.012.010.AC0E.2., which is unique from other Machine Object IDs.
Bitcoin, a real-world digital currency, is also mentioned in this episode.
Finch suggests that they arrange for Reese to have his suit made by Finch's favorite tailor at Gianni's atelier. An atelier is the small workshop of a master of the arts; in this case it would be Gianni's small shop rather than a larger clothing store. Although the term is traditionally associated with the decorative arts, it has come to be associated with custom (versus designer) clothing in parts of Europe. In Italy, there are numerous small tailor's and shoemaker's shops, each crafting made-to-order goods.
Bloopers and Continuity Errors
The configuration of seats in coach (2-4-2) and exterior views indicate the plane on which Reese is traveling is a Boeing 767. However, when we see the seating chart as the Machine assesses the situation, the coach seating is in the 2-5-2 configuration of a Boeing 777. Then, as Finch lands the plane in Rome, an exterior view shows a Boeing 737.
The plane decreases from 32,000 feet to around 1,500 ft in less than three minutes. The Machine states that the descent rate is -1000ft/min. At this rate of descent, the plane should have taken 30-31 minutes to descend.
In the opening segment, the flight information screen that Reese walks past shows that several of the flight numbers in the Arrivals section have been inadvertently scrambled and do not match the names of the airlines.
This is the fourth appearance of (917) 285-7362 when Reese used this number to contact Finch and Shaw through VoIP.
Reese refers to himself as a "Concerned Frequent Flyer" instead of a "Concerned Third Party".
Owen refers to the law enforcement officers who entered his kitchen to detain him as "Marshals Crockett and Tubbs"; a reference to the 1980s crime drama series Miami Vice.
"Whoa! What's with the conspiracy theories, Mr. Dark and Stormy?" (Owen, to Reese)
"You seem like an angry guy. Do you want to talk about that? I really think you want to talk about that." (Owen, to Reese)
"Hey, I don't mean this the wrong way, but who the hell are you?" (Owen, to Reese)
"Your hair looks fine. That salt and pepper thing is like catnip to soccer moms" (Owen, to Reese)
"I thought you got rid of that walking steroid?" (Owen, to Reese)
"I always liked you Hersh. Even after you killed me." (Shaw)
"Shaw, your new employers - are they treating you okay?" (Hersh)
"While I'm in Italy, I thought I would get fitted for a new suit." (Reese)
"Mr. Reese, I understand your frustration with the opacity of the Machine, but there is a reason I chose to make it that way. The Machine only gives us numbers because I would always rather that a human element remain in determining something so critical as someone’s fate. We have free will, and with that comes great responsibility, and some times great loss. I miss her dearly too..." (Finch, to Reese)