A death benefit is a payment made by an insurance company, the Social Security Administration or other agency upon the untimely death of a client. It also suggests that death can at times be a beneficial rather than, or as well as, an unfortunate event. The Machine's directive to kill McCourt would have stopped Samaritan from coming online and prevented mass casualties in the future.
Main Plot Points
Press coverage continues over Vigilance's exposure of the Northern Lights program and Reese and Shaw discuss what it will mean for the numbers. They then meet with two drug dealers, Ray and Julio, who are their next numbers. They pay the drug dealers $1 million but reveal that each drug dealer plans to betray the other, kill them and make off with the money. Reese and Shaw quickly subdue the two and contact Fusco to arrest them, scattering their own drugs over them as evidence.
As Shaw wonders who handles the Relevant Numbers now that Northern Lights is shut down, Root arrives to ask for Shaw's help with one in Alaska. She informs Reese that Finch needs his help in Washington, DC with another one, moments before Finch contacts Reese to request his help with the number Root mentioned.
In Washington, Reese meets with Finch who is worried that the Team is stretched thin dealing with both the Relevant and Irrelevant Numbers when Decima Technologies is determined to bring Samaritan online. Reese suggests that their new number is connected to Samaritan being brought online, which Finch agrees about, and allays Reese's fears that Samaritan may already be online by stating they'd be dead if it were. Finch explains that Samaritan is an Open System and with access to the government's feeds, so there will be no limit to the information the people controlling it would have.
Finch discovers that their new number is Congressman Roger McCourt, a pivotal member of the Senate Rules Committee that is responsible for passing or blocking legislation and an outspoken opponent to government surveillance. Suspecting Decima may be the threat to McCourt, Reese and Finch monitor McCourt from a distance and Reese fires his gun near him to make McCourt get a Secret Service protection detail.
Reese steals the identity of a Secret Service agent named Jeffrey Abbott and becomes McCourt's protection detail, following him as he meets with Bruce Dunphy and appeases a problem Dunphy has with him before passing off some opera tickets he doesn't want to Dunphy.
Senator Ross Garrison meets with John Greer who reveals his knowledge of the true nature of the Northern Lights program to Garrison. Greer shows Garrison a picture of Peter Collier, the leader of Vigilance who exposed Northern Lights. Greer offers up Samaritan as a replacement to the Machine, telling Garrison that unlike the Machine, Samaritan can be directed. Though Garrison believes Congress will never approve of another surveillance project after the exposure of Northern Lights, Greer shows confidence that there won't be any such issues if Garrison attempts it.
Reese continues to follow McCourt in his routine and watches as he buys dinner for a homeless man in need. Reese then notices a man watching him who drives off when Reese spots him. Reese sends Finch the license plate.
After stopping a militia group in Anchorage, Root and Shaw head to Miami where they deal with a group of drug dealers who had started building explosives. While talking, Root tells Shaw she will soon have to get back to preparing for something but is interrupted by the Machine before she can say what. Root heads off after another number in St. Louis but states that Shaw is needed somewhere else.
Continuing his watch on McCourt, Reese discovers that he is having an affair with his assistant, but Finch rules out McCourt's wife as a suspect since they have an arrangement that allows them both to have affairs. With Fusco's help, Finch traces the vehicle Reese spotted to a shell corporation owned by Decima Technologies causing Reese to believe they are the threat.
Outside McCourt's office, Reese spots three Decima agents in a nearby car and they tip off McCourt's Capitol Police protection detail that Reese is not really Secret Service. Reese engages in a shootout with the three agents, taking down two of them and disabling their car before kidnapping McCourt.
After meeting up with Finch, the two take McCourt to a business Finch bought and outfitted as a safe house where they question McCourt who believes that they are the bad guys and claims to have no knowledge of Decima. Three Decima agents attack, having followed them using a tracking device attached to a pin McCourt is wearing but Reese takes them out. Outside they come under attack by the same agent who Reese didn't take out when he kidnapped McCourt but are rescued by Shaw who finds them with the help of Root.
The three take McCourt and the Decima agent to an empty house where McCourt insists that he knows nothing of Decima. Shaw attempts to interrogate the Decima agent before Finch finds something on his phone: a directive to protect McCourt, not kill him. The Decima agent admits he doesn't know why he was ordered to protect McCourt but that during the time he was, only Reese took a shot at him.
Reese, Shaw and Finch confront McCourt with Finch realizing that McCourt has engaged in insider trading to raise his stock portfolio. When Finch threatens to expose McCourt to the SEC, McCourt agrees to talk. McCourt admits that he knows Decima but they aren't trying to kill him, he's working for them to pass legislation through Congress to get Samaritan online. McCourt sees Samaritan as an alternative to government surveillance which he doesn't trust and in return, he's given insider stock tips.
Reese, Shaw and Finch discuss the situation and come to the realization that Greer is positioning Samaritan to replace the Machine. McCourt has the ability to speed up the legislation through Congress thus getting Greer the NSA's surveillance feeds. Reese finally understands why the Machine sent them McCourt's number: it wants them to kill McCourt which will keep the Samaritan legislation from passing through Congress and keep Samaritan off-line.
Finch is shocked by the implications of the Machine asking them to commit murder and Shaw questions if its possible. Finch admits that it is but it would take the Machine predicting that taking a life would save many more though how many Finch is unsure of. The three argue the moral implications of what they are being told to do with Finch attempting to convince and even bribe McCourt into not letting the Samaritan legislation through. However, McCourt refuses to relent and Reese is persistent in their need to kill him as the authorities surround the house. Finch tells Reese that their mission has always been to save lives and if the Machine is asking differently of them than he can no longer do its work.
Shortly afterwards, the authorities break into the house to find the Decima agent and an unmoving McCourt. Reese, Shaw and Finch flee through the woods chased by the authorities. They manage to get away but Shaw is wounded in the leg. Upon their return to New York, the disillusioned Finch disappears.
Greer meets with Garrison again who tells Greer that he and his colleagues have considered Greer's proposal but while they would like to, feel that now is not the time. Greer suggests a beta test of Samaritan: 24 hours with the NSA feeds in New York to locate a terrorist for Garrison and prove Samaritan's effectiveness to him. Garrison gets a call from McCourt whom Reese ultimately spared who promises to get the Samaritan legislation passed through Congress. Garrison then agrees to Greer's proposal and Greer disappears.
Greer has Virgil bring Samaritan online and instructs him to have Samaritan use the NSA feeds and the 24 hours it has with them to locate Harold Finch. Samaritan then begins a search for Finch.
The opera Finch was listening to, and which the Congressman was to attend, is Il Trovatore (The Troubador) by Giuseppe Verdi. The opera was first performed in 1853, and is most famous for its easily-recognizable "Anvil Chorus", which is among the best known excerpts from any opera, and frequently used in film, television and advertising.
Greer and Ross Garrison meet in front of Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. Painted in the late 15th century, the painting represents the route from innocence to damnation. The painting is not exhibited in New York, but has been in the collection of the Museo Del Prado in Madrid since 1939.
The dilemma that Finch, Reese and Shaw face, whether to let McCourt live, causing the deaths of many, or to kill McCourt and potentially save many lives, is known in the field of Ethics as the Trolley Problem. The question is, you see a train speeding towards five people, who will surely be killed if the train continues, but can switch the train to a side track, on which there is only one person. In this case, is it ethical to switch the track, saving five lives for the price of one, or to let it continue, killing five, but saving the one?
Acronyms and Vocabulary
SMS (short messaging service): The text messaging component of phone, web and mobile communications.
SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission): The U.S. governmental agency responsible for regulating securities, stock and bond exchanges, and the sales and exchange of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. Finch blackmails the Congressman by threatening to report him to the SEC to force him to block Samaritan's approval by Congress.
Congressman McCourt buys the homeless man a meal at Ocean Grill, a seafood restaurant on the Upper West Side in New York. The restaurant's name is visible on the doors.
Bloopers and Continuity Errors
After leaving the Beef Consultants Building, a firefight ensues. Although Reese is the only one on his side shooting using a single sidearm, a bullet strikes the other shooter and then another one hits the ground about 10 feet away from him in the same frame.
When the Congressman says, "I'm not calling off the deal," his mouth clearly says something entirely different. The words are clearly dubbed over his initial statement.
When Shaw and Root are in Miami talking, Shaw drinks most of her drink and eats both olives but when the camera angle changes her glass is full again and both olives are back. The camera angle changes once more and her glass is once again empty.
CBS news anchors Kate Sullivan and Maurice DuBois play themselves in this episode. DuBois is currently with WCBS in New York and Sullivan is with WBBM-TV in Chicago; the two previously appeared together on WCBS's CBS 2 News This Morning.
McCourt's line, "The simple truth is, the people want to be protected, they just don't want to know how." was said by Finch to Reese in “Pilot”.
The first clip is an actual CBS report from Illinois, specifically Chicago, and the second is from New York.
"That bitch tried to kill me. Nice to see her head on the chopping block for a change." (Shaw, to Reese, about Control)
"See? Business as usual, even if the government's program is on ice, the machine keeps spitting out numbers." (Shaw, to Reese)
"Hey kids, you miss me in between drug deals?" (Root, to Shaw & Reese) "I missed you like I miss an intestinal parasite" (Shaw)
"Hop on, Shaw. We've got a relevant number in Alaska. We're gonna steal a jet." "Does sound kind of fun." "Send me a postcard." (Root, Shaw, and Reese)
"Turn that frown upside down, Lurch. You're going on vacation too." (Root, to Reese)
"Northern Lights is effective but compromised by the ethics of its creator, it spoke but never listened. What I have not only listens but obeys, it can find, anyone, anywhere, any time, you merely need to ask." (Greer, to Garrison)
"Obstacles are only obstacles until you move them out of the way." (Greer, to Garrison)
"The Machine is a shield that protects lives." (Finch)
"That's why we got his number. He is the victim. His life is in danger." "But from who?" "Us." (Reese)
"The simple truth is, the people want to be protected, they just don't want to know how." (McCourt, to Finch)
"Mr. Reese it was never my intention for people to be killed because of the machine." "What do you think happened when it gave the government a terrorist number? What do you think we used to do for a living?" "That man is not a terrorist, he's just an opportunistic and corrupt pawn." "That doesn't make the threat any less real." "We are not assassins, we protect people." "Isn't that what we're doing? Sacrificing the life of one to save the lives of many?" (Finch and Reese)
"Six months ago, I would've already put a bullet in that guy's head. But ever since hanging around you guys, I've kind of gotten used to saving people. But we've only been able to do that by trusting the machine. And if it's saying that this guy's gotta go, well, I think we should still trust it." (Shaw, to Reese and Finch)
"John, I urge you to consider the consequences of this action." "There are consequences to not acting. Like with Simmons and Joss." (Finch and Reese)
"Since we started this, things have changed. We've changed. But the mission, our purpose has always been constant: to save lives. If that's changed somehow, if we're in a place now where the Machine is asking us to commit murder... that's a place I can't go. I'm afraid this is where I get off." (Finch, to Reese and Shaw)
"A test in a limited area, say New York City. 24 hours, quick clean, then we shut it down. No guns, no police, just information" (Greer, to Garrison)
"Remember, I'm your man." (McCourt, to Dunphy)
"Whatever you need, I'm your man." (McCourt, to Finch and Reese)
"Now if there's anything else you need, just ask. I'm your man." (McCourt, to Garrison)
"Find me Harold Finch." (Greer, to Virgil)
Dear... I hope you that packed something other than weapons (Harold to Reese)
Some trip wires to booty traps the room door and a toothbrush (Reese to Harold)
Oral hygiene is something I suppose (Harold to Reese)