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Episode 311: Lethe
Finch is out walking Bear when Shaw calls him to ask if they have a new number. Finch admits that The Machine hasn't called him since Carter's death, and Shaw asks if he's heard from Reese. Finch notes that Reese disappeared from the safe house as soon as he could walk, and he hasn't heard from him since. A nearby payphone rings and Finch ignores it and walks away. All of the nearby payphones start ringing as well as he continues to walk by.
In Colorado, Reese gets a ride into a small town and goes to a local bar. He looks at the photos of Vietnam-era soldiers mounted behind the bar and then orders a whiskey. When a biker picks a fight behind him, Reese ignores it.
At the Library, Finch visits Root and she asks him for a specific book on false gods. Once he gives it to her, Root says that she knows that he's had a rough time since he lost Reese, but says that Finch shouldn't take it out on the Machine. She surprises Finch by using the book he handed her to form a social security number. She somehow knows that "she" has a new number for Finch and reminds him that the Machine wants them working together. Finch ignores her and leaves, and Shaw arrives, asking if they have another number. Finch says that he hasn't decided, surprising her, but finally looks it up. He discovers that the new number is Arthur Claypool, and Finch stares at the man's photo in seeming recognition before telling Shaw that it's time to go to work.
Finch tracks down Arthur to a hospital where he used his credit card and Shaw goes in, posing as a doctor. As she looks for Arthur, Finch tells her that Arthur recently worked as an IT consultant with a software company in Maryland. There's no record of Arthur in the hospital computer system, but Shaw spots him in the cancer treatment lounge. Finch confirms that Arthur has a terminal brain tumor and Shaw approaches him. He doesn't recognize her but admits that he's having memory problems because of the tumor. Arthur has trouble recalling some memories but blurts out others at random. As they talk, Arthur suddenly starts blurting out instructions to someone about checking the database.
A man, Easton, comes over and asks who Shaw is. She shows him her fake ID and quickly leaves. She then tells Finch that Easton is a government man watching over Arthur, and they figure that Arthur's supposed job is a cover story and that he does top-secret work for the government. Easton and two other men escort Arthur away in what Shaw recognizes as a classic three-man wedge formation, leading Shaw to realize that they work for the Secret Service.
Shaw is unable to get close to Arthur again because of Easton and his men. Finch checks and discovers that Arthur has a non-existent digital footprint, confirming that he has a top-secret clearance. Shaw suggests that he come and create a distraction since Reese is gone, but Finch says that he needs to stay with Root, who is acting unruly. Shaw spots a woman with flowers coming to see Arthur, and Finch verifies that Arthur has a wife, Diane. When Diane goes inside, Arthur yells at her and Shaw tries to go in, but Easton and his men stop her. Arthur is yelling that he doesn't remember Diane and that he has to fix something called "Samaritan", and that he won't let "them" kill it. Easton tries to keep him quiet, while Shaw tells Finch what is going on. He informs her that the name "Samaritan" sounds familiar.
When the Secret Service men won't let her through, Shaw visits an upset Diane in the lounge. She insists that Arthur is harmless but admits that her husband works for the NSA. Diane talks about how she keeps coming back in the hopes that her husband will remember her but that it's hard on her after all of their years together. Shaw goes back to check on Arthur and discovers that Easton and his men have taken him to Radiology. As she goes after them, Finch informs her that he's done some digging and confirmed that Samaritan is a classified NSA project that Congress defunded in 2005. Shaw figures that any number of foreign intelligence agencies are after the information that Arthur is freely telling anyone and everyone, and Finch figures that Easton may be there to kill Arthur if he becomes a security risk.
Shaw slips into the room via the ceiling and finds a discarded syringe in a wastebasket. Confirming that it contained Sodium Pentothal, Shaw listens as the technician questions Arthur. He mentions something belonging to someone named Rudy, and the technician leaves as Shaw steps out. Easton and his men suddenly burst in and capture Shaw at gunpoint.
Easton and his men lock Shaw up in an empty office. While she waits, Finch calls her on a cellphone left in the drawer and tells her that he's in the parking lot. Shaw tells him to watch Arthur but Finch refuses. However, he checks the hospital cameras and confirms that the technician signed in using the name "Elizabeth Ross." Easton comes in and Shaw hastily hides the phone, and Easton asks why she's interested in Arthur.
In Colorado, Reese notices Fusco sitting at a nearby booth and goes over to confront him. Fusco admits that he tracked Reese down with some help from Finch, and Reese tells him to go home. Fusco refuses and joins him at the bar, and Reese tells him that he'll have to drink and be quiet if he's going to stay there.
As Easton eats some Chinese fried rice, he questions Shaw, who realizes that he hasn't done any field work. She advises him to focus on Arthur and warns that the people who tried to interrogate him will come after him again. Easton suddenly collapses, unconscious, and Shaw realizes that someone drugged his food. She calls Finch, who confirms that he isn't responsible for the drug, and notes that "Elizabeth Ross" is the full name of Betsy Ross of Revolutionary War fame, meaning the technician is working for Vigilance. As they talk, Finch spots Peter Collier and a hit squad pull up outside and warns Shaw.
Shaw hurries to Arthur's room and finds Easton's men and discovers that they've also been drugged unconscious. She finds that Arthur appears to be unharmed when suddenly his wife enters and Diane wonders why she has a gun, but Shaw simply says that they have to go. Arthur refuses to go, since he can't remember either of them. However, Finch comes in and addresses him by name. Arthur recognizes him and says that he's glad that he's there, and Finch says that it's been awhile.
As Finch leads Arthur out of the hospital, Arthur talks about how they studied at MIT together and knew that Finch would be the one among them who would change the world. A Vigilance agent draws a gun on them and Shaw kneecaps him, and they escape in Finch's car following a shootout with Collier. Finch drives to a hotel and explains that Vigilance is after Arthur because he worked for the NSA. Arthur doesn't remember anything about Rudy and wonders why Finch is involved, but Finch dodges the question. Diane wonders who they are and Sam simply warns her that they can't trust the Secret Service.
That night, Sam stands watch while Arthur and Finch talk about their time together at MIT. Finch finally changes the subject to Samaritan and Arthur explains that it's an AI designed to anticipate and stop terrorist attacks. The system learns from experience and upgrades itself. Shaw, overhearing, talks with Finch privately and they realize that Arthur built a second Machine.
Finch asks Arthur what happened to Samaritan and Arthur says that it was destroyed in 2005, just a few weeks before Arthur insisted that he would have finished it. After 9/11, the NSA hired numerous contractors to create an anti-terrorist surveillance system, but then shut down everything in 2005. Arthur is convinced they did it because they created a working AI system and shut down the other projects to throw people off the trail.
In Colorado, Reese notices that Fusco is drinking club soda. Fusco explains that he's been two years sober, ever since Reese found him and showed him what he was. Fusco then asks Reese why hiding out in his father's bar will solve anything. Reese explains that his father owned the bar before he served in Vietnam, but he died in a refinery accident two months after he came back from his last tour of duty. Looking around, Reese figures that nothing matters because bad things happen no matter what they do to stop them. Disgusted, Fusco tells Reese to go outside with him. Once they are, Fusco punches him and finally provokes Reese into fighting back. The two tackle each other just as a police car pulls up.
Finch uses his laptop to create new passports for Arthur and Diane and sets them up at a hospital in Toronto where his friend can get treatment. Arthur panics, wondering why he can remember Finch but not Diane, and finally tells Finch that he buried Diane two years ago. Diane whispers into a wrist radio, saying that it's a go, and her men burst into the hotel room. They subdue Shaw and Hersh comes in, and Diane reveals that she's Control, Shaw's former employer and the head of the ISA operation. She thanks Shaw for saving Arthur's life at the hospital and leading them to Finch.
Control draws a gun and tells Arthur to give them the drives containing the Samaritan project. Finch speaks up, insisting that his friend doesn't know. Control tells Finch that he has something of hers as well and he's going to return it to her. When Finch refuses, Control tells him that the man who tells her what she wants to know will be the one who gets to leave.
The Machine, listening in, registers the existence of Samaritan and begins tracking the increasing chance that it will conflict with the Machine.