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Episode 513: return 0

Act I

06:56, Tuesday

POI 0513 Tape Recorder

At the second day after ICE-9 was released, an anchorman announces a global effect of the virus in the news, including destruction of economy and riots everywhere in the country. As the video plays laggingly, the Machine starts to shut down its core systems, and it also makes a voice mail, recording it to a recorder in the Subway.

06:45, Tuesday

Finch goes to the top of a building, and he starts to talk to the Machine. The Machine, which is now unable to distinguish the present and the past, asks him if it is talking to its memories or not. Finch asks the whereabouts about other people, but the Machine doesn't know at all; being asked about what it learnt, the Machine replied that "everyone dies alone" and a lesson it can't remember, and how it tries to understand a person. It is also revealed that Finch's stomach was shot already, making him very weak.

Act II

It's a Monday evening. Though being under glitches due to the virus, Samaritan tries to track Team Machine and Fusco. Shaw stands in front of Root's grave, saying goodbye but she can't express something perceptual. Then, she finds out some of the grave is exposed. The Machine starts to talk to Shaw in Root's voice, saying that Root may have been dug up for her cochlear implant so as to track team Machine; the Machine considered to cremated her but it didn't Shaw is surprised and confused to hear the voice, and the Machine reveals itself as "Big Sister". Just then, some Samaritan’s goons track Shaw to Root’s grave, but the Machine gets a hearse for Shaw to flee.

Meanwhile, Reese and Fusco return to the precinct. Samaritan reveals some clues to Lieutenant Kearny about the missing of agent Martin LeRoux and actually Reese being previously “The Man in the Suit”, so he threatens them in his office, only to be strangled by Reese and loses his consciousness. When he and Fusco try leaves the office, they are surrounded by armed officers and they are arrested because of Samaritan's offer. The cops drive them to a dock where they plan to execute them. As the cops force them onto their knees, Reese apologizes to Fusco, but he doesn't regret of getting into such consequences because it is Reese that made him change, and he says he threw LeRoux back to a trunk. Suddenly, the officers are shot by snipers from the water, and Finch casually strolls up behind them; he says that it should be "Thornhill Industries" who did this, and says it’s time to end this.

The ICE-9 virus defeated most of Samaritan, but not all of it. Samaritan stored a copy of itself in some air-gapped servers hidden in the vault of the Federal Reserves. While Reese and Finch head there to destroy it, Shaw and Fusco stay behind at the subway lair to protect The Machine from Samaritan operatives, who inevitably show up and they exchange fire.

The Machine gave Shaw and Fusco enough of a heads-up that they were ready to drive the subway car out of the station when the goons arrive. Jeffrey Blackwell manages to jump on the car before it leaves and shoot Shaw in the shoulder before Fusco knocks him out.

Finch and Reese break into the Federal Reserve using a Fit bit. Finch tells a guard that the Fit bit is a heart monitor connected to a thermonuclear bomb he’s carrying, so the guard’s only option is to let them by. When they reach the vault, Finch starts uploading the Ice-9 virus to the servers while Reese handles more Samaritan goons, one of whom manages to hit Finch with a bullet.

The Samaritan copy uses Finch’s laptop to escape to servers in a Midtown building, where it plans to use the building’s antenna to upload itself to a Russian satellite. The only way to destroy Samaritan once and for all is for someone to go to that roof and use the antenna to send The Machine to the same satellite — but whoever does that won’t survive, since Samaritan plans on blowing the roof up with a cruise missile. Naturally, Finch decides to lock Reese in the vault and do it himself.

Meanwhile, Shaw discovers that Jeff is the one who killed Root, but The Machine, who is also slowly dying, stops her from killing him because she wants to give Shaw one last message from Root. “You always thought there was something wrong with you because you don’t feel things the way other people do, but she always felt that was what made you beautiful. She wanted you to know if you were a shape, you were a straight line, an arrow,” says The Machine-as-Root causing the normally emotionless Shaw to actually shed a tear.

Jeff Blackwell then uses a knife he hid to break free and stab Fusco several times in the gut. Jeff escapes from the subway car while Shaw rushes to stop the bleeding.

By this point, Finch has walked through Times Square and made it to the rooftop. He’s losing blood quickly and can barely stand. The Machine, manifesting visually before Finch as Root, is having a hard time telling where she is in time, but Finch assures her it’s the present. As Maker and Creation sit together in their final eight minutes, The Machine struggles to remember the most important lesson she learned about life and death over the years. Finch doesn’t miss the opportunity to point out the irony that she found the meaning of life, but has forgotten it right as she’s about to die.

As Finch prepares to upload the virus, he realizes the antenna on this roof can’t possibly connect to the satellite. That’s when The Machine reveals she sent him to the wrong roof, because she and Reese, who made it out of the vault somehow, made a deal to always put Finch first. Reese gets on the phone and tells Finch he’s on the right roof, which is across the street.

Finch watches from across the way as Reese starts uploading the virus while fending off Samaritan operatives. As he does, The Machine finally remembers what she learned about death. “Sure, everybody dies alone, but if you mean something to someone, or helped someone or loved someone or even if a single person remembers you, then maybe you never really die at all,” says The Machine.

That life lesson convinces Finch to get off the roof and seek medical attention. As Finch leaves, Reese struggles to hold off the Samaritan operatives, guided by the Machine in God Mode in its last minutes. As the Machine, near deactivation, in Root's form watches, Reese finally folds under the numbers against him while the upload is completed.

POI 0513 SPOV The Machine Infecting Samaritan Core Systems
In the satellite, the compressed copy of Samaritan starts to initiate itself. Just then, the copy of the Machine starts the attack fiercely and infects Samaritan. Samaritan notices but it can't do anything until the core system is completely destroyed. Shaw and Lionel finally gets out from the subway station, and they see the cruise missile flying in the sky. It eventually kills dying Reese and the remaining Samaritan operatives, while the antenna is destroyed in the process.

Epilogue In the days following the missile attack, the government decides to blame the missile on Chinese hackers. Though, the officers blames Ross Garrison that it should be Nothern Light's fault, but he excuses that the project has defunct and it is still debatable for the responsibility. Meanwhile, Shaw tracks Jeff down and then kills him. After that, she meets up with a recovering Fusco to collect Bear before she leaves. Neither of them know if Reese or Finch survived.

Back at the Subway, the pay phone starts ringing and the computers start turning on. The Machine defeated Samaritan and has returned to Earth and, it hopes to be better than the last time. As the 44th iteration of The Machine starts reconstituting itself, the previous version of The Machine plays a voicemail for it (“Let me tell you who you are... ”). The message plays over a scene, which shows Finch reuniting with Grace in Italy. The smile on her face when she sees her beloved says it all.

Shaw is walking down a street in Midtown with Bear when another pay phone starts ringing. She answers it and another smile creeps across her face, and she looks at the monitors on the road, while The Machine is watching too. As she walks away, The Machine starts to identify the pedestrians on the street, and it starts to work just like the past again...

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