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Episode 505: ShotSeeker
Ethan Garvin is an analyst who works in the NYPD’s Real Time Crime Center. He handles a program called ShotSeeker, which uses audio surveillance systems around the city to locate gunshots. It’s his job to double check if the gunshots are real or false alarms. This subtle plot point — that Garvin is responsible to varying ShotSeeker’s results — highlights how even the most sophisticated technology requires a human hand to keep an eye on it.
At first blush, all signs point to Garvin being a perpetrator. Reese tails him to a Columbia University apartment building where he breaks into the apartment of a doctoral student named Krupa Naik with a gun. Reese follows him into the empty apartment and finds him shooting into the fireplace. It turns out that ShotSeeker registered gunshots there several nights ago but determined that it was false alarm. However, Garvin analyzed the actual data and discovered that there were actually gunshots, and Krupa has been missing ever since that night. So, Garvin has decided to investigate since no one else will.
While Fusco is watching his son play street hockey, he receives a visit from Elias’ childhood friend and associate Bruce Moran, who wants to know who was responsible for Elias’ death. He threatens Fusco’s son but backs down when he realizes that Fusco actually doesn’t know anything and that Reese is the one he should be talking to.
Fusco’s frustration about being kept out of the loop is evident. It’s obvious that Reese and Finch know more than they’re saying, and Fusco starts demanding to be let into the metaphorical room where it happens. At this point, Team Machine can use all of the help they can get, and they’re basically handicapping themselves by not reading in Fusco.
Reese tells Fusco he’ll handle Bruce while Fusco accompanies Garvin to talk to Ben Haas, the head of a nonprofit that Krupa worked for and the man who filed a missing person report for her. While being questioned, Ben tells Fusco and Garvin that Krupa developed something that could solve world hunger. On the night that Krupa decided to give her work to Ben’s nonprofit, she went missing and someone hacked into the nonprofit’s files. Ben suspects it was JD Carrick, a corrupt CEO who was also after her work.
As Finch and Garvin leave the nonprofit, ShotSeeker registers gunshots at that exact location, and a police report identifies Garvin as the shooter. The police show up and almost shoot him, but Fusco gets them to stand down. Samaritan arranged for this suicide by cop as tt appears that Garvin’s Good Samaritan work has put him on, well, Samaritan’s radar.
One of Krupa’s neighbors calls Garvin to meet up because she’s ready to talk about what she knows. However, when Reese and Garvin arrive at the school, they find her shot. Reese starts chasing after the gunman while Fusco shows up with the cops and Finch starts putting the pieces together about Samaritan’s involvement. Unfortunately, the gunman manages to escape in a gray van being driven by Jeff Blackwell. Right as Reese loses them, other men show up and knock him out.
Finch and Root assume Samaritan took Reese (but they’re wrong). Sadly, the Machine is unable to track him. But they have another problem on their hands: Fusco decides to rally the NYPD to find Reese, which has them worried because they think that’s going to set him on a collision course with Samaritan.
Although the Machine can’t find Reese, she is able to point Root in the right direction and directs her to the now-dead neighbor’s apartment. There, Root finds a hard drive containing a backup of Krupa’s work and Blackwell, who is also searching for it because his employer told him it was dangerous. She interrogates Blackwell about Reese’s whereabouts, but he clearly knows nothing. He doesn’t even know he’s working for Samaritan. He’s just a cog in Samaritan’s machine, as Root puts it.
With the hard drive in hand, Finch and Root start investigating further and discover that Samaritan tried to frame Carrick for Krupa’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Fusco starts interrogating Carrick about Krupa when Samaritan sends an asset to take Garvin out. However, Finch alerts Fusco in time, and he’s able to stop him.
In order to call off Samaritan, Finch and Root decide to release Krupa’s research on the internet because that would neutralize Garvin as a threat to Samaritan’s plans. It takes a few moments for Finch to be okay with this decision because he’s not sure why Samaritan would want to bury such revolutionary work. Could solving world hunger actually lead to an overpopulation crisis? But, leave it to Root to argue that saving one life is more important than trying to understand the reasoning of an ASI.
It’s fairly obvious that Bruce Moran, not Samaritan, captured Reese. He demands to know what happened to Elias. After taking out Bruce’s men, Reese finally decides to bring him in the loop and tells Finch to meet them at the safe house. When they get there, Reese and Finch reveal to Bruce (and us) that Carl Elias is alive and recuperating from his gunshot wound. It turns out Fusco saved Elias from the van that night and brought him to the safehouse, where Reese and Finch helped bring him back. Elias asks Bruce to return to the shadows because they’re up against something they can’t possibly fight, but Bruce doesn’t want to lose everything they’ve built. This really drives home just how much the world has changed now that Samaritan is in power. In other words, it’s Samaritan’s world, and Elias and Bruce are just trying to live in it.
In this week’s other plot, Finch uses the stolen malware to create a kernel version of Samaritan on an air-gapped computer and puts it up against a kernel version of the Machine. He hopes that this will allow the Machine to learn more about Samaritan. Unfortunately, the results are pretty grim. The Machine faces Samaritan over 10 billion times and loses each time.
Root argues that Finch needs to rewrite the Machine’s code so that she can better arm herself. But he refuses because he doesn’t want to nurture such an aggressive instinct in an ASI and believes the Machine, who is far smarter than any of them, is the one responsible for altering its own code to better handle Samaritan.