Quotables: What Are Your Favourite Person of Interest Quotes?

After I asked Twitter for a series of their favourite Sameen Shaw one-liners (which come in truckloads, I now remember—and shame myself for forgetting) I’ve collected a brief run-down of what I think my favourite character quotes/exchanges are: for Reese, Finch, Carter, Fusco, Shaw and Root. Some are a little more trivial than others, but all I think are magnificent—and I did sort of just want to copy and paste the entire Wikiquote of Person of Interest, but that seemed like cheating. So I’ve ranked my top ten for each character—and please, if you have any suggestions (because you will, won’t you? They are ridiculous. I love them so much. MAY 3RD—ahem) please comment underneath or indeed tweet me @NicolaChoi with a hashtag of—Gosh, I don’t know… #JustPOIQuotes! Or perhaps reply underneath the tweet. Thing.


JOHN REESE may be the king of deadpan humour and…well…deadpan deck-you-in-the-face and also deadpan falling off a multi-storey building and going “no biggie” but here are my top ten for him (and yes, I have to include the Pilot one—because I will sing ‘oh take me back to the start’ in dreadful Chris Martin fashion).

  1. “When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different. Someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?”
  2. “We’ve already started. Step one: Observe. The most efficient way to lose is a fight is to act without knowing your enemy.” (Okay, I have a bit of a weakness for some Sun Tzu…)
  3. [When Finch asks if he’s been under any recent stress] “You mean besides being locked in an 11×13 in Rikers and wearing a bomb vest around Manhattan? Not really.”
  4. “Hello, fellas. Can I borrow some of your drugs?”
  5. “You look worried, Finch. Did your tailor leave town?”
  6. “Dadda? Or dadda?”
  7. “You’re one hell of a Detective, Carter. And I can’t stop you from looking. But you already know quite a bit about me, Finch, and you may know we both had people who once cared about us. Not anymore. But you You still have your son, your life is still yours. So I think the real question you have to ask yourself, Detective is how much more do you really want to know?”
  8. Carter: “Something funny?”
    Reese: “Subway. Thugs. Kind of reminds me of the first time we met.”
  9. “Elias can’t kill a cop without permission; run it up the chain of command… permission’s been revoked! Tell Elias that if he so much as touches Detective Carter again, I will put him, you… everyone in the ground. You got that?”
  10. “A friend once told me, in our line of work, we walk in the dark. Doesn’t mean we have to walk in it alone.”


HAROLD FINCH may be our sometimes morally questionable—yet always properly-spoken—computer genius, and his starch politeness is sometimes more amusing than it should seem. Still—he rocks a three piece suit, doesn’t he?

  1. “I am handi-capable, Mr. Reese, but I need some assistance. We don’t want to exclude Bear from our rainy day activities.”
  2. “Not everyone’s a social butterfly, Mr. Reese. For some of us, human interaction is… difficult.”
  3. “I’ve never regretted building the machine. But I didn’t fully realize the personal cost. I’m good with computers. People; well, people other than Grace; have always been a mystery to me. I failed to recognize the lengths to which they would go to protect the machine, to control it. By the time I realized it, it was too late for me. But not for her. You see, Mr. Reese, if knowing about the machine is like a virus that makes me patient zero. Simply being near me was putting her life in danger. I’m sorry. I was lucky. I had four years of Happiness. Some people only get four days.”
  4. “It’s not where you begin; it’s where you end up. You’re a brilliant woman, comrade and a friend.”
  5. Ingram: “You talk about the machine likes it’s a living thing.”
    Finch: “Shhh. It can hear you…”
  6. “Hacked is such an ugly word…”
  7. “Let me show you. Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and this is just the beginning; it keeps on going, forever, without ever repeating. Which means that contained within this string of decimals, is every single other number. Your birth-date, combination to your locker, your social security number, it’s all in there, somewhere. And if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed in every possible combination; the first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush, your entire life story from beginning to end, everything we ever say or do; all of the world’s infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle. Now what you do with that information; what it’s good for, well that would be up to you.”
  8. “Sooner or later both of us will probably wind up dead. Actually dead this time. I said I’d tell you the truth. Didn’t say you’d like it.”
  9. “I’m good with computers.”
  10. [About chess]: “It’s a useful mental exercise. Through the years, many thinkers have been fascinated by it. But I don’t enjoy playing… Because it was a game that was born during a brutal age when life counted for little. Everyone believed that some people were worth more than others. Kings. Pawns. I don’t think that anyone is worth more than anyone else… Chess is just a game. Real people are not pieces. You can’t assign more value to some of them and not others. Not to me. Not to anyone. People are not a thing that you can sacrifice. The lesson is, if anyone who looks on to the world as if it is a game of chess, deserves to lose.”


JOSS CARTER—perhaps consistently delivering performances of the seasons was the magical Ms. Taraji P. Henson as the morally incomprehensible, noble, honourable Detective Joss Carter. A hard-working mother, a loyal and dutiful cop, and someone who instantly saw humanity and heart behind the city legend of ‘The Man in the Suit’, Carter didn’t come without her lines—and some are so hilariously delivered by P. Henson that you really kind of have to re-watch!

  1. Finch: “A baby went missing from a clinic in Washington Heights last night.”
    Carter: “Missing? It was stolen! By some weird-looki…”
    [Looks at Finch]
    Carter: “No. You didn’t.”
    Finch: “She was in imminent danger of kidnap.”
    Carter: “So you kidnapped her?”
  2. “Guy looked right into my eyes, then he was dust. Never saw it coming. When your time is up, it’s up.”
  3. “You don’t work for HR anymore, son. You work for me
  4. Fusco: You know, Carter, we’ve been working together for a while now. My friends call me “Lionel.” You got a first name?
    Carter: Sure. “Detective.”
  5. “Let me guess. Some guy in a suit.”
  6. “You know, I always pictured you in the back of my car… in handcuffs.”
  7. Shaw: Remember, the aim shouldn’t be to hurt him, just incapacitate him a little. Also, watch your knuckles. I’ve punched a lot of guys—
    Carter: [Punches Laskey] So have I.
  8. “You’ve got an entire NYPD task force looking for you. Had to run two lights getting here just to make sure my own people weren’t trailing me. I’m a cop, which means I’ve got rules. Rules that can’t be broken. But, um I want to know more.”
  9. “Why not just dangle them off the roof and force them to tell us how to find the hitmen?”
  10. Reese: “What is it about you, Joss, makes you want to do everything on your own?”
    Carter: “What is it about you, John, that makes you want to save everybody else’s life but your own?”


I could probably create a War and Peace sized collection of LIONEL FUSCO’S nicknames for everyone, but that’ll have to wait for print. In the mean time, here are some excellently delivered bits of dialogue (seriously, this dude does not get a break).

  1. “Just when I think life with you people couldn’t get any weirder, one of you takes it to the next level.”
  2. Therapist: You killed a man—
    Fusco: No. He got the Devil’s share.
  3. “Easy on the volume there! No wonder Mr. Sunshine is always in a foul mood!”
  4. “Is that glasses? Tell him this is the last time I chauffeur your ass.”
  5. “Bad things happen to people around me, Carter, so you should get out of here.”
  6. Reese: Just proves that no matter what we do or don’t do in this world, bad things are still gonna happen. It’s pointless. Irrelevant.
    Fusco: How can you say that? You saved lots of people, including me. You’re saying that was pointless?
  7. “Elias said, “Go to hell”. Quite frankly, I second the motion.”
  8. “How many countries you think there are in the UN? Like 50-something?”
  9. “Dog showed up at the precinct with a message from Cuckoo Clock to meet at this intersection. Didn’t know she meant you and this guy.” [Points to Hersh]
  10. “That’s just it. I could’ve been just like you, a bottom-feeder who turns on his own kind. For what? Money, power? I got lucky. I had a partner. She was good for me. For a lot of reasons. She reminded me that I could be good again too. i could be a good father, a good friend. A good cop. I’m not gonna let you undo all the good she did. Carter saved my life. She – she saved me from myself. Because she believed in me. And I’m not gonna throw that away on a piece of crap like you. Patrick Simmons, you’re under arrest.”


SAMEEN SHAW has been a (literal, probably) nutcracker ever since she exploded onto our screens in ‘Relevance’. Badass, definitely not a yoga instructor, might’ve died once, and caught up in a messy whirlwind romance with Root, Shaw’s practically brimming with (sometimes grumpy) snark. Gooberish as she is, she is never robotic, which is something I greatly admire in Sarah Shahi’s portrayal of Shaw—this could be a very one-dimensional character but the way she’s written and the way she’s acted—good grief, Shaw is a goldmine.

  1. Special Counsel: “Hersh was right. You are a good soldier. You didn’t want revenge. You wanted to protect the program.”
    Shaw: “A good soldier does both.” [Shoots Wilson]
  2. “I’m just not wired for this kind of stuff, kid.”
  3. “I’m a pragmatist, John. I go out, have a fun night or three, and then, uh, I move on. No muss, no fuss.”
  4. Root: “Shaw? I think it’s time you had a chat with your old boss.”
    Shaw: “I’m on it. We’ll chat about how I’m gonna kill her.”
  5. “I would have taken the head shot, but Finch gets annoyed when I kill people.”
  6. Matthew Reed: “You look ten years younger than the rest of us. How do you handle stress?”
    Shaw: “Well, every once in a while, I shoot someone.”
  7. “Well, I’ve got finesse coming out of my ass, Harold.”
  8. “There is no dead in team.”
  9. Maria Martinez: Foreign Legion? Why would they wanna kill me?
    Shaw: I don’t know. I don’t speak French.
  10. “Yeah, sure, Root. Maybe someday. Is that good enough for you?”


ROOT, as the reformed killer-for-hire ‘Samantha Groves’ is best known by—and her name is Root—is impeccably played by Amy Acker…which means, somehow, she manages to make even the most psychopathic of sentences somewhat hilarious. I don’t know what that says about me. But as unwittingly uproarious as Root can sometimes be, the back end of season four gave Acker a chance to explore Root’s more vulnerable, broken side to her usually creepily chipper stance—and it blew pretty much everyone anyway.

  1. “I don’t want to hurt Grace. I’m not a sociopath, Harold. Believe me, sometimes I wish I was. The things I’ve had to do would’ve been so much easier. I don’t like taking lives. But I will. Because I believe in something more important. I believe in your machine.”
  2. Harold Finch: [about stealing a police cruiser] Are you out of your mind?!
    Since when is that relevant?
  3. “Oh, did you not hear about my chat with Control? She’s fun… in an unnecessary stapedectomy kind of way. But I do miss music in stereo.”
  4. “You think you’re in charge? It’s adorable just how wrong you are.”
  5. “Even without Her, I can still see the edges of the tapestry. The world is dark for everyone, but, Harold, things are gonna get much darker.”
  6. Root: She loves us, Harold. She taught me to value life, but war requires sacrifice. I’m not lost. I’m scared. We’re losing. But I know where I am and where I’m headed.
    Finch: We have more to look forward to than death.
    Root: I hope so. But the life I’ve led, a good end would be a privilege.
  7. “Remember, one false move, you’re dead. So have fun!”
  8. “What good is saving the world, Harry, if we can’t enjoy it?”
  9. “One day, I realized all the dumb, selfish things people do… it’s not our fault. No one designed us. We’re just an accident, Harold. We’re just bad code. But the thing you built… It’s perfect. Rational. Beautiful. By design.”
  10. “You once told John, the whole point of Pandora’s Box is that once you’ve opened it, you can’t close it again. She wanted me to remind you how the story ends. When everything is over and the worst has happened, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s Box: hope.”

Okay—so there you have it—ten painstakingly picked quotes from the core gang (I don’t think I can count Bear in this one, unfortunately…) but I know I could’ve picked a thousand more for Root in particular (the lady is…yeah). It’s a mix of dark and light, some morality lessons and some plain bonkers—but I think that quite adequately sums up what Person of Interest is all about. Ultimately, it is a huge war of ethics and humanity, and the battle each member of the gang fights every single day puts their life at risk—yet they aren’t without their funny moments, either. Person of Interest is a dark, somewhat scarily plausible future—it’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s emotional and it’s hard-hitting. But like Root says, there is always one thing left in Pandora’s box: hope. And it is my true belief that as dark as the world may grow for the gang, there is still a beacon of light—hope—worth fighting for. There is still a world they believe in, people they need to save, loves they need to find, bonds forged in steel…humanity is the very thing that glues everyone together, and it is their humanity they must fight for as New York City descends into a chaotic ASI-war. And it’s humanity that must win. But with this bunch of rag-a-tags? I think we’re in for a hell of a ride.

Also, I feel like “You can just call me Root, bitch.” will be the unanimous response. I’m pretty good with that.

The hotly anticipated, what looks to be an emotionally-fraught scene in a Shaw-centric episode. Broken tailbones may have gone into the making.

NB: I’ll just post [this Root/Shaw gif tearing off shirt] because it’s everywhere. It may as well grace my humble blogspace. I think it looks rather pleasant.


Person of Interest’s Root, Shaw and a ‘Happy Ending’

It’s been a year, hasn’t it?

Roughly a year since season four aired ‘YHWH’ and we were left with radio-silence in regards to ‘Person of Interest’. It’s been a year of muddled up rumours, evasion of airing schedules, messiness like that—but finally, finally—over the past week or so, the Person of Interest fandom has leapt to life in joy and good riddance!

With perhaps the best trailer for a TV season I have seen of all time, exciting storylines looking to converge and emerge, theories and speculating wildly being thrown about, giddiness (and gross sobbing over Shaw…is that just me?) at what could happen in what promises to be, and I fully believe it will be, the most mind-blowing thirteen episode season ever. And I believe that because even with a hugely serialised arc, the executive producers and writers still managed to hold together a compelling and thrilling story whilst keeping the plot tight. In my opinion, yes, in season four, I thought there were a number of fillers. In those fillers they sometimes contained important cluedrops—but they were minute and could’ve been fitted in elsewhere—which is why I think thirteen episodes might literally kill us off. I think I tweeted that nobody would die on POI in the end…it’d just be the audience left dead!

Thirteen episodes. Thirteen episodes of fast-paced, non-filler, action-packed drama—fraught with reveals, romance, the conclusion (a definite one? Or not?) of this AI war, relationships (not just romantic ones) reaching straining point, and a whole lot of guns (not you, Ms. Shahi, but…yes, also you)—I’m excited. I’m literally bubbling with excitement. I can see a promotional picture and babble on about it. It’s not good for me (but it so is oh my God).

I do want to talk a little bit about Root and Shaw (as previously done). The timing of Person of Interest comes at a height of fear of the ‘Bury Your Gays’ or ‘Lesbian Death’ trope. And I completely understand that. As someone who watched Lexa’s death scene, and heard of others such as Denise from the Walking Dead, or the two girls from the Vampire Diaries—I utterly get that. I get the caution in approaching a show with a same-sex couple because of fear you’ll get your heart broken again. That actually makes me incredibly sad that at this state of television viewing, some viewers cannot approach a show for fear of falling trap to the trope.


Root and Shaw’s undeniable, blossoming romance has been on the cards for a long time–and fans cannot wait to see how it’ll return. For Shahi, it is “absolutely a romantic return”.

I do ask: how many of these concerned fans have actually seen Person of Interest? It is not an accusation, but merely a question. It’s something that I understand, but I also have my heart deeply buried within the Person of Interest fandom. I was so happy when they were jumping for joy at the trailer, at the glimpse of the Root/Shaw romance we were teased with by Lead Troll Sarah Shahi and Shyer Troll Amy Acker and the executive producers as well. And from my standpoint: I don’t think the writers or execs have anything to prove. They have proven that they can write a tight and gripping plot for four seasons; excellent characterisations; non sexualisation of female characters; a lead male with a chronic disability; accurate perceptions of PTSD; very accurate computer science; that women are equal to men and the men treat them as such—with no pat on the back whatsoever (I’m talking especially about Reese here, who is just amazing); the non stigmatisation of Iranian characters, Persian characters; the non stigmatisation of disability in both Root and Finch; the non stigmatisation of mental health disorders for example in Shaw.

This is a ‘ship’ that started with a flipping iron (you could say their chemistry was sizzling hot in this scene but then you’d groan and facepalm). I don’t think Person of Interest does normal, but they jumped at this chemistry and ran away with it; they saw it as a romance and they just did it, without self-congratulation, without calling themselves ‘groundbreaking’ or ‘revolutionary’. They just did it because Acker and Shahi were so magnetic together on-screen and it was unavoidable. The level of chemistry they have has spiralled to insane heights.

And as this last season approaches, I hear a lot of concerned fans—and I will say, for example, from The 100 (though of course not exclusively—I am definitely not here to point fingers), because I have been witness to that as followers on Twitter of both fandoms—regarding the trope. I would never urge you to watch a show and force you to do it—that’s insane and kind of arrogant of me. In my opinion, where The 100 always lacked quality (like, since forever), Person of Interest had it in bucket loads. Not just with the same-sex couple but with everything.

I remember the happiness The 100 fandom exploded with when the kiss was ‘leaked’, and the second kiss was ‘leaked’ (four for you, E4, now leak the finale) and everyone was congratulatory from what I saw—across all fandoms. Because LGBTQ representation is so minor and there really isn’t much to get seriously giddy about—and on an actual TV channel as well—of course everyone was happy. Why not? Even if you weren’t a fan of the show (and to be frank, I wasn’t at this point, anymore…and had already pondered why I was a fan in the first place. I enjoyed the many moral, war, ethics, martial arts discussions spawned, but…I started to think: were they even on the show itself?) you could be happy that a show was getting some aired same-sex love. And of course it came crashing down and it was devastating. And I’ve written and written about my empathy for that, and I still empathise with those hurt—I truly do. Because I still believe that television for some is not just a matter of sitting down weekly for an hour and then going “okay, bye”. It resonates within the heart and soul.

I guess I’m just trying to plead: before you make snap judgements about Person of Interest, or indeed Root and Shaw, perhaps watch the show. The last thing I’d want for the Person of Interest’s fanbase heading into its final season is to be subject to prejudice regarding a show they know nothing about, or indeed the fanbase still are in the dark about—we don’t know how POI will end. We’re crapping ourselves too! But over four quality, quality—insane quality—seasons, I don’t think the writers have anything to prove. Just watching Root and Shaw scenes on YouTube will not give any indicators of the Person of Interest world. You may skip episodes and stuff if you like (I would advise against it) but I just plead—because I’ve seen this capslock giddiness (okay, hands up, this includes me) and excitement surrounding the show and Root/Shaw—that you don’t try to douse the roaring fire that is the fanbase out. I think the POI fanbase know to expect what to expect…if that makes sense.

Subtext whaaaa? These two have been confirmed to be gloriously beyond it. Ask David Slack...

Subtext whaaaa? These two have been confirmed to be gloriously beyond it. Ask David Slack…

It’s healthy, I think, for the soul to be more optimistic than pessimistic. It is also healthy to be more realistic than delusional. One cannot deny that Person of Interest is not prone to an error, but if you find a perfect 10/10 show…let me know. The thing is, for Root and Shaw, is that their return has been hyped and massively played up (especially for Root in the back end of season four) for a long time. Root and Shaw exist beyond just their romance; they exist to serve gigantic plot purposes and are absolutely integral to the plot, but of course there are people who absolutely love this ship to bits. CBS are burning out the show’s run to kind of get rid of it ASAP (I’ll never get CBS…) and please—I find it much nicer and easier to let people be happy rather than drag people down into misery. I find it much easier to just… let people be. Let people celebrate; let people be joyous and excited and inspired. It makes me smile and it makes me happy that others are so genuinely excited. It’s heart-warming. And when the season ends, I will mourn the ending of a fantastic series—of a quality I think I shan’t ever see again, or at least, it’ll take a bloody huge series.

So really all I want to humbly request, is—do you see that tiddly-tot Root/Shaw shipper over there who’s happy that their ‘OTP’ is returning soon? Please just keep it that away. Please just let that smile stay on their face; please let them remain inspired by their art. Please don’t make statements and smackdowns based on past experience (and I know past experience!) with same-sex couples. Whatever happens—please just let them enjoy it in peace. I cannot ask for more. If there is negativity to be had…I ask you merely to wonder is this directed at Root/Shaw or is it from somewhere else? And why must you swerve direction to point it at Root and Shaw? I also ask: would you rather see somebody happy and delighted their Root/Shaw will come home to roost soon, and be excited and anticipated for the season, trusting in the writers they’ve trusted for four whole seasons, to deliver an epic episode… or would you go and tap them on the shoulder and say “excuse me, but ‘bury your gays'”?

It isn’t a criticism at all. I completely understand the awful, awful loss of LGBTQ characters over the past month or so—and that’s completely inexcusable. But when fans are genuinely excited about the return of one of their favourite, favourite relationships (and personally, my favourite ‘ship’ of all time) I plead you to not rain on their parade. It truly is a joyous time for the Person of Interest fanbase. I beg of you: please allow the joyousness.

The hotly anticipated, what looks to be an emotionally-fraught scene in a Shaw-centric episode. Broken tailbones may have gone into the making.

The hotly anticipated, what looks to be an emotionally-fraught scene in a Shaw-centric episode. Broken tailbones may have gone into the making.

I hope this resonates; I hope this allows those POI fans, even if it only is read by a small sect of them, to just enjoy season five in peace—though I fear I have been condescending because I assume you will not have listened to such negativity with much seriousness in the first place. Thank you for your consideracy, and let’s plough on forth for one helluva closing chapter!

To add a quick amendment/ETA: I would say perhaps it is more fun to approach a show with some optimism and excitement, as the fanbase seem to have gone (in capslock…and yes…me too…) with, because I think to watch a show expecting the worst will always make way for gloom. I know, I know, the classic phrase: lower your expectations. But all I can say is, if the fans’ expectations are so high, why bring them down? Is there a reasoning for that? Or are they high at all? Are they simply just excited because the fanbase has literally been starved of new material for a year? Either way, to comment as such to fans without even seeing the show or knowing anything of it, is saddening on the part that fans cannot even watch same-sex couples’ journeys without reassurance of their ending, and also a little bit of a downer. Imagine a random person who doesn’t watch your favourite show goes up to you and says: “well, [X] trope so…your show’s so tropey” (okay, I made that up, I don’t think anyone speaks like that). How would you feel? On your favourite show? It is often sometimes best to watch, perhaps the lesser quality shows with lower expectations—from personal experience, I think I certainly watched some episode of The 100 with no expectations—but all I ask is to give the Person of Interest fanbase a chance to be happy. Their channel has messed with them and been general plonkers. Now they are consistently getting brought down when they should be happy for their new content and it saddens me as much as it saddens me to see people who cannot enjoy f/f couples anymore without death as the number one concern. It’s all I wish to ask. A fun task before Person of Interest airs may be to count the number of times Root and Shaw get shot. That may take you wayside from the ‘stray bullet’ fear (it seems, on POI, the gay actually counteracts the bullet. It’s science). And I only request: if one cannot approach a show with optimism or be happy for the joyous…then perhaps not make the effort to bring them down. Who knows what’ll happen with this show; maybe everyone will die (…that’s legitimately…possible) but consistently—consistently—Person of Interest has offered hope. And who’s to say POI cannot be the, er, lost bottle of Chanel among the manure? Who’s to assume anything before it’s even aired its premiere episode?

A poetic prayer for a hero, a poem for Nicola Choi by Tracy Diane Miller

Tracy is by every definition a hero … peaceful, patient, calm, rational and always so supportive …i don’t know if I am a hero. I am capable of making rash comments and still so–I think because I am young–but that is no excuse. I have so much to learn… and in meeting Tracy (and Stacy!) I have learned so much about being a better person, about keeping your head up, high and professional, about being above the unprofessional and bigoted and bullies. To stand up for what I believe in…that minority voices shouldn’t be silenced, that minority lives matter just much as the next person and that should be emphasised in our society- that is nowhere near as progressive as it thinks it is. Thank you Tracy!


A poetic prayer for a hero, a poem for Nicola Choi by Tracy Diane Miller

As children we learn of heroes
Who fight the good fight
Endowed with special powers
To answer the call both day and night

As we grow older
We realize heroes live among us everyday
At great sacrifice to their own personal well-being
They battle injustice to keep it away

I have met many heroes
My mother was my first
Without her I would be nothing
For my love of learning she fostered my thirst

Then there is Nicola
She hasn’t been in my life for very long
Her voice is inspirational
Her passion for others remains so strong

Nicola has no special powers
She has no xray vision and she cannot fly
But she is the definition of a hero
For she gives her heart to others is why

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I Am Honestly Speechless.

Let’s talk mortality/morbidity rates from a non-idiotic POV, aye?

Firstly, one must ponder what someone defines death as. Car accident? Cancer? Cardiovascular fatality? You may say ‘HIV/AIDS!’ and before you even get to the forward-slash mark, Imma stop you there and tell you now that most people live with good lives, at a low viral count—thus not progressing onto AIDS—happily. Yes, especially in the eighties’ (where certain morals may still be stuck) the death in the gay community due to AIDS was high. By the end of this decade, WHO reported at least 400,000 AIDS cases worldwide, from 145 different countries.

Now that’s a high death count, but you have to also take into consideration:

  • What AIDS, medically, is
  • The state of medical care in the eighties and the lack of biologics
  • Other contributors to this: needle-stick users, for example

In summary—people were (rightly) starting to panic about this oncoming epidemic. The LGBTQ community were terrified. In a more touching, personal account of these experiences it was revealed that whilst a lot of people within this community were not affected—there is a snippet with a lesbian woman there—people didn’t just abandon gay sufferers, whereas on the converse, gay sufferers also found that there were people who wouldn’t even kiss them on the cheek. Information about transmission and avoidance was sparse, because nobody knew what the hell this awful thing was. Some believed it to be pneumonia; some believed it to be some kind of rare cancer; others just thought it was a disease ‘from the gays’. It’s horrifying, the ignorance displayed especially during this decade—yet it’s almost made up for it by the sheer kindness shown.

Reports from the same article remember the kindness of other citizens as AIDS sufferers unavoidably sunk to their deaths. For a more dramatised version (and a decent film—and I’m not big on musicals, actually) you might want to watch (or have seen) ‘Rent’.

I’m not talking miracle cures. There just weren’t any. I’m talking about the kindness of people—lots of them women—in bringing these suffers food they could stomach. Making sure to look after their symptoms with any cough medicines, blankets, items for sweats and fevers; I’m also talking about the more unpleasant tasks like cleaning up after vomit and self-defecation. Some today may see AIDS as a four-letter acronym that is a near impossibility now, but back then, it was very real, very scary and very unknown. It did not only touch the lives of the gay community, but the drug-using community—and all their families and friends too. And something common shared between them? The huge, disgusting stigmatisation driven directly at them.

This was hugely prevalent, and of course I wasn’t even alive during that time—I don’t know what it was like. It’s also not the focus of this little piece—but if you’re interested in researching about this, I’d for once not recommend scientific articles, but more personal accounts—such as this reddit thread from responders who lived through the HIV/AIDS terror.



I’d firstly like to make a point of being sensitive about this topic. My last wish would be to offend any who have lost LGBTQ friends or are feeling this subject sitting heavy on their shoulders. I’m not a health practitioner—yet—but all I can offer are condolences, and also to advise you to stop reading and perhaps block the crap out of some people on Twitter if you’re following them.

I want to say what I feel like is a really bloody difficult concept for people to grasp: that people within the LGBTQ community are humans. They are human just like everyone else on this planet (this includes the bigoted idiots, unfortunately—sorry). We are, scientifically, junk DNA with a small proportion making up our individuality. If you cannot treat people openly, equally and respectfully for simply who they are—whether that is because they are in this community, or because of their race, their religion…then quite frankly that is disgraceful. You are not doing humanity in a service. You are, in fact, dividing humanity into unnecessary sects and spreading pointless hate when you could, I don’t know, take a walk or go for a jog or see some sunlight.

When it comes to LGBTQ deaths—like any other death rate—statistics must be transparent in order for people to make (ignorant) statements about it. I don’t know where this myth of ‘there’s high rates among LGBTQ’ folk came from—because the LGBTQ community are not massive. That’s not to say they don’t make up huge numbers, but they are—er—don’t shoot me, but they are a minority (hey at least I didn’t say “for a reason”, leave me alone).

Now if we’re talking suicides—and I’m going to assume nobody made statements about ‘LGBTQ folk are more likely to get hit by a car because everyone got a tramp-stamp saying they were a minority for a reason and those Fiat Pandas went mental and ran them all over’—then yes, among the LGBTQ community—suicide rates or suicide ideation can be high. I wish to reiterate that this is within the community. A community that is a minority. This may come in later when—okay, I’m just going to say it now—LGBTQ death rates aren’t bloody high. Over 17 million people die each year due to a cardiovascular disease. Some may be from the LGBTQ community; in my experience they are mostly not. CVDs are a slow and creeping danger—especially with diabetes on the rise.

If we briefly get back on to the topic of suicide—there’s a wide under-reporting that makes even WHO unsure (their latest stat collection was back in 2012) and that’s because of stigma, religion, laws…all sorts—as Bertolote & Fleischmann find out here in their 2002 paper.

Perhaps one of the biggest reviews of the literature on this topic is the Figueiredo and Abreu (2015) paper and I have quoted this one already before. The rationale is because these two researchers noticed that among the community, co-morbidities such as depression and panic disorders were prevalent too. With some digging, they found this:

There is evidence of elevated rates of reported suicide attempts in LGBT compared to heterosexual adolescents and adults, worldwide. Individuals reporting a bisexual orientation had an increased risk of suicide attempts and ideation compared with their homosexual and heterosexual peers. Mental disorders do not appear to entirely explain elevated rates of suicide attempts in these individuals. Social stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with this individual are important factors.

Before anyone makes misinformed and quite frankly insensitive comments on the topic, perhaps take—literally—a few seconds to type in ‘LGBT’ and ‘deaths’ in the search bar of JSTOR, ScienceDirect, ncbi—or any other reputable journal collation and read. Inform yourselves. I’m not saying this generally because I know there are people out there who have done so, and I know there are people out there who are loving, kind and generous—and non-ignorant.

LGBTQ deaths (I’m just going to assume it was meant as suicide, because that makes the idiotic comment…somehow less idiotic. I can’t believe I’m helping this) are not just part of life—they can be avoidable, as the HIV/AIDS epidemic showed us in the eighties. With the still rampant stigmatisation of gay individuals, medically that area of focus was swamped with research and the development of life-saving drugs—some so old that they are still in use today for their efficacy. Today, women with HIV can be treated to a point where their viral count becomes so low that they can give birth to their child without vertical transmission of the disease i.e. the child does not have HIV. HIV patients get such effective treatment that quite rarely they progress onto AIDS, and instead live a happy and fulfilling life.

I think most tellingly, what has told us of the action we can take towards LGBTQ suicide rates—if we cared—is the inspiring fundraiser set up by those oh-so-meddly minority groups. Informed websites such as We Deserved Better, LGBT Fans Deserve Better and outreach onto platforms like twitter via @LGBTFans is important and necessary. I’d like to point you towards the Testimonials page of the LGBT Fans Deserve Better website because if that isn’t further proof that this project and this fundraiser has united this community and given everyone a helping hand, allowed people to meet others they hadn’t before—then what is? I can say from a personal level I never thought I’d chat to the start-up of this fundraiser, ‘G.T’, but G.T. is so inspiring and positive that she makes me hope for a brighter future. The mission statement exhibited by both websites is so positive and wonderful that I hope others take heed. This is not a fundraiser made of spite; this is a fundraiser made of a spiteful scenario and the community capitalised on that by responding with something beautiful. Anger will not get you anywhere; positivity and intelligence will get you everywhere. By that, I mean the attention of esteemed critic Ms. Mo Ryan, the willingness to listen and understand by the lovely and admirably open Mr. Ryan McGee and even the massive Washington Post.

Again, some may claim “hey yeah but this lesbian was so mean to me!” and I’m just thinking—please…stop. Stop making generalisations based off a minority within a minority community (so many jokes to be had here—I’m gonna keep the tone serious). I’d advise you to read Ms. Mo Ryan’s article closely again (if you haven’t read it fifty billion times already because it is awesome). Do you realise how hurtful it is when privileged people make sweeping generalisations of an already marginalised group just because of who they are? Against hard evidence that a.) they have raised an insane amount of money for charity and b.) have inspired fandoms past and present to join and support; c.) hit the straight community hard and let them take a step back, and come back into the fray with determination to learn and understand.

Across all humanity we are hit with mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. The NHS actually did some research and found that one person out of every four are affected as such, at some point in their lifetime. Perhaps this is higher in the LGBTQ community—but why? Well, I ask you—are many groups like the LGBTQ community targeted for prejudice, discrimination, stigma, hate and death threats (I believe many have so called ‘receipts’ for this) as the others? My solid answer would be no. Are people with different ethnicities other than Caucasian and perhaps privileged ever shunted to one side and silenced because, again, of who they are? I can definitely say that’s a solid yes.

The Trevor Project is immensely important because this is a charity that focuses on saving LGBTQ lives—by protecting those vulnerable people from suicide or suicidal ideation. Without the Trevor Project, there are not that many of such scale. There are support hotlines (if you’re in the UK—the Samaritans is excellent; worldwide, online chatrooms such as 7 Cups of Tea may be useful too) but this is where the money from the aforementioned fundraiser is going to. I cannot fathom why anybody would actually be against that idea because they are taking action to save lives. In my book, that’s a very honourable approach. If perhaps you do not believe in such ideals…I’m speechless.

And if anybody thinks that such LGBTQ suicides (again I refuse to just say ‘deaths’ because it’s so stupid) are just part of life and that sucks for them…well…maybe look at the contributory factors to suicide? Though unrelated to LGBTQ deaths, Arvind in 2008 from the Oxford University Press found that is was highly unlikely for a suicide to be attributed to a single anomaly. I think from personal experience I can support that statement. There’ll usually be 3-4 factors whirling around before somebody tragically tries to (and sometimes succeeds) in committing. But if you look at some of the stronger factors that clue into LGBTQ suicides, these include, as aforementioned: stigmatisation, bullying, hate, prejudice and discrimination. And no, these do not come from within the LGBTQ community (why would they? That’s—oh God, that’s so ridiculous)—they come externally. From the non-minority groups who have also stigmatised and hated on the gay community during the HIV/AIDS epidemic; some still do. This is not to say that all white, straight people do this: absolutely not. I wouldn’t have the audacity to make such a generalisation—in the same way that I would not have the audacity (or idiocy) to make a generalisation of one member of a minority group’s idiocy representing the entirety of the community. It has to go both ways, and if people cared about human lives—if people could just see beyond labels and see that the LGBTQ community as a whole are made up of humans—then would that not change how you see the LGBTQ community? Rather than generalising them all as hare-brained losers?

If you had the opportunity to make a change in such statistics, would you? Because from my stance, discrimination, stigmatisation, hate…they aren’t factors that are simply ‘there’. They aren’t factors inherited and thus unavoidable. They are factors that can be stopped, and changed. If you took ‘bullying’ as an example—perhaps teenaged lesbian girls would not come running into my Direct Messages, crying, because they had been bullied and called awful names—if you didn’t bully these vulnerable members of the community, would that not make a change? Does this make any sense?

For once, change can be made to a crappy reality. For once, people can do something about it. I have no doubt the fundraiser plus its testimonials and comments have saved lives; it has certainly saved mine, on many occasions. I have no doubt that the whopping amount of money the Trevor Project will receive from this will literally save lives—as such is their charity aims to do. But if you sit back with a blasé attitude of ‘yeah well, LGBTQ deaths happen…and they suck’ that’s lazy and that’s uncaring. If you cared at all about humanity—about the sheer talent that has come and is yet to come from this community—about their humour and kindness (I could be making a generalisation—but this is all I’ve encountered from that community—I cannot endorse or condone hateful comments made within the community, of course, that’s despicable—but again: minority of a minority), and if you had half a brain cell you would realise that suicide or death is not something to be so nonchalant about. That if you researched into the factors attributing to LGBTQ suicides…you’d realise that most of them are avoidable and can be saved, if the community are just shown some kindness, love and respect.

I think humanity in general is quite capable of such things—so why can’t they offer the same support to the LGBTQ community like that? Because of a few bad eggs? Would you rather spend your time making huge, unfair, sweeping generalisations of some comments…or would you try and be a bit more tolerant and sensitive?

I know which I’d choose.

It’s hammer time: Sarah Shahi’s Shaw is back on Person of Interest…but how?

How you do matters as much as what you do. By that metric you’re all just terrorists and I kill terrorists.

We know Sarah Shahi is returning as Sameen Shaw on Person of Interest, but in what capacity? Here I’m going to discuss and analyse popular theories on what Samaritan might have done to her and wait patiently for the show to blow it all apart in the most spectacular way (let’s face it, we’ll all be wrong).. The main theories seem to be

  1. Brainwashing;
  2. Shaw playing double-agent; and finally
  3. Samaritan manipulated the neurotransponders seen in ‘M.I.A’ and have stuck one in Shaw’s brain.

Of course season five promises to be a season of epic proportions—I, as a fan, absolutely cannot wait to see the ethical and moral clashes between the team in rebuilding The Machine; how they will remain undercover and hidden with Samaritan hot on their tails—but it’s Shaw’s return that has everybody speculating. We all know Shahi is back (and kicking ass)—but we don’t know how. So I’m going to try and pick apart popular theories, and I ask you—how do you think Shaw will return? With a bang, that’s for sure. I can’t even tell anymore if I mean that as a euphemism or not. It really isn’t, is it, when you break someone’s tailbone…



As discussed at San Diego Comic Con, Shaw’s return will initially be met with some hostility and caution, and understandably so. In the panel, Amy Acker (Root) claims that she would stick by Shaw’s side no matter what, whereas Jim Caviezel (Reese) takes a more concerned approach, even going so far as to suggest Shaw may be somewhat of a Manchurian candidate (in other words, a sleeper agent, for Samaritan). It’s interesting to hear this clash of beliefs. Acker’s Root spent the back half of season four tearing into the world to find Sameen Shaw; blinded by her love and emotions for her. Caviezel’s Reese must be wary of the sheer impact of torture and messing with a soldier’s mind—after all, Reese is an ex-CIA agent and he’s no stranger to the ugly side of an organisation.

Even way back when, this belief was rife. Joost Meerloo, a psychiatrist, wrote in his book ‘Rape of the Mind‘: “…The modern techniques of brainwashing and menticide-those perversions of psychology-can bring almost any man into submission and surrender…”

NB: “Menticide” is basically a very systematic, controlled effort to change an individual’s existing beliefs, morals or values—via awful methods such as torture, blackmail, etc.

Most notorious of all the sickening Cold War experiments is the CIA’s illegal program MKUltra, with many objectives including the induction of amnesia. At the expense of $10million, the CIA experimented on human subjects with illicit drugs, hypnosis and analysis of electronic brain signals. Featured on the show, (and based on the real-life case of Sydney Greenwood—you can read the observing doctor’s report here) Root undergoes torture in the hands of Control—that is an IV amphetamine lodged in one arm and an IV barbiturate in another. This aims to reduce the subject into a babbling mess who will divulge anything. Quite simply, an amphetamine is a substance that stimulates the central nervous system; a barbiturate is the direct opposite. The frequent administration and cyclical torture is enough to reduce any human into blabbing secrets.


Root is tortured by Control with a classic Cold War experiment: a CNS stimulant in one arm, IV, and a CNS depressant in the other.

The most well-known administered drug in the program is LSD. A psychedelic drug, it isn’t addictive but can induce paranoia and delusions; a distortion of reality. At first, the CIA wanted to know if they could use this drug to convince Russian spies defect, and if the Russians could do the same. As more experiments went on, covert administration also took place, to a point where operatives were slipping doses of LSD into healthy humans’ morning cups of coffee. It was administered to agency employees, doctors, office-folk and military officers to garner the reaction. Famously, one mental health patient was administered the drug in a Kentucky facility for 174 days, consecutively. You can read more about the CIA’s intentions here in the context of children (hey, biowarfare is seriously messed up), and you may remember the widely-reported case of Frank Olson, a biowarfare expert who plunged to his death in a suspicious suicide after being covertly dosed LSD and monitored for his reaction. After his trip, he lapsed into an abyss of depression, and his death is still being debated as a suicide or a CIA cover-up.

But whilst the Cold War experiments did not succeed in complete brainwashing, the idea of a Manchurian candidate is still a popular one and often explored in media. Brainwashing is not a foreign or new concept; it’s something yet to be truly scientifically validated. Can you actually whitewash someone’s memory to a point where they forget everything? The very first mentions of brainwashing came from totalitarian regimes in which ‘brainwashing’ was a term used non-scientifically, but more as a way of controlling a large population to conform to certain ideas or beliefs—much like the widespread and intense belief the Japanese population had in their Emperor in World War II. They had never seen him in person, but they believed him to be a deity—so when the Emperor finally surrendered in WWII after the nuclear bombings, via the radio, this was the first time the population had heard his voice—his human voice—an entire belief system coated around the Emperor as a celestial being of sorts came crashing down, devastatingly.


Whatever Greer and Samaritan were working on with regards to Shaw, it definitely had something to do with her brain, judging by these radiographs.

It may be a good time to state that for all the historical research and horrific experiments conducted, Person of Interest does remain a sci-fi show, even if most of its elements are quite, well, real. Though I can reel off fact after fact, the show-runners of course have a creative licence to extend that—and as we’ve seen for four seasons, they’ve done so, with admirable and scary accuracy. In terms of the show and Shaw, much can be implicated in terms of her time spent in captivity with Samaritan. She could’ve undergone Cold War-like experiments—or worse. Judging by Chris Fisher’s ‘POI Noir’ it doesn’t seem like Greer is playing nice.

In ‘YHWH’, Greer says to Control: “Samaritan’s no place for outliers, which means there’s no room for you. But don’t worry; you’ll be taken to a place where you belong.” Viewers of the previous episode, ‘Asylum’, will have spotted a docile Shaw being led by the arm into a black car, staring blankly out of the window as they drove away over Shelly’s (a Samaritan operative) voiceover: “Go home to your loved ones. Hold your daughter tight, because a new day is dawning. And those who impede progress – the disruptive, the aberrant – will be systematically purged from our society. There will be no mercy. No stay of execution. For some, this will be the end. But for others, a rebirth. A second chance to live the life they were designed for. Every life given a purpose. Samaritan will build a new world. A better world.” But viewers have spotted the way the camera panned to Shaw at the sentence “…a rebirth. A second chance to live the life they were designed for.” Does this give some indication of Samaritan intentions with Shaw? Weaponise her as a Samaritan agent, or even make something of a Manchurian candidate of her?

Correction. Obey. Authority. Is Samaritan trying to utilise Shaw's skill-set and make her a weapon?

Is Samaritan trying to utilise Shaw’s skill-set and make her a weapon?

We have already seen Samaritan mess with human nature in the episode ‘M.I.A.’, which featured an idealistic town upstate of New York called Maple. Between Reese, Root and Finch, they find out that Samaritan are essentially controlling the town’s ups and downs, by essentially using Maple as an ant farm (or commonly known: a formicarium) to study human nature. We must remember that despite Samaritan’s huge harness of power and resources, it is still a baby compared to the weathered Machine. So what does this mean for Shaw? If Samaritan can mess with a whole town, can it not mess with an individual? Can it not give Shaw the ‘rebirth’ Samaritan desires? We know Shaw has an Axis II Personality Disorder—whatever Samaritan wishes to do, to give Shaw the ‘rebirth’ it desires, will Shaw’s disorder play a resistant role—or is that the very disorder Samaritan wishes to correct? After all, Greer notes of humanity’s compliance in ‘YHWH’ (and the Correction was to get rid of the disruptive, outliers and disloyal) and Samaritan has already recognised Shaw as a ‘sociopath’. Could they be taking that away from her by a series of neurological experiments? Or could they exploit that disorder for their own good?

Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control‘, an intriguing read by neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor, proposes interesting thoughts on manipulation of the temporal lobe of the brain, which is heavily implicated in emotion and memory, and also the rigidity of neurons in the brain upon manipulation. Yet it does not claim that brainwashing is something to look to in the future—that it’s completely possible at all. There are many conspiracies surrounding a thus far fictional Manchurian candidate, and Caviezel is right in picking an example out like that—but as of right now, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support full brainwashing, even with studies of the brain itself. Most recently a study in rats—so one must question the face validity—showed that a fall in AMPA receptors in the brain may be associated with long-term memory loss—forever. As seen in conditions such as Alzheimer’s. However, with the show being sci-fi—you never know!

My last point to conclude on this is that breaking through a brainwashed period—which I cannot imagine and has never been experimented on, for the sheer ethics of it—would likely result in some serious PTSD. If you brainwash someone for good—and Samaritan has the time (nine months) to do so—then how do you break someone out of that? How do you trigger memories and emotions already gone? And if so, what are the drastic consequences of sudden remembrance?



This seems to be a somewhat popular theory, mainly due to Shaw’s personality disorder. Can Samaritan indeed break through Shaw’s extreme loyalty to her team and her mission when she is arguably more immune to emotional torture than others? Pain, on the other hand, is a different ballgame; pain isn’t simply mental. Pain can be induced physically, neurologically, and personality disorder or not, Shaw isn’t immune to that.

I guess the popularity of the theory lies in that Shaw could be an outlier because of her personality disorder. The quick counter-argument would be that Samaritan has already recognized her as a ‘sociopath’ (‘Asylum’) and must be accounting for ways to torture or gain information from her despite that. However, since Shaw’s capture there have been no raids on the subway base for the team—so one could optimistically say that Shaw hasn’t cracked under pressure. But what of the phone-call in ‘Asylum’? Was that made of a drug-induced Shaw, or had she actually cracked? Martine (Cara Buono) says to Root she has—but I think it’s in wide agreement that she was simply mocking Root and her feelings for Shaw.

Root receives a call from Shaw in 'Asylum', requesting help—but it's cut-off. Is this a trick on Samaritan's half? Is Shaw genuinely reaching out or has she been drugged up enough to do something like that?

Root receives a call from Shaw in ‘Asylum’, requesting help—but it’s cut-off. Is this a trick on Samaritan’s half? Is Shaw genuinely reaching out or has she been drugged up enough to do something like that?

In terms of her personality disorder allowing her to withstand Samaritan’s torture—which to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced of—it can be said that her personality disorder could convincingly allow her to feign loyalty to Samaritan. We’ve seen that Shaw has no problem killing others (in fact, in early days she seemed to quite enjoy shooting people) and if she is indeed weaponised by Samaritan and dispatched on missions to eliminate targets, she could do so without feeling any guilt at all. That’s not to discount her character growth: we know she cares, and she values Team Machine—but an Axis II Personality Disorder doesn’t just go away. Whilst I’m not entirely sure Shaw could withhold nine months of torture unscathed, I do believe she can carry out missions for Samaritan (even if it involves cold-blooded assassinations) or even covertly spare the target’s lives without Samaritan knowing.

As ever, there’s a problem with that too. Would they keep a team on the field to keep tabs on Shaw, to make sure she’s following orders? And if she is playing the double-agent, will she be hooked up to Samaritan via earpieces and phones to track and follow her every move, much like Martine was? I don’t think Team Samaritan are foolish enough to simply let Shaw run amok with their missions without keeping track of her, knowing she sacrificed her life for Team Machine in ‘If-Then-Else’, and there’s a lack of clarity as to how Shaw could prove to Samaritan she’s working for them. By killing a target/outlier in cold blood? Had she already done so, with regards to Control’s right-hand woman Schiffman and the shady assassin? By feigning compliance and a docile nature after the torture she’s endured? Who knows? But the idea is a tempting and a badass one, because there’s nothing I’d like to see more than Shaw resist Samaritan’s clutches and come back to the team unscathed, working for them all along. However, Shaw is only human; she is not defined by her personality disorder. Whatever torture she has endured, she surely cannot withstand nine months of its brutality. And what happens if Shaw’s mission is to take out Team Machine? How will her loyalty to Samaritan be tested then?

Something I’ll say time and time again is that the subway base for the team has not been raided, unlike the library was. Whatever Shaw’s endured, I can’t think she’s blabbed about it—because Samaritan would utterly destroy the base, and the location of the team is surely one of the first questions Team Samaritan would ask Shaw.



This is by far my favourite theory. The entire episode ‘M.I.A.’ revealed to us that Samaritan was mass-producing neurotransponders from the town of Maple and it’s too big a plot point to just throw away. The transponders are used as GPS tracking devices; the neuroimplants are something very, very real. They are currently in use, medically, for epilepsy and Parkinson’s patients—patients who have severe mental disorders, and whilst these implants are not a cure for these patients, electrical impulses sent by these implants can be life-changing. We’ve already seen in ‘M.I.A.’ that Samaritan experimented with one innocent woman in terms of the neurotransponders; who’s to say they can’t stick one in Shaw, too?

If I assume the device is similar to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson’s disease, then I can explain it quite simply: it is a set of wires connected to the patient’s brain, and the battery pack is implanted into the skin. In Parkinson’s disease, the nigrostriatal pathway—implicated heavily in motor control—is depleted of dopamine (a neurotransmitter; you may be familiar with dopamine as a key neurotransmitter in the ‘reward’ pathways of the brain). Though the implant does not release dopamine, it does release an electrical impulse to ‘shock’ the pathway into working. It’s akin to a pacemaker. For a real-life case and a really interesting scenario in which a patient suffering from dystonia has benefited from DBS, I’d highly recommend you read this article.

Lambert, one of Samaritan's lackeys, demonstrates the power of the Internet by hacking into a man's insulin device.

Lambert (Julian Ovenden), one of Samaritan’s lackeys, demonstrates the power of the Internet by hacking into a man’s insulin device.

But—and there’s always a but, isn’t there?—we’ve seen how Samaritan can manipulate such devices. Jeremy Lambert hacks into an abusive husband’s glucose monitoring device and consequentially kills him. There is no way of telling how Samaritan would use a neurotransponder in someone like Shaw, too. We know neuroimplants can deliver electrical shocks to the brain, and the transponder can deliver GPS coordinates. We also know Sameen Shaw has an Axis II Personality Disorder.

There have always been arguments over the classification of such personality disorders. Yes, Shaw is self-diagnosed—but with, essentially, the American diagnostic bibles clashing and coming under criticism it remains unclear as to the lines we should draw in diagnosing patients. Furthermore, because the topic is so murky, the aetiology of any personality disorder, neurobiologically—and this discounts environmental factors—is completely gray. We have no idea. Some research has linked aspects of borderline personality disorder with Bipolar Type II, inconclusively. Despite this (and as are often with mental health disorders), doctors and psychiatrists find a way to treat rather than look at the root cause—and one of the newly effective, game-changing treatments include…yeah, you got it: DBS.

"You didn't think Greer would be nice to her, did you?" (Chris Fisher, why are you like this).

“You didn’t think Greer would be nice to her, did you?” (Chris Fisher, why are you like this).

To put it shortly, this could go hand-in-hand with theory number two—that is Shaw, working as a double agent for Samaritan, and doing Samaritan’s bidding—only this time she is controlled by the electrical impulses sent to her brain via this neurotransponder. There are a bucketload of worrying elements to this (let’s not get started on the ethics—because I will eat my arm if Samaritan cares about ethics). Firstly, the transponder implicates GPS recording—so Samaritan will be able to track Shaw, as well as her brain impulses.

Secondly, the usage of the neurotransponder is really down to Samaritan. Shaw doesn’t have epilepsy and nor does she have Parkinson’s; however, she does have an Axis II Personality Disorder and with Shelly’s dialogue of ‘second chances’ and ‘rebirth’, one must think—is Shaw a person to Samaritan as Maple was a town to it? Is she someone to study? Is Samaritan essentially using the neurotransponder as something of a shock collar whenever Shaw’s out of line in order to condition her into behaving the way Samaritan wants her to behave? There’s no clear aetiology or biomarkers for Shaw’s disorder—so from a purely scientific standpoint, I can’t imagine Samaritan meddling around with neurotransmitters. I can imagine them meddling around with electrical shocks—both as a rather Pavlovian condition scheme, but alternatively, as a reward and punishment scheme.

Commonly, the neurotransmitter associated with reward is dopamine. Taking this from a different standpoint, Hall & Carter (2011) looked at DBS and how this could affect drug-addicted individuals. Whilst the article acknowledged that there may be deeper, more harmful effects of DBS long-term, it did note that in Chinese heroin addicts, there was an improvement after treatment, and in a different cohort of different ethnicity, there were multiple research papers into alcohol addiction with favourable results. On paper, this is brilliant: if we can ‘heal’ addiction, that’s fantastic news. But fortunately for Hall & Carter, they don’t have Greer & co messing around with what might be. Think of it this way: the show, plus Vice News and DARPA have already warned us of what may happen if something like brain implants get hacked.

In Hall & Carter’s research, they honourably search for the ‘cure’ for addiction; in Samaritan’s hands, it can quite simply be the reverse. With the right manipulation of dopamine receptors in the brain and shocking of such pathways, Shaw’s brain—despite her disorder—can be manipulated to an extent where she could become somewhat of a Pavlov’s dog herself. She may start to crave those shocks as a reward for her work, because she’s become so used to them. Without, I cannot say for sure—but I would assume it works a little like drug dependency (such as cutting opiates cold turkey or benzodiazepines—there lacks the stimulation of μ and GABA receptors respectively)—she will suffer through common withdrawal symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, sweats, hallucinations—and if it gets worse—seizures, pain and even coma. In Hall & Carter’s promising research, there is room for serious and evil manipulation.

If this is indeed the case, as seen in ‘M.I.A.’, a craniotomy is involved in installing the device—and whilst I’m no surgeon—I would assume the same practice would have to be, to get the device out. In the meantime, if this is the scenario Shaw faces, Team Machine will somehow have to jam her implant (an electromagnetic field device, perhaps? Oh no…any physicists around?) because of the GPS debacle, whilst they fish the implant out of her skull. Furthermore, that’s over-simplifying the entire thing. We don’t know if Samaritan has indeed turned Shaw into somewhat of a ‘shock-addict’ to live, or if those shocks are punishment—or if shocks are involved at all. Perhaps it’s a way of monitoring her brain circuits and studying her like a lab rat.

Either way, the retrieval of Sameen Shaw will not be easy—and neither will extracting the implant, which I assume will be a necessary step. Lastly, the permanent effects going forward would be atrocious. We know Shaw is strong; we know she’s undergone torture and we know she has a high pain threshold. But when you undergo nine months of severe torture at the hands of Samaritan, things can change. And like I mentioned in the first theory about PTSD, Shaw’s disorder doesn’t make her immune from that because Shaw’s disorder—with the mental manipulation of Samaritan—is not inflexible. So one must ask, for all these theories, will Shaw remain the same, snarky, eyerolling, witty, badass we know? Or do we need to nurture her a little before she returns, truly?



In all honesty, and as every scientist concludes in their paper—literally—I’m not entirely sure. It could be an amalgamation of all three scenarios—who knows? I confess if I had to pick one scenario, it would be number three—an entire episode and the revelation of those neurotransponders seems too suspect to just be brushed off, in the water-tight plot-line of Person of Interest. Furthermore, these neuroimplants are widely used in medical conditions already; who’s to say Samaritan can’t go one step further and manipulate them?

It’s certainly a debate that won’t be settled or fully answered until Shaw blasts back onto our screens, and even then, I suspect there will be much talk of her behaviour and how she acts in concordance to the way she was before, and if this is a sign of any Team Samaritan manipulation. Will Shaw be the same? Will her personality disorder be affected by all of this? In short, there really is no simple answer, though each scenario is backed with scientific experiments and evidence—there is only your opinion on what might’ve happened to Shaw, how this will affect her moving forwards and of course the actual answer given to us.

Thank you for reading, as ever—I hope you found this article somewhat interesting and thought-provoking. It is perhaps a smear on humanity, if Team Samaritan finds a way to mess with Shaw’s brain circuitry—in a show that is geared up to be, explosively, man versus machine. What are your opinions on Shaw’s captivity and time spent with Samaritan? Do you have your own theories? Or kind of just sob loudly about Shaw’s situation (don’t worry, I feel ya)? How much of your humanity can you retain when a machine messes around with it so much, for so long? What do you think has happened to her, and what haven’t I covered? I’d love to hear your feedback—so feel free to sound off in the comments  or tweet me at @NicolaChoi, as ever! Thank you!

Within a day of posting this, two trailers were released, found here and here…scary stuff for Team Machine! Make of it what you will!

Wait–AND ANOTHER! (I’m so calm. So calm.)


Some additional tidbits on cochlear implants!

Some additional tidbits on cochlear implants!