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…

 

THEORY #1: TORTURE TO THE POINT OF NO RETURN AND/OR BRAINWASHING

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.

1ShawsArticle
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.

2ShawsArticle
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?

 

THEORY #2: SHAW IS A DOUBLE AGENT

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.

 

THEORY #3: THE NEUROTRANSPONDERS

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?

 

CONCLUSION

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.)

NB:

Some additional tidbits on cochlear implants!
Some additional tidbits on cochlear implants!
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15 Replies to “It’s hammer time: Sarah Shahi’s Shaw is back on Person of Interest…but how?”

  1. Firstly, after reading what happened to you – actually – I’m so glad you’re free to write on your own wordpress site. I and pretty much every POI or 100 fan (probably) only went to that site because of your articles so I’m glad I don’t have to go there again. But this is amazing, I love how you link in real research (old and new) into the situations and they analyze it yourself, scientifically. I loved the neuro-transponder section. I think that’s what I think will happen too, especially with them spoiler pics and Shaw seems to have like a plaster/patch underneath her ear so maybe TM did something to save her. Either way I can’t wait to see Shaw’s ep and what happened to her … and I hope Greer goes down for it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kim! I’m enjoying the freedom more, yes. I think the relief of being able to do things I want, and write whatever I want, at my own pace, with my own formatting, and no real publicity–like quite enjoy just…writing for writing. It’s therapeutic, so I am glad I did this.

      As for the article yeah–it took a bit of research but I am (god I’m a nerd for everything so just…excuse me) but I LOVE the Cold War stuff ’cause it’s so messed up (I think this makes me weird) but as a pharmacy student, just knowing of the experiments and learning of them and watching documentaries–it’s sick. And the amphetamine/barbiturate torture Control puts Root under is quite old-fashioned but proved very very effective in its time.

      Thank you! and indeed…I’m nervous, scared and excited for Shaw’s story!

      Like

  2. I’ve never seen Person of Interest, but your blog post makes me want to check out the show! What I admire about your writing is the remarkable ability you have in entertaining as well as informing. You advance theories and provide research to buttress your arguments. You respect the intelligence of the reader by fully engaging through your writing. BRAVO!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thank you Tracy! You defo should … it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I think in another article, I put that on IMDB over 2/3 of its episodes are rated >9.0 (the lowest being… 8.2) its so, so good. Character relationships are believable and well-developed, talented cast, tight plot, exciting, funny, devastating–it’s just amazing. Sad to see it end after S5 but it’ll be SO GOOD. Thank you for your constant support! ❤

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  3. Very well-written and researched! More partial to the third theory as well. Supporting science aside, it builds upon something that has already been explored in an earlier episode, and it’s hard to imagine the writers letting the potential go. Of course, POI is very good at surprising us with intricate plots we shouldn’t be surprised about in hindsight, so who knows how it’ll turn out.

    Theories aside, I doubt that whatever happened to Shaw with Samaritan would be something easily overcome. So how is she going to be “cured” if she needs curing? How is Shaw’s storyline going to tie in with everything else they’ve got going on? How is the rest of the gang going to handle their reunion and how will it affect their relationship going forward? Reese and Harold will probably be cautious, Fusco will probably be lovably clueless, and Root… we saw how she rushed in to save Shaw even knowing it could be a trap. I’m not sure about anything, except for the fact that when Root and Shaw are reunited, I’m going to be 100% rekt.

    (As much as I love Root and Shaw, I’ll be heartbroken if whatever happened results in Shaw’s relationship with/love for Bear is severed. Dog relationship goals right there.)

    There’s so much to think about in the new season. It’s a good kind of crazy!

    As a sidenote, I’m sorry to hear about what happened with TNWU, but am glad that you have a new avenue to share your writing. Will keep a lookout for more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah…I think brainwashing completely is just too far. I thought about it and realised the brainwashing section didn’t even really cover complete brainwashing because it’s just…it’s just too far. And obviously, for ethical reasons, no research has been done into that field–so instead I kind of wanted to consider “well, what would happen if she was…*afterwards*? What kind of effect does that have on someone AFTER?”

      Yes–absolutely–I agree with you. Physically and mentally, I think (I mean isn’t it 9 months?) it’s gonna be hell; reunion with the team will be difficult as you mention–there’ll definitely be rifts. Root must be driven by emotion here but Reese I think is someone who’s important because he *knows*, as an ex-operative, the extent of just how bad torture can truly be. It’s an interesting and very dark topic to read/watch about if you’re interested. And yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more! It’s kind of why I mentioned the Correction–are Samaritan literally just using Shaw, or is it a test on humans to see if they can be ‘corrected’? It’s disturbing stuff!

      Thank you for your comment–I really appreciate it! 🙂 (omg Shaw/Bear for life)

      Like

  4. Very well-written and researched! More partial to the third theory as well. Supporting science aside, it builds upon something that has already been explored in an earlier episode, and it’s hard to imagine the writers letting the potential go. Of course, POI is very good at surprising us with intricate plots we shouldn’t be surprised about in hindsight, so who knows how it’ll turn out.

    Theories aside, I doubt that whatever happened to Shaw with Samaritan would be something easily overcome. So how is she going to be “cured” if she needs curing? How is Shaw’s storyline going to tie in with everything else they’ve got going on? How is the rest of the gang going to handle their reunion and how will it affect their relationship going forward? Reese and Harold will probably be cautious, Fusco will probably be lovably clueless, and Root… we saw how she rushed in to save Shaw even knowing it could be a trap. I’m not sure about anything, except for the fact that when Root and Shaw are reunited, I’m going to be 100% rekt.

    (As much as I love Root and Shaw, I’ll be heartbroken if whatever happened results in Shaw’s relationship with/love for Bear is severed. Dog relationship goals right there.)

    There’s so much to think about in the new season. It’s a good kind of crazy!

    As a sidenote, I’m sorry to hear about what happened with TNWU, but am glad that you have a new avenue to share your writing. Will keep a lookout for more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Nicola! It’s good to hear from you!
    The DBS idea is on point! Stimulate her dopamin or endorphin receptors when she kills a target, lower her serotonin levels to lower her judgment, stimulate her nociceptors if she hesitates too long to shoot, …
    (I am far too romantic, but I can’t help but imagine that her love for root help her release some endorphins (inhibit pain and cause euphoria) that could counter the effects of a dopamine withdrawal. I have no idea how those 2 chemicals react/influence each other though. – that would be so cute!)
    In my opinion, Greer isn’t really interested into torturing her physically. Shaw would probably prefer to die than give away anything. However it could be useful to exhaust her to lower her mental resistance. (I wish we could get some Martine/Shaw flashbacks, because I really don’t think Martine lied when she said she broke her – that’s what they thought anyway) Shaw is the perfect soldier and Samaritan will use that.
    I do believe in the end, Shaw will be “good” (it’s Shaw after all). No matter the story, I trust the writers/actors to completely blow my mind with this last season and I’ve never been more excited about a tv show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god, this comment is making me grin. Yes yes yes yaaasss (yasqueen.gif) brilliant!! It’s a really invasive and frankly disturbing/disgusting idea–but one that’s very feasible. Stick one in her, monitor her brain circuitry, they may need radiotracers though I guess for neurotransmitter levels but I guess you’re right–the rapidity of the synapse-firing may be an indicator too. But yeah…it’s difficult. I mean, if you deplete too much dopamine there’s too much that can happen–because unless Samaritan somehow cures science you’d be affecting all DA pathways. Too much depletion–> you get cognitive decline, mood decline, dystonia, EPSE’s, hyperprolactinaemia…so it’s a dangerous path to meddle with. And scary!

      And yes–I entirely agree. ‘Cause I think he’ll realise quite soon that physical torture is limited. Plus he’s not really…he’s Samaritan’s toy. He’s utterly under Samaritan’s control, and idk, maybe Samaritan wants to learn more about human nature etc–so mental exploration and pushing Shaw to her limits–especially with her disorder–would be an interesting, if sick, experiment. Yeah absolutely. Shaw’s deadpan nature and snark is great but her moral compass I find is often lost when people talk of her. She’s got strong morals and I admire that. And me too! Absolutely. I can’t wait 😀 Thank you so much for your comment!

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      1. [spoilers] Seeing the teasers/promos, it does seem like they put somehing in her head (also on some bts pics, we can see she has a bandage/dressing behind her ear, so they probably took the chip off) now it would probably create some kind of withdrawal and I don’t know how it’ll affect her self-perception. The few seconds we saw her looking at herself in the mirror seem to suggest she has (fake?) some kind of identity crisis and i can’t wait to see how the team, root and TM will try to counter that.
        Reese is wary of her, and it was said that her behavior would be ambiguous. so one of the scene I imagine is Shaw not remembering everything she does, waking up in odd places and such, so (tears) Shaw could ask Reese to take her down if she becomes too dangerous (he’s the only one who’d do it)
        That promo was everything tho – the level of mayhem and heartbreak will kill us all! (in a marvelous way)

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        1. Aye–did that promo kill you as much as it killed me ?! 😛 Yeah…and the 10sec one with her (I presume it’s Shaw) in the skull clamp for what looks like a keyhole craniotomy=scary stuff! Yeah, I do ponder that. I wonder though because the writers said there would be a Shaw centric (or did sarah say it?) episode, if it could be a flashback to her time in Samaritan. That could also explain the craniotomy scene (though they’d have to do that to probably get an implant/chip/something out) so either way–whether it’s some severe PTSD going on here (I ponder the facilities in the smashing-mirror scene–I suspect it may be a Samaritan facility, but obv I have no idea XD ) or flashbacks–it’ll sure have severe ramifications on any relationships she has with the gang. And that’ll be really interesting to explore and I just think Sarah will KILL it.
          (The Reese/Shaw scenario is scary but very plausible–I think as both ex-ops, they know when to end a compromise and Reese may be the only one to understand. Shaw understands. So if she does become a threat/liability to TM, actually, Reese–out of anyone–would probably be the one. I like that idea a lot! As bloody tragic as it is!)

          Aye I absolutely agree. I am BEYOND STOKED for season five. I can’t wait!!!!!

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  6. As a biology nerd, I love your thoughts on option #3. I haven’t done too much reading on DBS/transponders (and reading your replies in the comments are you SURE you don’t have a neuroscience degree???), but the idea of artificial electrical impulses used to serve a therapeutic purpose (at least, in a world without Samaritan…) makes me think of vagus nerve stimulation, which was proposed as a way to treat seizures and severe depression. For depression, it looked promising at first but double-blind studies done on the patients found that it didn’t really do much vs. patients who had the stimulation devices implanted but not turned on. So basically the device didn’t do anything but in studies with patients who had the device vs. patients who didn’t have the device, pts with the device felt better because of a placebo effect.

    Going off this train of thought, although I think this theory is definitely underestimating Samaritan, could it be possible that the device doesn’t work quite as well as Samaritan thinks? If Shaw knows it’s implanted and is told how it works (I can imagine Martine telling Shaw exactly how the implant will work to control her behavior because fucking Martine), there might be a significant placebo effect, especially if Shaw believes that Team Machine won’t be able to rescue her. There’s also the question of how Shaw’s medical knowledge comes into play, especially if they do remove the device. She would know about withdrawals and how they’re treated and, assuming she’s lucid, possibly be able to suggest a drug to lessen their effect?

    I’m also excited to see how Root and Shaw’s dynamic changes. Root’s always been the flirty one and Shaw’s always brushed it off (at least before 4×11), so what happens when Root finally reunites with Shaw, and Shaw’s traumatized and incredibly psychologically damaged, and Root’s been trying to find her for longer than CBS waited to release the trailer? Shaw wasn’t there when the Machine told Harold/John/Root that none of them are irrelevant, so will Root actually have to be honest with Shaw and tell her how much she cares about her and how much she means to the team? I know Amy’s mentioned some form of fighting between Root & Shaw (possibly sexual), which seems much more in character for those two, but my inner romantic would love to see them talk about their feelings for each other at least once.

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    1. Oh dang, I am merely but a pharmacy hope-to-be-graduate in the summer! Yeah, I think I know about them purely through half research and half my degree–which of course a lot of it is on novel treatments, and I picked a neuropharmacology module last semester. But no, deffo no neurosci degree–I have friends who do though! XD And thats utterly understandable and almost predictable–because as with Shaw’s Axis II PD, BPII, depression, ADHD, autism–there isn’t a clear biological aetiology right? There are existing biomarkers and “suspect genes” but–for example ADHD–the huge variety in those genes and the possibility of them not being causative, but perhaps it is the gene-gene interaction that–>symptoms…it’s just such a murky field. Very interesting though. (On a note: depression treatments are getting increasingly interesting. I do think–last time I read–three IV ketamine clinics had been set up in the USA for depression. I actually really like David Nutt’s work if you’ve read any of his books–he’s amazing. He did also get sacked from the UK govt for his ‘controversial’ drug opinions, lol).

      That’s a really interesting thought. I don’t think it’s underestimating at all! Samaritan has superior hardware, yes–but it’s still an AI that is much younger, a baby if you will; yes, Samaritan rapidly learns to be more efficient–but I like it! That’s interesting though! It definitely depends on what they do to the implant and their intent behind it. I think there are certain scenarios that it’s impossible for an implant to *not* work–however, of course if tampered with, it’s entirely feasible. And you bring up an excellent point because I hadn’t even mentioned this: Shaw’s medical knowledge, which is really, really important. As for a drug: again, depends on the purpose/intent of the implant. If it causes seizures-> something like lamotrigine, maybe valproate…benzos/z-drugs, perhaps. But all of them cause slowness, drowsiness, benzos especially with the amnesia sometimes–so it could be detrimental to Shaw wanting to get back all guns firing.

      And yes! I touched on this in the Shoot article but I love that pairing. You sum it up so well. I think they are so beyond just romance–they connect, and they understand each other. Yet now, as you mention–and as Root spent the back half of S4 wreaking hell on earth to find Shaw as her emotions deepened–Shaw’s not there. The seesaw is not balanced, and thus their relationship–plus Shaw’s possible traumatisation/damage (the trailer looks horrific for Shaw)–looks set to be brittle. I can’t wait, because I do think when they said at SDCC that not everyone’s gonna be trusting of Shaw (with good reason tbh–not of her character/morals, but of Samaritan), Root would always be by Shaw’s side. And that could cause conflict w/Harold and Reese–but maybe also Shaw, who might not appreciate being boxed in like that. So yeah, I wonder if you are right. If this is their “maybe someday” is Root is seriously, utterly transparent with Shaw–and how Shaw reacts to a very human reaction of love when she’s just spent nine months in psychological hell.

      Thank you for your awesome answer! I’ll have to have a dive into some journal articles again but there’s still a lot of PTSD experimentation going on, and coming out of Samaritan’s clutches–I can’t imagine Shaw’s immune to some form of that. Excited to see S5! Perhaps lost the plot at the trailer! XD

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  7. This is an incredible article. I don’t know anything about science – humanities girl – but this must have taken forever to writer. Thank you very much! It’s these types of articles that are missing in the fandom 🙂

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    1. Thank you! It took a while but not as long as expected, because we’d done a lot of neuro stuff last year and I picked neuropharmacology as a module this year so the novel treatments etc was easy, as was all the science behind the brain and the researchers’ lack of clarity on it–the Cold War stuff was fine because, um, I’m a nerd–the only real research was into the hackability of the implants, how that’d work, etc. The theories surrounding how an implant could control Shaw was just me throwing out theories about manipulation of neurological pathways, because essentially–as a pharmacist–that’s what drugs do (for example, antipsychotics). So if that could be remotely controlled (and i fear so, because…I dunno, wireless…stuff…?) then it cracks up a world of possibilities. Its what they specifically want to target that has me interested, but it’s really cool to look into. I think the “shock collar” theory was very popular– as in, everytime Shaw did something wrong, she’d be conditioned by a “shock”–but just by pure med ethics we knew of Hall&Carter’s stuff and whilst they’re doing real fascinating work–science is so tangible it can be easily manipulated–hence the flipside…perhaps Shaw could crave the shocks. Perhaps she wants them. Perhaps thats how they “control” her (as I don’t think brainwashing is really feasible)–maybe if she does an awful thing/carry out this order–she’ll get her reward, so it’s very Pavlovian. And horrible! 😦 #pleasekeepShawsafeforever lol

      Thank you for commenting! Comments are awesome! 🙂

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