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.

img2
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?

Advertisements

9 Replies to “Person of Interest’s Root, Shaw and a ‘Happy Ending’”

  1. An intelligent, well-written, thought-provoking piece. What I enjoy and respect most about your writing style is your ability to examine an issue from all angles and to ask very probative questions. You have passion, yet it doesn’t undermine your commitment to provide readers with stellar and responsible television journalism. It is not always easy to walk the line between being a fan and being a responsible journalist. But, in my opinion, you do it effortlessly. BRAVO!
    I will be starting Person of Interest this summer. I’m looking forward to unwrapping this show by getting to know the various characters and plots. You have offered me, as a newbie, a marvelous appetizer.

    Like

    1. Thanks Tracy! To be fair this was a simple assessment of fandom to be honest. And I kind of just watched it go along and frustration was boiling from all angles and I mean, from a fan perspective, POI is heading towards its last season. I just want the POI fans to be happy–that’s all. And I hope I was fair; I stated from the beginning I loved Root/Shaw as a pairing and it was a bit of a plea. Because POI, in my opinion, is just one of the greatest shows out there. When fans are dead-excited about the final season but people just trash the show, it does hurt fandom, I think, and that is very much a downer. Looking forward to you starting it! I hope you enjoy the ride!!

      Like

  2. Thank you for saying it! I get people are hurting, and they have reason, but it really brings fandom excitement levels down when people – some who don’t even watch the show – just talk about how Shoot is going to die and therefore we shouldn’t even be excited.

    Either way, I’m looking forward to whatever season 5 brings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly. I want to be diplomatic because I do empathise with fandoms who have fell victim to the trope (The 100, The Vampire Diaries) and I still empathise with them because a lot of them are still feeling that hurt. I do truly feel bad for them, especially The 100 fans who had been exploited, essentially, and used, and THEN fell victim to the trope. That is horrible. But I do think there is never any reason to bring down someone’s happiness; for example if I was grim and miserable I would rather not lash out at someone who is happy. It’s grin-inducing to see the mania levels of excitement wrt Shoot on my twitter and I think it’s bloody well deserved. Shoot or not, POI S5 looks epic–and I just wish for nothing to take away from that.

      Thank you again for commenting! 🙂

      Like

  3. Another amazing article! I love reading your work, you’re always so insightful and on point 🙂 I agree with everything.
    I have to say- it’s POI we’re talking about, I would be scared for Root and Shaw even if not a single queer woman was killed this year. The thing is, nobody’s really safe on this show, they’re being hunted down for quite some time now. But IF anyone dies, I’m sure it will be well written, respectful and significant. At the same time though I feel like it’s going to end relatively well. And even if it won’t, there’s still an entire season ahead and I’m super excited to see it. I’m sure the finale will leave me sad no matter what happens, because one on the best shows I’ve watched (and I’ve seen tons of them) will be over, but I’m so ready for those 13 episodes of what I also feel might be the best season yet.
    Take care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! That’s high praise indeed–so thank you 🙂

      Definitely. I think because it’s POI and because it’s POI’s last season I am literally fearing for the entire team’s lives. And that is simply because I know the story. We know Samaritans bigger. We know they’ve expanded to human lackeys. We know they have superior hardware and the government under their control. Lives WILL be lost–it is an inevitability. I think quite possibly Reese or Finch might bite the dust (though it pains me to say–I love everyone dearly) but I absolutely agree. Look at the way Carter’s death was written–they created and built up to an entire arc for her single-handledly taking down HR in the most Carter-like way possible: via law-abiding nobility. And she SUCCEEDS. Her death is tragic but her legacy is unforgotten; she inspires Fusco to take Simmons in, not kill him. She clearly has a lasting impact on Reese. She is remembered by the show, by everyone, always. Look at the way Shaw was written out–albeit because of Sarah’s pregnancy–but Greg and Jonah first listened to what Sarah WANTED and Sarah wanted to go out in the most Shaw-like manner (and not be filming as pregnant!Shaw because…well…wtf lol) and they listened and she did. Her ‘death’ was not of no consequence–she sacrificed herself to protect the entire team, and succeeded. There was an entire episode dedicated to finding her. Root was driven by rage in the back end of S4 just to find her. She even defied her deity. Every single death has a reason and ramifications–these writers have proven that over four seasons of excellent and meaningful writing that makes a solid impact. They don’t just kill because they want to. If either Root or Shaw is a casualty, I will grieve them because I loved their characters; I’ll also grieve the show, because I love the show and it’s ending–but I won’t subject it to “just being played by the trope again”. Over four, soon to be five, seasons, POI has already proven itself to be more than that–and rewatchable any time. I can’t say that for many shows. And so I’m ready as you are to enjoy the heck out of these thirteen episodes, and death can literally come at me lol, I think the whole fandom is expecting it! And me too–no room for fillers this time. Last fight. It’s gonna be insane.

      Thanks for commenting, and take care too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hah! Lead Troll Sarah Shahi and Shyer Troll Amy Acker. Bless them. And bless you for this article.

    I marathoned all 90 episodes of POI within a week after Lexa’s death; originally for Shoot, but by the middle of season 1, I was drawn into the plot, into the characters, and – though they were still somewhat fledgling – their relationships.

    This show really does have it all and though Shoot is a part of its genius, it is only a very small part. The world the writers have built and the interconnected threads in its rich tapestry go far beyond just a ship. Wholeheartedly agree when you say Shaw and Root are absolutely essential to the plot on their own. You can wax poetic about how important Lexa was, but in the end, she was (as has been proven by the erasure of pretty much everything she stood for, ffs writers) never meant to be integral to t1OO’s plot. Even without Shoot, POI would still have been a masterpiece. In POI, truly *anyone* can die. (It’s a miracle they’ve lasted this long, tbh. Someone with the patience of a saint should count how many times each of the characters have been shot at per episode, because I’m estimating no less than a gazillion trillion.)

    In spite of their good intentions, it’s a shame there are those who are trying to bring Shoot shippers down. I hope they have a chance to read your article and –

    “Let people celebrate; let people be joyous and excited and inspired.”

    Let us hope.

    Great article as always. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, I think a lot of people were drawn to the show because of Shoot. I think a lot of people watched the Shoot-only scenes on youtube too. It is perhaps my number one pet peeve when people are like “well if Shoot don’t get a happy ending it’s not worth my watch” because yes, Shoot is the core romance of the show but as you say–it’s a small part of a much, much bigger world. There is SO MUCH MORE beyond just Shoot–as much as I love them–and do I need to start with Shaw and Root as individual characters? It’s not just a ship–these two hold their own and have chemistry with *everyone* (as I outlined in a previous article about POI and the relationships) and have their own skillset. They are part of a team that has gripping characters and played excellently by brilliant actors. Shoot is literally a cog in the wheel. You explain it quite well. Root and Shaw are integral to the plot because they are proactive, important characters that are always part of the action and plot; Lexa was, until her contract was up and then she got used as a plot device. That may be “integral to plot” but when the plot is so bad it’s funny, comparing the shows is just…ridiculous. It is not the same thing.

      And indeed–once POI got more and more serialised and the plot become more twisted and dark and everything unravelled (the Vigilance thing was ingenious) literally anyone can die. I’m not holding out hope for the entirety of Team Machine to make it out of the finale alive–but I will hold out hope and trust and strong belief that the writers will deliver one heck of a season, perhaps the best season they’ve ever done. (And lmao I did suggest that in the article–count how many times Shaw and Root have been shot and you may find they are not in danger of a stray bullet killing ’em unless it’s somehow a headshot lol. And the writers aren’t stupid. They are NOT on the amateur level of The 100’s).

      But indeed. I don’t think the moaning and arguing over the trope will end because 1.) it is a serious and topical issue in the industry, and I respect that and 2.) I literally think Root and Shaw are the only f/f couple still sticking around (on a death-ridden show…oops) so I’m slightly worried that they’re under the spotlight for tropetropetropetropetrope when the entire show is more than that. And yes, I stand firmly by that comment. It takes less energy to let someone simply be; let them be happy–than to waste your effort and type up some ~concern that’s just essentially raining on everyone’s parade. And it sucks for POI because it’s a show of actual quality. When they’re scrutinised for this kind of stuff it’s like…it’s second hand embarrassment. They’re probably going to have one of the most memorable seasons of TV ever, and all the majority of social media seems to be focused on is the doom and gloom of the trope–before it’s even aired. And for that reason alone is why I begged in this article–because everyone is so hyped for this season. Every. Single. Fan. Like any other series I just think they deserve to be happy–not tiredly arguing against others about deaths (major ones, and should they happen, wouldn’t happen until near the end anyway!). It’s tiring. It’s tiring and it’s saddening when I see it. But I wholeheartedly agree.

      Like

      1. Honestly, anyone who watches POI purely for Shoot will probably be disappointed. Shoot is the main romance of the show, but POI is so low-key with its romance that if you aren’t invested in anything else that’s going on, it might leave you going “that’s it?” That’s not it – there’s so much to their relationship, but its layers depend on caring about the other storylines and the intricate relationships between everyone on the show. You just can’t do that if you only watch Shoot scenes on YouTube. You miss everything that makes them great together.

        Haha, yeah, they are kind of the last f/f couple standing. In the spirit of The Great Carrie Fisher, “Help me Root and Shaw, whatever the fuck’s going on, your show is wlw’s only remaining ho.”

        That said, it’s going to hurt if Root or Shaw (or anyone really; Team Machine has my heart and soul) die, and it’ll sting especially since we’ve had so many wlw die on TV this year, but I have so much faith in the writers that no matter how it ends, if the characters are to die, they’re going to have meaningful deaths that respect who they are. Carter was a punch to the gut, but they handled her death so well – not only in the lead-up to her death, but also in the aftermath. Even Anthony had a meaningful death and I still sob internally thinking about it. Can’t say that for many shows. I think what makes the POI fandom so different from others is we already accept that our favourite characters may die, but the writers have proven themselves, and we love the show anyway for everything else that it’s given us. Those ratings on imdb are no lie.

        Vigilance!!! Plot!!! had me on the edge of my seat omg. And this last season has only 13 episodes! Absolutely no room for filler! It’s going to be so lit and jam packed with action and everything coming to a head and … I don’t know how anyone can handle it. You’re right – the fans are going to be the first casualties. Watch us drop like flies. We’re already R.I.P.-ing and it’s only promos! I don’t know about you, but the past week has just been a lot of screaming and going I’M READY i’m not ready POI POI POI dig me a grave and engrave “In Team Machine I Trust” on my tombstone MY HEART CAN’T TAKE thiS!!!

        So excited for season 5!!! Just *thinking* about it is an automatic trigger into exclamation marks!!! and CAPSLOCK goddamn.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s