As fans acutely recall, in the Season 3 finale of PERSON OF INTEREST, all our heroes were scattered to the four winds after it became necessary to adopt new identities in order to evade the all knowing eye of Samaritan, whose first task was to locate each of them — presumably, so that they could each be quickly and quietly dispatched.
So during this summer’s CBS Television Critics Association summer party, in an exclusive interview, executive producer Greg Plageman provided a few hints about what Finch, Reese, Shaw, Root and Fusco will be faced with in Season 4 of PERSON OF INTEREST.
Will there be a time-jump between Season 3 and Season 4?
GREG: Oh, definitely. Not a huge one. But it is enough of a gap, about 4-6 weeks. It is enough that our guys are settled into their new lives — and they have all been separated. Also like in the 2nd and 3rd season premieres, you’ll find there is a certain rule set as to how they interact; especially given that Samaritan is now watching them at all times.
Aren’t they all in Samaritan’s blind-spot now? Shouldn’t it not be able to see them.
GREG: It can’t see them, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t hear or track them. If they act out of their new personas, they could be tracked down. I think that is the key to the whole thing. Then what happens to the numbers? The other aspect is: how are they going to go on in their lives without that purpose?
But since they are living “fake” lives, they don’t even know how to live those lives.
GREG: Yeah, it is extremely difficult, as you can imagine. Reese and Shaw are former operatives faced with the possibility of a mundane existence; and Harold Finch as well. THen there are very differing views on what they have to do to maintain their personas in order to stay alive. There is also the question of: what is going to happen to the Machine now that they are living in Samaritan’s world?
So is Season 4 kind of a battle between the two machines, Harold’s Machine and Samaritan, with our heroes stuck in-hiding all season?
GREG: I’m not sure I’d say that. But, at this point, Samaritan definitely has the upper hand. I also wouldn’t say that Samaritan is in a hunting-mode. It has been tasked with finding our guys, but it is not necessarily predatory. It has its own agenda as to what it is trying to do and that is a larger mystery of this season, which I think is going to be very satisfying. Samaritan has been programmed to do certain things at the behest of Greer. But, as with any ASI (artificial super intelligence), it supersedes its owner.
It seemed like Greer bowed down before Samaritan in the Season 3 finale and that he was conceding that he was willing to take orders.
GREG: Exactly. He is not foolish enough to believe that he can actually control it.
How long will we see our heroes stuck in limbo-land?
GREG: This is a long-term home. This is a different world that our guys are living in this year. They are still in New York, but the library is gone. It’s a new day and it’s a difficult transition.
Are they still into helping people, or are they strictly hiding out?
GREG: That is the point of contention between the various characters, and that is going to be very interesting. I think the Machine is taking a hiatus and it is very unsettling and they are wondering what is going on now that they feel like they are living in this oppressive environment.
So the Machine is choosing to not communicate right now?
GREG: That is correct.
Last year, you demonstrated that the show is willing to kill primary characters. Is there any threat of that happening again this season?
GREG: Oh yeah. When the apocalypse comes, the only thing left standing is a four-legged canine. I think we all know that. Can’t kill animals. But everyone else is up for grabs.
So there are no promises of no big deaths this season.
GREG: I think there will be.
Fusco was the only one who didn’t go into “witness protection,” so to speak. So what is Fusco up to?
GREG: Fusco is the one who keeps his regular job. He’s the steadying force. There’s a certain amount of ignorance is bliss with Lionel Fusco in terms of the Machine. So what he doesn’t know can save him. But I think he is having a difficult time understanding what happened, particularly when he sees a spike in homicides and he knows somebody used to get out in front of these things. He’s not completely out in the cold. We’ll definitely see one of the characters interact with Fusco.
Will we see characters from previous seasons brought back this season?
GREG: Definitely. I think there is one character — one particular villain that people have been missing for a while. I think people would love to see him again. So look out for that particular individual. I think he comes back in a super fun way.
I have had great debates with people who seem to think that PERSON OF INTEREST is not a sci-fi show and I always end up asking them, “You don’t think that machine really exists, do you?”
GREG: There is a science fiction element to our show, but as it feels more real and grounded, that feels increasingly scary. I remember 3 or 4 years ago doing interviews and people said, “You don’t really believe someone is watching and recording you all the time, do you?”
That was before the NASA scandal broke out.
GREG: (Laughs) That feels really quaint now, doesn’t it? So as the show evolves and we get more involved with the aspect of artificial intelligence, a lot of people look at me quizzically and say, “Is that really happening? Is that real?” and I say, “Ask the boys at Google.” I took a recent visit to Google and it was pretty eye-opening. But I think our show is a sci-fi show. It is a lot of things. It’s a sci-fi show and a procedural and its serialized — and I think we’re getting away with it on CBS.
I remember thinking that earlier this year: that CBS has all the best sci-fi shows and I thought, “When did THAT happen?”
GREG: Yeah, I love the stuff they are doing in the summer. That’s really cool.
Did you know that PERSON OF INTEREST is the highest rated sci-fi show on television right now?
GREG: (Laughs) No, that’s the first time someone has said that. I love that.
With all those tantalizing teases to look forward to, be sure to tune in for the Season 4 premiere of PERSON OF INTEREST when it returns September 23, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.