I’ve been thinking about what to write about the 100th episode of POI for a while now. My heart is so heavy and I’m physically and emotionally exhausted but I’m going to try and compose some thoughts.
First, of course I am absolutely devastated by the turn of events that occurred during this episode. Root is my all time favorite character from any tv show and I was not prepared to lose her before the series finale. I’m so disappointed that she’s going to be added to the ever-growing list of lesbian characters to be killed off this year. She’s better than being reduced to a trope and I want more than that for her. I also would never dream of telling anyone how they should feel about her fate. I’m only here to write about my experience and mourning process for my perky psycho.
Now onto the episode. I was incredibly angry when I found out that Root was going to die. I went through a denial phase where I just didn’t believe it was actually going to happen and thought it must be some kind of simulation. I’ve felt sick to my stomach for about 8 hours now. But when I step back and really look at Root and her journey, as much as it pains me I do think this is a fitting end for her character…at least in it’s human form. I know people think that this ending would fit with the Root we knew from seasons 1 and 2, but not with the Root of seasons 3-5. And it’s true, when we first met Root, all she cared about was The Machine and finding it so she could set it free. But TM taught Root how to value human life. TM led her to the people who would become her family. She led her to the love of her life. Root would have never understood why the world was worth saving to begin with without TM. And that’s why I think this sacrifice is so fitting for her, even at this point in her character development. Root truly feels that the only way the team has any hope of taking down Samaritan is if Finch is alive, even if you don’t agree with that take…she absolutely does. Side note, I really am getting tired of people saying that she was killed by a stray bullet. Root saw the sniper on that building, knew they were aiming for Harold, and made a calculated decision that she knew came with great risk. That’s the farthest thing from getting hit by a stay bullet that I can think of. The only thing close is that she got struck by a bullet meant for someone else, but again…that was her choice.
I know some think that her death is just being used as a way to motivate Finch into action. While I see and can understand that take, I also think it goes deeper than that. Besides Shaw, Harold is the most important person in Root’s life. He’s basically the father she never had, the person she has idolized for so long, and someone she has the utmost faith in. In season 4, she almost killed Beth in cold blood just because her proximity to Samaritan put Harold at great risk. How could anyone not expect her to sacrifice herself for the man that built her god and who she’s built this deeply emotional relationship with? And I truly think that Root felt like her sacrifice in that moment was what would keep her entire family safe, not just Harold. So even though this choice was for Harold…it was really also for Shaw too. And John, Fusco, and Bear. But I’m positive the two people that were at the forefront of her mind when she made that decision were Sameen and Harold. That is why I’m coming to accept that this was a proper road for her character to go down. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Root basically transcending this plane of existence and merging with The Machine would probably be her number one choice for how to die. And thanks to another brilliant meta post on here, I begun to believe that Root wasn’t truly alone when she died. Yes, none of Team Machine was there with her…but I have to believe The Machine was with her a the end. She loved Root too much to not be there when Root needed Her most. That thought brings me a lot of peace after so much sadness at the thought of her being alone in some hospital.
One last thought before I finally succumb to the exhaustion that this episode has caused me to feel. I can’t really begin to imagine what Shaw was feeling after she learned that Root had died. She’s probably struggling to figure it out herself after everything she’s gone through. But if there’s one thing that Shaw understands, it’s sacrifice. She did the exact same thing Root did in If-Then-Else. She analyzed the situation, realized that there was only one option, and made the decision to give herself up so that the team could survive and continue to fight. So I truly believe that she would understand, to her core, the decision that Root made. And I think that if Shaw had been in Root’s position, she would have made the same choice. I hope the explore how Shaw is feeling in these last few episode and maybe even have her talk to Root!Machine. And I hope she knows that Root was always thinking about her, every day for the last year. Shaw died during countless simulations in order to protect Root, and now Root loves her right back by sacrificing everything to make sure Shaw can keep fighting.
Again, I’m not saying anyone has to see things this way or feel anything other than what they’re feeling. This is an emotional time and I wish CBS hadn’t fucked us all over with delaying this season so much, and then airing these episodes in such a rapid succession. It made the heartbreak all the more painful because we only had 24 hours to savor Root and Shaw’s reunion. I refuse to blame the writers for that because they had literally no control over it. Anyway, I will always love Root and this show. It’s such important representation even if it didn’t end the way I had hoped it would. She showed people that a queer woman can be powerful and brilliant and witty and cocky and emotional and strong and just an all around epic badass…all while loving another woman. Her sexuality was never a big deal, it was never even mentioned. The team just accepted it and saw her for who she truly was. And I truly believe Root got her happy ending when the whole team was reunited at the end of 5x09. That moment was what she always wanted and she got it. Everything after that, especially with Shaw, was just a little more for her to savor. I will forever be grateful to Amy for bringing my favorite character to life. And I am excited to see her work as The Machine, though it will also be undeniably painful. Time to let sleep finally overcome me.
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