amazing. we’ve managed to perfect the apple — a genetically modified version that never goes brown. and yet, we still haven’t upgraded human beings. the human race has stalled out, harold. and from what i’ve seen, most of it is rotten to the core.
written by: greg plageman + patrick harbinson directed by: jon cassar
I get so emotional when I think about the mayhem twins because they’re such an important m/f relationship that stayed platonic from beginning to end and that’s just so big???? And it shouldn’t be but it is. That’s just how rare m/f platonic relationships are on tv, it’s to the point where majority of the time a male and female will start off as friends and you’re thinking ‘good I hope the writers keep them this way’ but of course the writers pull a 'I don’t think so’ and end up having them eventually fall for each other. I’ve seen it happen too many times at this point so the poi writers keeping Shaw and Reese as just friends the entire series is admirable to me. Reese was literally a big brother to Shaw and was always there for her even when she didn’t think he would be. That’s just how much he loved her in a supporting way; Any other show’s writers would’ve definitely made them romantic, meanwhile we got blessed with the amazingness that is Root and Shaw and their entire dynamic and it wasn’t even supposed to happen. That’s another thing I’ll never get over…
Shoot weren’t planned!!1 Every little thing we got involving their relationship was just the writers going with the flow after their first scene together. How crazy is that? The writers had no idea they’d eventually give us this amazingly iconic slowburn with these two heavily complex characters. And because Root and Shaw weren’t planned, we got to see so much of them outside of their dynamic first which was what the writers originally planned for them and then along the way they just kept adding to their relationship making them develop feelings for each other, etc. For something that was never intended, it sure as hell felt natural and organic. Part of that is credited to the writers but the other is in part to Amy and Sarah’s incredible chemistry. I mean they really DID that relationship jesus.
Add to the fact that the whole team (3 older white men and a dog lol) knew about them and never cared that they were two women that fell in love, they always respected their relationship. And when Root was without Shaw and vice versa, the guys always supported them through the situation and helped them grieve like I cry???? So good.
I’ll shut up now but kudos to Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman for this. They might not have gotten everything right but the mayhem twins and Shoot’s dynamic? They truly created magic with both of those.
Laura Plageman is an artist and educator who lives and works in Oakland, CA. Her images explore the relationships between the process of image making, photographic truth and distortion, and the representation of landscape. She is interested in making pictures that examine the natural world as a scene of mystery, beauty, and constant change - transformed both by human presence and by its own design:
“In th series Response, I am responding to photographs both as representations and tangible objects. Through physically altering enlarged prints and then re-photographing the results, I create works that oscillate between image and object, photography and sculpture, landscape and still life. While they may appear illusory, the resulting pictures are documents of actual events and are thus as authentic as the original representational images contained within.
My process unfolds through observation and experimentation – I let the image and its materiality dictate its direction. Playing with paper and with light in unplanned and organic ways, I look for new ways to perceive the space, form, and context of my subjects. In some works, large pieces of the original image are torn out while in others, smaller parts are more subtly altered. I use a large format view camera throughout my process so I can control perspective and record as much detail as possible. Whether focused on a ripped paper edge or a nesting bird, I hope to reach a place where picture elements interact and merge in unpredictable and expressive ways.”
From the start of TDTWWA, Root’s acting weird. She clearly has been in contact with The Machine prior to her first appearance in the episode, as Root knows Finch is going to shut down The Machine. Throughout the episode, there’s a sense of her trying to say goodbye and set things in motion. Like the I-love-you-but-in-other-words talk with Shaw, or trying to give Shaw a kind of coping mechanism during their fight. Perhaps most importantly, mere seconds before they see Blackwell on the rooftop, Root says to Finch “when the time comes, you’ll know what to do”. If Root knew at the start that she was going to die, but then TM faked her death (the theory I’m inclined to go with), or that she’d die or that she was going to fake her death, it makes all the writing that much tighter and potentially reframes her talk of living on in The Machine as someone trying to come to terms with an approaching expected death.
Every time a Team Machine member dies (I’m including Elias for season 5 since he really was part of the team that season), the show references their first episode in a major way for some symmetry. The Crossing has the Pilot precinct, Reese and Carter repeating dialogue from it and beating up subway thugs. The Day The World Went Away itself has Elias going back to the Double Bs and talking about when he was there with John. return 0 has Reese talk about when Finch found him and gave him a purpose in the Pilot, and you can include the ending symmetry perhaps. But TDTWWA has none of that for Root. It’d be completely contrary to how they handle death within the series.
Finch’s number coming up. Samaritan never wanted to kill Finch until Root and Shaw intervened, and the episode ends with Reese highlighting this fact and saying he thinks his number came up because of what he was going to do to them. So that’s what the writers want us to take away from it. And, if so, that means The Machine would have to know Root would die or “die” for Finch to be pushed to do those things to them.
The episode also makes a point to show she’s shot and bleeding before Blackwell takes his shot. Once he does, we never actually see any entry wound or more blood. This show has always made sure that the big character deaths are definitive with no questions about them, it’d be weird for them to suddenly not even show that someone died. While they did show her body, Shaw’s very first episode involves her in a body bag.
Speaking of said body, everyone in the ‘core four’ of Team Machine has been presumed dead. Finch after the ferry bombing, Reese after Ordos, Shaw when Hersh “killed her”. Root never has, but this episode would complete that running theme if she turned up alive later.
The next piece is found in Synecdoche. I read somewhere that Lisa Joy helped a lot with The Machine’s dialogue uncredited, which explains why it’s the highlight of the episode, and I think there’s a very particular reason for that they were keeping close to the chest. Throughout the episode, The Machine, the person who knows Root better than probably anyone, keeps calling her Samantha Groves. She talks about her death in those terms, using that name. But over .exe and return 0, she says ‘Root’, though never uses it to refer to the ‘death’ with Finch. In one of the first scenes of .exe, The Machine says to Finch “You know I can’t lie to you, Harold.” And she’s not. Samantha Groves died a long time ago, maybe on records is officially dead now, but that doesn’t mean Root is. There’s no other reason for her to suddenly be calling her Samantha Groves except to circumvent her programming not letting her lie to Finch.
“Oops, they must have dug her up.” Must have? The Machine acts like this is a surprise to her, but if she can see Shaw, she can see the grave, and she would know if they did.
In the commentary for .exe that was briefly on the CBS website and has since been taken down and is not on the blu-ray, Plageman talks about Root knowing the Ice 9 password, and specifically says that we’d find out why next episode. But clearly that’s nowhere in return 0, so that must have been among the cut scenes.
And on that line of cut scenes are perhaps the most important two. The first, the fact that apparently Shaw had a full conversation on the phone that was cut, Nolan only saying that Root’s voice was 100% on the other end. The second was revealed by Michael Emerson, who asked an interviewer who he thought the “dark haired motorcyclist in the final montage” was. But, as anyone who has seen the episode can attest to, there is no motorcyclist, that was cut. So if you can see that dark hair under a bike helmet…must be long, huh?
Then there’s the arc Jonathan Nolan has over the interviews. When TDTWWA aired, there was the usual interview that went up on IGN and he and Plageman talk about how Root ‘transcended into The Machine’ and became The Machine. I was…heartbroken, to say the least, by the end of TDTWWA, but honestly…I do kinda like that idea fine. I can be okay with this. Buuuut then Synecdoche comes out. And early on, it establishes from The Machine’s POV that she’s not Root, she’s just using her voice. Which is fine too, but these are not the same thing. Come that weekend, at a festival they showed .exe at, his story changes to “Sometimes heroes die in the dark alone!” And then a friend linked me to an interview from after return 0. Don’t recall where it was though to find it, and Jonathan Nolan goes back on everything he said and says he’d be cool with a spinoff about Root and Shaw working for the new Machine and that you can take the ending how you want.
Way back when The Devil’s Share aired, the Writer’s Room Twitter tweeted that they were planning to reveal Reese’s name that episode, but decided not to because they found a better spot, adding a hashtag saying season 5. So I’m fairly certain Reese was a goner this season even if it wasn’t the end. Michael Emerson also mentioned in interviews for season 5 how he wasn’t able to keep up with the 22/23 episode seasons anymore just due to how exhausting it was. Which means 2/5 of the cast is gone going into season 6. I really don’t see them knowing that, writing those two off, killing Root and just having Shaw and Fusco from now on with Amy Acker voicing The Machine.
But why would The Machine need to fake Root’s death and lie about it? Because Root would stand in the way of what needed to be done with Ice 9 to bring down Samaritan. I don’t think for a second she’d allow them to use it since it would kill The Machine as well, and Finch wouldn’t have gone through what was necessary to get it or use it without that push. We’ve seen The Machine manipulate pieces on the board before to give characters the push they need, perhaps most explicitly in 4C.
When the season 5 airing date was announced, the showrunners pulled the plug themselves, knowing CBS was jerking them around and were going to cancel it anyway. But since they were, at one point, hopeful they’d get a sixth season, I think Root on the phone and motorcycle was the tease for it. The “come back next season” moment that they cut because they weren’t getting another season to explain why she’s alive. But even though they, if I’m right, cut it, the gap is still there where it can fit and nothing really contradicts it. After all, who else would get that big a smile out of Shaw after all that happened this season?
Directed by Chris Fisher, written by Denise The and Greg Plageman
“The truth? The truth is a vast thing. I see that now. Just how much truth there is. Where would we even begin? The truth is, you are not very smart. In fact, you’re only the 43rd smartest person in this building.” / “43rd? Okay, did your… your voice tell you that? That’s based on what?” / “Every standardized test you ever took, averaged together, not including your medical boards, which you cheated on. The truth is, you smoke an average of nine cigarettes a week in the parking lot when you think no one’s looking. The truth is that you visit a massage parlor once or twice a month, that you pay for it with crisp $100 bills that you get out of the cash machine at the 7-Eleven across the street. The truth is that you fantasize on online forums about having sex with some of your patients. Though not me… yet. I guess I’m not your type. The truth is, God is 11 years old, that She was born on New Year’s Day, 2002, in Manhattan. The truth is that She’s chosen me, and I don’t know why yet. That for the first time in my life, I’m a little scared about what’s gonna happen. The truth is, I’m stuck here for now, and the only dialogue you need to be worried about is between me and Her, which is why you might want to give me my phone back. Because I’m having an argument. Would you like to know the truth, doctor? About what we’re arguing over? Whether or not I’m gonna kill you.” - Root/Dr. Carmichael
“I think the thing that struck me the most in terms of the two of them the first time they were on camera, the moment they were on the screen and [Root] pulls out the iron, and I went ‘Something that is supposed to be sadistic has somehow become seductive. There’s something here that we’re missing on the show.’ And we just went with it.” Greg Plageman
One more post (I lied when I said I was done) and I think I have truly exhausted my decent pics. Jim smiling and in profile with a bit of Greg Plageman looking cute there in the background too. I hope you enjoy as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing!
Directed by Chris Fisher, written by Greg Plageman and David Slack
“The Machine and I couldn’t save the world. We had to settle for protecting the seven people that might be able to take it back. so we gave Samaritan a blind spot. Seven key servers that hard-codes it to ignore seven carefully crafted new identities. When the whole world is watched, filed, indexed, numbered, the only way to disappear is to appear, hiding our true identities inside a seemingly ordinary life. You’re not a free man anymore, Harold. You’re just a number. We have to become these people now. And if we don’t, they’ll find us and they’ll kill us. I’m sorry Harold. I know it’s not enough. A lot of people are going to die. People that might have been able to help. Everything is changing. I don’t know if it’ll ever get better, but it’s going to get worse. But The Machine asked me to tell you something before we part. You once told John that the whole point of Pandora’s Box is that, once you open it, you can’t close it again. She wanted me to remind you of how the story ends. When everything has happened, when the worst has passed, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s Box: hope.” - Root