'Person of Interest' Finale Postmortem: "Heartbreaking" Deaths Set Up "Harrowing" Season 5

Co-star Winston Duke and EPs Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman tell THR about the season finale's "drastic" ramifications and whether they're confident about getting a renewal from CBS.
Giovanni Rufino/CBS
A still from Tuesday's 'Person of Interest' finale.

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday's season four finale of CBS' Person of Interest.]

It was a tough day for Team Machine during Tuesday's season-four finale of Person of Interest.

The CBS drama's gang war came to a head with a bloody gun battle, culminating in a Samaritan sniper killing Dominic (Winston Duke) and Elias (Enrico Colantoni). The Machine admitted defeat by Samaritan and even bid farewell to Finch (Michael Emerson), but Finch — alongside Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Root (Amy Acker) — was able to save his creation and stow her away in a briefcase just before she went offline completely.

Duke and executive producers Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the season-four finale, with Duke admitting that, despite the show's high body count over the years, he was completely taken aback by his character's death when he received the finale's script. 

"I tend to read the last few pages of the script first, just to know if I'm off," the actor says with a laugh. "I was like, 'Ah! No!' I went through all those stages of grief, questioning and making excuses, like maybe it's a big April Fool's joke. I was like, 'Maybe they're going to whip out and go 'gotcha!' in the middle of the scene.' "

Nolan says that the finale showed the two main forces of antagonism — the crime bosses and Samaritan — "crashing into collision with each other," with Samaritan's actions leading to lasting consequences. "[Elias] is a criminal — he's a bad guy — and yet I think we all recoil at the solution Samaritan arrives at [in the finale] for how to deal with a bad guy," he says. "It's not a heroic way, but it's an effective way, as we're going to see when we come back next season."

Duke, who is set to appear on The CW's The Messengers, says that though shooting the final scenes was "bittersweet," he believes the character had been "paid the ultimate compliment by the writers" in getting offed by Samaritan. "Dominic became kind of a Greek character who flew too close to the sun," Duke explains. "He had to be taken down by the gods, and it was something really grand."

Plageman admits it wasn't fun to inform Duke and Colantoni that their characters were meeting their demise in the episode. "It's heartbreaking; it's terrible," Plageman says of delivering the news. "It's just terrible — I can't stand it. Because they've been on the show for such extended periods of time, they start to believe that they can cheat death, and when the reaper finally comes — they give you a hug, but they always wonder, 'Well, am I going to come back in flashback?' "

While the Warner Bros. Television drama has yet to be renewed for a fifth season, Nolan is "feeling very confident" that it will happen. "CBS won't make any announcements for a while — they've obviously got a ton of great shows, and they're trying to figure that out — but from our perspective, we're feeling very good about coming back," he says.

As for what is in store for the heroes in a potential fifth season, Nolan says that they'll be "on the run" when the story picks back up, with Finch forced to decide "how he's going to rehabilitate [the Machine] and what powers he wants it to have in its new incarnation."

"Their cover identities have not been blown, as far as we know; they're still very much hiding in plain sight from Samaritan," Nolan says. "But the world around them — it may look the same when we come back next season, but underneath the hood, something very drastic has changed."

Meanwhile, Plageman refers to the coming season as "a rebuilding [one] for our characters. They've been protected to this point by this all-seeing eye of the Machine, and they're now responsible for trying to rebuild that machine, so they're much more vulnerable than we've seen them before. It's going to be a harrowing season."

What did you think of the episode, and what are you hoping to see happen next season? Sound off in the comments. Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new series orders with THR's handy Scorecard

Email: Ryan.Gajewski@THR.com
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski