Cast and crew of the CBS thriller Person of Interest appeared at San Diego Comic-Con International for a panel to discuss the show’s upcoming fourth season. Guests included producers Greg Plageman (Cold Case) and Jonathan Nolan (Memento) as well as cast members Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ), Michael Emerson (Lost), Amy Acker (Much Ado About Nothing), Sarah Shahi (Chicago Fire) and Kevin Chapman (Mystic River) — and those looking for details on the highly secretive show got little information.
Person of Interest is about an artificial intelligence supercomputer used by a rogue CIA agent and eccentric inventor to predict and stop criminal activity before it happens. The third season of the show ended with the activation of a competing supercomputer called Samaritan, driving the covert team underground and putting them in the same position as their previous enemies.
“This season is about a war. A battle that takes place between two artificial intelligences,” said Plageman. “The first three seasons of the show dealt with an Orwellian surveillance system. Now it’s a given. The only thing that’s different now – there’s another machine in charge,” which may make things difficult for the lead characters.
“I kind of look at it in athletic terms – survive and advance,” said Caviezel. “This year is with a mission to always try to save lives.” But, there are some radically changed circumstances. “Now, we’re in a situation where we’re having to work with no money, communications, commission; we have to go underground.”
“We’re really looking to tell a very big story on a very big canvas,” said Nolan. “You never know where this story is going to take you,” he continued.
The story, as it turns out, took them perilously close to the real world. Breaking news regarding the NSA and Edward Snowden echoed the show. “It’s an odd kind of validation to realize that the world’s every bit as screwed up as you portrayed it in a speculative fiction television show. It encouraged us to get even further out there,” said Nolan.
Expect to see them “get out there” in season four. “We love sitting in a writer’s room and talking about the shape and the way things are going and how the future is unspooling in ways you’d never expect it to. We love incorporating those ideas into the show,” said Nolan. “One of the things we enjoy talking about the most is the idea of trying to write for an intelligence that’s more intelligent than we are. It’s a bit of a conundrum.”
Emerson, who plays the enigmatic computer genius Mr. Finch, has a little bit of a conundrum as an actor. “I love the flashback stuff and it’s the only role I’ve ever played where I have a romantic life. I wouldn’t mind continuing in that vein a little bit. It’s a shame though isn’t it? The only woman I’ve kissed on screen is my married wife (Carrie Preston who plays Grace),” said Emerson.
Romantic flash backs aside, the show has a number of women in lead roles. Said Shahi of her mysterious Sameen Shaw, “I really love playing her as the kind of character, where yes, she’s a part of a group, but at any moment she can give other characters the bird and walk away.” Shaw and Acker’s Root are always unpredictable. Although Acker claims that Root can always be counted on to look out for the computer. So, her motivation is clear.
But, perhaps the fullest character transformation belongs to Chapman’s Detective Fusco who goes from corrupt cop to hero. “The real turn for Fusco is when he has the fight with Simmons and reflects on his relationship with Carter,” said Chapman. “Fusco is the only one still on the grid.”
When asked by an 11-year old girl if he preferred playing former CIA agent Reese or Jesus Christ, Caviezel said that he liked playing Reese just a tad more because they let him play with guns. Proving that he can do his own stunts, Caviezel then hopped over the table and the stage to give the girl a hug in front of a delighted crowd.
“Person of Interest” returns to CBS in September.