January 5, 2015
Person of Interest fans have been on edge for weeks now, waiting for the second episode in the exciting Samaritan Trilogy, “If-Then-Else”, to air.
The first installment, “The Cold War,” left us all hanging as it looked like Samaritan was crashing the stock market and the war between Greer’s goons and Team Machine was officially on. Making things better/worse, Shaw left the team’s underground hideout so that she could head out and be an extra soldier on the ground, even though the fact that she’s now easily trackable could make things worse for our heroes.
I spoke to star Amy Acker about the next episode, “If-Then-Else,” which appears to be somewhat of a climax on the Samaritan front, even though we’re only halfway through the season. We also talked about the scene in “The Cold War” between Root and the young boy, Gabriel, and how Shaw trying to help might complicate things for Root, from a heart vs. head standpoint.
IGN: So right when we all were waiting for something big to happen with Samaritan, the show started hyping this three-part event. It started with “The Cold War,” but the next episode, just from the previews, looks insane.
Amy Acker: Yeah, it’s a little crazy right now. For me, it’s the climax – of the season even, with the set-up episode we had right before it. It’s a really big episode to set the stage for. It’s full-blown war now and it’s really starting to get serious. We’re actually at war with Samaritan and it’s not just something we’re talking about. As in, something that might be coming. Which I think we were all excited about and surprised about because that’s what this whole season felt like it was leading up to. So now that we’re doing that in the middle of the year it’s really going to affect what happens for the rest of the season.
IGN: Is Root worried at all about The Machine’s way of seeing things now? Is she having doubts? Like, could The Machine concede here?
Acker: Well, I think that was the interesting part of the conversation between Root and the boy – When Root spoke as The Machine and Samaritan was the boy. And Samaritan telling The Machine “I’m going to destroy you” and telling her “You know you can’t win.” And I said “I know.” And so I think Root hearing that, as The Machine, and then saying that to its enemy is important. But The Machine also said “We’re not going to surrender” because her human agents believe in this fight and they’ll fight to the end. I think Root is tied to The Machine and doesn’t really have a choice of backing down now. This has been her life. Everything she’s done on the show has been about setting The Machine free and everything she’s learned and how she’s grown as a character has all been based on The Machine. So I think it’ll take a lot for her to question it. She has to really fight for The Machine in order to have a purpose almost.
IGN: What was it like doing the scene with the boy, Gabriel [played by Oakes Fegley]. It must have been weird having that humanity-damning dialogue coming out of such a young kid.
Acker: It was crazy. When we first read the script we were all like “How are you ever going to find a kid who can do this and say all this and learn all this?” And so the producers thought “Well, we may have to get a teenager.” You know, if they couldn’t find the right child to do it. And then Oakes came in and just nailed it in the audition and then was spectacular when he got there. I have a nine-year-old son so I sort of felt “What am I doing wrong?” [laughs] It’s hard enough to get him to remember put his napkin in his lap much less memorize a long monologue.
IGN: But then wouldn’t you also be worried if he could nail those lines? Talking about how humanity was a cesspool?
Acker: [laughs] I guess you’re right. Maybe there’s that other side to consider. No, but he was great. And he was lovely in real life. I think his parents are both actors. He was just really fun to have on set. It was a hard and fun scene to do.
IGN: Root seemed very upset when Samaritan called her by her real name. Why did it offend her so much? She said “My name is Root” very forcefully.
Acker: I mean, that’s been something that she’s also insisted upon in the past too. She’s said that to Harold. He hasn’t paid much attention to it, I’m afraid. I feel like I’ve had that line a lot. “My name is Root.” I just always have felt that when she let go of her past and found a purpose with The Machine, that’s when she really just became Root all the time. And so that’s what she wants to be. And there’s obviously stuff she doesn’t want to remember from being Samantha Groves.
IGN: It seems like Root’s affections for Shaw are in overdrive right now. Would you say that? Whether spoke or unspoken, this Samaritan situation really seems to have brought them together more. Even if Shaw is always grouchy about it.
Acker: Yeah. I do. We’ve talked about it a lot on set. How much they mean the things they say and how much they mean to each other. And starting out with the hot iron torture and never thinking that that was going to be the start of our romance. It just seemed like an intense torture scene and somehow that sort of became the thing that they like to do to each other. But I feel like Shaw sees things the same way. There was an episode, a few weeks back, when I said “If anything happens to me I want you to let Shaw know.” I feel like even if it’s not a romantic relationship — even though the writers have hinted to us that it is — that whatever it is they do care about each other. And they have each other.
Even if Shaw’s annoyed by root, at the end of the day I feel she wanted to leave the lair at the end of the last episode because she knew Root was in trouble. She doesn’t like any of her friend to be in danger and I think Root’s the same way. But knowing that Shaw left at the end of the episode now puts Root in a bad position because they’ve already started the war with Samaritan and it’s no longer a Cold War. And so to know that Shaw is out it creates a conflict for her. She already has this other major thing that she has to worry about so how can it all fit together with helping Shaw and saving her in the midst of all that?
IGN: What was up with Root being in that bear costume? I know she was a birthday entertainer, but it felt a bit Shining. Usually her jobs are sort of high end and luxurious. This one felt like her “Bloomingdales makeup counter.”
Acker: Someone had sent me a text message that just had the line “Root in a bear costume” and it was about two months before we got to that episode and so I was like “What?” [laughs] So I kept waiting to see where and how that would actually come into play.
IGN: Who sent it to you? The Machine?
Acker: Maybe. It must have been. Or Samaritan trying to torture me. [laughs] No, it was someone who’d seen an outline of the script beforehand and, you know, it was fun. And it’s great that they can do that sort of stuff on the show. Amidst all the seriousness, they can get away with that stuff. “I’m really going to wear a bear costume? Okay.”
IGN: Your fans loved seeing you on Agents of SHIELD back in the first season. Do you think the Audrey character will make a return? Have you heard anything?
Acker: I haven’t heard anything recently. But when I was on the show they said they hoped to be able to bring her back. And I hope so just because I love all those people. And I would love to be able to do some actual real scenes with Clark [Gregg]. Because last time we never actually got to interact with each other. I would be really excited to go back. IGN Logo
The Person of Interest episode “If-Then-Else” airs Tuesday, January 6th at 10/9c on CBS.