I am trying to understand why Samaritan runs the simulation in Person Of Interest Season 5 Episode 4 as it does.

From here on forwards Finch, Reese and Root will be referred to as "FRR".

Shaw is Back!!! (From here on, Shaw will be referred to as "X".)

We see "X" going through a simulation, which Samaritan expects to find The Machine through.

What I think is the above method will show how "X" might take decision but and might even be able to guess the decision/behavior of "FRR". Since Samaritan have some data and records of how Finch, Reese and Root behave and operate. But simulation can only show what decision a person under simulation("X") takes, may even be able to reveal what "X" knows, but it can't show what "FRR" knows since they are creation of Samaritan, and not real. The knowledge of "FRR" Simulation will only be limited to what Samaritan knows about them. And hence the Simulated "FRR" will never be able to take "X" to the place where The Machine is.

Like under simulation "FRR" might say to "X" 'Lets go to The Machine' but it won't be able to take "X" there, since they don't have that knowledge.

Which is why I am confused when "FRR" kept saying that they can't/shouldn't take "X" to the Machine. The Simulation should be about "X" going to where "FRR" hides and thereby revealing where The Machine is, instead of about "FRR" leading "X" to The Machine.

  • 1
    Your question can't be completely spoiler tagged. Please rearrange your question as best you can to minimize how much is tagged.
    – cde
    May 18, 2016 at 6:52
  • spoiler is regarding a person who's in the first spoiler tag.....And this episode is about that person...okay i have a idea
    – j4rey
    May 18, 2016 at 7:08
  • Then I'm afraid it might be better to simply not hide anything from the question. Remember, spoilers in question bodies are totally fine here, it's only the question titles where you have to be careful. That whole "X" business, while well-intentioned and certainly better than the inital version, is quite distracting, too.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 19, 2016 at 1:35
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    @j4rey89 although that "X" business , totally not needed here. But I liked your idea.
    – Panther
    Dec 4, 2016 at 15:11
  • 1
    Saying X rather than Shaw and FRR rather than Team Machine is rather confusing and unnecessary. Jan 4, 2017 at 14:01

4 Answers 4


The simulation's purpose isn't to see how and what "FRR" do, it's to see how "X" reacts. One of the comments we heard was:

She waited a whole extra hour this time before shooting you in the head (to Greer)

The purpose is to determine just how far alone the road to being reinvented as a Samaritan asset "X" is. Once Samaritan is happy with "X"'s responses, then the simulation scenario will occur for real, only by that point "X" will be expected to take out "FRR".

  • Ah....I didn't think of it that way....The Simulation was to see if "X" would end up killing "FRR"....thanks
    – j4rey
    May 19, 2016 at 6:09
  • there is one problem though....they wouldn't want to kill "FRR" before finding and destroying the The Machine....
    – j4rey
    May 19, 2016 at 8:10
  • If the Machine is currently for the most part crippled and in hiding, perhaps at this point the main threats are "FRR" and therefore Samaritan hasn't got the Machine being destroyed as a priority at this point. Also, once they are gone, there's nobody left to act as assets for the Machine, leaving it vulnerable once it's eventually located...
    – Dave
    May 19, 2016 at 9:55
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    Yet, at the end the doctor actually says "she didn't lead us any closer to The Machine's location.". So they seem to also be trying to find the Machine. And they even could.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 22, 2016 at 19:45

Yes, it could find the The Machine's location if Shaw leads them to it.

While Dave's answer is certainly correct that they seem to be optimizing Shaw's behaviour somehow in order to better control her, it can still be possible to find The Machine this way. And they definitely try that, since one of the doctors says to Greer at the end:

Sir, she blew her brains out again and she didn't lead us any closer to The Machine's location.

You are right in that Samaritan can't just make Finch, Reese or Root go to The Machine since it doesn't know where it is. However, there is someone who does know where The Machine is (or at least Team Machine's base of operations), Sameen Shaw herself. Samaritan can very well simulate the rest of the team in a way that encourages Shaw to go to The Machine's headquarters, since she knows where it is.

And in fact there are some parts of the simulation where they seem to be doing exactly that, especially near the end, when Sameen already accomplished other things for Team Samaritan. Remember how Root presses Shaw to lead the way to The Machine after she killed Reese:

Root: We got to get back to The Machine.
Shaw: We need to be sure first.
Root: Harold's alone, unprotected. Don't worry. I'll watch your tail, you lead the way.
Shaw: There's something I need to tell you, about Reese.
Root: It can wait till we're home safe.

[later, on the play ground]

Root: Where are you going? We need to get back to Harold and The Machine.

It might not be their only goal (as Dave elaborates in his answer), seeing how they also make her kill Reese (and try to kill others) and give Finch the false "kill switch" to sabotage The Machine. But they certainly also try to pinpoint The Machine's location, as evident from the dialogue.


One possible answer is if the first thousand or so simulations were rejected by "X" because Samaritan's version of FRR was out of character. For example if Finch were to start shooting a gun and not worrying about protecting The Machine, then "X" would get suspicious (whether questioning reality comes into it or not). So it's likely that Samaritan is also learning FRR's behaviour from "X".

  • behaviour yes......knowledge no......and they won't find the machine like that.....
    – j4rey
    May 19, 2016 at 8:08
  • Samaritan's not expecting to find the Machine using what "X" knows - as "X" won't possibly know where it is. Its purpose is at this point to turn an asset to its side rather than track down the Machine
    – Dave
    May 19, 2016 at 9:52

It is possible to find the location of machine using simulations. Infact, its Shaw highly trained operative else , anyone else might have shared the location. Sameen knows the safe locations where these people can hide, even though she don't know exactly where is machine. And you see actually also they kept the machine in Subway , which was known to Sameen.

Lets imagine if instead of Greer telling to Shaw that she has placed chip in his arm. John dies fighting multiple people and then they get call that we need Greer as drive is locked and needs his rectnal scan. She will be forced to deliver to take the Greer to subway. Infact same scenario, John don't dies but lot of agents, he proposes I am holding them to take Greer to Finch and root.

Samaritan has learns the behaviour of other characters from Shaw only by running multiple simulations and improvising it everytime. And Samaritan don't need to know exact behaviour of other characters, infact just need to simulate their behaviour what Sameen expects.

If we consider reality when she finally Sameen joins Team machine, she got confinced when Root says she will kill herself if Shaw put bullet to her head.What if Samaritan have tried same ?

Key factor, here is time and number of simulations. If we talk about 4-5 simulations, yes Samaritan don't have that much idea about Root, Finch & Reese but running for 8-9 thousand times and improving simulation by learning it each time. Yes it can be done. As Greer says in end of episode :-

How are you doing, Sameen? We have all the time in the world, my dear Sameen.

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