Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Subtext of Interest

OK, enlighten me, Internet. How shippy is “Person of Interest” really? I’ve heard a lot about this Root and Shaw connection. I’ve seen a lot of subtext gifs. I’ve seen a goof bit of fangirl flailing. And now I need to know. On a scale of 1 to Gayzzoli, how subtexty is it really? I want it to be very gay, because I love a) Amy Acker (hello, Fred) and b) Sarah Shahi (hello, Carmen). So I very much want whatever their connection to be real.

Yet I’m still reluctant to start watching because a) Person of Interest is already on it’s fourth season, so that’s a lot of catching up, and b) My mom loves this show and, bless her heart, we don’t always agree on what constitutes must-see TV.

From the gifsets (the primary way I watch TV shows I don’t actually watch), it appears there was one near canonical moment when Root basically says to tell Shaw she loves her if she dies. What, I’m paraphrasing.

As an expert subtext whisperer, I do know that more than 15 months ago when the above photo of Amy and Sarah popped up on Instagram I thought, damn, they make a nice couple. Wouldn’t it be nice if the series went there?

So now I ask you, series of tubes. What am I missing out on? Should I catch up? Should I cruise fanvids? Or should I just continue following vide gifset. per usual?

p.s. Also, is their portmanteau really Shoot?


Tristen said...

Im catching up on the series now. Im just starting season 3 and there have been no lezzy stuff so far. Seson 2 introduced Root but no sceens that I saw with Shaw. Ill keep u informed as I watch.

As for the show itsself ... its ok. Nothing too great ... yet. Its mostly a episodic procedual with and ex CIA agent helping a computer genius save people each week.

K8 said...

I watch the show and I enjoy it !
There is nothing really going on between these two :))
But in the last 2 episodes there were indeed few (maybe) flirtations lines that made me go a bit : waaaaaaait a second, WHAT?!
So I dont know,maybe the writers are warming up to smtg ))

Gherrilheira said...

The series started as a procedural, but in season 3 started changing towards a more "serial-ish" show, and quality really improved.

Shaw has an emotional disorder: according to herself, she doesn't feel fear, nor any emotion, except for sometimes anger. Still, she tries to become a doctor and when that fails, she becomes an government agent, assassinating terrorist all around the word (how badass is that?)

As a child, Root (only?) friend was murdered, she tried to do something but nobody helped, so she started to see humanity as garbage, thus, became a manipulative hacker & assassin for hire. She's not only my favourite character in the show, but also one of all I've ever seen, Amy reaaaally does an awesome job playing her.

At first Root is really one of the bad guys and starts becoming a little more "civilized" when interacting with the main characters. As I said, she's manipulative and loves games, so she starts flirting/teasing Shaw although I think is pretty clear Root really has a huge crush on Shaw and just takes advantage of the situation to have some fun at the agent expenses.

I'm not really sure Shaw can love, but still surely she must have some, ahem, "appetites" that need to be fulfilled, don't you think? Or at least that's what I like to imagine, (wink wink)

If you don't wanna see all the show, you can take the easy way and start here:

PS- Sorry for the really long comment :P

Sam Bennett said...

I've just started watching the second season, and Ill be honest, its pretty hard work to stay interested in it for so long. The whole 'white guys continually saving the day' trope gets old after a while... BUT the 'big bad' arc in the second season makes it a bit more worth it with the introduction of Root (Amy Acker makes for a smoking hot sociopath), and when i caught more recent episodes with Shaw, she makes it waaay more watchable.

Also, first season has guest appearances from 3 members of the OITNB cast, yay

So in conclusion... you could skip the first season and just read a review of it on wikipedia and be fine, half watch the second season only paying attention to the Root bits (and some interesting CIA storylines) and then fully tune in when Shaw gets introduced.

I am only watching all of it because im unemployed, otherwise I wouldn't bother

roussefolle said...

Show is very good, but it is focused on main premise - all seeing machine, it's power i managing this power. Relationships, be it het or homo, are not shown - but they are there, jfc, they are. I don't care if anyone get to be kissed at all in this show, but they present great picture of friendship, love and camaraderie. And it's Root&Shaw, I think, didn't see a lot of Shoot or Raw.
Also other female characters are badass in many ways.
nice look at things is here:

Tristen said...

Someone (lez) on the internet who loves the show made a list of "Must See" episodes if you want to play catchup but don't want to go through every episode. This list is to help you understand what is happening with the characters and the show.

Season 1 Eps 1/8/10/11/13/23
Season 2 Eps 1/2/11/12/13/16/19/21/22
Season 3 Eps ALL
Season 4 Eps ALL

If your in it for the lez stuff you will be disapointed. It is mainly 2 men saving the day. But once I paired down to watching this list of important episodes, I did like it better.

One other thing. Initially there is a badass black female cop chasing Reese (Ex-Cia Agent) in the show and then she starts helping him. This show is kinda like ARROW but without the costumes.

Anonymous said...

The badass black female cop, referenced above, is Carter. No spoilers, let's just say she's the best thing about the first couple seasons and then things change. The show breaks down into two distinct storylines: Carter and then Root. It's pretty clear Root is attracted to Shaw and that she likes messing with her head; some funny and entertaining dialogue as a result. Shaw remains fairly clueless and her "innocence" is part of the fun. However, I doubt they will ever let them have an actual relationship. It will remain very subtle subtext possibly approaching the level of R&I if the writers are kind.

TotallyNatS said...

I was wondering if my favorite Blogger was going to take notice of POI anytime soon.:)

I put the show on my "to-watch" list when I heard Amy Acker would become a series regular but somehow didn't find the time to give it a try until a couple of months ago, when I used the last two weeks of my semester break to binge-watch season 1-3. Not only did I soon come to the conclusion that POI is one of the most intelligent and well-written shows currently on tv featuring strong, female characters, I also was - to put it mildly - rather fascinated by the dynamic between Root and Shaw: The teasing, bickering and more importantly the slow build-up and establishment of an emotional bond between them. Then these last couple of episodes happened and made my up until then subtext-denying roommate owe me a six pack of beer.

So I was kinda surprised when I searched the vastness of the intraweb for signs that I wasn't the only one seeing what I was seeing only to find that Afterellen as one of my primary sources when it comes to tv-subtext hadn't picked up on it yet. Root and Shaw weren't even featured or mentioned in this year's Femslash Madness Tourney.
Which led me to spontanously comment on a morning brew post a couple of weeks ago, mentioning that dorothy-snarkeresque recaps and analyses of the abundant "uber-subtext" would be a shipper-dream come true.

I for one, think this is a relationship worth observing and following. Taking into acount the last 4-5 episodes, it's beyond any Rizzoli and Isles level of subtext. I'm fairly sure it can almost be considered maintext by now. From what I hear, there are still quite a few great "SHOOT" moments awaiting us this season. Not to mention that Team Machine consists of well rounded characters, who each remain interesting and capable even when singled out/looked at individually.

Given all that as well as the tone, the topics and the level of sophistication of the show I'm sure you would enjoy it.

Sorry for the ridiculously long answer and any language mistakes.

PS: Sarah Shahi and Amy are quite vocal about the emotional tightrope walk between their characters, too. The last ship with two such vocal captains was the SS BeringandWells... which was Oh so beautiful until that massive iceberg of awfulness, a.k.a. season 5 came along.

Tristen said...

The female Cop Carter needs her own show ... I'd watch !!

Anonymous said...

This interview may be of interest:

Shahi: But that’s also how the whole Root thing started. Root (played by Amy Acker) is the kind of character where Shaw wants to punch her one minute, kiss her the next. As long as she keeps bringing the action, it’s all good for Shaw.The Devil You Know

TVLINE | Amy in fact told me that at the end of the day, Shaw is Root’s “No. 1 crush.”

Shahi: Yes, and I think Shaw is starting to agree with that.


TotallyNatS said...

It's also important to note though, that it's not a relationship show.
Romantic relationships so far have only been implicated. Even the male hetero hero has never had a full-blown on-screen romance. A few glances and some subtext at best.

So considering that "Shoot" is the thing coming closest to a romantic "coupledom" so far, is quite remarkable.

The Snake said...

there's no subtext it's all real text. root openly flirts, ogles & teases shaw. i simply found out the episodes they were in together and watched those. give it a look, their chemistry is worth the watch.

The Snake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

The moving truck scene from the last new episode (Nov 26th) will set your panties on fire. Seriously.

martinyfelix said...

It's a really good show, it's one of my favorites. That said, it started being quite procedural and it may get a bit tyring especially if you are waiting for it to get to the good stuff. When the series started going into the implications of having a system that see us all 24/7 (and this happend overtime) it became much more interesting.
And Shaw and Root have been firting quite a bit recently, I think this is going somewhere. The writers always have a trick up their sleeve and they don't start something that isn't going to end up nowhere.

Anonymous said...

no where near gazzoli. Skip it and watch the fan videos or gifs.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a ship worthy of retaining the names of its duo. Like Bering and Wells, they should Root and Shaw and not some silly combination moniker.

withoutalittlelove said...

If you're not into procedurals and all that the whole show might not be your cup of tea, especially the first two seasons. But as for Shoot (yes that is their ship name), they are super heavy on the subtext. And I might as well go so far as to say they surpass the Gayzzoli in subtext this season alone (and it's not over yet!)

But one really must note that this is not a romantic relationships show at all, even for the het folks, mostly because the characters are all really damaged or flawed in some way. There are great badass female characters though who are pretty well fleshed out.

As for Root and Shaw well. Shaw, to put it lightly, is not a fan of human emotions at all. They're just not really a thing for her. But she does appreciate a nice brain and good criminal activity. But that's kind of changing little by little with her integration in the team and other things. She has said at one point now to Root [on why she didn't leave when given the chance] "I guess there are..things I care about here." (you'll have to watch to see the looks given in this scene ;) haha). And it was heavily implied they hooked up awhile back in some of the recent episodes.

Point being, they seem to be good for each other and the subtext is so there. So if you want some great female characters with lots of emotional issues and subtext for days then watch.

And the actresses ship it. I'll just leave you with this tidbit of an interview.

Shahi: But that’s also how the whole Root thing started. Root (played by Amy Acker) is the kind of character where Shaw wants to punch her one minute, kiss her the next. As long as she keeps bringing the action, it’s all good for Shaw.The Devil You Know

TVLINE | Amy in fact told me that at the end of the day, Shaw is Root’s “No. 1 crush.”

Shahi: Yes, and I think Shaw is starting to agree with that.


Anonymous said...

A lot of comments suggest that people are missing the entire point of the show. Person of interest is a procedural only on the surface. The actual underlying narrative is about the role of human intelligence in conversation with artificial intelligence.

In a lot of ways, POI belongs on the Syfy channel (Except not lol because its actually a super high quality intelligent show that expects its audience to pay attention and Syfy doesn't go in for that) because it deals with a lot of really classic heavy duty science fiction themes like "what happens when you create an AI?" "What does it mean to be human and can machines actually achieve humanity?" "What is good and evil when you're in the middle of a war?" This is not murder of the week this is some heavy duty philosophical questioning going on and the best part is, the show doesn't attempt to provide answers. They actually leave that up to the audience.

Like fine if people think is a procedural sure, but that's like saying you watched Farscape or Babylon 5 for the nifty CGI.

Also people who say "there is nothing going on" between Root and Shaw probably are missing at least half the show, which features incredibly subtle cues about its character's development. You're not going to get two characters sharing a bed and making sleep over jokes.

Instead you get one character who alters her behavior to accommodate the other character's deafness in one ear and its NEVER mentioned. There is an expectation of intelligence that the writers make of the audience that is SO REFRESHING I can't even stress how amazing it is after OuaT and Rizzoli and Isles to actually never feel the need to say "Fandom does it better."

Every single thing that POI does is intentional and plot/character points are connected as much as whole seasons apart.

Do I think Root and Shaw will ever kiss? Eh probably not. But the lead male character hasn't gotten any onscreen action since the pilot so I'm pretty okay with that, and best of all no matter what happens, I have faith that the writers will not pull a 180 and try and no homo us.

Amy said...


nirky said...

Dear Ms. Snarker,

Just the fact that the actresses involved in this ship are Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi, who are both fully supportive of the relationship between their characters, should make you want to watch it. :)

However, if this isn't enough, the AE article about them is actually quite hilarious and very on point:

They were also featured in The Toast's Femslash Friday (another great article):

(ahah, just noticed they were both written by the same person. SHE'S GREAT)

If 4 seasons is too big of an investment for you, here is a cheat sheet of the must-watch episodes for the main arc of the show:

Amy Acker's first episode is 1x23, but Root's first episode is 1x13. Sarah Shahi's first episode is 2x16.

I understand the need to skip episodes of S1 or S2 due to a more procedural-like format, but I 100% advise against skipping anything in S3. Hell S2 is great and shouldn't be skipped either, but if you're in it for Root and Shaw, follow the episode guide for S1 and S2 and then just watch everything from S3 and S4.

If for nothing else, Person of Interest is one of the smartest shows on TV right and that alone should be worth everyone's attention.

Anonymous said...

PoI is one of the smartest and best shows on TV. There are loads of reasons to watch this show. If you wanna watch because of shaw/root watch because of what Heather Hogan said about same-sex chemistry being ignored on TV; on PoI it is not, but they still remain true to the characters. Root is "insane" and Shaw is a psychopath; they won't be doing anything traditionally couple-y, but there is straight out serious flirting (and a great journey of getting invested and caring more and more about each other) so I won't call it subtext like Rizzisle or ouat. Watching the characters' backstory and journey unfold is a treat - watching these people becoming a team is my favorite TV thing.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Person of Interest is the smartest show on television. Television's best critic has called it the next X-Files, please check out his write-up on the show here: Please, please, take 5 minutes to read that so that you can gauge a reaction from someone who knows good television.

With that in mind, now we can move on to Root and Shaw. Two of the most complex and beautifully written characters of any television show right now, cable or network. They are so layered and well-studied that each one could carry their own show easily.

It is important that you know these characters as individuals so that you can appreciate their relationship. Because what works, at least to me as a viewer, is that they are both so complex and so well-written that when they share scenes together, those complexities are what make that dynamic so interesting to watch.

Root, a genius hacker with psychopathic tendencies, starts off as an antagonist. Perhaps the best antagonist the show ever had. Played superbly by Amy Acker, she says things like:

"One day, I realized all the dumb, selfish things people do... it's not our fault. No one designed us. We're just an accident, Harold. We're just bad code. But the thing you built... It's perfect. Rational. Beautiful. By design."

She's a zealot, driven by her utter disdain for humankind and her love for an artificial intelligence that will take the world to a next level, a world free of bad code. And to understand where Root is coming from, it is key to be aware of this. Because she goes through a transformation, which I won't spoil. But she goes from that place to a) joining the team of heroes and b) CARING. That journey and the way the show embarks on it were brilliant television. It's not your sappy redemption story, it's gradual and absolutely earned.

Then there's Shaw. Like Root, Shaw is, essentially, an assassin. Sure, paid by the government, but an assassin nonetheless. Shaw is written as someone devoid of emotions due a medical condition. Where Root is a psychopath, Shaw is sociopath. Like Root, she's extremely self-confident, to the point of being very arrogant. In fact, both are. She feels no remorse for the people she has assassinated and she's a soldier through and through. She will complete her mission at any cost. Shaw's only turn-on in life is violence. Because her emotions are dialed down, the only thing that gives her a thrill is violence: shooting or fighting bad guys. Until she joins the team (I won't spoil the circumstances) and she, too, embarks on her own journey of personal growth.

So, imagine these two women, who never formed an attachment to anyone in their lives (well, Root might have, but when she was a kid), developing actual feelings for one another. Feelings that go beyond a sexual interest, mind you: there is respect, professional admiration, and there is trust. Considering where they both came from and how they started out as antagonists, their story is the most compelling character arc of seasons 2 and 3.

If you want to watch an extraordinary television show that writes character relationships... no, not romance, but actual complex relationships and that, yes, features a same-sex dynamic that is, at this point, presented on the show as one with romantic overtones, then yes, you should watch. But this is not those other shows you mentioned. POI was never and never will be about on-screen romantic entanglements. What's fascinating is that it treats all its characters equally, male and female. It respects them, it develops them, and it never manipulates its viewers.

Anonymous said...

Finally, this is a catch-up list that will help you get started and skip those episodes you don't need:


11 2piR



Anonymous said...

Watch this show. Root and Shaw are, by POI standards**, 100% canon. It's also one of the smartest shows on network television.

**(World would be a better place if we'd stop judging one show's relationships on the basis of an entirely different show's. Look up tumblr posts comparing Root/Shaw to Reese/Zoe or even Reese/Carter, which are the only other two non-flashback romantic relationships depicted to date.)

Leigh Lastname said...

It's worth it. The first season is what everybody thinks this show is - dudes in a procedural on CBS - but in the last episode of the season they introduced Root and from that point the show really took off.

Amy Acker is a revelation. Her character has elevated POI into something truly interesting and when she meets up with Sarah Shahi’s character in the second season (“Relevance”) the show becomes must-see TV for lesbians. It’s mostly subtle, but not because it’s two women rather because that’s the nature of the show itself; the heterosexual relationship between John and Zoe is treated exactly the same, if not given less emphasis. In fact the Root and Shaw (Shoot!) pairing has lately been receiving the most fan chatter of any relationship, even more than Reese and Finch (the two dudes who have a subtexty thing going on), mainly because in Season 4 the writers have taken Root’s feelings for Shaw out of "sub" and made it "text." There is no doubt that Root's feelings for Shaw are not platonic. At all.

These two are not Xena & Gabriell/Rizzoli & Isles/Regina & Emma; their complicated relationship is an overt, intentional part of the show and it is awesome.

Where it goes? Who knows? But there has been an escalation in this season, especially the past two episodes with Root, that is the reason the chatter went from "They have mad, sexy chemistry. Maybe?" to "Holy shit, they totally are! And it’s amazing!" Which is what's catching everyone's attention lately.

Person of Interest is a complicated, existential discussion surrounded by lots and lots of gunfire, with a dark sense of humor and a proto-SkyNet brought to you by the man who wrote Interstellar and the Dark Knight trilogies, produced by the folks behind "Lost" so right there the pedigree is on the A end of the spectrum. But it's also not easy to slip into, you'll need to do some research beforehand on Wikipedia or just watch the shows, but it's so worth it.

Heather Morrissey said...

I saw an episode when I was at my Dad's during season 3 and went out and bought the first two seasons and caught up. The show is definitely worth it. Love Root and Shaw and Detective Carter. Good subtext but I doubt it will ever turn into anything(same as Rizzoli and Isles). I would recommend the show.

Big Shamu said...

Ummm, there was a big ole hot kiss last night.