When you watched last week’s season premiere of CBS’s “Person of Interest,” you may have been bummed not to see Sarah Shahi’s Sameen Shaw turn up but, as true Irrelevants know, Shahi was busy having twins in real life when the season began shooting and doesn’t show up until the fourth episode, airing next week.
And, as Shahi told me last fall at NYCC (video here), when we do meet Shaw again, it’s an entrance you won’t soon forget.
While we wait for Root (Amy Acker) to get back together and see if romance (or at least lust) is going to take off, executive producer Greg Plageman answered a few questions via email about what we’ll see as well as creating this attraction between the two women.
There’s a lot of looking back in flashbacks and other moments in the first few episodes. Safe to say viewers will continue to get to know these characters even better than they already do?
Greg Plageman: Definitely. We love our flashbacks. They operate as a very powerful mechanism to understand our characters present day motivation on a deeper level. It’s also interesting to see how far our characters have come in their development, their relationships with each other. Reese, Finch, Root, Shaw, Fusco — every one of them on some level is damaged goods. And almost all of them were forced to leave someone important behind. And we always feel it’s better just to show than tell.
Root clearly has Shaw on her mind in the first few episodes. How would you define the attraction between them?
GP: What did Robert Smith once say? They move like Cajun tigers, those love cats. Always trying to suss out who’s predator and who’s prey. It fuels the tension between them, though Root is a bit more rambunctious in her play. She enjoys getting Shaw all revved up. I think Root is attracted to Shaw on a physical level but it goes much deeper than that. Root had a pretty dim view of humanity before she met Shaw, she thought we were all just bad code. Her first true love was The Machine. But now I think Root sees her as another strong, solitary figure in search of human connection, even if Shaw is loathe to admit it.
Shaw is still grappling with the very idea of feeling anything towards another human being — up to now she’s only enjoyed the company of dogs like Bear. But it was pretty clear when Shaw was confronted with the possible loss of Root in the episode “If-Then-Else” that it hit Shaw like a ton of bricks. I think Shaw almost feels blindsided by her strong feelings for Root, as if she wasn’t aware how powerful they had become. Root kinda snuck up on her.
When you started creating an emotional connection for Root and Shaw prior to this season, how did you think audiences would respond. (“POI” isn’t what I’d call a gay-centric show but it’s a great addition in my book)
GP: We honestly didn’t really think about it all that much. Their first scene together was just a revelation of physical chemistry, more so than any other relationship on the show. So we just went with it. The personality of their characters couldn’t be more different, which proved irresistible. Root just drove Shaw crazy, and that just fueled the sexual tension between them. In television, it just works, whether you’re talking about Sam & Diane or David & Maddie – whenever you get that kind of lightning in a bottle, you never want to let it go, regardless of a character’s orientation. It’s just hot.
Sarah told me at NYCC last fall that Shaw’s reappearance is a big one (and it is!) but will audiences see a different Shaw after what she’s gone through?
GP: You really want me to give that away? Let’s just say Shaw’s been put through the ringer by Samaritan. How could she possibly be the same? I think what’s really endearing is that Root has never lost faith in Shaw’s return, or that they’ll be together again. We’ll see.
I know you didn’t necessarily know the fate of the show when you were wrapping production but, in a general sense, are you a believer in happy endings??
GP: We believe in awesome endings. And we had a strong premonition about the fate of the show before we even started writing the premiere this year. Which was as freeing creatively as it was bittersweet. It really allowed us to go for it with these characters, to bring this crazy cyber-punk paranoid thriller to a logical, satisfying conclusion. If the fans stick with us for these last 13 episodes, we don’t think anyone will be disappointed. And we just want to say thank you to all our passionate Irrelevants. We had as much fun making this show as we hope you did watching.
“Person of Interest” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.