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Person of Interest’s Tasers, Kinks and Cuffs…A.K.A. ‘Shoot’

When you've got ten hours to spare in a CIA blacksite with nothing but a hood and zipties, what do you do?

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In the light of recent LGBTQ TV scandals, I felt cautiously inappropriate in hindsight submitting this Root and Shaw article. Then I thought: no, I shouldn’t feel guilty for investing in and enjoying a genuinely enthralling same-sex couple relationship on a show where the producers are devoid of baiting and exploitation. For fans of the show who don’t enjoy the Root/Shaw pairing—despite my best efforts to make this an exploration of their relationship and how it slots in culturally, rather than an article of ‘squeeing’—then I’d strongly advise you to read no further for the sake of peace and lack of unnecessary inflammatory comments in this otherwise unified fandom. I like to think that’s what sets the Person of Interest fandom apart.

I don’t know when the time is right to publish an article like this because I know LGBTQ fans are still hurting—and that understandably may never stop. I still miss Lexa. But I don’t think that should hinder fans of Root and Shaw, or indeed Person of Interest—and actually, if this article makes you want to check out a really decent, tightly-plotted and excellently handled show then by all means do so. If the thought of another LGBTQ pairing is still frightening and you don’t want anything to do with it—equally, you are entitled to that opinion, absolutely. I utterly respect both stances. But in terms of the article, I’d like to analyze the only romance that exploded with critical acclaim—hence why I will only explore this dynamic (as stated in my previous article, if I explored every dynamic in-depth, I would be writing for years—and I do have a real life to juggle).

Romance isn’t core to Person of Interest, a show dominated by two warring AIs, but where humanity (and consequentially romance) is key in fighting back, Root and Shaw are not the only romance to have existed, and thus the plot never revolves around them. Just like Reese and Carter; Finch and Grace; Reese and Iris. They often endure struggles without each other, but Root and Shaw’s unique charm threads them inevitably together. Superbly, independently developed characters already, they only need moments—not fifty hours of screen-time—to set the screen alight. The duo’s evolution from antagonism to mocking to flirting to caring and loving has been beautiful to watch bloom on-screen—and gorgeously, heart-wrenchingly played by Acker and Shahi. It’s not to say their romance dominates—every single dynamic on the show is hugely important, be they platonic or not.

During their first encounter (bear with me), Root tasers Shaw, zipties her to a chair and wields a steaming-hot iron ready to torture some information out of her. Somehow, Acker and Shahi’s chemistry literally sizzles with blazing sexual tension. Root is a “big fan” of Shaw’s, and Shaw, awaiting her imminent torture, dares to tease Root: “I kinda like this sorta thing.”

Once upon a time, a sizzling iron and the promise of torture...
Once upon a time, a sizzling iron and the promise of torture…

It’s a setup for some unexpectedly hilarious moments between them thereafter. When Root’s freed, the Machine tells her she needs Shaw for a mission—so in typical Root fashion, she watches Shaw sleep, tasers her, sedates her and basically kidnaps her until Shaw groggily awakes at the steering wheel of a car and says hazily, to Root’s uproariously ridiculous apology, “Which part? The tasing, the drugging, or whatever this is?” Acker and Shahi not only exude sexual chemistry and tension whenever they’re on-screen: they’re comedy gold together.

I honestly have no witty caption for this.
I honestly have no witty caption for this.

Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman hit the jackpot with them—so they took their chances. How many times have we had amazing chemistry between two females only for showrunners to turn them into best-buddies and then tease at fans about their obvious UST? But they don’t differentiate Root and Shaw’s budding romance from anybody else’s; they don’t loudly and pretentiously pat themselves on the back in congratulations as if to say: “Yay! We’re totally representing the LGBTQ community!” They write Root and Shaw because they honestly love them. They completely normalize it and it’s so wonderful to see two kickass, independent women in their own right also as part of an explosive, dynamic and fun ship, whilst still keeping the core relationships intact and central to the show.

Root and Shaw do not need to be physically together to be badasses nor exude chemistry. There's no damsel in distress situation between these two ladies.
Root and Shaw do not need to be physically together to be badasses nor exude chemistry. There’s no damsel in distress situation between these two ladies.

Alright, buckle up australopithecines, this might get long. Well. It is long.

 

REPRESENTATION—AND WHY THIS MATTERS

Root and Shaw’s sex lives are heavily alluded to—notably in ‘Honor Among Thieves’ in which Root interrupts Shaw’s meeting with Tomas by waffling about a certain ten hours in a CIA blacksite. At the end, Shaw approaches Root and confesses she rejected Tomas’ offer of Barcelona because she cares about people here. It’s brushed off, in characteristic Shaw fashion, but Shaw goes on to claim that she—a medic—can’t interpret Finch’s viral decontamination instructions. The all-knowing smirk they share when Root suggestively says “this’ll take all night…” says it all. It’s gloriously beyond subtext, and it has been for a long time. It’s never mocked, or turned into a joke: they talk about it openly, Root flirts blatantly. Shaw delivers a desperate kiss to Root in ‘If-Then-Else’ in front of everyone. It’s normal. It’s fine. Why shouldn’t it be?

I don't know what I'd do for ten hours in a CIA blacksite but these two clearly do...
I don’t know what I’d do for ten hours in a CIA blacksite but these two clearly do…

When Shaw’s almost killed by Martine, Root, upset by Shaw’s blasé attitude to the near-miss, shakily tells Shaw that while she mightn’t be scared, “other people are—people who care about you.” It’s clear Root’s alluding to herself. I could rave about their stunning chemistry together, but astoundingly, they ooze chemistry even without the other in the scene too. When Root goes to meet Samaritan’s interface, Shaw immediately packs her weapons in a bag, determined to back her up—because she will not let Root die, alone. When Shaw sacrifices herself at the Stock Exchange, Root claws desperately at the cage as the elevator doors slam shut, screaming in hapless terror. It’s refreshing, to see an epic love story played by two women to this scale of rawness; idyllic highs and tragic, heartbreaking lows.

Root and Shaw argue after Shaw scoffs at the notion of being scared for her life; Root, clearly hurt and scared, angrily reminds Shaw that there are people who care for her life—that she matters.
Root and Shaw argue after Shaw scoffs at the notion of being scared for her life; Root, clearly hurt and scared, angrily reminds Shaw that there are people who care for her life—that she matters.

Furthermore, Shaw has an Axis II Personality Disorder, and Root’s aware. Samaritan labels her a sociopath; Shaw describes it as “when I kill you and your friends, I won’t feel a thing”. It’s quite easy to generalize this. Sociopaths are grossly misrepresented in media: how often have we seen that they’re insane, crazy, murdering nutjobs? Shaw’s human—not a label. She adores Bear; she makes terrible jokes; she has fond memories of where her mom and dad first met…and she cares so much. It’s aptly summed up by Root in ‘Control-Alt-Delete’: “…Technically she’s a sociopath: incapable of caring for others. But the thing about Shaw is, she does care. Enough to save my life.”

Gen pokes an exasperated Shaw to make sure she's not a 'robot'. Later, Gen notes of Shaw's Axis II Personality Disorder that "It's not that you don't have feelings. It's just like the volume is turned way down. Like the sound on an old tape. The voices are there. You just have to listen."
Gen pokes an exasperated Shaw to make sure she’s not a ‘robot’. Later, Gen notes of Shaw’s Axis II Personality Disorder that “It’s not that you don’t have feelings. It’s just like the volume is turned way down. Like the sound on an old tape. The voices are there. You just have to listen.”

Root, on the other hand, after enduring endless cycles of amphetamine and barbiturate torture, then suffers a stapedectomy without anesthesia. Yet still she manages to break free from her captivity—and not once does she trudge through her hearing impairment with a ‘woe is me’ attitude. She breezes through bravely, installing a Cochlear implant so she can have direct communication with  The Machine—but she’s still half-deaf, something Shaw takes advantage of in ‘Honor Among Thieves’ when she playfully sneaks up on her deaf side. But neither Shaw’s disorder nor Root’s partial deafness is mocked or stigmatized on Person of Interest; they don’t spend episodes mourning over their ‘incapability’—because any disability does not equal inability.

Just look at the horrifying number of amphetamine/barbiturate syringes Control's put Root through: an endless cycle of the central nervous system manipulation.
Just look at the horrifying number of amphetamine/barbiturate syringes Control’s put Root through: an endless cycle of the central nervous system manipulation.

I’d like to save my last point for this beautiful quote that came to me anonymously:

This is why Sameen (her name is a part of her culture also) is a very important character. There aren’t many characters (actually at all) on tv at the moment that are Persian, bisexual, described as a sociopath & isn’t a terrorist. Add to the fact that she’s just as strong as any man & the show makes that very clear. I will always love the writers for the way that they wrote her because it’s just very important to have strong WOC on tv that aren’t degraded because of their race etc (especially important to me because I’m a WOC myself.) Also I love that Shoot are interracial & f/f. This makes them ten times more special & needed.

Shaw’s Persian heritage isn’t fussed about on Person of Interest. She’s proud of it, and yes, isn’t it refreshing to see a woman of color who isn’t a terrorist but rather somewhat of a hero? It’s never mentioned between Root and Shaw, nor among the team. But for those who identify with Shaw for her race and the show’s embracement of it, it’s heart-warming because racial stereotyping is still prevalent, especially in crime dramas—and Shaw, as a bisexual, gun-toting, badass, neuroatypical, Persian hero—is surely going to be an inspiration, if not already, for many young women, globally.

To collate those aspects together: this will be a phrase used many a time, but representation matters. Viewers can look up to Root and Shaw and see that they can be badass and LGBTQ; they can watch for an entertaining hour of escapism from a harsh world of discrimination and stigmatization they may endure; they can relate to the relationship, and who are we to have the audacity, the pretentiousness, to take that away from LGBTQ viewers?

 

CHEMISTRY: A MASTERCLASS BY AMY ACKER & SARAH SHAHI

Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi are impeccable. Acker as the villain-turned-hero and Shahi as the paradox of Sameen Shaw: an emotionally blunted ex-soldier with an enormous capacity to care. Alone, they are spectacular. Together, they combust. Their flirtation is a joyous, frantic push-pull of Root’s playful come-ons and Shaw’s exasperation—but she never tells Root to stop. Root doesn’t push because she’s a harassing plebeian who can’t take no for an answer; she pushes because Shaw lets her, despite her incessant eyerolling. The very instant Root appears somber, in ‘Prophets’, Shaw immediately questions the lack of innuendo and even calls her ‘Eeyore’. According to The Machine, their conversations often go a little like this:

Root: [Root calls Shaw] Overly affectionate greeting.
Shaw: Greeting…
Root: Transparent rationale for conversation.
Shaw: Annoyed attempt to deflect subtext.
Root: Overt come-on.
Shaw: Mildly embarrassed defensiveness bordering on hostility.
Root: Playfully witty sign-off!

The duo sure knows how to push each other's buttons when it comes to flirting.
The duo sure knows how to push each other’s buttons when it comes to flirting.

Whether they’re firing their pistols at the enemy together, or conversing practically into each other’s mouths, or Shaw’s getting pressed against a box of items in a moving truck a little too closely, and, like, seven hours too long, Root—their crackling chemistry is undeniable. Even apart, the care they’ve developed for the other is apparent. After ‘Prophets’, Shaw asks of Root’s whereabouts and safety—only for Finch to imply that she could have died in the shootout. The look of muted horror on Shaw’s face says it all.

 

THE UNIVERSALLY LOVED ‘SHOOT’

It’s rare to see a same-sex couple on TV that isn’t just to tease its LGBTQ viewers. Critics have widely acclaimed the Root/Shaw development, for its organic roots and centrality to the plot in a way that doesn’t diminish the importance of the main cast. The show has magically balanced this arc whilst still maintaining Finch as our ethically challenged computer genius, Reese as his kickass right-hand man and Fusco as the broadly-changed, honorable cop. Jonah Nolan, Greg Plageman and Denise Thé completely support ‘Shoot’. And they mean it, genuinely—there’s no messing around. They don’t self-congratulate, but they are aware of the importance of this ship.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Nolan says about the kiss: “[We focused on] making the moment feel genuine and earned, where one character’s clearly been pursuing the other a bit more strongly in terms of the reciprocation of that moment, how it would feel real and raw and satisfying.” Nolan also confesses to Entertainment Weekly: “We’ve been invested in that relationship from the beginning.”

Plageman elaborates more on that here: “I think the thing that struck me the most in terms of the two of them the first time they were on camera, the moment they were on the screen and she pulls out the iron, and I went ‘Something that is supposed to be sadistic has somehow become seductive. There’s something here that we’re missing on the show.’ And we just went with it.” How refreshing is it, to have two females emanate such irrefutable chemistry to the point where the producers jump ardently to creating something seductive and now romantic, rather than pair them up as simply best friends, or indeed ‘gal pals’? To continue passionately whilst weaving the relationship into the plot, instead of simply using the LGBTQ relationship for publicity or as a stepping stone for some other character’s arc?

Amy Acker: "Who's got two thumbs and got to kiss [Shaw]?" (NB: I am Greg Plageman's cackle).
Amy Acker: “Who’s got two thumbs and got to kiss [Shaw]?” (NB: I am Greg Plageman’s cackle).
In terms of the actresses, they can perhaps be described as goldmines for Root/Shaw shippers. Sarah Shahi is brilliantly candid in interviews and comic-cons. About Root and Shaw’s blossoming relationship, she says: “At the end of the day, her heart belongs to Root—and that way it will stay.” After her exit, Shahi noted: “I know what the fans want; I think it’s important to give the fans what they want because I feel like they’ve been down that Root and Shaw journey for so long.” It’s brief but earnest—the LGBTQ community have been disappointed so many times that the phrase ‘Lesbian PTSD’ sadly still exists. She’s perhaps most hilarious at the comic-cons, in which she took great glee in claiming at New York Comic Con 2013: “The only romance on this show is between Root and Shaw.” and declared in an AfterEllen interview that “Root and Shaw should have little Samaritan babies and they’ll just take over the universe.” (Is there fanfiction out there for this…?)

Acker likes to joke that the Root/Shaw chemistry is all down to her, with a beaming smile and a 'just kidding', but seriously, after watching Relevance for the fiftieth (er—I meant fifth!) time, the girl ain't lying!
Acker likes to joke that the Root/Shaw chemistry is all down to her, with a beaming smile and a ‘just kidding’, but seriously, after watching Relevance for the fiftieth (er—I meant fifth!) time, the girl ain’t lying!

They both seem to have such respect for the other, with Shahi declaring:”I love working with Amy. She and I are very similar. And when you are part of a boys’ club, it’s nice to have some females” which is backed up in the same interview by Acker, who—oh, Amy Acker, bless you… “I have loved Sarah since I first tortured her with the iron.”

Shahi speaks ardently about the importance of the role of LGBTQ women and role-models in television from her past experience shooting on 'The L Word', as well as praising her screen-partner Acker.
Shahi speaks ardently about the importance of the role of LGBTQ women and role-models in television from her past experience shooting on ‘The L Word’, as well as praising her screen-partner Acker.

And finally, the exchange from the AfterEllen interview regarding season five that killed every Root/Shaw shipper off:

Amy: “It’s their first time it’s true love—”
Sarah: “Yeah, I think their hearts are in it—it’s more than just—a fling—”
Amy: It’s more than just a…it’s not a fling. It’s something that feels like that [Root] really needs [Shaw] to live…to be.”

 

A FOUR ALARM FIRE IN AN OIL REFINERY

I won’t go down the BDSM route for the sake of keeping this under fifty-thousand words, but the deliciously naughty banter is dazzling to watch and it’s a small part of what makes them dynamic, individual and fun. As Root merrily puts it, she doesn’t like the thought of anyone hurting Shaw… “Except me”.

One of the most remarkable moments for me came in ‘Deus Ex Machina’. Root, alone, searches for and finds Samaritan’s base in order to plant seven key servers in the very heart of Samaritan that’ll enable them to hide in plain sight.

"Look, I might've cycled across NYC during a blackout and crawled under a fence and then took out a guy about to shoot you—but it was all for the damn mission." – Sameen Shaw, probably.
“Look, I might’ve cycled across NYC during a blackout and crawled under a fence and then took out a guy about to shoot you—but it was all for the damn mission.” – Sameen Shaw, probably.

We know Root’s unafraid to die a martyr—alone. She calls Shaw, directing them towards saving Finch—but Shaw knows Root and she knows she’s going to get herself killed. It stops her in her tracks, even as they’re pushed for time. Reese once told Shaw: “In our line of work, we walk in the dark. Doesn’t mean we have to walk in it alone.” And Shaw absolutely, will not let Root do this alone. Fun, kinks and flirtation aside—these two care about each other, and Shaw lets Reese and Hersh find Control and Finch whilst she cycles across New York City(!), crawls under the fence(!!) and knocks a man out about to pull a gun on Root, saving her life. This isn’t baiting, or subtext, or fun flirtation to lure viewers in. This is real.

The fight slowly dissipates from Shaw's eyes as they both realize what must be done: one must be the martyr today, and Shaw will not let that be Root. She yanks Root in for one, last, desperate kiss.
The fight slowly dissipates from Shaw’s eyes as they both realize what must be done: one must be the martyr today, and Shaw will not let that be Root. She yanks Root in for one, last, desperate kiss.

They punch and tase and handcuff and smirk and plough through innuendos…and they care. They look out for each other. But tragically, as Root has proven time and time again she is willing to die a martyr—at the Stock Exchange, it seemed to be Shaw’s fate, not hers. And for Root, it should’ve been hers and never Shaw’s. Never Sameen Shaw. But in Shaw’s words: “If you wanna die, okay. But die for something that you love.”

 

ROOT’S UNDYING FAITH IN SHAW

Amy Acker’s performance as Root post-‘If-Then-Else’ was undoubtedly one of the best and widely-praised performances on television. Reese and Root wreak havoc across New York City, determined Shaw’s still alive. She’s unhinged yet hauntingly heartbroken as she pleads with The Machine to give Shaw’s location—only to be told to ‘STOP’.

Root tearfully pleads with The Machine: is Sameen Shaw alive or is she dead? She needs to know; she needs to hope—but as Harold notes, hope is painful.
Root tearfully pleads with The Machine: is Sameen Shaw alive or is she dead? She needs to know; she needs to hope—but as Harold notes, hope is painful.

On television, where men are regularly shown fighting their pain of loss, Person of Interest—’groundbreakingly’, and of course, I’m kidding here—allows a woman to grieve (it can’t be that hard to show, can it?). Root struggles with her loss, simmers with uncontrollable rage, clamors for vengeance, cold cruelty and ruthlessness—but it’s all a facade for the shattered heart that lies beneath. It’s scary sometimes, the lengths she’ll go to in order to find Shaw. Even when she knows Finch believes her to be dead, even when all their leads in Maple arrived at dead ends, devastation and despair, Root never loses faith in Shaw. Perhaps one of the most apt quotes regarding Root’s faith in Shaw is this:

Reese: You really are sure she’s alive.
Root: You know about Schrödinger’s Cat? There’s a cat trapped in a box with something lethal. There’s a 50% chance the cat’s been killed, but until you open the box, there’s no way to know one way or the other. Quantum physics says before you open the box, the cat isn’t dead or alive. It’s both.
Reese: What about after you open the box?
Root: Reality collapses back onto itself. Cat’s either alive, or it’s dead.
Reese: Well, we’re gonna see reality soon. But you don’t bet against Shaw.
Root: No. Nothing kills that cat.

Most phenomenally in ‘Asylum’, Root runs—no, sprints—straight into Samaritan’s trap even though she knows it’s one, in order to find Shaw. The horror and anguish that adorns Amy Acker’s face when she spots Shaw’s bullet-ridden coat is so painful it’s near unbearable to watch, but let this be said: do not take Sameen Shaw’s life away from Root (you’ll get your neck snapped!), because if Root could burn the world down to find Sameen Shaw again, she’d do it.

 

“MAYBE SOMEDAY.”

In the brilliant, mind-bending, best hour of television I’ve ever seen, ‘If-Then-Else’, written ingeniously by Denise Thé, one of the simulations involves Root calling Shaw. In the back of a police car, Shaw notes it’s not the right time for a conversation—lest a heartfelt one—but Root needs to know if they ever have a chance, which leads to this:

Shaw: Root, if you and I were the last two people on the face of this planet…
Root: An increasingly plausible scenario given Samaritan’s plans.
Shaw: Fine. Maybe someday, when Samaritan wipes everyone out we can talk about it.
Root: You’re saying maybe someday?
Shaw: Yeah, sure, Root. Maybe someday. Is that good enough for you?
Root: Yes, Sameen. That’s good enough for me.

Root knows of Shaw’s disorder; she knows Shaw can’t offer her full affection like in a traditional relationship—but she doesn’t care. When has ‘traditional’ ever been in the ‘Shoot’ dictionary? She just wants Shaw. Sameen Shaw is enough—and what’s most tragic about this simulation is that as the shot pans out, we realize Root’s about to get gunned down by a hoard of Samaritan agents. She’s calling Shaw one last time—not to say goodbye, but to be reassured that there is a “maybe someday” for them.

Root's never pushed Shaw for more—even in the face of death. Here's to hoping their 'maybe someday' will come in season five.
Root’s never pushed Shaw for more—even in the face of death. Here’s to hoping their ‘maybe someday’ will come in season five.

But what about season five? Sarah Shahi assures us that for Root and Shaw, it’s “absolutely going to be a romantic return and that there’ll be a Shaw-centric episode to find out what happened to her during her time in Samaritan’s captivity. Amy Acker has utter faith in Shaw: “I’m definitely on the side that Shaw can do no wrong, and even if something had happened, I think Root feels like their relationship is strong enough that she has the power to turn her back. It’s going to be an interesting struggle.” Plageman said: “I think Shaw has come around to realize maybe this is the person for her in the world.”

Sarah 'The IDGAF' Shahi boldly declares at this con: "I'll put it to you this way. Amy and I both have bruises, and it's not from any of the fight scenes."
Sarah ‘The IDGAF’ Shahi boldly declares at this con: “I’ll put it to you this way. Amy and I both have bruises, and it’s not from any of the fight scenes.”

There’re lots of questions left to unravel: how does Shaw return? Is Root right to place utmost trust in Shaw? Will ever get our “maybe someday”? Did Samaritan ever use the neural implants Root and Reese found in Maple? How will they rebuild The Machine, and will it be a very different one? As for Root and Shaw—I hope their fun dynamic remains, and I hope they continue to flirt and tease—but I also hope there’re some sincerely beautiful scenes between them, and I really think there will be.

Root’s journey after losing Shaw was heartbreaking. By now, she knows how much she loves Shaw—so upon her return, there could be a huge shift in dynamic. With the way Acker and Shahi have so excellently portrayed their characters, I’ve never been more excited to see how this one pans out. Whatever happens, I have utter faith in these writers and producers to go out with a bang and a serious mic drop—I think I have about as much faith in them as Root has in Shaw. However, I may stay clear of Amy Acker’s adorable ideal ending of Root having a happy family with the Machine, Shaw, Bear and Shaw’s twins (Amy Acker, what world are you on?!)—but you never know, huh?

 

THE ‘SHOOT’ FANDOM

I don’t think I could say a good word about the show without bringing the talented fanbase in. I’ve always stated on any platform available that I’ve never been so warmly welcomed and encouraged by a fanbase other than Person of Interest; to be so included and shown such kindness. I was genuinely taken aback by it—and even when I jokingly started calling the fanbase #POIFam on Twitter, I have seen an influx of tweets that all allude to the fanbase being a tight-knit family, and this is not exclusive to the Root and Shaw fanbase.

There is incredible, breathtaking fanart. The detail and the sheer time that must be invested in these pieces of work is truly incredible and absolutely inspiring.

An example of many of the hugely talented fanbase. The full version of this spectacular fanart can be found here: http://nevenne-creates.tumblr.com/post/139685264645/the-otp
An example of many of the hugely talented fanbase. The full version of this spectacular fanart can be found here: http://nevenne-creates.tumblr.com/post/139685264645/the-otp

There are a huge number of fan-videos on YouTube, all immensely talented and again, they must have taken absolutely ages to do. The editing I’ve seen on those videos has been nothing short of magical.

The detailed discussion and speculation of the show has always been interesting to read—well-researched and cleverly thought-out. And lastly: the fanfiction. I cannot reel off a list of quality fanfiction I’ve read for the duo, but as someone who aspires to write as eloquently and as beautifully as you writers do, even if it will not be my day job in the future—absolute kudos to you, because to plan a story and execute it so brilliantly is nothing short of fantastic, inspiring and real entertainment through a hellishly long hiatus. This is what I mean about the fandom banding together: it’s not just the kind and heartfelt messages I received on Twitter. That impacted and moved me massively. But in searching through Tumblr and various other sites I’ve learned that such talented fanartists and writers have been sharing their work for a very long time, and that has to be celebrated. And that’s, I guess, why I wanted to save my last point for you—because as talented, funny, witty, kind, generous fans of the show—you are making the change and you are inspiring legions of young writers and artists to follow in your footsteps.

As a final word: this show, and its fandom, is much more than just the Root and Shaw dynamic—but one cannot deny the charming, magnetic chemistry between Acker and Shahi. I can only applaud their commitment and gung-ho approach to the Root/Shaw relationship, for always being transparent and honest to their fans, and this goes for the executive producers and writers, too. As Shahi put on Twitter: “All’s well that ends well. Root and Shaw.”

Thank you for reading (this ridiculously long article)! As I’ve gotten deeper into this experience and fanbase I cannot express how grateful I am for your kind and encouraging responses. Thank you. As ever, I’m contactable via @NicolaChoi or the comments below.

33 Comments

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  1. Thank you so much .Was waiting for this article since the moment you mentioned about it.You made my day *huggles* Cinni mini 😀

  2. Thank you for another brilliant article, Nico.
    I’m so happy that you decided to write an article about Root and Shaw. They mean so much to me and are so, so, so important. I love what you said about Shaw’s personality disorder and heritage and about Root’s disability.

    I’ll forever be grateful that the POI writers acknowledged their chemistry and just went with it. They never made a big deal about Shoot being a queer couple. Instead they treat them like any other couple. It’s honestly so refreshing.

    I can’t wait for all the angsty Shoot goodies in season 5.

    Thanks again, Nico!

    • Thank you, Isa, for your continued support 🙂 Yeah–I was a bit nervy writing about them but I hope it was okay. Yeah, indeed, I think they’re more than just a “ship”–I mean this show has so many dynamics and Root/Shaw is one of many, and like you mention–about Shaw’s disorder, Root’s disability, the LGBTQ representation–among other things makes them so special to me too. And I will always love Greg and Jonah for not being smug idiots about a same-sex couple. They just got their heads down and wrote a quality pairing in a top-notch show, no ego needed. I think for me that’s what makes them stand out so damn much. Thank you so much, Isa! Can’t wait for season five, either!

  3. Fantastic.

    I confess I don’t actually ship Root and Shaw – I enjoy their relationship, like you say, I enjoy all the relationships on the show (Reese/Finch, Finch/Root, Reese/Shaw – Finch and Root are probably my favorite because Amy and Michael are amazing) but the way you wrote this article was not ‘squeeing’ as you mention at all. You actually dismantled a perfectly good same-sex relationship, looked at their strengths, pointed out representation – LGBT, Shaw’s personality disorder, Root’s partial deafness, Shaw’s race (I loved the anonymous quote you used) – and then you took the time to research into what the writers and actresses have said about their roles and the relationship. You really dissected it very professionally and I applaud you for that because this so could easily have been a simple recap of their relationship but you analyzed it, made a LOT of gifs (well done!) and made some excellent, thought-provoking points. You’re right – I assume you’re talking about The 100 and TWD, with the LGBT scandals – but you’re right in saying that it shouldn’t stop people who ship Root and Shaw from shipping them, or for feeling bad about shipping them even if other ships are “sinking”. That’s incredibly unfair to the Root/Shaw fanbase, so I applaud them too.

    Lastly, as well as your great ability to pick at a relationship and examine it, I think a lot of heart goes into all your articles I’ve read. You took the time to explore the fandom, choose fanart to promote, choose fan-videos to promote – and I really, really admire your kindness and generosity in doing so. Not only are you celebrating a wonderful dynamic played excellently by Amy and Sarah, you’re also celebrating the talented fanbase as well. I only have good things to say about this article. I admit I was hesitant to click because I am a non-shipper, but shipper or not, this article was excellent and a joy to read. You have a natural wit and intelligence to your writing that is sharp and lovely. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to many more Person of Interest articles from you!

    • Wow, thank you Olly! I’m so giddy because as a non-shipper even you can see what I’m trying to get across: I’m not trying to lure viewers in to “ship” Root and Shaw, or indeed love the pairing romantically–I just wanted to dissect the pairing and look at what made them special, inspired by the wide critical praise heaped on them. Thank you so much for your insightful comment, and I think the fandom is something to always be celebrated–be it the Root/Shaw fandom or wider. There are so many talented artists, writers and video-makers out there that, quite like the show itself, are criminally underrated, so any opportunity to slip them in I shall! Thank you!

  4. What an amazing article! I wish it was longer 😀 I absolutely love Root and Shaw and I can’t wait until season 5.

  5. Thank you, Nicola, for this well-written, thoughtful article. You’ve perfectly encapsulated the importance and beauty of Root and Shaw’s relationship. Bravo.

    PS- I really have to applaud you for taking the time to make all those gifs! It must’ve taken an eternity. My favourite is the one showcasing Root and Shaw’s badassery, with Root dodging Martine’s stray bullets (heh) and Shaw defeating Vigilance with nothing but a pole.

    • Ariyah! Thank you so much for commenting 🙂 Absolutely–I really wanted it to be beyond just a shipper article and for it to be a celebration of a genuinely lovely relationship that has blossomed over seasons and seasons. Anyone blind to it is just…beyond me. And thank you! Thats my favorite gif too–I have to say Shaw in that episode was BADASS. And I never want to see photoshop again. XD Thank you!

  6. What I love about the relationship is that it wasn’t planned. At all. I firmly believe that when Root was introduced, she was introduced as a potential romantic foil for Finch. Not in a “We’re gonna put them together” way, but a “It’s a strong possibility we’ll head there in the future.” way. And then we got that first scene between Amy and Sarah. So they tossed everything out. They saw the chemistry, saw the potential and went “We had a good idea. This is better. We’re going with this.” I mean, how often does that happen? How often do you see the writers scrap an idea, their idea, after seeing actors interact for something new? So many writers go “This is the story I want to tell. And that’s the story we’re going to tell, no matter what.” (This goes for 95% of television out there, for better or worse) It’s amazing to see.

    And then you have the relationship itself. Just wow. I think the most powerful expression of Root’s feelings for Shaw comes after her disappearance, where she does the unthinkable. She defies God for Shaw. Can you imagine that? Can you really? You -know- God is real. She speaks to you every day. And you’re Her right hand, Her high priestess, Her pope. Then She tells you to stop. That She doesn’t want you to do this any more, that you should stop searching for the one you love.

    And you refuse.

    She. Defied. God! For Sameen.

    And she didn’t do it expecting something from Shaw. She just wanted her safe. That was enough. (Oh, hoping, yes. Hoping beyond hope. But never expecting)

    It’s just… Yea. I love those two.

    On a downer note, we know that the ending to season 5 is going to be bloody with lot’s of bodies. Bear survives, but that’s about all we know, so there is at least a 50-50 chance that they’ll die. But two things. In this case, I feel that if they die it somehow… works. I’m not saying I won’t be sad, or a bit angry, or cry out “Why damn you!?” but to me personally it won’t be the same reaction as when Lexa died. Two, -if- they die, I hope that they go side by side or they go by killing each other due to whatever Shaw went through (This particular ending has been mentioned by Sarah and Amy before. In jest, yes. But it’s still a possibility)

    • No words but spot on, thank you very much!

      As for your downer note, I’m not particularly worried. I know there’s been a huge uproar in LGBTQ characters getting killed off, especially on The 100 “where anybody can get killed” but I just don’t see Root/Shaw as the typical f/f couple and nor do I see them as any other f/f couple on television. They are entering their last season. They are getting hunted by Samaritan. Quite frankly if there are no major deaths I will be hugely surprised. The one thing POI handles well (among MANY) is an honourable death–and that’s why I’m just not worried at all, because I feel like the word “trope” is so easily thrown about now and in this case, if either of them die, it’s not a trope–it’s part of the storyline. It has ALWAYS been part of the storyline, just like Root has ALWAYS shown herself to be a willing martyr–she could’ve died in Prophets. Shaw could’ve died in ITE if Sarah hadn’t been able to come back. Yet they’d go out in blazing glory and be unforgotten–like Carter. So I absolutely agree with you on that point. Lexa was a great character and excellently played, but I absolutely cannot parallel those two shows–quite frankly, it’s laughable to do so–deaths or no deaths, I’m optimistic in the writers to deliver us a kickass season five–as they have delivered for four entire seasons! Thank you!

  7. Awesome article Nico. This show and Root and Shaw are everything I’ve ever wanted to see in an epic f/f romance, and you’ve managed to encapsulate why that is. Thank you so much!

    • Thank you Sora! And indeed it is epic–perhaps the most epic, no indeed the most epic–I’ve ever seen on TV. On my favourite TV show. It’s an absolute joy to watch. Thank you!

  8. Root and Shaw are hands down my favorite pairing ever. Thank you for writing such a well-thought-out and in-depth article about them. Everything you said is on point. And THANK YOU for emphasizing that they’re a legitimate couple. If I see one more person say that Shoot are subtext or queerbaiting I’m going to fling myself into the sun and take the person who uttered said words right along with me.

    I also want to add that while I may have started watching POI specifically because of Root and Shaw, I definitely stayed because POI is such an amazing show all around, which seems to be the case with a lot of Shoot shippers. Root and Shaw are the delicious icing on top of an equally delicious cake and I will forever be grateful and amazed that a decent f/f pairing got me into such a quality show. POI truly is a gem, and a rare one at that, and as excited as I am for season 5, I’m deeply saddened that it’s ending. The way CBS has treated this show is not only infuriating, it’s downright mind-boggling. POI is the hero we deserve AND the hero we need and it deserved way better.

    • What Elyssa said. I also came for Shoot but my loyalty totally stays with POI .The cake is a perfect analogy Alyssa thank you.

    • Same here, Elyssa. Hands down my favourite pairing and I think I listed all the reasons why. I just don’t think I’ve seen such good representation on such a high quality show, with genuine, down to earth actresses and real, focused, non-exploitative writers/producers. POI is an absolute gem and I shall be sad to see it end. I don’t think I will find another show of its quality.

      I agree with you 100%. Admittedly I watched the show before Root and Shaw, but they were a great addition to the cast and much-needed, in my opinion. As for the subtext thing–I think I’ve angrily ranted about it on Twitter, but anybody who still sees it as subtext (I just don’t understand how it’s subtext when they’ve had nearly two seasons of build-up and a kiss, and other f/f pairings have had less build-up and a kiss, and are considered canon but Shoot is subtext?) can just…yeah, I’ll fling myself into the sun with you. The bitterness of such remarks really puts me off engaging in social media, so at the moment I’m quite happy just writing, getting on with my work and waiting for POI — an actual quality show — to return.

      P.S. Does anybody bother to look up the definition of queerbaiting before throwing that on Shoot? That’s so ridiculous and dumb. I don’t understand why people must project negativity and bitterness upon a fandom who are clearly celebrating GOOD f/f representation and have had GOOD f/f representation for a while now. Ugh.

      Thank you, Elyssa.

  9. A wonderfully written homage to an awesome pairing. I really enjoyed your take on some key moments in their relationship and came to some new realizations regarding some of the moments, decisions, and internal thoughts of our heroines as I read. It’s so very clear that you put a lot of hard work, time, and effort into this piece. So thank you for that! It was a wonderful read and one that I’ll probably come back to many times over.

    • Thank you! They’re a joy to write for so it makes it incredibly easy for me 🙂 Thank you so much–I’m glad it kinda showed! I was dead nervous about posting this one because I’m not a huge shipper–yet Root and Shaw are my favourite ship on my favourite television show, ever, so I wanted to do them justice. Even on POI in which I love all the dynamics to a ridiculous extent–but romantically, these two just combust and I love that about them! Thank you so much! I wonder if you mean the theme of martyrdom? It was certainly something I noticed–at least quite overtly from Root!

  10. Than you for writing this thoughtful article on the importance of shoot. It took me a while to read cause I was so busy and the article was pretty long lol. I’m not complaining, but I had to give your article my full attention =). Thank you again for taking the time in writing this article… hopefully more people will join us in our final season on this extremely underrated show and f/f ship.

    • It’s quite a hefty post, isn’t it, lol. Thank you so much–oh and I totally agree, 100%, that it’s such an underrated show (and underrated ship–for all the posts I see about ‘queerbaiting’ and ‘subtext’ I’m just … *shakes head wearily*) but the show itself really is very underrated. It got so much better, progressively, in my opinion, as the seasons went along–instead of tanking after the second season like many shows did (Heroes!!!! And topically, The 100–which went from okay to disastrous) and frankly I don’t think I’ve been so excited for a season before. Let’s hope everyone’s caught up w/ season four on Netflix and are ready for an absolute cracker of a fifth!

  11. OMG!What can i say?just AMAZING & SPECTACULAR!!!I adore this article!You have a great talent and thank you so much!I just hope than the writers will not killed them on the fifth season!

    • Oh goodness, me too! The ship is amazing and spectacular 😀 And I do hope they aren’t killed off. I actually have great faith they won’t–but even if they do, POI is possibly one of the only shows I’ve seen honour deaths properly, and have deaths *for a reason*. They’re never meaningless and never without consequence. Just look at Carter singlehandedly taking down HR; in the aftermath she was avenged by everyone, never forgotten. After Shaw’s demise in saving the entire team in a heroic, epic fashion, Root literally tore the world down to find her. So I do hope Root and Shaw make it, but if they don’t–this show is far too good to be lumped into your typical tropey deaths. They’ll make it something special, no doubt. But fingers crossed!

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