Dead Root

Below is commentary after watching Person of Interest Season 5 Episode 9. We were giddy. It was so good! Root and Shaw, finally reunited. 

Can we talk about how Shaw underestimated how much Root loves her? ” I cant live without you” -jr

Yes!! It’s one of the most awesome things. I immediately went back to watch 6,741, to see again what was going on in Shaw’s mind. This episode was better ONLY in the sense that Shaw now knows how much Root loves her, which before she couldn’t even imagine!! Brilliant.
-me

And then, the next day, the next episode, S5E10

episode later roots dead lol. I give up on showrunners and writer’s killing incredible female character for garbage reasons
-aj

********
The trope defined!  And the writers say it’s not!
I’ve watched the show since first season aired. I’m in the midst of a series rewatch (s3e7 currently) whilst S5 is wrapping up. This is not an either or situation as far as storytelling goes. Root’s demise is true to her character and the show AND it absolutely is an exact example of the lesbian death trope.
I love(d) Root. All episode (s5e10, watched it twice) she was saying goodbye, first to Shaw , echoing back to If-Then-Else, (s4E11, which I also re-watched last night), when she said, “no time like the present Sameen”.  I actually thought Shaw was going to die and Root was going to go rogue, freeing The Machine, fighting Samaritan and turning against the rest of Team Machine to pursue her revenge, BUT Root and Shaw both survive their flirty, metaphysical, discussion, shoot-out scene. A scene which turned out not to be a simulation. According to Root though, everything can be considered a simulation, and she says this to “comfort” Shaw and seemingly to comfort/prepare the audience.
Shortly after that, Root’s talk with Harold in the car, continuing the conversation they had earlier at the near start of the episode, basically saying he needed to step up, they were just surviving, they were losing, let the Machine help them, the Machine had a right to choose. The machine had a right to choose a voice.
That Root died the episode after she and Shaw were re-united after, what, 20 episodes apart?, after both declared their love to one another (the audience saw this clearly/definitively in s5e4 and s5e9) is the lesbian death trope. That can’t be denied.
That Root died alone is so upsetting and unfair. She deserved better! The fact that her last words to Shaw were that she didn’t want to leave her again and Shaw’s last words to her were threatening to kill Root if she didn’t save Finch, is also pretty shitty.  Fitting with the show, Harold’s number came up and Team Machine did their job protecting him/saving his life AND Root died to serve as a catalyst for his story. Another lesbian died to serve to forward a white heterosexual man’s story.
Maybe if this happened 5 years down the line things would be different. Maybe I could step back and just focus on how incredible Root is/was as a character and her arc on the show played out logically and in spirit with the show is about. I could focus on how well done her last episode was (minus her alone on a slab at the end). The storyline would still be the trope. The lesbian death trope, sometimes the Bury Your Gays trope (gay characters just aren’t allowed happy endings. Even if they do end up having some kind of relationship, at least one half of the couple, often the one who was more aggressive in pursuing a relationship, thus “perverting” the other one, has to die at the end”.  The fact that it happened in this US  Television 2015/2016 season of  many dead lesbians, is seriously disturbing.
To diverge a little bit. Recently a friend pointed out, that all these Writer’s Rooms wrote this season in the midst and after the Supreme Court Decision in favor of Marriage Equalitly. We can marry now (yay!) but a few months later, we are now plagued with this dead lesbians season of TV. We are being bombarded  with over 150 bills/potential bills targeting lgbtq people and in my belief, really targeting women, all women’s bodies, and women’s outward expression of their gender though clothes, makeup, hairstyles etc.
I do not think the content creators/showrunners are maliciously plotting to kill their lesbian characters (I hope not!) but the thing is, they think they are being original and/or that the trope doesn’t apply to them.  They are unwilling to concede that all these deaths of women loving women matter in the larger cultural context.  These showrunners, writers, media content creator’s imaginations I believe are fueled by unconscious bias which has led  them to repeating this dangerous and problematic trope, which impacts the lives of all who watch these stories play out, time and time again.
To bring all this back to Root, she is now one of many dead TV lesbians, who died soon after she learns that the woman she loves, truly loves her back and she was killed in the narrative as a way to move a man’s story arc forward. This type of storytelling is played out and truly needs to STOP!

Root-person-of-interest-38770668-1680-1050

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