The team suffered a big loss in Person of Interest season 4 when Shaw (Sarah Shahi) went missing. Here’s the real reason why she was gone for so long.
Why did Shaw (Sarah Shahi) disappear for so long in Person of Interest season 4? In the CBS series, Shaw was a former government assassin and a key member of the team. She first appeared in season 2 as one of the agents responsible for tracking down the “relevant” numbers provided by the Machine, but ended up becoming a target. She officially joined the team in season 3, and with skills similar to Reese’s, she proved to be an effective asset.
Shaw’s story took a turn in the Person of Interest season 4 premiere when the battle with Samaritan put them all in yet another dangerous situation. This episode offered a different take on the show’s formula, as it consisted primarily of different scenarios of the team’s fight with Samaritan’s agents. The team only had a 2% chance of surviving, and every version but the last one saw them die in the battle. They lived through it, but only thanks to a sacrificial move by Shaw, who held off Samaritan’s men while her friends made their escape. Shaw presumably died in a gun fight in an elevator, but the team later deduced that Shaw was still alive and spent a great deal of time trying to find her, knowing that she was being held in captivity by Samaritan.
Shaw finally made her long-awaited return in season 5, episode 4, but wasn’t able to rejoin the team until episode 9, only a few episodes short of the Person of Interest series finale. What was the reason for Shaw’s prolonged absence from the show? This is explained by Sarah Shahi’s pregnancy. Shahi has said that on Person of Interest she did all of her own stunts, so continuing to work on the show presented obstacles [via EW].
Shahi said she was against putting her behind a desk or taking her away from the action, because it was important to her that they stay true to the character. After all, Shaw has always been an action-oriented character, just like Reese (Jim Caviezel). It was decided that temporarily taking her out of the show completely was better than limiting her. Doing it this way turned out to be the right answer, both creatively and for the character’s personal story.
Only a severe injury would have made sense of Shaw stepping away from the combat, but having her get captured by Samaritan served an important narrative purpose. Her disappearance shaped the story for the back half of Person of Interest season 4 and the majority of season 5. Finding her became one of their biggest goals and further motivated them to defeat Samaritan, who sought to control Shaw. In season 5, Shaw had to go through a lot to get back to her team. It provided new story arc for both Shaw herself and Root (Amy Acker), who was determined to do whatever it took to get Shaw back. In the end, Shaw and Root were finally reunited, but sadly it didn’t last long. Root died just one episode after they were brought together again.