Harold is still “hanging out” with Root, and with a tied and gagged Denton Weeks. John and Carter are in Texas, looking into a cold case that happened in 1991.
Root continues to be a diabolical treasure.
I have watched the whole show before, so SPOILERS MIGHT HAPPEN. Big spoilers will be blanked out but references and irrelevant spoilers are going to be out in the open.
I really like how this show uses the MPoV to squeeze in a “previously on” in a way that feels like a part of the plot somehow. The Machine is constantly reviewing files to determine future course of action.
 We get flashbacks, throughout the episode, to the last night anyone saw Hanna Frey. She is playing Oregon Trail while chatting with a friend. As the library is about to close, she takes out some books, says goodbye to her friend and to the library lady, and heads out. We see multiple flashbacks of the library door closing behind Hanna, of someone calling 911 about ‘the girl who went missing’, of her friend looking out the window.
John and my queen Joss Carter arrive to Bishop, Texas, and interrogate various people who may know about Hanna’s disappearance 20 years before, and what that may have to do with Root. John and Carter think she might still be alive, and she might be the woman who became Root, since there is a credit account that was opened 2 years after she disappeared. Which is, well, weird.
The account had a cosignatory, Trent Russel, whose license plate was recognized but misheard in a 911 call made by another girl. The guy was married to the library lady, but was killed shortly after Hanna disappeared, by a drug dealer. A drug dealer who had money transferred to that bank account. John recognizes that as a very Root thing to do: she steals money from the drug dealer and puts it on an account with the kidnapper’s name so that the drug dealer goes and kills the kidnapper. A loop. Hanna had to have escaped him and then gotten revenge right? Wrong. When the sheriff investigates the Russell house, they find Hanna’s body buried underneath.
Meanwhile, Root has Denton Weeks through a Palestinian hanging, which is an interrogation technique Denton Weeks himself approved on a Department of Defense document. I like her style.
She pretends to forget the knife within reach of them and goes out for a bit, and when she comes back, Weeks is untied and attacks her, punching and kicking her unconscious. Weeks is then ready to interrogate Harold, telling him the government suspected Nathan might have been somebody’s corporate beard, but they never knew who it was before. He asks if Root can gain access to the Machine, and Harold informs him the only way is if she had access to it physically. Weeks tells him he will let Harold go, but then he pulls a gun at him! How dare he.
The gun doesn’t go off, though, because Root was planning this. She knew Weeks would ask Harold questions and that Harold would be more likely to answer him than her, she knew Weeks would beat her up and aim to kill Harold, thus proving he is bad code. So she tasers Weeks unconscious, and tries to bond with Harry.
Root: I am the best friend, the best support, the best partner you will ever have. And definitely the most fun.
She is definitely not wrong. But obviously, kidnapped and tied up as he is, Harold doesn’t see it that way now. You probably don’t either. That’s okay, we all make mistakes.
Back in Texas, some guys John pissed off at a bar earlier wanna start shit again, so he beats them up again and steals their crossbow. A crossbow! This is completely irrelevant to the plot, but, a crossbow!
So anyway, Carter plays the 911 call to the library lady, who identifies the girl’s voice: Samantha Groves, Hanna’s friend. Library lady knows because Samantha said the same thing to her, told her who she saw get in the car with Hanna. But library lady was in love with that asshole, so she told Samantha that she was a lying attention-seeking brat who should shut it. Wow. So that’s a nice reminder of how a lot of kids are treated when they speak out about jerks who are adults. They find the girl’s body in the library lady’s backyard. So Hanna is not Root, Samantha Groves is.
John (Harold’s ‘knuckle-dragging friend’, according to Root) is able to follow a trail that leads to Maryland, where Root is right now! Good job, John.
Then for an extra good job, Harold leaves a cuff link next to some tap code (does Harold know tap code by heart? what kind of next-level improbable is that?) at Weeks’ cottage, which leads John to the train station. Just in time to save Harold from the midwest. And from Root, of course.
Harold: You’re wrong. [John] proves you’re wrong. Not all humans are bad code. Awh, my heart.
She lives though, of course, to be her perky murderous self another day. She even calls John’s phone, to thank him for finding Hanna, and to say she’ll call Harold when she’s ready.(Ready for what, you ask? Well, patience is key.)
At the end of that long ass day, Joss and Lionel go out for a drink to celebrate how they helped their new friends, and John introduces Harold to Bear, who was chewing a first edition Asimov.
Harold: He has expensive taste. I’m sure we’ll get along.
Of course you will. You are both precious puppies too pure for this world.