Root/Shaw

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Pairing
Pairing: Root/Sameen Shaw
Alternative name(s): Shoot, Raw
Gender category: Femslash
Fandom: Person of Interest
Canonical?: canon
Prevalence: popular
Archives:
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Root and Shaw
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Root/Shaw is a femslash pairing of Root and Sameen Shaw in the Person of Interest fandom.

Fandom

Root/Shaw is the most popular femslash pairing in the Person of Interest fandom. Because Shaw was not introduced as a recurring character until the end of Season 2 and as neither character became a regular until the start of Season 3, the pairing fandom only began being very active in Fall of 2013, though with a lot of encouragement from both the cast and the crew.

Both Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi, as well as several of the writers, have expressed an interest in the ship. Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi noted that a lot of the Root/Shaw chemistry is explicitly scripted and that she and Amy "can tell what's happening"[1] during an interview at SDCC Comic Con 2014. More recently, Amy Acker said that "Well, they [the writers and creators] don’t seem to shy away from the innuendoes. You know, at the beginning, when it started, I always felt that Root liked Shaw and admires her and thinks that she’s totally cool and badass and just thinks that she’s awesome and … then her way of sort of controlling Shaw is to flirt with her because she knows that Shaw hates it. But then I don’t know, it seems that at some point she actually started really maybe liking her more than … now it’s like she’s pretending that she’s joking but she’s not really." [2].

In 2015, Root/Shaw won the Zimbio March Madness TV couples poll, after a final four which included Clarke/Lexa from The 100, Swan Queen from Once Upon a Time, and Caskett from Castle. [3] 64 total TV couples were included in the poll, both canon and non-canon.

The pairing has a significant number of fans outside of the United States, particularly China and Japan, and much of the fanart produced for the pairing comes from these fans. They also likely contributed greatly to the Zimbio poll win. [4]

Common Tropes & Fanon

  • Root annoys Shaw with terrible puns
  • Shaw is a grump about the above
  • Shaw is a grump about anything
  • Shaw is a secret nerd
  • Root and Shaw are into BDSM (note: this is as near to canon as it can be without seeing a scene on the show, both by word of god[5] and implications by the characters[6])
  • The Machine ships Root/Shaw
  • Shaw only cares about the mission

Notable Fanworks

Fics

Art & Artists

Vids

Archives and Communities

External Links

Resources

Although no longer a Yuletide fandom, there are several other fic exchanges featuring this pairing. Most notably, mlamachine created the fic-exchange Kiss Kiss to You Too on Ao3 for Christmas 2014. 19 writers signed up during Round 1.

Canon

Synopsis

Root and Sameen Shaw meet for the first time in Shaw's introductory episode, when Root disguises herself as a CIA analyst in order to get information regarding the Machine out of then-ISA agent Shaw. Once Shaw realizes the ruse, however, Root is forced to tase her, tie her up, and threaten her with torture by way of a hot iron unless Shaw gives her the information. Root leaves when ISA agents arrive to take out Shaw and the real CIA analyst. Shaw later appears in Finch's library and reveals her intent to hunt Root down for revenge.[7] In the final two episodes of the season, Shaw's hunt for Root collides with that of John Reese, after Root takes Harold Finch captive to search for the location of the Machine. The two track Root and Finch down to an emptied out space in a nuclear waste facility, and Shaw delivers on her promise to shoot Root, albeit only in the shoulder.[8]

When season three begins, Root is being held in a psychiatric facility and Shaw has tentatively joined Finch and Reese on their Machine-given missions.[9] After Root escapes the facility, she appears in Shaw's apartment, tases and drugs her, and enlists her help with a mission for the machine. Shaw agrees to help with the mission, and remains skeptical and wary of Root throughout, but nevertheless seems to listen to and trust Root with regards to the mission's success. Their time together includes ten hours alone in a CIA safe house, but it is never stated how they occupy their time. When the mission is complete, Shaw punches Root in the head and delivers her to Finch, who keeps her captive in a Faraday cage in the library.[10]

Root and Shaw do not interact onscreen again until midseason, after Shaw convinces Finch that the team needs Root's help in finding Reese after he goes rogue attempting to avenge Carter's death. Despite being the one to get her out of her prison, Shaw remains distrustful of Root and is unwilling to give her a gun until the team becomes surrounded. When Root takes out several men at once while wielding two guns simultaneously, Shaw remarks, "Okay, that was kinda hot."[11] At the end of the episode Root has resumed her captivity, but soon breaks out for good when the lives of Shaw, Finch, and Arthur Claypool are threatened by Control. Root shoots Control's men through a wall, and she and Shaw get the two men to safety. Root is felled during the attempted escape, and captured and tortured by Control. After she escapes she remarks to Finch to tell Shaw that she was "touched she came to look for [her]."[12]

Later in the season, Root gets a mission from the Machine involving the same number as Finch, Reese, and Shaw. Shaw watches over Root and the number until she is forced to hunt down Vigilance, and during this time Root drops a protein bar out the window to Shaw along with a flirting comment, and Shaw makes a face but accepts the bar. At the conclusion of Root's mission, Shaw (without prompting) inspects Root's chest and head wounds and offers medical advice. Root flirts with her again and Shaw rolls her eyes.[13]

After the Northern Lights program is shut down, Root enlists Shaw's help with a relevant number in Alaska, driving up on a motorcycle and telling Shaw that they're going to steal a jet. Shaw tells Reese that "it does sound kinda fun," and joins Root on the motorcycle with a smirk. The two are next seen in a bar in Miami, having taken out several relevant threats, drinking cocktails and talking about work. Root abruptly has to leave for a threat in St. Louis and Shaw says that she "knows a steak joint that serves a filet that's better than sex," and seems disappointed when Root tells her she's needed in Washington.[14]

The season's final three episodes involves Root working more closely with Shaw and Reese than ever, as the malevolent AI Samaritan is brought online for a beta test and the three are forced to flee to New Jersey.[15] As Decima comes closer to achieving its goal of bringing Samaritan online permanently, Root plans to infiltrate a Decima fortress alone and calls Shaw to give her a message from the Machine. Shaw's concern that Root is going to get herself killed is enough for her to leave Reese and Hersh during their attempt to rescue Finch, and she rides a bicycle from Manhattan to New Jersey to help Root, killing a Decima guard who was threatening Root as soon as she arrives. The two manage to install seven servers in the Samaritan server farm before being forced to flee, and as Samaritan comes online and the team has to adopt new cover identities, Root and Shaw share a long look on the sidewalk before turning and walking away from each other.[16]

During season four, Root adopts several different cover identities depending on the Machine's needs, while Shaw's cover works at a makeup counter. Root appears at the mall and gives Shaw a third job as an ordinary criminal, acting as the getaway driver for a gang of thieves.[17] In episode five, when Root believes her mission will get her killed, she has a heart to heart talk with Finch:[18]

Root: If the worst comes to pass, if you could give Shaw a message?

Finch: I think she already knows.

When Shaw uses her criminal cover identity to get close to a number and meets him under the guise of a date, Root is demonstrably jealous and teases Shaw about their time in the CIA safe house over the communication link and makes references to bondage. The threat associated with the number comes from vials of Marburg virus, and as the number assists Shaw with their retrieval he asks Shaw to come with him to Barcelona. Shaw appears at Root's side at the end of the episode and tells her she was tempted to go with him, but that "there are things I care about here." She denies that she means Root, and tells her that she needs her help destroying the virus, which Root says could take all night. The two walk off and share a smile.[19]

Shaw's cover identity is soon blown, and Samaritan operative Martine Rousseau comes for Shaw in the mall. Root learns about the attempt on Shaw's life and drives up on her motorcycle as soon as Shaw escapes the store. Root is adamant that Shaw get to safety, telling her that people care about her, but Shaw is determined to help Reese, who is tangled up with Elias and the Brotherhood. Root seemingly agrees and manhandles Shaw out of frustration, but leads Shaw to an abandoned bingo hall and sedates her with a syringe in the neck.[20] Shaw is kept handcuffed in the team's subway station for her own safety, but when Samaritan becomes more of an immediate threat to Root and the others, she leaves the station.[21]

Episode 11 is a pivotal episode for the Root/Shaw relationship, as it is the episode in which the relationship becomes unequivocally canon. The episode depicts different simulations run by the Machine regarding possible outcomes for different methods of Root, Finch, Reese, and Fusco handling the threat at the New York Stock Exchange, while Shaw is stuck on a subway car with a suicide bomber. The second simulation shows Root knowing she is about to die, and calling Shaw for one last conversation:

Root: Hey sweetie. You busy?

Shaw: A little. Skip the verbal foreplay, Root, why're you calling?

Root: Can't a couple of gals take a little break from work to catch up?

Shaw: I've been arrested and you're fighting an AI apocalypse so no, we don't have time to catch up.

Root: There's no need to be rude.

Shaw: I am not having this conversation right now.

Root: There's no time like the present, Sameen. Why are you so afraid to talk about your feelings?

Shaw: Feelings? I'm a sociopath, I don't have feelings.

Root: And I'm a reformed killer for hire. We're perfect for each other. You're gonna figure that out someday.

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: Yeah, Sameen. That's good enough for me.

The third simulation features the Machine running a simplified simulation, in which the dialogue is broken down into descriptions of character-typical interactions:

Root: 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 Machine ultimately selects an option which was shown as having a less than two percent chance of success, as time ran out before the simulation could be finished. The four team members in the Stock Exchange become cornered by Samaritan operatives after successfully averting the financial crisis, with Reese having been shot in the back and Root having been grazed. Root calls Shaw and appears to begin her final conversation with Shaw from the second simulation, but Shaw appears, having gotten explosives from the subway bomber, and the team's chances of survival skyrockets as shown on one of the Machine's graphical overlays. She and Root give the others cover fire as they make their way to the elevator, and Root (pressed up against Shaw's back as they move) brings up the topic of their relationship again:

Root: We're so good at this together. You're gonna realize that someday.

Shaw: Root, no offense. You're hot, you're good with a gun. Those are two qualities I greatly admire. But you and me together would be like a four alarm fire in an oil refinery.

Root: Sounds cozy.

The team gets to their escape elevator, but the controls fail to work. Shaw spots an override button across the hallway and says that someone needs to get to the button. Root tries to prevent Shaw from leaving, but Shaw shrugs out of Root's grip. Upon turning around and looking at Root, Shaw sighs, shakes her head, and pulls Root in for a kiss before shoving her backward, leaving the elevator, and locking the freight door behind her. Shaw engages the button and gets shot twice in the abdomen, and Root looks on in horror, screaming and crying as the doors close and the last thing she sees is Martine aiming a gun at Shaw's head.[22]

The next two episodes feature Root going on a rampage with Reese in a hunt for Shaw, taking Control captive for answers[23] and tracking a truck to a small town which is revealed to be a large-scale human experiment by Samarian. The two are nearly killed in the search, and the woman they are tracking turns out not to be Shaw. Reese and Finch resign themselves to giving up the search for Shaw, but Root tearfully begs the Machine for an answer about whether Shaw is alive or dead. The Machine calls her to tell her to stop, and Root goes off on her own. The audience learns that Shaw is still alive at the end of episode 13, but the rest of the team remains ignorant.[24]

For the remainder of the season, Root is clearly distraught over Shaw's absence. After a lengthy time on her own, she rejoins Finch and Reese, at one point nearly choking Martine to death when they run into her on a mission[25]. Ultimately she receives a call from Shaw saying she needs her help. Finch says it's a trap, and Root acknowledges it but is determined to go after Shaw anyway. The two trace the call to a psychiatric facility in New York and infiltrate the building, but it is soon revealed to be Samaritan's headquarters. Root discovers the room Shaw had been staying in, including the blood-stained coat she had been wearing at the Stock Exchange, and catches sight of Shaw from the window being led into a van outside. Martine taunts Root about "her little girlfriend" telling Martine about Root's cochlear implant and threatens Finch. Root snaps Martine's neck and Samaritan threatens her and Finch's lives if the Machine does not reveal her location. Shaw is last seen in the front passenger's seat of the van, being driven to an unknown location.[26]

In the opening episodes of season five, Root mentions Shaw often and is anxious to find her. Shaw first reappears to the audience in episode 4 as Samaritan's prisoner. Shaw's interactions with Samaritan and their simulations are shown in episodes 4, 6, 7, and 8. While initially Shaw appears to escape in episode four and reunite with Root (and the rest of the team), it it ultimately shown to be a simulation meant to trick Shaw into telling Samaritan when the team and The Machine are located - something that she has failed to do at least 6,741 times.[27]

In episode 7, Root gives the Machine an ultimatum: 'I refuse to do one more mission until I know what I'm doing is gonna lead me to Sameen', and near the end of the episodes she manages (with The Machine's help) to get a message to Shaw: '4A', a reference to their last conversation.[28]. This reaches Shaw just in time, and she begins to plan her escape.

In episode 8, Shaw finally escapes from where Samaritan is holding her (which is revealed to be in South Africa), shooting Lambert despite his efforts to convince her it is all a simulation. As Shaw drives away, a news report on the radio refers to events the rest of the team was dealing with - confirming this it is in fact reality.[29]

Notable Scenes in Canon

Noteworthy interactions between Root and Shaw, in addition to the conversations quoted above.

Root: I read your file, and I'm kind of a big fan. So, I really don't want to hurt you. I just need the name. You really have no idea what you're caught up in, do you? Who you're actually working for. Did you honestly think the source of the numbers was Guantanamo? Some sad taxi driver rotting away in a cage somewhere? I mean, you should know torture almost never produces good information. ... Well, almost never. Sadly, we are on a bit of a clock. Wilson's men started looking for Veronica here three hours ago. Now, Aquino was hired to build a home for something very special. Something I want to find. (raises hot iron close to Shaw's face) So you're gonna tell me the name of his contact.

Shaw: One of the things they left out of my file: I kind of enjoy this sort of thing.

Root: I'm so glad you said that. I do too. (Root's phone rings) Oh, and just when we were starting to really connect.

- Season 2, episode 16, Relevance. Their first scene together.

(Shaw wakes up in a car with Root, ziptied to the steering wheel) Root: Sorry about that.

Shaw: Which part? The tasing, the drugging, or whatever this is?

Root: I had to make sure you'd hear me out. She needs our help and I figured you wouldn't come willingly.

Shaw: She?

Root: The Machine's given me a mission, and step one is to team up with you.

Shaw: I'll pass. Trust issues. Besides, the Machine gives missions to Harold and the government. Relevant, irrelevant, why would it be talking to you?

Root: Because now there's a third category. Things are evolving. And my relationship with the machine is a little... different. As for trust issues, I'm happy to take the first step. (cuts Shaw free) There's a gun for you in the glove compartment.

Shaw: (presses Root's knife to her throat) Thanks but a knife will do just fine. This is the part where you give me one good reason to believe anything you say.

Root: October second, 1988. You took a road trip with your father to watch the Houston Oilers play the Philadelphia Eagles. He bought you a sweatshirt-

Shaw: Don't talk about my father. It told you that?

Root: The Machine trusts me. Even if you don't. You spent years working for the Machine, and she was never wrong. If you don't help me, someone might destroy her, and innocent people will die. Forget how you feel about me. How would you feel about that?

Shaw: Okay. I'll forget how I feel about you. But when this is over, you better hope I don't remember.

- Season 3, episode 6, Mors Praematura. Root recruits Shaw for a mission after tasing and drugging her.

Shaw: Time's up, Harold.

Finch: This is not something we should go about lightly.

Shaw: It's the only way.

Finch: There will be larger consequences if we make this decision. We need to be ready for that.

Shaw: John isn't gonna make it if he winds up in a crossfire between a bunch of feds and organized criminals in his current state.

Finch: I know this is our only option Ms. Shaw. I just want to make sure we're prepared for what may happen.

Shaw: I'm in. Are you?

-Season 3, episode 10, The Devil's Share. Shaw convinces Finch to let Root help the team.

Root: (drops power bar down to Shaw) I heard you skipped breakfast. And you and your australopithecine coworker can just take the day off. I've been doing just fine without a safety net.

Shaw: Look, the only reason you're not stuck in a cage right now is me. Don't make me look bad.

Root: I couldn't make you look bad if I tried.

Shaw: (rolls eyes, eats)

-Season 3, episode 17, Root Path. Shaw keeps an eye on Root's activities.

Root: Thanks for being my travel buddy on these errands.

Shaw: Sure. It's not every day you get to beat up a militia group in Anchorage then hop a plane to Miami. So is this what you're doing from now on, you're chasing down bad guys?

Root: I doubt it. There's still too much work to be done.

Shaw: What kind of work?

Root: Preparation. (gets message from Machine) I understand, we're leaving now. (to Shaw) I have to go.

Shaw: Where to?

Root: St. Louis.

Shaw: Oh, great. I know a steak joint that serves a filet that's better than sex.

Root: Yummy as that sounds, you won't be joining me. She needs you somewhere else.

Shaw: Wh- where? (Root leaves)

-Season 3, episode 20, Death Benefit. Root and Shaw on relevant mission for the Machine.

Root: (calls Shaw) Be at the intersection of 5th and 23rd in fifteen minutes. Goodbye, Shaw.

Shaw: Wait, Root. Is that all? Where are you?

Root: Right where I'm supposed to be.

Shaw: You found it, didn't you? Samaritan.

Root: Maybe. Did you find Harold? She's worried about him. So am I.

Shaw: We're working on it, but... Seriously, are you about to kamikaze into a Decima fortress with a bunch of nerds?

Root: Didn't know you cared, Shaw. And it's just me now.

Shaw: But the Machine has your back, right? (silence) Right?

Root: 23rd and 5th. Twelve minutes. Tick tock. (hangs up)

Hersh: So, we're going to 23rd and 5th because...

Shaw & Reese: It's complicated.

Shaw: (stops walking) Root's gonna get herself killed.

Reese: Go. We'll find Harold.

Shaw: Go how?

(Hersh steals a bike for her, she rides off)

-Season 3, episode 23, Deus Ex Machina. Root calls Shaw before going on a solo mission into a Decima facility.

Root: Looks like someone crawled in under the fence. Admit it, you were worried about me.

Shaw: I'm worried about the mission.

-Season 3, episode 23, Deus Ex Machina. Shaw prevents a Decima guard from killing Root.

Root: That didn't suck.

Shaw: Oh, there was plenty of sucking.

Root: (tracing a hand across Shaw’s back) I already wanted to tear Samaritan apart, turn it into an Atari. That's too nice. Scarred my beautiful girl. Maybe a Casio.

Shaw: All the scars are from before when I worked relevant numbers with the ISA. Samaritan's torture was more psychological.

Root: And you never broke.

Shaw: When I was training the with ISA, they taught us if we were ever tortured to take our mind somewhere else, someplace safe.

Root: Where did you go?

Shaw: Nowhere. The training was bull. There was no safe place. No escape.

Root: Hey... stay here with me.

Shaw: (chuckles) I couldn't stand you when we first met. You wouldn't stop bugging me. (kisses Root)

-Season 5, episode 4, 6,741. Shaw and Root's conversation in bed during the simulation.

References

  1. [1] Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker Talk PERSON OF INTEREST Season 4
  2. [2] Amy Acker at Dragon Con, answering a fan’s question on what is going on between Root and Shaw, Accessed September 2, 2014
  3. [3] Zimbio TV Couples March Madness Challenge 2015
  4. [4] One such community may be found at Lofter.
  5. [5] Quote from Amy Acker: "[S]tarting out with the hot iron torture and never thinking that that was going to be the start of our romance. It just seemed like an intense torture scene and somehow that sort of became the thing that they like to do to each other."
  6. [6] Gifset on tumblr
  7. Person of Interest season 2, episode 19, Trojan Horse
  8. Person of Interest, episodes 21 and 22, Zero Day and God Mode
  9. Person of Interest season 3, episode 1, Liberty
  10. Person of Interest season 3, episode 6, Mors Praematura
  11. Person of Interest season 3, episode 10, The Devil's Share
  12. Person of Interest, season 3 episodes 11 and 12, Lethe and Aletheia
  13. Person of Interest season 3, episode 17, Root Path
  14. Person of Interest season 3, episode 20, Death Benefit
  15. Person of Interest season 3, episode 21, Beta
  16. Person of Interest season 3, episode 23, Deus Ex Machina
  17. Person of Interest season 4, episode 1, Panopticon
  18. Person of Interest season 4, episode 5, Prophets
  19. Person of Interest season 4, episode 7, Honor Among Thieves
  20. Person of Interest season 4, episode 9, The Devil You Know
  21. Person of Interest season 4, episode 10, The Cold War
  22. Person of Interest season 4, episode 11, If-Then-Else
  23. Person of Interest season 4, episode 12, Control Alt Delete
  24. Person of Interest season 4, episode 13, M.I.A.
  25. Person of Interest season 4, episode 19, Search and Destroy
  26. Person of Interest season 4, episode 21, Asylum
  27. Person of Interest season 5, episode 4, 6,741
  28. Person of Interest season 5, episode 7, QSO
  29. Person of Interest season 5, episode 8, Reassortment