Sarah Shahi on 'Person of Interest': Shaw's 'Dance With the Devil,' and What's Coming This Season

Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, and Sarah Shahi in 'Person of Interest'
Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, and Sarah Shahi in 'Person of Interest'

How to explain a character like Person of Interest's Sameen Shaw? Beautiful and deadly? Definitely. But also, says Sarah Shahi, the actor who plays her, "She's almost like a child in a way: You have to keep entertaining her. For her, that means give her a gun, give her a few faces to smash and she's OK." You know: "Normal girl stuff!"

Shaw is anything but a normal girl and, when Yahoo TV spoke with Shahi, we got more on this week's Shaw-centric episode as well as some of her favorite people to work with, a scene that got cut from this season's first outing, and hints of the — in her words — "colossal" changes coming to PoI.

In the exclusive sneak peek clip below, we see Shaw's "breakup" with the pretty — but clueless — smash-and-grab robbers she's been driving around for the last few episodes. It gives her the thrill she needs after a day of working the menial cover jobs the Machine gives her, but after working with professionals like Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson), she finds their sloppiness too much to bear. Shaw sends off Romeo and his crew with a quick beatdown and tosses their booty (and car keys) into the bay.

Later in the episode, she'll get involved with some real thieves — the international kind — including this week's number. In addition to the excitement, there's also "a little love connection between Shaw and the person of interest," says Shahi. "She is very intrigued by his abilities as a professional — especially just coming off the Romeo deal." Although, she says with a laugh, "At the end of the day, her heart belongs to Root — and that way it will stay."

The love/hate/love relationship Shaw and Root (Amy Acker) have is one of the best parts of the show, and this episode features "a lot of playful Shaw and Root stuff." Shahi sums up their back-and-forth this way: "Shaw's reaction to Root is she wants to punch her one minute and kiss her the next. Root gets under Shaw's skin, and I think that's really because Shaw likes her."

Root's counterpart — working under the Machine's dark twin Samaritan — is Martine (Cara Buono). Like Root, she's a deadly assassin who also has a direct link to her AI. Does that mean that maybe, like Root, she could eventually be swayed to join Team Machine? "I would like for Martine to come over to our side," Shahi says with a wicked grin, "As long as Shaw goes to Samaritan. I think it would be fun to see Shaw dance with the devil."

Related: 10 Things You May Not Know About 'Person of Interest'

"She and I have some fantastic stuff ahead," Shahi continues, "And she and Root do, too. We like our Martine — she's great." The ratio of women to men regularly kicking ass is another thing that sets the show apart, and Shahi embraces it. "Any opportunity to have a female presence on a show like PoI — I think all the girls welcome because it can very easily be such a boys' club on that show."

Another of Shahi's favorite guest stars — one she hopes makes a return — is Saul Rubinek, who plays Finch's old friend and creator of Samaritan, Arthur Claypool. "He was only a one-timer, but I wish he was recurring," she says. "I was just in love with that man; I thought he was wonderful." Considering the show has new people coming through every week, it must be hard to keep track of them all, but, "He was the one that made a big impression on me, and I love working with him so much."

Shahi loves playing "a character who really — for the most part — comes across like an emotionless machine," who is then forced to hide under the radar working the dullest jobs. "The more the writers write things for the show that take her out of [her comfort zone] and cause her to be more vulnerable? That's gold to play."

There was actually a deleted scene — while Shaw has the department store job — where she got to play that more. "One thing that we had shot in the first episode that ended up getting cut: Shaw was just bored out her mind at the cosmetics counter and there's a little irrelevant number that pops up and Shaw decides to take action — she goes in and she just beats the s--t out of this guy. The cops come and they find her and she does a little smile, wink wink."

Related: Behind the Scenes of 'Person of Interest' With Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi

Root has to save her, and it's the Machine's realization that Shaw would never be able to sit still too long without committing mayhem that leads to the job with Romeo's amateur crew. "She's got a death wish on her, she's an adrenaline junkie," Shahi says of her character — and that's what it takes to deal with someone like that.

Shahi promises her episode is not to be missed, especially "the last 17 seconds of it. Something happens that sets off the entire rest of the season. It's gonna get bloody and gory and scary and wonderful and exciting. You definitely don't want to miss that!"

"Those last crucial seconds of the show are going to tease everything else that's coming that kind of changes the entire direction of the show," she says. "And I don't think it's anything that someone could have seen coming, that's just how fantastic these writers are. Even as actors, when you get the scripts and start reading, you're like, 'Holy eff! Where did they even come up with that stuff?'"

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.