“Person of Interest” had a deadly finale Tuesday night. Despite Root’s death in the episodes leading up to the series finale, another team member gave their life in the last battle to stop the Samaritan virus on the CBS drama.

When a copy of the Samaritan virus is discovered, Finch (Michael Emerson) breaks into the Federal Reserve to stop it. But Samaritan uses Finch’s laptop to leave the Reserve’s servers and go to a Manhattan building with an antenna that could connect it to a Russian satellite. Someone has to go on the roof and upload the Machine into the same antenna, but it’s a mission with a death sentence. Samaritan has a missile headed straight toward the roof.

Finch tells Reese (Jim Caviezel) that he has been a good friend and then he heads to the roof. But the Machine is smarter than Finch. He realizes the antenna can’t reach a satellite, and the Machine reveals it sent him to the wrong place to save his life. The artificial intelligence system and Reese made a deal to prioritize Finch’s life, so it’s Reese who is on the correct roof. 

A missile hits, and the team doesn’t really know what happened. They’ve been a bit busy. Fusco (Kevin Chapman) is recovering from being stabbed, and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) decided to kill Jeff (Josh Close) after discovering he murdered Root (Amy Acker). They haven’t seen Finch or Reese in the three days since the missile attack. However, they soon learn that Reese died in the attack. Viewers see Finch going to France to reunite with Grace (Carrie Preston). Meanwhile, Shaw answers a phone on the streets of New York. She has another mission to work on.

Executive producers Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman revealed that they had considered different characters dying, but Reese seemed to make the most sense. “We talked about every permutation,” Plageman explained to TVLine. “And this one felt the most poetic — in terms of what Reese was initially hired to do — and him understanding that this was what it would come down to, what he’d have to do to save Harold Finch.”

Ultimately, the finale was centered on Finch and Reese’s relationship. Nolan believes that the focus made the finale more poignant. After all, the series debuted with Finch saving Reese’s life. “What Finch has given to Reese and what Reese has tried to give back in return, is very moving to me,” Nolan told IGN. “And the opportunity for Reese to repay that, as he says in the beginning of the episode, pay it back all at once, for me and for Greg I think, was just the most moving version of how this story ended.”

He also added that happy endings just weren’t an option for these characters. “And yeah, it would just be bulls--- if they all made it out intact. What they've been doing is fighting against impossible odds. It would rob the ending of all meaning if it was happy endings all around.”

It was not the happiest conclusion, but with Finch in France and Shaw seemingly taking over for him, there were some satisfying endings. It seems fans should be grateful for that. Those characters could have had a much more tragic end. “We always think about killing everyone off,” Nolan quipped to Deadline. “That’s always option A.”