Farewell, Person of Interest. You were interesting, intriguing, and the best thing to hit network television in a very long time – and you had truly only just begun to tap your potential when your number, and time, was up.
As the final episode concluded, I found myself thinking that this was the best possible ending to the show, where it doesn’t really end at all, even as John Reese has most certainly come to an end, but yet a new beginning dawns. I had laid odds with myself that Fusco and Bear were shoe-ins to survive, and perhaps, I thought, Shaw might as well. I did not foresee Finch living, but I am happy that he did. He will remember John Reese to his dying day, and for that, John will live on in Finch’s and the Machine’s memories.
As the next day dawned I found myself in a bit of a state of grief, however, not because Reese had died – rest in peace Mr. Tall Dark and Fearsome – but because this excellent show was gone all too soon. Hard to believe that four plus years has passed by since I first discovered this show one December evening while flipping through the channels: “Number Crunch.” While I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and thought Root and Shaw excellent additions to the team, I did miss the smaller moments, the times in the earlier seasons where the mythology was unfolding, but all had not become overshadowed by Samaritan and Decima and Greer.
While Amy Acker was exceptional in her role, growing from dangerous enemy to extraordinary ally, loyal to the end, I did not always enjoy the constant dialogue regarding AIs and competing gods. Perhaps because God is so real and personal to me I was unable to truly enjoy what the show was trying to achieve, but also my enjoyment diminished because John got shifted further and further into the background, whereas at the beginning, each episode, some in small ways and others in big ways, found some aspect of him to relate to the number of the week, and in that John Reese was slowly revealed to be a deeply complex, deeply emotional, highly damaged, albeit forever seeking redemption of a hero.
I was overjoyed at the return of Joey Durban from Season 1’s “Mission Creep.” Joey’s almost intense desire to instill in John, when they met again in D.C., how truly critical Reese’s interactions with him had changed his life forever: he married his long-time love, and now has a new purpose in saving ordinary people. And, as a wonderful little callback to that episode, he met a billionaire who changed his life – so like John Reese.
Season 1 is filled with moments where we get glimpses behind the carefully held mask of John Reese: How he couldn’t allow Dr. Tillman to kill, for it would destroy her as it has destroyed him. How he wouldn’t allow the judge to lose his son, because he had so recently lost his wife. Reese knows what it’s like to lose a great love and be all alone, and he wouldn’t allow the judge to suffer in such a manner. How the ex-KGB agent in Foe was so much like him, lied to by his country, doing everything, risking everything, losing everything out of loyalty to his country – and losing himself along the way.
Not only did the adults reveal pieces of Reese, but the children as well, from “Ghosts” to “Wolf and Cub” to “Baby Blue,” as well as the rescue of Taylor from Elias in “Flesh and Bone”: Don’t mess with children, for John Reese will come after you with a vengeance. I don’t know any other reason for John to hate it when people mess with children other than his intense desire to save those unable to save or protect themselves. It’s all he ever wanted to do. In the end, all he ever wanted to be was a hero like his father. I love that it was just that simple for John, and in the end he got to be just that…a hero.
I’ll miss those moments when you never knew what vehicle John was going to drive as he T-boned some bad individual, and the music that inevitably played along with such a moment. I love that there was no weapon he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, employ to get the job done, a fire extinguisher, an ax, a legal text, a chair, a brick of gold, a grenade launcher, a knife, and countless, countless guns of all shapes and sizes. There is so much more, but too many to list here. Suffice it to say, John Reese never met an object he couldn’t turn into a weapon, pots, pans, umbrellas, nothing was beyond his imagination. MacGyver himself couldn’t have been prouder, even as MacGyver eschewed the use of guns.
There is so much music to associate with John Reese and Person of Interest that I still find myself flashing back during car advertisements that play the same song as in that scene in “Prisoner’s Dilemma” when John is released and flicks the cuffs of his shirt as he strolls down Riker’s hallway. There’s the pathos of the ending of “Many Happy Returns” as “Revenge” by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse plays, or the multiple Unkle songs (“Burn My Shado” and “When Things Explode”) or how about the excellent scene underscored by “Gimme Shelter” at the end of “Shadowbox”…there’s just so much great music to associate with not only this show, but John Reese.
My favorite episodes for John Reese are “Cura Te Ipsum,” “Wolf and Cub,” “Many Happy Returns,” “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” “The Devil’s Share,” “Terra Incognito.” I love all the flashbacks with Kara Stanton and Mark Snow, every reference to Jessica. I think my biggest sorrow regarding the end of this show is that there was still so much more to reveal. Both Nolan and Plageman have stated that they had easily two more seasons of material, and while I am certain much of it would involve AIs and all the mythology that centered around that, there is no doubt in my mind there would be plenty of small moments as the characters continued to be revealed as the deeply layered personas they were crafted to be. To me, the best parts are the small character moments. The ending of “Risk,” when Reese is thanking the homeless woman for taking care of him, while telling her he had someone new caring for him now – all while Finch listens from the library. That small beat as Finch reacts to that revelation is so poignant. Then there is the scene in “Masquerade” when Reese is consoling their latest number over the loss of her friend and reveals that he too had been so lost, as this individual feels, but a friend found him and gave him a purpose – again, Finch was listening…”Always, Mr. Reese.”
These tough men, Reese and Finch, tough in contrasting ways but no one to be trifled with, kept their emotions and their secrets highly guarded, even from each other, which is why Finch’s emotions as he locked John in the vault still bring tears to my eyes, for Finch was never one to show or share his emotions so openly. “I knew you would be an excellent employee…I had no idea you would become such a good friend.” (SOB!)
I’m glad Person of Interest ended while it still had so much to give, even as I grieve that it ended while it had so much more still to give. I still have shows that I enjoy, NCIS, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Flash and some others, but they are pale shadows compared to the greatness of Person of Interest. Supernatural, as much as I know I’m with it to the end, has lost its way and instead stumbles around trying to recapture its glory – if only it would refocus and re-center on the brothers, their relationship to each other as well as how they interact with their weekly cases, something PoI was masterful at in the beginning seasons especially, when there was more time and emphasis on characterization and less on AIs and AI apocalypses. Vampire Diaries works best when Stefan and Damon are the focus, which is why the pinnacle of this past season was I Went Into the Woods, but from then it devolved into the usual – Bonnie is in danger and Damon (her somehow best friend), and she his (Nope, Stefan is Damon’s best friend with Alaric second) saving her.
The Flash is very enjoyable but faltered – especially with Zoom’s sole purpose for destroying Barry and Earth 1 was revealed to be nothing more than he had to be the best. Really? That’s the only reason Zoom has wrought so much destruction? He just simply has to be the fastest, the best? Sheesh. At least Reverse Flash wanted to go back home to his own time, and plotted for 15 years to make that happen. Zoom just wants to be the best. Lame. Lamer still was that Barry learned nothing from time wraiths and using them to defeat Zoom. Instead, he defies all he knows and goes back in time to save his mom. Sorry, but that’s about as selfish as one can get. Also, as good as these writers have been keeping their timetable intact, I don’t think they’ll be able to manage all that that action does, or undoes.
Arrow has completely lost its path for me. Its only hope, for me, is that now that they’ve practically dismantled the team, they focus back on the characters, simplify the villains and lose any hint of special powers, both for Oliver and for the rest of the team.
For now, as we are well into the summer hiatus and all I have are reruns for nearly four more months, the loss of Person of Interest is still quite strong. As each day goes by I realize the loss for me is more profound because while it was still great throughout all 103 episodes, I had lost my intense love for this show somewhere around the middle of Season 3. That is the point where John Reese became more and more background while Root and Shaw and Samaritan took up more and more of the foreground. Reese became more of a joke, rather than the one cracking them. While he was still fearsome and fearless, Root and Shaw somehow exceeded his abilities all while negating and belittling his. That’s a shame. This writing and producing team did so many things right with this show, but they did stumble as so many others do in this one area: When given new characters to write for, they forget, somehow, how to write for their foundational (and truly best) character. Shaw did all the driving, handled the best weapons, and managed to kick more butt, while Root, already a lethal hacker, somehow developed the abilities to fight hand to hand combat with the best of them and handle any and all weapons that came her way.
For me, when I do pull back out my DVDs, now stored to let my emotions settle, I’ll be spending most of my time in the earlier seasons, and selectively watching episodes in late Season 3 and Season 4. Season 5 won’t be purchased by me, as John’s role was clearly only as muscle, and only occasional at that, and he was given no further character growth except the one excellent scene with Fusco in the final episode and those touching and tragic moments at his father’s funeral and at the rooftop. A shame. My grief is really that John Reese left his impression for only the first 55 episodes, and in the end, aside from some great moments here and there, as well as the amazing Terra Incognito, was nothing more than window dressing, and in the end, Shaw takes over his role and Fusco barely gives him a passing thought as he goes back to being a detective – thoroughly redeemed because of the intervention of the Man in the Suit.
Farewell, Person of Interest. I adored you for two and a half seasons and enjoyed you for the remainder of your run. If only is all I have when it comes to what could have been – and oh, that you had been given the opportunity to be all that you wanted to be. I’m thankful for Nolan and Plageman for giving Reese the final storyline emotionally in Return 0, even as it was so small.
Thanks for reading, Elle2