We’re on the right side of the countdown clock: the side with more days and weeks behind us than ahead. Comic Con is over, with all its delicious teasers and fun videos. The behind-the-scenes pictures are popping up along with episode titles and casting tidbits; the excitement is building. So, with less than eight weeks left until Episode 3.01 airs, Liberty, on September 24th at 10:00 p.m., I present to you the second of the planned five retro reviews of Season 1.
“Cura Te Ipsum”
First seasons of shows can be very up and down as the writers and producers learn their way, as well as work the networks for full season pickups and renewals. Person of Interest started off with a complex and intriguing pilot episode – that should have been slotted 90 minutes of time, just saying. Then it followed up with two episodes that contained workable stories of the week, as well as began the process of peeling back the layers of the two leads.
In “Ghost” we learned of Nathan Ingram and his partnership with Finch. We also learned that it was Nathan who was concerned about the irrelevant list, not Finch. This contrasts sharply with what we were told in the Pilot, Finch didn’t initially want anything to do with the irrelevant list. In fact, he deleted the number for Jessica – hold on to that information for it becomes very important later, even into Season 2.
In “Mission Creep” we saw flashbacks between Reese and Jessica that deepened the emotional impact of her loss. Reese had the chance to tell her his real feelings and give her a reason to wait for him, but didn’t. It isn’t until “Many Happy Returns” do we understand the fullness of that tragic moment. And it isn’t until the end of Season 2 that we see Reese finally come to terms with that decision on his part.
“Ghost” and “Mission Creep” are good episodes. They have plenty of character moments shown in flashbacks that heighten our appreciation of Finch and Reese. We see Reese and Finch continue their slow dance of trust. Reese proves adept at following Finch, to the point of shocking him by appearing at his ‘day job’. Finch shows the depths he’s willing to hide his identity by abruptly terminating his connection to said day job. The stories themselves are workable and interesting. The theme of trust is bantered about in “Ghost.” In “Mission Creep” Finch continues his willingness to get out into the field as he risks ‘life and limb’ to warn Reese in the evidence lockup. Reese shows his ability to empathize with people as he lets Joey Durban go who had been part of numerous robberies, and encourages him not to make the mistakes he, Reese, has made. But, as a whole, they do not carry the impact as the next episode that aired: “Cura Te Ipsum.”
This is a brilliant episode. I’ll just get that out of the way right off the bat.
It is only the fourth episode of this series, but it sets a high standard. I love the mystery surrounding Dr. Tillman. Reese thinks that Benton is the threat only to have his paradigm flipped as he learns that Tillman is stalking Benton. Not content with the discovery that Tillman is the perpetrator and Benton the victim, Reese and Finch search deeper and discover the sordid background of Benton and face the first of many moral dilemmas: Do they stop her from ridding the world of the likes of Benton or not? This is a question that comes up again, Flesh and Blood, Matsya Nyaya and others. Hopefully it continues throughout the series. Thus far it has.
This episode shows us three distinct stories, A, B, and C, each of which are intriguing to watch. The A story not only concerns Dr. Tillman, but it continues the shading in and deepening of the character of John Reese. The B story concerns Carter tracking ‘The Man in the Suit’. Here Carter comes face to face with Finch in her quest for answers. The payoff for this is in Episode 11, Super. The C story is Fusco and his working relationship with Reese. Lest we think the C story is somehow less important, there are some takeaways to consider:
First, because of Fusco’s illegal activities he has some drug dealers out to kill him, for this Fusco tries to enlist Reese’s aid. Reese doesn’t appear to be interested in helping Fusco out of his troubles; however, at the end of the episode he not only aids Fusco, but gets a mole to keep tabs on Carter. Thus the partnership of Fusco and Carter is born, and we enjoy the season-long ‘secret’ that both Carter and Fusco are assets of Finch and Reese. The payoff for this comes in Firewall.
Second, Reese learns how to ‘disappear’ people much more neatly. Now Reese already has extensive knowledge on making people disappear. We learn bits of that here as well as in Foe, but, it isn’t until Many Happy Returns do we learn just how good Reese has gotten at ‘disappearing’ people. Reese’s initial setting up of Benton with heroin and a car accident outside a police station doesn’t work, but he refines it by stepping outside the box – or more accurately, outside the borders of the United States. We don’t learn of Reese’s new strategy until Many Happy Returns, which is just one reason why Cura Te Ipsum and Many Happy Returns are inextricably linked.
At the end of this episode, we’re left with the ambiguity of that final scene: Did he kill Andrew Benton in cold blood? The producers never give us a direct answer, but we are given a possible – and plausible – outcome seventeen episodes later. That conversation with Benton at the end isn’t just for the sake of menace; John is truly struggling with what to do. For the record, I firmly believe John killed Peter Arndt. At that time, I don’t believe he was looking for another answer. However, I do believe that in Episode 4, which is some time after the events of New Rochelle, John is truly looking for another answer, a way to be better. Does he end Benton as he ended Arndt or is there another way? I believe the ending of “Many Happy Returns” provides the answer to what happened to Benton.
What about Dr. Tillman? She is a character I would love see return. It would be an interesting exercise to see how her interaction with Reese has changed her life. Person of Interest drops us into a moment in time in a character’s life. Usually that moment is one of danger or deceit. It is a time of urgency and drama in a person’s life. It would be intriguing to see that person, now rid of the danger or the urgency of that moment, confronted again with Reese. What they would be willing to do now that their life has settled once again into its normal rhythm? Also, what did that moment in time do for their perspective on life? Perhaps one day, we’ll revisit some of these ‘irrelevant’ numbers. Until that time, we can enjoy our time spent with Zoe, Leon, Root, and Shaw, all of whom were numbers and all of whom weave in and out with Finch, Reese, Carter, and Fusco.
That’s all for now, next up is “Number Crunch.”
As always, thanks for reading. Elle2