From last week’s silence at the end of the episode — save the mournful ring of the phone, with the red highlighted tag telling us to stay tuned for scene’s from next week’s episode — to this week’s wordless opening – wordless except for the fantastic choice of Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” — PoI knows how to give us room to grieve.
A major story arc closed, while a new one opens. HR is dead. What’s coming next is even bigger. Jonah promised us that the team would be challenged, that Carter’s death would linger in the aftershocks; and there are still many shocks to be felt.
I took away three major aftershocks from the events of this episode: Root’s uneasy alliance, Elias is free to take over NYC, and Reese pulled that trigger despite knowing that that would not honor Joss’s death. Other aftershocks stem from the flashbacks and how those shaped the characters and will continue to do so. Will Reese have issues with Finch and the Machine? After all, the Machine didn’t save Carter’s life, but Root’s version of the Machine may have. Will Reese and Root be a team going forward at some point?
Everything about this episode exemplified tightness, tightness of characterization, tightness of storytelling, tightness of plot. All the characters but Root had a flashback sequence. The flashbacks show us how these characters became who they are today and how who they are today aids in their grief over Carter. Root had no connection to Carter, thus no need for a flashback. Also, since Root’s motives are unclear, as is her purpose, we don’t “know” her, save what we learned in “Bad Code.”
Each character’s flashback meshed with his or her moment of decision in the show. Finch’s session with the therapist showed us how the burden of saving people truly fell upon him: the therapist unknowingly condemned him when she said that those Ferry explosion survivors had nothing to feel guilty for; they couldn’t have prevented the tragedy. Finch could have prevented it. This time he makes a different choice: he frees Root so as to save John – a death that he knows can be prevented. He also echoes a line that Shaw had in last week’s episode about choices. Finch made a choice to save Reese over bringing Simmons in; Shaw chose to save Lee over saving Lionel. Thankfully, those choices were made null by other forces.
Shaw embraced her inner sociopath after ‘washing’ out of medical school because to her, fixing things is better than healing them. She is mechanical, calculated, and skilled; might as well embrace that and become who she is meant to be. For her, utilizing Root makes complete sense because it will *fix* the problem: Where is Reese? Where is Simmons? In another of those echo moments that PoI uses so subtly, yet so effectively, Elias uses the same word, fix, when he tells Simmons that it is his (Elias’s) duty to fix the particular problem that is Officer Simmons – and then Scarface garrotes him.
Reese’s therapy session is so similar to the man himself, a façade. He isn’t seeking to pass muster to join an elite team; he’s an assassin determined to find the traitor – and then eliminate him. All of Reese’s taming that occurred in Seasons 1 and 2 as he finds purpose in the work and ultimately happiness appears to be undone as he goes to the darkest part of himself, and finds nothing there but absolute darkness. Unlike in Many Happy Returns, when Reese was alone with Marshall Jennings and does the ‘right thing’ in condemning Jennings to life in a Mexican prison (note the word “life”), here, Reese is surrounded by his friends; yet he chooses the darkness as he pulls the trigger on Quinn three times. Save an empty clip – or the gun jammed by all that dripping blood (as one commenter postulated) Quinn would be dead. I’m thinking this journey has many bumps still ahead of it. Will the Reese who simply follows orders, regardless of the moral cost, be the one to emerge? Will the Reese who understands Quinn, a man of his word, a man of loyalty, be the man to emerge: Will Reese be loyal to Joss’s memory and extend her legacy? Time will tell. Who is the real John Reese?
Fusco’s therapy session was the most fascinating for me – and clearly an indicator of how much more investment this character is going to have going forward. His session shows that Fusco has/had just as much a mind for revenge as does Reese: 24 year old rookie killed by a drug dealer only to meet his death at the hands of Fusco the vigilante. Fast forward several years and Fusco has put all that behind him as he takes Simmons on man-to-man, fist-to-fist and bests him, sending him to jail.
In the end, it is the enigmatic Elias who finishes Simmons off in style. Thank you, Elias. Thank you, Scarface. Honor does still have meaning, so does loyalty.
Notes of Interest:
– Enrico Colantoni and David Valcin were not credited for this episode – made their appearance all the more satisfying
– Amanda Segel wrote one hell of an episode with Jonathan Nolan
– Chris Fisher is a director and executive producer on the show and he knew every ounce of the script’s, the locations’, and his actors’ strengths and used them all flawlessly
– Of note, love the shots of the SUV rolling over at the beginning, love that Reese walks ever closer into camera frame as Hurt crescendos in the opening montage, and there is just everything to love about that epic sequence in the motel with the Marshalls and Quinn and the Russians and the team
– Did Reese even speak any words at all prior to the scenes in the motel with Quinn and the marshall and then Quinn and the team? Why give him words when Jim Caviezel can say so much with his eyes.
– Read the articles in the newspaper carefully, not only did they speak of the hunt for Simmons, but also about secret wiretaps – hint, hint, between that and Reese’s hunt in 2007 for the traitor selling out to Chinese insurgents, Vigilance, Decima, and Control are about to rear their dangerous heads.
– Opening cast credits not only show the loss of Taraji P. Henson but also flip flop the sequence with Kevin Chapman taking second billing to Jim Caviezel and Amy Acker taking third. She used to be one ahead of Kevin Chapman
– Poignant lines that were kicks to the gut:
Finch: “Does survivor’s guilt pass when everything is, in fact, your fault?”
Reese: “I should have killed him. Why didn’t I, Finch?”
– Thank goodness for Fusco lines:
“Guy in the back might make a good bag of charcoal.”
“Both your stray dogs are off their leash?”
“You sure the big guy’s here? *BOOM* (with an assist from Shaw) “Pretty sure.”
– John in 2007 has a yellow square, and he’s been an important part of “this program” for three years
– Amy Acker owns the role of Root. Every second of her screen time is mesmerizing, even patting Bear
– Heartbeat bookends of the episode, Reese’s at the beginning, Simmons’ at the end – ending.
We have three weeks until the next episode, “Lethe.” We’re very lucky this season, we got ten straight episodes and then, after a short break – which we all need right now, we get a bonus episode. Then again, this season has a bonus episode with the total finishing at 23 come next May.
They’re nicely ahead in their filming schedule with Jeffrey Hunt currently filming episode 14. Check out his twitter feed for some great shots in NYC while scouting as well as some BTS moments as he does the task that is probably hardest for directors: dealing with needy and/or difficult actors. You’ll laugh. I promise.
Until next time, thanks for reading, Elle2