I didn’t watch Person of Interest when it first aired; too busy downsizing my TV viewing habits. I did catch the first airing of Number Crunch, well, the last 15 minutes. I was intrigued. Finch is a sucker for surveillance; I’m a sucker for bromance.
I try to be patient with shows in their first season, allowing them to evolve: an interesting, if not ‘out there’ premise, a bit of a wobble through the first half dozen or so episodes (with sparks of brilliance – I’m looking at you Cura Te Ipsum), stability as it finds its footing and then the soaring race to the season finale.
I’m not given to dissecting a show so completely as to point out every plot hole. Could I? Sure. Will I? No. I’m along for the ride and the escapist fare. If I wanted to dissect and nitpick, then there’s no fun. Person of Interest is fun, and it’s very, very good (yes, plot holes and continuity issues aside.)
I’m a fan of what CBS has to offer mostly because I’m not a fan of soap opera-ish shows that are most serialized dramas. (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this type of show, it’s just not my type of viewing on a consistent basis.) Greg Plageman and/or Jonathan Nolan said that Person of Interest balances the procedural with the serialized. They like to move the overarching story forward organically with the weekly procedural. I like that because it mostly avoids what I do not like about serialized shows; the plot moves forward basically because someone lies, cheats, betrays (either in a business setting or in a personal (read romantic/sexual) type of setting.) Just not my cup of tea when it comes to television, so I’m happy for shows that balance the two.
However, while I tend to like procedurals, they do bore me if they adhere too strictly to the procedural mode. What I really like is characters; USA has some shows like that and CBS appears to be getting into that business what with Person of Interest and perhaps Elementary (which I’ll be giving a look at.) I believe there are some that put The Mentalist in this category and I know many put The Good Wife in this category. The Good Wife is rich in characters but also rich in the soap opera element, thus not my cup of tea; even as it is well-written and well-acted (yes, I gave it a go).
In Person of Interest Reese seems to be our conduit to the various stories, be it the weekly POI or Finch or himself. Throughout Season 1 we get insight into Reese’s past through the weekly POIs. Every flashback we had emerged from the weekly story, Durban gave us John’s last face-to-face encounter with Jessica – “wait for me, please”; Kohl was/is John Reese (whispery menace and everything and the disillusionment of fighting for a cause that really never was) and we see how Reese got his newest name (as he taunted his soon-to-be torturer with the reveal that he had once been tortured for 16 hours all just to give his name. I’m betting he never gave it up then.) Cahill/Tulley revealed how Reese came to seek out Jessica, even if only from afar, simply because he wanted/needed to feel normal again after being so long undercover. Tommy and Sarah revealed the final betrayal that caused John to leave the CIA and what led to his ultimate spiral down to homeless, suicidal drunk as he failed to protect the one person who mattered most.
The weekly POIs also showed the sides of John that are long buried but not yet dead: He protects Dr. Tillman so she won’t have to lose that most important part of herself, Judge Gates brings out Reese’s need to not have someone else lose everyone that’s important in one’s life and be alone. Darren reveals Reese’s condition as someone who has been betrayed and is wandering the landscape atoning for his sins all while longing for a home, a family. Andrea Gutierrez believes in second chances – Reese recently thanked Harold for giving him one. Powell reveals Reese’s craving for a ‘normal life’ and Leila unveiled a hidden desire for a family.
John Reese is revealed little by little through the weekly cases as well as through the flashbacks that show who he was, in part why some are after him and even more interesting (as if the others weren’t already) that the Machine and Harold Finch have links to John Reese that have yet to be revealed.
As for Harold Finch, his flashbacks didn’t rise organically from the weekly stories; I believe that is by design. Despite Finch’s absolute dedication to protecting those whose numbers come up, he is most comfortable with ‘human interaction’ as filtered through his money or through his computer monitors. We do see that he has some that are allowed into his inner circle but each one is carefully compartmentalized from the other. Harold Finch has much to reveal, what is his real name (something we still don’t know about John Reese either) as well as what led to his secrecy and paranoia even when he was back in school.
Nathan knows him as Harold Finch and they built the machine together; still Nathan had no knowledge of Grace (or likely Finch’s real name). Clearly Grace has no knowledge of the machine and likely nothing of Ingram as well for it is unlikely a fiancée would accept knowing about a best friend but never being allowed to meet him. Reese knows of Ingram but not because Finch gave him any information. Interesting though that there appears to be some acceptance on Finch’s part in allowing Reese to search out and access Grace; clearly Finch is willing to allow Reese closer insight into his history at this point. Finch knows all about John’s grief and pain with regard to Jessica, in No Good Deed he extends the hand of friendship, true friendship, as he reveals his own similar loss and pain; it’s a bonding moment (ah, the bromance!)
Person of Interest has its weekly POIs, but it also has its four main characters as POIs. I loved watching Fusco’s back and forth as he tried to kill Reese on two occasions (well, all right, the second time he was only handing him over for the drug dealers to likely kill him) to protecting him. Fusco’s turn from dirty cop to upstanding cop was a halting journey of discovery as he rediscovered why he became a cop in the first place and found that he preferred helping people rather than just helping himself. (I sent Kevin Chapman an email telling him how much I appreciated his work in Blue Code, that final scene when he thinks he’s going to die is brilliant! Mr. Chapman was kind enough to reply back thanking me for my note and telling me to spread the love for POI…so here I am.!)
Carter had her own journey of maintaining her integrity and her “rules” that keep her grounded to realizing that at times breaking the rules is what gets the job done. Love how she kidnapped the dons in Flesh and Blood – yes, John’s way of doing things has rubbed off on her.
John clearly is seeking redemption as he was (I believe) fully intending to deliver Marshall Jennings to the Mexican prison before Carter confronted him on the dark road in Many Happy Returns. For the record, I believe Jennings joined Benton. Peter Arndt, however, well, he melted into oblivion likely thanks to 8 pounds of lye.
Finch showed that John’s methods (and penchant for guns) aren’t quite the barrier that they were in the beginning, in Flesh and Blood he too was willing to bend to John’s ways a bit and handle a gun in an effort to create a distraction. Love that moment… “You can be the getaway driver.”
As the season roared to an end we have many, many tantalizing avenues to explore, FBI, CIA, HR, Root, Elias are all swirling about. Cara Stanton has returned and Mark Snow didn’t look dead to me; both are likely to return in Season 2. Grace looks to be returning to shed some light on Finch and we still have the question of how did Finch get his limp, what happened to Nathan Ingram, is Will Ingram going to make a return and just who will the POIs be in this next season. We’ve had lawyers and judges, police officers and soldiers, mafia dons, babies, lost and/or orphaned teens, Wall Street traders and construction workers, Cold War spies, doctors, fixers…I’m intrigued to see what comes next.
After 19 long weeks, the wondrous words were heard at the end of September 20th’s episode… “Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.” Welcome back, Person of Interest!
Thanks for reading.
(Catch Alice’s interviews at Comic-Con with Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel, and producers Greg Plageman and Jonathan Nolan for season two previews).