During the summer of 2011, I was not interested in Person of Interest at all. All the previews did nothing for me. I had no intention of watching it come fall, and I didn’t. However, come December 15, 2011, all things changed. I found myself, in a moment of wintertime boredom, flicking through channels one Thursday night at or around 9:50 EST when it happened: the final minutes of “Number Crunch “aired. Yeah, I’m a sucker like that.
Like Supernatural’s “Mystery Spot,” PoI’s “Number Crunch” will always have a special place in my heart; both were the first episodes of those respective series I ever watched. I was hooked.
So what makes “Number Crunch” so good? There are many things. It’s the first time more than one number came up, thus Fusco and Finch had to aid Reese by tailing separate numbers. Second, it marks the moment of decision for Joss Carter as she finally comes face to face with the Man in the Suit…and lets him go. Third, Snow is introduced and Reese’s murky backstory begins to emerge. We’re left to wonder if he killed his former partner/handler, Stanton, and, if not, just what did happen to cause him to leave the CIA and why is Snow determined to kill him.
We see the moment when Reese accepts his demise, thanks Finch for saving his life – having earlier this season thanked him for giving him a job – and prepare to find a corner to bleed out in. Of course, in the symmetry only given to us by television, Carter fulfills her earlier prophecy when she told him one of two things would happen: she’d catch him or find him bleeding out somewhere. Here, she basically does both. Finch intervenes though, determined to save his erstwhile partner, and they speed off into the darkness. We turn our televisions off and mark our calendars for the return four weeks later.
I was quite busy during those four weeks. Those were the heyday when CBS was allowed to air PoI episodes on their website. Now they’re not allowed to. Business dealings of which I am not all that familiar between Warner Brothers and CBS don’t allow the full episodes either OnDemand or on CBS online. Oh, well, fans of The Mentalist and Criminal Minds had to wait until Season 5 and Season 8 respectively for their shows to air on CBS online, and they’re still not on OnDemand. Anyway, back in December of 2011 I caught almost all of the episodes, either online or through repeats. By the time Super aired, I was prepared.
Number Crunch also presents us the first time Jeffrey Hunt directed an episode. He’s done four in Season 2 and is signed on to do an undisclosed number for Season 3. I’m hoping for another four, but time will tell. Jeffrey Hunt has a great eye for the streets of New York as well as allowing the characters and the story to – as Kim Manners used to say – “breathe.”
In an episode packed with four numbers to track, Carter dealing with the CIA – who is closing in on Reese – the death of a politician’s son, Finch in the field, Carter dealing with the fallout from the prior episode where her CI is killed, by Reese, in an effort to save her life, Fusco running point on the investigation, as well as tracking one of the four numbers, and Reese continuing to search for clues about the mysterious Mr. Finch, there are several quiet moments when the characters and the story breathe.
The opening interplay between Reese and Finch is short but direct: Reese searches for clues in the seemingly empty library; Finch surprises him and warns him that some secrets are best left, well, secret. We are left wondering just what the secrets are that Finch holds so dear. While we know more now, 45 episodes in, there is still much to uncover.
This episode opens up more of the mystery of Reese’s past. Enter Agent Mark Snow and his quest to find Reese and
question him about Ordos kill him. Snow quickly became a character that many loved to hate. Now that he has died, we can only hope for more time with Snow via flashbacks. I still love that diner scene with Snow, Carter and Evans as little details about Reese are revealed. Carter just takes it in. She’s not one to make snap judgments.
For me, what makes “Number Crunch” so good is that it highlighted the partnership between Finch and Reese. In the prior episodes, there have been many moments when Finch came to Reese’s aid and/or sent someone to find him and rescue him, Mission Creep, The Fix, Witness, Foe. So seeing Finch coming to Reese’s aid here isn’t that much different. What is different though is the intent. Reese is intent on not allowing Harold to come to his rescue as it is too dangerous; Finch is determined not to let John die. Their conversation as John is staggering down the stairwell and Harold is racing through the streets of New York City isn’t the first time these two men have used the other’s first name, however, it does mark the first time a conversation is spoken between the two when only their first names are used. That stairwell scene is excellent for its pacing, lighting, makeup and, of course, the excellent musical choice: “When Things Explode” by UNKLE.
“Number Crunch” also segues nicely into Super, the first time the two men move their operations from the library; in fact, the library isn’t shown at all in Super. I usually watch these two episodes together. From here Carter is slowly but surely brought into the fold, while Reese and Finch continue their dance of trust. There are some bumpy moments ahead, Legacy, Wolf and Cub and Many Happy Returns, but then that is part of the appeal: watching these two distinctly different men find common ground. Here in “Number Crunch,” both showed that they are willing to risk it all to protect the other.
That’s all for now. Next up, “Many Happy Returns.”
Until then, thanks for reading! Elle2