Person of Interest roars back in its second season with an excellent first episode picking up right where we left off and moving us forward into new directions.
In Season 1 the four main characters shifted around each other as they sought firm footing in understanding who they were working with. By the end of the season the hierarchy was clearly defined with Finch at the top of the information spectrum and Reese, Carter and Fusco lined up in degrees behind.
In Season 2 we see Reese use that hierarchy of trust and information appearing in Carter’s apartment – a bit of an emotional vulnerability shown in a man who has lost his tether to the world – and assigning her the investigation into Alicia’s murder. Reese knows Carter is better at dancing around secretive government agencies and political minefields than Fusco. He’s willing to meet with her privately and show her his fears for Finch, subtly as always. He only ever talks about Finch with Fusco over the phone, except for that one precious moment: (Reese) “See, I don’t have many friends. Just the one, in fact.” (Fusco) *mumbling* (Reese) “Okay. Maybe two.”
While John is coolly efficient in his work in this episode it is clear that he is slowly but surely reaching desperation in his search for Finch. Carter shows her concern in the looks she gives Reese and by quickly getting down to her assignment. Fusco simply voices his concerns immediately: “Frankly, I’m not sure I want to find out what you’re like without his direction.” Gotta love someone who simply states what’s on their mind.
I love the dynamic between Carter and Fusco, watching her simply accept that Fusco was in on the workings of Finch and Reese all the while being her partner does not seem to trouble her. Likely it’s because she’s aware that Reese without Finch will rapidly devolve; she knows all about New Rochelle and Reese’s spiral into suicidal ideation – something we see clearly at the end of the episode when he gives the Machine an ultimatum; the Machine either helps or John quits. Ultimatums only work if you are truly willing to back up what you declare; John would quit which only leaves one out, death.
Fusco is more childish in his reactions complaining that Reese gives her the important job while he is sidelined with babysitting some guy; he missed the point entirely: (Reese) “Didn’t you take an oath as a cop to protect and serve?” (Fusco) “Yeah, so?” (Reese) “So, go be a cop.” There it is stated in the first episode of the season: Reese wants Fusco to be the good cop, thus answering the question at the end of Identity Crisis.
The flashbacks this week did stem from the organic workings of the episode, unlike last season when the Machine/Finch flashbacks did not. We needed to understand the how’s and why’s of Finch’s programming to understand why it didn’t protect him in this instance. Well, it did once; Harold reprogrammed it not to in the future. By the end of the episode John has in essence altered the programming of the machine…wonder what ramifications will follow that.
Denise The and Jonathan Nolan have fun in their script calling back to earlier episodes. There is a straight out nod to The Pilot: “I gave you a job, Mr. Reese, never said it would be easy” all while showing us exactly how the Machine gives the numbers. We get fight scenes in a bar reminiscent of The Pilot when John first *acquires* his weapons. There is a nod to the fight sequence in Ghost (at a bar) with the fight at the Aryan compound, not seen but heard…until the final dramatic crash through the window of one of the baddies. (An impressive stunt to me as we see it without the benefit of camera cuts – where’s the padding for the man?) The look John gives the bad guys as he takes control of ‘Butcher’ reminds me of Baby Blue when he turns to see the three men square off against him with knives and simply says: “Really?!” (add your own throaty menace) — In that instant everyone knows the power has shifted. Carter returns the bag of weapons that John gave her in Flesh and Blood – “I’ve been meaning to give these back to you.”
And last but not least is the allusion simply to “The tall, well-dressed guy.” All throughout the first half of Season 1 the only description Carter had for John Reese was “tall guy in a suit” and some grainy surveillance photos – those all reappear here. Yet with all those references to last season, Contingency moves forward. Enter fully a new shadowy government organization, Office of Special Counsel, complete with assassin assigned to take down Reese. How many are gunning for him? CIA, FBI, HR, Elias, Stanton’s motives are unknown, and now Office of Special Counsel…sounds like a good season up ahead of danger as well as more people coming after the Machine. Harold’s fears expressed in No Good Deed are clearly coming to fruition.
Final thoughts, things I loved: (not inclusive, please add your own)
- Love that POI doesn’t show us every fight, I have a good imagination and like to use it
- John doesn’t win every fight, makes Carter and Fusco important not only to gathering intel but in coming to his rescue. “I wasn’t losing, I was resting.” LOL!
- Finch showing us in that moment at the Blackjack table just how powerful and dangerous the Machine is. Finch is already extremely wealthy, yet he hesitates to let go that 250,000. Emerson gives an excellent performance showing through his facial expressions and eyes the struggle within and then the decision to let it go.
- Fusco’s caustic remark after he hears Carter calling Reese “John” – (Carter) “What do you call him?” (Fusco) “Bane of my existence.”
- Root shouting out to next week’s episode when she says people are simply Bad Code – we’re going to learn all about Root next week, much like we learned all about Elias in Flesh and Blood. Love deep, rich backgrounds on secondary characters.
- Bear – like the idea of John with a dog
Prepare yourselves now, fellow POI fans, after Bad Code next week; we have a two-week break until Masquerade. Don’t blame CBS; ‘tis the presidential elections that are to be blamed as debates begin. If you want to keep yourself up to date on the television schedules, I recommend www.thefutoncritic.com; it’s where I keep track and they are rarely wrong.
Thanks for reading!