Person of Interest: s01 e23 – Fire Wall

Caroline Turing

We’re at the end of season 1 of Person of Interest now, and the show left the audience hanging on a slew of cliffhangers as several status quos were given a thorough kicking, and one cliffhanger in particular left the audience waiting for season 2 to find out just what wasgoing to happen.

On a purely technical level, the episode crammed in multiple stories, intertwined, without feeling rushed or hurried, especially when the largest part of the episode, the Number of the Week, was a red herring of Loch Ness Monster proportions.

To signal the tension, the episode began in the middle, with Finch suddenly summoning Carter’s help because MrReese  is in trouble. Before she can do anything, she’s commandeered by Special Agent Donnelly and whisked off to the FBI Task Force command post. They’ve got the Man in the Suit cornered. They have him on security footage, with a woman, who, cleverly, we can only see blurred.

Then it’s flashback time, but only to the previous day, as we build into this moment.

The woman is the Number, Caroline Turing, a high-powered psychologist, played by Amy Acker, as a slightly nervous woman, caught in an unfamiliar situation. Turing deals with high-powered individuals, hears secrets that could have ruinous effect. She’s good at whhat she does: she does a pretty decent analysis on her new client ‘John Rooney’, quickly getting at a lot of John Reese. But someone wants her dead, and as Fusco reports back, it’s HR, going into the murder for hire business, who will carry it out.

A little of the tension, the sting, was taken out of the episode for me by simply knowing what was coming, though the reveal was mercifully very late. Because whilst I didn’t specifically remember that much of the episode, I do know who Amy Acker’s character is, and it’s not Caroline Turing.

But Acker played her part to perfection, not the least suggestion that she was anything other than she appeared to be. She maintained the part publicly, and even fooled Zoe Morgan (PaigeTurco, remember?) when Finch brought her in to try to identify the guy behind the shooting.

Reese intervenes in the would-be shooting, spirits Turing away, is caught on security camera with her, leading to Donnelly, still wildly misinterpreting what John is doing, according to his theory, closing in. Reese has got to protect Turing and himself from HR on the one hand and the FBI on the other. He’s not interested in Fusco meeting the three high-ups of HR, nor in letting Fusco complete his underground mission. And he’s not aware that Finch is being followed by Alicia Corwin (Elizabeth Marvel), nor that she’s found the Library.

For the moment, the show having caight up with and passed its opening scene, John is trying to get himself and Turing out of a hotel. It seems impossible, even with Carter feeding him warnings. But someone’s warning HR. Carter thinks it’s Fusco, who’s texting as much as she is, but when she confronts him, he’s feeding Finch. The two finally realise they’ve been helping the same people. They go in to get Reese away from the HR shooters, and discuss trust issues along the way. Reese has already sent Turing ahead on their escape route, to where Finch is waiting with a car.

And a woman does indeed get into his passenger seat.  But it’s Alicia.

She’s been trailing him for weeks. She has worked out that he built the Machine, Nathan Ingram’s ‘IT guy’. Alicia is herself on the run, though it’s not quite clear what from: it may be herself. The ethics of the Machine have destroyed her mental balance. In a foreshadowing of themes to come, she describes theMachine as God. It seesall, it hears all. She wants Harold’s help to destroy it. Harold sees clearly: Alicia has been behind the whole thing, has created the threat against CarolineTuring, just to draw Finch out into the open.

Only she hasn’t. She’s never heard of Caroline Turing. Who walks up to the car and shoots Alicia through the back of the head. There’s none of that nervousness now, as she sits in the back, eager at the chance to meet Harold: they have so much to talk about.

Because Zoe’s just found out that Caroline Turing doesn’t exist. That she’s a shell. A shell who ordered a hit on herself just to get Finch and Reese to save her, exactly as they did. To kidnap Finch. They can call her Root (you should here re-read my blog on episode 13).

Which leaves John Reese on his own. Finch is the brains, the man who communicates with the Machine. Root is a hacker whose skills are seemingly eqal with those of Finch. What can Reese do? He needs an ally. inan echo of the image in the opening credits, he stands in the street and quietly addresses a security camera, addressing the Machine. Finch has been doing the Machine’s work. Not the Machine needs to help him. Close at hand, a public phone rings. Reese goes to answer it.

At least there’s no waiting a close season to find out what happens next. Season 2 starts here, in seven days time. I shall fight not to watch it ahead of time.


5 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s01 e23 – Fire Wall

  1. Despite being Person of Interest’s least acclaimed season, Season 1 ends with a superb 5-episode stretch-“Flesh and Blood”, “Matsya Nyaya” (least awesome of the bunch), “Many Happy Returns”, “No Good Deed”, “Firewall”. Even though this episode is best on first watch, one can still appreciate the craft on multiple watches. Frame-to-frame, it’s nearly flawless-no fat on this one’s bones at all, so to speak. It brings several story arcs back to prominence, provides massive levels of thrills and suspense, confirms Reese and Finch’s friendship, reveals the truth about Carter and Fusco, brings back Zoe, brings Amy Acker onto the show (best thing that ever happened to it-good thing Jonathan Nolan’s wife is a big Angel fan), and ends by pushing the show into sci-fi territory, with the first hint that the Machine is, well, more than just a machine. Incredible finale.

  2. The test of any episode that relies upon a sting that successfully fools the audience is repeated viewing, and I don’t mean an analysis of how it’s done. If it can grip and involve, knowing in advance, then you’re in the presence of greatness. All too often, simple high-quality entertainment gets devalued for being entertainment: stories are, in the end, stories.

      1. Ah, cool. Most POI episodes in a claustrophobic setting with multiple parties converging at once work out pretty damn well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.