I was looking for a simple episode of Person of Interest to accommodate a need for simple thoughts and, so far as any such episode may be regarded as simple, I was rewarded. We’re still early in season 2, the calm after the storm of Finch’s kidnapping, here linked in the still extant concerns Finch has about going outside the Library, and his adopting Root’s definition of humanity as Bade Code, to refer to the Number of theWeek, Riley Cavanaugh.
The episode begins in media res. Reese is observing Cavanaugh (guest appearance by Jonathan Tucker). The Number is a stone-cold killer, an enforcer for the relatively small-time mob boss George Massey (Kevin Conway). He’s an obvious choice for a perpetrator, but in this instance he’s a victim: Massey suspects him of omething he doesn’t like, and sends his son Eddie to kill Riley.
And also to kill Annie Delaney (Liza J Bennett). Annie’s the hostess in an upmarket restaurant that pays to George. She seems to have attracted George’s attention, probably because she’s an attractive wide-mouthed dark-haired woman. She’s also the widow of one of George’s men, Sean, killed nine months ago. Annie had a lot higher opinion of her late husband thatGeorge appears to (‘degenerate gambler’) but then George is a man of firm opinions, all of them centred on the gratitude and respect due to him for, well, for being George essentially. He sends Riley to make any disappear and Eddie to make Riley disappear.
This is because Riley and Annie have fallen in love, and he is protecing her, and the two of them having the lack of respect to not tell George, when they know George has a thing for her, which is an affront that a petty tyrant like George cannot take. George, George, George, George, the man cannot have his ego flattered enough.
Once the tide turns, and Riley kills Eddie before Eddie can kill him, Reese has to protect a killer. Finch is not sympathetic and neither is Carter. Both see only the callous killer, and who’s to say they’re wrong? John Reese sees other things. He sees Annie, the innocent dragged into this, not a Number herself (why didn’t the Machine pick up both? A logical slip overlooked for the sake of the story), but who needs to be protected. He sees that Riley is, truly, in love with Annie, who brings out that spark of decency in the triggerman, for no-one is simply one thing, and we are all multitudes. And he sees the trained killer with the eye of a trained killer: John and Riley may be chalk and cheese, but they will understand each other better than any outsider can understand either.
But this is too simple for Person of Interest: there is a twist. Sean Delaney wasn’t killed for getting caught in Russian Mob territory, he was stealing, and he was stealing from George, simming off the take. George had him killed, and it set-up to look like the Russians. The killer was Riley.
He was supposed to keep an eye on Annie, told her to call him if she needed anything. He was reliable (if useless with water-heaters!), he never let her down. The outcome was inevitable. Riley has never told her he killed her husband.
And he never intended to get out with her. Despite her refusal to leave him, Sean always meant to send her alone. He knew what he was – the Bad Code that Finch calls him – but she was the best thing ever to happen to him. So the ending was inevitable: Annie is taken to George, who’s on the point of telling her Riley’s secret when the triggerman and Reese, now working together, conduct a raid. Shots come from all directions. Reese gets Annie out. Riley doesn’t make it. But he kills George: Father like son.
At the end, Reese queries Finch’s use of the term Bad Code. Without disclosing that it came from Root, Finch repeats its definition in computer terms but says it doesn’tapply to humans: humans can change, can grow, can repair themselves. The reference to Riley is clear.
This was an almost entirely self-contained episode, in regards to the deeper concerns that have been building up over the last few episodes, but there were a couple of returns, layiing trails for what is to come. The first of these was Detective Szymanski (Michael McGlone), returned to duty after being gut-shot last season.
But of greater significance was the appearance in the guest star list of Enrico Colantoni, of Carl Elias. George has put a bounty out on Riley and Annie, Finch (as Harold Crane) visits him in prison to request a favour. Elias might be in prison but he retains control of his empire. He’s intrigued to meet John’s ‘boss’. He puts the word out, but there is a price. Elias has had the need for possessions and material things stripped from him. He has timeto think. He plays chess, but no-one in prison can give him a good game. Harold ‘Crane’ can…