And here is where things really start to get interesting.
After resolving the issue of Finch’s kidnapping by Root, and allowing a lull in the form of a procedural episode or two, Person of Interest began developing its first major theme for season 2 in this episode. First, there was a bit of minor misdirection in the form of this week’s number, Maxine Angelis (guest star Gloria Votsis), a determined investigative reporter pursuing financial improprieties in one man’s political campaign to be elected Mayor of New York (gosh, if we only had reporters like that in Britain).
We begin in media res with the lady: there is no longer any need to rehash how Numbers are received, nor to introduce them in the Library, we save time by introducing them on the fly. But Maxine immediately seems irrelevant as the FBI, under Special Agent Donnelly, swoop on the NYPD and arrest 75 dirty cops, all members of HR. This does not include Fusco, though he’s sweating a bit, and he has Symonds on his back demanding he destroy evidence that implicates the latter.
The raid is all based on Fusco’s undercover work in season 1. The scale of it might lead you to suppose HR is crippled, at best, but the Boss remains unidentified and out of reach.
Maxine’s interested in that story too, and also the one about the Man in a Suit, which means Reese can’t get close to her in the usual way without risking publicity that he and Finch neither want nor need. It makes his job impossible, so Finch solves it in an underhandedly direct manner: Maxine is using an online dating agency, so winds up agreeing a date with a ‘John Anderson’, an actuary.
And when Reese starts floundering very quickly, Finch gets Zoe Morgan to do a walk-by, to perk Maxine up about ‘Mr Anderson’s attractiveness to other women.
That’s by-the-by. Maxine has a meet with Mayoral Office high-ranking staffer Alonzo Quinn (Clarke Peters, in between The Wire and Treme: does his presence alert you to anything?). Quinn’s behind the Griffin campaign, the one with the sleazeball implication, but is getting creamed by the Mr Clean candidate, Landon Walker.
And there’s an anonymous tip to Maxine, naming Christopher Zambrano as the boss of HR.
Zambrano looks good for it. His Dad was one of the Mafia Dons taken out by Elias last season, he runs an Import-Export business that is the kind of cover Dons use, the FBI are interested in him. Maxine sprays him all over the cover, but there’s just one thing wrong: Zambrano’s clean. Clean in that he’s the witness, not the boss, possessor of a ledger of pay-offs belonging to his Dad, that he’ll surrender to the FBI, once he gets his immunity deal. Now Maxine’s painted a target on his forehead.
The news that she’s been played, and allowed her eagerness for a scoop to let her see the wrong story, breaks during her date with ‘John Anderson’. Christopher Zambrano is shot dead, Maxine’s career ruined, she’s genuinely repentant, and when she tries to track down who set her up, her life is in danger. From being the Perpetrator, albeit unknowingly, she has become the Victim that Reese has to protect at close range.
What’s important is to find the ledger, but when they do, two homicidal ex-FBI agents are prepared to take it from them and arrange their death as a lover’s spat that escalated. Reese’s hands are tied, both literally and figuratively. This time it’s Carter and Fusco who arrive to save the day.
The fall-out is that both the ex-FBI guys and the ledger drop Landon ‘Mr Clean’ Walker in it. He’s arrested by Donnelly, Ed Griffin wins the Mayoralty. Fusco, who’s dancing on a knife-edge here, removes two pages from it first, relating to payments made to P Symonds and L Fusco. It’s still not enough to get him out of HR.
There are two stings left in the tale. Maxine goes on a fourth, entirely normal date with Anderson, but it’s their last: she’s wedded to her job and he isn’t yet over Zoe Morgan. But she’s dropping the Man in a Suit investigation. He must be an Urban Legend – after the weekend she’s just had, if he did exist she’d have seen him…
But the other is the big reveal, and it’s one that we should all have seen coming from the mere fact that Clarke Peters was playing a guest role. It’s to be a recurring role. The boss of HR is Alonzo Quinn. And the shape of season 2 slowly crystallises.