Person of Interest: s02 e08 – Til Death


Marriage guidance…

Would you believe that a high-concept, high-tempo, action-thriller procedural could successfully tell a story about love? The evidence is here in the latest episode of this Person of Interest re-watch, one of which is a moment of fate, moving someone’s life off the trajectory it occupies, towards a destiny impossible to suspect from here.

The episode began with a flashback to 2006, picking up on the last flashback two weeks back. Harold has begun to see Grace Hendricks. They talk in a bar, halfway between a confident surface and a nervous interior, sharing thoughts and experiences, far more than we’d ever expect to see from the seclusive Harold. The flashbacks will multiply, show us more of their courtship, ending with thir first kiss. Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston bring to these scenes a depth of emotion that is more than acting, being married in real life.

That first flashback cuts back to 2012, and Harold walking Bear in the Park, the one just outside Grace’s home. He keeps his self-imposed distance as she descends her steps and sets off to where she intends to paint. There’s a moment of simple symbolism as a payphone rings, delivering a new Number: by the time Harold can re-direct his attention to Grace’s progess, she is gone.

The Number is the second love story, though that should be Numbers, two of them, Daniel and Sabrina Drake (Mark Pellegrino and Francie Swift), husband and wife, of differing backgrounds, rich, joint CEOs  of a small but successful Publishing Company facing a buy-out offer. The Drake’s are divided on how to respond to this offer: he, take the money and run, she, fight to retain control.

There’s an obvious external threat to the Drakes, but this is the red herring. The twist in the procedural is that Daniel’s hired a killer to off Sabrina and Sabrina’s hired a killer to off Daniel. We should have known: after all, they bicker all the time only it’s not bickering. This is a couple in whom love has turned to hatred (the second flashback involves Nathan Ingram, reading the reason for Harold’s inner glow, but relating an awfully painful account of meeting his ex-wife, at a wedding, for the first time since their settlement, and concluding that there is a thing worse than love turned to hate, and that is love turned to indifference. He’s right, you know).

Lamenting that the Drake’s couldn’t just have gone to marriage counselling, and rejecting Harold’s suggesion that they let them get on with it and go help someone deserving, John needs to devise a solution that not only stops this over-privileged pair from killing each other today but stops them wanting to kill each other tomorrow. The violence part is easy to accomplish, but John procures the other by locking Danny and Sabrina into a larder and leaving them with nothing to do but talk: overdue talk about a miscarriage, about misunderstood motives, about silences in which the wrong words form in mistaken minds and a narrative based on what people resent instead of what they really mean slowly firms into what we’ve seen.

The Drakes are last seen getting arrested, each defending each other, summoning high-power lawyers: a short sentence and a long renaissance of the love that was always there, re-exposed to the light. A bit simple, a bit optimistic, but the ending we wanted and beautifully performed.

These do not exhaust the stories on hand. Fusco’s getting shifty refusing to answer John’s calls, something’s going on. Indeed it is: Fusco has a date, a blind date with Rhonda (Tricia Paoluccio), an attractive but not spectacular woman who, wenttheir dinnr is disrupted by a summons to work (from Finch), comes along and has a great time. It ends with a goodnight kiss. But it ends: Rhonda never returns.

Detective Cal Beacher (Sterling K Brown) does. Thus begins a momentum none of us can foresee. Ironically, it’s Harold who starts things, who is the pebble, sending Carter to Beacher for information on the cheaper of the would-be assassins. Beacher likes the look of Carter. She owes him one. Normally, he’d ask for a bottle of liquor, but in this case he’d like a date. So too would Carter. Threads, streaming out into the future. Love. The lack of it. Kisses that begin things, kisses that end things. Talk is cheaper than assassins. Grace Hendricks and Harold Finch, on their way to tragedy.

Love is such a small word for something that is so vast/for in it lies the future, the present and the past (c) Alan Hull.

5 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s02 e08 – Til Death

  1. It’s weird that this episode didn’t air in February-would have been a great Valentine’s Day episode. Nonetheless, I agree that this episode is one of the examples of Person of Interest telling an effective story about romance. The arguments between the couple seem pretty genuine (and were pretty amusing at times), and even if the resolution is cliché, it makes for a nice counterpoint to the ending of Reasonable Doubt. Plus, there’s the usual mix of action, humor, and suspense that make the show so appealing.

    1. Agreed-and I thought it was earned here. The guest acting was really solid as usual. Even an episode like this that isn’t one of the show’s very best (it’s really really good though) is still better than most action movies.

      1. Also, this episode introduces yet another Wire alum, Sterling K. Brown! There really are a lot on this show.

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