Person of Interest: s02 e14 – One Percent

I was expecting this, or something of this ilk, after the last four weeks’ serial story-telling, a one-off, almost inconsequential episode with a high comedic, almost lightweight aspect. We’re not yet at the point where Person of Interest can ignore the conservative instincts of either its Network, or its uncommitted audience.

‘One Percent’ was a straight Number of the Week. In PoI fashion, we were treated to a switch-up: the Number was Logan Pierce, self-made billionare software designer. The parallel to Harold Finch was obvious long before the episode pointed it out, as was the difference between the way the pair behaved, which was not so much difference as gulf.

Pierce may have been brilliant in ever respct, with a quicksilver mind alert to every moment and possibility, based on a family-tragedy background that inculcated his philosophy of embracing change and evolution with both hands because to stand still is to become obsolete and die. As a billionaire, he could afford to be, and was, self-indulgent of his own whims to a degree that only the narcissistic could dream of, and it was a tribute to guest star Jimmi Simpson that he made this utter monster seem likable.

Appropriately to the situation, the threats to Pierce’s life – and you could hardly be surprised that people couldn’t cope with him, only that there were so few – seemed completely trivial. The lawyer whose practice was tied up exclusively in Pierce’s company, (a super souped-up Friends Reunited and doesn’t that sound dinosaur now), whom Pierce intended to ditch and the best friend who feared Pierce as a competitor when his dumping as CEO for his ‘eccentricities’ (Yes Minister did a beautiful ‘irregular verb’ three-liner on that subject) released him from that restriction.

In real life, you’d run a million miles from someone whose attitude was that he could and would do whatever he wanted, when he wanted to, just because he could: well, I would.

But Pierce wasn’t just a superrich brat, he was genuinely smart. In order to protect him, John Reese came out into the open, from which Pierce very rapidly deduced a hell of a lot about the PoI set-up and even conned John sufficiently as to get to meet Harold.

And it was no surprise that Pierce’s parting shot was a  thank you gift to John of a $2,000,000 watch that Finch, in a public park, promptly smashes under his heel – to extract the GPS racker built into it.

That left a hint that Logan Pierce could develop into a longer-term problem, an ongoing strand, but the series chose not to follow up this possible story arc and rightly so. To have done so would have been to develop the hyperactive Pierce into the kind of monster that in real-life he would be, albeit a gadfly of a monster, and there were more serious irons to be added to the fire. Pierce, we would find, a long way from now, was destined for a different future.

Though they took up a very small amount of the episode’s running time, Detectives Carter and Fusco and flashbacks to Harold and Nathan Ingram were more important to the ongoing stories. The first of these saw Carter continuing to investigate the disappearance of Detective Peterson, and connect it to the also-missing Detective Stills and refusing to hear Fusco when he wanted to talk about past ‘mistakes’: she is still first and foremost a cop and he will get no favours there.

But the latter were more important to the series than the season, though the first of these, to 9/11 itself and Nathan bringing the news to Harold, seemed wholly redundant. The second was to 2009: the Machine has just been handed over to the Government, to physically disappear, but Nathan is still concerned over the ‘missed’ opportunity to make a difference over the Numbers, with Harold effectively shutting that off, with an non-cryptic threat about breaking up their partnership.

The third showed Nathan Ingram staking out the home of a woman under threat. As a man starts to follow her, we see him holding a gun.

This is what will be central to what is meant by, ‘more, later’.

9 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s02 e14 – One Percent

  1. Always nice to see Jimmi Simpson. One Percent is a pretty damned good episode as well. One of those solid Season 2 standalones-it’s just refreshing seeing Person of Interest’s paranoia and thrills clash with dry humor-it’s just an intoxicating cocktail that makes for a highly enjoyable experience. And yeah, Jimmi Simpson was great as usual, and the flashbacks were interesting….as usual. It’s good! Not much else to say about it, I think. (Except for that million dollar watch-no way that actually exists, right?)

    1. Top notch stuff. Having had a week to think about the episode, whilst I still think the Network wanted the direct theme reinstating, I’d also credit the creative team with wanting the change of pace, to balance things out. As for the watch, I’ll get back to yoou whn I’ve won a nine-figure sum on the Euromillions Lottery and can afford to research…

      1. This might be the last true ‘one-off’ of the season-if I remember correctly, the rest of Season 2’s episodes are at least tangentially related to the bigger picture, be it either character or plot. But this episode is so good it reminds me of how it used to grind my gears when I read comments on the AV Club and elsewhere calling this show just another CBS procedural that’s about 10% great sci-fi and 90% bland drivel. Sure, it’s just like NCIS….except for the acting, directing, cinematography, and guest acting. Just…ugh. This episode (not even a major standout of the series-the bar is set too high) is so clearly above every episode of NCIS I’m not sure how it’s hard to see the difference.

        Besides, unending strings of intensity can get a little numbing after awhile. This show makes a strong case for a 22-episode season. It is definitely a heavy workload, but in the proper hands it can work.

  2. With so few episodes left, I’d guess at you being right, but I’m not looking ahead. Even though I’ve seen the eentire season twice, I’m aiming to come to each episode as ‘spoiler-free’ as is possible. And as someone who used to watch NCIS, there is literally no comparison, and anyone who thinks there is needs their bumps feeling.

  3. There are three blue screens in this episode that flash on screen for about a fraction of a second. All tree do mean something in byte code. The first is this excerpt from Macbeth:

    “Lady M. Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”

    The second two are excerpts from the National Institute of Health’s pages on bio-terrorism and anthrax, respectively. The Machine is sick.

      1. Poor Machine. Not sure why it included the Macbeth thing–it didn’t have blood on its hands quite yet. Or maybe it’s feeling guilty over the people killed as a result of the numbers.

    1. Ha. Never been my favorite of his. The quote is from the beginning of Act 5, when Macbeth’s wife is feeling guilty for the evil they’ve done. Foreshadowing? The Machine never does anything truly evil, though. Just morally questionable.

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