Person of Interest: s02 e20 – In Extremis

Two stories. Three, if you read between the lines, the lines of coded data that flicker very briefly across each image from the Machine’s surveillance feed, for a subliminally longer time each time.

The first story is a Number, Doctor Richard Nelson (Dennis Boutsikaris), brilliant, passionate, life-saver. Not perfect, but a good man. And a dead man. At a ceremony to honour his elevation to Professor Emeritus, under John Reese’s nose, he is poisoned with polonium, which destroys the body from within, very painfully.  Why was he poisoned? Because the Doctor let slip some insider information to the trader who’s wormed his way into friendship and racketball opponent. A hedge fund firm made $9 billion on that piece of information, $9 billion and an SEC investigation that goes away if Richardnelson goes away.

Nothing can be done to save Nelson. But Reese guides him along the trail to confront thebillionaire who, without the least concern, not even when face to face with his victim, ordered him murdered. Vincent Cochran doesn’t care. Until his nose also begins to bleed, after being served with a scotch. By John Reese.

The second story is an ally. Cal Beecher receives a Police funeral, at which Simmons in present. A furious Fusco confronts him, threatens to take HR down. But HR intend to take Fusco down. From Rykers, the former Detective Azzarello sells Fusco to IAD for the murder of Detective Stills. Lionel didn’t do it, but he’ll go down for it. There are flashbacks showing how Lionel was pulled into the web by his ‘buddy’, Jimmy Stills. He refuses to give IAD anything, no matter what Detective Soriano (Ned Eisenberg) throws at him. Carter’s concerned, until Fusco admits to having been a dirty cop, before her, before their friends. She’s a good cop, to whom the word is, once a dirty cop, always a dirty cop. Fusco’s going down. Come daylight, they’re digging at Oyster Point with corpse dogs. They’ll find Stills’ body, that’s all they need.

But the grave is empty. Someone’s removed the body. Fusco shows no reaction, just calls from his badge, shield and gun back. Elsewhere, at Rykers, someone’s chess-partner ensures former Detective Azzarello recants his accusations. Carter asks his restored partner to look at a case she’s pursuing for fresh leads: it’s Cal Beecher. Then she leaves, with Bear on a lead, leaving muddy footprints.

The code has grown more noticable throughout. Reese and Finch were too late to save Richard Nelson, just like they were too late with Bill Szymansky and Cal Beecher. The storm is here, the virus is moving, the data  is corrupted and so is the system. The feed breaks down, the code turns red.

The system shuts down. There are more than Numbers at stake now.

11 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s02 e20 – In Extremis

  1. Things are getting dark with this episode. Fusco’s dirty past is revealed. It seems that Carter won’t forgive Fusco or give him a second chance despite all the good he’s done and the fact that you can argue that Fusco makes the world a better place now, and he can’t do that from a padded cell. In the end though, she does give him a second chance, clearing his path to redemption. See “The Devil’s Share” for more. The POI team is too late to save their number, and this section of the episode concludes in a bleak fashion with some blackly comedic elements-POI really hates Wall Street types.

    I wonder what Phil Dyess Nugent gave this over at the AV Club. Oh-a C.


    1. B+ is where I’m at with this too. Zero Day and God Mode are up next, so that should be fun. (They’re SO awesome). Nugent’s complaint was that Fusco’s backstory undermines his characterization in the pilot-but is it really so inconceivable that Fusco got pulled in by Stills, but still slid into a moral abyss? I don’t think it is. Overall this is a solid effort.

  2. All we see of Fusco in the pilot is a dirty cop, comfortable in and used to his role. Fusco’s story in the series is the road to redemption and even escaping Reese’s contempt, which he maintains long after it ceases to be deserved. It’s much more believable that Fusco fell rather than joined the police pre-corrupted, and more consistent with his increasing respectability, and the gradual nature of his corruption (you can be sure there were more incidents than the one we saw) and a giving up to a kind of despair about the impossibility of change is psychologically accurate: Stockholm Syndrome.

    1. Exactly. If Fusco was just rotten to the core the way Simmons is, I doubt he would have redeemed himself the way he did, long after Reese stopped threatening him. That’s the point of his arc-he does it on his own. John gave him the push, but it was Fusco who made the jump to redemption on his own. This was done extremely well in Season 1, and you could almost measure the way he was changing from episode-to-episode.

      1. I don’t like most POI criticism I’ve read. Many of them just seem to miss the point. You’re probably the best reviewer I’ve read on this subject.

    1. Well, I appreciate the reviews, which are coinciding with my own re-watch. Watching it with another person who has not seen it continues to be a blast.

      1. If I weren’t watching with the intention of analysing, so need to concentrate, I’d love to take someone nw through PoI. Years ago, when i was still married, I was watching Homicide: Life on the Street. My wife, who wasn’t interested at the time, was on the internet. The episode had just finished when she said, “Didn’t you say this was the first of a three-parter? We are going to have the other two tonight, aren’t we?” She’d got hooked behind my back and we had a gloriuos time working our way through

      2. Hearing the audible reactions is the best part.

        “Finch, you idiot! Kill the congressman!”

        “*Audibly gasps*”

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