Back when I was breezing through Person of Interest at a rate of knots, I was simultaneously checking the reviews at tv.com. ‘Liberty’ kick-starts season 3 by reverting to the primarily Number of the Week format, in this case Petty Officer Jack Salazar (Ray Valentin), enjoying shore leave with his buddy R.J. Philips (Alano Miller), unaware that R.J. has stolen some uncut diamonds at their recent encounter with Somali pirates and that a team of ex-Devildogs (Marines) want them back. I had fun with the episode and disagreed with the review that took it down. Now, watching with my brain on, I’m inclining more to the views of the idiot at tv.com.
After the events that closed out season 2, a straightforward Number episode does become a little mechanical, lacking any long-term significance. This was the feeling that prevailed, watching it today, though that’s unfair to the show. Taking Salazar’s story on its own, it provided an unexpected insight into one of our main characters. John Reese recognised someone in Jack, a good guy who tries to avoid trouble but who’s willing to act decisively and efficiently if it comes, a guy who could go far, both in the Navy and beyond. In short, a guy like John Reese, whose military career began in court, with a choice between jail-time, or five years in the military.
That’s how Reese started. And he can foresee a similar story for Jack, if he re-ups with the Navy. Just one piece of advice for him: when the CIA come to recruit him, say No.
But what ‘Liberty’ was really about was a soft reboot of the series. All of its core components have been reset, and this was about re-introducing us to the new realities. The Machine has disappeared, whereabouts unknown, but it is still providing Numbers to Finch. Who now has a second operative in Sameen Shaw, who is a bit less co-operative, refusing to be contactable between jobs, openly sarcastic about Finch’s stricture against killing people, or even shooting them come to that. Shaw’s working with Reese is a whole new dynamic and it doesn’t hurt that even when she dresses down for operations, she looks shit-hot, as we used to say in my teens and twenties.
And there’s Carter. Joss has been busted down to Officer again, but she’s refusing to knuckle under and leave the Police. She is a cop. Fusco’s openly sympathetic, telling her everyone knows she was set-up. She’ll still do her job, ten more years until she gets her twenty-year pension. And she’s still there to assist Reese and Finch, who will have her back as well if she asks.
But Carter is keeping her cards close to her chest and one of these is that she has installed Carl Elias underground, in a basement, keeping a low profile and supplying her with information. It’s keeping him alive. It’s also earned the gratitude of Scarface. Elias offers to wipe out HR for her, but Carter refuses. She’s still a cop. And as a cop, she’s going after HR herself. Carter will get her revenge first hand.
And lastly there’s Root. With this episode, both Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker join the cast, and are well-deserved additions. Root is still drifting around her sanatorium, having regular sessions with her psychiatrist, Dr Carmichael (Bruce Altman). Carmichael is clever but condescending, humours Root’s stories of speaking to a Higher Power, thinks he can remove all electronic communication from her and she’ll thank him.
But Root is in communicationwith the Machine. She is now its Analog Interface, whatever that may turn out to be. And when it comes to truth, she knows far too much about Carmichael for his comfort. She’s having an argument with the Machine over whether she kills him or not.
So, these are the new ground rules, the reset for season 3. And there’s a disappointingly unsubtle prediction from Finch about fearing things are about to get complicated. Soft reboot. A simple Number story. Just a lull, a calm before the storm. Because things are going to get very complicated indeed over the next 22 episodes…