Person of Interest: s03 e06 – Mors Praematura

The new team

Now this is the sort of thing I’m watching Person of Interest for. There are no less than three separate stories going on here, intercutting smoothly: spare, taut scenes that deliver minimum information each time but which do not leave the viewer flailing for solid ground on which to stand, each of which are, ultimately, merely way-stations en route to the slow-building greater concerns the series has yet to unfold. Oh, and there’s the odd few dry as a desert jokes along the way.

After last week’s Russian title, we have a Latin one, ‘Mors Praematura’ meaning Premature Death, the reason for which comes only late in the episode and which means something other than the one you might assume. There are two missions to begin with: Finch is in the field, with Bear, with the latest Number, Timothy Sloan (a splendid role for guest Kirk Acevedo), an Estate Investigator whose job is to find heirs to those who die apparently without family.

Sloan is, illicitly, investigating the death of hacker Jason Greenfield, two weeks previously, from a heroin overdose. Greenfield is family, Sloan’s foster-brother since his addict parents burned themselves to death when he was 14: he would never touch drugs.

Reese, on the other hand, has a mission closer to home. Shaw hasn’t checked in for far too long: is she ok? Now you, me and the gatepost know she’s been tasered, drugged and kidnapped by Root, and we’re about to see Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker working together for the first time, and it’s more fun than a barrelful of monkeys. Root has a mission from the Machine, for which she needs Shaw’s help, that turns out to also be to save someone’s life: Jason Greenfield’s to be precise. Jason isn’t actually dead. Not just yet, that is.

These two lines operate in completely different manners. Finch and Sloan develop their investigation along logical lines, expanding their understanding, whereas Root is happily accepting all manner of unrelated instructions, that come together gloriously in a freewheeling climax in which both stories collide.

The third strand features Carter and her unwilling sidekick, the HR rookie, Mike Laskey. Laskey’s collecting protection money from this storeowner he’s known all his life. But Laskey has a very big lesson to learn, about the real nature of HR, and what he’s in. The storeowner’s skimming, Simmons confronts him and shoots him, and Laskey’s punishment is to bury the body. Laskey’s really Russian, one of twelve filtered into the Police: instant loyalty and cementing closer ties with the Russian mafia.

Whilst Root builds an ambush to an as yet unseen plan, Finch and Sloan discover that Jason was using his hacking skills for a mysterious group that we will learn is named Vigilance. This is Peter Collier’s mob, the privacy crusaders. Jason ratted them out to the CIA in exchange for witness protection, only to find himself betrayed to indefinite interrogation, where he meets Ms Samantha Groves, brought in by Agent Dearborn, who looks incredibly like Sarah Shahi.

Vigilance plan to intercept and kill Jason. Since he’s been digging into Jason’s death, they’ll also kill his foster brother, Sloan. Reese, heading one way, crosses paths with Shaw, heading the other, whilst Root spirits Jason away to a new identity somewhere in paradise. Why does theMachine want to save an expert hacker? That’s a very good question.

Ultimately, Shaw saves Root from execution by Vigilance, although that’s only so she can sock her one, whilst Collier forces Reese to choose between catching him or saving Sloan: no contest.

Root’s fate, for the moment, is imprisonment at the Library, in a steel-caged room that’s constructed to be a Faraday Cage, i.e., no electronic communication can get in or out, not even the Machine. She warns Finch that the Machine will be angry that he’s interfering with ‘her’ plans. Finch counters by asking if Root is sure she isn’t where the Machine wants her to be? We eagerly look forward to the next episode, for more questions, and maybe even some answers…


9 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s03 e06 – Mors Praematura

  1. “Mors Praematura” [3×06]
    Written by: Dan Dietz
    Directed by: Helen Shaver
    Originally aired 29 October 2013

    “Mors Praematura” is both the platonic ideal of what a great episode of Person of Interest looks like, and a unique one in terms of structure. It’s one of the most elegantly put-together episodes in the whole run. Jenny Cruise (best selling NYT author) made a graph of how the various story-lines intersect here, but she took it down unfortunately. Suffice it to say, it is damn impressive. The various story-lines are impressive as well, with deep ties to over-arching plots, interesting characters, Cartagena, and some excellent humor that doesn’t undercut the excitement (I HATE Marvel humor, and most superhero movies for that matter nowadays, and the humor is a big reason why). Couple of quips thrown in there that fit the characters, but it’s never shoved in when it doesn’t belong there. It’s such a small thing, but it’s the little things that add up to make Person of Interest such a remarkable show, overall.

    Grade: A. No question about it. I didn’t even bring up Root and Shaw, but yeah! All the hard work done in the first 2 seasons to set the stage is paying off massively.

    1. Massively, massively brilliant. The Marvel humour doesn’t bother me like it does you but I go to Marvel films for different things and not thinking.

  2. Are you watching this for the first time? (I only recently started following your non-Lafferty posts.) If so, I envy you. It’s one of my favorite series of the 21st Century. I watched it on CBS when it was originally run, and I’m now close to the end of season 4 rewatching it on Netflix.

    1. This is actually my third time through but I binged it both previous times. I spent a little over three years watching/blogging Deep Space nine on Tuesday mornings and selected this to follow up. I’ll have to think of something else in early 2021…

  3. I like the way you described this episode–just a series of smoothly written scenes that deftly interweave into a cohesive whole by the end of the hour. With a crash.

      1. Damn good writing too. I’ve never seen that trick of combining the two story-lines done quite as well as it’s done here.

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