Person of Interest: s03 e07 – The Perfect Twist

The Biter Bit

If you did this episode as a pure procedural, a complete one-off, it would still be a brilliant example of network thriller television, although the perfect twist that seals it off might have been a little easier to foresee. But build it into the developing arc of former-Detective Joss Carter’s unbending determination to finally bring down HR, garnished with brief scenes at first and last foreboding the future that the imprisoned Root knows is coming and that Harold Finch is obdurately trying to deflect, and you have a thing of beauty and a joy forever and no mistake.

The first touch was Finch delivering breakfast to Miss Groves in her Faraday Cage, protected as always by John Reese’s presence, leaving Root little option but to sting him over the fact that the Machine talks to her, but not to Harold. “But Mommy still loves the both of us,” she summarises.

At the end, when he brings the promised extra books to read, she’s less sweet, challenging him over the coming future, a threat we all of us anticipate in our varying manners.

In between, we have the story of Hayden Price, hypnotherapist, played by Aaron Stott, Mad Men‘s Ken Cosgrove. Hayden is the Number and it doesn’t take long to determine why: he’s a crook. A conman, to be specific, soaking his patients and anyone he comes into contact with, for everything he can get out of them, thanks to questions that elicit private information, like mother’s maiden names, pet’s names, streets where they live, the sort of things that unlock bank accounts and the like.

In short, Haydenn rips off everyone,  everyone that is except Natalie Boal (Jennifer Ferrin), the woman he loves, honestly and truly.

Hayden’s created a bit of a problem for himself. He’s been setting up Swedish antiques dealer Sven Vanger for a complicated but massively lucrative scam. The Swede is money-laundering, and cleaning it by buying fake auction items for seriously top dollar put up by his clients, who get clean cash for dirty. Unfortunately for Hayden, the money belongs to HR. Doubly unfortunately for everyone in question, Hayden’s tricked the Swede into paying $4.4M for a baseball signed by the New York Yankees, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig that’s actually worth $4.4M, and which the Swede sells to a street kid for $5.

That  kinda gets HR’s back up, to the extent that Alonzo Quinn, who’s previously taken the trouble to meet with Officer Carter over her suspicions about his godson’s death, kicks off at Officer Simmons. And when Simmons is kicked, he kicks downward, at Detective Terney and rookie Officer Laskey in particular. Hayden will be persuaded to return the ball – in return for the innocent Natalie.

So Hayden turns up. Terney’s going to take him in, get the ball authenticated and then kill him, and as soon as it’s done, Laskey’s going to kill Natalie anyway.

But the forces of righteousness are on hand to avert such an outcome. Carter and Shah knock out Laskey (with his eager cooperation counting for nothing in terms of the severity of Carter’s punch) whilst Reese and Fusco intervene to rescue hayden, just when he and Terney are reverbrating with shock at the discovery that the real ball is no such thing, not if Babe Ruth’s signature is in fibre-tip pen. Hayden’s been scammed by a superior scammer – Natalie. why steal a million dollar item when you can get your boyfriend to do it for you? Pity: he did love her, but she didn’t love him.

It’s a crushing defeat for HR, and Simmons wants Laskey. He send Terney after himn and Terney finds the rookie. With Carter, handing over photos of everyone Simmons has met today. Terney pulls his gun but so does Carter. it’s a stand-off. Until Laskey tries to pull his. To Carter’s horror, Terney shoots Laskey, killing him instantly. Carter shoots Terney, fatally. He’s got maybe a minute. He can be a stand-up guy at the last, he can point out HR’s head. A bloody hand smears one photo before Terney expires. Carter looks at it in shock. She recognises Alonzo Quinn…

16 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s03 e07 – The Perfect Twist

  1. “The Perfect Mark” [3×07]
    Written By: Sean Hennen
    Directed By: Stephen Surjik
    Originally aired 5 November 2013

    “The Perfect Mark” isn’t a perfect episode of Person of Interest, but it is a very fun one with a typically gripping ending that always makes me want to leap straight into the Endgame three-parter. Laskey was mostly corrupt, but “The Perfect Mark” shows how even the most unlikely candidate for redemption can still achieve it. Were he not killed in this episode, he could have been a valuable ally to Team Machine. Even Terney gets a nice ending, as he gives Carter the final puzzle piece that allows her to unleash hell in a week’s time. Back to the main plot, it’s pretty solid. Aaron Stanton, who’s most famous for playing an account exec at Sterling Cooper in Mad Men, is fun and believable as a con man. The plotting is intricate, but paying attention, it’s not that hard to follow. The gist of it is that yet another number is spit out by the Machine targeted by HR. Was she trying to warn the team? Who knows…..

    Grade: A-

      1. Once again, Finch’s intransigence regarding the Machine will cause tragedy. I love that Finch is not squeaky clean.

    1. No one is truly evil…..except perhaps Quinn and Simmons, who are still fascinating to watch due to just how awful they are, with zero remorse or second thoughts. They’re refreshingly simple. Back to Finch though… could dislike him (for moral reasons) and not be entirely wrong.

      1. Ah, yes. It’s led to plenty of debate in the fandom. Who’s right: Root or Finch? And, to throw some extra ones in there, Vigilance or Control? Team Machine or Team Samaritan?

  2. I regard it otherwise. Some things are not right or wrong but necessary. And some things are too complex for right and wrong to have any individual meaning. Thou shalt not kill is an ideal most of us can follow for a lifetime but thou shalt not kill even to save your child from death? Who is so pure? Fiction allows us to explore what would destroy us if we faced it in real life.

    1. That unwillingness to ‘get his hands dirty’, so to speak, is the main reason why he’s caused debate. How moral is it to let others do all of your dirty work?

    2. Though personally, I defend his inaction, as those principles that led him to be cautious are what led to the Machine being as relatively benevolent as it is.

    1. Fair question, but is it his lack of skills regarding the war with Samaritan? He has the skills to take the ASI down, but he’s worried about collateral damage. And an unleashed Machine. Though it’s made murkier by the fact that though tv viewers probably know the Machine isn’t going to turn evil, Finch doesn’t know that.

      1. No, I do mean here the skills for which Finch needs Mr Reese and Miss Shaw. The Samaritan War could have been decided by different choices at different times. But from the moment Nathan Ingram died, and he was forced to give up Grace Hendricks, Harold Finch has been, above all things, set on saving lives. As for his fears about the Machine, you’re right. We have the privilege of hindsight: Finch had to take it step by step, each one in and into the unknown.

      2. Yes, and there are some flashbacks coming up that further clarify his position to us, and I think his position makes sense. Taking chances was necessary in order to end the war with Samaritan, but taking chances with an ASI–that’s a risky move.

        And I see your point about allowing them to do his dirty work. It’s not like he could be Reese if he wanted. He has a disability.

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