Person of Interest: s04 e14 – Guilty

Jury Duty

It’s a perennial tactic for Person of Interest that, after every intense and transformative sequence, it will then give itself a partial reset to the original concept in the form of a standalone Number of the Week, which will be treated with the depth and single focus of season 1. Thus, ‘Guilty’.

Root’s disappeared. Shaw is missing, presumed dead. Numbers have been lining up whilst Team Machine has been otherwise engaged, though most of them are dead because Finch and Co. have not been there to intervene. Finch and Reese debate the current situation, Finch even suggests suspending operations, though Reese can’t do that: to stop would be a worse fate than the death Finch told him they would probably come to eventually.

So they will go back to the beginning and the basics. Just them to and the Machine. No more outsiders, no-one else to be risked. Not even Fusco.

Which is where their plans first go wrong, as the little man won’t accept being pushed iut. He is as involved as them, and he takes over three missing persons ‘Detective Riley’ is investigating, and determines they all had links to Elias: is this Dominic and the Brotherhood regrouping and planning again? A reminder of our lesser Big Bad for season 4, indicating that that strand is now to be reactivated for the run-in.

But this is not our Number. ‘Professor Whistler’ has been summoned to jury duty, putting him out of commission but not (entirely) out of touch. He is sitting next to the Number, Emma Blake (Blair Brown), a sixty-something forcibly retired teacher and fellow jury member in the trial of Chad Bryson for the murder of his far-more-successful-than-him wife, Christine. What’s Emma got to do with it?

But this is a reset episode, and who’s here in the Courthouse, sneaking quietly up on ‘Detective Riley’? Why, it’s our old friend and occasional helper, fixer Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco, making the penultimate of her nine appearances).

Straightway, the ‘us, ourselves, alone’ principle is broken, because Zoe won’t take no for an answer. Emma’s relevance is as a game-changer. Buy choosing one side or other, Emma can bring a jury together to vote with her. Thus she can fix either a ‘Guilty’ or a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict to order. Obviously, she’s been hired by or on behalf of Chad Bryson to procure a Not Guilty.

But she hasn’t. Emma is being threatened, with the thing most likely to infuence her, the death of others, the responsibility for which being forcibly displaced onto her, and she’s to get a Guilty verdict, on behalf of the real killer.

How and why the plot resolves itself isn’t really important: Emma, and her willingness to commit suicide to frustrate the scheme, is the centre of this, but suffice to say that Chad Bryson is cleared and the unsusopected lower-level management guy is arrested by Fusco. Who gets to tell his partner that he knows why John’s been pushing him out, and that he’s aware he might go the same way as Shaw, but he’s accepted that: it’s unspoken but the work they’re doing is as important to the little square man as it is to the original, Finch and Reese. And John Reese doesn’t get to choose for Fusco what he is prepared to die for.

These reset episodes are only ever partial, firstly because PoI doesn’t do going backwards, and secondly because they’re change of pace, souffle not steak. Finch and Reese meet in the same cafe at the end, accept that they can no longer do this on their own. Reese still describes Fusco as fungus, still refuses to respect the detective, still holds him up against Carter and sees him wanting. But he’s in, and he stays in. As will Root be, if she ever comes back.

There’s one other thing. The appearance of Zoe Morgan usually involes Reese getting his rocks off, but when she more-or-less suggests this, Reese makes an excuse. From which our favourite fixer deduces that Reese is in love. With whom? Who else but with the fair Dr  Iris Campbell (Wrenn Schmidt). Iris has signed ‘Riley’ off, even though she knows, from five family generations and her own completion of graduate training, that ‘Riley’ is not a cop.

Indeed he’s not. But Reese has een wihout love for a very long time, from long before Jessica’s death. Maybe he’s not a man capable of it, as Zoe diagnoses, but John feels the need to open up.Non-mandatory sessions will continue.

As will Person of Interest‘s over-arching story.

8 thoughts on “Person of Interest: s04 e14 – Guilty

  1. “Guilty” [4×14]
    Written By: David Slack
    Directed By: Kate Woods
    Originally Aired 10 February 2015

    It’s going to take awhile to build up another head of steam, so it’s time for some one-offs (yes, plural–there are going to be a lot of these). It’s also the last time David Slack is going to be credited as a writer. He wrote or co-wrote “Judgement”, “Super”, “No Good Deed”, “Bury the Lede”, “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, “Zero Day”, “Razgovor”, “Root Path”, “Deus Ex Machina”, “Honor Among Thieves”, and this. “Judgement” opened and closed with scenes of Reese and Finch in a diner. So too does his final script.

    Reese and Finch are all alone once again, but the circumstances have still changed. It feels more lonely than ever. This is our heroes’ lowest point in the story, and, due to the absence of Amy Acker, the audience’s. To compensate we get a very light tone that’s covering for the general despair surrounding the series right now. It’s pretty minor overall, yet another courtroom episode with the usual twists. The strange feeling that I got while watching this was of a fundamentally unexceptional story executed near-perfectly. I barely remembered what actually happened until I read your recap. Despite that, I do remember several witty moments, from Reese and Finch’s practice sessions with Zoe to Emma chatting Finch’s ear until it bleeds to the quote I posted in your MIA review last week. There are a lot of smart moments deployed here to ensure that the pace never drags, and it never does.

    The other character stuff works as well. Fusco’s long been in it because he feels it’s the right thing to do, not because Reese and Finch are forcing his hand. That stays true here and to the end of the series. And we of course will keep an eye on Iris. Overall, “Guilty” is orders of magnitude more enjoyable than “Reasonable Doubt”, and is B-tier “Person of Interest” of the highest caliber.

    Grade: A very strong B+

    1. I enjoyed it immensely. The reduction to just the original two, until Fusco refuses to be excluded, and the penultimate appearance of Zoe are key elements of the reset. But there are no longer any absolute one-offs, if ever there really were. Everything contains an element of the broader picture. I’m starting to miss PoI already.

      1. I was really debating a B+ or an A-. I might change my mind by the end of the season.

        You’re not thaaaat close to the end!

      1. 40 episodes long, eh? It’s not The Wire, then. Could be Twin Peaks, but you’ve already written plenty about it.

  2. No, it’s a bit older than either of those but I think you’ll like it. I think it’s roughly 44 episodes actually.

    I will be very impressed if you get it in advance.

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