Person of Interest: s01 307 – Witness


Victim or Perpetrator, if your number’s up…

This one is pure thriller. Only not so pure.

It opens on the investigation of a murder, an execution, of an old man in a bodega. His name is Benny d’Agostino and he’s a gang hitman who’s come out of retirement to work for a new player who’s taking on the Bratva, the Russian mob. His name is Elias, Carl Elias. Detectives Carter and Fusco know that name. So too does Detective Szymanski (Michael McGlone) of Organised Crime.

There’s a witness to the crime, a balding, stocky, fortyish man, now to be a Bratva target. There’s also a uniformed cop, name unknown, with a distinctive scar below his right eye, part of the scene, handling information.

John Reese is on a roof, studying a nervous man through binoculars, a man named Charlie Burton, a High School teacher down in Brighton Beach. He’s balding, stocky, fortyish. Not until Fusco phones through to seek out Reese’s help on their shooting, do Reese and Finch know why Burton’s number has come up. And the Russians, led by Peter Yogaroff, son of Ivan, whose men are beingtargeted, whose operations are being encroached upon, whose brother has just been killed by Benny d’Agostino, have arrived, heavily-armed.

It’s a thriller. Reese goes in to keep Charlie alive, get him to the Police, despite Charlie’s refusal to testify. He loses his phone, and touch with Finch, who takes the step of contacting Fusco, by phone and in person, to help his investigation: a white people carrier, a cop with a scar on his face – is this the unknown, deeply hidden Elias?

John and Charlie take refuge in a housing project dominated by Bulgarian drug dealers. They have to stay one ahead of the pursuers. Charlie has a shoulder flesh-wound. He’s a philosophical man, a dedicated teacher, valued by his kids, one of whom helps them get out. Reese takes a captive, Laszlo, Peter’s brother.

Elsewhere, Carter and Szymanski approach Ivan Yogaroff, trying to get this war shut down, avoid more deaths. Yogaroth knows nothing of what they’re talking about but, speaking hypothetically, he lets on that Elias is the aggressor, cutting into his territory. No truce is possible without Elias. And Elias is a complete unknown.

John and Charlie get away on the Ferry towards the east side. Fusco’s to meetthem at 7.00am. Only someone’s got the info out of the Police. Scarface is on his way. Finch thinks Fusco’s done it, but he protests entirely too naturally, and besides he gets knocked out from behind. Someone is waiting for the witness to arrive.

And here is the massive twist thattthe performance of Enrico Colantoni as Charlie Burton has left us completely unprepared for. Laszlo spills it on the Ferry, exactly as Peter is spilling it at the Police station. Would they go to all this trouble, commit all these resources, for a mere witness? “Drop the gun, John,” Charlie says, in an apologetic voice. Charlie Burton is Carl Elias.

And Elias is taking Brighton Beach. It’s a start. He has plans: to reunite theFive Families, to take back crime from the hated Russians, drive them out of New York entirely. For three years he has buried himself as Charlie Burton, teacher to the Russians’ kids, learning all about them from their own flesh and blood. Anonymity has been very useful, but that phase is over now.

Elias won’t kill Reese, it would be ungrateful, but he warns him to stay out of his way. He greets Scarface, his lieutenant, who goes on toexecute Ivan Yogaroff. Reese is furious with Finch and his Machine, not to mention with himselffor nothaving seen Elias in Charlie, for having gotten so friendly with him. They have saved a monster. Finch accepts the Machine’s limitations, tries to point out that each day thereare other Numbers, but is silenced by Reese’s unanswerable question: how many of them will be victims of Elias?

A brilliant thriller. And a substantial upsurge for the series. There is now a powerful, important, ongoing story instead of a bit of continuity to a weekly procedural. It is the first. It won’t be the last.

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Lou Grant: s01 e06 – Aftershock


On a dark and cold winter morning, it’s nice to be able to transport yourself to sunny late-Seventies Los Angeles where the problems are at least different from the ones of modern life.

The latest Lou Grant was a carefully misleading episode that concealed its plans well in a slow open, and with a nicely integrated B story that seemed designed for the pisode title. But the show’s story was on completely different lines that were about a very different kind of Aftershock.

The set-up was low-key, casual. It’s a slow news day on the City Desk, with no stories for Lou to pitch for page 1 at the budget meeting. Lou rejects a lead about a man who claims cockroaches can preduct earthquakes, as any normal City Editor would. Then there’s an earthquake during the budget meeting. It’s Lou’s first but the rest of the editors are so blase they immediately bet on the intensity (4.3 as it happens).

As Duncan Aldridge isn’t back from a very long lunch yet, Lou sends Rossi with The Animal (the slovenly photographer, played by Daryl Anderson, having his first semi-substantial week, despite having been cast since the outset) to report on it. As an afterthought, he sends Rossi to interview the cockroach man, get a humourous angle out of it.

But then the news comes in that Aldridge is dead, a heart attack. Charlie passes on to Lou the responsibility for informing Duncan’s widow, a nicely but not majorly attractive woman in her early forties, Gloria (an excellent guest appearance from Joyce Van Patten).

The problem is that Duncan’s died of a heart attack in a fleapit hotel or, to be more specific, in a bedroom in a fleapit hotel or, to be even more specific, in a bed in a fleapit hotel and, aw, you guessed it, whilst fornicating with a woman not his wife. She’s still on the scene, wanting Lou to know this wasn’t just some sordid affair, which briefly has us thinking hre’s the real story, but no, she’s a red herring. Because Gloria arrives, and Lou has to start explaining things so she doesn’t get an even bigger shock than the one she’s already had…

And here’s our story. Because Gloria, as much out of shock as her own conditioned wifedom, reels from what’s happened. Lou’s embarrassed generosity in trying to help her come to terms with this rapidly becomes a full-time job in running Gloria’s lifefor her. Every day, she grows more dependent upon him to take descisions for her, talk 15 year old son Roger out of running away, deliver (extremely badly, a lovely piece of playing by Ed Asner) the eulogy at Duncan’s funeral, everything.

Lou’s growing embarrassed and frustrated at every turn. Beneath the gruff exterior, several layers thick, he has the traditional heart of gold. And Gloria’s quite good-looking, and Van Patten’s body language males it plain, without any blatancy, that Lou could pull her into bed any time he wanted to. The thing is, he doesn’t want to, but his inability to push her away is making the situation worse.

Meanwhile, in the B story, Rossi has found that Mr Tumora, the cockroach man’s predictions are scarily accurate. He’s a small, calm, intense man who’s made insects etc his study. His predictions are made on a scientific basis, plus he ‘s smart enough to have proved them by sending them in registered letters, before the recent quake, and its first aftershock, which arises exactly on cue. Fame and riches call, as well as Johnny Carson.

And he has predicted an even bigger aftershock for November 30th at 5.00pm, 6.7: bigger than the quake of ’71. That leads to a lot of tension.

Everyone around Lou is noticing his predicament, and treating it as a casual joke. The episode portrays it in understated terms. It’s undramatic, it’s naturalistic, it’s believabl;e at every step, how Gloria is falling for a competent man, a rock on whom she can rely, and totally obliterating his part in the process. There’s only one way out and that’s to be blunt, a course urged by Mrs Pynchon who relates a story of how she herself ‘relied’ on a family friend after her huband died. The accidental revelation that he was sick of her hurt her basll;y but stirred her to taking responsibility for herself.

Lou is a lot more open about it, if only marginally less direct. Gloria’s even going on about thinking she’s falling in love with him, returning to her reportorial career at the Trib, seeing him every day, several times every day, until he has to tell her, “Get off my back.” Van Patten’s response carefully mixes shock and hurt with asudden realisation ofhow she’s been, and the episode ends on a joke, setting both on the path to restoring normality.

There’s another joke ending too. Despite everybody’s paranoid fears, the second, severe aftershock doesn’t materialise. Tumora takes it philosophically – two out of three isn’t bad – or so it seems. He tips out the jar containing his two ‘favourite’ cockroaches, then hammers them to death!

A neat episode, a very human episode, carefully plotted and filled with light, often superficial performances from the cast all round, with a lot of funny lines and situations that never turned the episode into a comedy but were still laugh-out-loud good. And sunny LA is a nice place to imagine being on January mornings when the temperature is hovering around zero.

Person of Interest: s01 e06 – The Fix


The Fixer

A very clever, very important episode, and a very insightful one as well, particularly in the wake of last week, and John Reese’s heartfelt appreciation of what Harold Finch is allowing him to do.

The episode begins in media res. A tall, attractive woman in her early forties leaves her home at night. A driver awaits her. He is not her regular, he is Mr Reese. Immediately, she is suspicious and calls the company. Mr Finch answers. He has an explanation: Bill’s called in sick, laryngitis, contracted from his younger son, Andy. The details are accurate. Her new driver is told no conversations, eyes on the road, stay with the car. His fee is torn in half: the rest to be paid at the end. The woman is Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco). She is the Number of the Week: victim or perpetrator.

It could go either way. Reese drives her to the Naval Yards (Finch is searching her impersonal apartment) where she buys something off a street gang. A gun. Then to a big social function where, stripped down to a little black frock, she calls out a ranking police officer, Lt. Gilmore. A shooter, then. No, a fixer. The gun is a police weapon, left in a subway bathroom, recovered discretely to save the officer’s career (a good officer, Gilmore says, your nephew, Ms Morgan replies).

Zoe’s next job is to recover a tape. It appears to disclose an affair between CEO Mark Lawson, of Vitragen Pharmaceuticals, and an unknown woman, and a fat slovenly blogger is willing to give it up for $40,000. Zoey’s professional: she doesn’t listen to the tape, she doesn’t need to. But that’s not enough: Vitragen’s head troubleshooter, Samuel Douglas, tries to take her in, but this is where Reese intervenes to save her.

It’s all down to what’s on the tape, and Zoe’s copied it (she may be discrete, but she’s not stupid). The matter takes on a new level of seriousness when they arrive at the blogger’s home to see his body being removed: a heart attack. And Zoe motors whilst Reece is distracted.

Another distraction: Detective Carter has another case, a former Mafia hit man, stabbed through the chest with a steak-knife. Only it’s not one of his steak-knives. It’s not serrated, it’s old, dull. The killer has brought it with him. The hit man rolled on a murder charge forty years ago, a stabbing, a woman named Marlene Elias. The case that was stolen from the evidence locker. The murder weapon. Something’s building here. We’ll come back to this.

Reese brings the copy tape to Finch, who starts cleaing it up. He also takes it a busness meeting: a Mr Harold Partridge has bought eight percent of Vitragen’s shares in the past few days and gets a meeting with not only Lawson, but Robert Keller, the company owner, and Lawson’s father-in-law. Lawson’s the heir apparent, providing Keller doesn’t get to hear about any affairs, that is.

Meanwhile, Finch has traced the woman on the tape, one Dana Miller, a former employee at Vitragen, in their clinical trials department. Vitragen has a new migraine drug coming out, FDA approved, a guaranteed winner. Mr Partridge’s money is safe: he’ll never need to invest in another company again.

Only, Mr Finch has heard Dana Miller’s name before. Six months ago, before he met Mr Reese, her Number came up. An apparent brain aneurysm. But the Machine doesn’t do accidents. Finch could do nothing, for her or any of the other Numbers that litter a noticeboard of their own, all people that could have been saved but for whom he could do nothing. To be able to avenge at least one makes this case intensely personal for the little man.

Zoe surfaces. She’s bet herself on Reese tracking her cellphone and she’s right. There’s a definite sexual tension between this pair, over and above the tension of deciding just how far to trust each other. They’re going to burgle Vitragen, and Lt. Gilmore, who owes her a favour – always have something to trade – will ensure the Police don’t respond.

In Lawson’s office, the pair uncover Dana Miller’s deleted records and the file she accessed multiple times, the file that had been altered before submission to the FDA, to remove six test subject’s names. Six subjects who all died of congestive heart failure. And Finch cleans up the tape enough to confirm that Dana Miller wan’t threatening to expose an affair, but a dangerous drug on which billions in profit rested.

Unfortunately, Lt. Gilmore has decided to free himself of any favours due to Zoe Morgan by shopping her to Vitragen. ‘Mr Partridge’ tries to contact Keller urgentky, intending to expose Lawson’s plans to save Reese and Zoe until the simultaneous revelation, on the tape and in Vitragen’s offices, that the kindly, avuncular Keller knew all along, and was in it up to his neck.

Zoe swings a deal. In return for her life, she’ll hand over the copy of the tape she’s using as security, leaving Reese to be executed. As a farewell gesture, she gives Reeese a lingering kiss – and a paperclip he can use to unlock his handcuffs, fulfilling the gag she made about the very same thing, earlier on.

Lat’s go back to Carter. She’s called in Bernie Sullivan, the detective on the Maria Elias case, who confirms he had the hitman dead to rights but the political fix was in, bought and sold. Sullivan fills in some essential background. Marlene was having an affair with Mafia Don Gianni Moretti, and had a son with him, Carl. Marlene was killed because she wanted Moretti to marry her. Carl went into the system, became almost a professional runaway. There was only one teacher her was close to, to whom he sent Xmas cards and money every year. Sullivan’s got these: Carter will come get them.

Reese frees himself from the handcuffs and turns Douglas’s lethal hypodermic against him. Finch updates him that Zoe hasn’t betrayed him, she’s provded clues to her whereabouts: the Naval Yards. Reese arrives on time to stop Lawson.

Robert Keller enjoys a lunch meeting with ‘Harold Partridge’. He’s all jovial and optimistic, until ‘Partridge’ reveals that he knows of troubles coming the way of the company’s senior officials and that he’s sold out his shareholding. Keller threatens that he is not someoone to be treated this way, but Finch, with a quiet but lethal determination gves him a photo of Dana Miller. Hetells Keller that he knowd money is the only thing that hurts him so he’s taken itall away. Finch will comeout with half a billon dollars by selling short (I cannot work out how that works), ruining the company.

Carter arrives at Sullivan’s apartment to collect the cards. She passes someone on the landing. Inside his apartment, Sullivan is dead. The man on the stairs fires back at her and disappears. Who is Carl Elias and what does he want?

I’ve gone into extra detail as to the plot of thisepisode to show how Person of Interest works: intense, detailed plots, intricate twists, dry, ironic humour, and the willingness to build long-term stories in small increments. It’s giving nothing away to confirm that Zoe Morgan bcomes a semi-regular guest, and it’s equally obvious that Carl Elias, for all that he’s yet to appear, will have a major role to play. And remember, this is still the procedural-with-a twist stage, before it gets really complex.

What sticks with me though is Finch. Emerson has played him as completely self-contained, private, withholding. He built the Machine, he took on the obligation of trying to save the Numbers, but until now it might have bee allmost an abstract duty. Finch’s intensiity in the face of his past failures, the chance to atone, and make no mistake, it is atonement, shows how intensely he feels the responsibility of his position. It matters to him, it matters very much.

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people; people like you. Crimes the government considered ‘irrelevant’. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you.” Harold Finch’s voiceover introduction, season 1.

Saturday SkandiHorrar: Black Lake 2 – episodes 5 & 6


Would you buy a used psychological course from this man?

I’m prepared to make one complimentary remrk about Black Lake 2, namely that it isn’t as egregiously stupid as Black Lake 1, and that it isn’t sliding inexorably into an horrendous mess, story-wise, or at least not yet. Other than that, it is a piece of crap, in a dull, leaden way as opposed to the sparkling, mad eye glitter of things like Follow the MoneyModus and, still the doyen of them all, Salamander.

Take episode 5. This was a long and slow affair, in which the course-mates, less the deceased Amina, were taken on a trek acoss the island to a semi-boarded up wooden building in which everyone was to wander around, take in the atmosphere lie down and contemplate (which not everybody did).

This took up practically the whole episode, especially Minnie, wandering around so slowly that it was tempting to suspect that the camera was running the digital equivalent of sixteen frames per second. We’re at episode 5, we’re into the back half, so structurally this is the glacial episode where we start getting a bit of connective tissue thrown at us so we are told that the island of Kallskar has always been an isolation ward, effectively, for Stockholm. The crumbling building was a cholera hospital, where victims of epidemics were shunted off to live or die. Later, during the Second World War, it was a camp for Baltic refugees, several of whom, no doubt, had been executed in that pre-credits scene in episode 1, visited by the little girl.

Episode 5 went heavy on the horror tropes, to the point where I got thoroughly sick of the slow forward pan towards a door or a room that creates tension in those who aren’t sick of the obvious manipulation. Vincent thinks creepy Oscar has something to do with Amina’s disappearance, Isabell takes it seriously, Johan doesn’t, and Minnie’s certain she’s getting psychic flashes from Maya (shades of Hanne in series 1, dead children ghosts, or maybe it’s just lack of creative originality).

Minnie’s getting close to connection in a creepy room whose doors open and close (creakily) all by themselves. Creepy Oscar asks what she’s doing, breaking the ‘connection’. She complain about it, as if he’s done it deliberately, to Johan, who tells her to forget it, get her certificate and get out, but she’s too far gone for that kind of rationality. Instead, she goes back on her own, sees a little golden-haired girl.

Incidentally, we learn that wheen Josefine disappeared last year, three weeks later, her daughter Elsa disappeared on her way home from school. Josefine was in a custody battle. Q.E.D., nothing to see here, move on.

Episode 5 ends with someone late at night digging. They uncover a human skull, shift it out the way. Then they start shovelling the dirt over the body of Amina.

Next up, it’s supposed to be the debriefing session, of digital videocamera, for everyone with Uno. There are differing outcomes. Vincent, who’s not afraid of his emotions, ends up sobbing his heart out. Isabell, who’s mentally and emotionally divorced her family, is a former drug addict with connections to Gittan, who straightened her out, that go back years: she’s very familiar with the island. Oscar believes himself to be beyond help, which Uno automatically, and banally, seizes upon as a perfect starting point for help, but he’s here to find out about Josefine. Minnie’s obsession and her statement that she’s seeing things leaves Uno veryworried about her, so she goes all sullen teenager, refusesto speak and walks out. Johan: Johan’s a prick who thinks he’s found the unanswerable blackmail material to get his own way.

But episode 6 is Minnie’s episode and it’s not healthy watching. The girl’s getting obsessed. She took a photo from the cholera hospital, of the Mannheim family, long-term owners of the island. There’s a little blonde-haired girl in the corner, who obviously has to be Maya, but she’s not: guess what, she’s Gittan.

So crazy Minnie decides Gittan knows more about Maja than she’s letting on and enlists Johan to stand guard whilst she maniacly searches Gittan’s place and finds nothing (Johan sees a photo of a younger Isabell inside, does a mini-search and nicks the ledger that he thinks gets him his own way).

Minnie’s starting to crack up, and no wonder. She pleads with Agnes to phone her daughter, Luna, she just needs to talk to her. It’s genuine, and Agnes leaves her to talkin private. Little Luna has a friendwith a pet name and wants one of her own. But Minnie’s brush with sanity doesn’t last long: she seizes the chance to phone Josefine’s ex-husband, posing as a journalist. A casual last question, did Elsa have a pet name? Yes, but only Josefine used it: it was (wait for it) Maja.

Last bit next week. Here’s hoping for something better in a fortnight.

Lou Grant: s01 e05 – Nazi


It’s early yet, but I’d be inclined to put this episode up as a kind of archetype of the whole Lou Grant series. It can’t be, on one level, because it makes far too little use of the whole cast – very little Rossi, Art Donovan and Animal still confined to very limited roles and Mrs Pynchon not to be seen – which makes it unrepresentative. But in its wholly liberal stance, its intention to confront repressive circumstances, and its willingness to make its audience uncomfortable, this was an episode four square in the show’s principles.

Nowadays, and back in 1978, that stance would be called impeccably liberal, and that would be meant as a slight. When the show started, Jimmy Carter was halfway through his term as President, and Ronnie Reagan and the world’s lurch towards the Right was in the wings. Lou Grant was still largely part of the consensus, but it would end up swimming against the tide, which arguably led to its eventual cancellation.

Not that many could argue with the theme of this story. The episode tittle is blunt: this is about American Nazis, or the National Socialist Aryan American Party. They may be a small party, four men dressed in Nazi unifoms, with swastika armbands and a big swastika flag, invading a small pro-Israel demonstration in the Park, chanting ‘Hitler had the right idea’ (classy) and provoking a riot in order to make their Jewish victims into the aggressors, resorting to violence when the Nazis are being entirely peaceful. Cheap, crude, effective, superficially.

The story attracts the eye of Rossi, who wants to write it. Charlie Hulme’s against giving it any more than minimal coverage, to deny these people the publicity they’re seeking. Lou thinks it needs to be written but won’t let Rossi have it because his mind is already made up. Instead, after she asks to do it, and demonstrates the correct instincts – i.e., get the facts, then decide the story – he lets Billie Newman have it.

It’s good continuity, and an opportunity to showcase Linda Kelsey. She’s a feature writer rather than a news reporter at the start, she’s not pushy (though she’s going to get there) and she’s patient and thorough. And Billie’s constant digging turns this story into a study of the Nazi leader, Commander Stryker (a magnetic, indeed charismatic performance by guest star Peter Weller). Who, in a reversal inexpected in those days, turns out to be himself Jewish.

It’s a classic, yet horrible case of a rigid-minded man who, as a result of persecution. turns to identify himself with the aggressors, becoming in the process one of the more fanatic of them. There’s a telling moment, all the stronger for not being highlighted, when Stryker – or Donald Sturner, to give him his true name – relates to Billie a story of being thrown out of school for beating up some scrawny punk intellectual and breaking his arm, when we’ve already learned that Sturner was the victim of the beating, and of the broken arm.

There’s an equally intense scene when, with the Trib about to print Billie’s story, Stryker turns up to plead with Lou and Billie not to run it. He offers an even better story in exchange for suppression, at least in his lights, homosexuals in the Ku Klux Klan, names, addresses. Lou, with a very patient undertone, reduces this story to nothing by saying there are homosexuals everywhere, why not in the KKK? Weller makes Stryker pathetic, but not in that sense. Printing that story takes everything away from him, his ‘friends’, his schemes, his life’s work. All that hard work. He descends to threats before stalking out, and it’s a mark of Weller’s inhabitation of the role, turning it out of caricature, that Billie’s comment that she almost feels sorry for him doesn’t sound like a scriptwriter’s platitude.

So Stryker assembles his men, in full uniform, immaculate. He checks his gun. We cut to the Trib, security insisting in seeing ID on the way in, even Rossi. When they gang gets off at the Fourth Floor, Lou is waiting for them, or rather Billie. Stryker has committed suicide.

Billie is in tears, struck by guilt, taking onto herself responsibilty for Stryker’s death, because she wrote that story. Lou, with unaccustomed gentleness, talks her out of it, or sufficiently far out of it for her to be enable her to function whilst she does the rest for herself, telling her that she cannot let fear of the effect of herstories to interfere with the writing of them.

Stryker’s an easy case, given that he is extreme, unbalanced and palpably in the wrong, and we can be sure that the reporters and the City Editor of the Los Angeles Tribune will only ever exercise their weight in righteous causes, but there’s no denying that when you observe the practices of the British Press this past forty years, down to the Guardian‘s malicious distortion of a Labour members poll on Jeremy Corbyn, only last week, the maxim causes a distinct shudder.

And if we’re going to introduce 2019 politics into a 1978 TV drama series, then I’m bound to say that Stryker’s meeting speech was uncomfortably like Donald Trump’s statements. Only one of them was a card-carrying Nazi. Just saying.

Person of Interest: s01 e05 – Judgement


Person of Interest

One of the big differences between the Deep Space Nine watch and Person of Interest is that I was content to watch DS9 on a weekly basis, but I’m finding it hard to watch an episode of PoI without wanting to burn through another two or three immediately. Some of it is because that’s the way I’ve watched it previously, but there’s no denying it’s a very moreish series.

That’s because, even in it’s early days when it’s most dedicated to its selling concept as an off-the-wall procedural, the series is constantly building its internal mythos, and depicting change in the status and relationship of its four principals.

This was clearly depicted in episode 5 without interfering whatsoever in the matter of the Number of the Week, His Honour, New York Criminal Court Judge Samuel Gates (David Costabile). Gates, a hardline Judge, lost his wife to cancer the previous year, has an eight year old son, Sam Jr, who is kidnapped to force his hand over a seemingly unimportant hit-and-run killing by one Angela Markham (Meredith Patterson), which we see up front in security footage.

Markham’s plainly guilty but what proves to be a multinational Russian gang wants her to walk. Sam Jr. is the lever, but at the end, both he and his father will be killed.

There’s a slight difference in approach between our two principals. Finch cannot avoid reservations over the fact that their victim is a law officer, constitutionally opposed to vigilante justice. Reese, on the other hand, commits emotionally to saving the boy. The Judge has lost his wife: Mr Reese won’t let him be left alone.

As for the case, Angela Markham may just be a drunk who ran over and killed a man, but she is the unexpected door into something very big. Just why does a Russian gang need her to be acquitted so badly that they will kidnap a boy ad kill a Judge?

Caviezel, whose usual performance treads a balance between a laidback, laconic, depracating casualness and an underlying intensity, plays more on the latter. This case matters to him, he is driven from start to finish, and it marks a shift in his relationship with the elusive Finch.

At the episode’s start, Finch is having breakfast at a small, clean diner, when Reese slides into the booth opposite him, asking what’s good here. Finch, admitting to being paranoid, with good reason, dissects this as an interrogation: if Reese can determine that Finch eats here regularly, it brings him a step closer to finding out where Finch lives. Reese protests with injured innocence that fools no-one that he merely wanted a recommendation as to what was good to order. As Finch rises to llleave, he taps the menu and slides it over: inside is Gates’ photo.

Now that’s not merely a cool way to slide into the story, but it sets up a parallel to underscore where the episode has taken us. It’s book-ended by a final scene, in the same cafe, with Finch ending his meal and Reese sliding into the same both in the same manner. They differ over whether the Judge would assist them in the future. Finch still sees him as a law officer, distinguishing himself from the vigilantes, but Reese reads between the line to the father eternally ggrateful, who will do something if he can.

Then Reese, with an intensity that belies the lightness of the word dance the pair have been playing, says, “Thank you.” Finch is taken aback (Emerson does such a wonderful job of containing his reactions at all turns, minimising his responses yet letting them show) and asks what for. “For giving me a job,” Reese replies. Four weeks ago he was an unwashed, heavy-bearded, bad-smelling homeless derelict, drinking himself to death. This isn’t a job. The Gates’ have been more than Numbers. They have been a purpose. Outside of his difficult relationship with the mysterious Finch, Reese is plainly thankful for having been given a purpose. A cause.

Finch regards him for a few moments, assessing this new Reese. He slides the menu over, recommending the Eggs Benedict: he has had them many times.

This is not the only forward movement, however, because we do have two other main cast members. Reese has managed to get Fusco transferred from Brooklyn to the Homicide Task Force, so that he can keep an eye on Carter and stop her tracking the Man in the Suit. Reese’s naked contempt for the bad cop persists, in the face of Fusco already turning back into a decent cop. He starts to forge an understanding with Carter over the murder of Sam Jr.’s nanny, demonstrating real detective instincts, and he wants to be of better use to Reese.

These little shifts are portrayed organically in the episode, as being part of the story of the Gates’ and their ordeal, not soldered on. That’s skillful writing in any situation.  We’re only five episodes in but Person of Interest is layering various levels of story. Do you wonder that I want to load episode 6 into my laptop immediately?

Saturday SkandiHorrar: Black Lake 2 episodes 3 & 4


Attractive woman and total prick

I dunno, it’s just like the last one, a mixture of a down-to-earth criminal case and a horror-of-the-past supernatural backstory, with neither part fitting easily with the other. Just like last time, I’m already really only watching it for the attractive lead actress, whilst wanting something large and hairy, preferably with an axe, to drop out of a cupboard and chop Johan up into tiny little pieces.

He really is a prick, and he’s relentless about it to. I want my mobile and computer back, I want my mobile and computer back, I want my mobile and computer back, ad nauseam, and he’s constantly hunting for some dirty little edge that he thinks will get his own way. Minnie co-operates with him to some extent, but even she’s disgusted that he’s doing this for his computer, not because a woman went missing last year, presumed dead.

There’s a moment in episode 3 when Johan, and his got-you-this-time sneer, gets a public comeuppance from Uno. He can have his phone back on condition that he calls his father, tells him where he is and that he loves him. Uno even dials the number. Daddy answers peremptorily and Johan, in front of the rest of the course, can’t speak.

I’m almost sorry for him, but naturally he spends the rest of this week demonstrating exactly why he isn’t deserving of any kind of sympathy.

Last week’s key in the middle of nowhere is found by creepy Oscar. It’s the key to room 5, the room occupied by Josefine, the missing woman. Oscar searches the room, Johan searches the room, caretaker Gittan searches the room, Minnie searches the room, you’d think nobody has anything better to do. There’s a silver locket, unopenable, inscribed Maja. That’s Maja, not Josefine. Supernatural stuff involving bumps in the night (seriously) takes place around the lovely Minnie, who’s started shagging the robust Uno without removing a single item of clothing, except for the outdoor shower.

The thing is, last year, Josefina was also shagging Uno. Whose real name is Erik Larson, who’s ex-Foreign Legion and who was a murder suspect, all of which the monomaniacal Johan seizes on in his superior-but-stupid manner: of course he was a suspect, you self-centred moron, he ran the course.

(There’s a brief shot of flies gathering again that tells me there’s a body wedged somewhere between Minnie’s room 4 and the missing Josefine’s room 5, but I’m betting it’s Maja, and it’s something to do with the little girl in the prelude, that’s if that wasn’t the young Gittan).

Meanwhile, there are undercurrents spinning the story out so it doesn’t end too soon. Creepy Oscar’s hiding a gun. He’s here because of Josefine, that much is obvious. Isabella’s still cheerfully shagging Johan, who gets to clutch her tits a couple of times so we the audience don’t get to see them. Amina comes on to the Vincent, who has his wild streak, but Oscar spoils the deal for her, exposing her as not just back from last year but every year, fucking every man in sight because what she wants to do is fuck Uno and he isn’t interested.

Does this show really knowwhat it’s doing? No.

Having the scales ripped from her eyes in front of everybody kills it off for Amina. She runs away, packs hastily, tells the besimitten Vincent he means nothing to her, is about to take the motorboat and leave when, oh mother, she sees the body in the net, which we now presume is Josefine. Off she runs, in search of help. what she gets is a spade wellied to the back of the head. First one down. I’m going to go for two more next week, ok?