Person of Interest: s03 e12 – Aletheia


Don’t cross this woman

‘Aletheia’ is a Greek word meaning, for our purposes, ‘disclosure’ or ‘truth’. It’s an apt title for an episode that uses Person of Interest‘s capacity to construct a tense, slick and violent thriller whilst incorporating the show’s philosophy witth regard to the existence of the Machine.

As an episode, this is so much a direct sequel to  last week’s ‘Lethe’ that it could be joined to it to create a 90 minute feature without any seams showing, a fact recognised internally by the way only a title card is used to identify the show instead of the standard monologue.

We pick up with Control threatening Arthur Claypool and Harold Finch: one of them will give her what she wants and that one will live. Agent Shaw, in the meantime, is disposable and will be shot: mind the bloodspray. This is interrupted by the arrival of the Cavalry in the form of Root (who has freed herself from the Library in a manner she could have done at any time), two-guns firing. But on the way out, she is shot in the arm and captured.

Root goes on to secret immprisonment, interrogation and torture at the hands of Control herself. It’s vivid, it’s horrifying and it includes mutilation: a smll bone, essential to hearing, is cut out from behind Root’s right ear, making her completely deaf on that side.

It’s easy enough to loathe Control, and Camryn Manheim makes her into a total monster without ever once foaming at the mouth or chewing the scenery. Control is frighteningly self-righteous in pursuit of goals that protect the State, and is ruthlessly unconcerned about life. Secrets must be kept, maintained, controlled and anyone who potentially disrupts that world by having knowledge is to be killed, without thought or conscience.

What makes this so frightening is that this is John Reese’s world, that John Reese is every bit as capable of the actions undertaken by Control. It’s not played up blatantly, nothing the series does is ever blatant, it’s all their for the audience to draw the conclusions and, hopefully, think upon them.

Speaking of Mr Reese, he and Fusco are stuck in a Colorado jail, almost by arrangement. Fusco claims the Sheriff can’t recognise an NYPD badge, but when his attempt to turn Reesse back fails, they get out free on a word from the cynical detective. Nothing has changed. Reese has lost his anchor, he has twisted into the nihilistic frame of mind he had when Finch first gave him a job. Nothing is worth it, entropy always wins, Fusco will turn back into the corrupt slimy piece of garbage crooked cop he was. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.

The meat, so to speak, of the episode takes place in a bank vault. negotiating his way around Claypool’s brain tumour and his wandering memories and perceptions, Finch establishes that disc drives exist preserving Claypool’s Samaritan, in a safe deposit box in a bank under an account opened in the name of a false persona created at MIT by Finch, so solid that it could open a Bank Account. And these drives contain a correct and working Samaritan.

Unfortunately, Control, via Hersh, want the drives, and so does Vigilance, who are equally unconcerned as to the sanctity of human life. Samaritan is Arthur’s child, as much as if it were biological, so his acceptance of the need to destroy the discs to prevent either side from getting hold of them is almost infanticide.

Everyone gets out, though unfortunately they have to jump into the sewer to do so (at least that means we should never again see the hideous checked suit Harold wears throughout these two episodes). There is another of the show’s gunshot set-ups, which frankly are overused. Someone’s been held-up at gunpoint, is about to be shot, a gun fires but it’s someone offscreen doing a last second rescue that’s so frequent you get conditioned to expect it. These are two of Hersh’s SWAT team members, but they are also Reese and Fusco.

But John’s not back for good, he just came back to save Finch and then it’s back to his nihilistic stream.

I haven’t yet mentioned the continuing flashbacks to Harold’s youth and to his Alzheimer’s affected father. Dad has to go into a home. Harold’s still trying to build the machine that will be his Dad’s memory. In search of more computing power, he breaks into Arpanet, the Government forerunner of the Internet, as a result of which he has to go on the run, accused of treason. But by then his father has forgotten him.

Just two more touches. Harold has set Arthur up in comfort under medical care, at a secret location. More and more of Arthur’s memory is disappearing. He can’t ever remember the colour of Diane, his wife’s eyes. But Root, who is becoming or perhaps already is the Machine, who’s gone her own way for now, has a gift for him: old surveillance film and photos of Arthur and Diane together, beamed into his computer. Saul Rubinek, who plays Arthur, has been magnificent these two episodes, up to and including his utter absorption in the life that has been conjured back for him.

At least the discs have been destroyed. But a Bank Manager has been found dead, stuffed into a closet. She’s the Manager who let Claypool and Finch into the vault, was trapped with them, wounded and forgotten in the panic. No, she’s not. The woman who entered the vault was posing as her. She switched the discs. The ones Claypool destroyed were meaningless. The real ones are delivered to Greer, who is so pleased with her  sterling work he shoots her through the heart. Greer has Samaritan. Greer has an AI. And he does not have Harold Finch’s reservations.

The future starts here.

Person of Interest: s03 e10 – The Devil’s Share


Oh, my. Such a perfectly balanced episode, with a horde of actions, emotions and revelations all drawn together in the pursuit of a just revenge. Did this episode last forty-six minutes or did it draw you into itself for a lifetime?

Detective Joss Carter is dead, killed brutally by Officer Patrick Simmonds, the last HR standing. There is no title sequence, not even the series’ name. Just Johnny Cash singing ‘Hurt’, one of the most powerful recordings ever made. Carter’s ex-husband, her son, sit in a cemetery, with looks of indescribable pain on their faces. From a distance, Finch watches, also in sorrow, alongside Shaw, who disappears when he back is turned. Shaw wants revenge.

So too does John Reese, shot and wounded, seriously, by Simmonds, but single-mindedly determined to exact revenge, on both him and Alonzo Quinn. John is off the reservation. Jim Cavaziel gets something into his eyes that you had better pray you never see in real life because that is the expression of someone who has gone far past what it is to be human.

And so the episode becomes a multi-layered chase, as the team tries to find and stop Reese, which is like trying to find and stop a will o’the wisp. Instead of Carter, there is Fusco, the weak link, the joke cop, but this is Kevin Chapman’s coming of age in this series. He is now what they have, and he rises to the occasion.

They find Shaw. But Reese is always ahead of them. To find him they nneed to find Quinn in protective custody and to find Quinn they need Root.

There are once again flashbacks, four in total, at four different times, each of someone speaking to an interviewer. Finch, in his wheelchair after the Ferry bombing that killed hiis closest friend, discussing grief and survivor’s guilt. Dr Sameen Shaw, a technically brilliant surgeon who lacks the emotional commitment that makes the difference between fixing and healing. John Reese being psych-profiled for his fitness to be Black Ops, but only as a means to get close to and execute a traitor. Let’s just hold off on the fourth for a moment.

Reese, dying on his feet, gets to Quinn. He’s going to kill him, but first Quinn has to give up Simmonds’ escape route Here is where the quartet catch up, Root, Fusco, Shaw and Finch, but it is Harold, who willnot lose another friend, whose gentle voice reminds John that this is not honouring Carter. Carter wanted Quinn her way, the right way, the legal way. Evidence, arrest, trial, conviction. But John”s body is failing and only his will animates him now. He pulls the trigger, but the chamber is empty. Three take him away, fusco stays to secure Quinn. As they drive off to get John urgent medical attention, Root, speaking with the voice of the Machine, says that Mr Reese is not the only one out to kill Simmonds.

And inside, Fusco finds the note written by Quinn of where to find Simmonds.

We cut to that final flashback, Fusco and a therapist, traume counselling, Fusco has just shot and killed someone for the first time, in self-defence. He’s our Lionel, tough, wise-cracking, forever defensive. Until, assured that whatt he says is completely confidential, he changes. The dead guy was a drugs-dealer. He shot and killed an off-duty rookie last year, kid was 24, baby on the way, the dealer got off. It wasn’t a clean shoot. Fusco trailed him for weeks, just to get him alone, let the guy see him before he put two in his chest. They call it The Devil’s Share, an act of redress for the world’s shittier things. Fusco sleeps like a baby.

So you think you know.  Fusco intercepts Simmonds. He’s got a gun, Simmonds hasn’t. But Fusco has his eye on higher things. Despite the disparity in their fighting strengths, Fusco tackles Simmonds, yes, even with a broken finger in plaster. It’s simmonds’ to win, to execute Lionel and escape after all. But Fusco is a tougher little bastard than we’ve everr been allowed to see before. He whips Simmonds, breaks his arm.

Because Fusco was once the kind of cop who would execute a criminal. But then he got a partner who respected him, who treated him right, who got his back and, though this is insaid, more importantly trusted him to have her back. she showed him how to be a good cop, and drew Lionel Fusco back towards being a good cop. She saved him from himself. And Fusco won’t let that go over a piece of crap like Simmonds. Fusco brings Simmonds in. Fusco rises.

So all is well that ends. John will live after receiving treatment. Root, having been freed, returns to her cage in the Library voluntarily. Something big is coming and she and Finch need to work together.

And in the hospital room where Simmonds is being guarded, a seated, miling, almost cherubic face looks at him from the shadows. Brilliantly uncredited, Carl Elias addresses the still scornful Simmonds. He is awaiting Civilisation’s punishment. But neither he nor Elias are civilised. Joss Carter didn’t like Elias, but Elias liked her. Elias is here to watch The Devil’s Share be taken. John was not the only one who intended to kill Patrick Simmonds, Number of the Week.

One last word. We’ve seen Fusco rise to the occasion. This is also the point that the Team really forges itself into a Team, around the loss of one of its own.

Was this really only 46 minutes? Only in our lives.

Person of Interest: s03 e09 – The Crossing


This was the one where it was really never going to be the same again.

‘The crossing’ is the second half of ‘Endgame’. Joss Carter has Alonzo Quinn and everything she needs to bring him and HR down for good. There’s only one catch: she has to get him to FBI headquarters across town. Across a town where every dirty cop and every crook has John Reese’s photo. And whilst Simmonds wants Carter and Quinn alive, the order is shoot to kill for the Man in a Suit.

Meanwhile, Harold Finch has received a string of numbers with one thing in common. They are all aliases, all aliases for John Reese.

Getting to FBI HQ is a problem. With reese runing interference, they get to the City Morgue, four blocks away, but that’s as far as they can go. Finch has brought Sameen Shaw into play. Lionel Fusco has helped Resse and Carter get as far as they have but he’s been captured, the key to the safe deposit box with all of Carter’s evidence taken, and they’re torturing him for the Bank’s name and location.

Meanwhile, Finch faces a dilemma. Root has a connection to the Machine fundamentally different to his own. She can help. She wants to help. It’s not that she cares all that much for John but she understands just how much Harry does: John is Finch’s creation as much as is the Machine. Nor is he Harold’s first partner. But Harold can’t break his fear of Miss Groves: she has changed the Machine. She has become closer to it than he has.

Fusco’s in deep trouble, fingers broken, but still defiant. This once dirty, once lazy cop has transformed, imperceptibly, into a stalwart. He’s tough, still wise-cracking, and he sends Simmonds on a wild goose chase to the wrong bank. In consequence of which Simmonds sends someone to Fusco’s home, to kill his son, Lee, with Fusco listening in by mobile phone. The shot is fired. Fusco crumples, his son is dead. But the voice on the line is Shaw: it is going to be alright. But if she is there for Lee, she cannot be where Fusco is for him.

The promotion for this episode leaned heavily on the idea that Fusco would die. But not tonight, brother, not tonight. Broken fingers made it easy for Fusco to break his thumb, slip his cuffs, attack and throttle his intended killer. Not Fusco.

Meanwhile, HR are in the Morgue, the power’s down, John and Joss are trapped. It’s the longest time they’ve spent together without an immediate threat, so they talk, compare scars. John explains just how important Joss is to him, how her intervention when he was a homeless drunk, planning on killing himself, changed him into what he is now. There’s a tremendous warmth between them, a growing intimacy.

And then John exits. Harold runs interference for him, he leads the HR cops away, and is arrested – by two honest cops found by Harold. It means arrest. But it’s better than death.

So Carter makes it. Quinn’s threats continue to the end but now they’re hollow. HR is broken, the story goes public, Simmonds is still missing but the lot are in custody. Joss is reinstated as Detective and uses her influence to get ‘John Doe’ out of the 3rd Precinct, in an echo of their first meeting.

What a long, strange trip it’s been, all the pieces, bright, shiny, sharp-edged, brought together in perfect balance to create so tense, so thrilling, so roller-coaster an episode, everything is going to be alright.

And then Simmonds steps out of the shadows and shoots both Reese and Carter. Aghast, Finch watches, a payphone ringing unanswered, conveying another Number but this one too late. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for Joss Carter. Simmonds is wounded, Reese is wounded, but Carter is dead.

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…

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…

 

Person of Interest: s03 e05 – PA3ᴦOBOP (Razgovor)


Smart Kid

Now this: this is what I have been waiting for since season 3 started.

It is a Number of the Week, but in the series’ greatest fashion, it’s woven inextricably into the wider arcs, and even allowed to permeate the explosive finale, which must lead inexorably into deeper waters.

But first a brief word about the title. Please excuse the imbalanced cyrillic version that’s the official title, I haven’t got a larger size version of that upside-down L on this laptop. As for Razgovor, I have it on reliable authority that it means Conversation or Dialogue, of which there was much in this episode.

We began with one of those increasingly brilliant mini-scenes saving an unrelated Number, a driver delivering a liver required for a transplant, about to see it hi-jacked for a mobster until Shaw, rising with him, shoots down the crook and walks off, brushing off his grateful thanks. Finch gently suggests that her bedside manner could do with brushing up.

Straightway, we’re put on notice that Shaw’s emotionless is going to be put to the test by our real Number, Genrika Zhirova, or Gen, played to perfection by ten-year old Danielle Kotch as a smart-arse kid, a legal immigrant Russian girl planning a career as an international spy, who has been bugging her apartment building for evidence to get the drugs dealers busted, and who has caught something a hell of a lot bigger than that.

It’s a new drug, a synthetic based heavily on the heavily toxic potassium permanganate, and it’s being distributed by the Yogarov gang and our old friened Peter, but it’s patriotically synthesized in this country on a fuck-the-Columbians basis by H.R.

That’s H.R., meaning we get Simmons, and Terney and young Laskey in the story, and we get Joss Carter trailing everyone because this time, when H.R. comes down, all of it goes down, right to the top. Finch and Reese are aware of her ‘side-project’, and willing to help, but Joss is keeping her cards very close to her impressive chest. She’s going to take full revenge for the death of Cal Beecher.

So Joss and John get to work together on this case, coming at it from both ends, but the fun part is Shaw, who is charged with saving Gen and who, despite having no facilities whatsoever for dealing with kids and indeed saying she hates them, winds up the one who has to protect her, and who, despite a serious wound, sticks determinedly to her role, even if it means trading Gen’s incriminating tapes to H.R. to get her back.

Shaw’s running alone, she’s running wild, so she doesn’t know that even Carter has agreed the trade. We have, for the first time this season, a return to flashbacks, and these are of Shaw, in 1993, when she like Gen was ten years old. There’s been a car crash, Shaw’s Dad is dead, she’s trapped and freed and has to be told about her loss, but though she processes it, she doesn’t feel it. One of the paramedics will say there’s something wrong with that little girl, but that’s too simplistic. Shaw will herself tell Gen, with patient resignation, that she doesn’t feel things – except anger, of course – but this automaton that Gen has prodded to check if she’s a robot is nothing like so simple as this episode is trying to tease us into believing, and there will be another summation near the end.

In the meantime, H.R. set up to trap Reese, which keads only to a knock-down drag-out fight between the Man in the Suit and H.R.’s second-in-command. It’s smart, tough, spare, but it’s also a test of strength. Reese could bring Simmons down: after all, he wins the fight. But he lets him go. John Reese understands need, the need to atone, and he respects avenging angels. Joss Carter didn’t believe in Cal Beecher until too late. She has to do this herself, for herself, to repay the debt that no-one but herself feels on her shoulders.

And she’s ahead of the game. Rookie Laskey pulls the bonds of their partnership on her to get her to join him in a bar, to talk about his problems with someone on the force: Joss Carter. It’s a set-up, but Joss is miles ahead. She’s known Laskey was H.R. from the moment her first got in her car. She used him to feed false information back to Simmons. And she’s too canny and too prepared to fall for the trap Laskey’s set up. She kills the ‘bar owner’, a Vice Lieutenant from the Bronx, another H.R. goon. She’ll shoot Laskey too, if he makes her, but Carter has an ace he doesn’t expect, in the H.R.-born rrogance that makes him call Carter ‘an arrogant bitch who doesn’t know her place’ (tsk, tsk, haven’t you ever heard of feminism?)

Because Carter shot the Lieutenant with Laskey’s gun. He’s working for her now, not H.R. We await developments with eagerness, now they have startted to develop.

But we have Shaw, delivering the once-neglected Gen to a super-school, the sort of place you go when you’re the ward of a very reclusive billionaire. And Gen is still smarter than the average ten-year old, just as we now beieve the ten-year old Sameen to have been. She presents Shaw with her grandfather’s Order of Lenin tht cannot mean anything like as much to her, but it means something to Gen to know that Shaw has it. And she tells Shaw that she does have all those emotions but they’re like voices on old tapes (superb analogy): you have to listen harder to hear them.

Which gets her a rather too vigorous hug from Shaw that Gen understands, just like she has understood Shaw so well (it’s a shame she never returns), and which gets Shaw a reassurance from Finch. Yes, she broke every order he gve her and she doesn’t soun epentant about it though she’s clearly concerned about losing this ‘job’ (she’ll miss Bear too much). But as far as Finch is concerned, she has finally got it. The job, that is, but we know what he means.

So Shaw goes home to sleep, the Order of Lenin hung closely by, content. Until Root appears by her bedside, asking if she’s missed her, and applying her taser.

We are off, and running.

 

Person of Interest: s03 e03 – Lady Killer


Not that I’m saying this was in any way a bad episode, but I found the latest Person of Interest to be disappointing. Or, more to the point, a little perfunctory.

Except for the sub-plot with Root, alert via the Machine to the knowledge that Hersh was closing in on her trail to tidy things up and that she had better advance her plans for leaving the Secure Mental Facility to which Finch had delivered her, which she did with extreme ease, even down to obeying the Machine’s instructions not to finish him off, this was pure Season 1 Number of the Wek. Less even than that, really, for there were not even flashbacks to give us a glimpse of the wider story.

The Number was Ian Murphy, a rags-to-riches of a young man who came from nothing but who, with the aid of a $100,000 inheritance, made himself wealthy by canny investment in successful small businesses. Ian’s a lady-killer in the old-fashioned version of the phrase, constantly dating women, playing the chameleon to suit their wishes, obsessively building files on them: the classic stalker. and as one of his girlfriends is missing and another he’s interested in is dead in a car accident, we are looking at Perpetrator.

But, in a switch we should have expected, Ian is actually a Victim. He’s been baited witth three ladies dressed sexily for a hot Club, Shaw, Joss and a welcome reappearance from Zoe Morgan. He’s picked up Joss. He’s being the slightly-too-perfect boyfriend, Fusco and Reese are covering her back, Shaw’s got a sniper rifle on him and is bored waiting to kill him. And two street punks walk out of the dark with guns trained on him.

The story’s simple. Ian’s ‘inheritance’ was no such thing, it was a pay-off. Ian met heiress Dana Wellington at college, they fell in love, she got pregnant and her Master of the Universe father Bruce, one of these rich bastards who think they can control everybody, gave Ian $100,000 to get out of Boston. And he told Ian Dana had had an abortion.

Straightaway you knew that was a lie. Dana was dead, Iaan had attended the funeral, Vruce had kicked off at him right royally: why else would he want Ian dead if not to stop him legally claiming his grandson and heir, Alex, the ‘son’ of Dana’s elder sister and her husband.

So our crew turned themselves temporarily into a Scooby Gang to thwart the scumbag millionaire, but somehow the plot fizzled out, unexpectedly. Alex’s Birth Certificate was obtained by blackmailing a doctor way offscreen and somehow that was enough to frustrate Mr Wellington’s plans to place young Alex in a London Boarding School the next day.

There were a lot of good elements to this story. It began with Reese and Shaw on  ‘date’ in a boat on a rowing lake, with Shaw determined to have the oars. Our dark-haired beauty is establishing a very warm relationship with our doggy friend, Bear. And the immediate warmth and humour of our trio of ladies, out to enjoy themselves and let everyone know it, was worth the episode alone.

But, except in Root’s small corner, which did not interact with anything else until Finch arrived in the last minute, aghast that she’d gotten away, there was nothing to do with the series. We’re into the third season now, the rock is rolling, we are four episodes away from the midpoint of the series as a whole and you could have cut this episode out of the run completely and no-one would notice any gap because there is no hole that this story fills.

I’m hypercritical this morning because I’m suffering from an eye infection, so I may have been harsher on this episode than it deserves, but I want the show to be nothing but ongoing from here, for every part of it to point in some way towards the events that build upon each other, not to stand off to one side and smell the roses, especially if it can’t adequately end its sidebar tle when it does so.