Structurally, this latest episode of Person of Interest was a solid procedural Number of the Week, supplemented by two differing strands from the show’s ongoing underlying mythos, three if you count the mostly peripheral return of Paige Turco as fixer Zoe Morgan. But it ended on a twist made all the more enjoyable in its reveal by withholding the name of someone from the opening credits, which is the lead-in to the theme that will dominate the remaining third of the series.
Our Number this week is Mira Dobrica, real name Mira Brozy, played by Mia Maestro. Mira works in a very upmarket Hotel, supposedly a Serbian refugee from Kosovo. The Hotel has just acquired two new members of staff, a Concierge and a Bellhop, named Harold and John respectively, there to look out for who, in a Hotel of over 700 guests, wants to murder a housemaid.
The answer is relatively straightforward, indeed almost obvious once it is teased out that a professional hit squad is staking the Hotel, though there’s a not very serious attempt at drawing a red herring across our path with the fact that the officious Floor Manager is running a hooker ring that someone has shopped to the Police (by who is never revealed, but between Derek’s accusation of Mira and her non-denial of John’s assumption, we can guess it was her, but why she should be drawng atttention to herself thusly was never directly discussed). No, Mira was a witness to war crimes conducted by a Serbian General currently running for high political office and wanting the evidence, and the witness, to disappear.
In dealing with the thriller aspect of the story, the episode made good use of our two Guardian Angels, together in the field, and their respective skills. Harold, neat, professional, unhurried, a comprehensive source of information, was the spider at the centre of the web, all-seeing, all-directing, and a pefect concierge, and John our roving operative, covering the whole Hotel, whose guests included one Zoe Morgan, who took his appearance in a bellhop’s uniform in her professional deadpan style with a murmured, “Nice suit.”
Zoe would be very briefly used to ‘accidentally’ spill wine on a guy who’d been sat in the lobby all day, exposing him as part of the threat, but otherwise her appearance was deliberately for show, the series indulging itself in teasing our expectations. And John’s, if their mutual decision to stay on an extra night was any indication.
Fusco was brought in midway to lend an extra pair of eyes and legs. He managed, surprisingly, to shoot down two professional killers and then, when he’d brought Mira back to the Precinct for protection, Carter was forced to shoot another one. Add to that the two John shot up in the Hotel, one in an elevator car where he’d got Mira trapped, and it was a busy day.
But Mira was saved, the hooker ring exposed, Finch bought the Hotel and installed Mira as its new Floor Manager, plus the General was brought down, so all was well that ended well. Despite the political reason for Mira becoming a target, the Number was really a rather lightweight story, well-executed.
Except for her dramatic intervention to save Mira from an in-Precinct garrotting, Carter was kept back from the action this week, as part of her ongoing story. Special Agent Donnelly may be dead but his recommendation of her as an FBI Agent isn’t. Carter’s interested. Her relationship with Detective Cal Beacher is going well, enough so that she’s talking about introducing him to her son, Tyler. He’s definitely serious about her. And he is under investigation by IAB (Internal Affairs Bureau) for enough matters that her association with him knocks Carter’s chances on the head. Joss needs to think and, being Joss, she will need to know. Is Beacher dirty? We know, though Carter doesn’t, that he’s the godson of the head of HR. Where is this leading?
Of more direct application to both the Number and the ongoing story is the re-emergence of Hersh, having finally got himself out of Rykers. Special Counsel wants him finding Reese and disposing of him, but he wants to know who Reese is working for. The taciturn Hersh knows simply to look for a ‘mess’ and reports of gunfire at the Hotel is enough of a lead.
John’s got Mira out. He’s resigned as a bellhop, changed into his other suit, is about to leave and Hersh, who knows his face from Rykers, comes up on him from behind. The two fight, both professionals. This time, it’s John who prevails, sticking a kitchen knife into Hersh only just far enough to not sever an artery. John recognises a fellow soldier just as much as Hersh recognises him: in twenty minutes, Hersh will bleed out. He can pursue John or he can get to a hospital and save himself. That’s the difference: nothing is personal to Hersh, he follows orders. Everything is personal to John Reese. He invites Hersh to consider if his masters would show him the same mercy.
I’m forced to question Reese’s not killing a dangerous opponent who he knows will come back at him again. Letting Hersh live is tactically foolish and exposes both himself and Finch to risks that are, by definition, unnecessary. Hersh and Special Counsel have parts to play: at episode’s end, the recovering Hersh will be summoned by to Washington by his master to deal with a more pressing matter, taking him off the trail for the moment. But it’s still a development that smacks of scripting convenience rather than the natural outcome.
This summons for Hersh places us in Special Counsel’s office, where he works with a secretary. Literally seconds before the show revealed its twist, I saw it coming, this time and first time, from Miss May’s voice, from her super-competence, from the way the camera avoided showing her face.
A long time ago, in the second series of 24, one episode’s cliffhanger hinged upon the unexpected, last second appearance of President David Palmer’s now ex-wife. Penny Johnson Gerrold’s name was in the credits at the start and she didn’t appear anywhere in the episode, so the surprise fell flat because it had to be her. Series have learned from that fiasco since, including Person of Interest. So Amy Acker was left off the credits for guest stars. Miss May is Root. Welcome to the endgame.