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 e08 – Endgame


Not playing anymore

‘Endgame’ is an awfully final title for an episode only one-third the way through season 3, and especially for one that is but the first half of a two-parter. But it’s what it is. Last week, former-Detective Joss Carter discovered the head of HR to me the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Alonzo Quinn (Clarke Peters). She’s not pussy-footing around any longer, she’s going for the throat. And the evidence of that is 38 simultaneous Numbers, all cops, all HR.

Because Carter wants her revenge for Cal Beecher’s death to be visceral, and delayed no longer. And the way to  do this is simple: to foment a war between HR and Peter Yogarov’s gang, the Russian Mafia.

It’s so neat and simple. The Russians have a drugs shipment coming in. Carter attacks it, steals it,  frames HR. She pulls in a favour from the ever-calm Carl Elias (Enrico Colantoni) to do an infodump – names, addresses, numbers – of the complete HR roster, up to and including Quinn. It’s going to be a bloodbath.

Finch is horrified and petrified. Reese is fearful for his friend’s fate. Only Shaw, gleefully pillaging Reese’s weapons locker to supply Joss with the tools to hijack the lorry, seems to respect Carter’s need to do this herself, though she’d just love to get in on this.

At stake is a catastrophic outcome. Win or lose, things are going to change out of all recognition. Joss brings things into Quinn’s circle, pretending to be overwhelmed by her task and backing off from it. The audience is given more reason to think that’s true that Quinn or Simmons (Patrick John Burke). But she won’t let Reese help her, she won’t let Fusco help her, she’s going down the rabbit-hole on her own.

And we’re pointed in the direction of her probable failure and death, though this is merely routine PoI misdirection that anyone who’s got this far has no business believing. Even when the ‘honest’ Judge to whom she takes her evidence to get an arrest warrant for Quinn betrays her to Quinn and Simmons, and the latter puts a gun in her face.

We’ve been led to this time and place by flashbacks too, Carter’s ex-husband, her son’s father, Paul Carter (Laz Alonso), an Afghanistan Vet with trauma that leads her to cut him off from contact with Tyler who, in the end, takes the road to Redemption, enough so that it’s to Paul that Joss has committed her son’s care these past eight months. Final words, the fateful see you soon.

But PoI has its other routine to perform, the one where the gunshot isn’t the one from the bad guys but the offscreen one from the good guys, John Reese, disrupting HR’s little execution party, snatching Joss and Quinn and setting off to get the latter to the FBI. But Simmons raises a gauntlet, of HR cops and crooks, through which they must ride.

And that’s next week. and I remember what happens next week. There’s still a bumpy ride to come.

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: s02 e19 – Trojan Horse


Despite what you think, this womanis not the trojan

This episode was like falling down a very deep and dark well, so deep that you haven’t landed in the water when it comes to an end. It begins with a death and it ends with a death. And it’s a narrowing of threads to pass through the eye of a needle. Though it may not appear such on a first viewing, this is the one there’s no going back from.

Centrally, there is a Number of the Week in Monica Jacobs (Tracie Thoms), software expert, rising star at Rylatech, a walking powerhouse. The astute viewer immediately picks her for the ‘her’ who is digging into the death of Justin Lee and who has to be stopped. This one’s Finch’s job, undercover as an IT expert and developing a bit of a crush on Monicca’s elegant mind. This is because Reese is on a mission already, staking out an isolated house and a ‘quarry’ that’s carefully not identified as a Number, because it turns out it’s not. I admit to not immediately picking up the significance of the letterbox name of Cole.

At Rylatech, Monica, who’s been there ten years and totally committed to the company, is carrying out a surreptitious investigation into Lee, a young engineer killed in a car accident a week ago. Lee, it transpires, is a fake, a plant sent in to, presumably, steal confidential information and designs. For bringing this to the attention of Ross Haskell, head of R&D, a mass of fake information pointing to Monica as the mole is dropped electronically into her phone/schedule/records and she is promptly terminated (no, not with extreme prejudice), publicly demonised as a betrayer of what she sees as her family, and thrown out of the building.

Monica’s at the centre but there other lines developing of too great a substance to be called peripheral. Harold plays chess with Elias, who makes the board a cryptic symbol by removing several of his black pieces and providing extra white pawns to Harold. Two of the removed pieces represent the DA and Detective Szymansky, murdered last week by HR to advantage the Yogarovs, Elias’ major rivals. It’s an imbalanced game with only one outcome foreseeable, but Elias is playing a game of his own. He will play another chess game later.

John’s in the woods staking out the home of Mr and Mrs Cole, parents of Sameen Shaw’s ex-partner. The Government have smeared Cole as a Domestic terrorist and John’s watching against the notion that the parents will be tken out as well. Shaw’s thereas well, disarming him and sending him on his way curtly, but not before expressing a minimised disgust at her former employers dirtying Cole’s memory for his parents. John reminds her that they may walk in the dark but they don’t have to do so alone.

And at the Library, Harold looks up to see Shaw walking in. He’d given her his number to be contacted, though he’d imagined she’d call. Shaw’s making a point abut how unpleasant it is to be stalked, but she’s actually turned up out of gratitude. A story has been planted in the paper, ‘leaked’ by a non-existent operative, that Cole was a CIA Agent who died heroically, combatting domestic terrorism. In her repressed way, Shaw is saying thanks. And she’s still not taking up Finch’s offer of a job, but she does take an interest in Root, together with her photo and the list of aliases Finch has collected. Shaw needs a hobby.

There’s also the first of what will become a series of barbed quips about John, as Shaw comments about Finch in his derelict Library, with his poorly-socialised guard dog, and Bear.

At the Eighth Precinct, Beacher is still trying to get Carter to talk to him, but since Szymanski’s death (under investigation by Detective Terney, oh hah hah) she’s even more mad at him, specially when he won’t give up the name of the Confidential Informant who fed him the false information that led to Szymanski’s besmirching. Carter even gets Fusco to look at Beecher.

Events travel apace. Beecher meets with his CI, his godfather, Alonzo Quinn, Mayor’s aide and head of HR. Beacher is clean, he accepted the information in good faith, Quinn claims it came from one of Elias’s men. Quin and Simmons are concerned about Beacher. As well they might be. Beacher stands off Fusco, knows about his dirty background. But he goes to Rykers, to play chess with Elias, which is no contest. And Elias confirms that yes, he gave money to Szymanski, who threw it back in his face.

That meeting is the trigger. It comes back to Quinn and Simmons, and a decision is taken. The recording of it, via Fusco, comes back to Carter (how Fusco gets it is left unexplained, a minor hole forgivable in the midst of so much). She’s relieved Cal is clean, calls him on stake-out, offers to buy him a drink. But the stake-out is a set-up. Shots fired, Officer involved, Washington Heights. Carter races out there with Fusco but it’s too late. Beecher is dead, on Alonzo Quinn’s orders. A long candle has started burning down.

But we’ve been neglecting Monica and it’s time to return to her story. Or rather, Rylatech’s story. Lee was a spy alright, but not for a rival but the People’s Republic of China. And not of Rylatech’s secrets but rather the company was being used as a conduit to siphon off vast amounts of data from Rylatech’s customers, including Government departments…

And over half the company’s officers are in on this. The scope, the implications are massive. But Ross Haskell wasn’t involved: he’s found dead in his office with a bullet through the head. From, it seems, Martin Baxter, the company’s founder and CEO, the true American story. But Baxter sold out after the dot.com crash, to avoid Rylatech’s bankruptcy. Now he’s going to kill Monica and Reese.

Except that he takes a phone call and the whole edifice turns over. Because the call is from Greer, to tell him that the time has come for the contingncy they talked about when Baxter did the deal. His family will be provided for. And Baxter shoots himself through the head.

Rylatech crashes. Finch has sent the masses of information to the FBI etc. They’ll investigate the China angle. But Finch has already seen that only a fraction of the data was going to China, the majority being diverted to a mysterious source, the onlyinformation he has being a name. For the first time, we hear the words Decima Technologies.

Finch and Reese are talking in the street. They walk past Greer, talking on his phone, planning the next strategy, to find the one source actively opposing them. Meanwhile, that one source is telling his badly-socialised guard dog that he recognised aspects of Decima’s coding in the virus Kara Stanton uploaded months ago.

And that the virus is looking for one thing: The Machine. And we are in the well, free-falling, and the cold water is still a long way below us.

Was this episode really only 45 minutes long? Only on the watch, only on the watch.

Person of Interest: s02 e18 – All In


For once, I would almost say that I was disappointed with the latest episode of Person of Interest: almost, but not quite.

The problem lay largely with myself. Since Relevance, and knowing how the season ends, I assumed the show would be going into its end game to set this up, but in that I was premature. All In was once again, in respect of its Number of the Week, a solus, with all the longer-term aspects taking place elsewhere, beyond the ken of Messrs Finch and Reese.

Once I realised that the issue of Lou Mitchell (Ron McLarty), a retiree on a fixed income who played bacccarat in an Atlantic City casino every day and who had lost over $320,000 over six months, had nothing to do with the wider issues, I found it difficult to be enthused. Yes, the story was nifty, and there was a nice scene when Finch, following Lou around all day, discovered his quarry was much less naive than he’d assumed and had not only made him from the off but confronted him in a bar, played baccarat for questions with far greater skill than he’d ever shown in the casino, and lifted his keys before dropping them in the lobster tank.

No, Lou wasn’t the loser he appeared to be. He was a card sharp from way back who’d fallen foul of the Mafia and been beaten for it, had married the woman who helped in and had forty very committed years together before her death from cancer. But to fund her treatment, Lou had sharked at a casino owned by Darren Makris (Michael Rispoli), and when Makris found out, Lou found himself on the hook, alongwith several other retirees, required to play, and lose, every day.

Why? Makris was in the drug trade and also owned a pharmacy. Lou and the others picked up ‘prescriptions’ daily, money they then lost, in a money-laundering operation. Makris’ drug profits disappear into the casino and come out as its profits.

What makes Lou stand out, and drew the Machine’s attention, was that he was using his skills to skim a bit off the top, a gesture of defiance, I’m not a loser, on the one hand, and with a sentimental purpose in mind on the other. Even when Harold sends Lou out of town, whilst he and John ‘eliminate’ Lou in Makris’ eyes, the cantankerous old bugger comes back.

And this time he’s playing to win, win back everything he’s lost. But with Finch staking him to $2,000,000 and John running interference on Makris, Lou wins over $20,000,000, negating the presence of our old friend, Leon Tau (an ever welcome cameo from Ken Leung, as shallow as ever but also as forensic with a money trail).

Reese saves the day when everyone is captured and forced to go through a Russian Roulette situation that’s actually harmless because Lou palmed the bullet. And with Finch’s help, Lou is set up to buy and preserve the diner in which he eats every day, the one he and his Marilyn practically lived in. A nice, sentimental ending.

It was a decent Number of the Week, and in another frame of mind I would probably have enjoyed it more, but I’m impatient for things to hot up, andthe only place that happened was in the B story, centred on Detective Carter.

Joss is still gathering evidence about the missing Detective Stills, using Detective Terney (Al Sapienza), when Detective Szymanski is hauled in, in handcuffs. Szymanski is due to testify todayagainst the Yogarof brothers, when he’sdirtied up by planted evidence he’s on the take. Carter starts investigating this immediately. Would-be boyfriend Cal Beecher is about but ruins his romantic hopes by admitting he provided the tip on Szymanski.

It’s all a scenario set up by H.R., Officer Simmons and Alonzo Quinn, for a cash deal with the Yogarofs: they will not go to jail. Except that Carter, following the money on the advice of Fusco, finds evidence that Szymanski has been framed. The trial goes ahead, with extra charges as to witness-tampering. Fusco warns Carter aboout making herself a target. Quinn invites the DA and Szymmanski to dinner, impressing on them how invested the Mayor is in securing a conviction. Both of them are determined to press ahead. And Quinn pulls out a gun and kills both, two shots each to the heart.

And another member of H.R. enters, Detective Raymond Terney. The killer got away through the back, leaving two dead and one wounded: Terney shoots Quinn through the right shoulder.

That’s where the heat was, where the long story took place. I sure hope the show turns its face towards the season ending next week…

 

Person of Interest: s02 e10 – Shadow Box


Oh, wow! This is where things really start to roll.

This far into Person of Interest‘s life, there have always been backround elements telling something of a broader story, and there was the season-crossing three parter concerning Finch’s kidnapping by Root (who gets a mention this week, to remind us of the lady), but there has been no directly continued story, until now. This week we had a cliffhanger ending.

The Number of the Week story was again well-planned, taut, intricate. Jessica Collins played Abby Monroe, outwardly a paragon: well-educated, thoughtful, in a socially worthy job with a charity offering low cost mortgages to returning ex-soldiers. In every respect the archetypal victim, as soon as you can find the enemy.

The enemy turned out to be Philip Chapple, Abby’s ex-boss, who had fired her and framed her for stealing. The loans were a scam, interest rates becoming unpayable within a year, foreclosure, one Bank selling them on and splitting the profit with Chapple. By setting Abby up, Chapple cut off going to the Law. So Abby, sister of a soldier who didn’t make it, teamed up with victim and boyfriend Shayne Coleman (Brian J Smith), ex-Army munitions expert with a prosthetic arm, in a plan to access Chapple’s safe deposit box and steal back the money.

It’s dangerous, and they’re highly suspicious of Messrs Reese and Finch, though they needn’t be: Reese has a thing about veterans being messed with and he ends up assisting in the execution of the robbery. That’s where it all goes wrong.

But this is the Number of the Week story, and that’s far from all we got. There’s Detective Cal Beacher hanging round Joss Carter: he enjoyed dinner (and from her smile I’d guess she did too), and wants to do it again. Carter’s re-opening the Davidson case, after the tip-off last week: she asks Beacher if he knew Davidson. Fusco, on the periphery, is worried about this, starts checking Beacher out. He’s a bit flash, best of everything, hints that he may be on the take. He’s certainly connected, as the Machine makes plain, to Alonzo Quinn, head of the vastly shrunken HR. In fact, he’s Quinn’s godson.

And Quinn and Simmons are plannning to rebuild HR. Now Elias has emphatically shut down that connection, they’re looking for a new revenue stream. An association with the Russian mob?

But the biggest movement in the ‘background’ is the reappearance of Special Agent Donnelly, free, now that HR has been reduced to an irrelevance (has there ever been anything on which Donnelly has been right?) to resume his obsession with the Man in a Suit?

They’ve got a new lead, but in order for Carter to be briefed, she has to accept a temporary assignment to the FBI, for clearance. Donnelly’s sure that will quickly become permanent, to Carter’s advantage. He’s got evidence that a new group, a Private Security organisation, with Chinese backing, has aquired the Man as an asset. And Donnelly is convinced the Man has flipped missing CIA Agent Mark Snow as an asset. This time, they’re going to get him, they have tracking devices put together by their men at Quantico that can locate the Man. Here, at this Bank.

Yes, at this Bank. The one Abby and Shayn, with the aid of Mr Reese, are robbing. They’re going in underground, timing their explosions to coincide with the subway trains. Using the stolen building plans, they get underneath the vault, blow the ceiling, let it come crashing down to them. They’ve got the accounts, Finch can (and will) extract every penny and transfer it to genuine veterans’ organisations. They’ve just got to get out.

Which is the problem. Underground, three of Chapple’s thugs are there with guns (one of them is a new hire for this job: remember that, it will be significant), keeping Reese and co. from getting out. Above ground, the FBI, with temporary Agent Carter, are raiding the Bank. Above ground is Finch, or ‘Harold Wren’, legitimate Bank customer, with passes and IDs for three associates. Reese and co need to climb up the rubble and into the Bank to find him.

That’s not easy with three gunmen shooting at you. Reese sends Abby and Shayn ahead but as for him… John Reese is resigned to what’s coming. It’s been on the cards all along, the inevitable moment when it stops working out. He accepts it. Just in this episode he’s woken up chipper and bright, has found himself… happy. He puts it down to the job Finch gave him. Reese has made peace with himself.

So, Fusco arrives to run interference for Harold and Co. And Agents Donnelly and Carter sweep down into the chamber below the vault where the Man in the Suit has been captured. Except that his men are holding four prisoners. All men. All in suits. One is John Reese. The FBI have got their man. All they have to do is find out which one he is.

The game is not over. There’s an awful lot more of it. But that’s next week…

Person of Interest: s02 e09 – C.O.D.


Enter the Estonians

We’re now well-established in season 2, and Person of Interest is still adhering to its procedural concept, and only trailing wider concerns in the background. For someone who’s seen the show all the way through, twice, it’s a little bit frustrating. I want to be getting into the meat of things, into the storylines that make PoI an immersive experience, an ongoing drama working towards a specific end. I know they start to draw together in season 2 and I’m waiting for the stars to begin to align and I’m slowly getting frustrated.

Were I watching for the first time, avoiding knowledge of what is to come, I would enjoy an episode like this rather more for the cleverly set-up, carefully plotted story it is. As it so often does, the show started with a cryptic scene, viewed by The Machine: a cab driver paid half (literally) of five hundred bucks to circuit a park, the other half to be paid when he collects his foreign sounding passenger.

The cabbie is Fermin Ordonez (Michael Irby), former Cuban baseball star who defected to America in 2005 but who bust his shoulder and is scraping by behind the wheel, the passenger is Vadim Pushkov, super hacker with something to sell. When next we see Vadim, he is a body riddled by bullets, being investigated by the Secret Service as represented by Special Agent Regina Vickers (played by Reiko Aylesworth, formerly of 24 when it was still good) with the aid of Detective Carter. Fermin is being followed by Messrs Reese and Finch: he is their new Number.

A cab driver, meeting dozens of unconnected people every day, is almost impossible to assist as a Number, but the pair’s surveillance uncover three significant things. Firstly, that Fermin has sold something for $800, via a friend. Secondly, that he is desperately trying to raise money to get his wife and son smuggled out of Cuba, only for his smuggler to up the ante mercilessly. Thirdly, that the beautiful blonde who steps into his cab and directs him to an isolated spot, knows that he has taken something left behind by Pushkov, and has set him up to be executed just because he knows about it. This is where John steps in, to save Fermin’s ass and start the unravelling of it.

The laptop contains thousands of travellers details that can enable terrorists etc to cross borders undetected. It is useless if the theft is known, so the Estonian Mafia, its intended purchasers, not only want it back but want everybody who even knows about it dead. This is the conundrum, and it’s not to slight the episode if I merely say that it is resolved professionally, with the usual displays of effective violence and no twists. There’s a wonderfully sentimental ending to the episode as Carter and Agent Vickers thank Fermin for his part by bending the rules about immigration and discouraging people-smuggling to give Fermin the reunion he has dreamt of, to get his family to America. It’s a sweet moment.

This has been the upfront story, the procedural that sells this show to the network. But it has a b-story, this one involving Detective Fusco, and involving HR. HR has been busted, everyone pulled in for trial but for three. These consist of HR’s top pairing, Mayoral Chief of Staff Alonzo Quinn and second-in-command Officer Simmons.

And Detective Lionel Fusco, who The Machine distinguishes as Undercover but who is still a member of HR. Quinn and Simmns want to rebuild the organisation, and to do so they need to get into bed once more with Carl Elias. Simmons sends Fusco and the first new guy to a meeting with Scarface, offering a deal in which HR will locate the one Don of the Five Families who escaped Elias and who is now in Witness Protection. The deal is agreed, except that HR must hand him over themselves.

And it’s a double-cross, a set-up by Elias. The new guy is killed and Fusco sent back to carry the message: go to Hell. It’s one he repeats himself to Simmons, causing the latter to execute the threat he’s held over Fusco all along. An anonymous tip comes to Carter about the missing Detective, Davidson, that he was murdered, and by a fellow cop. That cop, as we remember from season 1, was Fusco. Who’s going this one alone, and arousing Reese’s suspicions.

This is the kind of thing I hunger for and can’t wait for season 2 to fully invest in. In the second half of the season, perhaps? Which is only three episodes away…

Person of Interest: s02 e05 – Bury the Lede


Victim, or Perpetrator?

And here is where things really start to get interesting.

After resolving the issue of Finch’s kidnapping by Root, and allowing a lull in the form of a procedural episode or two, Person of Interest began developing its first major theme for season 2 in this episode. First, there was a bit of minor misdirection in the form of this week’s number, Maxine Angelis (guest star Gloria Votsis), a determined investigative reporter pursuing financial improprieties in one man’s political campaign to be elected Mayor of New York (gosh, if we only had reporters like that in Britain).

We begin in media res with the lady: there is no longer any need to rehash how Numbers are received, nor to introduce them in the Library, we save time by introducing them on the fly. But Maxine immediately seems irrelevant as the FBI, under Special Agent Donnelly, swoop on the NYPD and arrest 75 dirty cops, all members of HR. This does not include Fusco, though he’s sweating a bit, and he has Symonds on his back demanding he destroy evidence that implicates the latter.

The raid is all based on Fusco’s undercover work in season 1. The scale of it might lead you to suppose HR is crippled, at best, but the Boss remains unidentified and out of reach.

Maxine’s interested in that story too, and also the one about the Man in a Suit, which means Reese can’t get close to her in the usual way without risking publicity that he and Finch neither want nor need. It makes his job impossible, so Finch solves it in an underhandedly direct manner: Maxine is using an online dating agency, so winds up agreeing a date with a ‘John Anderson’, an actuary.

And when Reese starts floundering very quickly, Finch gets Zoe Morgan to do a walk-by, to perk Maxine up about ‘Mr Anderson’s attractiveness to other women.

That’s by-the-by. Maxine has a meet with Mayoral Office high-ranking staffer Alonzo Quinn (Clarke Peters, in between The Wire and Treme: does his presence alert you to anything?). Quinn’s behind the Griffin campaign, the one with the sleazeball implication, but is getting creamed by the Mr Clean candidate, Landon Walker.

And there’s an anonymous tip to Maxine, naming Christopher Zambrano as the boss of HR.

Zambrano looks good for it. His Dad was one of the Mafia Dons taken out by Elias last season, he runs an Import-Export business that is the kind of cover Dons use, the FBI are interested in him. Maxine sprays him all over the cover, but there’s just one thing wrong: Zambrano’s clean. Clean in that he’s the witness, not the boss, possessor of a ledger of pay-offs belonging to his Dad, that he’ll surrender to the FBI, once he gets his immunity deal. Now Maxine’s painted a target on his forehead.

The news that she’s been played, and allowed her eagerness for a scoop to let her see the wrong story, breaks during her date with ‘John Anderson’. Christopher Zambrano is shot dead, Maxine’s career ruined, she’s genuinely repentant, and when she tries to track down who set her up, her life is in danger. From being the Perpetrator, albeit unknowingly, she has become the Victim that Reese has to protect at close range.

What’s important is to find the ledger, but when they do, two homicidal ex-FBI agents are prepared to take it from them and arrange their death as a lover’s spat that escalated. Reese’s hands are tied, both literally and figuratively. This time it’s Carter and Fusco who arrive to save the day.

The fall-out is that both the ex-FBI guys and the ledger drop Landon ‘Mr Clean’ Walker in it. He’s arrested by Donnelly, Ed Griffin wins the Mayoralty. Fusco, who’s dancing on a knife-edge here, removes two pages from it first, relating to payments made to P Symonds and L Fusco. It’s still not enough to get him out of HR.

There are two stings left in the tale. Maxine goes on a fourth, entirely normal date with Anderson, but it’s their last: she’s wedded to her job and he isn’t yet over Zoe Morgan. But she’s dropping the Man in a Suit investigation. He must be an Urban Legend – after the weekend she’s just had, if he did exist she’d have seen him…

But the other is the big reveal, and it’s one that we should all have seen coming from the mere fact that Clarke Peters was playing a guest role. It’s to be a recurring role. The boss of HR is Alonzo Quinn. And the shape of season 2 slowly crystallises.

Treme: s04 e05 – …To Miss New Orleans


One last time

Of course it ended with Mardi Gras. And with the song that gave the final episode its title, played over a montage that took place some time in the future, showing the fruition of certain things, showing that life never really ends.

Everyone was here. Sofie Bernette returned from college to drag her mother out to Mardi Gras. Sonny, happy and resolved with Linh, was led back into street gigging again by a wife who understands him and loves him. L.P. Everett made no traction over New Orleans. These were our minor players today, showing their faces so we could see them one last time, and say our private goodbyes in the knowledge that their lives continue to develop.

There was no place for Clarke Peters, except in a photo of Big Chief Albert Lambreaux, in costume, the prettiest, behind the bar at LaDonna’s bar, where the Indians rehearsed for Delmond’s walk as Big Chief: over his reservations, he stood in his father’s shoes (or boots), just once.

There were departures. Terry Colson got his transfer back to the Eighth authorised but, as he said, too little, too late. He testified before the Grand Jury then handed in his papers, to preserve his pension. He’d rendered his job untenable, burned his boats in New Orleans, went to Indianapolis, where his sons are, breaking up his brief relationship with Toni, who threw herself back into her work.

Nelson Hidalgo signed himself out of his contracts in New Orleans, to go to Galveston, but not without a goodwill gesture on departure: knowing that the National Jazz Centre was dead, dead, DEAD, he conned Feeney into accepting an exclusive on restaurants there in return for his letting Janette off the hook about using her own name.

Delmond Lambreaux half leaves, returning to New York where his music plays, but keeping a foot in New Orleans, promising to bring his child up in the tradition. You knew Big Chief Albert would be honoured.

And Annie has moved on and upwards, towards the career her talent demands. She had to make compromises along the way, accept being prettified with expensive dresses and short skirts (that was a real handicap) and the glossy look, but she insisted on only making her own compromises to her music.

Davis McAlary turned serious now he’s forty, intent on becoming a sober citizen (don’t laugh). He even told Janette he loved her, which she was wise enough not to repeat back to him. She’s not in love with him anyway. I doubt anyone ever truly would be. It didn’t last. Still, he’s mellowed, so we’ll have to settle for that.

Antoine got the schoolband a rehearsal space through the good auspices of a fellow musician. He got his boys living with him to get straightened out. He got called on to play with Dr. John. He got a wandering eye at Mardi Gras, but only the eye wandered this time. LaDonna got scared when gunshots were fired, but she and her boys escaped unscathed.

Have I left anyone out? The series didn’t. Only Clarke Peters and John Goodman were missing, and though I wondered if an accommodation would be made, especially for the former, there was no trickery, no dream sequences or flashbacks. The dead stayed dead and we missed them.

And their lives go on. Nothing ended except our ability to be with these people. The music went on and we closed on ‘…To Miss New Orleans’, and I will, and I’ll miss my weekly incursion into this musical gallimaufrey thaat’s already led to me buying a Lucia Micarelli CD…

The closing shot, after which all was silence, was of Davis’s pothole, decorated New Orleans style. Some things will never die.

This city won’t ever drown.