Person of Interest: s04 e09 – The Devil You Know

Three amigos

If this isn’t an in media res opening then I don’t know one that is. After a brief, ten second recap from Samaritan to place us, the episode gets straight into Martine Rousseau’s exposure of Sameen Shaw’s day job and her intention to resolve it by killing her. This leads to a shoot-out at the cosmetics counter that’s fast, intense and slightly absurd, given such factors as Shaw apparently keeping a machine gun under the counter, two expert markswomen firing dozens of shots at each other without inflicting so much as a scratch, nor even any stray bullets hitting the milling, hysterically frightened clientele or staff.

Am I being facetious? Well, yes I am.  Exciting as this all is, it’s nevertheless a slightly OTT introduction to a phenomenal episode in which this lead takes us into merely a secondary strand in the episode. Shaw steps out the emegency exit to find Root pulling up outside on a motorcycle, intent on getting Shaw back to the subway using the Shadow Map (i.e., the map of all the camera dead zones where they cannot be seen).

With assistance from Fusco, the ladies are making progress until Shaw learns that Reese is handling the latest Number alone, and that a very significant Number. She insists, to the point of threatening their cover, on going to his assistance, despite appeals from Root not to get herself killed because this will devastate people who care about her.

On the other hand, Root then promptly tricks Shaw into dropping her guard whist she injects the furious ex-assassin by injecting her with elephant tranquiliser or something equally effectie: Shaw is still asleep by episode end with Reese and Finch a little fearful of waking her.

I’ve dealt with all that first because, despite the clear and obvious danger to Shaw both in media res and in long term as she now has no identity to go to, not to mention Rousseau and Greer becoming aware that Samaritan has in some fashion been blindspotted, this is a minor strand. Because, as we are well aware from last week’s story, the Number of the Week is Carl Elias, targeted by the increasingly impressive Dominic: it is the Brotherhood’s time.

That Reese and Finch will protect Elias to the fullest extent of their abilities is a given. He’s a gang boss, a villain, a murderer many times over, not a man that, on any ordinary scale, is worth saving. Nor does the loose friendship between him and Team Machine tip the balance far enough. But Elias is The Devil You Know. In relative terms, he is Order and The Brotherhood is Chaos. The collateral damage of gang operations will rise exponentially if Dominic takes over, or should I say when?

For Dominic has planned well, and his move against Elias works. He has infiltrated Elias’s men, flipped an unspecified number of them, deprived him of options and escape routes. We watch the noose tighten in a building Elias has led Reese and his Lieitenant Scarface, or Anthony as we learn is his real name. It’s Elias’s failsafe, containing a safe he doesn’t have quite time to open before the guns bark and Anthony is wounded, captured and beaten. Dominic wants the code, but Anthony is loyal unto death to Elias. It wasn’t just the foreknowledge of how the story played out: even first time I sensed what was coming, that the only knowledge and power the safe contained was under Elias’s control. He only gave the code at Anthony’s insistence, both of them, boys who made friends in a juenile detention centre that used to occupy this significant building, chosen by Elias, loyal to one another, knowing what the code meant.

Morior Invictus, Anthony said, Death before Defeat, or I Die Undefeated, the last words he spoke before the bomb that was the safe blew out the top two floors of the building and killed everyone there, but not Dominic or his Lieutenant, Linc, who received a warning from Anthony about finding himself in a chair like his.

Reese gets Elias away. He’s still a target but he has his men. And he has another Lieutenant, his accountant, Bruce Moran (James Le Gros).Bruce appeared at the beginning and end, the end revealing that he too came from that same juvenile detention centre, that the two that were Carl and Anthony were a three with Bruce. They were Elias’s friends.

And Elias phones Harold, to thank him for his help. Enrico Colantoni is never less than excellent as Elias, presenting the inevirable weoght of the character in his calmness and collectedness. In this episode, he is magnificent, carrying the emotion of the moment, the commiment to his friends and especially that one he is forced to sacrifice for the confusion of his enemies.

And in the final moment he warns Harold Finch, and by extension Reese and Shaw, that he will settle accounts with Dominic, and, letting roughness into his voice for the first time since he was introduced in season 1, warning them that they had better not stand in his way. He too has a Latin tag to speak, though only to himself. Invictus Maneo: I Remain Unbeaten. Death and Life and victory in both.

In such a superb episode, I hate to mention a flaw, but the writing slipped into melodrama as Finch relates to the audience that things have changed yet again, with Shaw’s exposure and Elias’s removal: their world has gotten more dangerous. Didn’t need that, we know that it’s getting worse as we go, we don’t need so blatant a needle: how many times so far has it gotten more dangerous? Sometimes you don’t need to cry wolf, especially when you can feel its breath on your neck.

One final thing: some of you may have noticed that Shaw spent most of the episode wearing a clunky, chunky, figure obscuring long jacket. There’s a reason for that. In two weeks time, I’ll explain for you newcomers what that meant: you are on your honour not to look it up.

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 e01 – Liberty

Whatever else you might think, this is going to be fun

Back when I was breezing through Person of Interest at a rate of knots, I was simultaneously checking the reviews at ‘Liberty’ kick-starts season 3 by reverting to the primarily Number of the Week format, in this case Petty Officer Jack Salazar (Ray Valentin), enjoying shore leave with his buddy R.J. Philips (Alano Miller), unaware that R.J. has stolen some uncut diamonds at their recent encounter with Somali pirates and that a team of ex-Devildogs (Marines) want them back. I had fun with the episode and disagreed with the review that took it down. Now, watching with my brain on, I’m inclining more to the views of the idiot at

After the events that closed out season 2, a straightforward Number episode does become a little mechanical, lacking any long-term significance. This was the feeling that prevailed, watching it today, though that’s unfair to the show. Taking Salazar’s story on its own, it provided an unexpected insight into one of our main characters. John Reese recognised someone in Jack, a good guy who tries to avoid trouble but who’s willing to act decisively and efficiently if it comes, a guy who could go far, both in the Navy and beyond. In short, a guy like John Reese, whose military career began in court, with a choice between jail-time, or five years in the military.

That’s how Reese started. And he can foresee a similar story for Jack, if he re-ups with the Navy. Just one piece of advice for him: when the CIA  come to recruit him, say No.

But what ‘Liberty’ was really about was a soft reboot of the series. All of its core components have been reset, and this was about re-introducing us to the new realities. The Machine has disappeared, whereabouts unknown, but it is still providing Numbers to Finch. Who now has a second operative in Sameen Shaw, who is a bit less co-operative, refusing to be contactable between jobs, openly sarcastic about Finch’s stricture against killing people, or even shooting them come to that. Shaw’s working with Reese is a whole new dynamic and it doesn’t hurt that even when she dresses down for operations, she looks shit-hot, as we used to say in my teens and twenties.

And there’s Carter. Joss has been busted down to Officer again, but she’s refusing to knuckle under and leave the Police. She is a cop. Fusco’s openly sympathetic, telling her everyone knows she was set-up. She’ll still do her job, ten more years until she gets her twenty-year pension. And she’s still there to assist Reese and Finch, who will have her back as well if she asks.

But Carter is keeping her cards close to her chest and one of these is that she has installed Carl Elias underground, in a basement, keeping a low profile and supplying her with information. It’s keeping him alive. It’s also earned the gratitude of Scarface. Elias offers to wipe out HR for her, but Carter refuses. She’s still a cop. And as a cop, she’s going after HR herself. Carter will get her revenge first hand.

And lastly there’s Root. With this episode, both Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker join the cast, and are well-deserved additions. Root is still drifting around her sanatorium, having regular sessions with her psychiatrist, Dr Carmichael (Bruce Altman). Carmichael is clever but condescending, humours Root’s stories of speaking to a Higher Power, thinks he can remove all electronic communication from her and she’ll thank him.

But Root is in communicationwith the Machine. She is now its Analog Interface, whatever that may turn out to be. And when it comes to truth, she knows far too much about Carmichael for his comfort. She’s having an argument with the Machine over whether she kills him or not.

So, these are the new ground rules, the reset for season 3. And there’s a disappointingly unsubtle prediction from Finch about fearing things are about to get complicated. Soft reboot. A simple Number story. Just a lull, a calm before the storm. Because things are going to get very complicated indeed over the next 22 episodes…

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 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 e04 – Triggerman

Love in the Mob

I was looking for a simple episode of Person of Interest to accommodate a need for simple thoughts and, so far as any such episode may be regarded as simple, I was rewarded. We’re still early in season 2, the calm after the storm of Finch’s kidnapping, here linked in the still extant concerns Finch has about going outside the Library, and his adopting Root’s definition of humanity as Bad Code, to refer to the Number of theWeek, Riley Cavanaugh.

The episode begins in media res. Reese is observing Cavanaugh (guest appearance by Jonathan Tucker). The Number is a stone-cold killer, an enforcer for the relatively small-time mob boss George Massey (Kevin Conway). He’s an obvious choice for a perpetrator, but in this instance he’s a victim: Massey suspects him of something he doesn’t like, and sends his son Eddie to kill Riley.

And also to kill Annie Delaney (Liza J Bennett). Annie’s the hostess in an upmarket restaurant that pays to George. She seems to have attracted George’s attention, probably because she’s an attractive wide-mouthed dark-haired woman. She’s also the widow of one of George’s men, Sean, killed nine months ago. Annie had a lot higher opinion of her late husband than George appears to (‘degenerate gambler’) but then George is a man of firm opinions, all of them centred on the gratitude and respect due to him for, well, for being George essentially. He sends Riley to make Annie disappear and Eddie to make Riley disappear.

This is because Riley and Annie have fallen in love, and he is protecing her, and the two of them having the lack of respect to not tell George, when they know George has a thing for her, which is an affront that a petty tyrant like George cannot take. George, George, George, George, the man cannot have his ego flattered enough.

Once the tide turns, and Riley kills Eddie before Eddie can kill him, Reese has to protect a killer. Finch is not sympathetic and neither is Carter. Both see only the callous killer, and who’s to say they’re wrong? John Reese sees other things. He sees Annie, the innocent dragged into this, not a Number herself (why didn’t the Machine pick up both? A logical slip overlooked for the sake of the story), but who needs to be protected. He sees that Riley is, truly, in love with Annie, who brings out that spark of decency in the triggerman, for no-one is simply one thing, and we are all multitudes. And he sees the trained killer with the eye of a trained killer: John and Riley may be chalk and cheese, but they will understand each other better than any outsider can understand either.

But this is too simple for Person of Interest: there is a twist. Sean Delaney wasn’t killed for getting caught in Russian Mob territory, he was stealing, and he was stealing from George, skimming off the take. George had him killed, and it set-up to look like the Russians. The killer was Riley.

He was supposed to keep an eye on Annie, told her to call him if she needed anything. He was reliable (if useless with water-heaters!), he never let her down. The outcome was inevitable. Riley has never told her he killed her husband.

And he never intended to get out with her. Despite her refusal to leave him, Sean always meant to send her alone. He knew what he was – the Bad Code that Finch calls him – but she was the best thing ever to happen to him. So the ending was inevitable: Annie is taken to George, who’s on the point of telling her Riley’s secret when the triggerman and Reese, now working together, conduct a raid. Shots come from all directions. Reese gets Annie out. Riley doesn’t make it. But he kills George: Father like son.

At the end, Reese queries Finch’s use of the term Bad Code. Without disclosing that it came from Root, Finch repeats its definition in computer terms but says it doesn’tapply to humans: humans can change, can grow, can repair themselves. The reference to Riley is clear.

This was an almost entirely self-contained episode, in regards to the deeper concerns that have been building up over the last few episodes, but there were a couple of returns, laying trails for what is to come. The first of these was Detective Szymanski (Michael McGlone), returned to duty after being gut-shot last season.

But of greater significance was the appearance in the guest star list of Enrico Colantoni, of Carl Elias. George has put a bounty out on Riley and Annie, Finch (as Harold Crane) visits him in prison to request a favour. Elias might be in prison but he retains control of his empire. He’s intrigued to meet John’s ‘boss’. He puts the word out, but there is a price. Elias has had the need for possessions and material things stripped from him. He has time to think. He plays chess, but no-one in prison can give him a good game. Harold ‘Crane’ can…

Person of Interest: s01 e19 – Flesh and Blood

The other team

Though there are still four episodes before the end of season 1, this is the principal climax of Person of Interest‘s first year. After weeks of slow, careful build-up, it takes most of the underlying themes of the programme and interweaves them into a stunning story with an awesome overturning at the ending.

Back in episode 7, we were introduced to mild-mannered schoolteacher Charlie Burton, witness to a shooting and a Number requiring protection. He turned out to be Carl Elias, a name foreshadowed even earlier, in episode 3. Elias was the bastard son of Mafia boss Gianni Moretti, his mother killed, set on revenge and taking over the Five Families. Today’s the day his plan reaches its culmination. Today’s the day Messrs Finch and Reese receive five Numbers. Each one is a Boss.

John’s in favour of letting rats kill each other. Harold has a higher standard in mind, not to mention avoiding the inevitable collateral damage. Carter’s determined to get the Bosses into Police Protection. Fusco’s under orders from HR to find everything he can on the Man in a Suit, then go sick to keep out of it.

Nobody does what’s expected of them. Carter’s still not answering Reese’s calls, until, that is, he saves her life when her Police back-up melts into the darkness of the City. Fusco partners up, the only cop Carter knows she can trust, even after one of the Bosses figures him for a dirty guy. John’s services fail to save two Numbers, but Carter’s come back to their side. Even before Elias kidnaps her son, as a counterbalance against her protecting the Dons.

Everything’s turning inwards, and at the centre is Elias. I can’t tell you just how good Enrico Colantoni has been in this part: calm, collected, controlling. He hasn’t been angry because he hasn’t needed to. His triumph is inevitable, he believes. He has planned, studied, understood, foreseen. He knows he is the future, and he knows how to get there. But his thoughtful planning has over-reached.

The kidnapping of Taylor Carter is just a strand in a pattern: Elias has killers watching the families of HR men, securing a coercive control. Harold takes the calculated risk of approaching Officer Simmons and exposing this: he demands HR sever their ties.

And when Elias breaks through into the safe house donated by Harold, he finds his insider among the Dons dead, killed by Carter when he tried to turn. And she and Fussco have guns on him. Elias is taken down, like that.

Arrest, fingerprinting, imprisonment, all taken in that calm, accepting manner that tells us Elias still has more power than you might think from a guy in his situation, that he has already factored this setback into his plans as no more than a setback. It isn’t over.

But it is for Don Gianni Moretti and his son Johnny. One farewell call, on a phone borrowed from a complaisant guard, and a car bomb: that’s four out of five Numbers lost not Reese and Finch’s usual average.

So, with four episodes left, we undergo a massive reset. Not that we don’t have other concerns, both of the present and the past, still occupying us. To which we’ll come next Tuesday morning.

Person of Interest: s01 e17 – Baby Blue

One of the things about a procedural is that, most of the time, the episodes are discrete and things reset between stories. Already we’ve seen that that’s not so with Person of Interest, that the procedural aspect, though it mostly dominates in season 1, nevertheless takes place against an advancing background. That where we are at theend of an episode can be a completely different place from where we began. This was very much the case in ‘Baby Blue’.

First, the episode teased a direction that proved only to be a side-story, but oine that was thoroughly wrapped up into that of the Number of the Week. Mob boss Gianni Moretti is released from prison. His son, Carl Elias, aspiring to be the boss of organised crime in New York, is looking to, ah, meet him. Carter’s offering protective custody in exchange for information that will bring Elias down. She and John have to rescue Moretti from Elias’s meet-and-greet: they spirit him off to a safe house known only to them and Detective Szymansky.

An effective beginning to a story, but PoI isn’t aboout to go down the conventional route. Reese has Moretti’s Number, but Finch has another Number, that of Leila West. It’s only two months old: is it identity theft? is it a new citizen? Neither. It’s a two month old baby (and seriously cute with it), abandoned outside a hospital. And a target for kidnapping and disappearance and almost certain death. To preserve little Leila in the extremely short term, Finch has to steal her.

Leila’s story is a sordid one, of privilege that believes it can buy what it wants. Her mother, Celia Cruz, a beautiful young twenty-year old, was a receptionist with Petrosian Industries until eight months ago, had been seen with Adnan Petrosian’s twenty-year old son, Bradley. And she died in an ‘accidental’ fire four days ago.

Q.E.D? Again no: Bradley’s tastes run in other streams: Leila’s father is Adnan himself, but Celia’s murderer is actually Bradley’s mother, Nicola, the most determined to ‘protect’ their family by doing the shitty thing and thinking she’s tough-minded.

Carter knows Reese and Finch have Leila and she’s absolutely horrified, but she’s reluctantly letting them do things their way, dubious though she is. And she has the right of it: en route to place Leila with her grandparents, the baby is taken. And this is where the two sides of the episode smash head-on into each other and it all starts to go badly wrong.

HR, via Officer Simmons, wants Moretti’s whereabouts for Elias, and they want Fusco, as Carter’s partner, to find him. Which Fusco does, exceptthat he conceals this knowledge from Simmons. No, the betrayer of Moretti, of Carter, is John Reese.

It’s what Anthony Trollope always worked into his novels, somewhere: one cannot touch pitch without oneself being defiled. Having lost Leila, Reese appeals for help to Elias, pitching it as the establishment of rules over Elias’ forthcoming domain. He’s given the meeting place and time, intervenes, saves the baby. But Elias reneges, or rather he’s planned for this. John and Leila are locked into a refigeration truck,with a baby monitor. Just as soon as John gives up Moretti’s whereabouts, they’ll be released.

Baby Leila is the lever. John can hold out, but not her. So he calls Elias, and gives Moretti up. Once he gets out, he calls Carter, who calls Szymansky, he heads for the safehouse himself. But they get there to find Szymansky shot through the abdomen. John confesses what he’s done. For Carter, it’s the line. She will tell him to leave before theother cops get here, but she is no longer their ally, will no longer assist them. The ground rules change. Our private vigilantes have been too clever for their own good.

Baby Leila goes to her grandparents. Fusco arrests Nicola Petrosian. Gianni Moretti meets his son. Things have not reset, not this time.

Person of Interest: s01 e16 – Risk

It’s all in the suit…

Almost wholly straight procedural, and almost entirely a two-hander involving our central characters, Mr Reese and Mr Finch, operating under pseudonyms, John as his usual John Rooney cover, now as an asset manager for an anonymous, one might say private, client, and Harold identifying himself at the appropriate moment as Harold Crane (Finch, Wren, Crane: there’s a theme here).

This episode took us into the world of high finance and Wall Street, the Number of the Week being Adam Saunders (Matt Lauria), proprietory trader with securities firm Baylor Zimm. Adam’s a stereotypical Master of the Universe, flash, arrogant, smug, the complete push-‘im-off-a-rooftop deal that you’re all set to loathe and frankly can’t really warm to, exceptthat beneath the high-living, fast-driving, bombastic exterior, Adam’s got where he is not by privilege, but hard work: diligence, research, hard thinking. His abilities are evidenced by a tie-in to episode 6, ‘The Fix’, as Robert Vertannin’s trial comes to a guilty verdict that only Saunders has correctly anticipated, leading to a pefectly legal short-sale that brings the firm – and his boss and secret lover Sydney Baylor (Noelle Beck, who I mention only because she’s good to look at) – a profit of $100,000,000.

But Adam’s been investigated, unsuccessfully, by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Wall Street Watchdog, and inspector Doug Rasmusseen is still harassing him. The thing is, there is something going on, something illegal aimed at making at least $3000,000,000 off an illegal short-sale, only Adam isn’t involved: as a proprietory trader, he only uses the firm’s money, not clients’, and it is actually illegal for him to even look at their money, let alone advise on it.

But Adam was brought up by his Uncle Bob after his mother died and his father was out of the picture. Bob Sowoski’s a fast food van man who, with Adam’s help, has eexpanded from one to six trucks. His money’s with Baylor Zimm, with one of Adam’s friends, a good broker, but he’s getting concerned at how much of it is being tied into energy firm Tritak.

As well he might be. Baylor Zimm haave invested heavily in the company, where no-one else has. Adam’s acted illegally in even looking at the figures and he’s concerned. Something’s going on that doesn’t add up, except it adds up to someone trying to kill Adam.

Which is where John and Harold come in.

Suddenly, it all starts to accelerate. Sydney is murdered and Adam framed. John hides him in the homeless ghetto where he took refuge until the series started. A Fracking Bill unexpectedly passes the New York Senate, ruining Tritak. Stocks tumble, money vanishes. It’s an insider trading deal, a set-up, between Adam’s ‘friend’, Paul Ashton, and… SEC Inspector Doug Rasmussen. And it’s foiled by ‘Harold Crane’ giving Adam the money to start buying heavily into Tritak, sending the share price back up. The short sale relies on buying the shares back at the bottom of the market, but the bottom’s now rising unstoppably.

Enter the Police. Carter’s been on the scene peripherally already but there’s once again no part for Fusco. She’s there to question Paul, but Paul’s on his own. Apparently, Rasmussen’s been found dead in his apartment, suicide, couldn’t face the thought of prison. But he was arrested, alongside Paul?

And that’s when the episode stepsaway from being an isolated procedural. Carter views the CCTV footage, homes in on the cop who puts Rasmussen in a car, who talks on a mobile phone and dumps it in the trash. the cop’s got a scar on his face, makes it look like he’s smiling. We recognise him, oh yes, we recognise him.

And Carter brings the phone to John, who rings it. A man on a New York street, who wanted$300,000,000 to fnd something big and important, answers it cheerfully. “Hello, John,” says Carl Elias. “It’s been a long time…”


Person of Interest: s01 e09 – Get Carter

Divide and Conquer

This latest Person of Interest broke somewhat with the format to provide an episode that went a little deeper into the gradually deepening interplay of forces in competition. There was a Number of the Week, of course, but that Number was too close to home, and comfort: Detective Joss Carter.

First, however, was a brief flashback, to which we returned at intervals. It’s Afghanistan, it’s 2004, and a fruit and vegetable deliverer is being interrogated over delivering suicide vests. The interrogator is Carter, Military Intelligence.

In 2012, Carter is busily engaged in bringing down killers. There’s Hector Alvarez, who’s gunned down a kid who spoketo the Police six months ago. There’s Eddie Kovacs, wife-beater, where Carter’s doing her damnedest to keep his wife from being a murder victim, with no co-operation from the frightened woman.

And there’s Elias.

Carter’s digging too closely into Elias. The DNS tests prove he’s the son of Don Ginanni Moreti and Marlene Elias, but the Don, old and unperturbed in prison, still won’t admit it. The word is out. Carter’s too good, too honest. She has too many enemies, inside and out. Fusco goes back to his old Precinct, speaks tp his old Captain. Killing a cop requires permission, permission from an internal gang of dirty cops, the kind Lionel was: Permission granted.

It’s going to be made to look clean: in the line of duty. Which gives John Reese two problems. This one isn’t just a number. She’s someone he knows, and who he respects and admires. She’s standing up to do good and protect people, and she’s been doing it long before Finch and Reese started up their project: there are some people the world can’t afford to lose.

But Carter is also a good cop determined on tracking down, arresting and stopping the Man in the Suit. Reese has to follow her everywhere, close enough to intervene but not close enough to be seen or arrested.

Along the way, we learn a lot more about Carter. We learn she’s a single mother with a teenage son, Tyler. We learn she’s lost someone close when she was in Afghanistan, a husband, we’re led to think, when Finch finds a photo of a man in uniform tucked into her sun visor. We learn she was a bloody good interrogator, getting a man who would rather be killed by the Americans now than co-operate and have his wife and eight year old son killed in retaliation, to give up the whereabouts ofa minuitions dump.

And we see her break down in fury and despair when her promise to protect the informant is broken by the soldiers who he leads to the dump, and who impliedly execute him: who cares? He was only a guilty raghead.

Reese saves the day in the end. He renders Alverez vulnerable, and Carter arrests him. He keeps Kovacs from killing his wife and gift-wraps him. And he ‘persuades’ Fusco’s old captain to get the permission to kill Carter revoked, stymying Elias (Enrico Colantoni makes a very brief appearance, brazenly delivering commiseration flowers to Carter’s desk).

But there one last left-field threat. Carter’s CI has been digging into Elias, but Elias found him first. He shoots Carter in the chest, twice, before Reese shoots him down. Carter’sok though, she took Reese’s advice to wear a bullet-proof vest. It also looks as if she may be having to do a reassessment of her attitude to her vigilante, even in the face of her war-inspired determination not to let anyone play God.

A very good, very taut stirring ofthe pot that brings a few more of its ingredients nearer to the surface. Damn the wait until next Tuesday.

Person of Interest: s01 e07 – 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.