Person of Interest: s02 e14 – One Percent

I was expecting this, or something of this ilk, after the last four weeks’ serial story-telling, a one-off, almost inconsequential episode with a high comedic, almost lightweight aspect. We’re not yet at the point where Person of Interest can ignore the conservative instincts of either its Network, or its uncommitted audience.

‘One Percent’ was a straight Number of the Week. In PoI fashion, we were treated to a switch-up: the Number was Logan Pierce, self-made billionare software designer. The parallel to Harold Finch was obvious long before the episode pointed it out, as was the difference between the way the pair behaved, which was not so much difference as gulf.

Pierce may have been brilliant in ever respct, with a quicksilver mind alert to every moment and possibility, based on a family-tragedy background that inculcated his philosophy of embracing change and evolution with both hands because to stand still is to become obsolete and die. As a billionaire, he could afford to be, and was, self-indulgent of his own whims to a degree that only the narcissistic could dream of, and it was a tribute to guest star Jimmi Simpson that he made this utter monster seem likable.

Appropriately to the situation, the threats to Pierce’s life – and you could hardly be surprised that people couldn’t cope with him, only that there were so few – seemed completely trivial. The lawyer whose practice was tied up exclusively in Pierce’s company, (a super souped-up Friends Reunited and doesn’t that sound dinosaur now), whom Pierce intended to ditch and the best friend who feared Pierce as a competitor when his dumping as CEO for his ‘eccentricities’ (Yes Minister did a beautiful ‘irregular verb’ three-liner on that subject) released him from that restriction.

In real life, you’d run a million miles from someone whose attitude was that he could and would do whatever he wanted, when he wanted to, just because he could: well, I would.

But Pierce wasn’t just a superrich brat, he was genuinely smart. In order to protect him, John Reese came out into the open, from which Pierce very rapidly deduced a hell of a lot about the PoI set-up and even conned John sufficiently as to get to meet Harold.

And it was no surprise that Pierce’s parting shot was a  thank you gift to John of a $2,000,000 watch that Finch, in a public park, promptly smashes under his heel – to extract the GPS racker built into it.

That left a hint that Logan Pierce could develop into a longer-term problem, an ongoing strand, but the series chose not to follow up this possible story arc and rightly so. To have done so would have been to develop the hyperactive Pierce into the kind of monster that in real-life he would be, albeit a gadfly of a monster, and there were more serious irons to be added to the fire. Pierce, we would find, a long way from now, was destined for a different future.

Though they took up a very small amount of the episode’s running time, Detectives Carter and Fusco and flashbacks to Harold and Nathan Ingram were more important to the ongoing stories. The first of these saw Carter continuing to investigate the disappearance of Detective Peterson, and connect it to the also-missing Detective Stills and refusing to hear Fusco when he wanted to talk about past ‘mistakes’: she is still first and foremost a cop and he will get no favours there.

But the latter were more important to the series than the season, though the first of these, to 9/11 itself and Nathan bringing the news to Harold, seemed wholly redundant. The second was to 2009: the Machine has just been handed over to the Government, to physically disappear, but Nathan is still concerned over the ‘missed’ opportunity to make a difference over the Numbers, with Harold effectively shutting that off, with an non-cryptic threat about breaking up their partnership.

The third showed Nathan Ingram staking out the home of a woman under threat. As a man starts to follow her, we see him holding a gun.

This is what will be central to what is meant by, ‘more, later’.


Person of Interest: s02 e13 – Dead Reckoning

Look at this man carefully

Here ends, for the moment, Person of Interest‘s first foray into extended storytelling, drawing a line under several story threads that have run through the developing story, and introducing, like a long, deep plunge into cold water, the most important character too the whole of the remaining three and a half series.

To begin with, there’s a flashback to the end of ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’, including Finch’s warning, the crash, the execution of Special Agent Donnelly and Kara Stanton injecting John Reese prior to hauling him away. The episode picks up directly from there, with Joss Carter coming round and, against all her instincts but at Finch’s urgings, fleeing the scene.

From there on in, the episode maintains an acute level of tension throughout. Reese surfaces from his doping to find himself on a bus, with Stanton and Mark Snow. Like the latter, he now wears a bomb vest to keep him under control. He and Snow rendezvous with some highly speecialised criminals who have built a very intriguing hard drive to Stanton’s specifications (and who end up dead when, and we’ll have to refer this one to the Cliche Drawer, they decide to up their price  significantly at the last moment).

Reese and Snow then steal a car beloning to two ATF men (bomb disposal experts) and are directed by Stanton to a 21 story building currently being evacuated for a bomb threat. The 21st story is a very secure Department of Defence cyber warfare facility. It appears Stanton wants something stolen from there, probably military grade malware, ‘Cygnus’, which could be used to shut down an entire country’s computer network. It could even shut down the Machine.

Only that’s not the plan. Stanton has manipulated Snow and Reese to clear a path to upload something into the Government network. Something scheduled to activate in five months time (so, given that this episode originally aired in April 2012…)

Meanwhile, Finch, Carter and Fusco are trying to find and rescue Reese. The two Detectives are led to the building Reese and Snow hav invaded and, after 21 flights of stairs, arrive in time to try to save him. Stanton has departed, having completed her mission. Snow has departed, trying to reach a nearby CIA safehouse to get his activated vest removed, though he leaves with Reese’s words that he can never go back: the CIA will regard him as ‘compromised’, all that will await him is a black hood. Snow is too good an agent not to know that all that is true.

Reese won’t let Carter even try to disarm his semtex vest. She has too much to lose, a teenage son. He goes up to the roof, to die alone, but Finch is waiting, refusing to let Reese die. From their very tense beginnings, when neither trusted each other, this pair have forged an intense friendship. Over Reese’s intial refusal to let Finch risk it, he allows Harold to disarm the vest and save his life.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t an explosion, but it’s round the corner. Stanton having got what she wants, the name of the person ultimately responsible for the decision to kill her, gets into her car, making the one slip of her life as a BlackOps agent. Predictably, it kills her. Because Mark Snow, knowing he’s dead anyway, is sat in the back seat of her car. And there are literally only a few seconds before his bomb-vest explodes…

And with the obsessive Donnelly dead, and the persons in the car identified as Stanton and Snow, the FBI decides that Mark Snow is… was… the Man in a Suit. Case closed and a lot of underlying menaces swept away in one fell swoop.


That’s been the spine of the episode. It was beautifully played, without a wasted moment or word, and it drew you in from the first moment, so that you wouldn’t actually notice that there was no Number of the Week, this week. Or at least not formally so: Finch had gathered three books and typed in the Social Security number derived from them. Then he broughtup a picture of Kara Stanton. It was all done unfussily, without distracting from the immediate task of finding Reese. But in retrospect, it’s a subtle nod to the episode’s ending: Kara Stanton was the Number of the Week, and Finch took no steps to divert the fate coming for her.

Only, that’s not all of it. Early on we see the same old familiar flashback to Ordos, to Stanton shooting Reese, his escape and the cruis missile destroying the building. This time, however, it carries on, to Stanton awaking in the rubble, surrounded by Chinese with guns. And then in bed, the only patient in a massive room, with beds down both sides. And a moment of shock for those of us who know what lies ahead.

Stanton is approached by a superficially friendly elderly man, spry, immaculately dressed, wrinkled, with a head of silver hair carefully groomed. He’s played by John Nolan, uncle of Jonathan. He’s not named, but his name is Greer. He’s got the laptop Kara and John were sent to destroy: undamaged. And over her professional training, he brings her onto his side, whatever side that is. Everything she’s done in her Afterlife, has been in fulfillment of a deal struck with Greer, culminating in the introduction of this mystery malware. In return, Greer gives her a name, the person ultimately responsible for the order to kill her, a person who is completely off-grid, 100% untraceable.

Immediately, we think of one person. We don’t get told the name when Greer offers it. We don’t hear it when he tells Stanton, in the last moments of her life. But in the end, after we see John Reese re-united with the delighted Bear, the Machine rolls time back, literally, to the car and the explosion. And to a piece of paper, about to be claimed by flames, with two words on it: Harold Finch.

Greer, and what he represents, is in this moment an enigma. But he’s the Big Bad. HR, Elias, Special Counsel and Hersh, and people we’ve yet to see who have character arcs to drive the story along, and all of them unimportant. It is Greer against which everything will be tested in the episodes to come. We are exactly one-third of the way through Person of Interest, and it is finally revealing its true colours. In its own way, a piece at a time…

Person of Interest: s02 e12 – Prisoner’s Dilemma

Got to show the Number of the Week…

Suddenly, sneakily, Person of Interest has become a serialised show, with an episode that contained a dense, intense central story that drew in several players, exposed an emotional nerve or two, played for laughs in a tongue-in-cheek adherence to the series’ procedural aspect and, just when the audience was mentally settling down for the end of a three-parter, threw in a brand new yet foreshadowed element that took the developing story into unknown territory, abruptly ending one threat whilst thrusting another into the foregound.

We’re still in Ryker’s Island and, more pertinently, so too is John Reese. Special Agent Donnelly is determined to find which of the four men he has in what’s rapidly becoming almost a private custody is the ‘Man in a Suit’. Donnelly’s gone beyond reason, it’s now become a personal obsession, to the extent that, if he succeeds, you wonder what else he could have left. He’s driving, pressing, bombarding Carter with questions to ask as she conducts a round of interrogations with everyone.

Gradually, she gets Reese to open up. Even though it’s as John Warren – a pre-existing ‘clean’ cover that is never used in connection with any of Reese and Finch’s Numbers, and with Finch creating instant background corroboration from anything John says – we still see John Reese’s real thoughts and emotions coming genuinely through, especially with regard to Jessica, and the split between two lives that were available to him at 9/11.

But there are other players coming to the table. Special Counsel receives word of the FBI investigation and sends Hersh in to eliminate all four men, a task Hersh approaches with originality, pulling out a gun in the middle of New York, firing it ito the air, accepting arrest and, you got it, transfer to Ryker’s Island.

We’ve seen only little so far of Boris McGiver as Hersh, but his playing of the killer who is only a shade different from John Reese is a delight to watch. Hersh is straightforward, matter of fact, taciturn, emotionless, to a point where the mere sight of him, standing very still, is almost funny. He gets one man inside Ryker’s and he comes close to John at a vulnerable moment, only for Carl Elias to step in and thwart both Hersh and Donnelly, who is allowing Reese to be beaten up by the Aryans from whom he took Bear early season, trying to prod him into exposing himself by using his combat skills.

Elias likes to help his friends: besides, if he didn’t assist John, Harold would stop attending for their weekly chess games.

Meanwhile, there is a Number of the Week, annd that’s the comic relief. Fusco wants to help get John out. Instead, he gets to protect the Number, a task he resents until he discovers she’s tall, blonde and beautiful. This is supermodel Karolina Kurkova, playing herself as a target of the Armenians, who want her dead. She and Fusco go on a helter-skelter flight from gun-toting gangs and she’s grateful enough for his saving her life to give him a farewell kiss and ask him to call her, but these are just brief inserts of a Meanwhile… nature, a self-consciously jokey solution to fitting in a Number, with no continuity, or motive. It’s hilarious.

And, for the first time in some time, we have flashbacks, to Agents Kara Stanton and John Reese acting as killers, of people identified by the Machine doing its formal duty. Prague, Paris, with Stanton provoking and teaching Reese his job, trying to hone away the Nice Guy aspect of his personality to leave only the Killer.

Then we reach a high-speed precis of the Ordos mission, the full import of which has yet to be revealed, the orders to ‘retire’ each other and Stanton’s apparent death. But we know she survived, and she currentky has Mark Snow trapped in a suicide vest.

But the central theme of the story was the interrogations. Gradually, the still centre of the case rests upon ‘John Warren’. It’s getting very serious. Finch is planning an escape, even weilding ome form of gun, but Carter comes to the fore. Warren is clean, but the more and more this is proved, the more and more suspicious Donnelly becomes. Eventually, Carter erupts in a fit of righteous fury, catches out the only other option in a contradiction and hands him over as the ‘Man in a Suit’.

It’s done. John’s released. He meets Carter, thanks her. But they are interrupted by Donnelly, whose all-emcompassing paranoia has, perversely, enabled him to see the truth. He’s alone, no back-ups (can’t trust anybody). He gets them into handcuffs, intoa car, heading for a safe house.

Finch is heading to the rescue, but he is interrupted by the Machine, delivering a new Number. He tries to ignore it but the Machine is insistent. Back to the Library, he lines up the key words, reads off the numbers that identify the Social Securiity Number. The newest Number is Agent Donnelly. Finch phones him, tries to warn him, butDonnelly’s car is smashed off the road by a truck broadsiding it. The truck’s driver approaches calmly, executes Donnelly with two shots from a very familiar looking gun, familiar, that is, from the flashbacks. It’s Kara Stanton. She injects John in the neck and takes him with her.

So the three-parter, though a three-parter, becomes a four-parter as a prelude to the series’ wish to bring its underlying mythos from background to foreground. Person of Interest is changing shape, right before our eyes. And without sacrificing detail or, nominally at least, its procedural basis either.

Read, so to speak, on.

Person of Interest: s02 e11 – 2 Pi R

Subsitute teacher

When one of your two principals, the first named cast member, is arrested by the FBI at the end of the last episode, making him vulnerable to imprisonment and probable surreptitious execution, you would normally expect the resolution of that situation to be the primary focus of this week’s episode.

But this is Person of Interest we’re talking about. Getting Reeese out of custody in Ryker’s Island was relegated to the B story, with Jim Caviezel off screen for ninety percent of the time, given only a couple of lines of dialogue and invited to put his feet up.

The show and its cast at this stage is based upon two pairings, Reese-Finch and Carter-Fusco, each with its primary/secondary polarity. Carter is assigned the task of supporting Reese, which means that she too is offscreen a large part of the time: glamming up (very nicely) to attract a random dude and get his DNA, breaking into the Police lab to switch that for Reese’s sample.

So the episode plays up its secondaries, tackling a Number of the Week without the support of either figurehead. As a further twist, of which the story had plenty, the Number, seventeen year old High School kid Caleb Phipps (Luke Kleintank), a genius level kid hiding his light under the bushel of a rigidly maintained C-level output, was Victim and Perpetrator in one body, his intent being suicide.

Caleb’s story was an unravelling mystery of motive and intent, the episode setting up a string of red herrings that it rapidly kicked into the bushes. Along the way, Caleb featured briefly as a drugs dealer, which brought him to the threatened leg-breaking attention of the area’s real kingpin, Lorenzo, who was predictably proprietorial about ‘his’ customers. And his computer teacher Chris Beckman (Luke Kirby) looked to be ripping off Caleb’s coding and selling it for lots of money.

But it was all smokescreen. Caleb’s motivation stemmed from the incident the Machine pulled from its Archives at the start of the show, a radio report called in by a subway train driver who’d hit someone on the track, a kid. The kid was Ryan Phipps, Caleb’s older brother, aged 17 years, 6 months and 21 days. 17-6-21 was the name of Caleb’s project, which was to raise a shitload of money to be placed in a Trust Fund to look after his mother, who was drinking herselfto sleep every night. And 17 years, 6 months and 21 days was going to be Caleb’s age very very soon.

The smokescreens dissolved. Beckman was only acting as front man, promised half the profits but intent on taking none. The obviously falsified report from the transit cop who attended Ryan’s death wasn’t concealing that Ryan had been pushed, but rather that two brothers, full of drink, had dared each other over how many times they could cross the track before the train come and Ryan had been hit and Caleb had blamed himself for that and his mother’s disintegration.

So he was going to kill himself, throw himself under a subway train, from the same platform, at exactly the same age. It’s left to Finch to talk him down, using the concept of Pi, the ration between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, Pi, the forever number, never repeating, never ending, containing, like the world, everything in it that there can ever be, but without one digit from it, there cannot be a circle. Caleb’s mother doesn’t need money, she needs to not lose her other son as well.

There’s no violence in the episode, just thought and emotion, and it worked on its own, with Michael Emerson, who we already know is brilliant, and Kevin Chapman getting the chance to shine. I’ve read that because of the nature of his role, Jim Caviezel suffered from exhaustion making Person of Interest so I’m assuming this episode was in part designed to give him a breather, but it’s a superb episode in its own light, demonstrating the flexibility of the series within its procedural aspect.

As for our friend in Rykers, the seventy-two hours is up, thanks to Carter there’s no evidence, and the four arrestees are going to be released. But you don’t think it’s going to end that anti-climactically, do you? Enter Special Agent Donnelly, having secured Unacknowledged Combatant status for the four men, in effect converting Rykers Island into Guantanamo Bay.

The rules are changed. Donnelly knows something’s been tampered with. He has only one person he can trust, ex-military intelligence, senior interrogator, whio’s going to interrogate all four and find the Man in the Suit: Detective Joss Carter.

Tune in next week: this one’s a three-parter…

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 e08 – Til Death

Marriage guidance…

Would you believe that a high-concept, high-tempo, action-thriller procedural could successfully tell a story about love? The evidence is here in the latest episode of this Person of Interest re-watch, one of which is a moment of fate, moving someone’s life off the trajectory it occupies, towards a destiny impossible to suspect from here.

The episode began with a flashback to 2006, picking up on the last flashback two weeks back. Harold has begun to see Grace Hendricks. They talk in a bar, halfway between a confident surface and a nervous interior, sharing thoughts and experiences, far more than we’d ever expect to see from the seclusive Harold. The flashbacks will multiply, show us more of their courtship, ending with thir first kiss. Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston bring to these scenes a depth of emotion that is more than acting, being married in real life.

That first flashback cuts back to 2012, and Harold walking Bear in the Park, the one just outside Grace’s home. He keeps his self-imposed distance as she descends her steps and sets off to where she intends to paint. There’s a moment of simple symbolism as a payphone rings, delivering a new Number: by the time Harold can re-direct his attention to Grace’s progess, she is gone.

The Number is the second love story, though that should be Numbers, two of them, Daniel and Sabrina Drake (Mark Pellegrino and Francie Swift), husband and wife, of differing backgrounds, rich, joint CEOs  of a small but successful Publishing Company facing a buy-out offer. The Drake’s are divided on how to respond to this offer: he, take the money and run, she, fight to retain control.

There’s an obvious external threat to the Drakes, but this is the red herring. The twist in the procedural is that Daniel’s hired a killer to off Sabrina and Sabrina’s hired a killer to off Daniel. We should have known: after all, they bicker all the time only it’s not bickering. This is a couple in whom love has turned to hatred (the second flashback involves Nathan Ingram, reading the reason for Harold’s inner glow, but relating an awfully painful account of meeting his ex-wife, at a wedding, for the first time since their settlement, and concluding that there is a thing worse than love turned to hate, and that is love turned to indifference. He’s right, you know).

Lamenting that the Drake’s couldn’t just have gone to marriage counselling, and rejecting Harold’s suggesion that they let them get on with it and go help someone deserving, John needs to devise a solution that not only stops this over-privileged pair from killing each other today but stops them wanting to kill each other tomorrow. The violence part is easy to accomplish, but John procures the other by locking Danny and Sabrina into a larder and leaving them with nothing to do but talk: overdue talk about a miscarriage, about misunderstood motives, about silences in which the wrong words form in mistaken minds and a narrative based on what people resent instead of what they really mean slowly firms into what we’ve seen.

The Drakes are last seen getting arrested, each defending each other, summoning high-power lawyers: a short sentence and a long renaissance of the love that was always there, re-exposed to the light. A bit simple, a bit optimistic, but the ending we wanted and beautifully performed.

These do not exhaust the stories on hand. Fusco’s getting shifty refusing to answer John’s calls, something’s going on. Indeed it is: Fusco has a date, a blind date with Rhonda (Tricia Paoluccio), an attractive but not spectacular woman who, wenttheir dinnr is disrupted by a summons to work (from Finch), comes along and has a great time. It ends with a goodnight kiss. But it ends: Rhonda never returns.

Detective Cal Beacher (Sterling K Brown) does. Thus begins a momentum none of us can foresee. Ironically, it’s Harold who starts things, who is the pebble, sending Carter to Beacher for information on the cheaper of the would-be assassins. Beacher likes the look of Carter. She owes him one. Normally, he’d ask for a bottle of liquor, but in this case he’d like a date. So too would Carter. Threads, streaming out into the future. Love. The lack of it. Kisses that begin things, kisses that end things. Talk is cheaper than assassins. Grace Hendricks and Harold Finch, on their way to tragedy.

Love is such a small word for something that is so vast/for in it lies the future, the present and the past (c) Alan Hull.