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, friendczar.com (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’.