Person of Interest
Episode 12: Prisoner's Dilemma
By: Carlos Uribe
Person of Interest is a drama about preventing planned crimes before they happen.
The episode starts with Carter interrogating Reese. The last episode had largely put Donnelly's quest to find out which man he arrested was the one he was actually looking for but this episode it puts it to the forefront. The evidence he had has been tampered with so he decided that he's going to have Carter interrogate the men he has arrested. Carter and Finch go to incredible lengths to ensure that John's cover story holds. Finch even has an entire office set up where they all pretend that Carter is an executive there. It was all a part of a cover story that is remarkably close to Reese's life. This is because a lie that is close to the truth is easier to trick people with than one that is farther from reality. The characters also try to frame the other men into being the man in the suit. They believe they are able to do this at the end but Donelly is able to figure out. He arrests Carter and Reese. This would have been a fine cliff-hanger to end the episode on but then something came up. The machine spits out Donnelly's social security number. The cliff-hanger at this point would have been exciting but the series wasn't done. It decides to ramp things up by actually killing Donnelly off and having Kara capture Reese and possibly Carter. That's our cliff-hanger: a pretty amazing one but we'll talk about a bit later. Let's talk about what happened for most of the episode.
The characters kept underestimating just how paranoid Donnelly had gotten. Every time they made a move that should have cleared Reese, Donnelly managed to figure out and stay a move ahead of them. They set up a huge office so Donnelly decides that this is just a part of a huge cover. They manage to get one of the men captured to point the finger at another mercenary but Donnelly figures out that someone got to him. He sets up a test where Reese is left in a prison yard alone with prisoners who want to beat him up only to have Reese refuse to defend himself but Donnelly realizes that Carter actually cares about the guy. No matter what they did, Donelly was able to keep his sights on the right man. It's not necessarily that Donnelly was smarter than them but because he realized the world he was in and adapted to it. He had figured out that Reese worked for a guy who could manipulate government documents and set up deep covers. With this knowledge, he was able to figure out there was a mole and basically figure out the truth. It should be noted that this required him to take leaps that most law enforcement officers wouldn't have made because the logical process that led him from one point to another requires a certain sense of paranoia. This investigation was simply thrilling to watch and perfectly handled from one point to the other.
Th investigation allowed the show to ensure that Donnelly never became incompetent. In shows where a character is one the run, the person chasing him or her can often be inadvertently turned into a character who isn't very good at his job by his basic failure to catch the protagonist. This weakens the effectiveness of the pursuer as they become more of a joke than a credible threat. That Donnelly is able to actually figure out who the man in suit is and capture him is a feat that allows him to remain a dangerous opponent. Of course, the show can't function if Reese is sentenced for his crimes so something had to happen to set him free. This something is Donnelly dying and Kara capturing him at the end of the episode. It's an effective cliff-hanger but it's one that the series foreshadows with the constant flashbacks to when she and Reese were partners. It manages to hint at the ending without actually giving it away too soon. Overall, the main plot was thrilling and exciting while ensuring that Donnelly remained a worthy antagonist to our characters.
While the main plot was all about freeing Reese from Donnelly's arrest, there was a weekly person of interest case at the same time. This time it was a model and only one person protected her. That person being Fusco. We don't really get a fully developed plot here but rather snippets of what would have been a pretty awesome episode in it's own right. The small pieces we get seem to indicate that the plot became some kind of cliché action movie only with Fusco as the male lead. He meets the model only be peppersprayed, finds out about her problem, tries to help her, gets involved in a shooutout where “only one can make it out alive”, and ends with Fusco getting a kiss from the model. It was a great sub-plot that allowed the show to inject some necessary comic relief into an otherwise completely serious episode.
Prisoner's Dilemma is an excellent episode of Person of Interest. The main plot was as strong as it was entertaining and exciting to watch unfold. The cliff-hanger made me angry that this is the last episode of Person of Interest that we're getting for a couple of weeks because I want to know what happens next. The Fusco sub-plot was simply comedic gold that's genius in that it allows a huge part of it to be developed in the imagination of the viewer. Overall one of the best episodes this show has managed to do.
Also nice Elias appearance and did I mention a great cameo from the guy whom Reese took the dog from?