Sunday, February 3, 2013

Person of Interest

Person of Interest
Episode 13: Dead Reckoning
By: Carlos Uribe

Person of Interest is a drama about preventing planned crimes before they happen.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The last episode had ended with Stanton killing Agent Donnelly and kidnapping Reese. It was a pretty effective cliff-hanger that takes a whole episode to resolve. This is an episode that largely closes out a significant plot-line, kills of two major recurring characters, while hinting at a new sub-plot through the flashbacks. To state that this was a busy episode is an understatement. It makes sense that there wasn't a number this week as the show picks up immediately after the cliff-hanger. Donnelly obviously remains dead but Carter has to do her best to get out of there before the police survive. She gets to spend most of the episode in the sidelines as she's always right behind Reese until the very end. When she finally does catch up with him, she's turned away because it's too dangerous for her to be there. This is because Stanton has put one of those chest bombs on Reese. She has a mission where she needs both Snow and Reese to break into a Department of Defense secret base so that she can inject some kind of malware into the system. There might not have been a weekly person of interest per se because it was Stanton. She was the perpetrator and the episode was about trying to stop her. Reese is trying to undermine her while trying to stop himself from blowing up while the rest of the team rushes to try and stop her. This makes for an entertaining episode with a lot of tension. They manage to partially succeed. Reese doesn't blow up by the end but the malware does go into the government's computer system. Finch warns us that it's going to strike within five months-just in time for the season finale. Dead Reckoning is one of the best episodes of Person of Interest as it's filled with action and some pretty great character moments.

So what is the new sub-plot? It has to do with Stanton's flashbacks. We go back to the time where she survived the attack. She was taken to a nearby Chinese hospital where she slowly gets recruited into an organization by a well-dressed man. It's a pity they couldn't have gotten Michael Caine to play the role because it felt written specifically for him. The actor who played him, the uncle of creator Jonathan Nolan, did a perfectly good job with it so I guess I shouldn't complain. This boss knows that he's never going to win Stanton over by promising money so he decides that he'll provide an answer as repayment. If she's able to accomplish his mission, he'll tell her the name of the person who had sold the laptop to the Chinese in the first place. She does get the name at the end of the episode but it's someone whose not in any database. That name is Harold Finch. This creates a whole bunch of questions about his past that future episodes will certainly explore. It's a chilling ending when we see his name burn up with the wreckage of the car explosion. These flashbacks show not only that Stanton had a plan all along but it introduced a new organization who just infected government systems with malware. I'm pretty excited about this story for multiple reasons. The first is that it's the perfect excuse to bring Root back into the show as she's one of the great antagonists the show has. The second is the idea is that this show works really well with a shady conspiracy group out there. The final reason is because the malware program allows the show to introduce a threat that is ticking down. There's nothing that increase tension like a ticking time bomb...or in this case, program. I was pretty excited about going into this episode but I leave it even more excited to see where the writers are planning to go.

It helps that the ending came with a surprise twist that killed two characters. Snow's chest was ticking down until he blew up and he realized he wouldn't be able to get out of it. His solution was to get into Stanton's car and blow her up with him. It's a character decision that really surprised me. Killing Snow off would have made sense within the plot and it would have been a pretty big deal. He has been a major recurring character since the first season but it made sense he had to die. His role in the show was practically done. The agency wasn't going to allow him back in and Stanton was no longer controlling him. This didn't mean I was necessarily expecting him to die but at least it was in the realm of possibility. What I didn't see was that he would take down Stanton with him. It manages to redeem Snow a bit as he goes out a hero from the perspective of the viewer. Stanton's death might have completely caught me as a surprise but it also made sense because her role was up. She had completed her mission and the organization no longer had any way to entice her to do their will. Her only purpose would have been to dig for Finch's identity but that would have been difficult for the character. It probably didn't hurt that the actress is now busy on The Following. Stanton was a great villain but her time has now passed as we move on to the real bad guys.

The major plot that was wrapped up had to do with the FBI. They've been investigating the “man in the suit” for a while now and Donelly was their lead agent on the case. They don't know Donelly had arrested but they do their best to investigate. They don't really find Reese but they do find a “man in the suit” to rest the blame on. They decide they have found their culprit in Snow and the investigation is now formally closed. The FBI is no longer on the trail. This is a bit disappointing because this show can be a lot of fun when the protagonists are trying to escape the authorities but it makes sense that the writers didn't want to make the FBI look incompetent by having their investigation last too long. It also helps that the show already has a new agency to serve as recurring antagonists. We may not know much about this organization but it's not going to be long before they cross paths with our heroes. The FBI are removed from the picture, at least for now, but it was the right step for the show to take in order to keep things fresh and moving.

It should also be noted that the ending was a pretty powerful one when it comes to character. Finch's name might have been on the piece of paper, the FBI plot has been resolved, and two characters died but the point I'll remember the most has to do with Reese. The bomb on his chest has been activated and he pushes Carter and Finch away. He heads to the roof so that there is no chance of the explosion hurting anyone. The one person who comes to his aid is Finch. Finch is able to talk him into allowing him to disarm the bomb in one very tense scene. Reese's actions and the look on his eye help to betray him as a human being rather than the usual baddass killing machine he often comes across as. The ending when Bear is excited to see him is basically a perfect moment as he can't help but smile. Allowing the tough exterior of Reese to crack just a tiny bit really elevated the episode from just having a great plot to having heart.

Dead Reckoning was a fun action-packed episode of Person of Interest. It moved the involved plots at a brisk pace. It seemed a bit rushed at points but that's only because the episode had so much ground to cover. That it managed to make room to allow some actual acting from Jim Caviziel cemented this episode as one of this show's classics. Dead Reckoning is simply a great episode of television-but I wouldn't recommend this as the first episode to watch. This might be a procedural show but too many serialized arcs are closed that just dropping in on this episode would be very confusing. For fans of the show, it's be a satisfying episode that will make anyone excited for what is to come.

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