Person Of Interest: “Liberty”
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Person Of Interest: “Liberty”

Person Of Interest left a lot of loose threads flapping at the end of last season, and the show is very eager to address any questions and concerns you may have. But first, check it out: New title sequence! It’s just a little tweaked, but I’m glad they did this. Last season’s title sequence, with those big, looming images of the heroes that took over the screen, was a little more Justice League Of America than Person Of Interest. I was always a little troubled by the picture of Carter, because her eyes didn’t seem to have pupils; they were just soulless white orbs, like Little Orphan Annie’s, or Tor Johnson’s after he rises from his grave in Plan 9 From Outer Space. A lot of people would think twice before even seeming to compare Taraji P. Henson to Tor Johnson, but we tell it like it is here at TV Club. Besides, let’s get real: If it hasn’t happened between her and me by now, it’s never going to happen.

The new titles show our heroes, whose regular ranks now include Sarah Shahi as Shaw—cue music for Snoopy dance—tucked in among all the other anonymous New Yorkers on the street. These images much better capture the mood and style of the show, though I was a little thrown when, towards the end, Reese looked out over the vast sea of suffering humanity and saw a lonely man in a sailor suit bent over a railing, looking as if he badly needed a friend. For a minute, I thought the show might be giving us a little glimpse into Reese’s private life, but it turns out the sailor—or rather, the “squid”, “swabbie,” or “swab merchant,” to use some of the colorful terms I learned tonight that are going to make me a lot more fun come next Fleet Week—is this week’s person who is need of help. Presumably, in the titles next week, there’ll be a moment when Reese will spot whoever that episode will be about. At least I hope so. If that sailor is in the credits every week, that’s going to get old a lot faster than waiting to see Carter’s eyeballs get nuked again.

The sailor himself is a good guy. Reese likes him. He sees a little of himself in him. When Reese is present in a bar, with Finch listening in from a safe distance, and a brawl starts, Finch is aghast. Reese tells him to cool his jets and get down off his mustang, Sally. Reese says that the other guys started it, Mom, and if he’d been in this guy’s shoes, he would have done the same thing: “His shore leave buddy was in trouble.” It turns out that it’s the shore buddy’s fault that they’re in danger. (So why isn’t it the shore leave buddy’s social security number that went radioactive? Oh, Machine, you are such a teasing little minx!) The plot involves some devil dogs, another fun term meaning “special ops guys,” who are mad at the shore leave buddy, because they rakka-rakka-rakka smuggling illegal weapons rakka-rakka-rakka uncut diamonds rakka-rakka sinister Russian pawn shops guys rakka-rakka-rakka shore leave buddy tied to a chair with a bomb set to go off, and Fusco is assigned the task of defusing it, because of all the people on hand he probably has the least idea of how to go about it, and also, Fusco.

In other words, the plot is just a loosely connected tissue of set pieces designed to give the audience something to look at between scenes in which we get to catch up on what our old friends are up to. Carter is in uniform now; Reese tells her the look suits her, which gets him about as far as my Tor Johnson line might. Despite her reduced rank, she still goes out of her way to be helpful, taking Reese to a happening secret club, popular among swabbies and the women who love them, that is going full-blast in the middle of the day and is accessible through a door in the back of a deli. (And people say that Sleepy Hollow is nuts.) She is also obsessively conducting her own private investigation into H. R. and God knows what else.  

Carter is the only person who knows that she rescued Elias from execution, and confers with him while he sits in a basement with a trusted lieutenant, waiting for the heat to die down. (In the meantime, the trusted lieutenant works at replenishing the coffers by visiting the scene of Reese’s latest massacre and vacuuming up whatever proceeds are lying around.) Fusco still has his detective’s shield and complains that his new partner is “a box of rocks,” but still, it’s Fusco. If some unlikely sequence of events were to occur that, according to the city charter, made him Mayor of New York, you couldn’t look at where he’s been up to now and say that it seemed like an implausible career trajectory. As for Bear, he just keeps trucking on.

Even with Shaw on board, the big news is the continued presence of Amy Acker’s Root. She is wiling away her time in a mental hospital, where, just to make sure there’s no chance of her getting any saner, her psychiatrist is played by Bruce Altman. He is concerned about her, because, when she’s all along in her room after lockdown, she can be heard talking for hours, late into the night. She does her best to explain this reassuringly. “I have a direct line,” she says, “to a higher power.” I was hoping he’d say, “You mean Joss Whedon?” but Bruce Altman never has been someone to entrust with a laugh line.

She’s not at full-tilt scary at first, but after Altman collects her phone, she reverts to full “heart of darkness” mode, and when last seen, appears to be one master plan away from taking charge of the asylum and appointing herself its Caligari-in-chief. In the meantime, fans are already counting down the seconds until her next scene with Shaw, who picks up a fancy new rifle in the course of tonight’s adventure, though she gets pouty when Reese orders her not to take any “shots to center mass.” “It’s a shame to waste a weapon like this on kneecaps,” she says. Person Of Interest needs time to work up a head of steam again, but the prognosis for season three looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. It’s always fun to watch people who really enjoy their work.

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