Part of me feels a little disappointed in myself for how much I enjoyed this episode. It’s built on some very corny tropes, such as the hard-ass warrior woman Shaw encountering a resourceful but imperiled little girl who enables her to get in touch with her maternal side, and Reese slowly putting his gun away when he and the crooked cop Simmons are alone together, so the two of them can slug it out in the empty street, like men, dammit! In terms of narrative complexity, it was a game of checkers compared to last week’s episode, which was closer to atomic pinball, at the very least. But last week’s episode never drew me in; the guest characters failed to provide grounds for any rooting interest, and the dialogue put in Michael Emerson’s interest reduced him to serving as the show’s Siri navigator.
But, partly to my surprise, it turns out that I rather enjoy seeing Shaw get in touch with her maternal side, and my only objection to seeing Reese and Simmons punching each other is that it didn’t take up a quarter of the episode and seemed to end in a near-draw, which is a euphemism meant to indicate that they’re both still alive. Also, Michael Emerson gets to deliver, with a tiny smile, the perfect Michael Emerson line, which turns out to be… wait for it… “Enough.” When it’s preceded by someone asking him how much he knows about chemistry and is followed by a shot of a building blowing up, that is the perfect Michael Emerson line.
The vehicle for unlocking Shaw’s inner Carol Brady is a 10-year-old girl named Genrika (Danielle Kotch), a smart orphan living with a junkie in a shitty apartment in a scary building that, Carter explains, is a “blind zone,” an area where “funding for ‘domestic awareness’ ran out.” It’s not a case of love at first sight for either of them, although Shaw does say, shortly after announcing that she doesn’t like kids, that Gena’s number can’t very well have come up because she’s this week’s Big Bad. There’s the nice thing about Person Of Interest; there are shows that, having dropped a 10-year-old orphaned girl on the deck, would feel duty-bound to have her revealed as the villain of the episode, just to blow everyone’s mind.
Instead, Shaw discovers that, in a commendable expression of the D.I.Y, spirit that Michael Braverman is so excited about, Gen has been trying to pick up the slack, going all Lester Freamon and recording conversations in an attempt to, she says, get the drug dealers out of her building. In the process, she’s preserved some evidence of crooked cops’ collusion with Russian mobsters and found herself on HR’s hit list. The very thought of it makes Shaw’s blood boil. Her blood was much in evidence, since she had been ventilated in the course of trying to fight off the bad guys and was leaking puddles of it all over Manhattan.
Lurching around the city trying to get a bead on her targets, she saved her surliest demonstrations of insubordination for Finch when he urged her, over the phone, to seek medical attention. Doctors are another segment of the community that Shaw would just as soon set adrift on an ice floe. The episode was dotted with flashbacks to 1993, when Shaw was a confused-looking little girl being rescued from an accident scene by a medic who didn’t understand that he was dealing with an old soul. He chose to insult her by using a euphemism for “dead” when she asked about how her father was doing. Better he should have just yelled, “Everyone here who has a live father, take one step forward. Honey, you can just stay where you are.” Spooked by the child’s apparent lack of proper emotion, the man wanders away from her, whispers that there must be something wrong with her, and looks for a checklist of Dr. Phil’s 14 telltale signs of a future serial killer. But Gen gets her; “It’s not that you don’t have feelings,” she informs Shaw. “It’s just like the volume’s turned way down.”
That’s a line that reverberates in the world of Person Of Interest, where idealistic sentiments are most likely voiced by frauds and scoundrels; the characters who really care in the right way are out somewhere, too busy working for the cause of right than to be making speeches. A scene in which Carter’s smooth-faced young partner, who’s obviously an HR spy, gets fed up with trying to win her over and speaks his mind, calling her “an arrogant bitch who doesn’t know her place,” suggests what’s going on beneath the polite official surface of the empowered villains. Carter, who’s on to him, doesn’t blow him out of his shoes, because she has plans to put him to work for her. And because Person Of Interest understands the value of delayed gratification.
- Delayed gratification? Screw that noise! Root is back!! Get this party started!