I supposed it had to happen eventually. Tonight’s Person Of Interest, “The Fix,” was the show’s first Irene Adler episode. Irene Adler is the only woman to ever get the better of Sherlock Holmes; her first (and last, at least in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world) appearance was in the story “A Scandal In Bohemia,” and this reference would’ve made me seem a lot more clever if I’d managed to make it before Guy Richie came along and loused everything up. Anyway. Zoe Morgan, the PoI of “Fix,” isn’t strictly speaking an Adler knock off. She’s not villainous, and while she is cleverer than Reese gives her credit for, she winds up needing a good bit of rescuing in the end. Still, she’s resourceful and beautiful (that’s what my Tivo guide told me), and she’s probably the first PoI on the show to come close to flirtation with Reese. And she’s got a bit of Adler’s, “I’m stuck in a man’s world, but I want power, and I’ll get exactly what I want” attitude. Theoretically, she could have loosened the show up a bit, and Paige Turco does what she can with the role, but as always, the dour power hour holds sway over all.
Really, I’m not sure what there is for me to say at this point. The show has settled comfortably into the rut that will most likely last it the rest of the season. It could potentially get better at some point, but there’s also no real pressure for anyone to push themselves here. I’m sure there are plenty of people who find it easy enough on the eyes and reassuring without being particularly challenging or interesting. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Okay, well, maybe there’s a little bit wrong with that. There’s potential being squandered here. The story is, with a bit of tweaking, suited to an on-going procedural style, and as much as I love serialized shows, procedurals will always have a well-deserved place on television. And (said the broken record) Michael Emerson deserves better than this. He managed to sell Finch’s grief and catharsis in tonight’s episode reasonably well, and he continually suggests edges to a series that continues to go out of its way to minimize edges as much as possible.
So it’s frustrating to see potential thrown away, but that isn’t the sort of frustration I can find myself getting worked up about. I mean, just hear the plot of this episode: Zoe is a fixer who runs through the upper echelons of the city’s power structure, pulling favors and helping the elite from stepping in life’s various piles of dog crap. One day, she falls into a pile she can’t get out of on her own, a case of blackmail involving a big name in a pharmaceutical company and a seeming affair with another employee. Zoe pays the blackmailer and gets the recoding, but when she tries to turn it over, the bad guys try to kill her. Reese saves the day, and he, Finch, and Zoe figure out that this isn’t a case of blackmail. The pharmaceutical company has a drug coming on the market for migraine sufferers, but it turns out the drug causes heart failure in a certain percentage of users, and the company is trying to cover that information up. One employee wasn’t comfortable with the cover-up, and now she’s dead, and the company is trying to clean up the mess.
This is plot-by-the-numbers, with little depth and few surprises. Zoe gets a brief monologue explaining why she does what she does, and she and Reese exchange a few flirtatious moments, and the way everything ends (with each bad guy getting thoroughly punished, of course) leaves the door open to her coming back to the show for a guest spot in a few months. The villains are all white, corrupt corporate assholes who throw away lives in the name of money, and while I don’t doubt that has some precedence in the real world, it wasn’t much fun to watch. There’s no energy here, no sense of danger or risk or even enthusiasm. Reese and Finch are convinced they’re doing Important Work, and that’s fine, that’s consistent with what we know about them as characters. What isn’t fine is that the people making the show seem to hold with this position. So far, we’ve seen a lot of boilerplate mystery plots, the kind of stories that have been floating around this genre (crime fighting) for decades. It’s hard to get too worked up when our heroes stop an evil drug company, or foil crooked cops, or take down hit men. These are archetypes plugged into the Mad Lib which compromises the “Before” stage of each new Person Of Interest script.
As for other plot, which followed Detective Carter getting pulled into the mysterious “Elias” case we learned about in “Mission Creep,” well, I’m not entirely sure where it’s going, which is nice. This could possibly lead to a nemesis for Reese and Finch, which the show is going to need to come up with sooner or later; so far, none of the bad guys have been that serious of a threat. (At some point, a villain is also going to need to bust into Finch’s super secret headquarters, but they’ll probably save that for the finale.) It was also nice to see Dan Hedaya pop up briefly as Detective Sullivan. But the moment Sullivan started digging into Carl Elias’ history, you knew he wasn’t long for this world. Carter does manage to wound Carl (or something I’m assuming is Carl) and get a blood sample, which means the inevitable DNA test, but I’m doubting anything definitive will pop up. I’ll give “Fix” credit. It finally found a use for Detective Carter that wasn’t simply her running a few steps behind Reese. But everything else was pure routine. When a new show comes along, you watch it hoping it’ll arrive fully-formed, but realizing few shows rarely do; and when something has promise, you cross your fingers that maybe it will be the rare series that pushes itself to achieve that promise. The vast majority of shows, though, settle for that easy, numbing middle. POI is in the dull spot right now, not so awful as to be entirely unwatchable (provided you don’t give it too much of your attention), but not so good as to be anything more than that. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be covering this one. There are only so many kind-of-stretching-it literary references I can make per week.
- Finch’s efforts to get a clear copy of the recording were fairly entertaining. I also enjoyed his brief time as an investment bad-ass.
- The blackmailer who gets the ball rolling may have been genetically created to fit the TV ideal of “sleazy nerd.” I’m sure he must be very proud.
- “I know most everything about you.” Why oh why is this always presented in movies and TV shows as a romantic statement? The idea a stranger (good-looking or no) who jumps into your life with intimate personal knowledge of your past is, to put it mildly, creepy as hell.