Person Of Interest will never be Scandal, but it does have its over-the-top side, and is not afraid of gaudiness. This episode starts out pretty dry, with Finch zeroing in on Monica Jacobs (Tracie Thomas), who works at a company called Rylatech, and whose number has come up, despite Reese’s doubts that anything very exciting could be happening in a den of “tech geeks and code monkeys.” Not only do things get hairy, but the hour finally blossoms into a requiem for a fallen hero that aims for an operatic pitch fir for a De Palma movie. The episode, which is something of a bad penny special—even the Evil Quentin Crisp guy from “Dead Reckoning” shows up again—also has a deep, meaningful theme running through it and connecting the plot and subplots, which is that it really sucks to frame innocent people.
The really big return “get” is Shaw, who Reese finds by staking out the home of her late partner, Cole. You may recall that Shaw and Cole’s employers not only murdered him, but framed him as a terrorist. This doesn’t sit right with Shaw at all, and she means to do something about it, but so far she hasn’t decided what that might be, aside from stalking his parents and standing outside their house in the middle of night, while she presumably tries to focus on sending them good vibes. Nobody said she was a planner. But she and Reese have a little parlay about the situation, and she enjoys their chat so much that she throws a good scare into Finch by turning up at the library.
She accuses him of “running a halfway house for retired assassins” and asks whether he thinks she ought to be “hanging out in a derelict library with your poorly socialized guard dog, and Bear here?” Just when you’re starting to wish Finch would remind her that she’s the one who let herself in, she looks at the pin-up fan photo of Amy Acker on the wall and walks out, intimating that she’s going to make Acker’s character her “new hobby.” This is never addressed again, which I have faith the show will make up to us at some future date to be burned into the calendar with acid, if necessary. If the episode that reunites these two is on opposite a live telecast of the Second Coming, I know which one I’m watching, even if the 1968 version of Elvis is the opening act.
As for Monica, she is investigating a case involving a dead colleague and possible corporate espionage, and winds up framed for the espionage for her trouble. Her boss is a fellow named Martin, played by an actor named Larry Bryggman, who has one of those “Where do I know this dude from?” faces that I found a major distraction. I had to go to IMDB during a commercial break and learn that he used to play John Dixon on As The World Turns, which was one of my grandmother’s stories. After she’s been driven from the building and is shamed and exposed, Reese, always quicker to bond with tech geeks than normal people, explains to her that she’s in danger and that he and his hulking sidekick and big-ass dog are here to help.
She’s pretty inconsolable about having been made to look like the villain to all her co-workers. “Those people aren’t just co-workers,” she says. “They’re my family. And now they think I’ve betrayed them.” She specifically refers to how hard it was to see Martin think the worst of her, which serves the same purpose as the finger of God reaching down and pointing at Martin while thunder claps in the distance. I assume that Reese knew right then and there that Martin was the big bad of this story but decided to go along with Finch’s plan to expose the varmint because it involves a cool trick for Bear to perform, and he figured he could use the exercise. Actually, Martin is only a cat’s-paw of the real big bad. The real tip-top menace of the story isn’t even the Chinese government, which, it turns out, is who the dead man was really spying for. (“We just pitched a fight with the People’s Republic of China,” muses Reese. How does that Richard Pryor routine go? Something like, “Hey, Rich, there’s two billion motherfuckers waiting for you outside. I can help you with two of ‘em.”)
No, the real villain pulling the strings is Evil Quentin Crisp. When Martin faces off against Reese and Monica, the dialogue sounds as if somebody just caught Ned Beatty’s big scene in Network and liked it enough to take some notes. “The world has changed,” Martin dithers, by way of explaining how he could sell out his country just to shore up his company. “There is no value placed on outdated notions like patriotism anymore.” When poor Monica tells him that she loved working for his company because it “supposedly stood for the great American success story,” Martin just purrs, “People love stories.” Then the phone in his hand rings, and it’s Quentin. “Do you recall our discussion the day we reached our agreement?” Martin does. “The time has come,” Quentin tells him. “Your family will be provided for.” One self-inflicted gunshot wound later, and this case has come to a messy close.
The more tragic loss comes as part of the ongoing saga of HR, its war with Elias, and the even more pressing issue of whether Carter is ever going to get her some. She had become concerned that the seemingly promising Cal Beecher might be a dirty cop, and Beecher, who has a close relationship with HR’s current Mr. Big, Alonzo Quinn, and may be complicit in the framing of the murdered Detective Szymanski, is either a player or being played. Trying to determine which it might be, Fusco confronts him in the men’s room, and even sort of smiles at him, a sight that I fear is going to cost me some sleep. The answer comes in a climactic ambush that cuts down a man who we can now see was good and brave, if maybe a little slow on the uptake, in a craven hail of bullets, and leaves Carter wondering if she should give some thought to Match.com. This will not stand.
- Finch still visits Elias in prison to play chess, though as Elias waxes eloquent about “trying to learn to win at a disadvantage,” Finch tells him, “I assume we’re talking about more than just chess.” Considering the fact that no one, literally not one solitary soul, in a TV show or a movie or a book or a play has ever played a chess game that was just a chess game, with no metaphorical component, I’d say that’s a safe assumption.
- In their parting scene together, Finch is still addressing his fellow techie as “Ms. Jacobs.” “Please,” she says with a smile that could melt butter, “we’ve breached firewalls together. Call me Monica.” The segment of the female population that notices, let alone responds to Finch may be a narrow one, but within his special target niche, the little bastard is in like Flynn.