Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Person Of Interest: “Shadow Box”

Illustration for article titled Person Of Interest: “Shadow Box”

In the last episode of Person Of Interest before the Christmas break, Michael Emerson has a better night than Jim Caviezel. Both of them stick to their specialties. Emerson underplays ferociously, and earns some laughs, as when he breaks into an office after dark, meets a man who has also broken into the office, then departs with him, as two goons give chase with guns at the ready. When Reese, checking in via transmitter, asks him what’s going on, he replies, “The situation is evolving.” Emerson even gets to describe Caviezel’s specialty, when he sums up the goons as “like you, to be honest: Low-key and vaguely menacing.” Caviezel, on the other hand, has to stand there, like a man resisting the urge to flee from an incoming grenade that he knows he can’t outrun, while someone asks him who he is, knowing that the scripted reply is, “I find it hard to answer that, even to myself.” He pauses before the “even to myself” part, as if giving any viewers who’d started to doze off a chance to rally their forces if they want to reach for something to throw at the set.

The person who inspires Reese to this little aria of self-introspection is a 26-year-old honor student played by Jessica Collins, very fondly remembered from Rubicon and The Nine. Her brother was killed in Afghanistan, and she’s been working for a charitable organization that’s supposed to help vets acquire loans that help them buy houses. But she’s gotten mixed up with a vet (Brian J. Smith) with a prosthetic hand, and the two of them have been running around, stealing money from the charity and stockpiling explosives, planning God knows what.

Reese thinks that they may be embittered domestic terrorists in the making, but Finch won’t have it; every time Reese so much as suggests that the young lovers might be up to no good, he goes off on a tangent about how unthinkable it is, because he knows this is a “good girl.” How? He’s never met her, just seen her picture online and admired her grade point average. It’s a little late in the series for Finch to be sounding this naïve. Besides, Jessica Collins is an attractive woman and a very appealing actress, but she happens to be attractive and appealing in a way that’s highly reminiscent of Amy Acker, who abducted Finch in the last season finale and spent the season premiere dragging him cross-country at gunpoint, upsetting his delicate constitution by casually executing people in front of him. Given his recent history, you’d think he’d be less likely to give Collins the uninformed benefit of the doubt than take one look at her and dive into the nearest open manhole.

It starts to make better sense when it turns out that the charity is run by John Bedford Lloyd. Whenever I see John Bedford Lloyd in any role, I instinctively distrust him, partly because I remember the 1987 movie Tough Guys Don’t Dance, in which he played an unhinged rich boy with a penchant for slumming among psycho drug dealers and a Southern accent you could deep-fry a turkey in. Most of that movie I’ve barely seen once, but when it was in heavy rotation on cable, I saw his big speech about 80 times: It begins with him intoning, “Ah will sit on a mountain of drugs. Ah’ll be equal to a Renaissance prince,” and ends with him saying, “Ah know that Ah am out of mah mind, but Ah have never felt more alive!” I have been known to do a spirited imitation of it at parties, with very little encouragement, and have cleared more than one crowded room in the process. Anyway, his charity is a scam to hook veterans into mortgages they won’t be able to repay, so that Lloyd can get kickbacks from the banks. The writers probably considered having him be in cahoots with dogfight organizers and child-porn rings, until it was found that, in terms of general popularity, they tested better than "the banks."

Reese has no truck with varmints who take advantage of our military veterans and exploit their honest desire to have a place to call their own, so by the time he puts the pieces together, just when he’s caught up with Collins and Smith as they’re about to blow a hole in a bank so they can get a hold of the contents of Lloyd’s safety deposit boxes and spread it out to deserving vets, damned if he doesn’t wish them godspeed and assist in the robbery. They get what they came for and, with the help of Finch and Fusco, get away clean. (When Finch tells them that he can set them up with new lives but they'll have to leave the city, soldier boy says that he doesn't care where he ends up, so long as they're there together, while Jessica Collins beams her approval. Awww.) But in the thrilling conclusion, set to “Gimme Shelter,” Agent Donnelly and his unmarked-helicopter super-agents have Reese cornered and in handcuffs. (At Donnelly's side is Carter, who is being wooed with an offer of a job in the Buereau.) They just don’t know for sure who The Man In The Suit is, because they catch him along with three other mystery men who just happen to be milling around in the rubble and debris beneath the bank’s ground floor. The pasty-faced one with the close-cropped carrot top will probably be released immediately, just because he looks too much like Jim Gaffigan to be a plausible superhero, but how will Reese get out of this one? Anyone unable to bear the suspense of waiting to find out will just have to arrange to be put into a medically induced coma until January.

Stay observations:

  • I know it’s just a coincidence, but the fact that this episode features a video message contained on a laptop and a romance with a tormented military vet makes it feel kinds like a crazy remix of last night’s episode of Parenthood. Or any episode of Homeland.
  • The subplot involving the new villainous King Of New York, Alonzo Quinn, continues to move forward at its own glacial pace. So far, the only thing that you can really tell about Quinn is that he’s suave and sage, like Lester Freamon’s evil twin, which is not a bad thing. But if he doesn’t start having more to do than hang around on street corners and in parked cars, interrupting reams of exposition to say things like, “Seems like something that might be put to out advantage,” this whole storyline is going to have to be written off as a pitiful waste of Clarke Peters.