Thursday, September 29, 2011

Person of Interest 1.01: "Pilot"

As I mentioned before, Sarah will be covering two shows regularly for MTVP this fall, the first is "Body of Proof," and the next is the new J.J. Abrams' affiliated crime drama, "Person of Interest," which airs on CBS. Enjoy her take on the pilot epiosde.


“I think you and I can help one another. I don’t think you need a psychiatrist, a support group, pills. You need a purpose. More specifically, you need a job.”
- Mr. Finch

Before we begin, I just wanted to say I think “Person of Interest” was one of my most anticipated fall premiere shows. With a combo of J.J. Abrams, Michael Emerson, and taking over the coveted “CSI” timeslot on Thursday nights, CBS clearly has high hopes. Anyway, let’s get to it.

We begin with what turns out to be a memory of a man and a woman in bed together somewhere calm and bright. A man does a voiceover about how losing the one person that connects you to the world leaves you wondering who you are, and we cut to a subway car in New York and a group of white gang members who think they’re pretty tough. Tough enough to take on a drunken bum. Until said bum beats the crap out of all them without even getting a scratch. A female cop, Carter, shows up to take statements from everyone and has an interesting chat with the bum. She pegs him as special forces or some other covert branch of the military since the way he fought is no basic training. Carter says it would have looked better if he’d let the kids get some hits in, too. That way it wouldn’t look like he just went bat shit on them. He doesn’t seem interested, and in fact, he refuses to give his name. So she resorts to a little cop trickery and snags his drinking glass to get DNA. Turns out his name isn’t in the system, but his prints have shown up at various crime scenes all over the country over the past few years.

A man claiming to be the bum’s lawyer shows up and gets him out of the station before Carter can confront him about his prints being at multiple crime scenes. Turns out the attorney’s boss wants to speak with the bum. The bum, whose name we learn is John Reese (or at least that’s one of the names he uses), is driven to an underpass near a river, and he meets Mr. Finch (played by Michael Emerson). Mr. Finch offers John a job and a purpose. He knows John used to work for the government and now the government thinks he’s dead. Finch also knows John’s been trying to drink himself to death. Admittedly, if I were John, I would be a little disturbed by this.

And it only gets creepier. John and Mr. Finch walk through the city, and Finch gives his spiel about how someone dies in the city every eighteen hours and he has a way to try and stop it. But he needs John’s skills. Finch points out Diane Hanson, an ADA whose name came up on his list. He doesn’t know exactly what is going to happen to her, but he wants John to find out and stop it from happening. John says he’s not interested and heads home. We next find he’s cut his hair and shaved his rather impressive beard. He looks much hotter clean-shaven. And this way, while the cops are looking for a bum, they won’t notice him at all. He passes out with a bottle of something, dreaming about a woman named Jessica (the one from the beginning of the episode), only to wake up to a phone call. It’s Mr. Finch. He forces John to listen to a woman being murdered and not be able to stop it. John manages to get free (he’s tied to his bed) but finds it was a three-year-old recording Finch used to make a point. He says John couldn’t save that woman or Jessica, but that he can still save Diane.

John seems to agree to help Mr. Finch, and so they head to a defunct library Finch owns which seems to be his base of operations. It also happens to be where his machine is that churns out the information he uses to stop violent crimes from happening. He gives John six cover IDs with plenty of money and passports. Just like when he worked for the CIA. The interesting thing about the machine is it only produces social security numbers, not names. And he’s got the list tacked up on the wall, mapping out to all kinds of people. Finch calls them lost chances. But that’s likely to change with John in the mix now. We get a montage of sorts as John breaks into Diane’s apartment, clones her phone and sets up video surveillance. He’s also narrowed the suspects (he thinks she’s going to be a victim of a crime) to two people, a co-worker and the defendant in her current trial. We got a glimpse of the trial as Diane questions one of the detectives, Lionel. He goes off-script from what they prepared, and John overhears (thanks to tapping her phone) that she has to make absolutely sure the right person goes to prison.

That night she goes to see the defendant, Pope, in prison for a private meeting (without his lawyer). She tries to tell him she thinks he’s innocent and wonders if his younger brother, Michael, saw what really happened. Pope gets pissed at the mention of his brother, so John knows something is up. He needs to find the brother before whoever framed Pope goes after Diane.

We get another bit of memory about John and Jessica. They’re down in Mexico and she’s lying to her mother about who she’s with. And John says he’s quit his job to be with her. The happiness doesn’t last long because Jessica turns on the TV to see that 9/11 has happened. So I guess we know approximately how long ago Jessica was alive. Back in the present, John is watching Diane’s office from a rooftop. He sees her co-worker, Wheeler, check the information on her computer and sees the information on Pope’s brother on the screen. John manages to find Michael, but Michael dodges him. John does slip a phone into Michael’s bag to track him, but he’s going to need more than just a cell phone to handle whoever is coming. So he stops by for a visit with Anton (one of the kids from the subway) and ends up shooting pretty much everyone in the room in a pretty sweet stunt. He takes all the guns so he’s got firepower. And it turns out he’s going to need it. Michael’s been picked up by whoever is after Diane. It turns out to be the cops. Oh joy.

John gets to be pretty bad ass and shoots up the car and drags Michael to safety. Things are only going to get worse. John snaps some shots of the group of corrupt cops, a mix of narcotics officers and Lionel. It seems the drug cops steal the drugs and money and kill the witnesses, and Lionel sets up a fall guy. John shares the intel with Finch, and we get a rather long walk-and-talk with exposition. I mean, I get they needed to explain how the machine came about and what it does, but it was a little bit of an info dump. Anyway, we learn that Finch built this machine after 9/11 to cull the terrorists from the general population before they acted. But the machine picked up other crime indicators, too. So Finch programmed it to split the lists, one relevant (major loss of life) and the other irrelevant. And he built himself a back door to access the irrelevant list (he gets the social security numbers before midnight when the list erases).

Things are about to get extra dicey. Pope is killed in his cell, and Lionel makes a call to Diane to tell her where to meet. John thinks this is it. The cops are going to kill Diane. She shows up and it looks pretty sketchy. Diane’s looking around, calling out to see if anyone’s there, but it quickly turns out she’s not a victim-to-be. She’s in it with the cops. And they need to get rid of Wheeler. John, unfortunately, gets spotted, and Diane gives orders to Lionel to get rid of him, permanently. So now John’s got two problems: save his own ass and stop one of the narcotics cops, Stills, from killing Wheeler.

John regains consciousness in the back of Lionel’s car. They’re at Oyster Bay, and that’s where Lionel’s going to kill John. They have a little conversation about why Lionel became a ‘bad” guy. John says he knows Lionel is loyal and he needs a cop on the inside to help do his work. John releases what looks like a flash grenade in the car and causes an accident. He manages to climb out the back of the car, drag Lionel free, and then shoot Lionel in the back to make a point (Lionel’s wearing a bullet proof vest). Now it’s time to save Wheeler.

Stills shows up at Wheeler’s building, and they’ve got one guy watching him from the apartment. They think he’s alone, and one of Stills’ cronies assures him that Wheeler goes to the gym every night. So they’ll kill him in the lobby. And they’re using an ex-con that Wheeler put away to do it. But they didn’t count on Wheeler’s son being there. Stills says he doesn’t care and he’ll make the ex-con shoot the kid, too, but John intervenes and Wheeler and his son get out safely, without knowing anything was about to happen. Things aren’t looking good for Diane. She’s in the middle of another trial, and when she tells the bailiff to play a recording, it turns out John switched them and we hear her giving orders to have Wheeler killed. Too bad for her.

John and Mr. Finch meet up at the same spot under the bridge (though this time there’s a nice bench), and John says the machine gave Finch another number. Finch explains the numbers never stop coming and that he chose John because they have quite a bit in common. Both are thought dead and both have lost someone. It looks like John’s going to be sticking around a while. And Carter will be looking for him. We end with him staring directly as a traffic camera and pull back to reveal all the machine drives in a giant warehouse somewhere. Nice way to say the government is watching.

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