Saturday, September 29, 2012

Person of Interest 2.01: "The Contingency"

“I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not going anywhere until you give me a way to find him. I’m supposed to keep saving people like this idiot? I want something in return. Or I’m done.”
- Reese

I have to say, aside from “Once Upon a Time”, “Person of Interest” ws the show I was most looking forward to having back for a second season. The way season 1 ended, I knew the premiere had to be really good. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. At all. We started with one of the cleverest “previously on” segments I’ve seen in a long time. We start on Day 1 of the Machine’s existence. It recognizes Finch’s face and can identify him as “admin”. Finch is thrilled. It cycles through various points in the Machine’s timeline. We see Finch explaining how it works to Nathan. We catch a glimpse of Alicia and Nathan. We work our way through to the final case where Root kidnaps Finch at gunpoint. We pick up seconds after where we left off. Reese is waiting on the Machine to show him what to do next and then the payphone rings. He picks it up and gets a series of words and what sounds like letters used by the military.

The Machine takes us to Delaware where Root and Finch are in a coffee shop. Finch is understandably silent and looking around for any means of escape. Root puts a damper on any potential plans because she threatens to shoot someone in the café if Finch tries to ask for help. She really is a piece of work. And Amy Acker is so good at playing the crazy person. She goes on to explain that she understands why he built the Machine. He calls her a murderer and a theif and she says she does what she’s good at. And when he stopped her in “Root Cause”, she had to know how and why.

Back in New York, Reese is waiting for Carter in her apartment. Yeah, I’m thinking it’s not such a great idea to wait in the dark for an armed woman to come in. Once Carter is over the surprise of him being there, she says she’ll look for Finch as best she can. Reese says they can’t send Finch’s photo around like they normally would because he went underground for a reason. He also alerts to Alicia’s death. Carter’s going to get assigned to the investigation. Reese heads back to the library to try and decipher the message the Machine gave. After trying a bunch of different codes and ciphers, Reese gets a little frustrated and closes the book he’s been using. He notices the title and the author’s initials are on the spine. And then it clicks. He finds the books he needs and has a social security number. I thought that was a really interesting way to explain how the Machine communicates with Finch (and now Reese).

Fusco manages to track down who they belong to, an businessman named Leon Tao (played by “Lost” alum Ken Leung). Reese finds him in a bar run by the Aryan Brotherhood. Not a good place to be. He’s still got Detective Stills’ badge and uses that to get a meeting with Leon. At first Reese thinks Leon is his connection to finding Finch. But he soon realizes the Machine has given him a new number. Reese is the contingency. He’s not exactly thrilled by this realization and he takes out the bar full of Aryan brothers just so he can take Leon with him. We get a rather amusing scene where Reese is arguing with a street surveillance camera and Leon thinks he’s nuts. Reese really doesn’t have time to babysit so he calls Fusco. Fusco is a little peeved that Carter gets to work the murder while he has to watch Leon. I really love the new dynamic we have this season. We also take another quick trip back to 2002 where Finch is playing Hide and Seek with the Machine to see just how much it can see. He’s pretty impressed that it can tap into security feeds and the webcam on a guy’s laptop in a coffee shop. I like that we’re getting more from the Machine’s POV. It’s a creative narrative choice.

Speaking of Alicia’s murder, some of the government guys who know about the Machine are trying to make sure the cops hit a dead end. And they’re going after Reese since he managed to take out the three-man team sent to kill the NSA analyst Alicia tried to bring in. Big scary government can be such a pain sometimes. Reese is back at HQ trying to figure out where Root went and he figures out that the driver’s license she had was legit so someone at DMV more than likely got it for her. So Carter’s going to look into that. She breaks the news that things have hit a snag with Alicia’s case. Meanwhile, Leon fakes a heart attack and bolts from the precinct. But Reese has a feeling he knows where Leon’s rushing off to. So he sends Fusco to clean up the mess. Poor Fusco, he really does get stuck doing the crappy jobs. He catches up with Leon at the impound lot (his car got towed earlier) and unfortunately they both get napped by some more angry Aryan guys after the $8 million Leon stole.

We jump back to 2003 where Finch is taking the Machine for another test drive. He goes to a casino and is playing Black Jack. He lets the Machine alert him via text whether to hit or stay. He’s doing quite well. He gets up to $250 thousand and then just to see if the Machine is fallible, he goes against what it recommends and loses it all. Very creative. We also see him leave and the Machine keeps texting him to “stay” after he’s left the casino. It manages to save him from being hit by a driver whose fallen sleep at the wheel. Finch tells the Machine that it has to protect everyone, not just him.

Back in the present, the Aryan guys are threatening to castrate Leon for not having their money when Reese bursts in to save the day. The bad guys have an attack dog they took from a military guy and Reese is pretty quick to calm the dog. It only responds to Dutch commands. After Reese does some serious ass whopping, he takes the dog with him. Reese with a dog is just priceless. On their road trip, Root has brought Finch to a drug store. She needs some things and cuts Finch’s hand as a distraction so she can steal some meds. They end up at a fancy restaurant where Root drugs a seemingly random woman and steals her phone and sends a text to the woman’s lover. She also expresses some rather creepy fascination in the Machine. She calls it beautiful and a living intelligence. Yeah, she’s not all right.

Back in New York, Carter has a potential link to the DMV worker who gave Root her license. He had a storage unit so Reese heads over, much to Leon’s chagrin. They find the guy dead. Guess Root is cleaning house. Leon attempts to find the money trail from Root to the guy but it turns out she took money from the guy’s own account. Reese marches out and starts yelling at the first security camera he sees. He’s frustrated that the leads he thought he had going nowhere. And if that isn’t bad enough, the Aryan fellows are back on their trail. I love how annoyed Reese gets when the Machine isn’t cooperating. But then, the payphone nearby rings and he gets a new number. Of course, he and Leon have to take off as the baddies close in. Their leader comes along and Carter and Fusco end up helping to take him out. They get back to Leon’s car and the dog has eaten all of the bearer bonds. This of course leads Reese to rename the dog Bear.

The government guy who was sent to take out Reese is on his way to a “personal matter” and we figure out that he was the woman’s lover. Unfortunately, Root is waiting for him and knocks him out. Whatever her plan is, it involves this guy. She says she wants to set the Machine free. With the new number, Reese at least figures out Root’s final destination is in Texas. And thus begins season 2.

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