Sunday, January 6, 2013

Person of Interest 2.11: "2pR"

“Sometimes your mistakes can surprise you. My biggest mistake, for instance, brought me here. At exactly this moment when you might need some help.”
- Finch

We start this episode back in 2010 as a subway driver reports that he couldn’t stop and hit a kid. We jump back to the present to Rikers where Reese and three fellow suit-wearing criminals are getting cheek swabs taken. Agent Donnelly doesn’t want them to have any contact with anyone for the next three days. Carter is a little nervous, since now with Reese’s DNA, blood and prints in the system, he’s a sure lock to get nabbed by the FBI. Speaking of Reese, he gets a call from Finch once he’s in his cell. He tries to take responsibility but Finch says he’s got a contingency in place to solve the problem and promises Reese he’ll be a free man in 72 hours. And that’s all we see of Reese until the very end of the episode.

But at the moment, he’s got another number to deal with, a teenage boy named Caleb. So Finch is going in undercover as a math substitute teacher. He’s obviously rigged it so that the real teacher is gone. After seeing that they’re doing addition (adding 1-100) as punishment, he tries to show them a short cut. But all the kids are just absorbed in their phones, playing games and texting. Caleb is doodling in his notebook and tosses a page in the trash after the bell rings. Finch is getting some back up from Fusco today. I have to say it was nice to see Lionel around and have a bigger role. He learns that Caleb’s older brother Ryan died two years ago after being hit by a subway car. Guess we know the importance of the jump back in time. Lionel learns that mom is a drunk so that’s why Caleb doesn’t really try at school.

Finch breaks into the Principal’s office after hours and finds that Caleb is far from an average student. He’s a genius just hiding his talents. Lionel is off to see his mom to check out his home life. Meanwhile, Carter is getting extra criminal and steals and deletes Reese’s fingerprints from the system. She’s going to steal the DNA evidence from the FBI, too but needs a little help from Finch. I have to say I’m not sure I like how comfortable Carter is breaking the law. I know she’s helped the boys out of jams before but this is a whole different level.

The next day at school, Finch lets Caleb know that Finch is aware of his intellect. Caleb just brushes it off. It was about this point I realized that the actor playing Caleb is the newest squintern on Bones. Very cool. And then Finch gives a really cool lesson on pi. I didn’t know that it contained every possible number that could come up in your life (birthdate, social security number) or every word in existence. Gotta say, I would have loved to have Finch as a math teacher. Later that day, he intercedes with Caleb and some kids dealing drugs. Finch has Lionel follow them to make sure Caleb is safe. Finch also discovers Caleb is an extraordinary coder. He monitors the computer science class and we get the tidbit of knowledge there was a hacker that ensured the internet would be a public forum. I believe our dear Mr. Finch is to thank for that. That night, while Lionel is following the drug money, Finch is following Caleb. It turns out that Caleb may be a drug dealer and he’s just hiding it from everyone. The trail of money leads both Finch and Lionel to the same street corner.

While the boys are following the money, Carter is working her sexy to snag some guy’s DNA and breaking into the FBI lab to switch it out for Reese’s DNA. Yeah, not liking her criminal element. Things are getting dicey for Caleb, now. He’s gotten a message from his supplier for a meeting at 2pm. So Finch and Lionel have to follow him. It also looks like the computer science teacher is less than honorable, copying Caleb’s code from his computer. Finch returns the piece of handwritten code Caleb dropped during his altercation with the thus selling drugs at school and makes a suggestion that impresses Caleb. The meeting he’s heading to doesn’t go well. The thugs’ old boss has shot Caleb’s supplier. And now Caleb has a deadline of 8pm tomorrow night to get the money that he made selling at the school. The computer science teacher sets up a meeting of his own with an old college buddy and shows him that what Caleb was coding was a new compression algorithm that makes it easier to store large amounts of data on smaller devices (demonstrated by fitting several terabytes of data from the Library of Congress on the flash drive). He spears he’s the coder and there are no other entanglements. So things really aren’t looking good for Caleb.

Lionel is continuing to dig into Ryan’s death. The transit cop that responded had initially called for backup and then cancelled because Caleb at first told him there were two kids who got into a shoving match with Ryan. Lionel talks to the cop and learns that Ryan and Caleb were running across the tracks having a competition and being older, Ryan didn’t want to lose to his little brother and he didn’t make it back across. Poor kid. He keeps talking about a trip he’s taking and that’s why he needs the money. Finch intercepts communication that the computer science teacher needs to meet with Caleb at the same time he’s supposed to meet the drug dealer. I think the writers did a nice job of ramping up the tension and really pushing the story forward at this point. After some more digging though, it turns out he was setting up a trust for his mom. Finch confronts the computer science teacher who admits he was working with Caleb and was going to give him full credit. Lionel was keeping tabs on the drug dealers and since Caleb doesn’t show, they take off. After speaking with the teacher, Finch has a big “ah-ha” moment and finds Caleb at the subway. He’s going to kill himself because he feels responsible for his brother’s death. The name of the program, 17621 was the age his brother died and the age Caleb would die if he goes through with it.

Finch shows up and manages to talk Caleb down. They bond a little and as his time at the school comes to a close, Finch gives Caleb the first 3,000 digits of pi with the promise that his phone number is in there somewhere. And we get another clue that he was the un-caught hacker. I kind of hope we see Caleb again. I know the show does bring people back. For all we know, he could help take down Root one day. In Rikers, things are looking good for Reese. His DNA didn’t match. Unfortunately, Donnelly has gotten all four guys named enemy combatants and is going to have Carter interrogate all of them, starting with Reese. Our boy isn’t out of the woods yet.

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