Person of Interest: Proteus

“I think we’re on the trail of a cold-blooded killer.”
“And you didn’t want to share this earlier?”

It is a dark and stormy night. The bridge has washed out and the assembly of strangers are stranded in the English country house for the night. The twist? One of them is a cold-blooded murderer. Replace English country house with small island off the coast of New York and you get the story of this week’s installment of PoI. Highly uncreative, ridiculously recycled, and completely awesome.

I have to say that although I saw the Fahey is a fake twist coming from the first moment he was on the screen, I loved this episode. It was fun, which was the one thing missing from the dark, cerebral episode previous to this. Sure, “Proteus” had its moments of ridiculousness, but it was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

I’m a big fan of situations in which characters who know each other pretend not to know each other. I don’t know why, I suppose it’s just a quirk of mine. So, accordingly, I loved “Marshall Jennings” working with amateur storm chaser “Harold Gull” to try to suss out our killer. I do find it odd that no one really questioned this pairing. I don’t know a whole lot about storm chasers (besides the fact they’re clearly insane). Do most of them carry lie detectors around with them?

Layered on top of the dark and stormy night A plot was Carter’s romance (or lack thereof) with Cal Beecher. They’ve been having...issues. Carter is mad at Cal because her involvement with him precluded her from joining the FBI. She’s also wondering (and wouldn’t you be wondering the same thing) why exactly Beecher is red flagged and what in the world he can be into. Carter’s not going to get much from her boyfriend though, as he doesn’t even know he’s dirty.

There were also some changes to the PoI standard format this week. Firstly, we get the information right off the bat that something is wrong with the Machine. Not getting a new number for three days isn’t just unprecedented, it’s a bug, quite possibly caused by Stanton’s actions “Dead Reckoning.” Did anyone else catch Finch’s language when discussing the Machine? He didn’t say it was malfunctioning, he said it was “behaving erratically.” Once again, I question how intelligent the Machine is. It behaves? Hmm...

In another switch, Reese did not save Finch, which is generally how the show works. Finch gets himself in danger and Reese comes roaring to the rescue, guns a-blazing. This week, Reese was too busy with his giant, hairy, drug dealing friend to shoot the bad man creeping Finch out. It was up to Carter and Beecher to save the day. I liked the change. It surprised me. I also enjoyed the end bit when Finch realizes fake Fahey was wearing body armor just as he starts to get up. It was (dare I say it) kind of cute.

Decidedly uncute was fake Fahey, played to perfection by Brothers & Sisters hunk Luke MacFarlane. I figured he was our baddy from the start, but his confrontation with Finch was alarmingly alarming. His voice, his body language, everything about him changed instantly, and for the worse. I mean his whole monologue about living people’s lives better than they could and his incredible ability to transform himself? Major league creepy.

Bits & Pieces:

Proteus is an ancient Greek sea god. I tried to think of a more clever way to phrase this, but I gave up.

Finch and Reese go to the movies with Bear. I mean, really, that might be the most adorable thing ever. Finch even got Bear certified as a service dog so he wouldn’t have to stay home alone. Dawww.

Harold Gull? I suppose the coastal theme of the episode meant a coastal themed alias. I feel like Harold Albatross would have been more poetic.

Jennings was the wife-abusing US Marshall Reese hauled off to a Mexican jail in “Many Happen Returns.” Reese has used his name and badge before.

When Reese was being dragged by hairy drug dealer guy, his arms were spread out in a cruciform pose. Wrong movie, dude.

Why waste Dan Lauria like this? Seriously.

As someone with absolutely terrible eyesight, I appreciated Finch’s squint at Carter before he recognized her. Without my contacts, I once became convinced there was a raccoon in my house, only to eventually realize it was my cat.

Quotes:

“We should have seen Once Upon a Time in the West. Fewer subtitles.”

“FBI. Don’t move. Hands up. I want to see some ID.”
“Well which is it? Do you wants up or do you want to see ID?”

“Mr. Reese is out on an island, looking for a man violent enough to pull out another man’s teeth. And now I can’t warn him. I have to get there myself.”
“I’m pretty sure all the roads are closed now. How do you think you’re going to get out there?”
“I think I’ll use my pilot’s license.”

“Anything else?”
“Yeah, how’s your coffee?”

“Unbelievable. We’re hunting a killer and we get amateur drug night in the sticks. You smuggle it in on your boat? Don’t say anything. Just bleed if I’m right.”

“Are you like me?”
“You have no idea. You’re an amateur at this.”

“Detective? You have impeccable timing.”

“He was pretending to be an FBI agent. He was really rather good at it. He had a badge and a gun and...”
“And what?”

“Body armor.”

“A drug smuggler shot at me with a spear gun last night.”
“Is that a first for you?”
“I wish I could say yes.”

“At least the storm’s passing.”
“No, Mr. Reese. I have a feeling it’s just beginning.”

four out of four spear guns

---
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl

13 comments:

percysowner said...

As someone with absolutely terrible eyesight, I appreciated Finch’s squint at Carter before he recognized her. Without my contacts, I once became convinced there was a raccoon in my house, only to eventually realize it was my cat.

I interpreted that differently. Harold had no problem seeing the fake FBI guy and the fake FBI guy didn't act as if the glasses distorted his vision at all. I think Harold doesn't need glasses. He only started squinting when Carter came in and he realized that he didn't have his glasses on. I thought he was pretending to her that he needed glasses.

Billie Doux said...

I knew who the bad guy was immediately, too, but I still loved this one. They took the cliche and ran with it. And Sunbunny, your entire review made me laugh. Starting with I don’t know a whole lot about storm chasers (besides the fact they’re clearly insane). Do most of them carry lie detectors around with them? and through nearly every one of your bits & pieces. I also went "aww" about them taking Bear to the movies. Although I resent that I can never take my cat to the movies. Maybe that's why I keep waiting for the DVD to come out.

Josie Kafka said...

Percysowner, interesting theory. I'd assumed the same thing Sunbunny did: Finch is nearly as blind as I am. But if you're right--well, Finch inhabiting different digital "personae" is one thing. Him being in actual disguise? It feels different, somehow. A bit over-the-top if he's not actually running from anything.

(Maybe if he takes off the glasses and his shirt, he turns into Superman?)

(Sunbunny, have you seen the movie Adventures in Babysitting? There's a similar raccoon/cat scenario in that. Only it's not really a cat, or a raccoon. It's a subway rat.)

Anyway, this episode was great fun, although I expected them to go full-on Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None and start killing everyone. But that's hard to do in a limited amount of time.

And I love that an amateur drug dealer got the drop on Reese.

"Harold Gull," people trapped on an island, repetition of the phrase "What about you?", confusion over identity, irrelevant plot-lines...this might be PoI's Lostiest episode yet.

percysowner said...

Josie Kafka Way back in season one in Wolf and Cub, Fusco investigated Finch and his various alibis. Fusco said that the earliest record of Finch went back to the mid 1970s (1976 I think) when he was in school with Nathan under the name Harold Wren. Fusco also said that Harold Wren was an alias and he couldn't track Finch back any farther. So I think Harold has been running for a long, long time. I do think there is more to Harold than we even begin to know, but I could be off the mark.

Josie Kafka said...

I remember that scene, Percysowner. But...okay, I'm having a really hard time phrasing this, and it might not make sense (if not, let me know):

Taking on different names is one thing. I do it--Josie Kafka isn't my real name (shocker!). But I don't create a new "identity": I'm still me, with the same likes and dislikes, the same habits and ethics, as my "real life" self. I'm not lying about who I am on the deeper, existential level--I'm not "really" a psychopathic badger with conservative politics and a hatred of flights of fancy. :-) In real life, I'm exactly the same as I am here, with a different name.

In this episode, fake Fahey/Declan/etc took on whole new identities. Different mannerisms, different intonations, different professions. Different selves.

If Finch is doing that--well, it would be hard for me to like that plot development. Because I really like Finch as he is now, with the overdone clothes and thoughtfulness and dislike for "human interactions." If it turned out those are just aspects of an identity that isn't really his, I would be darn upset.

I guess it depends on how much we read into him not needing glasses. Basic identity protection, on par with using pseudonyms? Or a sign that the Finch we know isn't anything like the real Finch? I hope it's not the second one.

Does that make sense? I don't think we're disagreeing, I'm just very resistant to the idea that Finch is "really" a mean guy, or something like that.

(And, of course, if he is "really" a mean guy but has been faking his nice Finch persona for years now, it raises the question of how pretense becomes reality, which is a very Jonathan Nolan question.)

On a more general note: I've assumed that Finch was running from his family since he started with the pseudonyms so early in his life. In a conversation with Carter back in mid-Season One, he mentioned brothers throwing him into a pond to teach him to swim. I've been waiting for one of the brothers to emerge as the villain behind it all for a while. (If Finch were younger, I'd be expected a father; this is a Bad Robot show, after all.)

sunbunny said...

percysowner / Josie - it didn't occur to me Finch was faking bad eyesight. I just assumed he was (like me) nearsighted and perfectly capable at seeing things close by. I don't like the idea that he's been switching personas, but it's a very intriguing theory. We know he has as many aliases as there are kinds of birds, but this doesn't necessarily mean he's a personality switching fraud, like our friend Josie, the psychopathic badger. Just for the record, I'm an actual bunny who enjoys the sun. I learned how to use a computer via a correspondence course. Typing takes a while with paws instead of fingers though. :/

I never thought he was running from his family, Josie, that's an interesting theory. He's obviously running from something and has been since before he created the Machine.

Oh and I forgot to put this in the review, but did fake Fahey remind anyone else of the burrower demon from "Lonely Hearts" (Angel season 1)?

migmit said...

Just a quick comment: I'm a computer programmer, and, despite the fact that programs I'm working on aren't nearly as complicated as The Machine, I often apply words like "behaviour" to them.

tucsonbarbara said...

When Harold replied, "You have no idea. You're an amateur at this," to Fahey, the look on Harold's face reminded me of William Hinks, the character Michael Emerson played (and won an Emmy for) on "The Practice."

I found it a bit chilling.

celticmarc said...

A different kind of POI; a very funny review and plenty of interesting comments. (The rabbit (more polite) would have been very happy yesterday : we had a gorgeous sunshine over here.)

This was indeed my fave :

“Detective? You have impeccable timing.”

PlatinumRosebud said...

Nice take, Sunbunny.
Enjoyed this ep, too.

I'm with you Billie, in knowing the "Ripley" guy.
I guess we get to spot the Creepo easily. Hahaha.

Finch can a fly a plane, too?
Wow!


Heather1 said...

I have only watched a handful of episodes of this show... so I don't know the "lore" well at all. But I must say, this episode was delicious!

ChrisB said...

I have read/seen far too many locked room mysteries in my time. I knew who the killer was right from the start, which rather dampened (pun intended) the tension I'm sure I was meant to feel. Having said that, a lot of the beats in this episode were taking that trope and turning it on its ear. It was fun and it worked.

Wrong movie, dude. Hilarious.

NomadUK said...

Only just now burning through this series, and I love it.

The Greek god Proteus could change form, and would do so to avoid telling anyone the future, which he could see. That's the point of the name of the episode: the killer changes identity. It's also the reason the submarine in _Fantastic Voyage_ was named _Proteus_.

As far as Finch's spectacles go, they must be real. If you look at them when he is facing the camera, you can see that the image of his face inside the frames of the lenses is distorted; if the lenses were fake, there would be no distortion. So, either he needs specs, or he's wearing contacts that invert the effect of his specs. I'm assuming he's nearsighted.