Person of Interest: Razgovor

“I think there’s something wrong with the kid.”

“Who run the world?” Carter, Shaw, and Root, apparently. For a show that started out being about two men, Person of Interest has taken a fun and wildly welcome turn. As this season rolls on, I’m inclined to tell Finch, Reese, and Fusco to take a break. The girls got this. (Long review, everyone, sorry.)

In general, I’m not a big fan of the our main character(s) have to take care of a child and through doing so, learn how to love/care/what’s really important. They can be very moving when done correctly, but are all too often over adorablized. Person of Interest has already used this formula twice: “Wolf and Cub” and “Baby Blue,” both of which fortunately prioritized drama over cheese and character development over sugar. Did “Razgovor” follow the pattern? Yes and no, but mostly yes.

This week’s person of interest story is the second strongest we’ve seen so far this season (the first being last week’s, of course). It was not as clich├ęd or saccharine as it might’ve been, but it did push the envelope for me a little. Gen just seemed too obviously custom designed to appeal to Shaw. An orphaned ten year old who dabbles in surveilling the criminals of her building? It just didn’t seem believable to me.

Sarah Shahi was amazing in her scenes with little Gen though. She managed to hit the perfect spot on the emotional spectrum. By the end of the episode, she was truly invested in Gen’s survival without being all mushy about it. She didn’t magically cure herself, but she did become less and less awkward with Gen and even willingly gave her a less than comfortable looking hug.

One more caveat on the weekly story. While the dovetailing of Carter’s HR investigation and Reese and Shaw’s attempt to save Gen was fun, it just seemed too neat to me. Now that I’m done complaining, we can move onto the gushing about the crazy good parts of this show (which, honestly, was most of it).

Shaw’s flashbacks were great. As is common for PoI flashbacks, we learned remarkably little about her. Her original name was Sameen, her father was in the army, they watched football together, and they moved around a lot until he died in a car accident. What makes PoI flashbacks so good is not what they explain but how well they’re written and acted. Although little Sameen was good, the star of those flashbacks, for me at least, was the rescue worker who pulled her out of the wreckage. I don’t know how Person of Interest routinely finds such amazing actors for such thankless parts, but thank God they do. He was so determined to rescue Sameen, and so, so sad for her when he had to tell her her father was dead. Then almost immediately, that sympathy switched to apprehension and even fear. It really was remarkable.

I like that the show didn’t take the easy way out and make Shaw’s father’s death the reason for her personality disorder. That would’ve been just so...Disney. Instead, it was the event that pointed out to her and others that she was different, which makes sense. I’m completely certain the two psychology classes I took in college give me absolutely zero insight into Shaw and her personality disorder. Last season, she said it was classified as an Axis II disorder. I looked them up and the one that seems to apply best to Shaw is Antisocial Personality Disorder, but it still doesn’t seem quite right. Anyone want to weigh in on the issue in the comments? (Please?)

This week, Shaw repaired her injured shoulder with duct tape and literally stole blood right out of a bad guy’s veins and yet was only the second most badass woman of the episode. Ladies and gentlemen, Jocelyn Carter. I think I’ve watched that bar scene five times now. It was just awesome, in its original awe-invoking definition. When Carter shoots, she doesn’t go for the kneecap. She freaking killed that guy. She KILLED him. With this and Reese’s actions last week, Team Machine is definitely headed in a darker direction. I like it, but I can’t help wondering how the Machine feels about it.

I’m so glad Reese didn’t swoop in to ‘rescue’ Carter from Laskey. Carter doesn’t need rescuing, clearly. I loved her confrontation with her junior partner. She wasn’t afraid; she didn’t blink. Laskey, on the other hand, was scared shitless. And her framing of him was inspired! When she took his gun earlier in the episode, I honestly didn’t think anything of it. I just thought she was giving him a hard time because she didn’t like him.

As for the last scene, I have nothing to say but this: I cannot wait for next Tuesday.

Bits and Pieces:

I have to confess, the first time through the episode I wasn’t loving it. Until the end, of course. It’s impossible not to love that ending. This review is so late, actually, because I desperately didn’t want to rewatch it. I hate when Person of Interest lets me down. Much to my surprise, this episode wasn’t a let down. So, in future, maybe I should avoid watching heart-wrenching Supernatural episodes immediately before this show. It was hard to see and hear through the sobbing.

Anyone have any ideas on the meaning of the title? The only thing I could find is that Razgov is a village in Azerbaijan... EDIT: One commenter has informed me that “Razgovor” is Russian for conversation.

Gen’s been in the US for four years, yet has absolutely no accent? I can buy the perfect English (young children do learn languages much easier than adults), but NO accent? Really?

No Fusco at all this week, but, from next week previews, he’ll be back next episode.

Quotes:

Carter: “John, one of these days, I’m just going to shoot you.”
Reese: “I get that a lot.”

Reese: “You’re not going to believe this, Finch. Shaw just got made by a ten year old.”
Shaw: “What kind of a weird ass kid uses counter-surveillance tactics?”

Shaw: “To be honest, I’m only in it for the dog.”
The truth comes out.

Reese: “Bear found blood, Shaw. A lot of it. He seems to think it’s yours.”
And how did Bear the DOG communicate that he believes the blood belongs to Shaw? Did he bark it out in morse code or was it a Lassie-type situation?

Laskey: “Do you have any idea what it’s like?”
Carter: “What what’s like?”
Laskey: “Riding around all day with an arrogant bitch who doesn’t know her place.”
He is going DOWN.

Carter: “I spent enough time with you to know you’re afraid of me.”

Carter: “You don’t work for HR anymore, son. You work for me.”
Chills!

Shaw: “Not every kid gets to become the ward of a reclusive billionaire.”
Am I wrong in thinking they might be setting her up to join Team Machine in a few seasons? I hear the word “ward,” I think Robin.

Shaw: “Am I fired?”
Finch: “On the contrary, Ms. Shaw. I think you finally got the job.”
Great play on the dual meanings of the word ‘got.’ It might’ve been Finch saying that Shaw has finally been officially hired by Team Machine, or it might have been Finch saying Shaw finally understands the ethos of Team Machine. (I think it’s the latter, myself.)

Finch: “Now about that bug in my library.”
Shaw: “Haven’t found it yet, have you?”
Is it in Bear’s collar? She did buy him a new one which seemed odd at the time. Although putting it there might introduce more background noise than would be ideal.

three and a half out of four badass alpha females
---
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Razgovor it's a Russian word for conversation

Josie Kafka said...

Sunbunny, excellent review and excellent new word: adorablized.

I liked this episode, even though I spent a long time trying to make my pet theory (that Shaw was lying about having a personality disorder) fit into the events depicted. I still struggle with thinking of Shaw as a sociopath, because sociopaths freak me out.

For that reason, I like Gen's explanation that she has emotions, they're just turned down. And, obviously, Shaw forms strong attachments and feels empathy as she did with Gen.

It's interesting to think about how this show presents both people and the Machine as capable of change but also glitches. You asked how the Machine might feel about the dark turn the show is taking, for instance. Does the Machine have a stronger sense of traditional morality than some of our heroes? If so, what does the Machine have in mind for its "Analog Interface" (Root) and Shaw?

A Machine with "feelings" is a frightening thought; imagine if it wants to avenge the death of the couple John allowed to kill each other in the previous episode. Or imagine a bizarre episode in which the Machine gives Finch a number that winds up being the number a person they put in harm's way by investigating; how would the Machine respond to that?

So far, one of the Machine's main motivations has been its own self-preservation, although it has a cute (excuse me, adorablized) tendency to set up its maker (Finch) with people who will make his life better. I wonder if it's going to move past self-preservation and into other motivations, like power.

Patrick said...

Words cannot express how much I LOVED THIS EPISODE, but I have a feeling I'll be typing quite a few of them shortly...

I thought the actress who played Gen did a very good job, she was engaging without being too cute. And she & Sarah Shahi were just amazing together.

Sunbunny, you mention two other child "numbers", though my favorite under-18 number(and still one of my favorite episodes of the series to date) was the one from episode 1.02, the girl everyone thought had died on the yacht.

It was fun seeing the HR plot woven into the main story, but I'm still not loving them as a villain. They're supposed to be this invasive menace, and yet they've suffered some horrendous defeats that make me question why any other criminal orginzation would consider them such a threat? I mean, over half their membership got taken out at the end of Season 1, they seemed to spend most of Season 2 struggling to find their place, and now Team Machine just blew up their big plan to take over the drug trade in NYC, and did so in spectacularly public fashion. I can only assume that he head of HR(his name eludes me right now) has a SERIOUS Black Book of contacts, intel, blackmail or whatever that he uses as a basis for rebuilding.

Speaking of the drug lab blowing up, I think my single favorite moment of the episode was Finch's response when Shaw asked him if how much chemistry he knows. That look on his face when he said "enough" was priceless.

ROOT! I must admit I'm completely dumbfounded as to what the Machine's ultimate agenda is here. Is it siding with Root's view of the world? Is it trying to teach Root a lesson somehow? All I can say is I REALLY hope the writers know where they're taking this. In the meantime, I'm gonna keep enjoying the ride, mostly because I'll watch Amy Acker in pretty much anything.

Freeman said...

Man, Carter was friggin' awesome this episode. I'm glad she knew about Laskey from the beginning. Put a big smile on my face. I can't believe Laskey actually tried threatening her like a loser. To be honest I thought he flashed the new gun at her to get her to take it away from him because he had a tracker or a microphone in one of the bullets. Looks like I over-thought that one a bit eh?

I found Gen pretty annoying. She was kind of that typical TV precocious orphan kid that can hold her own with highly trained professionals and it bugged me. Luckily they didn't overplay it too much. Plus it gave a nice little gateway into Shaw there so whatever. I reckon the ward of the reclusive billionaire line was more just another nod to the similarities of this show to Batman than anything else though. Regardless of how many years pass, it would be pretty irresponsible of Finch to let a teen join the team haha.

With the body count becoming more significant than usual, and them making a note a few times about body counts this season, it does seem like the Machine may be taking offense against the kills eventually. I also feel like the bug is in Bear's collar as well.

Billie Doux said...

I loved this episode. Shaw is becoming a favorite of mine. And Carter was awesome. I've always liked her, but the fact that she knew her little partner was spying on her? The bar scene? Wow.

It is delightful that we have three exceptional female characters who are apparently taking this show away from Jim Caveziel. I don't think anyone can take a show away from Michael Emerson, though. Patrick, I also loved the way he said, "Enough". :)

Terrific review, sunbunny. My favorite line of yours? "And how did Bear the DOG communicate that he believes the blood belongs to Shaw? Did he bark it out in morse code or was it a Lassie-type situation?"

Josie Kafka said...

Would 2piR count as a child episode? With Finch and the kid?

Mark Greig said...

Sarah Shahi is a big reason I got into this show in the first place (as well a certain Whedonverse vet I'm sure I don't need to name) so any episode that puts Shaw front and centre is going to be a must see for me.

While the 'Shaw learns human emotions by bonding with cute kid' parts were cliched as hell, the rest of the episode was terrific, especially Shaw doing Denzel on the bad guys and Carter's confrontation with her partner.

But it was the cliffhanger that really got me excited. A Root and Shaw episode? In the immortal words of Philip J. Fry, shut up and take my money!

sunbunny said...

Josie and Patrick - I thought about including both 2 Pi R and Ghosts in my list of the gang helps young people episodes, but the kids were just a little too old.

Josie - I don't think Shaw is a sociopath. Again, not a psychologist, but I don't think sociopaths generally bond with animals the way she has with Bear. Is that what they've been trying to convey by showing them together so often? That Shaw likes animals so she's an okay person?

Josie Kafka said...

Everything I know about sociopaths comes from Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, which is a hilarious book filled with what appears to be accurate information. I don't recall any of the sociopaths in that book liking animals. :-)

ChrisB said...

Carter is just too, too badass. The scene in the bar was magnificent and I was so pleased that she was the one who handled it all. Laskey's life is going to be tough moving forward.

Although there were several moments in this show that I loved, Finch feeding Bear the cookie made me smile. Wasn’t it just the last episode he told the vet that he never fed Bear from the table?

Nick said...

Been waiting for an episode like this! It was just a whole lot of fun and plot advancement. I agree that HR hasn't seemed very menacing lately - I think the problem with it is that it's a recurring annoyance rather than a real threat (because nobody knows Quinn is the boss). Looks like they really may move that subplot forward after all. And that final scene - damn.

My only, only complaint is that once again Fusco is all forgotten about. Feeling really sorry for him :/ Is it just that Kevin Chapman's busy or something, or are they really sidelining him on purpose?

migmit said...

Sorry, I'm late.

As the first commenter already said, "razgovor" means conversation, yes. And while this article Finch was reading about Gen's mother seemed to be genuine Russian, the name "Genrika" doesn't sound Russian at all. Funny, but while the article mentions her mother's name as well as her grandfather's (Yuri Girov), and both are quite common in Russia, the girl's name isn't mentioned anywhere. I wonder if screenwriters weren't decided on the girl's name when they had the article prepared.

And Solntsevo (where Gen is supposed to be from) is just a district in Moscow, a very criminalized one.

Patrick said...

I'm re-watching Season 3 while I work from home today and made a fun discovery when I got to this episode. I got to the scene when Finch gives Shaw the name of a doctor who owed them a favor, and wondered if the doctor was someone we'd met before. So I double-checked the name that came up on Shaw's phone, and yup. It's the same doctor that Finch got to patch up Reese after he was shot by the CIA guys in Season 1(the doc appeared in the beginning of the episode "Super"). Very nice bit of continuity, something I wish the show would do more of. Team Machine has been building this network of people they've helped, some of whom posess skills or are in jobs that could be of use to the Team. There are certainly a few it would be fun to see again. We've already gotten multiple appearances from Leon, and I've enjoyed them. I'd also love to see PoI's from "Legacy", "Risk", "Bury the Lede" or "Booked Solid" reappear at some point, even briefly. And of course, Bear does have a new vet from the previous episode. :)