Person of Interest: 4C

“Then who put me on this flight?”

Last week, I said I was in the mood for a silly standalone. This episode wasn’t silly, but it was exactly what I needed. Not short on drama but refreshingly light. The ridiculousness of Reese’s predicament was fun, but the consequences were dark enough to keep me enthralled. [Contains spoilers for Angel season two, as denoted by Spoiler Kitten.]

‘Solve a crime on a plane. Do it before it lands.’ It’s been done before. An episode of Bones comes to mind (I’m sure there are other, more cinematically valuable examples that I don’t know of). But this episode did more. I’m not comfortable saying it completely reset Reese’s character, but it did achieve the purpose of finally getting him back in the game by affirming his faith in what he does. (Cue inspirational music). And it did all this with dialogue that finally got its pep back. Huzzah!

Owen Matthews is wanted dead by three different entities: the Eastern European drug cartel, the Colombian drug cartel, and Activity. The Eastern European drug cartel didn’t like Owen cutting in on their business, the Colombians are (rightly) afraid he’s going to sell them out to law enforcement, and Activity wants to avoid embarrassment.

That initially confused me. I had thought Activity got Owen’s number from the Machine and mistakenly assumed he was a terrorist and the Machine, seeing this error, sent Reese in to thwart their well-intentioned efforts. However, Activity didn’t get a number. They were working with Owen (aka The Sphinx) for the same reason the CIA was running drugs in “Blue Code.” Money. Now Owen’s ready to go public and Activity is out to kill Owen. To hear Hersh tell it, murdering the man is an act of good that will protect the country. If Americans were faced with the ugly truths of how government operates, the country would cease to function. Of course, that doesn’t exactly ring true.

One of the biggest and most difficult questions posed by Person of Interest has to do with the very nature of machines (particularly, THE Machine). It’s a recurring theme that Team Machine cares about people more than the PoI-verse government does. Activity is cold and completely goal-oriented. They were fine with killing Owen merely to avoid a scandal. They didn’t go as far as the Colombians, who were perfectly willing to kill over a hundred people to silence one man, but the government clearly lacks the morality of Team Machine and possibly even of the Machine itself. The Machine only seeks to preserve human life because it’s programmed to, but does that matter at this point? Is it what you do that makes you a good person or the reasons you do it?

In season two’s “Reprise,” Angel gave up. There was too much evil at the world. No matter how much he defeated it kept popping back up and he was overcome by the futility of fighting. For Angel, “giving up” meant falling back into bed with Darla with the goal of losing his soul. He didn’t want to feel anymore. It fails, much to Darla’s dismay. At this point (we’re now into “Epiphany”), Angel remembers that Kate had called him the night before in extreme distress at losing her job and on the verge of committing suicide. He races over there, breaks down the door and brings her back to consciousness, inarguably saving her life. The thing that makes this truly poignant however, is their conversation later.

Kate: I think maybe we’re not alone in this.
Angel: Why?
Kate: Because I never invited you in.

Angel realizes that the Powers that Be (which as close as we get to God in the Buffyverse) saw what was happening and cared enough to let him break the ironclad vampires cannot enter the home of a living human being without permission rule. However much evil there is in the world (hint: a lot), he’s not alone in fighting. There is a greater power that cares. Furthermore, Angel realizes that he was utterly incapable of letting someone die when it was in his power to prevent it. He truly learns what he’s made of. Sound familiar?

I’ve said since I started reviewing the show (way back here) that Reese reminded me of a defanged Angel. Broodiness? Check. Pathological need for atonement? Check. Anger management issues? Undying loyalty? Need to keep others at a distance? Check, check, and check. Both were reluctantly cajoled into joining a fight against evil despite the fact they’d rather spend their days wallowing in self pity. Both Team Machine and Angel Investigations get tips from a mysterious, all seeing force that communicates hints as to what is going on through an intermediary (Finch, Doyle and Cordelia). I’m going to stop here before I get going on the parallels between Carter and Cordelia, Shaw and Gunn, Stanton and Darla, and bore you with even more detail on how this season of Person of Interest is recreating Angel’s character arc from season two in painstaking detail. Amy Acker. Okay, *now* I’m done.


Bits and Pieces

Josie sent me a link to this very interesting piece on the show. (Worth your time, I promise).

I knew it would come to taking the plane down. I’m usually terrible at catching the words and numbers on Machine screen, but I did this time around. Mass Casualty Event predicted at 94.5%. I never thought I would find a MPOV shot so chilling.

One of the most obnoxious things to do on a flight is to get in an argument with the flight attendant over FAA electronics regulations (Alec Baldwin, take note). Yes, those rules are stupid. No, your flight attendant did not come up with them. You will not die without your phone for a few hours. And this is coming from a millennial who often falls asleep with her phone in her hand. Trust me.

Did Carlos the flight attendant/suicide hit man look like a hispanic Nicholas Brendon to anyone else?

Owen called Reese “Mr. Dark and Stormy.”

Department of International Homeland Security. That is all.

In real life, scopolamine is used to treat nausea. In TV and movies it is used as a magic drug that will make whoever you give it to do exactly what you want.

When Hersh asked Shaw if Finch and Reese were treating her okay, was he genuinely concerned for her welfare or is it possible he’s thinking of jumping ship?

Owen could’ve been better cast. I think they were going for a Leon-type character, but Owen was less adept at walking the line between annoying and hilarious than Ken Leung.

Finch tells Reese he wants to visit the De Chirico museum while in Rome, as he is one of Grace’s favorite painters. In “‘Til Death,” it is implied that Finch bought De Chirico’s “The Red Tower” and donated it to the Guggenheim for Grace.


Old Lady: “Used to be, people dressed up to fly. Gentlemen required to wear a jacket and tie. Not that a man needs to wear a suit, but...”
I totally missed the second half of this line the first time around. I was too busy chuckling at how older people say this all the time as if society has gone to hell in a handbasket ever since women stopped wearing pantyhose.

Owen: “Whatever’s going on here, I’m irrelevant.”

Owen: “You seem like an angry guy. Do you want to talk about that? I feel like you wanna talk about that.”

Shaw: “Tall, dark, badass in a suit. Sound familiar?”

Holly: “Where is Owen? How did he disappear?”

Owen: [sneezes]
Reese: “He didn’t.”

Owen: “That salt and pepper thing’s like catnip to soccer moms.”
It’ s catnip to everyone.

Owen: “Don’t tase me, bro.”

Owen: “Fore!”
Reese: “Nice shot.”

Reese: “The only relevant number on this plane is a hundred and thirty people.”

Reese: “While I’m in Italy, I thought I’d get fitted for a new suit.”

three and a half extraordinarily expensive new suits
sunbunny, Person of Interest and Bear the Dog fangirl


Josie Kafka said...

Crime! On a plane!

If I had seen this episode in Season One, I would have dismissed this show entirely, since it was illogical (really, no one noticed the gun shots?) and overly cute.

Since I am watching this show now, and have seen the brilliance of what they can do, I appreciate the Assassins! On a plane! element and completely enjoyed the humor of Reese knocking out most of first class, Finch flying a plane from his library tech center with a joystick he happened to have on hand, and everything else.

Owen could’ve been better cast. I think they were going for a Leon-type character, but Owen was less adept at walking the line between annoying and hilarious than Ken Leung.

How much cooler would this have been if it were Ken Leung? That Silk Road thing would have been exactly the kind of thing he'd invent.

Mr. Dark and Stormy. I don't usually find Reese that attractive (not my type), but he was epically sexy in this episode.

And with that completely shallow observation, I end my comment.

Patrick said...

The day after this episode aired, I got an email from my Dad saying it was his new favorite episode of the show. While I wouldn't put it at the #1 spot(I still have a soft spot in my heart for Ghosts from season 1, not to mention Relevance & Razgovor), but it's definitely in the top tier of PoI episodes. I absolutely loved this one. Excellent review sunbunny.

I agree that Owen was a far inferior version of Leon. I'd love to see Leon show up in the future, but I never want to see Owen again. I spent far too much of this episode wanting to slap him. Another character I wouldn't mind seeing again is Holly the flight attendant, she was great. Just the right balance of naive and savvy.

Hersh's conversation with Shaw was very interesting. It's been pretty clear for a while now that Hersh isn't evil, he's just ruthlessly dedicated. He harbored no personal animosity towards Shaw, even when he was tasked with killing her. My gut says he's not actually thinking of jumping ship to Team Machine, he's just expressing concern about a former colleague.

The comparisons between Reese's recent arc and Angel's Season 2 story are definitely apt. Though at the end when Reese talked about needed to get fitted for a new suit, I was actually reminded of Spike retrieving his leather coat to get his mojo back. :)

As many fun moments as there were in this episode, my favorite had to be when Reese punched out Owen to stop him from rambling. "Sorry, sometimes it's just faster". You ever get the feeling that Reese would get along really well with Melinda May over on Agents Of SHIELD?

Billie Doux said...

Not much to say except that I loved this one. It was the closest they've ever come to a funny episode, and they did it exactly right.

Patrick said...

Something else that really struck me on re-watching this episode was the conversation between Reese and Finch at the end. Specifically the looks on Finch's face when he realizes that Reese is coming back. That wasn't the look of a boss welcoming back a star employee. That was the look of a very lonely guy reuniting with his best friend. Michael Emerson played that scene to perfection.

Freeman said...

Fun episode. Good way to decompress after all of the intensity of the recent events in the show. It was also a nice way to get reacquainted with Reese since he kinda took a back seat in the last few episodes. I would like to say that Reese's hair was particularly on point in this episode and I was admiring it the whole time.

Probably the worst thing about the episode was Owen himself. His delivery on his little quips was terrible and he was generally very grating.

I'm thinking that Hersh wants out and was trying to test the waters with Shaw. And might I say that Shaw looked pretty as a waitress. Then again I'm fairly certain Sarah Shahi looks pretty in any style of dress.

Patrick said...

Freeman, Sarah Shahi is an extraordinarily beautiful woman, period :)

kindaoffkilter said...

I have been comparing Mr Broody to Angel for a while now too! Root to Drusilla (okay, so she's not QUITE that... off), and Shaw a less lovelorn but still quippy chipped Spike.

I don't think we were supposed to really like Owen, but that was ALSO the point to me--that likability had nothing to do with whether or not he was worth saving, and doing the job saved people like Holly and the random passengers too.

As for Hersh (who has been something of a fascination for me since God Mode, and I predict he'll put a bullet in Control much like Special Counsel no later than midway season 4), I think he was definitely indicating his warped concern for Shaw. I can definitely see him being uncomfortable with his basically "clean" death leaving his protege out for possible misuse and abuse in his strange way.

Also! in Lady Killer, the Machine generated predictions about the messy confrontation to come between Hersh and Root, and one of its possible consequences was "recruitment"! Since Root was well and truly hooked, it could only have been for Hersh.

migmit said...

I liked Holly. Unfortunately, there seems no way to bring her back. Maybe with the help of a radioactive spider?

And please, don't bring Leon back. He doesn't walk the line. He is simply annoying. Although better than Mike Peterson.

I like the idea of Hersh jumping the ship, but it seems unrealistic at best.

ChrisB said...

Patrick's comment said exactly what I was thinking. While the first four fifths of this episode were fun to watch, the last scene was fantastic. Finch was obviously so happy to have his friend back, yet knew that too much emotion would be… well, too much.

As always, Emerson played that scene to perfection.