Person of Interest: RAM

“I believe the word you’re looking for is rad.”

This episode was the missing puzzle piece you find on the floor just when you’re done with the puzzle and have persuaded yourself to accept the small hole in the sky. I must have said “Ohh!” three or four times when watching this episode. It answered so many questions I didn’t even know were questions and, of course, the actual question I had totally forgotten about: “How did the laptop get to Ordos?”

When the episode started, I assumed it would be your basic through the looking glass endeavor. Almost everything is the same, but Reese has been replaced by a blonde man. Then the real Reese turned up and my expectations were turned on their head. It wasn’t “Relevance,” which remains, to my thinking, the best episode of Person of Interest yet, but it served a similar role. Just as “Relevance” expanded the show’s mythology to include the Control side of things, “RAM” reminds us that there are still unanswered questions about the Machine and assures us we will get answers.

The episode explains how the laptop, which was very important to the Stanton arc of season two, got to Ordos. It is also explained how the laptop came to be. It was originally programmed by Casey and contained bits of codes from the Machine. Finch “tweaked” it, probably creating the virus that would eventually be used by Stanton to set the Machine free. What is not explained is how Greer knew the laptop originated with Finch in “Dead Reckoning.” Unless I missed it, we are not shown how Finch’s name gets attached to the laptop here.

Finch already knows who Reese is...somehow? Before this, the first known contact between the two had been when Reese goes to Jessica’s workplace to find out about her death. So where has Finch seen Reese? He describes it as “a long story” and somehow knows that Reese is “highly efficient.”

Originally, I thought Reese and Stanton’s actions here were a continuation of their flashback scenes from “Blue Code.” However, those scenes were set in 2008, while “RAM” is set in 2010. Is this a completely separate event or are the writers retconning? Stanton makes a reference to Reese “stalking his ex,” which occurs in “Blue Code” (although Reese could have continued the pattern) and it’s mentioned that they’re with Snow here, just as they were in “Blue Code.” I’m left wondering how often they can possibly be performing wetwork operations in New York. Do you guys have an opinion?

Tying Shaw into the action at the end was inspired. The episode could have easily worked without her, but Shaw showing up really tied things together perfectly. That you knew she was coming as soon as Control mentioned a female operative only made the reveal more satisfying.

We knew that Finch had had partners before Reese, but I had always imagined them to be rather Reese-esque. It must have been tempting for the writers to go the good guy being martyred in the service of others route. However, making Dillinger into a mini-Reese wouldn’t have made a huge amount of sense character-wise. When we meet Finch in season one, he is closed off and has serious trust issues. If he’d already had a version of Reese, those aspects of his personality would be less pronounced. Dillinger didn’t open Finch up like Reese did, he served as reminder of the inconstancy of people, especially when tempted with money or power.

Dillinger initially seems very similar to Reese. Same taste, same banter with “the Finchinator.” Differences emerge over time. Reese worked for the CIA. Dillinger worked for Blackwater. Reese pays enough attention to pick up “sencha green tea.” Dillinger figures any tea is good enough. Reese spent a good amount of his time pining for Jessica. Dillinger has no problem jumping into bed with a number. The major difference is that, while Reese’s season one spikiness masked a kind soul, Dillinger’s personality is not that complicated. He’s not a good person, as should be made evident by his treatment of Finch.

It was fun to see how our other characters have transformed since the series began. Reese’s conscience, although never completely gone (he stops Stanton from needlessly torture and spares Casey’s life), has grown more and more the longer he’s been away from Stanton. Even Shaw, who hasn’t come quite as far as our boys, has changed. She’s still relatively fine with killing, but she no longer murders with the same fervor.

Bits and Pieces

The saga sell began in their season one form and then rewound. I love that Person of Interest is willing to play with their credit sequence like this. So few shows do.

I love how Jim Caviezel’s credit came up just as Dillinger entered frame. It felt so wrong.

Finch begins the episode in a wheelchair and is reticent to get out in the field as he was at the beginning of the series.

The library looks very different.

Like Reese in season one, Dillinger shows a pronounced curiosity about Finch and the Machine. Unlike Reese, Dillinger was unable to continue on faith alone.

A cameo from Michael Kelly (Mark Snow) was sorely missed, although I’m glad they didn’t attempt to squeeze Fusco into the episode in any capacity. That would have made things just too neat.

It was so weird to see Reese and hear Finch but know that Finch wasn’t talking to Reese.

The library is powered by gas generators. Did we know that before? Does that seem particularly safe?

Quotes

Dillinger: “Ever think about getting a dog?”

Reese: “Can’t hurt to ask him a few questions.”
Stanton: “Can’t hurt us, anyway.”

Control: “Nathan Ingram outlived his usefulness and was dealt with accordingly. You might want to consider him a cautionary tale.”

Stanton: “The old ball and chain.”

Finch: “I’d say you still got a few glitches in your operation.”

PT: “Her exact words were slightly more colorful than that.”
I bet they were.

Casey: “Look, you’re really pretty and all, but this doesn’t make any sense.”

four out of four creepy knives with names

5 comments:

Doc said...

> Is this a completely separate event or are the writers retconning?

sunbunny, i don't think there's any retcon. But since you'd put the idea in my head, I rewatched Blue Code and I don't see anything in there to imply that these events were in the Reese and Kara's immediate future. And my memory is not great but I don't think anything in this ep contradicts anything we've seen before, So I don't think retcon.

I like your comparison to Relevance (which is probably my favorite episode, too). This episode didn't break with formula nearly as much as Relevance, but they both did a nice job on expanding the mythology in a mind-blowing burst. Another thing they have in common is that moment where a new character (Shaw, Dillinger) sees Reese from across the street and immediately keys in on him. I love moments like these, when the audience gets to see a familiar character from an outside perspective.

And apropos of nothing in particular: I've been reading your reviews since "In Extremis" originally aired, and I always enjoy them.

sunbunny said...

Aw thank you! Always nice to know people like what you write.

I know the odds of it being a retcon are slim (the PoI writers are in general far too meticulous to do things like that) but it would have been a really awesome easter egg type connection. :)

Freeman said...

Really cool episode. It really was like watching a puzzle come together.

I rather enjoyed seeing Finch interact with someone he didn't mesh with at all. Dillinger's mere presence seemed to set Finch on edge. It was interesting to me that Dillinger's suits were more flashy and fitted (arguably less tactically sound) than Reese's dark loose suits.

Dillinger was in over his head though, there was no way he would've survived with the stakes being so amped up. He was smart to back out of the arrangement with Finch, but he shouldn't have pulled the double-cross.

Josie Kafka said...

This was a real pleasure, although watching Dillinger (did he pick that pseudonym himself?) irk Finch made me value the way Team Machine has bonded even more.

The library is powered by gas generators. Did we know that before? Does that seem particularly safe?

I wonder if they're setting up a season or series finale in which the library explodes. I think Chekhov might be manning those gas generators.

...have persuaded yourself to accept the small hole in the sky.

What an excellent statement about the human condition. Or puzzles. Whatever.

ChrisB said...

This episode was so much fun. I always love getting backstory on characters we have come to know so well and this was exceptionally well told.

I really like your point about how the characters have changed. I didn't think about it as I was watching the episode, but they certainly have.