After a string of episodes I think I can safely term a quick succession of busy nothings, Person of Interest changes its tone radically for a sweet, sad, and incredibly moving episode that ranks among the series’ best. And that is almost entirely down to the acting.
Something seemed off about the interactions between Reese and Carter from the very beginning. Typically when flashing back to something, PoI shows the year, something they avoided doing the entire episode. Also the dynamic between Carter and Reese felt…off. They were a little too comfortable with each other, there was a little too much sparkage given the time the scene was supposedly set in (easily placed at the beginning of season two given Finch’s complaining about Bear). When it was revealed to be a hallucination, it made perfect sense.
The conversation between Reese and Carter seemed really profound. But when I sat down to write about it, I realized we’ve been here before. A lot. Does having someone in your life make you weaker or stronger? It wasn’t horrible writing, but in the hands of two less skilled actors it probably wouldn’t have made me cry. Which it did. Hallucination Carter was sympathetic to Reese but also a bit aloof. Reese was quite possibly at the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen him. Bleeding, dying, tears running down his face, and baring his soul to a long dead friend. Honestly, they could’ve been talking about salad dressing and I still would’ve cried.
For a minute, I actually thought they’d let Reese go. It seems like if they were ever going to do it, this is how it would happen, with Carter coming back to fetch him. But they are a team member down as it is and I’m not at all convinced that Root, Finch, and Fusco could carry the entire show for any length of time. The show could probably deal without Reese, but it needs Shaw back first.
Reese has changed over the course of the show. It’s been a slow progression (as all good character development is). He’s healed. Not all the way, but enough so that the Reese who didn’t want to carry around a picture he and Carter spoke of no longer exists. Yes, he still keeps people at arm’s length, but at some point he realized that loved ones are a strength and not a weakness. He told Carter confidently that all he had to do was hold out for Finch, Fusco, and Root, before remembering that they didn’t know where he was. He’s let Iris into his life to one degree or another. She’s not Jessica, she’s not Carter, but she’s someone he cares about.
One thing about Hallucination Carter is still bugging me. Reese gave this whole speech about dead soldiers with pictures in their pockets which was meant to echo (or be echoed by) the fact that Carter had a picture of him and Jessica in her belongings. Setting aside the ‘how did she get that picture’ question which, really, how did she get that picture, she explained to him that she kept it to give back to him when he felt ready to open up about Jessica. Reese didn’t know that. Carter was only in his head. So was his subconscious just making up a reasonable story for why she had that picture? Or did the writers just slip a bit here? Or, perhaps, was it intentional? The show has never strayed remotely near the supernatural before, but that hasn’t stopped me from wondering if maybe Carter wasn’t a hallucination at all. Viewer’s choice here, I suppose.
Bits and Pieces
Gold acting stars to Taraji P. Henson and Jim Caviezel, obviously.
Fusco called Root “Cocoa Puffs.” I believe he’s used that one before. He also referred to Reese as “the coiffed Columbo.”
Reese: “You saying I’m a bad cop?”
Fusco: “I’m saying you’re a terrible cop.”
Reese: “There is no after for people like us.”
Reese: “You sure you were an interrogator, not a drill sergeant?”
Reese: “I figured maybe if I didn’t have a picture to carry around with me, I’d be better at my job.”
four out of four pictures
sunbunny, person of interest and Bear the Dog fangirl
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