Person of Interest: Terra Incognita

“Will you stay with me? Just for a little bit.”

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


lisianpeia said...

Didn't she get that picture when she and Donnelly went to Jessica's house when they were investigating her death?

Baby M said...

Correct, she got the picture in "Many Happy Returns," and John's military personnel file. At the end of the episode, Carter shredded the file but kept the picture.

Anonymous said...

The question I'm still chewing on is, why in the world would Carter be carrying that picture in her notebook? It was presumably the notebook that she carried every day - so she had to know if something happened to her (wounded, killed, captured, arrested) it would be taken and the picture would be easily found. I can see her keeping the it and stashing it somewhere painfully safe at home, but not carrying it around with her. (Yes, I get that it was a dramatic device, but it annoys me.)

And for that matter - why were Carter's personal effects still being held? Her murder was open and shut, and Simmons wasn't going to stand trial (in this life, anyhow). The cold case should have been returned to the file and her belongings should have been given to Taylor long ago.

Oh, and Taylor ... didn't Reese promise to look in on him? Yeah ...

It was a beautifully acted episode, and some of the writing was truly wonderful, but once I stopped crying, I started to see a lot of dramatic stretching going on. (The writers have no one but themselves to blame. They're the ones who got us all trained to look at every time detail.)

Michael said...

Re-appearance of Carter only reinforces how much better her character was than Root and Shaw combined.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't see how his relationship with Iris is believable when he knows nothing about the woman at all. Out of every relationship that he's had on the show, this one feels like it literally came out of thin air. Also they have no chemistry.

Billie Doux said...

Made me cry. Beautiful acting. Definitely a four star episode.

Freeman said...

Great episode. It was nice to legitimately peek inside Reese's head without an annoying person prodding him with a stick. Good to see Carter back, even if it was in an incorporeal state.

Glad to see POI still has its dramatic mojo working.