Person of Interest: Pilot

Reese: “Bad things happen to people every day. You can't stop that.”
Finch: “What if you could?”

From what we’ve seen in its very fast-paced pilot, Person of Interest looks like a promising show. We were introduced to the two core characters, Reese and “Finch,” well enough to know they are three-dimensional, but more than enough was left to keep them mysterious.

Reese is a badass. The kind that enters a room full of armed thugs, aware that he can disarm and disable them. Oh, and shoot them in the legs. He really likes to shoot people in the legs. A former government agent, he’s a homeless drunk when we first meet him. Through flashbacks, we learn he was ready to give up the CIA so he could spend more time with the woman he loved, Jessica, of whom we knew almost nothing.

But then 9/11 came and his dreams were shattered. It was implied that he felt he couldn’t abandon his country after such a terrible event, so he re-enlisted, and as consequences of that action, he lost Jessica and drifted into his hobo lifestyle, among others. He is played by the very talented Jim Caviezel, famous for being the most tortured Jesus Christ in the history of movies.

Finch doesn’t disclose his real name, so we’ll have to make do with the alias for now. Played creepily as usual by Michael Emerson, shares some traits with his other famous character, Benjamin Linus. Both have impressive resources and don’t hesitate to use them to find a striking way of proving a point. But, unlike Ben, Finch claims he will never lie to Reese. Did you believe it?

He is a somewhat handicapped millionaire who worked on making his fortune grow until 9/11. Then, he built a machine to help the government prevent another terrorist attack using the cameras and microphones spread all around the big cities such as New York. The non-terrorist tips that were being ignored ate away at him, so he decided to do something to stop premeditated crimes from happening, and hires Reese to do the heavy lifting for him. And he doesn’t like firearms.

He has no official access to the machine anymore, so he only gets the social security number of someone involved in the crime. He has to stay on the fringe, otherwise he’ll get noticed.

The Case of the Week:

We were briefly introduced to ADA Diane Hansen, seemingly a damsel in distress. Then there was a rushed game of tag between people who could be behind it all, leading up to a group of crooked cops, and back to Hansen as the mastermind. I was not surprised. Or interested.

Bits and Pieces:

— Caviezel’s performance in the pilot is very intense. Will he be able to keep it up for long before having a stroke?

— Reese is not Batman. He kills if he judges it necessary.

— The producers were smart when dealing with such a sensitive topic as 9/11. They didn’t minimize the tragedy, but pulled no punches, criticizing the policy of turning a blind eye to everything except terror.

— I bet Finch was inside the WTC when it was hit, and it was then he was crippled. Probably lost the one he loved as well.

— Reese’s beard looked so fake, it reminded me of Tom Friendly.

— Reese was watching Seven Samurai, I think. There’s a badass drunk samurai in that movie, too.

— Lack of privacy and conspiracies. This is a perfect show for paranoia.

— The sequence where they introduce Pope was particularly rushed. Blink and you’ll miss the thread.

— Almost forgot to mention Lionel, but there’s little to say about him. We’ll know better in future episodes.

Quotes:

Reese: “You know, it's funny. Seems like the only time you need a name now is when you're in trouble. Am I in trouble?”

Stills: “Who are you?”

Reese: “Concerned third party?”

Finch: “I recognize, Mr. Reese, that there's a disparity between how much I know about you and how much you know about me. I know you'll be trying to close that gap as quickly as possible. But I should tell you I'm a really private person.”

Reese: “I don’t particularly like killing people, but I’m good at it”

Finch: "I've been watching you for a long time, John."
Now, that line was ripped straight from Lost.

I liked this pilot, but was not awed. I’ll definitely tune in next week, though.

30 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Welcome, Gus! We're very happy to have you join the team.

(And I'll congratulate you on your sure-to-be-wonderful first review once I've watched the show. I don't want to be spoiled on what happens when Ben Linus and Jesus get hold of a magical mind-reading device.)

Billie Doux said...

Welcome to the blog, Gus! I still haven't seen this pilot either, so I'll post a more comprehensive comment a bit later on.

Heather said...

Welcome, you we love it here. :) I'm with you on Person of Interest. It was good, but mostly because of the excellent performances of ~Ben Linus and Caviezel. The story was kinda meh, but it's only the pilot and they usually have the least room for story because of the exposition. Also, it was a bit hard to believe in "the machine," but I'm willing to go with it for now as long as it doesn't get outrageous.

Solid, slightly creepy, and well-acted. I liked it even though I wasn't expecting to.

Heather said...

Excuse the typo. "Welcome, you will love it here."

Patryk said...

More reviewers yay! Nice debut review. As for the show, haven;t seen it yet, but i laughed at the last quote. I can imagine Ben... I mean mr.Finch saying it. Other reviewers have noted that Emerson makes you forget he was Linus during the pilot. Do you think so too?

HellBlazerRaiser said...

I'm in for the season, because I expect some big twist to hit in a few episodes, that will shift the paradigm.

It was better than I expected, but it does seem like it's Ben Linus off the Island trying to make amends.

I can see PERSON OF INTEREST fitting snuggly in the timeframe right after Hurley took over the Island. Ben became Hurley's #2 and Hurley changed the rules, so Ben was sent off the Island to redeem himself and save people.

Gus Brunetti said...

Thanks for the welcoming party, guys!

Heather, I already love it here. I just started reviewing, but I have been a reader/commenter for years. And you're right, the strong point of the pilot was the acting.

Patryk, I'm a huge LOST fan. In fact, I consider myself a lostie. So it'll be long time before Emerson makes me forget about Ben.

HBR, I hope you're right. I really want this to be a great show. And it does seem to fit in the Island mythology rather well. I wouldn't complain about a veiled sequel to LOST.

Suzanne said...

Great review, Gus. I liked the pilot and will definitely come back for more. Like some of you I imagined that i was watching a Lost sequel of sorts in parts of the show -- one focusing on the time when Ben had Sayid working for him on the mainland.

Carol said...

Gus, I enjoyed your review, which I think captured the pilot perfectly.

I'd like to add two more quotes, both of which followed a pattern that I bet we'll see more in the future, and which seemed to fit this show somehow. Both said by Finch:

"I gave you a job. I didn't say it would be easy."
"I said I'd never lie to you. I didn't say you'd like it." (or it might have been "I didn't say you'd like what you heard.")

kevin said...

just watched the pilot and found it interesting.

i have a question about the hotel room reese was in after shaving his beard and where the Samurai show was on tv.

reese gets in bed with a drink, the drink spills off the night stand, and a flash back ensues.

after flashback, reese is handcuffed to the bed, and finch is calling him on the phone, and you hear a women getting murdered. the room is definitely different (different head board, diferent picture above the bed, fancier hotel, etc.).

does anybody know why?
i went back and rewatched this scene a few times, trying to figure out why and i can't. does anybody have a thought? thanks!

kevin

Josie Kafka said...

Kevin, I think Finch drugged Reese and had his henchmen move him to a different hotel.

Gus Brunetti said...

Much probably what Josie said. Besides, if Reese had checked into the hotel room right next to the one where the crime whose recording Finch had, it would be too much of a coincidence to be believed.

It also underlines that, though he's a badass, getting drunk is hs weakness. It'll probably be an upcoming plotline.

I read somewhere that there are similarities between Reese and Jack from LOST, and they're right; but many characters will have traits in common, it's inevitable.

Olga said...

I am obviously in minority here, but I couldn't even finish it. It didn't capture my interest at all...

I might give it a second chance if or when it gets better

Josie Kafka said...

It's been a few days now, and I can't bring myself to resume PoI where I left off, with Natalie Zea in the jail with the guy, and Jesus outside with a nightstick ready to...rush in to defend her honor after hearing a noise, outside??

Anyway, I don't think this show is for me. Especially not when the latest Inspector Lewis beckons.

Dustin said...

Great review Gus. Unlike you, I didn't see the Diane Hansen twist coming. I was actually losing interest in the episode until that happened. After that I became much more involved.
I don't think Finch was in the WTC when it was hit. He mentioned not realizing what had happened until later in the day on 9/11.
Overall I liked it enough to watch a few more.

CrazyCris said...

I think someone Finch cared about deeply was one of those "ignored numbers" so it hit really close to home that those were people, not numbers.

Interesting premise, but blah case of the week, great actors. WIll definitely give it a few weeks to see how it goes, then will decide

Great review Gus!

Billie Doux said...

Too many shows to watch all of a sudden (must be late September) so I just got to this one. And I agree with a lot of the comments. It was intriguing, but didn't blow me away. It felt like a non-sci-fi Quantum Leap, with Caveziel as an alcoholic Sam Beckett, Emerson as a twisted and damaged Al, and a backdrop of really creepy Big Brother supersurveillance instead of fun time travel into the past. I just don't get how anything surveillance-like can figure out that some sort of violent act is about to happen, no matter how extensive it is. And where would it get the social security numbers? I'm probably going to try a couple more episodes. We'll see.

Caviezel’s performance in the pilot is very intense. Will he be able to keep it up for long before having a stroke? Gus, I thought that was hilarious.

Gus Brunetti said...

Thanks for the compliments and the encouragement, everybody. This is my first review ever, not only for this site, so it really means a lot.

I like all the speculation about Finch's past. I'm even less sure than I was about my theory.

Josie, I understand why you were not interested in the ADA's case, and there's a very goo reason for that: it's not interesting. If you just stop trying to follow it and focus on Reese and Finch, it's much more entertaining. That's what I did.

Billie, my great fear is that it turns out to be mostly a procedural. And given CBS's history, it's a big possibility. Let's see what happens tonight. Fingers crossed.

Patryk said...

And if it's not enough of a procedural, CBS will fire the showrunners and force it to become one. *cough* Blood Bloods *cough*.

TJ said...

I think this is probably the best new show so far this season. And that was unexpected, didn't think this was my genre at all. I was intrigued by the pilot and the 2nd episode was even better.

There are fascinating back-stories about both Reese and Finch and I can't wait to find out more...

I think this might be the new Lost and I am definitely in for the season.

kevin said...

just curious if the second episode will be reviewed? i can't find it; am i missing it? Thanks!

Gus Brunetti said...

Hi, Kevin

Its not decided yet if this show will be a regular feature on the site. It has happended before that a new show looks promising, but then it turns out not to have legs, and the reviwer is stuck with it. So we'll wait a few more episodes and see.

All I can say is that it's probable.

Thanks for your interest!

Paul Kelly said...

Hi, Gus. I'm a bit late to the PoI party, but I quite enjoyed this episode. As with virtually every pilot, it had its faults. Caviezel (I want to call him Castiel) seemed to go from kipper in the beard hobo, to clean shaven Messiah a little too quickly for my liking -- and, like Billie, I couldn't work out how a machine like that would actually work -- but I'm cautiously optimistic. Whether I'll continue watching will depend on the weirdness factor. If, as you say, it turns into a bog-standard police procedural, then probably not. But if they play on the machine aspect of the show a little more, that might be enough to hold my interest. Anyway, great review, Gus. Even if I stop watching I'll still be reading :o)

ChrisB said...

This is the one show that everyone with whom I discuss television tells me I must watch. I wasn't sure about the premise when I heard about it, but decided to give it a shot.

This pilot did not engage me in the way others have before. I was very impressed with Caviezel's and Emerson's acting and I was taken with the chemistry between them. But (and it's a big but), I thought the story was a bit blah and the pacing a bit slow.

The show is so universally praised that I will give it the first DVD disc. If I had watched this pilot when it aired, I probably would have stopped at this point.

sunbunny said...

ChrisB - As I remember the pilot is a bit clunky and exposition-y. The show's really gotten good since then. People advising you to watch it are right!

That said, you might have to give it two discs... :/ It only starts being awesome when the relationship between Finch and Reese gets closer. Plus it took the writers a few episodes to figure out that humor can be an excellent addition, even in a dark crime procedural.

Given how much you love Castle, I think you'll like it. :) Be sure to let me know what you think!

Josie Kafka said...

ChrisB, I gave up on it early on and didn't get into it until much later, around the mid-season hiatus, I think.

I still haven't watched some of the early episodes, and I'm able to follow along and enjoy the show. So you might want to think about skipping some duds. I remember that "Cura Te Ipsum" was really good.

ChrisB said...

OK, sunbunny and Josie -- it's a deal. Two discs...

:-)

celticmarc said...

Wow. Love the concept.

Seeing the hype on this blog about this show made me curious. And, as I wrote earlier, the Canadian site of Amazon had also a Black Friday, so when I saw that the season 1 DVD set was at half price, I jumped on it.

So, with a very reasonable price for the set, I've just finished watching the pilot. Always a pleasure to watch Mister Emerson, who, as some of you know, totally blew my mind last summer (during my epic viewing marathon) for his amazing work on Lost.

Of course, when you have 42 minute time table for a pilot, some elements are rushed. But, just for the concept, I'm hooked. (And I wasn't thinking about Jesus, but a rebooted Prisoner....)

(Pretty weird now, that huge fire near my home yesterday felt like a mini local 911)

celticmarc said...

LMAO for HellBlazerRaiser's 3rd paragraph. Oh, this is good !

Wow, that Island has really left a strong impression on some of us.

I will not marathon this season to get up to date with the current one, but I intend to go through it these upcoming weeks.

Iceman said...

Person of Interest's pilot does a sufficient job in getting the audience interested in the premise and world of the show, but does a significantly poorer job at providing a compelling story in the here-and-now. The plot involving the number-of-the-week is a tired one that procedurals have been churning out for decades-though the twist is appreciated. Overall, I appreciate "Pilot" for what it did-introducing the characters and universe of Person of Interest-than what it was.

2.5 out of 4.