Person of Interest: Cura Te Ipsum

Andrew: “You're a good man.”
Reese: “Good? I lost that part of myself a long time ago.”

What does it take to be “good”? What does it mean?

It’s often been said that Person of Interest feels like Ben and Sayid’s time as a team during Season 4 of Lost. In this episode, the comparisons between Reese and Sayid, especially their concern about not being a good person, were intensified in that last very tense scene, which gave us some food for thought about the nature of goodness.

Though Andrew may have been just bargaining for his life when he said he could see Reese was a good man, I think it’s true. Granted, he’s done many bad things, but he believed he was doing them for a good cause. I’m not saying it’s justified, just speculating what must be true to him, at least at the time he was doing them. On the other hand, regardless of intention, all these things have taken its toll on him. He’s conflicted, and in desperate need of redemption. Finch chose the right man for the job. It’s not just him: we had three examples, besides Reese, of people dealing with bad decisions. And as he said, “maybe there are no good people. Maybe there are only good decisions.”

The first was Dr. Tillman (played by Linda Cardellini, who looks a lot like Alona Tal), a good person bent on exacting revenge against the man who raped and drove her sister to suicide, dealing with a future bad decision. She’s planned and prepared everything to the minimal detail. If she had carried out her plan, would she still be a good person? Just because she’d be ridding the world of a bad person, is the cause a good one? Reese knows that if she had, she would have lost a part of her forever, as he has, so he took matters into his own hands. But just by meticulously planning the assassination, hasn’t she already lost at least a little of that part?

The second was Andrew, the rapist, who’s getting back what he had coming for the bad decisions he has been and will probably keep making. If there are two types I have no pity for, it’s bullies and rapists. Can he repent and be a better person? If he stops raping for fear of Reese, would that make him good?

And finally there was Andrew, who had to deal with the consequences of his past bad decisions. He was shown under a more sympathetic light here, and I can certainly see his redemption soon. He seems to be a good father and, as was stated in the pilot, his heart was not in crime. Would being good for now redeem him of his acts? Will he prove to be more trustworthy, too? I think so, but wouldn’t bet my life on it. Let’s hope the Torero cartel is gone for good.

You must have noticed there were many more questions than affirmations in this review. It was the only way I found of writing about an episode about doubt. I always say that art is about asking questions, not answering them, and that’s what the episode excelled at. Even the open ending was a master stroke. It doesn’t matter what he ended up doing to Andrew; the conflict in Reese’s mind is not getting resolved anytime soon.

On the Detective Carter front, she’s zeroing in on Reese, getting to meet Finch in a terrific scene. I like that she’s really competent and doesn’t cut corners in investigations. Let’s see where it gets us.

Bits and Pieces:

— In case you skipped Latin or forgot how to google, the title means "heal thyself," as in "Physician, heal thyself," in Luke 4:23; which are two Lost numbers, by the way.

— Reese is calling Finch by his first name, whereas Finch uses “Reese”, the opposite of what happened in the pilot.

— It’s easy to frame somebody, isn’t it? Guns last week, drugs now. I’m paranoid.

— Leg shot count: 0 again. He should have shot the cartel guys’ legs the first time around, though; he nearly failed his mission getting abducted. I think the writers cheated there.

— I’m not a Spanish expert, but I think I detected a lot of Anglicism when Reese spoke to the cartel thug. It may sound like a criticism, but it’s actually more realistic than the usual spy who can speak several foreign languages perfectly. Sometimes they can even fool native speakers into believing they’re compatriots. That’s nearly impossible.

— We had a glimpse of Finch’s back problem. And while he was deceiving the doctor to switch her pager, I think he was telling the truth about his pain. Poor Finch. Should he be doing push-ups, like last week, though?

Quotes:

The dialogues between Finch and Carter, Reese and the doctor in the diner, and the one in the last scene were really good. It was hard not to reproduce them verbatim here.

Reese: “In other words... in other words, we'll have to watch her around the clock to figure out what kind of trouble she's in.”
Finch: “If you'd like a raise, Mr. Reese, all you have to do is ask.”
Does Reese get a paycheck?

Finch: “Detective Carter, I suppose you're used to being around guns, I suppose scenes of violence are commonplace for you, but I can assure you that for me, it was terrifying. I was so terrified, I couldn't even look away. So, when he picked me up, I thought surely I was about to die. So, yes, I was communicating with him. I was begging for my life. I’m sorry I can’t remember the exact words I used.”
I would have fallen for his act for sure. Pretty convincing.

Reese: “The guy you got tied up in the back of the van can wait. You're smart. And you've been careful. You probably wouldn't get caught. But the truth is, you'll never really get away with it.”

Reese: “Maybe you could change. And maybe so could I.”

Reese: “Which do you think I'll regret more-- letting you live or letting you die? Andrew... Help me make a good decision.”
Killer last line.

This episode looks like the show crouching to make its leap into greatness, but it hasn’t gotten there yet. Three and a half out of four open endings.

7 comments:

JK said...

Great show; great episode; great review. All I've got really.

Anyone not watching needs to reexamine their decisions. :P

Patrick said...

I thought it was a bold choice, not showing us what Reese decided to to about the rapist. Kinda reminds me of the end of Inception where the question is more important than the answer.

The first episode of this show intrigued me, by the 2nd episode(Ghosts) it was my favorite new show of the season. I'm glad CBS just gave it a full-season pickup, I can't wait to see where they take these characters.

Gus Brunetti said...

It's great news, isn't it, Patrick. I hope they take bigger risks now they have assurance of a full season.

Billie Doux said...

There was such a "Lady or the Tiger" feel to the end of the episode. After I thought about it for awhile, I decided that Reese probably decided to kill him. But if he did, that would be like saying the doctor was right to kill the rapist in the first place, and all Reese accomplished in this episode was keeping the murder of the rapist off her conscience. What a fascinating ending.

Matthew L said...

Billy: What is great about this show is all the little elements that are tied up in subsequent episodes and gives you a great feeling of continuity.

And though it's not out and out stated, we can infer what Reese actually did to Benett when it's brought up in a later episode, which one I forget at the moment. :)

ChrisB said...

Normally, I get very frustrated at endings like this, believing that the writers have copped out by not making a choice. However, in a show all about doubts and choices, this seems like the only way they could have gone. Excellent ending!

I'm seeing what everyone else has been saying; this show is truly remarkable.

celticmarc said...

Another good episode.

That end was a very bold, and wise, move.

Good stuff.