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Person of Interest: Many Happy Returns

“I know where he is. I just can’t reach him. Or stop him.”

Now this is how you combine flashbacks with a story of the week. In the previous episode, the transitions to and from flashback felt jerky and awkward. Here, the writers used the parallel stories of Jessica and Sarah to build on each other, ultimately creating more suspense and interest.

The story of the week was simple and uncomplicated, which really let the very complicated emotions of the situation shine through. Love, hate, anger, guilt: all the good stuff. In my review for "Flesh and Blood", I mentioned how angry Reese is when Elias dares to harm a child. Apparently his real trigger is abusive husbands. Caviezel was downright scary in this episode. He earns a Sunbunny gold acting star for this week, definitely.

His erratic behavior, combined with rage against Jennings, guilt over Jessica, and a feeling of betrayal towards Finch made me positive he was going to kill Jennings at the end of the episode. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded. The thought of having an abusive husband in law enforcement is absolutely terrifying.

Reese has killed many people, but Jessica’s death haunts him more than any of his victims’. He sees her death as preventable. If he had been able to come back for her and hadn’t been sent to China with Stanton, if Jessica’s mother had realized something was off between her and Peter, if Reese had never left in the first place... This guilt connects him with Finch in a very real and unexpected way. Finch is also haunted by the deaths he was powerless to prevent.

In a very Lost moment, Finch runs into Reese at the hospital when he finds out about Jessica’s death. Obviously Finch knows who Reese is and what he’s just found out, but is Finch also at the hospital for legitimate health reasons? He is in a wheelchair, after all. Is February 2011 when he got his spinal fusion surgery?

Bits and Pieces:

The title of this episode was so creepy. Of course it refers to Reese’s birthday, but it also references the abused women who return to the men who abuse them and the inevitable recurrence of that abuse.

We get to see the origin of Reese’s horrific beard, previously seen in the pilot.

Jessica was a nurse. Reese was a soldier. How very 1940s of them.

Sarah Jennings is played by Dagmara Dominczyk, who starred in The Count of Monte Cristo alongside Jim Caviezel.

So this Mexican prison has one or two other Americans. Does that mean that Peter is alive? They never did find a body. Or does Reese just go around hauling off random abusive husbands to Mexico?


“When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different, someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?”
Even though she’s gone, Jessica still connects Reese with the world. He can better relate to people because he’s been through the pain of losing her.

“She said she would wait.”
Now they’re just trying to make me cry.

“When I first built the Machine, I kept seeing the same numbers come up a week, a month, six months apart. Usually women. At first I thought it was a mistake. How could anyone’s life be repeatedly threatened? And then I realized they were living with the person who would eventually kill them.”

“Who the hell are you?”
“That’s a good question. Haven’t known the answer for a long time. I know who I was. I was the guy who left her behind.”
Reese seems to blame himself more for Jessica’s death than the man who actually killed her. If he had been there, she never would have met Peter. It seems like, in trying to deconstruct Reese’s conscience, Stanton actually made parts of it stronger.

Four out of four keys in boxes


  1. This one was without a doubt one of my favorites of the season. Jim Caviezel was on FIRE. He gives one of the "get out of my way if you know what's good for you" looks in the business. He acts with his eyes as well as Gary Sinise does on CSI:NY. The scene when he walks into the Marshals' office to lay the smackdown on Jennings was awesome, and especially when he had the stones to toss his gun away before he was even halfway to the exit. :)

    Really enjoyed finally learning about what happened to Jessica, and learning about how Finch and Reese first crossed paths. When Finch was looking at Reese from the wheelchair, the fold her had in his lap had photos of Reese, Jessica, and Peter, with what looks like SSNs for all three. Did the machine spit out all three numbers? Is that how Finch first learned about Reese's skillset? Did he know that's why Reese would want to join him on his mission, because he'd suffered a loss the machine could have prevented? That seems to be the indication.

    It was also nice to see Detective Carter learn more about Reese too, even if he doesn't know that she's learned it. And learning at the end about where he put Jennings, and that he may have done the same in other cases really seems to have strengthened her faith in Reese. She knows he's capable of being judge, jury and executioner. But she also knows that he's capable of holding back, that he can put justice over vengeance. I imagine that means a lot to her.

  2. Sunbunny,

    When Carter learned there were a couple of other Americans at the Mexican prison, I didn't even think about the possiblity of Peter being there. I thought of the possibility that that was where Reese had put Andrew, the rapist from Cura Te Ipsum.

    I agree with Patrick, this was one of my favorites of the season. It was so saddening to learn what happened to Jessica and to see the guilt eating away at Reese.

    It's scary and maddening how easily these "husbands" rationalize their behaviors towards their spouses. Loved the beat downs Reese dispense both in the Marshall's office and at the hotel.

    I liked the fact that Finch didn't trust what Reese was going to do with Jennings and called Carter but it's Carter who does end up trusting Reese to do the "right thing".

  3. Matthew - It didn't even occur to me that Andrew might be there! Interesting. Is it wrong I hope Reese killed him and his body is slowly decomposing somewhere it will never be found?

  4. Caught this one on re-runs, and enjoyed it again! I'd just watched the series pilot on DVD with the producer commentary (recommended), and I noticed that in this episode, Finch and John meeting on the bench echoes the last scene of the pilot. I think it means a fun transition to a new phase of their relationship.

    At this point, does Finch have Carter's phone tapped, so he hears the conversation between her and the prison warden? I think he does. :-)

  5. Whoah.

    More and more intense with each passing week.

    Quoting you : "a Sunbunny gold acting star". Oh, this IS good. Quoting you a second time : "How very 1940s of them." Reading your reviews is a joy.

    "Mr Reese ? We have a problem."

  6. [I]f Jessica’s mother had realized something was off between her and Peter,

    I think she did know what was happening, which makes Jessica's death even worse. In the scene with Carter and Jessica's mother, the mother hints that she knew her daughter was being abused. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. A lot of parents of abused women feel that it is not their place to interfere in a marriage and try to pretend that either it is not happening or it is not as bad as it appears.

    I had the same thought about Peter being in the prison. It wouldn't surprise me and, I wold guess, a Mexican prison could be a fate worse than death. I'm with sunbunny on Andrew. I hope he is worm food.

    Can I just say I now have apartment envy? If anyone wanted to give me such a birthday present, I promise I would accept it with grace and class.


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