This clip in the opening credits gives us very little in the way of information, Reese is standing behind someone mean-looking, looking rather sinister himself. So presumably at some point he gets up close and personal with his assignment, whether or not this involves any form of the truth. Beyond that, we'll start off with a couple of traffic cameras, one of which likely belongs to the helicopter flying away as we get to the episode itself, and a man opening up the back of an ambulance.
Finch will give us the precis over headset: this week's number is Michael Cahill, early-mid thirties, apparently an EMT of some kind with no documented attachments. Unlike other assignments, we get the information on this one in layers, as though Finch is enjoying subverting expectations by contradicting himself every minute or so. Though probably not for that reason, since we're only hearing his voiceover, not seeing his face; this isn't about Finch's reasons or reactions for giving the briefing the way he is. Why, then? Because this episode is all about layers, and mostly, layers of appearance over the truth and how easy it is to get lost between them. The first layer, Michael Cahill upstanding citizen with an altruistic job and no documented attachments. The second layer, Michael Cahill who uses his altruistic job to smuggle what looks to be moderate amounts of wealth in the form of diamonds, as well as probably other stuff; previous offenses include breaking and entering as well as assault. There's a whole lot of "as you know Bob" in the Reese-Finch dialogue here to use this device of layering, and Reese will kindly pull the cord on this lampshade at the end with the comment of how the more dangerous they are, the closer he wants to be to them. Hey, look at that. He's the getaway driver. How kind of the show to provide this anvil-shaped footrest.
More Machine footage by way of transition and demarcation between scenes, and the ambulance is being pulled over by a cop car. Well, that's not good. Reese makes about as good of an attempt at interfering as he can, but given that he's most likely the newest guy in a crew of people who may well have been working together for a number of jobs (given the smoothness with which they move otherwise) his interference is brushed off. We don't need the gun with the slide racked to know what Cahill means by taking care of the cops, but it helps, it's a handy visual. Reese doesn't like this. Reese is probably, by his clicking off the safety on his own weapon, contemplating doing something stupid. A bit of exposition from another friend says non-explicitly that he trust Cahill to talk them out of trouble, implying that he's done it before and impressed his ability to do so on his cohorts. And then we get an interesting bit of trivia on Cahill, which is that this guy's never met anyone who hated cops as much as him. Uh-huh. It's hard to say exactly what that means, lacking further context. Which we don't get because this jittery dumb blond mook further towards the back of the ambulance is making noises like he's going to do something stupid. His doing something stupid seems a lot more likely to end in bodies dropping than Reese's, I have to admit. Oh, but it also gets us the news that the other talker, who is now most likely the leader, is all paid up with HR. So now we know this team has been working together for a while (most likely with the exception of the jittery blond), we know who the leader is, and we know they have the support of HR. Or at least a contract with them. That's. Interesting. Cahill comes back and Reese tucks the gun in, and it turns out they have a busted taillight, and the cop was just letting them know as a courtesy. That was a slightly longer conversation than I would have expected for a busted taillight. I'm just saying. Still, it gets them away without any cops dying, so, sure, we'll go with that.
Continuing on, their journey ends outside of some older-model industrial or government building (the grating on those windows looks like some I've seen in schools, oddly) and the diamonds have been poured out onto a scale. Well, some of them. It looks like there's weighing and measuring going on, resulting in at least two baggies of diamonds, one getting tucked into the coat pocket of a man who turns and nods and says "da" and the other passed on to the speaker of the smuggling group as his cut. So, Russians! The Russian contingent gets in their car and drives off; the team stands behind with the dippy blond pulling out his gun and pointing it at the departing car like a moron. Then proceeding to slur out that he thought (read: hoped) he was going to have to kill them. This idiocy is greeted about as well as one might expect from a tightly run crew: with a whole lot of punching. It's cathartic! I kind of wanted to punch him in his dopey face, too. Cahill is clearly a man after my own heart, and it's not until the fifth or sixth punch that the leader stops him with a mild comment. Apparently this is not the first time Blondie's done this, because Cahill gives the one-more-mistake-dead ultimatum. How Blondie's managed to stay in this unit I'll never know, maybe he's related to someone. While this is going on Reese and after a second Cahill, I think, sloshes gasoline all over the inside of the ambulance. Then matches, then ambulance en flambe. And about all I can say to that is, I wonder how much of the explosively flammable shit they got out of there before they did that. Ambulances have the nasty habit of carrying gases under pressure, especially dangerous ones. It's not my first choice of vehicle to set on fire.
As the Machine follows Cahill with his little white box, Reese tells Finch via earpiece and us via voiceover that Cahill is on the move. At three in the morning. Finch, do you ever sleep? I mean, I know as a hacker you have a reputation to maintain, and I know Reese likes to think of himself as superhuman, but goddamn, man. Anyway, Cahill is on the move, heading to what looks like a suburban to spaced out urban lower middle class neighborhood of family houses. Reese gives the address for Finch to look up as Cahill fucks around with the lock, and Finch discovers it's a police officer named Tully's house. Well, um. Shit. No, not really, at this point I knew exactly what was going on and, to be fair, Reese barely gets beyond raising his weapon till the reveal happens, but the music does its damnedest to make this a tense moment! No, as it turns out, Michael Cahill is the undercover officer Tully. Well, that explains why the Machine gave out his number, undercover cops tend to be in constant danger, any little thing could spike a hit to the Machine. Dun dun dunnn! Or dun dun dun-dun dunnn, as this show goes.
After the break the Machine takes us back to 2008 to an unnamed mission with redacted personnel for a classified objective at an undisclosed location. So, that vagues things up nicely! No, we know who this is, this is Reese and Kara, And a radio spouting numbers in German. The fuck? Kara turns it off because she has no fucks to give for numbers stations, which by the computer-generated woman's voice and the string of German numbers, this is. There's a yellow fade over the whole scene and it's shot indoors to make the reveal in a few minutes the more surprising, but also to give an aged and tired atmosphere to the piece. It works, too. It makes me tired just looking at it. And the aging wash goes with the numbers stations, which (assuming they are intelligence organization based) are a form of covert operation support dating back to World War I. And aren't you glad we store all of this information so you don't have to? Anyway, Kara thinks Reese is foolish for listening to this, she doubts their operations are being run out of Langley (implying that Langley runs all or at least most of the numbers stations), and they're not even supposed to operate in this godforsaken country. What, Germany? Austria? German-speaking Belgium? Since Reese can't listen to the radio he'll continue to clean his weapon and get into a mild pissing contest with Kara over military background and weapon usage. About the only thing useful we get out of this is that she was in the Marines. And that she's more amused by Reese's diligence in cleaning his weapon than anything, because when there's a knock at the door, Kara just hands him her sidearm with a tiny smile rather than rag on him some more. Good operative. So, Reese will go answer the door oh, hi Snow. How not very nice at all to see you again. Hey, can I punch him in the face a few times? No? Damn. Snow comes bearing a gift of cheap Polish vodka, which is apparently the best he could do in whatever godforsaken country they're in. And then there's some more spy talk about is the package secure and so on, which it is, they just need to know where to deliver. Kara will go get a glass for the vodka from the hotel bathroom, letting us know that the package is a black bagged man in the bathtub. Still alive, going by the movement, and possibly unblooded but I wouldn't count on it. Reese wants to know what the package did. Which doesn't get him as reprimanded as I'd expected, and Kara comments that he looks government. And "the natives don't like us taking their people," and at this point I have to roll my eyes because the deliberate use of euphemism to disguise where they are is getting real old, real fast. Not to mention that the more they do that, the more it indicates that we're supposed to be surprised by the inevitable twist, which is then spoiled by the extent of the setup. There's a limited list of places it could be. Still. So, apparently the black bagged man tried to sell some US government software to the Chinese. And we all know where this is going, yes? Yes. All the rest is excessive use of smoke machines. So we'll skip over the excessive spytalk to the part where Snow sends Reese off to relax, reminding him that he's "behind enemy lines" and should he be caught or compromised, the Secretary will disavow all etc. etc. Wait, wrong show. Reese goes out, and we get the big reveal of a very yellow and smoggy New York City skyline. I will reach for the jar of surprised face out of obligation, not out of any actual sense of surprise.
Back to the present for a surprise that was actually surprising! Cahill's name is actually Daniel Tully, graduated a little under ten years ago from the police academy, scrubbed since then so he could become Michael Cahill, complete with fake SSN! Which is of course what the Machine picked up on. Finch's solution is simple, but Reese has somewhat more of an awareness of the delicacy of undercover operations and won't be carrying out Finch's suggestion just yet. Instead he watches notCahill get into a car and then, hmm, another person getting into that car with him! Could it be his handler? Could it could it could it? Could they be any more obvious? Possibly, but it would involve waving a 3-foot neon sign over their heads saying "covert dealings happening here." You guys, this is no way to run an undercover op. Remember the one back with Carter's CI? Now that's a way to arrange a meet with someone whose pretense needs to be maintained. This? Not so much. Anyway, handler gets in and tosses the guy's badge into his lap, snarking about how notCahill's being reckless (and what are you doing, Mr. Obvious Handler person?) and announcing himself and so on. Reese will now say out loud that this is notCahill's handler, and yes, I'm going to continue using that name because that's the name he's going to be using for most of the episode. It's easier than confusing us both by going back and forth. NotCahill is suffering from assignment fatigue, being someone else for extended periods of time is exhausting. And this trip home is his way of reaching out for the touchstone back to his normal life, for the link back to who he was and who he wants to be. The handler sympathizes (or pretends to, I'm not ruling out that the threat is coming from HR via handler, nor should Reese and Finch although they haven't brought that up yet) and offers to pull him out, saying they have enough on Vargas, who is heading up the smuggling ring they're into. But notCahill is in this to get LOS, who is apparently a bigger fish than Vargas, they could have had Vargas months ago. All right, fair enough. Well, the handler doesn't think so. NotCahill thinks LOS is picking up the next delivery in person, which would definitely help, yes, and he thinks they've found the direct source to the originating point of what would have to be hard drugs. Cocaine? Heroine? Something that comes in a small baggie and isn't cooked up here. Skeptical handler is still skeptical, this time less about the existence of LOS and more about the advisability of this plan, and we have the requisite speech about black suits and informing his wife. Bah, notCahill can handle it, but he does want his handler looking into who Vargas paid off within the cops, because he was too confident about the patrol car they ran into last night. Interestingly, he doesn't mention HR, indicating he doesn't know or at the very least, doesn't believe Vargas is involved with them. Which would be stupid of Vargas as HR has been proven to be rather territorial. Reese relays this to Finch, brings up HR, and still seems to be holding a grudge against them for that whole killing Carter thing. Protective Reese is protective!
Hey, speaking of Carter, let's go over to the 8th precinct again where Carter is being harassed yet again by Agent Snow! Oh fun. He mentions how he was up in the Catskills following Reese's fingerprints at a vet clinic, but that turned out to be a dead end. Also, Reese has a tendency to leave bodies instead of living former helpers. He even has the brass to bring up Kara, conveniently of course omitting the fact that he was the one who tried to have both of them erased, not Reese. And it's not like Carter can check with anyone but Reese anyway, but Snow hasn't built up a damn bit of trust capital with her, so the look she gives his back as he walks away is more one of irritation and wariness than the look of someone who is as intimidated as Snow wants her to be. Snow, you're a moron. Go back to agent school. Oh, hey, though, speaking of Reese's partners, here's Finch! Shown actually walking up behind her rather than simply Batmanning in, the way Reese does. Possibly to contrast all the spycraft. Carter is exasperated in his general direction and points out that the agent who shot Reese just walked away. Finch isn't worried, since Snow doesn't know anything about Finch or his arrangement with Reese, in fact Finch is not quite smirking over that fact. He seems to enjoy being either the ace in Reese's back pocket or maybe simply knowing something that Agent Snow, who may have bought into his own omnipotence and/or omniscience, doesn't. Fun aside, Finch runs down the very essential details of the case to Carter, dirty cop of unknown rank and position included, and asks her to explain the system of undercover work to him. Who knows what, etc. Which also serves as an introductory advice for the viewers to get to know the undercover system as it works within this TV universe at least. Pictures to go with the text: Carter says that only notCahill's handler knows his identity, as we see his handler trundling down a hall with some files. Said files are hard-copy only, as the handler knocks on a door and AUGH IT'S THE CRACHER-MORTEL FUCK BARON SAMEDI WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE. No, actually, it's just Reg E Cathey as another, higher-ranked cop. But since we're doing this episode between two episodes of Grimm where Reg E Cathey is playing a character who styles himself Baron Samedi, I am deeply amused at the timing. So, the handler collects another officer from what the sign says is Internal Affairs Bureau, they walk down a hallway with the files on Cahill in hand, the IAB guy lets the handler in to what Carter describes as a file room for the undercover ops files. It's actually a room full of individual small safes, and only each handler has the combination for their undercover operatives' safe. Today the handler is depositing files in notCahill's safe, looking over his shoulder as he does so for maximum underlining of the paranoia factor here. Well, Finch considers this all as simple as breaking into a highly secure facility to destroy notCahill's file before anyone else can read it. Apparently it's not occurring to him that someone might already have discovered notCahill's real identity and not, therefore, need the files. And Carter thinks he's crazy for wanting to break into One Police Plaza (one-P-P, she calls it) anyway, and I can't disagree. Well, as long as Reese is busy, anyway. Finch thinks he has it covered. We even get an actual smirk this time, which doesn't happen often and isn't too well seen since it happens right as he turns, but still. That's definitely a smirk. Oh Finch. Anyone ever told you how deadly overconfidence can be?
And now we're back in the 8th with Fusco, just in case we didn't know who Finch was planning on using for this little adventure. I really feel sorry for Fusco sometimes, they use him awfully hard. That said, the fact that someone might be selling out an undercover cop should get Fusco's attention. Reese would like Fusco to reconnect with some of his old dirty buddies in Narcotics, find out if there's any chatter, as though it's that easy. Fusco points out that it's not actually that easy. And it's really not. He's turned into a (relatively) straight-arrow cop, and visibly. I have to giggle at Reese's comment about how Fusco's ass got him that commendation, remember the whole getting shot in the ass part? But, yeah, it's not that easy. Not that Reese cares. I suppose it's kind of a backhanded compliment that he thinks Fusco is a good enough talker that he can just integrate himself in with the dirty cops again, but I still want to shake him about being flippant with Fusco's safety like that.
Let's put a pin in that and go over to a requisite dark alley with some appropriate black SUVs where Shady Characters Are Meeting. One of these days they're going to have this meeting in an ice cream parlor where everyone's dressed in jeans and flannel. But it is not this day. Well, night. Looks like the gang's assembling, we have notCahill, Vargas, Reese, and the rest of the crew, and Vargas is on the phone saying things like "Which one?" and "Well find out." and "We'll go ahead with the delivery, though..." and we all know where this is going, yes? Yes. Reese damn well knows where this is going, he's been on enough ops to know when one's going south on him at Concorde speeds. He does get a picture of the car's license plate, I'd have to remember that trick except there's no real way to be sure you're getting the car's plate? Maybe just memorizing the angle or something. Anyway, Vargas says something about how LOS will kill them if they don't. Cheerful. Everyone's staring at him. Well this isn't going to cause tensions at all. They end up in the back of some restaurant, in the kitchens, where an older guy who may be the head chef is doing the Jewish Grandmother, Italian Grandmother, or insert your preferred ethnic/role stereotype here Grandmother (it's a stereotype because it's true) thing of "You never call, you never come over for dinner..." Now I'm picturing my grandmother running a crime ring. The sad thing is, it fits. Anyway, after the chitchat Chef Grandmother cuts open a bag of rice and crushes some grains into the table. If I tried that, rice grains would be popping all over my kitchen. Then again, if I tried that, it'd be with actual rice, not cocaine/heroine/whatever the fuck that is compressed into things that look like rice. Chef Grandmother thinks they should renegotiate the deal. Vargas thinks Chef Grandmother should stop thinking. Chef Grandmother thinks he should take the shipment directly to LOS, which of course results in guns drawn and a lot of itchy trigger fingers. God, especially Blondie's. Why is he along again? Chef Grandmother is the only one not pulling a gun, with both hands in the air. This will shortly prove to be a mistake. And you know, while I'm discussing their mistakes, if he wanted to pull this why didn't he just shoot Vargas and crew when they walked in rather than negotiate with someone he had to know wouldn't back down? Idiot Chef Grandmother. Which is why I'm neither surprised nor upset when Vargas pretends to back down and then plugs him in the face. And lo, there was a firefight. Blondie, of course, gets plugged in the leg while trying to go for the drugs, I think my only surprise here is that more of the good guys don't get plugged. I use the term "good guys" pretty advisedly, but still, I saw at least a couple extras on that crew who could have gotten shot to provide it with a more even balance of corpses. Blondie could have died! Not a single fuck would have been given. Either the directors forgot about continuity or only enough of the team survived to fill one SUV, or, no, probably the cameras only followed the cluster of people going with Reese. Because in addition to Vargas, Cahill, Reese, and Blondie, there's two other less stupid blond mooks and one bald guy to contend with, and seven people aren't going to pile in that one SUV in a hurry. So how did everyone make it out of there, when Blondie was the only one of our protagonists-ish shot? A question for the ages. Regardless, they do make it out, Reese covering their back as we see since he still thinks in those little yellow boxes. What fun they must have together!
Yep, when we get to the warehouse base we see the other two blonds coming out of another car, so they peeled out before we got the Machine's eye view of the escape. Big Viking looking dude helps Blondie out and then closes the warehouse door. Blondie whimpers on the couch as Vargas reveals he's deviating from the plan to bring the drugs directly to LOS. This can't be good. It's never good when hardass drug smugglers deviate from the plan. Especially not when his first command is for everyone to destroy their phones. The scene of this happening is intercut with the mobile command unit tracking notCahill attempting to trace his phone signal to his current location which they assume to be the dropoff point. Uh-huh. That's not going to happen, guys, sorry. And after taking away their guns and phones he announces that one of them's a cop, and in a couple hours he'll figure out which one, and then everyone else. Well. That's not good.
Back in 2008 Barack Obama is giving a speech as the president-elect as Reese holds up a piece of a bar. Another guy comes up to him chatting companionably, asking if he's from New York, where he's from originally. This gets really suspicious really fast when Reese says he's from a suburb of Seattle, Washington (Puyallup) and the guy comments on how his wife is from there, too. Though he hasn't been back in a long time, on account of "traveling for work." And other spy euphemisms. And the second he mentions New Rochelle we know who this is, as if we had any doubt in the first place. Conservation of characters indicates that this is the other man Jess ended up marrying, and Reese isn't at this bar by accident. Kara will now Batman in out of the aether and call Reese on his self-injurious shenanigans, to which Reese is immune. Well, sort of immune. He does lower his head in an admission of guilt if not an admission of feeling guilty, because he probably doesn't.
Back to the present and the warehouse of pain and suspicion! NotCahill thinks they should take Blondie to the hospital. As Blondie is a) an idiot, a1) a violent idiot, and b) a TV character I give no fucks whether or not he bleeds out all over that couch. Though, honestly, it probably wouldn't cost Vargas much to let Blondie go to the hospital, he's too fucking dumb to be an undercover cop. NotCahill gives Blondie a bottle of water and some helpful advice. And plants a phone on him. Oh yay. Well, to be fair, the guy's probably dead anyway. Reese opines as they should put a tourniquet on the guy's leg so he might shut up. I suspect that's only half-faked irritation there. Blondie's certainly been irritating the hell out of me since he showed up.
Back over to the precinct at what seems to be 3 in the morning according to the timestamp on the Machine, how rapidly do Fusco and Carter's shifts change, anyway? Do they just work, as I kind of suspect, at the convenience of the plot? Probably, but I still give the writers all of the side-eye and the characters a considerable amount of GO HOME AND SLEEP, DAMMIT. Anyway, back at the precinct a couple of homicide task force folks are getting called out, and they exposit in Carter's general direction that someone shot up "Soo Chen's", drug bust gone bad, etc, we all know what happened there. I'm entertained by the banter of "Damn shame, best Kung Pao in Queens." "Sorry for your loss," neither of which seems to be dismissive or hostile, just tired and snarky. It also is a nice moment of Carter having rapport with people who aren't (hopefully) dirty cops and aren't Fusco. This show could use some more of that, in my opinion, but it'd be hard to fit it in around all the other stuff. Maybe they could move some of the anvils to make room? Anyway, Carter gets a call from an Unknown number and immediately knows not only who it is, but also at least some of what's going on. Genre Savvy: It's what's for midnight snack! I also love Taraji's delivery of "you lost him," abruptly dropping her and Finch into the realm of parents, one of whom has forgotten to pick up their little boy at school. Seriously, that's what it sounds like. Yes, Finch has lost Reese and needs her help, and Carter will of course roll her eyes and help him. All Finch has, to his dismay, is a license plate. I also love the things Emerson does with his voice; that's an audible flop back and a sigh in his voice there. Not so much that Finch doesn't take being helpless well (he doesn't), but that he's dismayed not to have more for Carter to work with. Pat pat, Finch. There there. It'll be okay. Let Momma Carter clean up you boys' mess.
Seven in the morning! That is more than a couple of hours, though I won't be surprised if they don't comment on the fact. Resigned, but not surprised. Reese is tourniqueting Blondie's leg, though I would be surprised if Blondie hasn't passed out from shock and blood loss at this point. And for that matter if they're going to give him medical attention, they could at least cut away some of the cloth from the wound so it doesn't get in and infect and I'm going to stop babbling now. There is, in short, first aid that they are administering and could do more, but they're not. NotCahill leans over Reese's shoulder and they have the "Think it'll work?" "It'd take a miracle" conversation. I don't think either of them are going to lose that much sleep over Blondie, though. Psychotic fucker. And they have much, much bigger problems right now and very little to work with, and both of them have had the pragmatic bent trained into them of, there is only so much they can do with the tools they are given, and sometimes you have to make the hard choices. NotCahill is clearly taking it harder than Reese, though. For a very relative value of harder, considering he's also using that phone to alert his cop buddies. And then deleting messages. And not leaving the phone in his jacket pocket? Are you high? You could totally plant the phone on Blondie and make him for the cop and be safe yourself oh why do I bother. And he might still be doing that? Maybe? Except for the part where he slipped the phone into his pocket. Argh. Argh, I say.
Hey, speaking of cops who could be a little smarter, oh Fusco. He's going ahead and meeting with HR, in daylight this time, at a park. He's also playing it like he's an independent operative of some means and success, and I have no idea how the hell he thinks he's going to sell this without Finch's backup, but oh Fusco. You have such bravado and it does get you places, but this is not one of those times when I would rely mainly on that if I were you. Not at all. He claims to be offering this HR cop a place in a scheme to twist Vargas's arm and get a percentage, which we already know (not that Fusco does because Finch didn't tell him, because sometimes this game of Whisper Down the Lane gets way too messy) HR has a percentage of Vargas's take. This might work better if Fusco claimed to be looking for a greater percentage, but rather than a yes or a no HR cop questions Fusco's bona fides and what is he doing popping up out of the blue like this. Pun halfway intended. Yeah, if I was that guy, I'd be asking these questions too, Fusco's story reeks worse than three day dead fish. And Fusco's last team wound up in prison. So, HR cop says if Vargas isn't already paid up with HR, Fusco can have him, indicating that this cop, whoever he is in HR, isn't high up enough to have access to the books. Okay then. Fusco asks who he's going to contact if he needs to contact HR, well, obviously this guy. All righty then. Fusco and the other guy circle around each other a bit more and then walk off in separate directions, Fusco heading sinister of course, because they put him on the good guy side. As Fusco heads off he gets a phone call from Finch, who says that shift change at OnePP might be their best and only opportunity. Opportunity for what, Fusco asks. Oh honey, you will be so sorry you asked that. We'll find out pretty quick, though, as the next scene cut takes us further along this line with Fusco creeping along those same basement? hallways we saw the handler and the IAB guy walking earlier in the episode. Fusco is still getting used to the whole Finch directly in his ear thing. Finch is in no mood to give Fusco room to get used to anything and is sharper than usual. Fusco's assignment is to spoof the keycard of the IAB detective checking the room, break into the safe, and get Tully's file before Vargas's informant can get to it. And again, it doesn't sound like they're considering that someone may have already gotten to it. Which makes me want to throttle people. Having covered that, though, we have to have a near miss to amp up the tension a little bit. And the humor, apparently, because this near miss is with Carter just as he gets off the line with Finch. Apparently Carter was "just leaving" and Fusco was just running an errand for the Captain and neither of them are particularly convincing at this. You guys. Seriously. More seriously, Reese, I know you're paranoid and I know it's with good reason but could you please, pretty please, for the fucking love of maximized resources, read them both in on the current state of who's working with whom? Please? So I'm not forced to break that pretty face of yours for being a moron? No? No. The sad thing is, unlike most shows, there's nothing about the way this is written to play it as a writer choice. It's entirely a Reese choice, and it's not as though he's not been burned by co-workers and people he's supposed to trust, so it's not an unreasonable choice for him and his issues to make. Unfortunately it is mostly his issues making that choice, and so I want to punch him the face or at least throttle him until he comes out of it.
Anyway. Ranting aside. We switch from Fusco to Carter for our point of view and she's got a few possible hits on the plate, she's going to start tracking that down. And no sooner does Finch get off the phone with her than he's on the line with Fusco who is making a true hash of the whole covertly talking to someone through an earpiece thing. Not a bad job of the cloning of the badge, though. And then of course there's the cameras and I'm not entirely sure why Fusco had to stand directly under the camera to mask it, but sure, why not. Hopefully that won't come back to bite him in the ass? (Spoiler: It will. Probably.) And now the art of breaking into a keypad safe! It's pretty bog-standard as far as such things in Hollywood go, possibly as far as such things in the real world go but since I've never had to break into a keypad safe, I don't know. I would say, however, that if the safe doesn't lock a person out after X failed attempts their security sucks. As it does. Also noteworthy is that the process of breaking into the safe deviates slightly from the fictional norm: Fusco only has three numbers to work with. Which confounds him for a second until Finch tells him to look for one that's more smudged than the others. Meaning it's been pressed twice. It's the kind of logic that comes obviously when you're used to thinking about safecracking and less so when you're not, so it's a mark of character that Fusco had to have it told to him. And now he has the file! Yay! We also know that this means someone in authority is about to walk up behind him, because the show's only half over and the tension has to mount a little further. Fusco. FUSCO CLOSE THE SAFE DOOR PROPERLY. Oh never mind. Fusco's already shredding the file and turning around to run into IAB Detective Reg E Cathey. Oh yay. No, there really is no explanation for Fusco being in a top secret room he shouldn't have access to, with a file he shouldn't have access to, shredding it. He is now under arrest. If he's lucky, Detective Cathey isn't an HR man. If he's very lucky. Finch does not look so sanguine or even calm right now, not that he's saying anything. Actually, Finch almost looks panicked. Cut over to Detective Cathey putting Fusco in the car, Fusco quietly protesting that he had to destroy that file to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands, not the best excuse, really, considering his hands are technically the wrong hands, too. And not only is he having a hard time explaining Finch and his Machine and that end of things to the IAB detective who (if he's smart) he's wondering might be on the take, Finch is warning him in his ear not to say anything about Reese. Thanks, Finch. Thank you so much for that. Shut up. Meanwhile Detective Cathey is getting a phone call. What's that, you say? Detective Cathey's the dirty cop who was going to tell Vargas who the rat is? Yeah, Fusco puts that together pretty quick, as do the rest of us. Anyway, Detective Cathey lets Vargas know that the undercover cop in his outfit just made a phone call, then says he'll call him back later while he takes care of Fusco. Presumably not in the way of feeding him crumpets and tea. (All in favor of crumpets and tea? AYE!)
Back over at the warehouse of paranoia and increasing likelihood of violence, Vargas is pissed. And has figured out that Blondie should have a phone he didn't destroy on account of being writhing in pain (though now he seems to be either dead or unconscious) and so he pats him down for it. It's not there! I fucking said notCahill should have left it on him, didn't I say? Everyone looks around at each other. Reese immediately fingers notCahill, which is actually an excuse for him to pick a fight and start shoving so he can get the phone out of notCahill's pocket and plant it on... himself. Oh honey. I'd be more convinced, personally, if Reese didn't just stand there like a stunned mullet when Vargas dials Blondie's phone, but he does, and none of the other drug smugglers are either smart enough or thinking clearly enough after being up for, what, twenty four hours now? To notice anything suspicious about Reese standing there waiting to be fingered as an undercover cop. So, yes, Vargas searches him, finds the phone, declares him the rat, I give Reese's lack of yielding clothing some amount of side-eye, and Reese gives a kind of a smirk before getting clocked upside the head with a crowbar. Ouch. I wonder if that's to blame for some of his dumbass decisions, getting hit in the head a lot.
When we come back from commercial we're back at the warehouse, no one yet has commented on how really, really late they are for this appointment with LOS, and it's two in the afternoon. Which means Reese has been getting beat up for a maximum of about seven hours. Ouch. The Viking seems to be doing most of the beating, with Vargas doing most of the talking. Reese also doesn't seemed to have talked, because a) it's Reese, come on now, and b) Vargas is still asking him what he's told the cops. Reese tells him he'd better hurry up, the backup's coming any second now. Reese, honey, everyone in this warehouse knows you're lying. Though this does indicate that they've been beating on him for maybe an hour, maybe more. Long enough since he regained consciousness that they can be pretty sure the delay between him waking up and the cops not showing up is more than just crappy response time. Oh, and also Vargas would have gotten a call from that dirty Detective Cathey. Can't forget about him. NotCahill volunteers to torture Reese some more, which as we all know is probably an excuse to do something that does not involve torture. And indeed, notCahill only hits Reese a couple of times before leaning in close to ask him who he is. Because he's clearly not a cop. Reese will retort with insider information about notCahill's family, really, Reese? Really? You had to open with that? Technically he opened with how he's been undercover too and he knows what it's like, but he followed up with that so that him knowing intimate information about notCahill is likely the only thing the poor cop notices. Come on, Reese. That wasn't well done of you. More insider information, which at least gets notCahill to back off and, ah, the dead little brother excuse for notCahill having a hard-on for drug smugglers! Well, that'd do it. NotCahill's first guess is that Reese is a fed or something. Or something is about right. Reese finishes establishing his bona fides or at least his scaryass ability to acquire information that's supposedly been scrubbed, then tells notCahill that he can get him out. NotCahill, predictably, is not going anyfuckingwhere until this is over, but notCahill will accept if Reese can get a message home. Leading to the predictable "tell her yourself" speech, and one of these days I will hear one of those subverted because it's getting to be a useless bit of dialogue. Or at least a far too often revisited one. Anyway, notCahill shares his information with Reese, or at least starts to, so that at least the chances of the information getting into the hands of the appropriate authorities is increased, and then Vargas is incoming. Which means the beatings will resume and the conspiratorial whispering must stop, alas. There's no more time, Vargas says, and I say, really? You fucked around for over twelve hours and suddenly there's no more time? Hell, I don't know why I'm surprised, normal people can't get their schedules straight and last-minute things all over the place, criminals probably do too. NotCahill once again jumps all over the wanting to kill this rat, etc. I'd be suspicious of his enthusiasm except they've been working with trigger happy Blondie for who knows how long, next to that idiot notCahill seems actually reasonable. Vargas gives him the gun. NotCahill plugs Reese in the chest. Reese goes limp and we go...
... back to 2008!
Not with the Machine this time, as is traditional, this is the third flashback in this sequence so we already have context (or the Machine assumes we have sufficient context, and boy that Machine vs the Fourth Wall post is getting bigger by the episode) and we don't need the announcement that says where and when we are. Kara is chipping away at Reese's need to attach to his old life, but without replacing it with anything he's just going to continue having cracks in his psyche. She's doing the best she can, or rather she thinks she's doing the best she can, whether that means lying to him or saying what she thinks he needs to hear, it's hard to tell. She might have gone back to see her parents or she might not have, I'd say it's the truth from the lack of tells except at this point she and Reese have progressed to stone-faced lying so it's very difficult to spot the tells. The summation is, Reese cannot go back again. He's not the same person she knew, he couldn't be the same person she knew even if he tried, and trying would make both of them unhappy, and that is the truth. The walking in the dark speech has been replaced by the superlatively corny "we are the dark" phrase, but it's still true. And by the time Peter's back with Reese's old love they're gone. The relatively subtle implication here is that Officer Tully/Michael Cahill is headed down a similar path, except in notCahill's case it's less extreme than becoming an assassin for the government and committing acts that are not only blatantly illegal and immoral, they're in service of a questionable cause. NotCahill has demonstrably gone out of his way to avoid getting into situations where he has to commit illegal and immoral acts, and his actions while undercover will result in arrests, trials, and (supposedly) just punishments. Not to mention that he will likely receive or have available to him counseling when he gets out, whereas with Reese the only out was in a body bag and a potter's field grave.
Now that we've seen that the Machine escorts us back to 2012, it's a couple hours after notCahill shot Reese, and there's surveillance footage of the gang loading Blondie's body and Reese's alleged body into a trunk. You know, it's amazing how many criminals don't realize they're on candid camera. Or maybe their boss controls the cameras, given that they mentioned being paid up with HR that's always possible. Vargas wants to know what's taking so long; notCahill's excuse is that he had to fish out their wallets and IDs (and, you know, slip Reese a flashlight) so they couldn't be ID'd, but Vargas isn't worried, the car'll be torched to an unrecognizable mess anyway. Well, shit. It's worth noting that when we get the pullback Machine shot there's two white boxes for Vargas and notCahill and one yellow box for Reese, who is still alive. Blondie doesn't get a box on account of being a corpse and not a person anymore, which is. Interesting? Is the Machine making this assumption based on the actions and speech patterns of the people around, because I can't see any other way it can determine that from simple video and audio. Maybe it can detect breathing? Regardless, Reese is alive in the car and Blondie is dead in the car, and the car is now being soaked in gasoline and lit on fire. This is going to suck. This is also where they choose to stick a commercial break, because what's more dramatic than your hero being unconscious in a car in a ditch covered in petrol on fire? NOTHING. Well, nothing they can reasonably cram into this episode.
When we come back Reese is not so quietly dying of smoke inhalation and/or waking up from the gasoline and burning car fumes. Seriously, that car has got to stink. Hey, he's got a flashlight! And a knife. And he's free of the zip ties, damn, Reese, you can break zip ties with your wrists? You scary. (Have you ever tried to break zip ties with your wrists? Leverage researchers say it's possible but I wouldn't want to be the one trying, not with how those probably cut into your wrists.) Anyway, Reese now has all the tools necessary to escape from the trunk before he dies of smoke inhalation, which is more likely than the flames and heat getting to him, honestly. He's still coughing and yelping when he fall-rolls out of the car, almost on top of Carter's legs. Aww, Carter! She's utterly calm about all of this, because she is of course the best. A bit of banter about him needing a ride and Reese's idea of a lucky day being shot and set on fire. And did I mention I love Carter? Because I do. What, Cahill just grazed him and didn't hit him in the vest? That was... kind of dumb, actually. Given that Reese was already wearing some pretty bulky clothing and they were never asked to strip down or even come into close contact, it would have been easier just to shove him in a vest and have notCahill shoot him. Sure, he'd break a few ribs, but given some of his other injuries I don't think that would slow Reese down nearly as much as it would almost anyone else. Anyway. So, yes, notCahill took the job of shooting Reese on purpose in order to keep Reese alive, and the whole "shoot them in the face it's the only way to be sure" trope is still alive and well. Because honestly. Unless you're Wolverine, it's very, very hard to spoof killing someone if you're asked to shoot them in the face. And Carter has a phone call? She barely glances at the phone before passing it over to Reese, no doubt because it says "Unknown number." You know, if they wanted to be funny and subvert that, one of these days that'd be a telemarketer or something. Finch wants to know where the hell notCahill is. Reese wants Finch to at least pretend like he cares about Reese's well-being or knows how the niceties go. Neither of them are getting what they want! No, notCahill's off to the meet with LOS alone. Well, not alone, but no one with him at the moment can be counted as an ally if things go south. Finch does not like this turn of events. We can tell because he has facial expressions, mostly of shock and mild horror. Not to worry, Finch, Reese and Carter are headed there now. After one hilarious exchange where Reese asks if she has a backup firearm. No, she does not have a backup firearm. She has many backup firearms. We love you, Carter. So does Reese. Sadly Finch interrupts the flirting with the news that Vargas's dirty cop has Fusco, and he's not sure they have time to save both. Reese's expression says "the FUCK you say" more clearly than any words, which is good because I think this show is still above the watershed and it's definitely not on the cable channels where you can say such things.
As Finch is telling them this (and we know because the Machine is a good Machine and a kind Machine and provides us with timestamps) Vargas and notCahill are meeting with a man in a suit (phrasing deliberate) and a man with a bag and an assault weapon of some kind. One of these two is LOS. As they get closer we find out there's three people, LOS has a backup guy and the Viking's put in an appearance, too. The Viking probably was on the driver's side or behind Vargas's car, though. Anyway, out come the bags of rice-I-mean-drugs, in goes the bag of what turns out to be money, and then it's all good, right? Deal done? No, because notCahill is going to be an idiot now and take LOS hostage against... something. Seriously, I have no idea what this guy was thinking here. Now he has four, five guys with guns pointed at him, one hostage who, frankly, at least half the guns on him don't care about as much as they care about the fact that their supposed trusted ally appears to have gone apeshit, and no trustworthy backup. Normally this would be a severely losing percentage move here, and the only reason it works at all is because somehow Reese and Carter teleported over (seriously, with those timestamps? they had to have teleported, and I'm going to put it down to post-production oversight) and pop out from behind some big piece of machinery, guns blazing. Between the two of them and with some quick shooting and denial of weapons they manage to take down, well, everyone. LOS doesn't seem concerned, though. Possibly it's that shiny governmental suit he's wearing! Yes, the phrasing earlier was deliberate because this guy reeks of government operative, and Reese probably knows it. There might be a bit of lingering hostility there with the whole clocking him upside the head after LOS has delivered some sneering threats in notCahill's general direction. Also, unimpressed Reese is unimpressed.
Unimpressed notCahill is, okay, notCahill is slightly more impressed but recovers himself pretty well, telling LOS he'll add threatening a police officer to the list of charges. Oh honey. That'd work a lot better if he weren't CIA, as Reese says. Men in suits! There's a certain kind of look to G-Men in suits, the only way I can explain it is having grown up among them makes it easier to pick them out from the men who just happen to be wearing suits. (A: It's the look of a man who's used to wearing a suit not as an emblem of power in itself but as a way of hiding their weapons, e.g., the holster-spotting game I played at the Dalai Lama's talk a week ago. Or at a minimum used to wearing an earwig, there's a way they turn their heads even when they're not hooked up to comms. And on top of all that, even if they're not a field agent (which is atypical for this particular brand of man inna suit) they've got a particular way of taking in data that screams "I have been trained to spot threats and assess patterns, and I have the backing of a great honking military-industrial complex to do my bidding.") (K: And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.) Reese knows from having been stuck with them through a lot of very intense situations, and having been broken into being one himself. He explains for us and notCahill that since the government couldn't win the war on drugs, they play it on both sides and use the profits to fund the war on terror. (And how's that going? Uh-huh, I thought so.) Officer Tully (because at this point, yeah, he's more Officer Tully than notCahill, and will be for the rest of the episode) is a good police officer and isn't willing to accept that he's just supposed to look the other way while government agents provide drugs all over the streets. He's taking LOS in, Company or no Company. Which makes Reese smile. A tired, worn-down smile, but still an actual smile which is more than we usually get from Reese. Hell, as worn down as he is all the time that's almost a manic grin, for him. He's not going with, though. Tully will have to bundle LOS and the rest of the crew over to the police station just with Carter's help.
Back over with Fusco, Detective Cathey whose name is actually Davidson (not that we learn that in this episode, I think) is going on about how he knows a dirty cop when he sees one, and Fusco is definitely a dirty cop. I'm with Fusco on this one, if he wants to find dirty cops all he needs to do is look in a mirror. Given the revelation about LOS it's entirely possible he is a relatively clean cop, only associating with Vargas because the CIA is and that that's where that comes from, and yet somehow I doubt that. Regardless, too, there's a huge amount of power corrupts, etc, going on here. He hasn't arrested Fusco for breaking the law, breaking into secret facilities he shouldn't have had access to, and destroying documents, he's taking him out to an empty stretch of woods to shoot him in the head. And then there's also the matter of he was looking for the rat in Vargas's operation to tell him and get the undercover killed and, okay, there's no excuse, he's a dirty cop. Davidson jams it home and twists the knife, along with hitting one of the themes for this series, that Fusco is all alone out here and no one is coming to save him. He even says that last part. And pokes Fusco some more in the no one cares, and you might as well tell me the name of the guy who hung you out to dry. Not that Fusco has a name, just a well-worn alias that would still be of use because at this point, it might as well be Finch's name. Not that Fusco's giving him up. Instead, Fusco will take a moment to wax philosophical about dying and hurl a few last insults. Oh Lionel. We do like you. The new agey music cues up, and for the sharp ears, this is the same music as the opening credits of Vikings! You have no idea the double-take I did when I heard that on the pilot. And of course, just as Fusco's bracing himself for the bullet the shot that he hears is from the gun behind the gun behind him. Reese shoots Davidson. Fusco is about to call it in. He's enjoying being a good guy for a change, he's enjoying both the redemption and I think on some levels he's forgotten what it feels like to do good, I do think he's one of those cops who joined the force in order to do good. And somewhere along the line, he lost sight of that. But now it's back, and he hasn't had a real kick in the efficacy yet, so he's all fired up to make this a good shoot and expose a dirty cop. Unfortunately, Reese is having none of it. Oh Reese. You could be a little less cold about it. I understand why Reese wants Fusco to need help from HR, to get in with them, but he could be a little more empathic about it. Fusco's having a hard time dealing with this, not so much that it'll impede his following orders, and I'd bet he can see the sense of it, but we can see the sadness and wistfulness right there on his face. Which may, in fact, be another reason why Reese is as cold about this as he is. He can't afford to empathize with Lionel, even if the "my hands are always gonna be dirty" comment hits home, is something he can relate to. Reese can't afford to make buddy buddy with an asset, or at least that's the mode of thinking he's used to by now. So, he leaves Fusco to call HR to help clean up the mess, and Fusco... well, poor Fusco has to grapple with what he's done and the kind of shit he's risking getting into for Reese's cause. Shit that he definitely won't be able to explain to anyone if it goes sideways, meaning he'll be known or remembered as a dirty cop with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Poor, poor Fusco.
Night passes. Come morning, Finch has joined Reese in his lurking and staring expedition as Tully comes out of the house with his boy, who is asking if they're going to take Mommy to the hospital. Here comes that baby we saw her with! Finch lets us and Reese know that Snow has arranged for the release of LOS. Yay. Reese will keep an eye on Cahill -- uh, Reese, it's Tully now -- just to make sure he stays safe and sound. Which gets a hilarious quip from Finch about how he's about to have a screaming infant, sound isn't on the menu. Not that kind, anyway. And then it's back over to the police precinct for the release of LOS! It's about eight in the morning. It's apparently been a while since LOS has seen "Mark." LOS should know better than to let a comment like "the agency always takes care of their own" slip by, that is such a double-edged I don't even. We know from experience in government spyssassin fiction that the government doesn't like it when their operatives get loud and start throwing their weight around. We know from procedural and crime fiction in general that LOS's blather about sending a message indicates he's gotten a bit too puffed up with his own self-importance, drunk on the power he's been given. Well, the government giveth, and the government taketh away. Snow gives us an echo of the behind enemy lines quote from earlier as LOS gets blackbagged by his former allies. The government, as a general rule, will condone quite a bit, so long as their agents don't get caught. Seriously, this shit is rote from Mission: Impossible, you moron.
And for our last shot of the evening we get poor Fusco walking through the woods with a shovel. A nice visual of the philosophy of when you're this deep in the hole, stop digging. Except Reese just essentially helped him to and ordered him to keep digging, so here Fusco is with his shovel. And an HR cop, who is really loving this turn of events and the fact that he has poor Lionel over a barrel right now. "You belong to HR now," he says, and Fusco sighs a quiet 'yeah, whatever' sigh. Fade music. Cut camera.