And now we're into the home stretch of season one, where it's all relevant from here on out. This week it looks like we have a council of worthies, all of whom have been tagged with a box. Since Reese's box is white, though, we can't assume their boxes are those of civilians or irrelevants or, well, anything. And we start out at the opening with a voice over from Elias. Because that's always fun and light! Hey, I have this bridge for sale... Elias starts out, even, tacitly admitting that he is ten shades of fucked up by way of wondering aloud what he'd be like if she hadn't died. There being only one significant dead she in his life, we can guess without the oncoming clarification that he means his mother. He hears people change when they lose a parent, especially when that parent is murdered. Following along the mother-son theme, we have Carter and her son outside his school. It's a good chance to see some of her parenting skills, both the ones where she nudges her son into saying what's wrong and the ones where she's overprotective Mom trying to fix everything for her kid even though she can't. Taylor knows this. Carter's having a hard time accepting, but does reasonably well in backing off and just confirming their dinner plans before Taylor heads to class. Not to give her too much time to dwell on her boy's problems, we're launching straight into it with a call to Carter from SID. Who is also Elle Greenaway from Criminal Minds, so there went my brain short circuiting for a second. Anyway, LaBlanca from SID says that Elias has trained a few million from certain accounts they'd been watching on account of, well, Elias being a known criminal mastermind and they were his bank accounts. Why did he drain them only now? Who the hell knows! Carter's coming right in so they can discuss this and figure out where the hell this is going.
Reese strolls on in to Finch putting up the last of several pictures up. Several pictures never mean anything good. Finch comments on the fact that he is late, and Reese offers up yoga as an excuse. Who believes this? Because we damn well don't. And yet, the idea of Reese at a yoga class is admittedly hysterical. Finch returns some sarcasm in Reese's direction and points out the five pictures on the board indicating that they have five numbers. Although Reese has only a quip for the quantity of numbers, that's an awfully dark look at the quality of today's rescuees: they're the head of the five mafia families in the city, including Elias's half-brother, the current head of the Moretti family with Gianni in prison. It's not hard to figure out who would want to or be foolish enough to or have the resources to take on the entire New YorK City population of La Cosa Nostra: Elias. Reese is of the opinion that they could afford to sit this one out, that the city wouldn't lose out by having five crime bosses wiped out and might as well stand back and make the popcorn. Which is a beautiful, beautiful thought, and I kind of agree as far as that goes. Even though in the abstract that just makes me bring up all the power abhors a vacuum aphorisms, in this specific case Elias might actually turn out to be better for the general welfare of the city than the five families, so, hey! Have at. Or not. Finch is raining all over our parade about aiming for a higher standard and oh fine, we'll take the high road and rescue the damn dons. Reese's fleeting smile there reminds me of nothing so much as the Leverage catch phrase of "you're adorable." Oh, fine, and Finch does have a strong point about the possibility of collateral damage. If nothing else because the methods Elias would have to use to take out people that paranoid (with good reason) could get a little messy. Particularly since off the top of my head and without further data, those millions could be used to simply put a bounty on the five dons' heads. Anyway, that's premature, first we have surveillance, reconaissance, that kind of thing. The five dons meet once a month at a club in Brooklyn at which there are no major electronics allowed, viewing or recording or communicating in or out. We get the rundown of this place as we see Reese taking photographs of the dons entering the club, also pretty much challenging Finch to get eyes and ears in where no eyes and ears are allowed and the denizens are properly paranoid. They seem to be having some minor trouble with a federal agent, though they only consider it to be minor trouble. Oh, hey, but that's interesting, Moretti Junior seems to be pissed off that the families aren't retaliating against Elias for kidnapping his Dad. I can kind of see his point; politically it's not the best move to take no action when a member of your supposedly powerful organization has been kidnapped. And yet, there might also be valid reasons for not doing anything. Apparently one of those reasons is so they can work with him. No, yeah, I'm still on Moretti Junior's side, given what appears to be a roughly equal power balance. Basically they seem to be treating Elias as a respected business rival, when the actions he's taken amount to more like a prelude to a hostile takeover. It doesn't look particularly strong, and it looks very self-deluding. Finch and Reese comment tangentially on this very point! And Finch thinks it's time to bring in Carter. That's a complicated issue for oh so many reasons, though he's probably right about the apology. A real apology, not one of Reese's quasi-sincere "I'm sorry but you know I was and am right" apologies. Reese grimaces, but does pull out his cell phone.
Which leads to Carter at the precinct and only a tiny reference that Reese even called her; she takes out her phone, looks at it, closes it and puts it away again. Sorry, Reese, it's not going to be that easy. Meanwhile Carter's talking about the accounts with the SID lady. Apparently the slightly over four million dollars went out in cash or wire transfers, To whom? Who the hell knows? And getting warrants for all those wire transfers and/or tracing them to the other end, if that's even possible, will be difficult. What would Elias buy with all that money? Well, Carter's not wrong. Elias lives simply as far as material goods, we saw that back in his cover identity, what he purchases, and therefore what he values in many ways, are people. It's noteworthy but not necessarily indicative, or rather we don't have an idea of what it's indicating yet, that we switch back and forth in camera focus from Carter and LaBlanca to Fusco on this, which might be reminding us that Fusco was bought and paid for at one point or it might be something yet to come. We'll keep that in mind for later, right now we seem to have a date with Elias and his father at a brewery? Distillery? Some place with many barrels. Restaurant? Elias is bringing his father food and a half-apologetic half-superior lecture about his father's generation and their jolly pirate nicknames. He accuses them of being weak and soft, which even he isn't likely to know which part of that is resentment and anger and issues, and which part is a real assessment of the way the families operate. It certainly indicates weakness that they're just letting him waltz in and take over, as I mentioned before. Unless they're hiding something and waiting for Elias to overreach (further) their position with regard to Gianni Moretti's kidnapping does indicate weakness. Moretti affects boredom, asking why Elias doesn't kill him already. Elias is keeping him around to watch the show, in other words to gloat and rub it in his father's face that he's going to unite the families and bring order to the chaos of organized crime. In other words, to prove he's better than his father. Because there are no issues here, of course not! We have a little dig, when Moretti brings up the other families, about how Elias isn't giving them equal authority or a piece of the pie because he never learned to share, his mother never taught him because you killed her you heartless bastard. Yes, apparently that is a huge chunk of what this is about. Moretti killed his mother and never stepped up to be his father, and thus a criminal mastermind plagues New York City.
The Machine takes us over to, apparently, Queens, thank you Fusco for informing those of us who have no idea of New York geography by sight? HR Cop Simmons is yanking him around hither and thon, at least in part to show who's boss and because he can but in this case, as it turns out, because he needs information about that guy in the suit who's been stirring up trouble. Well, hell. Fusco is experienced at lying through his teeth and with a straight face so all he says is he thought that was over, which gives him some more information from Simmons. Apparently Reese has earned his own federal task force! Aww, our little spyssassin's growing up. Or something. Fusco pushes his luck asking why HR wants to locate Reese before they do, to which HR Cop Simmons takes irritation if not umbrage. But he does answer. Apparently HR is working for Elias on this. And I'm with Fusco, this actually is HR working for Elias, and not just lending a hand when its in their best interest. At least judging by the strength and belligerence of Simmons' reaction. There's too much belligerence, too much anger and insistence that they're not working for Elias for it to be entirely the truth, or at least for him to be entirely convinced that it's the truth. It also makes him sound scared of Elias, even if that fear takes the form, most of the time, of enlightened self-interest. And apart from that, this conversation is over. Except, as a parting gift, Simmons suggests Fusco come down with a case of blue flu when he's done looking into that. Apparently he doesn't want to be working homicide over the next couple of days. That's not ominous at all!
Back over at the library, Finch is being dubious about Reese's chosen strategy. And over the course of the ensuing dialogue, yeah, I can see why Finch would be dubious. Not only do crime bosses not tend to like surprises, they do tend to like respect. Respect often means protocol, and protocol often means at least a small delay between discovering or deciding that you need to speak to a person in charge and actually speaking with them, if only the delay of checking in at the front desk. That said, Reese also has a point that they don't really have time for subtlety or protocol. Apart from the urgency usually conveyed by the Machine popping out with their number, this time they have some idea of what they're dealing with in Elias, and that just makes it the more urgent. Plus, five targets, zero backup. And all of that said, damn, Reese, you really do go for the blunt approach. His summation is so short as to pretty much be only a summary of what's going on, almost instead of being a segment of dialogue. By this I mostly mean there's very little in there that's characterizing and it's all description of Elias, what's been happening, and what the currently revealed plans are. This family boss isn't having any of it, though. Maybe Reese wasn't persuasive enough? He gets in his car, drives off, gets as far as the intersection with Reese essentially shrugging and walking away to report in that he was unsuccessful before the car blows. Because you can't tell me you didn't see that coming. Well, you could, I'd just look at you funny. The narrative laws at this point says one, maybe two people have to die in order for us to see and viscerally understand how serious this is, and the crime boss just got into a car. No distance shots to imply snipers, no close shots around corners to imply people ambushing out of hiding with machine guns, so, car bomb. Explosions are nice and big and dramatic, anyway. Reese hunches, like you do when a car explodes on you, and some vaguely techno almost Jason Statham-movie-esque music starts up as Finch finally comes on the line to ask what happened. Yes, Reese, this is exactly what Finch meant by collateral damage. And who's that in the white/silver SUV pulling a U-turn and driving off? Hey, it's Scarface, Elias's lieutenant! Still doesn't rate the jar. Reese isn't surprised either. The techno music still isn't working for me, Person of Interest tends towards the slightly more instrumental, much more clear and deliberate music, and this is jarring. Thankfully we don't have to listen to it much longer. Commercial break!
When we come back the Machine takes us back and back and back, and this is pretty far, I think as far as it's ever taken us? To 1981 and a young boy saying "I wish they were dead. All of them." No points for guessing who that is. We're in a commercial district of a more working class neighborhood; as we close in we're in a salon with little Carl, with him sitting in a chair being tended to after what sounds like a street or school fight. The woman tending for him must be his foster mom, because he's somewhere in his early teens and his mother died when he was very young, and it turns out that a) the other kids at school were picking on him because he doesn't know who his father is (based on baby Carl spitting out that he's not a bastard, oh honey) and b) he's upset because a school assignment involved filling out a family tree. She tries to help out by first volunteering herself and his foster sisters (whether they're her own daughters or other fosters is left unclear) as his family and then offering to help do some research and find some more names. She is, however, reluctant to name his father. So, they'll not be looking into that side of the family tree, then. By the way she talks about baby Carl's father, or rather avoids talking about him, she knows exactly who his father is and what likely happened. She tries telling him that he has to be his own man, live his own life, but we all know how well that ended up. He seems to have taken the self-sufficient and powerful in his own right lesson to heart, but being able to validate himself and be responsible for his own emotional well-being, not so much.
Back to the present, it's early to mid evening and Elias is sitting at a table in the room with his prisoner, answering the phone call he was expecting. Scarface has reported back that Reese was there to witness Caporelli's untimely and vigorous demise, he also expresses his good wishes for Reese's continued good health. He's such a solicitous sociopath. Reese tries to appeal to Elias's better nature, which would be easier if he had any, and Elias claims to be doing what he believes is best for the city. All right, I will admit that that might even be true. Elias moves to a little kitchen, so wherever they are it's not likely a restaurant and there is a profusion of wine, so, winery? Back of a wine shop? Elias plays on the similarities between them, how they're both killers, and points out that Reese is a good man who saves good people now, not old gangsters, as he calls the families. It's a particularly poignant (and hilarious) argument because it's what Reese was saying not long ago. To his credit, Reese doesn't even hesitate before declining that offer, and to his credit, Elias doesn't push it. Reese looks upset enough when he gets off the phone with Elias as it is, hard to say whether that's disappointment that Elias didn't take his offer or frustration with being one of the good guys or both. Finch helpfully points out that they have yet another problem, i.e. Carter. She's still not answering her phone calls but Finch has been dropping some eaves and learned that she's learned that Elias is planning something. She's attempted to offer/is offering the dons police protection. Oops. Reese's usual stoicism slides into about as much of an 'aw crap' expression as we've seen it without the danger being immediate, and he checks his gun as he bitches about how she doesn't know that Elias is planning assassinations with HR's help and off he goes to rescue his not-girlfriend. It really is adorable how much he cares for her. I think at this point, too, he cares for her as a person and a friend and not just as someone who is righteous and capable of doing good in the world, combating the evil he was a part of. This is also a more personal, intimate worry.
So, the Machine takes us past nightfall if not by much and now we have two marked cars and Carter attempting to lock down a block and bring in Don Vasile? Vasily? That's a lot of cops, HR is still going strong at this point, and it's far too early in the episode for this to end well, although I give the writers and director credit for not telegraphing HR's involvement too hard. At this point the main reason we recognize this is going to end in gunfire and death is because there's too much time left on the clock. Vasily puts up a token questioning of her bona fides until Carter points out that he's short on options and no, there's no way of knowing she's not with HR so she's not going to play that game. He can take it and go with her right the fuck now or he can walk away. He opts to take it, she walks him back to the entrance of the alley with the uniform who came with her and, oh look. No cop cars. Hands up who's surprised, don't everyone raise your hands at once. The uniform is surprised and wants to know where everyone went. Carter takes a second to evaluate the scene and try to determine a specific line of attack, at least as far as I can tell by her body language, before drawing her gun and telling everyone to get back. Too late and useless, but at least she tried. She drops to cover as both the don and the uniform get shot (the don most likely lethally, the uniform it's less clear) and the shooter comes around to finish her off, except Reese. Because he's Reese, and also because he figured this out twenty minutes ago. In more blatant displays of because it's Reese, he turns and quips that she really should return his calls. I'd so threaten to shoot him if I were her, but she is understandably too hyped up on adrenaline and upset to have a witty retort. She'll have plenty of opportunities later, anyway.
And we're back to the past again, this time ten years later to 1991, so baby Carl is now young man Carl and we're at an Italian restaurant, no points for guessing who owns and runs the place. A young man, again, no points for guessing who, comes in with a box of bootleg CDs. Which he announces to the room at large, and he can do this because the room at large is empty of civilians. One table occupied by people eating dinner, one table occupied by what looks like bodyguards. The don tells the kid we're pretending we don't know is Elias to hold up, he'd like a word in private. Just so we know he's a dangerous man, he's eating a steak and we're introduced to him by the close-up of the point of the knife digging into the steak. So, yes, we get it already. Bonus points because knifepoint was how Marlene Elias died. Bodyguards go, henchperson or ally or whoever he was talking to goes, Moretti Junior puts up a token argument but leaves when he's glared at. And now it's Moretti and Elias, and Moretti knows something's up with the kid, he looks familiar and he knows that name. And now we know that this young man is Carl Elias, now that everyone else is out of the room and it's just the two of them, significant because of the timing. Neither of them are saying it, but with the lead-up like that and with the somewhat grim expression on young man Carl's face they also both know that Moretti is his father. So, what does young Carl want from Moretti? At this point young Carl says he just wants a job, and to prove himself, and while one seems to follow directly from the other we can tell by the earnestness that he means something a bit more directly related to Moretti with the proving. And that said, that does seem to be all he wants from life and his bio-dad. Who, being a world-class dick, proceeds to give him the diamond speech. It's a variation on the theme of adversity is good for you and molds you into something incredible, but it's not what young Carl needs to hear from his father, not after years of foster care with only one decent foster parent and not after his mother's murder, now that he's finally found his one remaining parent. Mitigated somewhat by the fact that Moretti then goes on to establish some bonds by saying he never knew his father either, lay out some temptation by praising the kid with a couple generic adjectives and saying there could be a place for him here. It's all well spoke and written, but it's also subtly all over the place, there's no underlying thread tying it all together into any kind of message that brings him closer to young Carl. Which takes a whole lot of the surprise out of what happens later if you were listening closely, although a cursory knowledge of the narrative would do that as well. Carl may or may not be listening closely, but he's also too emotionally involved to figure out that what he wanted to happen is not, in fact, what did happen.
Back in the present we are relieved to hear that the officer is stable, although the don is probably deader than disco. In return for saving her life and because she's a good person, Carter tells Reese that the FBI has a task force on him, though she makes a point of highlighting how grudging is this sharing of information. He mostly finds this amusing, although that could just be the part where they think he's working with Elias. Hello, Finch! There's a moment there when Finch sits down next to Reese and Reese's hands fidget one over the other like he's a guilty child, I have no idea which of his many minor offenses he's feeling guilty over this time but it's dreadfully hilarious. Finch takes it things didn't go as planned with Mr. Basile, thank you Captain Obvious. Carter gripes about not knowing who to trust anymore. I'd start with not trusting most of your fellow officers, though I understand how that might be horribly depressing. Finch, of course, immediately says she can trust them. That is far, far easier said than done, Finch, and for someone with trust issues the size of trucks as you have you should know better than to expect anything of the sort. That said, she is over a barrel in a way and they did save her life, so that buys them some information: the wire transfers and the money. For which she can't get a warrant for the other end. That's not a problem, Finch don't need no steenking warrants! Carter's look is priceless and to be repeated often, that "Really, guys? You really feel the need to tell the tries-to-be-straight-edge cop this?" At least she pays greater lip service to being straight edge than Fusco. Anyway, they'll follow Elias's men to Elias, and Carter will continue trying to convince the dons to come in and that she can protect them. Which will be twice as difficult now that it's proven that she can't, necessarily. Yay! Wait, no, that other thing. Carter sighs and gets up to go with a quiet thanks to the boys and an expression that radiates how much she doesn't like any of this, but Reese stops her with a sweetly delicate hand on her wrist. Aww. Even more aww is the bag he gives her because the next time, if he's not there, he wants her to be prepared. We pronounce this here at Murderboarding as "courtship gifts." Because it's hilarious when she opens the bag and, oh, just off that glimpse I can see what looks like a banana clip for some rapid fire weapon in there, boxes of ammo, and at least one grenade. Remember in Blue Code (1x15) how Carter had several backup guns in her car? Reese must have taken that to heart. Carter just sort of shakes her head and asks if she should ask where Reese got them, and he gives her adorable puppy eyes pleading her not to. You guys. You guys. Stoppit, already, you're too cute for color TV.
The next day around eight in the morning Carter oh, hey, that wasn't a banana clip, it was a shotgun. A big one. Carter's got the bag open in the back of an SUV and is loading the shotgun, and it looks like she's gone through the bag to see what Reese has given her. It's like Christmas! Only more big badda boom. She seems to have called Fusco, because he comes up and blinks at the bag and asks if she's supplying the troops in Iraq or something. We find out she asked him to bring an extra vest and ammo, and apparently he's the only cop she trusts right now. Oh honey. Given that she has to have heard the rumors about him by now, that's a sad, sad state of affairs. She tells him to get in, and we can guess where they're going. First we have to take a moment to go back to Finch and Reese dealing with the odd transactions from Elias's bank accounts. The person Finch has sent Reese after is but one of many recipients, and while Reese takes photos of this guy it looks like this guy is taking photos of someone or something else. A family, we find out, and in rapid succession, a family of someone belonging to HR. Oh, hello there HR Cop Simmons. Finch doesn't understand why Elias would be maintaining leverage over his allies, but Reese will explain it for us! Not in the way I would have: basically, in war or any kind of combative situation, the more variables you control the safer the outcome is for you. Elias is the sort of man who likes to know if not control all of the variables. Speaking of variables, back to Carter, Fusco, and the dons! Moretti Junior is pissed off that the rest of them aren't listening to him and apparently working his way up to a fairly epic I told you so. The don in charge, or at least at the head of the table, is doing his best to ignore Moretti Junior to the point of addressing the police officers in his club rather than having them kicked out (which he likely could, even at this point) or addressing Moretti before he attends to the new business at hand. Entertainingly, the new business is just as interested in busting his balls over his handling of Elias as Moretti Junior. And they are going into police custody for protection for the duration whether they like it or not; Elias has proven himself less than attentive to civilian casualties, so she's taking them all for a timeout until they can behave themselves and not get innocent New Yorkers killed. Seriously, that's what it amounts to, and all the cookies to Taraji for her no-asses-left-unkicked delivery. The head don has had enough of this and is now ready to kick the detectives out. Except, um, there's no one there to throw the detectives out. Either Elias bought them off or his own men killed them quietly and dragged their bodies away, and in either case the end result is the same. Moretti will now prove to be just how much of a fuckknuckle he is by blustering that they don't work with cops. Apparently even when it's in their best interest to do so, however temporarily. Even when it's blatantly obvious that these cops are, shall we say, not operating within the letter of the law. Fine, if they're going to be fuckknuckles about it, Carter will drag their happy asses to a safehouse at gunpoint. The look on Fusco's face as he wonders what the fuck she's up to is priceless, as is the earnestness and solidarity with which he follows her lead after that one look. Yes, Fusco, it's just the two of you right now. That's why there's just the one battlewagon. Everyone piles in, with Carter demonstrating for us the origin of the term "riding shotgun." Can I be Carter when I grow up? Meanwhile, Finch is up to shenanigans again. Moretti Junior answers his phone, gets a puzzled look, and hands it to Carter. Not only does he have impeccable timing, he also has a safehouse for her to use. Which is good because the odds of her being able to trust a police safehouse were very very small, and I have the sinking feeling she was going to attempt to trust to a no-tell motel. Finch's solution is definitely better.
The Machine follows them up the stairs, into the (very beautifully decorated) safehouse, and we get another little niggling at the fact that Fusco and Carter are operating in the dark when Fusco asks her who owns the safehouse. Since she did kind of appear to pull it out of thin air/her ass. She cuts him off with 'a friend,' which, no, Fusco, that is not like an explanation of any kind. While they get settled in we go back over to Elias and Moretti, with Elias rambling on about his mother and what little he remembers of her (at a guess, in the hopes that any of it will dig at Moretti) and Moretti staring blankly at Elias with an expression of deep and disgusted boredom. Elias remembers bits and pieces, and particularly her perfume, which is both incredibly cliche and very true that some of the strongest memories are tied to scent. Which is likely why it's a cliche. I will say that Enrico C sells what is otherwise a fairly cliche and paint-by-numbers speech very well, up to and including the "so much blood" segment. Scarface comes up to save us from boilerplate, and I know it's obligatory but this show manages to do such a good job at making the obligatory interesting again that I'm actually a little disappointed that the remembering-his-mother speech was so... perfunctory. Anyway, Scarface has news, which is that Carter aka that cop Elias wanted gone has intercepted their murder plans and taken the dons. Yes, all of them. Well, all the remaining ones anyway. Normally this would be the part where the villain flies into a rage or at least shows some temper at having his plans disrupted, and it makes Elias even more creepy that he just sighs and frowns as though pondering his next move at chess. In that case, they'll need their friends in the police to join them. I wonder, too, if he's connecting Carter to Finch and Reese on this or if he's not aware of the depth or scope of their relationship. Safe money's on him connecting it, though, after the events of Get Carter (1x09) and the various shenanigans they've perpetrated since.
Back over with Finch and Reese, Reese is surveilling another one of Elias's men when Finch tells him Carter and Fusco are safe in one of his houses. Along with the remaining dons. Because she kidnapped them. Reese's face actually brightens to hear that even as Finch accuses him of being a bad influence on her. Yeah, I have to go find the kitchen again. (It's where we go to cackle like madwomen.) Anyway, Reese has tracked down about a dozen of Elias's men all of them tracking or tailing the families of HR cops. Oh goodie. And about a second after Finch points out that HR doesn't know anything useful, Reese realizes another potential target of the Elias surveillance web: Carter's son. Which he confirms with Finch. Well, shit. Finch and Reese immediately set about trying to secure him, except the Machine can tell us that Taylor's already being walked out of school. By someone with a badge? Oh, hey Scarface. Apparently either he went over to check in with Elias's goon or Elias only trusted surveillance of Taylor to his most elite. Most likely the former, given the conversation of a moment ago. You little shit, telling Taylor his Mom was in an accident to get him out of school. That's just adding insult to injury. We cut to commercial on this very dramatic moment of Scarface walking Taylor away from the school and when we come back, Taylor's getting a call from an unknown number. Hi, Finch! I hope you're at your most convincing and succinct right now because you're not going to get much of a chance to talk to this kid. Finch opens with "you don't know me but you're in danger," which is at least pretty succinct if not convincing, necessarily. Even so, Taylor seems to be putting it together fast, because he, like his Mom, is awesome. Not so awesome is his lack of control over his face. With a look like that Scarface knows he's been made and abandons subtlety in favor of outright kidnap. Just as the security guard comes down the steps, too. Hoo boy. The security guard demands to see his badge. Scarface responds with machine gun fire, poor bastard. All of this just as Reese comes up with a machine gun of his own. And a vest, smart Reese. He gets one goon, takes at least one shot in the vest, barely blinks, but he still doesn't get Scarface. Or the engine block, which might be good thinking in not making the kidnappers desperate enough to shoot Taylor right there, and might be hopped up on anger misjudgement. I honestly don't know. Better safe than sorry, in a way, but Reese still has to just stand there and watch as they drive away with Taylor looking frightened out the rear window. Reese is not happy about this.
Several security cameras later we're back at the safe house and Fusco wants to know how long they're going to keep them here. I want to know how long Carter can go without checking in at her job and what excuses she's making to her boss, but that's because I'm one of those people for whom reality intrudes at the oddest times. Carter's response is until they know they're (the dons) are safe. Fusco brings up the very good point that they're mob bosses, safe is not included in the lifestyle. She might want to qualify that with "safe from Elias" or even "safe from the current threat." Which also isn't going to happen anytime soon because, hey, here come Elias's men now! Which brings up a whole other bunch of reality intruding questions like, why are they near open windows? Did Finch pick that safehouse particularly because there are no viable sniper perches nearby? Does Elias simply not use snipers often in his work? Do Carter and Fusco know that? Nagging questions! Mostly brought on by the fact that whenever I think of holing up somewhere, usually I think of staying away from windows. That doesn't seem to be a concern for Carter and Fusco. What is a concern is how the fuck Elias found out they were there in the first place. (Well, it wasn't that far from the dons' club, as far as I could tell.) The phone rings while they're trying to figure that out, and Reese proceeds to tell Carter about Taylor in the most convoluted and ridiculous way possible. Reese, you're really not used to being the primary communicator/organizer/liaison, are you. He's more used to saying "Come with me if you want to live" than "Here's the plan," at least in the long term. Anyway, since you can't spit it out, Reese, you get to go on hold while Carter answers a call ostensibly from Taylor. Given that her voice is already distressed when she answers that phone call she has to know it's nothing good, especially since Taylor's calling in the middle of a school day. Why yes, that is Elias calling from Taylor's phone. So, no, nothing good. Taylor appears unharmed, though. Probably scared witless, but unharmed. Elias offers the predictable deal, even he knows it's predictable because he isn't outright saying it, just admitting that Carter has the means to set Taylor free in other words, yes, he is asking for the dons in exchange. He also provides us with some morbid amusement when Carter says turning the dons over to him would be tantamount to killing them herself; he doesn't seem to care who kills them as long as they're dead. Enrico C can I hug you for that delivery? Because hilarious. Carter wants to know why he wants them dead. Apparently Elias just wants them dead because they're very evil men and he could do so much better? Someone hasn't read enough Russian literature. The system will always grind you down, corrupt you, and in the case of organized crime that's even more true. Though I will admit that having one person in charge of the organized crime in the city might cut down on the collateral damage, aimless violence and so on. He's a very civilized monster! Carter doesn't like monsters in general, and I like her choice of words as far as "corruption and weakness" goes, Elias isn't as venally corrupt in the same way that the dons are, but he is corrupted, and he is, in his own way, considerably weak. She tells him no, though we see on her face how much it's costing her. As far as Elias goes it's hard to tell whether he's disappointed in her not taking his offer, disappointed in her reaction to her son being taken hostage, or proud of her for being principled even though it may cost her son his life. Back to Reese on the phone, now, who's been waiting more or less patiently the whole time, or at least patiently enough to stay roughly where he is and not hang up and go find Taylor. Carter tells him what's what, and almost asks him for permission to trade the dons for her son. Oh honey. Reese knows you well enough to know that compromising yourself like that won't help. Besides, he has a different plan: Get Taylor out of there first so she doesn't have to make that trade. Up to and including breaking one of the primary rules, which is not making promises you don't know you can keep. Oh Reese. Oh everyone. Everyone is hurting and feeling guilty (well, except Elias) and it's hard to watch, Carter fighting back tears, Reese about as stricken as we've seen him since Jess died, because this is also hitting his people I care about are hurting and I have to do something button. Something starting with telling Finch to get a location on Taylor. Apparently in order to do this he's going to have to make a deal with the devil? Which one? We have so many to choose from.
Back to the safehouse, even more goons are coming out of cars while Carter watches with helpless hostility and worry and everything else. Fusco notices, because Fusco is not dumb and because Carter's theoretically driving this bandwagon, so he's taking her lead and paying attention. She's curt but open about the fact that they have Taylor, but neither of them need to discuss that further. Well, except for Fusco questioning whether or not she really doesn't want to call for backup, which sounds like a vastly dumb question coming from Fusco, honestly. Even given that he doesn't know she's working with Reese and therefore has a more loose definition of backup, Fusco, you were a dirty cop. You're in with HR. You know that she knows about HR, so why would she trust any cop she didn't know extremely well? Hell, it's hard to say why she's trusting Fusco, except that she has to for the sake of the narrative and she has been spending a lot of time around him lately. So why is he pushing the issue? Carter reminds him of just how little they can trust any other cops right now by pointing out that two of the people down there waiting them out are vice cops. So, yeah. Until the situation changes, they wait, make sure the place is sealed off, and Fusco accepts this and volunteers to do a sweep. Okay, then. While he's doing that the head don engages in some head games, which is truly a stupid thing to do to someone who's trying to protect you and who's a hairsbreadth away from plugging you in the face. Not that he seems to believe that right now. He says something about how Carter should have been their wheelman, he doesn't think Fusco's up to the job, which incites Carter to defend Fusco. Awww. The don keeps on poking, first about Fusco being on the take and then about Detective Stills and what might have happened to him. About how Fusco and the others used to shake down drug dealers for protection money and kick some upstairs to keep doing it. Carter, to her credit, doesn't say anything, barely reacts at all. At least some of that is likely stress, but some of it is also likely interrogator training, knowing when someone's trying to wind her up and no matter how curious she might be about the subject they've chosen to do so, not reacting or giving them a damn thing. They've got an incoming distraction anyway in the form of Elias showing up to discuss things in person. Fusco trains his gun on the door almost immediately and looks to Carter for the play. And speaking of unexpected, uninvited guests, Finch is now approaching and greeting... Simmons. The plot congeals!
You know, in another world and without Nathan to constantly and subtly (or probably at times less than subtly) remind Harold of what it's like to be a human being with morals and feelings, Finch would be an incredibly scary motherfucker. The smile he gives when Simmons looks surprised and asks who the hell he is, is the small smile of someone who knows he's in control, and is enjoying it. That's not for show. That's really there. That makes Finch scary. Scary man would like to talk to Simmons about his organization HR and the relationship with Elias, and the fact that they're being paid to ignore Elias's crimes. Simmons is not interested in being yanked around by a stranger whose power and influence he isn't certain of at all. Mostly, Simmons isn't interested in being yanked around in general. Which is too bad, because Finch is in prime yanking people around mode. He describes' Simmons's opinion of Elias (or what he assumes Simmons' opinion to be, but it's still a pretty good guess) as being a return to order. Alas no, Elias is not a tame crime lord, and Finch has proof. Also smiles. A lot of small smiles up until he gets to the part where Carter's son has been kidnapped and Elias is willing to do the same to every HR cop's family, including Simmons' own wife and child. Oh, and the con Elias has following him around has a rap sheet that includes rape and manslaughter. Lovely. Simmons continues to be argumentative but he's lost, and they both know it. He can't afford to take the risk that Elias has their families under threat, especially not with proof that at least someone is following around his family and taking pictures of them while they're on their errands, unsuspecting. Finch now delivers the request/ultimatum, which is that HR severs its ties with Elias. Pull their men off, and give him the location of Carter's son. Finch does not fuck around when he has to get the job done, and while he might not necessarily have the same particular set of skills that Carter, Reese, and even Fusco do, when he puts his mind to it he can be really fucking scary.
So. That accomplished, it's back over to the safe house where it's almost midnight and Elias has apparently been spending the bulk of the day at Carter's doorstep. Either lurking to put pressure on her in the way of simple presence, or whispering at her through the door, it's hard to say. There's at least the pressure of his men bringing up equipment to cut through the door, there's no way they could have done that quietly enough to avoid someone in that room hearing it. No one is willing to budge on this, Elias isn't willing to release Taylor and Carter isn't willing to give up the dons and everything she stands for and values. We even get some arc word pushing, no one's coming to save you, you are all alone. We all know what happens when anyone in this show says that to a protagonist, right? Right. Carter doesn't respond, so Elias gives the signal to start cutting while he stands to one side and contemplates his hand? Oh, I see, that's our cue to flash back. Interestingly, the Machine takes us back for the third one, where it usually doesn't. In this flashback we have Elias being escorted from a car by two goons, and Moretti is sadly Sir Not Appearing In These Woods. The mook says Moretti's sorry, he wished he could be here, but, eh, you know how it is. Moretti's absence in general more than anything the goon says is most likely what tips young Elias off, even as he asks the question he looks as though he knows not only what the answer will be, but why they're in the woods in the first place. The goon now waxes philosophical about how Moretti's a tool and he should be "cleaning up his own mess," and no one's bothering to pretend he doesn't mean Elias. Up to and including a) mentioning his mother's murder and the fact that it was contracted out and b) calling him a bastard, which is likely still a sore spot. Elias makes some sort of noise, but I wouldn't go so far as to assume he's crying. Overcome with emotion, yes, but not necessarily crying. They also assume he's saying that he's an idiot and should have known, but having listened to that a couple of times now I'm pretty sure he's saying you're an idiot, I should have known, meaning he should have known Moretti would send a couple of goombas to do the job. They're still stuck on their interpretation, though. And I have to give this guy chops, he does a good job at mimicking Enrico C's speech patterns, since those are what we're basing Elias's behavior on. Because here's where the cold, rational Elias we all know and loathe comes out. He waxes philosophical about his strength, their weakness, claims to derive his strength from being alone and not needing support or reassurance. I'd argue that point the same as I'd argue for the validity of Carter's comments about weakness. But in this particular situation, he's not wrong. He grabs the wire one goon is trying to strangle him with, cutting his hands in the process because that's a lot of pressure in a very narrow space as they fight for control of the garroting wire, and eventually when the other guy draws his gun to finish it, manages to duck behind his would-be murderer and pull him around to take the bullet for him. This also gives him the opportunity to get the other goon's gun and shoot the second guy. Several times, at least a couple more than he needs to, showing that he's not feeling as strong as he claimed. That's weakness, vulnerability, and a need to dominate right there, that is. He doesn't seem morally bothered by what he's done either, just shook up, emotionally all over the place, and a little tired. Poor kid, but he's been broken a long time at this point.
Back in the present, Finch and Reese are pulling up outside a building. We know it's Finch and Reese because they still think in little yellow boxes. Wait, no, that's Deadpool. Reese is dispensing with such trivialities as plans and going in with many guns and getting Taylor. Yes, he's that pissed. Finch seems to have left his confidence back at the diner and is now meek and apologetic that he's not much help with this end of things, namely the deadly and efficient violence. Finch, sweetie, not only do you have massive issues, having it narrowed down to one building is more than help enough, calm down. And put the gun down. And Reese, try to sound a little less like you're talking to a small child? Although it is cute that his designating Finch as the getaway driver sounds a lot like patting him on the head and giving him a cookie. Besides, we all know what happens when someone starts messing with kids around Reese, right? It's messy and it rhymes with breath.
Back at the safehouse Elias waves his cutter off and gives Carter her requisite last chance. Carter does take a second to gather herself, but gives him the requisite no deal and prepares to shoot anyone coming through that door. If you didn't see this coming, everyone, well, you're a bigger idiot than you have to be. Or a nameless extra. Anyway, Carter's dispensing with the sidearms and bringing out the big guns, and by big guns I mean I have no idea what the fuck that thing is but it's about the size of her torso. Even Elias might pause if he saw that, but he can't, so he waves to his cutter to resume cutting through the door. While they're knocking on Carter's door Reese is knocking on the restaurant door, or wherever that is, and a mook goes and looks through the peephole. Poor mook. Poor mook's kneecaps, which he no longer has. Or shinbones. Since Reese has dispensed with subtlety for the evening everyone in the building hears that, which means more mooks going to see what the fuck that was. As a point of interest, the artist who does the song over this assault on one of Elias's strongholds is the same artist who did the song over Snow's ambush of Reese on the rooftop. I thought that voice sounded familiar. Someone on production likes their BritPop, I guess? Moretti immediately flattens himself as best he can considering he's handcuffed, like all smart people when bullets are flying. By the time Reese is in Taylor's room he's getting ambushed by a mook at close range, which means Taylor gets an up close view of his hand to hand skills! Awesome. Like a good operative, Reese does his best to clear at least this level of the building before getting Taylor. "Your mother sent me" is a nice touch both to play up the movie enigmatic anti-hero thing and to establish his bona fides. Moretti rightly assumes that Reese bears him no particular good will, but luckily for him Reese is here for rescue tonight. Even if he leaves a bit of hesitation between the question and his answer. For extra bonus hilarity and anvils that bit of dialogue is shot with Reese half in light and half in shadow. Yes, that's on purpose. Yes, that's to visually imply duality and so on and so forth, please don't make me go into that lecture again.
Back at the safehouse Fusco's checking through the windows only to discover, and likely to his surprise, that the guards on them are leaving. I suppose here's as good a time as any to note that he's spent almost this entire episode not being in on the Reese and Finch end of things. The bulk of his involvement, if not the entirety of his involvement, is through Carter. It's a damn good demonstration of his loyalty to her, particularly considering how much of this has likely been on the fast and loose side of procedure and legality. Fusco reports to Carter that the HR guys took off, Carter shoulders her gun and tells him to get the dons back and into the corner, which he does. Because Fusco is also the best. Unfortunately Fusco is also busy and stressed and assuming they have complete information on the dons, which doesn't appear to be the case given that Don Zambrano snatches Fusco's gun out of the back of his pants. He's been in bed with Elias the whole time! Which lends interesting questions to Elias's willingness for Carter to kill him, too. Elias never mentioned "Sure, go ahead, kill the other two but can you leave this guy alive 'cause he works for me now" when Carter said that about she might as well kill them herself, he was all about how the dons are corrupt and need to die. And while this entirely explains the dons' attitude towards Elias at the beginning of the episode, really, Zambrano, how stupid are you? Or desperate, desperate is also an option. We'll go with desperate, since not only is he backing Elias he's now digging at the alleged rift between Carter and Fusco, despite the fact that it didn't work earlier. He lays out the situation in the bleakest terms and gives Fusco the survive or die honorably choice, banking on Fusco to have greater survival instincts than a desire to do the right thing. We don't get to see much more than Carter controlling her face (seriously, can she give lessons to everyone else? Or maybe Nick Burkhardt from Grimm?) and Fusco narrowing his eyes at the guy before we're back on the outside of the door, gunshots, and Elias gestures for the cutter to stop for a second so he can figure out what's going on in there. They've got the door open anyway. What's going on seems to be Zambrano got shot, because Carter and Fusco have their guns pointed at the door. They appear to be at an impass at least for the moment, two high-powered guns against two high-powered guns and Elias and Carter once again admit respect and refuse to back down. Except, hey! Sirens! Fusco apparently called for backup. Oh Fusco. And you are damn lucky Finch pulled HR out when he did. Though he does have a point that Elias and HR can't own every cop. At least, we're pretty sure they can't. Elias, as earlier, acknowledges that he's lost this round with barely a flicker and a small smile. You know how Finch's calm, small smile earlier was more than a bit scary? Yeah, it's the same with Elias. He's won this round but he's neither lost his composure nor is he giving up, he's admitting defeat by a worthy opponent. Carter doesn't do a victory dance either, though there's definitely some triumph in her voice when she places him under arrest. Elias attempts to keep some of his evil ominousness, I guess, by reminding her that change is inevitable and he is that change and blah blah nobody's paying attention to you anymore, Elias. Well, nobody except Moretti Junior, who wants to know where his father is, you bastard. As much as I agree that Moretti Junior's an idiot and Moretti senior is an idiot and an evil bastard, I have to sympathize a little with the poor kid. There's been a lot of parents and sons in this episode, and that emotion and worry over his father is very real. Hey, speaking of parents and sons Fusco will take over covering the bad guys while Carter answers her phone for news of Taylor. It's even Taylor speaking! He likes the guy she sent to get him, kind of a badass. Aww Taylor. Aww Reese. The important thing, anyway, is that he's safe. The second important thing is that she doesn't say anything over the phone to implicate Finch and Reese to Fusco or anyone else in the room, which is a nice tight piece of writing since I doubt it's meant to be deliberate on Carter's part, she's a little too shook up over Taylor's abduction. Fusco grins adorably at her as if to say, see, told you it'd be okay. Aww Fusco.
Carter doesn't get to see her son till the next morning, though, at the diner, admittedly most likely because there's arrest reports to file and statements to take and paperwork and prisoner transport and a whole mess of stuff and it's probably best if Taylor just went home and tried to get at least a little sleep, since he's safe now. But it is morning, or at least light out and people are moving around, by the time they see each other again. With mother and son reunion in the left hand corner of the screen Reese walks up from what that angle indicates to be a further distance than where Taylor was watching. Keeping an eye out just in case? Carter is not shy about expressing her gratitude, either, despite what Reese did. Reese is... not quite goofy, but definitely has that manic-tinged grin of relief going on, the one where it would be a broad grin if he weren't so damned stoic. With a few words more of reassurance, he'll go off so mother and son can continue their clinging reunion, as we get Ne Me Quitte Pas cuing up in the background and playing over the booking of Carl Elias. And all I have to say about that is that's a damned odd choice for someone who claims his power comes from solitude. One last loose end to tie up! Wherever Reese dumped off Moretti, he must have told his son about it or left Moretti some way of contacting him, because here's his son to pick him up! They're getting into a car. This can't possibly end well. No, seriously, when I first saw this around the time they got into the car, even before that phone began to ring, I thought this couldn't possibly end well. The doom feeling grows when that phone is revealed not to be either of theirs. It's coming from an envelope! It's Elias! The envelope has a picture from the Marlene Elias crime scene, and he's calling to say good-bye, and he wishes he could have been there. Yeah, see? Weakness. The gloating is weakness, anyway, the phrasing is more likely for our benefit as a mirror to the assassination attempt scene, if only because that is a fuck of a long time to hold that kind of a specific turn of phrase, especially when the person you want to turn it on likely won't even connect it with the incident that's burned in your mind. Even if Moretti doesnt' recognize the phrasing, though, he recognizes the tone of voice and the meaning of the statement. Game over. It's plain in his face when he turns to look at his son. The car goes up with a pop more than the usual boom. Not with a bang, but a whimper? Elias grimaces and pulls his head away from the phone and the noise. Scarface rolls his window up so we can see the reflection of the burning car, of course it's Scarface, who else would Elias trust with something like this? Solitude my ass. And Elias hands the phone back to the guard with a nod of understanding. Even odds whether or not the guard knew the reason behind the phone call, or was just paying respect to a diminished crime lord. And now Elias is behind bars, but with a smile like that, he's perfectly content that way. Somehow, that's not reassuring. Loki levels of not reassuring.