It's a nice reminder and an interesting choice that we close the last episode with Reese and another man sitting opposite each other at a table and having a conversation involving Reese choosing every word carefully with maximum skewer potential, and now we have Reese sitting down dexter (as opposed to sinister, which Reese was in SO many ways last episode) to the camera and being stymied in his attempt to interrogate and skewer. Finch shuts him down, then shuts down his attempt to dissemble and pretend he wasn't doing anything, which we only know was an attempt to do something because Reese has that brows-lifted not quite smiling face that passes for his innocent expression. No one believes you, Reese. Day-old babies don't even believe you. Finch definitely doesn't believe you, especially since Reese stops trying to pass it off as innocent while simultaneously denying he was playing anything by his "I was asking a regular" comment. Yes, exactly. You ass. Which is probably similar to what Finch is thinking now. Finch will now pay for his meal and leave, thank you very much, but not before giving Reese his latest assignment. I note here for the record and so everyone can bounce their head off their hard surface of choice that Finch is reading It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. For those of you not familiar, it's a book about a senator rising to power in the way that most dictators rise to power, by gaming the system and playing on the faith of the populace that, like the title says, it can't happen here. Presumably this is a commentary on the Machine, the power it conveys, etc. etc. Ha bloody ha. (As an entirely irrelevant side note but something I didn't know and now share with you all, It Can't Happen Here was apparently the basis for the series V. Which may clarify some hilarity for everyone.)
Reese opens up the menu, finds the picture of the next number, Judge Samuel Gates. Cut over to presumably thirty or so minutes later, Reese is sitting on the steps outside of Gates' home at some angle, watching the judge come out of the house with his son to see him off on the school bus, aww. It's time for the exposition! Apparently Gates' wife died of cancer last year, since then it's been the judge and the son and the nanny, and it looks like the judge is a hardass for justice and actually following the law, working by the book. Possibly working long hours, as Reese and Finch seem to think, but given the fact that the judge sticks around long enough to see his son off to school indicates that he's making time specifically to be with his son. Chances are long hours doesn't extend to after dinnertime, or if it does, he works out of his home for the evening portion. But yes, with a subject like this, the problem generally lies in figuring out which of the many, many threats the judge is getting are the actual threat the Machine saw, and that's assuming that the possibility the Machine saw was thoughtful enough to leave a threatening letter to begin with. Considering that the Machine's purpose is to put together non-obvious probabilities to come up with information leading to a scenario that could not be prevented by other means, it's not exactly likely that the Machine is calling in Reese and Finch for someone who left a threatening letter. In that case, I would guess the Machine would take that into account as well as the fact that such a diligent judge likely reports all received threats, and predict the violence to come at a low risk due to procedures already in place for dealing with known threats to judges. In this case, the threat is from a known (there are criminals out there who don't like by the book judges) unknown (the successful criminals don't usually announce themselves). Not that Reese and Finch think of this, and even if they did, eliminating the original threatening letters isn't a bad first step. At the very least it gives them some avenues to look parallel to, for people who might be pissed off enough to act and smart enough to stay quiet.
Ahem. Anyway. Reese puts a camera in the courtroom which I question the utility of, but, sure, a new angle, why not. We get a Significant Look at a court case which we don't know for sure is significant until much later, but considering the discussion of the video and the early clip from the Machine it's a safe bet they're engaging in conservation of characters/scenes/time in general. As they do. Then Reese goes and does his breaking and entering thing, copying over the judge's files, looking through some of the threatening letters. As expected, they're photocopies of threatening letters, indicating that the originals have been turned in and investigated. I would say, yet again, that the chances are good the threat isn't coming from there and even if it is, that Finch should hack into local police records and see if anyone's being investigated. Which he clearly hasn't, because while he says he has six possible suspects (and we don't hear on what criteria he's basing this conclusion despite my repeated attempts to use the Force on the little men in my TV screen to get them to tell me things) he isn't aware that any of them are white guys with crew cuts. Which, if he was looking into police records, he might well have gotten a physical description or a license photo from them. And why is Reese asking? Well, because he's identified a couple of white guys with crew cuts lurking around being suspicious near the judge! And now it's time for one of those well-blocked scenes in which the judge comes out and goes on his daily way, the white guys with crew cuts bracket and follow him without at least the judge noticing, and Reese keeps an eye on both guys and follows them with one hand reaching for his gun because one of their hands is going for something concealed by a hip, just in case it's going to go down here and now. I do question the decision to have another one of these moments when we had one last episode, but in this case the fact that the guy with the crew cut dumps a phone rather than pulls a gun is important. Reese keeps walking without breaking stride and then, when all the other parties in question have moved on, circles back around without blinking or hurrying his step and goes to fish out the phone. The choreography of this little dance is brilliant, and Caviezel pulls off the focus shift and double back with notable grace.
There's two cell phone messages, one outgoing that says 'courts in session good to go' and one incoming that says 'schools out moving in' and, yeah, Reese, it's exactly what you think it is. But just so we get a clearer picture, Reese checks with Finch about the son's name. And, again, I have to question what the kid's name has to do with anything, since the Machine spits out social security numbers and not names, so there shouldn't be any confusion. (That said, the kid is a notable point of weakness, so they both should have damn well kept a closer eye. On the other hand, they didn't get as much lead time on this one as they have been.) Either way, the point is, the kid is in trouble and Reese is following the dad. So it's back to the townhouse where we get a brief Machine's eye view of Sam Junior getting off the schoolbus from what appears to be a security camera from across the street. He comes in, talking about something from school that day that Christina the Nanny isn't going to believe, only to be ambushed from behind and in front by a guy with a piece of duct tape over his mouth. And the other guy with a blanket. I'll give this for these guys, they're efficient, if not precisely subtle or well-disguised; a tranquilizer would have done much better and carrying a kicking and screaming as much as he can kid out the door and down the front steps is incredibly blatant and showy. Fortunately for them, there's only one other person on the street right now. Unfortunately for them, it's Reese.
So now we get some once again well choreographed and amazingly executed fight sequence. I cannot begin to tell you how gorgeous these sequences are. It takes Reese about three moves to disable one guy (including disabling the guy's face into a car; using the nearest hard surfaces to you and assisting people into them is also a highly useful tactic!) and then the other guy in the pale suit is on him. Pushing him into the car the way he pushed the first thug into the car, only this time it's not face first and Reese recovers easily. There's an exchange of blows that's deft and shows off both of their skills, which tells us that this team of kidnappers has someone who's at least physically capable of holding their own against Reese for a short time. Which, given what we've seen of Reese, is impressive all on its own; this kidnapping team has at least one trained operative. We don't get to see if he's as well trained as Reese because he pulls a gun and down goes our hero, spinning from the impact. A little dramatically, but suitable for the velocity of a Hollywood bullet. I'm not sure what the actual velocity of a bullet would be at that close range, either.
Either way, he was definitely vested because in the next scene we get a glimpse of that deliciously unmarked chest and the token bandage up towards his left shoulder as Reese is buttoning up a fresh shirt and bitching about a lack of accurate data. We know exactly how you feel, sweetie. Though in this case Finch will now point out what I mentioned earlier, that the Machine doesn't give out names, it gives out social security numbers. And if it spat out Sam Gates pere's number, that must be for a reason. And certainly violence against his son would incline him to do violence to someone else or put him in a position where violence might well be done to him, not to mention that kidnapping by strangers is generally a premeditated crime, so Reese, I love you, but no. You're in the wrong on this. Finch's theory is pretty reasonable, not that Reese will stick around to hear it because Kids In Danger is one of Reese's big red buttons. I can almost hear Tony Stark saying "I have a plan. Attack." And not just because he pretty much says the same thing. Bonus points for hitting the secondary big red button of good people ending up alone through no fault of their own.
On the steps of the courthouse, too, both because we can get some good wide shots to show how alone the judge is and because of the cool, white symbology of all that granite around him reflecting the sunlight. Also the irony of all that justice that he can't get for himself. The phone call starts out with proof of life (that, to my mind, isn't really proof, that call could have been pre-recorded, but whatever) and goes on to the kidnapping statement. No demands just yet, except for the standard ones about no cops or feds or anyone else predictably law enforcement. And they'll contact him. The judge makes a couple of quick calls to the people Sam Junior would be with if he weren't, you know, kidnapped, but one isn't answering and the other has no idea what's going on except that Sam isn't with her, so presumably is where he's supposed to be? Sadly, not so much. We get one standard long shot of the judge alone in a crowd, high-contrast for lots of light and shadow, and one Machine shot before the judge sits down in a helpless despair. Which of course Reese will help him out of! Our friendly neighborhood spyssassin appears sitting next to and behind the judge and introduces himself with "Let's figure out how we can get your son back." Oh Reese. You have some of the best and simultaneously the worst entrances. Yes, let's sneak up on a judge whose son just got kidnapped and offer cryptic help, that's a great plan. The judge is giving him the same look I would. Well, with less swearing. And then grabbing his shirt and more demands to know who Reese is and what he wants because, yes, when a guy you don't know shows up and offers help with the kidnapping you found out took place less than five minutes ago, well, you assume he's in on it! Or, again, I would. I think most people would. Reese has the wide-eyes and even voice of earnestness, trying to calm the judge down, but again, Reese, this wouldn't be necessary if you'd introduced yourself a little more gradually in the first place. Anyway, he also points out that if the kidnappers want something from Gates, they're not likely to hurt his son until they get it. Which is a good idea, as far as that goes. Assuming the kidnappers have a) a plan and b) half a brain. That second part might cause some trouble somewhere down the line. Reese ends up yanking the judge's attention back to the problem at hand by putting it in very simple terms (which we are certainly not snickering over as B5 nerds, since Reese doesn't have the fairest idea who he is), before we cut to commercial.
A few flickers of the Machine and we come back to Reese and the judge in the judge's house looking over the scene of the abduction. The judge doesn't know how they got past the alarm, Reese is more interested in the security he's going to install... in case someone comes back? It doesn't entirely fit with the style of kidnapping, but the wiretap on the phone should help! Gates is still clearly in shock, but with it enough to register that the nanny isn't there and neither is her body, and one of the two should be. This suggests to Reese that she might be in on it; not a bad guess, it's not like we haven't seen that before. The judge doesn't think so, but then, he wouldn't; given this guy's meticulousness in other areas if he was suspicious of Christina she would have been bounced out on her ass. So Reese's next approach is to ask if he's received any kidnapping threats or tried any cases involving kidnappers, which is both a reasonable question and will hopefully allow Gates to focus a little more. While Gates picks things up because physically putting things to rights in his home, if he's not allowed to call the cops (and therefore is free to muck around with the crime scene), is about all he can do. Poor guy. He looks to Reese, being the dominant person in the room at this time by dint of being the only one who can think straight, and asks if he thinks this is about money because he can pay ... well, what I would call 'a little,' given the sums kidnappers usually ask for. Reese tells him, calmly and with the conviction of either the innocent or the predisposed to target-fixation, that they're going to find out what this is about and they're going to get his son back. And then I went and banged my head against the wall of don't make promises you can't keep, especially to victims of crimes, who have already been battered about the emotions enough. The judge is still sort of dazed, has no idea how that's going to happen, reminds him that the kidnappers said no cops, no FBI. But, as the man himself says, they didn't say anything about Reese. Probably because they weren't aware of his predilection for coming down with both heels onto the kidneys of people who hurt children. Big red shiny candylike button.
Finch does somewhat take Reese to task for those questions a moment later, pointing out that with both of them legally dead and one of them sort of kind of maybe a fugitive (and both of them if anyone ever found out who Finch was, that he existed, and any other information conducive to tracking him down, as we'll see) the last thing they need is attention from a judge. On the one hand, he's right, and Reese is being reckless enough as it is with that Children in Danger button mashed to the console and duct-taped down. And on the other hand, the judge is not necessarily in a position to remember salient details about Reese, process them correctly even if he does, and when he does manage to put it all together and come up with something like the right answer chances are he's going to willfully skip over the details in favor of Reese was there to help him when no one else would. So, Finch, honey, I love you? You guys need a profiler to tell you this shit. Though possibly this is less a matter of not being able to predict human behavior and more a matter of Finch preferring certainties and control over the information to the alternative. They then go over the information, neither the phone call nor the disposed of phone is giving anything useful and Reese is digging a bullet out of a wall while Finch bitches about not having the resources he used to when he worked for the government. As much as I bitch about the government and its myriad works I do have to say, they have some phenomenal resources. When you can thread the bureaucracy to get to them. The nanny, much to nobody's surprise, turns out to be dead, hence the bullet hole, and we don't get a close view of the body, implying that they may have tortured her to get the alarm code. That's not so much in on it as horribly in the way. Poor Christina. We leave Finch crossly threading the dank and cluttered realm of phone company databases and Reese placing one of his soon-to-be frequent anonymous 911 calls, and hop a Machine view in what appears to be late afternoon by that timestamp, hey, over to the police precinct!
Fusco, why are you going through Carter's files. Fusco, why are you going through Carter's files in full view of the office? She's got the Elias evidence box stacked on top of something else to her right and a folder, what will turn out to be the "man in the suit" folder tilted to the left on the stack of folders at the center of her desk. When Fusco goes through it it has pictures of Reese on the train, but we don't see much else of what's in there because Fusco's scurrying back to his desk, pulling up his chair, and putting on his glasses as though he was doing something at his desk the whole time. Yeah, Carter is not fooled, either. Remember how the folder was turned to the left of the center stack a moment ago? Now it's turned to the right. And Carter turns it back to center so that it's perfectly lined up with the files beneath it before turning her interrogative skills on Fusco. Starting with the usual questions everyone already knows the answer to and then prodding him with one she doesn't know the answer to in the same tone, and in the hopes that he'll give her something. Because now she's suspicious, especially considering the timing of his promotion/transfer. Fortunately/unfortunately for her, Fusco is neither fazed nor surprised. He's probably sadly had practice at this, what with being a dirty cop all those years. And he's got to go see a man about a mission right now anyway, or so his phone is telling him. He leaves with telling Carter he's gonna buy her a cup of coffee, since she's being so nice, which has the nice twofold prod about bribes since she thinks he's a dirty cop and about being nice to your new partner, which she's admittedly not being.
Wonder of wonders, Fusco actually is going out to a coffee stand. Probably because it makes a convenient line for Reese to lurk behind him in. At which point Reese makes some quips about Fusco the pet dog, which Fusco doesn't respond to. He knows how people think of him, and it doesn't come as a surprise how Reese thinks of him, but he'll put up with it both as penance and because they are doing some good. Particularly after this conversation. Fusco bitches about the commute, Reese tells him he's lucky to be on task force and, you know, alive. He also points out to Reese that Carter's what Fusco thinks of as "a real cop," meaning she has integrity and German Shepherd tenacity. And her teeth in Reese's tail. Reese then passes him the bullet he dug out of the wall and tells him to run ballistics, check for kidnappings involving white guys with crew cuts (thanks, Reese, for such a specific and detailed description, no, really) and one with long hair (really? not even long auburn hair? long strawberry blond? that's at least a little more distinctive), and when Fusco shoots down the likelihood of picking anything up via kidnapping cases, tells him to go look at Amber Alerts. Which is Fusco's clue that this is about a missing kid, a missing kid around whom there's already been some violence going by the fact that Reese is having him run a ballistics check to boot. He tries to get more information out of Reese, or at least some faith that yes, he is still a cop, and there's still a kid in danger, but Reese Batmans out of there while Fusco's still protesting his good intentions. Poor Fusco. Reese (and, to some extent, the show) really does treat him like crap.
We get a brief bit of expospiel from Finch about how he tracked down one of the kidnappers, all of it pretty standard for the genre of the show, but the upshot is Reese now has an address outside which to lurk until Crewcut #1 shows up! Which he does, and so Reese follows him off the street and into the much more secluded stairwell full of hard surfaces like walls and railings off which he can bounce the thug's head. Or not, much to my deep regret. This time the thug seems at least a little more aware, he gets a couple of good hits in and almost sends Reese down the stairs. Sadly, though, he seems to either waste time or spend too much focus on the fact that he has a knife and Reese doesn't. Given that Reese is blatantly well-trained, pulling a knife is just going to increase the potential that he'll take that from the thug, which of course he kind of does. At least, he deprives the thug of the knife. And then sends him rolling down the stairs. Le sigh. Out of all the fight sequences in this episode, I think this is actually my least favorite, mostly because the lighting is dim and sourced from some very out of the way places, the coloration is greenish and a bit sickly, and the choreography isn't nearly as crisp and sleek as in other places. Yes, I have tastes. Somewhat eclectic ones, but still.
Thug dispatched, Reese calls Finch to let him know he's got one in custody. Well, no, Finch, Reese has him in custody, weren't you listening, of course he's probably not talking much in words right now. He's probably not even conscious. That said, Reese is gleaning a suitable amount of information from his ID and body, even highlighting some of the methods i.e. "Josef. With an f..." indicating likely cultural/geographic source of the thug. Which he then narrows down by virtue of looking for affiliation tattoos to SP 9, a group who was running guns for heroin to Pashtun warlords and running kidnapping schemes in Warsaw. (Sadly, Caviezel mumbles over the Russian or Polish or whatever that is, so we can't language dork at the rest of it for you.) Oh excellent. Reese doesn't seem terribly happy or concerned one way or the other, but now he has a known quantity to go after.
And Carter has a homicide! Not one she expected, either, inasmuch as any police officer expects a homicide; this one comes to her via the BOLO (that's Be On the LookOut for those of you not familiar with the lingo of the genre) and the detective in charge of the homicide says the super saw the man in the suit/Reese leaving the building, so he gave her a call. That's some attention to detail from the cop, there, though it sounds like he was hoping Carter would be able to give him a suspect or at least a direction to go in. Well, Carter was hoping for some more information on the man in the suit, but there's no audio on the phone call and the time of death is two hours before Reese showed up, so that's it for anything helpful. Well, I guess she could dust the phone for prints, but she already has Reese's prints. We already know even before the police officers do their inter-jurisdictional dance that she's not going to find anything on Reese, that this is the nanny and therefore there's not much to find on the murder, etc. Still, we have to go through the motions, including raising tension by mentioning that uniformed officers are talking to her clients.
And indeed, there's a cop right outside the judge's door letting him know that Christina's been murdered. He does a decent job at redirecting the shock and upset, though since we come in on the middle of the conversation it's anyone's guess whether or not he did a decent job faking the surprise before the shock and upset. Possibly, since he didn't know for sure that Christina was dead. Reese must have suspected, but it didn't seem like Reese told the judge that. Judge Gates offers the officer the truth in all aspects except the part about Sam Junior playing upstairs, which comes on the heels of a number of truths and so has few telltales. Particularly with fog of grief all over it. The officer doesn't seem to entirely be buying it, but it's enough to thank the judge for his time and get off the front steps, considering there's no probative evidence any which way to link Christina's murder to the judge beyond the employment connection, and it's a judge. If he were so inclined he could make life very difficult for Officer Happy. Not that Judge Gates would, but the officer doesn't know that. So, the uniform leaves, Gates zombies back in and we pull back to see that Reese is still Batman, leaning up against the wall just to the inside of the doorway with his arms crossed and listening to the whole exchange. He's a little hunched in on himself, indicating how little he likes this entire situation even if he is the best man for the job. Again, we don't see how this started so we have no idea if he's been there the whole time, and he likely has been. Coaching Gates to stick to the truth where possible and keep his answers short and generic. I prefer to think of him as just appearing behind people like Batman, though. Gates is a wreck. We have the appropriate emotional ramble to show how much of a wreck he is, the little details that stick in his mind and how much Christina loved her young charge and how much Sam Junior loved her, and how she was there for them both and everything. Reese skips the prologue to reassure/remind Gates that Sam is alive, as long as they need Gates to do something for him they'll keep him alive, and Gates now takes refuge in the old standby of Reese-doesn't-know-that. Well, no, he doesn't and can't know that in this case specifically, but he does know situations like this, and by now he even knows the kidnappers in a general sense. Asking Gates if he knows SP 9 is tantamount to putting on a big 'kick me' sign, though. The judge wants to know how the hell he knows that, again, and we're back to who is Reese and what has he done. This time instead of being a kidnapper, though, the judge theorizes that he's some form of law enforcement or military or both, knowing who SP 9 is. Reese can't and won't tell him, just that he has experience in situations like this. Thanks, Reese. That clears things up so well. Yeah, the judge has about the same reaction I do when a certain someone won't tell me what he did in that SCIF he worked in (long story), or when information is otherwise tantalizingly dangled out in front of one's nose and then yanked back. He bites. Granted, Gates can't bite very hard, but he does threaten to bring in the cops, which Reese then kindly doesn't point out would get Sam Junior killed. He does point out that he's going to help Sam Junior regardless, which also sounds like a threat. Guys! Pack it back in and get back to the problem at hand, okay?
No, the judge has never heard of a gang called SP 9. But they've heard of him, at least. They're calling, and they want to make sure that he's alone. It's not wise to lie to kidnappers, dude. The judge demands proof of life, the kidnappers once again come up with proof that still sounds like it could be recorded, which is less their fault and more that the kid is too scared to say anything other than the same handful of statements over and over again. And then Gates offers to pay them whatever they want, and now we get to the real demands. They want the judge to throw a case. Not nearly as easy as it sounds, really, especially with competent lawyers and the kind of evidence they have against her, given that we saw surveillance footage of the hit and run itself which the prosecutor clearly has. We heard that conversation all the way back before, when we were watching the judge's judging and the conversation about the balancing test. No, it's going to take some work to throw this one, and Reese had better get to the kid soon. But neither of them have the slightest idea what this case has to do with a bunch of Polish/Eastern European gangsters. We close out on a shot of a very scared Sam junior, just to reassure us-the-audience that he's still alive. For now. Dun dun DUNNNNNNN.
We get Gates giving us voiceover expospiel after the break, explaining who Angela Markham is and why this case came across his bench, basically a high-powered executive trying to get out of murder. Well, manslaughter. Still and nonetheless, it's pretty boilerplate and it's a testament to how fucked up the judge's mental processes are right now that he doesn't immediately leap to her having hired the gang. They're apparently sitting in some diner or coffee shop during a recess, in classic spy novel back-to-back in small booths blocking. Reese proceeds to deliver some ill-advised warnings about what the gang will do to Gates once they're through with him; namely, kill him. Honey, that is not the way to get the guy to actually work with you, he's an idealist who's going to respond very poorly to that. Especially to your "source that's never wrong." I know they're still getting the hang of this whole Machine thing, but really, Reese? You were Company-trained. I expect better. (Frankly, this is not one of the stronger eps of the season as a whole, what with all kinds of little odds and ends dropped and pretty much nil on the metaplot arcs.) He redirects the conversation long enough to get the judge to stall for time while looking like he's cooperating, and we move back to the hacker lair for more expospiel explaining the finer points of SP 9. Which is, as with most good organized crime syndicates, a goddamn syndicate spanning multiple countries and continents. Reese provides some expospeak about the Pruszkow Mafia to locate us in Poland rather than Russia, okay fine, but then they never really DO anything with this. I really wonder if they meant to bring Reese's shady Eastern European organized crime knowledge base into more direct play and never got around to it, because I don't know why they're bothering with half of this. Finch bitches about the lack of digital footprint, Reese surmises that Markham is sleeping with a leader in SP 9 and that's their connection, I facedesk some more over the total lack of anything to analyze, and off Reese goes with his all out of bubblegum walk though not his little leitmotif. Alas. Hey, it's a gang member inna trunk! Roomy trunk, too. Guys, we did the Reese-is-a-monster thing much better last ep, I'm not sure why we need this little clip of him explaining that it's taken him at most 16 hours to break someone oh fine.
Back at the precinct, Fusco's horning in on Carter's case, Carter is suspicious of whoever dug the bullet out of the wall (as well she might be, since it IS just the one, Reese, stop flirting with her via very long distance or whatever the fuck it is you're doing), and Reese has creepy timing. I will at least briefly fall over laughing over the notion of Reese being Fusco's ex, though given that he is divorced it's not implausible for him to have a semi-contentious relationship with her. And a good poker face once again! Really, nobody gives Fusco enough credit. He somehow got the ballistics report (nothing) and does his secondary job of letting Reese know Carter's movements without ever being asked. He's trying to help more, too! Aw, that's cute, and it does go some way toward backing up our theory from last episode that part of why Reese is treating Fusco like dirt is so that he feels like he can somehow find a moral high ground from which to be actively and intentionally helpful on these cases, and maybe even a good cop again. Fusco pushes for a way to contact Reese, Reese is fairly dismissive but dangles the promise of an eventual carrot in front of him if he's a good boy and keeps Carter off the scent, and it's back to work! He will now cheat, though not recklessly, looking over the crime scene photos and asking Carter what they've got so far. She doesn't think it's a crime of passion, too little signs of struggle, because Carter is, wait for it... the best. Fusco points out the silencer telltales, hey look, there might be a place for him at the table anyway!
Meanwhile Finch is in court being his usual cyber-stalkery self, picking up data off Markham's cell so that hopefully they can get anywhere with her connections to SP 9. Aheh. Also, Finch being there instead of Reese avoids setting off any further reminders of what's going on in the judge's personal life. Not that the case is helping. Significant look at the picture of his son, significant look to Markham, smug I-win look back, oh thank god court is now in session. Let's go instead over to a junkyard of some kind, where Reese has been doing donuts with his pet gang member! Well that's fairly direct, as far as ways to torture someone that leaves them able to talk and has a somewhat short cool-off period for getting them coherent again. (Though frankly if they were going for verisimilitude they should have there be vomit comma choking on. At any rate.) A brief interrogation scene follows in which the guy's accent sort of fades in and out, stronger as he gets more agitated/is pronouncing the street names of the other members of his cell, and we all know that this isn't going to give Reese any direct information yet. But he gets an address! And leaves the burger on the guy's chest without untying his hands, because he's a bastard that way. Do I need to go into how doing that makes the prisoner feel like they've somehow earned the reward even more? No? Good. Moving back over to the courtroom, then, where Markham's lawyer is filing objections to the uniform's testimony on the most spurious of grounds and having them sustained. To all kinds of Significant Looks from the various players, mostly Gates, Finch, and Markham. Who sort of chews her lip as she turns over this new data and tries to figure out if she needs to be nervous. The DA would like to know what the fuck this happy horseshit is, not that any of us can blame her, and Gates can't take any more of this charade. Also that was a fucking terrible way of throwing it, I just want to note, he can't allow everything to go the defense's way or it would be unbelievable, but that does seem to be what the kidnappers want. So Gates calls for a recess until tomorrow morning and runs the hell away back to his chambers. Poor guy.
There's a moment's pause when he gets into his chambers and the phone is ringing, as well he might. I mean, it's possible that someone unrelated to the kidnapping would be calling him the second he got into his chambers after that fiasco of a trial-rigging, but not very likely. So, a moment's pause, and then getting the hell out of his judge's robes (possibly because he feels guilty for suborning attorneys, definitely with an attitude that they're impeding movement) and going over and sitting down at his desk. Not immediately answering the phone, although he does after the first ring that comes after he sits down, but again there's that pause because every time the phone rings, there's that fear that it's the kidnappers or the cops telling them they've left or discovered his son's body. While he's out of touch with everyone else he can pretend that if he does what the kidnappers want it'll all be okay, but the second he has to talk to someone it reminds him that this will quite likely end with his son dead. Depending on the kinds of cases he's presided over, this may be more of a reality for him than most. So, hesitation, and then he picks up the phone and the kidnapper is disappointed. That's a word you never want to hear a blackmailer/kidnapper use, disappointed. Audible swallow is a go.
He does open with a couple of good questions; obviously the fact that the kidnappers are calling and discussing what just happened means they have eyes and ears in the courtroom, which is important to know. His first guess, then, is that Markham told them, which is only semi-plausible. We didn't see her fiddling with a phone, which doesn't mean she didn't or that she didn't do it after the judge left, but it would also be awfully blatant if the judge caught her calling or texting someone to tell them what happened and then the kidnapper turned up on the phone. Though, really, there's been little enough cleverness going on in this show that I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. Gates also wants to know what her connection is to the kidnappers, which, hahahaha no. Cue threats and blustering, and Gates trying to explain how the legal system works. It's like a sinister version of the Office Space conversation where the boss wants it done on time, under budget, and to the highest standards! Only this time Gates had better make sure all three happen, poor bastard. Gates picks up his phone after the kidnapper hangs up so that we can see a picture he's been sent of Sam Junior sitting huddled and afraid against a radiator. With a gun on a surface pointing at him for extra anvilicious blocking. Captain Obvious, reporting for duty, sir. Cut to outside the courtroom Finch gets the same picture, along with a look that is probably as close to all out of bubblegum as he's going to get for a while. Awwww.
Cut to outside the building, where Finch is hobbling along after Angela Markham as quick as he can, poor guy, and trying to talk to Reese and look on his phone's copy of her phone at the same time. Reese has an address he's visiting, but Finch's next clue comes from Markham's phone instead, and he doesn't even have to hurry to keep up with her to get it! The kidnapper is calling her and telling her it's as good as done, and this short conversation tells us a couple of things. Firstly, neither of these two parties like each other, this is strictly a business arrangement for both of them. And secondly, while the kidnappers have Gates on the ropes, Markham also has SP9's balls in a vice due to something she can do that no one else can. In turn, this gives Team Machine an opportunity to re-evaluate: SP9 is holding Gates's son because they need him to throw the case. If Reese or Finch can deprive Markham of that hold over SP9 in some way, either by providing another asset or eliminating their need for her skills or what have you, they no longer need Gates to throw the case. Of course, in order to do that, they need more information, but it's a start. Finch will now presumably go to work on that more information thing while the Machine takes us through nightfall and over to Reese, who is breaking into a basement address. Going heeled, yes, but not listening very well, the long-haired kidnapper is making no attempt to soften his steps as he walks up behind Reese since, of course, he doesn't know Reese is there. He does soon, though! And then Reese knows he's there when he fires at Reese and misses. Reese, on the other hand, does not miss with at least one of his shots. We know this because as Reese is balling up his fist in the guy's shirt and slamming him up against the wall the level of screaming in pain is greater than it would be for the lack of force involved in said slamming. He makes one attempt to ask the long-hair where the boy is before punching him in the face, and it doesn't seem like he cares whether or not he knocks him out. Oh Reese. Your buttons are big, brightly colored, obviously placed, and covered with "press me" signs. Further investigation of this basement lair leads to ... a room full of money. And the sudden realization that this is actually a tabletop RPG quest. Reese just found the treasure room! Ahem. And there's a money counter, piles of cash, it's all so blatantly obvious that even Reese sounds surprised when he calls up Finch and tells him he found the pressure point. Hilarious.
After the break the Machine shows us a phone call it's spying on, where the lead kidnapper is screaming down the phone at a subordinate about two men missing and a whole pile of money. Oh Reese. You bad, bad boy. Now the kidnapper is furious and throws the phone at the boy, who dodges so that it hits the radiator and breaks, well, no one probably needed that phone anymore anyway. And now I have to point out that, actually, since the boy is clearly unmasked and unhooded and in the kidnappers' lair in full view of all of them, Reese and company need to get him the hell out of there regardless. Kidnappers, at least the ones with even a modicum of sense, do not allow their victims to see their faces if they intend on letting their victims go free. Not that we expected these kidnappers would, but this confirms it.
In much funnier developments, Reese upends a garbage bag full of cash onto a table in front of Finch. Whose reaction is to blink and comment that now they know why the kidnappers didn't ask for money. Finch's pan has, in fact, been dead since the 1400s and was buried under the carpark with Ricky III, and it is glorious. Reese's idea is to use it as leverage to get Sam back. Finch has other ideas based on a now more complete picture of what's going on. Apparently the tech company Markham works for manufactures software for banks, software that spots money-laundering. And just to make sure we all understand what's going on here, Markham helps launder/launders SP9s dirty money. Only it takes them five or six sentences to get around to it. Finch also notes for the record that accessing the accounts SP9 uses would get them businesses, which would get them addresses, which might get them a location on Sam Junior. And while Finch does that, Reese will go and try to convince the judge to stall a little longer. It doesn't go so well since the judge is scared for his son and Reese as yet has not offered anything tangible to show that he's going to get results. Reese does point out that the kidnappers will kill both of them as soon as they get what they want, but the judge leaves without a yes or no. We then get another cringingly embarrassing scene wherein the judge is inexplicably biased towards the defense and the DA calls him out on it, only to be threatened with a contempt charge. At this point she should strongly be suspecting him of corruption or coercion, not that there's much she can do in this one segment, and her expression suggests she's contemplating what she might be able to do after. I know I damn well would be. Law isn't one of the areas either of us is more than passing familiar with, so it's hard to say how much they glossed over in this and the previous scene, but even I can tell that they glossed over SOMETHING.
Case dealt with, we turn to Finch tracking down the accounts SP9 uses by breaking into the server room itself. Well, that's one way to do it! Especially when you can really pull off tech support. The name he seems to be using is Walt Trowbridge, not part of his usual alias pattern but since it could well have been stolen off an actual employee, sure, we'll go with it. He's interrupted in the middle by an actual employee who wants to know what he's doing around secure data. To which Finch responds by claiming the bank just got hacked and he's fixing it, which is true in the most entertaining of ways, by being both truth and a total lie at the same time. Just to add to the employee's discomfort and confusion he comments that he probably just took the guy's job. Finch, that was mean. And possibly unnecessary. Meanwhile Reese is also being mean and unnecessary, with a brief interrogation involving asking a couple questions, establishing that at least one of them has no intention of answering and the other very well might by his twitch when Reese asks "you want out", and then cutting that guy's wrist ropes. We can already hear the punching sounds as the trunk closes. So, mean and unnecessary. Also very blunt-instrument of Reese, which tells us a bit about how he learned to interrogate people.
Back over to the precinct, Fusco has a lead on the nanny's murder! Which involves surveillance footage, which means I severely question how it is he got it, and less in terms of the legality so much as, Machine, did you have a hand in this? He points out to Carter a man with long hair who's pulling off gloves as he walks away from the direction of the nanny's house; Carter, rightfully, questions what other evidence Fusco has to focus on this particular person. As good a liar as we know Fusco can be, he looks awfully guilty when he puts it down to just a hunch. Still, Carter doesn't call him on it, and Fusco goes on to tell her and us that he ran the guy's license plates and came up with a company instead of a name, based out of Brooklyn. They go to look at the company, Fusco texts the name to Reese under the table, thereby ensuring that Reese'll probably get there first. Hey, speaking of, Reese has a name for the boss and an empty water bottle he's tossing into the trunk that we don't get a look into. That's not suspicious or anything. Yarek Koska is the name, and Finch gives us a rundown on how this money laundering thing works in this particular instance, the upshot of which is that the operation is so big SP9 must have clients as well as their own money invested in this. Excellent. You know what this means, don't you? Leverage! Specifically of the clients' goodwill. But first they have to track down the boss, and Finch has no idea how he's going to do that with the name going unlinked to any particular account and manylots of accounts to sift through. Which, hey, by the laws of narrative coincidence, is when Reese gets the text from Fusco. Finch tracks down that company's assets, including buildings, including a particular building purchased recently that's less than ten blocks from the judge's house. Hey, it happens to be a church! That goes right along with the rows and rows of votives in red glass we've been seeing in the background of the kidnappers' lair. Again, we lack Reese's All Out Of Bubblegum music, so this probably won't be the final confrontation. But it's definitely coming to a conclusion! Particularly as Reese kneels down beside the blanket he saw them bundling Sam in when they were taking him. He's too late, and the jury's back to acquit. Oh noes! Pretty much no one but the bad guys is happy with these results, and Reese's capslock text message practically screams I-need-to-hit-someone.
The judge comes out of the courthouse and gets the usual phone call, come alone, no tricks, no weapons, I see anyone other than you and your son dies. Finch tells us the kidnappers plan to kill the judge too, yeah, thanks, the both of you, we figured that out already. Honestly, considering the first four episodes of this series involved at least one interesting and realistic twist per episode, I expected something more from this one than a series of standard tropes and the characters telling us what we had already surmised. Finch is getting increasingly (for him) frantic, while Reese is getting increasingly... cranky. That's the best word I can come with for it, cranky, as he steps out in full view of at least Finch, puts an arm around Markham and puts a gun in her side. We don't yet find out what he's planning because the Machine has to go hover over the supposed exchange like a worried parent. Which, admittedly, it sometimes seems to be. We get a couple of wide shots to show us that the judge is indeed alone, as the kidnappers demanded and as it would be foolish to accede to, but hey. The judge wants to see his son, so they bring out Sam Junior and then really no one does a good job at being surprised at what's about to happen, as far as I can tell. The judge attempts to trade on their goodwill or trade himself in, I'm not entirely sure why but most likely out of desperation. At which point Reese interrupts the near-surety of the bullet about to pass through the boy's head with a hostage and a shitton of information. And who says information isn't power? Well, Cersei Lannister did, but Reese proves otherwise here. Information and a gun to an important person's ribcage. Though a series of blusters and expositions Reese holds SP9's money (and by extension their clients' money oops) hostage and proposes an exchange: the judge and his son for SP9's (and their clients') money. Once again we get a demonstration of Caviezek's ability to be incredibly toothy with his lips closed, and despite a Fassbenderian display of predatory smiling Kosko chooses death by client wrath instead. Did I mention these criminals seem to be about as dumb as they possibly can be and not shatter the illusion that they can give Reese and Finch a bit of a workout? Because they are. The predictable gunfight and equally predictable death severe wounding (awww) of most of the bad guys ensues, with Markham getting away because Reese shoves her out of the line of fire when the shooting starts. He's such a considerate spyssassin.
Not really, because on the DA's table in another courtroom, tucked under her notes for that case, are the notes to build a case against SP9 and, most probably, Markham herself. She got out of vehicular homicide but chances are she won't get out of money laundering charges, not with Finch and Reese coming down on her with both heels to her kidneys. Fusco and Carter make it to the townhouse at which Reese apprehended the long-haired kidnapper earlier, lights but no sirens and guns out just in case. They announce and enter, because they're good cops and also because the door is open. What's this? Aww, someone left them a present! Four thugs and a pile of dirty money, with the thugs thoughtfully wrapped in shiny silver duct tape! It's like Christmas. Carter is deeply suspicious while Fusco appears to be doing his damndest not to snicker. And a short cut later Reese is watching the gangsters and Markham being escorted into police cars and arrested off to prison through a rearview mirror. Happy endings for everyone! As we now turn to the judge and his son attempting to be either footballers or football commentators. Reese Batmans in for no readily apparent reason except that we need a conclusion on this perfunctory episode, and possibly to check on the judge. Who thanks him with a giant honking lampshade on the fact that although they're helping people, they're doing a whole lot of illegal shit to do so. Gates also answers what may or may not be an unspoken question to Reese, saying that he won't be able to protect him (them, not that Gates knows that) when people find out about what they're doing. Reese tells him to go play with his son, and doesn't indicate whether or not he thought of going to Gates for said protection.
And we close with a bookend at the diner and more hilarious snark. For all that I find this was one of the weaker episodes, I do love me some Finch and Reese snark. Reese blatantly lies to Finch, not even bothering to hide or be ashamed of it, Finch gives Reese a look and tells him he was listening in, thank you very much. Though the way Reese puts it, he could be right as well; the judge didn't say he would never participate in Reese and Finch's shenanigans, only that he couldn't help them when they got caught doing so. At any rate, Reese's "reading between the lines" comment has shades of innocent whistling to it, so chances are he's aware of what the judge meant and what Finch is inferring. The closing exchange is all shades of touching, first where Reese thanks Finch because we've now had a good look at what Reese used to do, and because Reese has now had a solid education in what he does now. Or at least, that seems to be the main purpose of this episode. Then Finch offering a mean suggestion to Reese, with the addendum of "I've had them many times," to underscore that he's fully aware of their earlier conversation and making a choice in contradiction to his initial defensiveness. And then Reese, upon opening the menu expecting this to be some sort of coded hint as to their next assignment, finds... nothing. Just the menu. And we see by the beautiful smile that he's sadly hidden behind his hand that he does, in fact, appreciate the gift of information. Because it was a gift, something about Finch, the self-proclaimed very private person, for nothing, as Finch walks away before the gesture can be reciprocated. Awwww!
Next week! The much anticipated arrival of Zoe Morgan! It's a snark-off! Reese spends half the episode not-grinning.