Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Sport of the Elected (Person of Interest S1E10 Number Crunch)

And we're back! No Grimm last week means we get a chance to acquire that thing we don't talk about. This week's episode we already know will be abnormal in some way, because hello, why are there two people in the credits? And why does Reese have a sniper rifle again?

Well, we will first be taken by the Machine to a traffic cam over on Roosevelt, with a voiceover phone call about some kid that the two men talking shouldn't have trusted, because he's always been reckless. Speaking of reckless, hey, I bet that's the kid in question having a quite horrible car accident. Since there's nobody and nothing obviously around to cause that accident, we'll bet on drugs or alcohol or both as the cause. The Machine snaps the plate number, we get a moment of fourshadowing (pun intended) the four numbers with four cameras, and before we find out any more of what went on in the past, it's over to the library of infinite knowledge for Reese's morning briefing! Er, snooping. Definitely snooping. Finch is nowhere in sight, which means it's a perfect opportunity for our spyssassin to attempt to learn some more about his employer. Down in the stacks, there's a book lying on top of the shelved books! Gee, what could that... be oh you fuckers. We will now pause while I swear copiously and in all my languages, because that's The Ghost in the Machine, which has only been used INFINITE TIMES in sci-fi and which is... well, you can see if you read the Wiki link, but in essence the purpose of the book is to point out the absurdity of Descartes' mind-body dualism. I have to go over here and bang my head against a wall, because that's an entire SERIES of essays we're not writing about this show. (Yet.) At any rate, a photo falls out, that is a very old picture of Finch and Ingram in their 20s or so with the inscription "in the beginning... N.I." on the back. Aheh. Aheh heh heh. So now we have ghost in the machine, playing god the creator, would you fuckers like to toss me any more fucking symbolism in the first two fucking minutes of show?

No? No. My exploding brain thanks you. Let's get on with the case of the week, Finch having wandered back to his lair while Reese was snooping and used the intercom? You guys have an intercom now? Whatever, hacker, fine. Reese's little perturbed smirk isn't fooling anyone and isn't meant to, he'd like to know where Finch came from. So would I, since Reese has spyssassin instincts and Finch isn't good at stealthy entrances due to the limp. Finch, show me the secret passageways in your lair. That is not a euphemism, either. Finch cracks a bad joke and then has some pointed commentary about invasion of privacy; honey, you are so not one to talk. This whole scene is a very, very nice bit of both of them picking up on each other's small tells. Finch is upset about something far more than his privacy, and Reese drops the smirk for a bland smile to cover the what the fuck of numbers? Plural? The Machine doesn't drop plurals like this. Not only that, as we go through the four numbers, it's clear that they differ in age, employment, gender, ethnicity, appearance, you name it, there's no obvious connection between them. Finch comments about the Machine sending number clusters like this, which means it has in the past. Oh GOODIE. Finch, I realize that you're chary with your information at the best of times, but springing this on Reese is kind of a dick move. On the other hand, having someone without preconceived notions about how they're related from past clusters is probably a good idea. So, then, Finch gives him the number of Claire Ryan, who turned up first by a millisecond, and they were not speaking of privacy whatsoever during the briefing. Heh. Standard warning is standard and not going to scare Reese off looking into his employer's history at ALL. If anything, it'll make him more determined. I think at this point Finch knows that, though, and is giving the warning for form's sake, and to protect his ability to say I-told-you-so down the line, on account of he rather enjoys that line.

Down at the precinct, wait, is that the continuity fairy? I LOVE EVERYONE IN THIS BAR. By continuity fairy I mean, of course, that Carter's undergoing interrogation from IA about the events of last episode. Everyone in this room is hostile as all hell and Carter in particular is not fond of being on the other side of the table. I have a jar for that. She did, however, apparently file a statement that included her suspicions about the unknown shooter being her man in the suit. Who totally cares about you, Carter, that's a lie and you know it and they know it and the only reason people are confused is as to why the fuck he cares. Hey, the guy has an opinion! Allegedly, yeah, Carter sees what you're doing there, and she's not having any of this shit. Notably, when they press her about whether or not Reese has contacted her (which he has), she neither lies for him nor gives them the truth. There's an easy way out of this, by blocking with her delegate, sometimes known in these types of shows as a union rep, basically a person who is there to safeguard her interests while there's an internal investigation going on. Henson also does a marvelous job of moving stiff and slow and pissed off about her decreased mobility and pissed about being in pain, here. Fusco's telling a story to three other cops about some guy who forgot to cut eyeholes in his ski mask when she comes out of interrogation, and this gives us a nice bit of characterization. So he's the funny guy, the affable buffoon, and he plays that up on purpose to let people underestimate him? Yeah, I knew there was a reason we liked Fusco around this place. Also somewhat the mentor/jolly uncle figure, since at least two of those guys look younger than he is. But he turns his attention to his partner the second she sits down, after giving her the privacy to wince over her bruises. God they're adorable. I don't even ship them, I just want all the buddy cop bits ever. He will not, however, be smart enough not to try and mother hen at her, and gets duly snapped at for it. Again, this really is a beautiful bit of understated characterization; they're comfortable enough with each other by now to engage in cop sniping about bureau-crazy and bullshit desk duty and Fusco bitches about his temporary partner both because he doesn't want a new partner and because he knows it'll do Carter good to feel missed. But now we have to go into the doublespeak and the layers and everything, because Fusco would love to know if she got a look at Reese and how much of the truth she told them. Well, all of it, but she didn't get a look, and Fusco's still not sure where her loyalties lie. I bet he wishes for backup in dealing with Reese so much. Not even necessarily to get him off the streets and off Fusco's back at this point, just because Reese is a pain in the ass on a good day, and they haven't been having many of those lately. Sorry, Fusco, Carter's pretty clear about the law, her duty, and her desire to arrest Reese's ass. (Also the rest of him.) It would be more comforting if he had her back and didn't have to answer to Reese as well, but alas, not to be.

Meantime, Reese has tracked down the first number of the day! My, that's a lot of cops and flashing lights outside Claire's apartment. This can't possibly end well. Despite the solemnity of the situation, I will now fall over laughing at Reese impersonating a CSU specialist, not least because Reese, honey, you might want to dial back the murderface. Bad spyssassin, no cookie. Still, it's a nod to the fact that if you look like you know where you're going and what you're doing, people will generally not question you. (Maybe especially if you have murderface. I just have to facepalm.) Crime scene! Difficult to say at this point what's signs of a struggle and what's natural bookworm clutter, plus the assorted CSU equipment on various surfaces. But the important point is that Claire Ryan is already dead, looks like execution style. Which means whoever's after these four (for so we can assume), they're well-connected. Reese is predictably pissy at both Finch and the Machine for not giving them the numbers in time, and well, yeah. With the exception of Elias, which was a failure of profiling, this is the first time they've been truly unable to save someone. (Plus, it could be argued that with Reese there, Elias killed fewer civilians than he might otherwise have done.) Considering that as far as anyone knows, Finch gave Reese the numbers and briefing as soon as he had it, and that Reese hightailed it over to Ryan's apartment without hesitation - yeah. Of course he's pissed. The Machine pauses to give us some more footage of the originating accident, which ends with first one, then a second car pulling up to see if they could help, with one of them pulling out a cell phone (presumably to report it to 911). Ohh. We're doing a twist on Strangers on a Train, are we? No wonder they look unrelated; their only relation is right place wrong time. Poor Reese and Finch. Poor witnesses. Poor sad bastard who was in that car. Reese will now cheerfully palm the cell phone in an evidence baggie, as well as swiping all the data off her hard drive. REESE. Play nicer with the cops. Oh hello Fusco. I guess this will not be like playing nicer with the cops, then. Single shot, close range, thank you for elucidating that for us, Lionel. Also, yes, that's a lot of really expensive purchases on the table, between the Blahnik and the Blu-Ray and the everything else. (Remembering that this is set two years ago before Blu-Ray players came down in price.) At any rate, Reese will be mostly nice to poor Fusco and just Batman his way into view briefly to nonverbally indicate that this is one of his cases, too. And remember the bit about people underestimating Fusco I said earlier? Well, I guess he can use this to add to his cred in that regard.

Back on the street, Reese would like Finch to get his ass out of his hacker lair. Reese, honey, this is why you should've invested in some street urchins or something before now, because you could really use people more skilled than Finch and less resentful (and busy) than Fusco out there. C'mon, surely you've read Holmes? Baker Street Irregulars? No? No. Fine. He and Finch argue over the protocol for this, but in the end Reese is right: he doesn't have anyone else to ask, neither of them wants to lose anyone else, and while Reese is Batman, he doesn't have teleportation. Pity. That'd make his job so much easier. I do agree that Finch would be useful back at the lair looking for connections, too, except for the part where Finch for the love of god get yourself a better portable rig. Or a portable rig at ALL. One segue-style shot of Reese from the Machine later, and now he gets to hand out Fusco's assignment! Yay! This can't possibly go badly! It's not like Reese is already edgy and cranky(ier than normal) or like Fusco is suspicious, overprotective of his partner, and wants answers to his damn homici - oh. It is? Never MIND then. Fusco has Words about whether or not Reese killed the woman, especially in light of the fact that he did just kill someone again. Reese is Not Talking About that and also being an ass to Fusco. Reese, I know you're not going to tell him about the Machine but you're going to need to start coming up with some more plausible cover stories sometime.

Speaking of plausible cover stories, the Company's bad at those too. I guess he learned from the... best? Anyway, Carter comes back from getting lunch and immediately notices that her desk's been tampered with, a nice callback to when Fusco rifled through her files and, heh, a good indication that this is a more major offense than that. Also that Carter is so not in the mood to put up with this shit today. Nobody's looking at her when she comes in, and while this isn't normally an indicator of bad things happening, in this case it adds to her captain sticking his head out of the office and dragging her in with a quiet word. And this time Carter's cautious body language is both ow-still-in-pain and what-the-shit-is-this. Meantime, hello Company man whose name we don't know yet! We know he's CIA by the suit, by the fact that we get no name, and by his overwhelming interest in Carter's man inna suit. Also by his absolute unconcern for decorum, propriety, and anything else that would detract from his I Am Alpha Dog Watch Me Piss In Your Office attitude. Snow, I know we don't know your name yet, but I pretty much hate you on sight. So does Carter, for an even more personal reason: that's her file on Reese he's got. Notably, they call him the Special Forces guy even now, that's a nice polite fiction everyone's maintaining. And poor Carter. Everyone's accusing her of shit she didn't do. I'd like to see you, o desk jockey, get up and come back in to work as fast as she has after getting shot in the vest nearly point-blank. (Can I wax eloquent for a moment again about how much I love the realism of this? Vests just diffuse the kinetic energy of the bullet over a wider surface area; they don't make you magically safe from all impact injuries. Probably that shot cracked a couple ribs.) Alright, so, impassioned defense and at this rate she's going to have tells that look like lies from sheer frustration over having to defend her actions and motives to every fucking cop in the precinct. Spook's only question is if he shot her CI, which I should think would be in the aforementioned report and/or file, in which case he's asking so as to gauge her reaction. Which she knows, and on top of that has probably guessed that he's Company and is engaging in standard military disdain for the spooky boys. Not that I blame her one bit. Creepy fucker. Her captain would like an answer or her badge, which is just how hot things are getting, and it's both warning and knowledge-dropping and, well. If he's a good captain at all, he'll know that this will make Carter only more pissed off and determined to find Reese before the spooks do. And we can see a lot of that flickering over her face as she half-turns to evaluate the spook properly and confirm that yes, it was her man in the suit. With some of the annoyance showing through and directed at Snow. Heh. Well, now he knows where she stands on the matter of the Company! Whatever the answer she gives means to Snow, he's keeping his pan very dead for the moment. And we close on formality, which is the only proper response to the CIA coming in with their thuggish jackboots.

So, then, back to the numbers of the week! Reese has eyes on Wendy at her salon, along with a delivery guy on a motorcycle. I'd say that's a bit paranoid, but someone really is after her, so... well, it's not a hitman. C'mon, Reese, whoever hit Claire did it in her home, with no witnesses. While it's possible they'll hit the rest of the group in the open and make it look staged for one reason or another, they don't seem inclined to cause bystander casualties if they don't have to. At least, not at this time they don't. We find out later that that's awfully misleading and that the desperation levels have ratcheted up, but hey. I nearly choke on my burger and fries laughing at Reese being awkward with a flirtatious woman. Yes, Reese, you're tall dark and handsome and not wearing a wedding ring, and that makes you more than fair game. Especially for an upscale salon owner who's used to flirting earning her bigger tips. It is an awfully good poleaxed look he's got on, though. I have no idea what's wrong with Reese's hair aside from it screaming spyssassin in conjunction with the suit, but sure, we'll play the Hollywood game! (K: Broadway. They're in New York, so it's Broadway.) (A: Or 5th Avenue, yeah yeah, I know.) Plus she is flirting and he's being an easy mark. C'mon, Reese, get your suavity back under you, I know you have some somewhere. Possibly in a jar on your desk? If you have a desk.

Over to Fusco, who's found Paula Vasquez, yay! Paula's meeting a couple very shady-looking guys. Not so much yay! And that is definitely money for gun. Fusco, you never worked undercover, did you. AND you're in your unmarked? No wonder she made you. Fail, Fusco. Everyone splits, and we know what's coming the second Paula goes around the corner and out of sight. SIGH. Maybe Finch is having better luck! Him and his taxi, nice bit of characterization and continuity there; he's wealthy enough not to bother driving and driving probably increases his chronic pain to an unreasonable degree. And no, nobody appears to take the subway in this show. We may sigh and eyeroll, though I guess that's understandable considering Reese's personal space and hypervigilance issues, and he's the main one I would expect it of otherwise. Anyway. Finch, Matt Duggan, early midlife crisis. Yes, thank you, we get it, they've all come into quite large sums of cash unexpectedly. The guy's even come up with a semi-plausible story about his aunt in Boston, at least plausible enough that the folks at this garage aren't going to give a shit about where he got all that cash. And that is a backpack full of the stuff. Meantime Reese's new hairstylist is getting bad news on the phone and he doesn't even realize it because he's getting updates from everyone else. (Boys? You should've called Zoe. I'm just saying.) There's some very nice camerawork here, the camera highlighting the tails/assassins that Finch doesn't see, to show how confused and lost Finch is with this type of fieldwork as compared to Reese, who we've seen is able to pick suspicious characters out in seconds or less. But no, nobody obvious watching Finch's guy, and Fusco's calling with bad news. I have to say, for as bad as the news is Reese is actually remarkably polite, if only because he's in public and because he's just realized he's lost Wendy and has no ground to stand on. Luckily, Wendy left her cell! Maybe there's something useful on there, and Reese blows this taco stand salon while Finch narrates impending explodey badness! Oh my god Finch you really are the dumbest, the woman who left the stroller IS the bomber and there is no time to warn the poor dumb bastard. To his credit, his instinct is to go TOWARD danger and try and help the civilians, which most people's isn't. It's just a question of fine-tuning that to reasonable levels of self-preservation. Also, that was some SERIOUS overkill on the bomb. They're just lucky there wasn't anybody obviously nearby, that was tricky timing. That kind of scare warrants a first name worried tone and a very pissed off spyssassin on the other end. Nice use of the tinnitus that Finch would naturally have, and really nice acting work, from Finch's usual flat affect to the ever-growing horror of realizing what fieldwork entails and how fucking awful it is when you fail at it. I doubt he's having these thoughts now, but give it until the end of the episode and we'll see Finch coming to realize that for every person he couldn't or didn't save prior to Reese, something like this happened.

After the ad break, we jump to the surveillance footage of the accident and get confirmation that the first one on scene was Claire Ryan, now deceased. The second car is Matt Duggan, also now deceased, and how poetic of them to make them the first responders. Oh. It's cocaine in the car? Oh shit, you guys, you stole fucking drug money? You are ALL MORONS.

I chew on the corner of my desk some more and watch Finch engage in self-flagellation, the way you do the first time someone dies in front of you and you had knowledge (but not skills) that could have saved them. Oh honey. Reese is parroting the things he learned as a spyssassin, forget the deaths, focus on the ones still alive, time to mourn and fall apart later. Which is true, but no less heartbreaking for how immediate and instinctive the response is. Alright, Finch, time to focus and stop babbling, which takes him a good few seconds and a hand on his shoulder. They don't generally touch each other, both because men and because their individual personal space bubbles could take up an entire building should they so choose, so this is Noteworthy. Alright, then, he's got their cell phones finally and he's tracking their past locations! This is an excellent example of the limitations of technology: works great for stalking, but only if you have the right tools to hand! With the tools to hand, they come up with the traffic accident, one fatality, name withheld. Well. That's just fascinating. Usually in these shows that's either pending notification of next-of-kin (in which case it says so) or that's a sign of Well-Connected Family. Reese points out that they only have three of four phones, and as little digital footprint as Paula's got out there, she could be the killer. He hasn't seen her in action, and though what we saw of her through Fusco's inexpert tailing more resembled a freaked out young woman than a stone-cold assassin, we do know that a woman is involved in one of the killings. Between that and the gun, it's not an unreasonable leap. Wendy, meantime, has packed up and made her whereabouts unknown, though Finch does have a line on a single relative, her mother. It's something, anyway, and Finch gets another shoulder-clap on account of shaken hacker is shaken, eyes rimmed with red. Oh honey.

The next day, at the precinct! Fusco would like to know what Carter's doing. Well, see, desk work doesn't mean not staring at the evidence and looking for patterns. In fact, it means more time to do that since she can't go interview anyone in the field. And in this instance that's an excellent plan, because it means she ran Claire Ryan's fingerprints through AFIS, got a hit at the crash scene along with some other fingerprints, one set of which turned up on another murder vic! Hey, how's about that. Presumably Wendy and Paula aren't in the system already and won't be unless they end up, y'know, dead. Also that's an interesting little flyer about Orphans of Haiti there. Bets that's going to be relevant later? No bets? Aww. And they won't even make us wait on drawing the connection between accident - money - dead! Or on the reason the name of the crash victim's being withheld! I love you guys. So, a Congressman's son. Yeah, that'd about do it. Whole thing got hushed up because Congressman, Fusco, that's why. His next question is much better! I'd be suspicious too, but no, dumb rich privileged kid gets dead from fast cars and drugs, that's pretty standard. They lampshade the Haitian orphans' brochure some more, and Carter would like to go check the cameras down at 1PP. Fusco's current partner thinks she should sit her ass back at her desk like the captain said, which is both trying to assert dominance, I think, and also a genuine bit of concern, because as it turns out Mr Spooky is still there. Yes, I'm going to keep giving him snarky nicknames. I don't like Snow at ALL. Nor does Carter, who has excellent taste.

Speaking of traffic cams, the Machine will take us through several pans and over to Reese on his way to... somewhere. The chronology on this feels awfully weird, and makes me think that the hacker lair scene was the next day after Reese took Finch home and got him to rest after the explosion. Shippers everywhere may rejoice as we pass out Trollfaces onnastick. Fusco's got something! Fusco's also hiding out in a bathroom stall. Excuse me while I giggle. Fusco proceeds to confirm things they already knew and give them, more importantly, the name of the driver in the crash the other night. Which Finch was probably in the process of hacking police records for, but hey, why go for high-tech problems when you've got a low-tech solution right there. (I cannot believe that nobody notices Finch's hacking into police records constantly over the long term, but he's a protag and a genius and unless this turns out to be a problem in some of the s2 eps we haven't seen, I'll let it slide for now.) Alright, so now everyone's up to speed on the Congressman's son's death (though not the cocaine, because shockingly telling your source you know most of the data leads him to be surly and not offer more data! come ON you guys) and the money, how's Carter? Reese, your crush is showing. Finch will pull up the dollcam and deliver nice stalkery lines which has the effect of bringing new viewers up to speed, mostly, and goes on to remind us that he can hear everyone's phone through the mic regardless of if it's connected or not. Fusco, honey, you should've thought of that when you realized you were dealing with a creepy hacker sort who has no need for anyone's privacy. Though I can see why he didn't, out of self preservation. At any rate, a couple jokes about Fusco's lower intestine and one irritated temporary partner later we'll move on...

…to the Congressman in question and Fusco's interrogation of him. Oh goodie. This ought to be fun for someone! Detectives Olson and Fiasco and I will be over here giggling at the "sigh AGAIN" look on his face. Oh honey. Alright, then, the cops can get information that Reese and Finch definitely couldn't normally, so let's carry on. There's a really nice bit with Fusco sliding his phone onto a side table, microphone pointed at Congressman Hallen, and see, you guys? Don't underestimate your assets and they will bring you ALL the nicest presents. Especially the ones who know that if this guy had anything to do with it, he'll walk, and then it'll be on Team Machine to see justice done. Fusco's partner who is both more intimidating and more professional looking takes the lead, asking about Jamie's movements that night, and he was at a party! Davis Bannerman, who sounds an awful lot like another rich and privileged type (is it too soon for me to automatically call him a jackass? no? awesome) and hey, Hallen's investigating the bank Bannerman owns. That's not a conflict of interest, real or perceived, at aaaall. Daddy dearest does a good job of passing it off as not having control over his son, but I'm not so sure. Especially with all those twitchy little eyedarts and hesitations and licking his lips as he disavows knowledge of this, which could be out of grief and could be out of something more and impossible to tell just yet. And then Fusco goes all blunt force at him and I love you a little, Fusco, for playing the bad cop so readily. Hallen pulls the sit down and look aggrieved thing and now I really don't like him. Dude, I know your son died, but like Fusco says, so did other people. Between that and the attempts to hush up who was in the accident for the public record I'm really not at all sanguine about daddy dearest's hands being all that clean. He might not have intended for his son to die, but my god, man, have some humanity. And yes, we'll lampshade that Haitian charity some more, and suddenly I wonder if this was written/filmed about the same time that the various charities that are scams were being exposed. Meanwhile, Finch gets the map up again and realizes that wherever Jamie was going that night, it wasn't straight home, not by a long shot.

Instead of following that up, because there's no good way to make hacking look glamourous, we'll go to Reese with a sniper rifle at Wendy's mother's house! Mmmm Reese with a sniper rifle. Wendy is on the phone looking agitated, as well you might if you have reason to believe someone wants to kill you. And that someone might be Paula! The music is totally the fake out tension kind, not the Reese is gonna kill someone kind. That kind tends to be a lot quieter and less anxious, because death is old hat for him. Hey look, the women are hugging! Rather like they know each other. Aside from the stupidity of hugging someone (no, I don't CARE if the safety's on) with a gun in your hand, aww. So whoever Wendy was talking to, it wasn't Paula and was probably her mother or maybe a lover. Cut to inside the house and not only do they know each other, they're talking about "mom" like they're sisters... oh. Okay! Paula's got a new phone, at least one of them still has some street smarts though those do not include range of efficacy or willingness to use it. Poor loves. I mean, good that they weren't so badly fucked up by the foster system that either of them learned that willingness, but in this situation it would've been a good plan. And Reese's ability to be comforting is seriously lacking right now, though given what he's seen both in the immediate and in the general I can't blame him for still being suspicious of Paula. At any rate, they're foster sisters and Paula would like some damn answers out of him now. I like her. Alas, answers will have to wait for later, because the real assassin just showed up at the door with a fairly well-crafted story about broken down car and kids being scared and so on. Reese's instructions are clear and immediate and I approve of this quite a bit. Especially the part where he gets to badass his way through another villain. And yes, Reese, there was backup outside with a gun which you really should've seen coming. The girls, being sensible, take advantage of this distraction to book it the fuck out of there. I would too! Not that this makes Reese feel any better, on account of now he has assassins to the right of him, fugitives to the left, here he is stuck in the middle of suburbia at the ad break. (What. Whaaaat.)

Back to the precinct, where we get the full footage of what happened that night at the crash! Yay! Carter "persuaded" someone at the center to copy it over for her, by which I think we mean browbeat and/or called in a couple favors. (I know it's unnecessary as a scene within this context, but I would still pay money to watch Carter do her thing. Because awesome.) Anyway, they have Claire Ryan and Matt Duggan confirmed via license plate, but the field of view is set to maximum which means no facial recognition for Paula and Wendy, who are obvious the two pedestrians that joined the party last. At any rate, we can see Matt's the one who digs out the suitcase full o' money (which actually fits both male as socially inclined to take the initiative and being a waiter and making shit money at it unless he's working at a really upscale place) and Fusco would like to know who the last two alive are and how to find them. You know, legally and within their constraints as cops, even if he can guess that Paula's one of them. Apparently a Detective Foster from the 82nd is also working this case! My immediate reaction is that Finch needs to do a better job of covering his tracks, but we'll see in a bit that's not the case. Anyway, we've got a guy who came along 30 minutes after the accident, oh hi, Dane or whatever your real name is. And now I have this lampshade about hearing phone calls and the NSA, guys, just put that in the corner there, please? (Unlike all the other lampshades, you pull the chain on this one and get more darkness.) Fusco, you are a bad bad man sending Carter off to pull the cover off the fake cop. Bad man. I knew there was a reason I liked you.

Reese has a house full of proud mama photos of her daughters, aww. I really do like this as a subtle, quiet way of giving us one of the success stories of the foster system; Paula may be unemployed but that's as much commentary on the economy as anything, I think, and her sister is a successful entrepreneur. And the sisters love each other and their mother was clearly proud of them, and they clearly want to protect her even as her house is the last bastion of safety they can think of. We get a lot of the other kind of foster system story in TV, and while there are an enormous number of problems with it, there are also these success stories. So yay! Reese starts going through the mail and oh, hey, mom's in the hospital? Shiiiit. Now we can guess what the girls wanted their cut of the money for, and it wasn't fancy clothes or a new motorcycle. I kind of question the moralizing of the story and/or the Machine, that the two who were selfish with their money got killed and the two who just wanted to help a loved one get to live, because that's a kind of moralizing that's a bit overkill for this show, usually. But I like the girls enough that it works, and making Claire and Matt altruistic would not just have been somewhat unrealistic, it would have made their deaths even sadder. I do approve of the theme where chosen family and the strength of those ties wins out over going it alone, as Claire and Matt both seem to have led the stereotypical lonely New Yorker life. Anyway. Mother's got a broken hip (which is why the house was safe to meet at) but that's not the financial issue, the issue is that the house is in foreclosure. Well, shit. Also appropriate to the economy. Thank you Finch, thank you Reese, get your ass and your sniper rifle over to the hospital. Though leave the rifle in the car, wouldja? It's not exactly inconspicuous.

I have to take a minute to giggle over Carter's annoyance at the lack of Detective Foster at the 82nd. And the spooks are doing a mighty lousy job of tailing her. Dear lord. She finishes leaving a message to the tune of, she thinks this "Foster" got the footage, got the license plates, got to Claire Ryan and tortured her for the rest of the names. A lecturer at NYU isn't usually up to withstanding physical torture, so it probably didn't take much, which is about the only mercy granted the poor woman. And now Carter will wheel around on Snow the Spooky Unnamed As Yet and scold his dumb ass for tailing a cop. It really was a stupid idea, I have to agree. Especially a cop who just had someone try to kill her. Anyway, the point of this is to establish her territory and her terms, and once Snow makes vaguely apologetic noises and offers to talk to her for awhile, she calms down. A little. Because information is currency, and nobody knows that like a cop and ex-Army interrogator. Off to a diner or a restaurant, then, with Snow on the inside and his silent muscle on the outside of the booth. Interesting. It also lets them put Snow sinister when they pan around to give us a full-face shot of them, which is probably at least half the reason right there. They come out as CIA to Carter, she comes out as ex-mil to them, nobody is surprised. Interestingly, as they zoom closer on Carter and Snow, she's on the left and he's on the right, though I think in this instance that's supposed to make our heads spin on account of fucking CIA. He claims to have been Reese's best friend, ha bloody ha, you don't have friends in the Agency, guys. Carter knows this, and it's impossible to tell how much of their story she's buying as they're telling it, so let's start with what the story is. That he's gone off the rails, killing people just because he can, that he killed his partner and handler Kara Stanton for no reason known or given, that he was dead and had a star at Langley despite his supposed misdeeds until Carter ran his prints a few months ago. Aheh. Aheh heh heh. Guys, this story has SO MANY HOLES in it that Carter has gone from tentative acceptance that the gist is accurate to fuck you guys for trying to play me so fast it should make your heads spin. It almost makes my head spin, and I know better than they do what she's capable of. That line about wanting to help Reese was the one that pushed her over the line, I think; she's been in the Green Zone, she's done a lot of things she might not be too proud of, she knows perfectly well what kind of "help" the intelligence community can provide. Reconditioning at best, a bullet to the head and an anonymous grave at worst. Or maybe strike that, reverse it, depending on one's deepest fears. Carter might not be willing to play their game entirely, but she does know that Reese is fucking dangerous and she also knows that more information means information about their motives as much as about Reese himself. So she wants to know where she falls on their chessboard, and Snow draws the parallel between her and Stanton and tells her to keep herself and Reese alive. And presumably they and their shitty stalking abilities will do the rest. It's adorable that they think that's going to work for even a millisecond, but now they've planted the seed of the idea and forced Carter to reevaluate what she knows about Reese. Clearly he is a Company man or tied to them somehow, or they wouldn't be this interested, which means in a lot of respects this is above her pay grade. Not that that has ever, EVER stopped her from doing what she thinks is right. And just as clearly, the CIA has its own agenda that they're lying through their teeth about, so she'll just be over here running her own plans and trying to figure out what the right thing is. In short, Carter is the best.

Bannerman's sleazy self is not the best. Bannerman is oozing all over my screen make him stop. Fusco will play bad cop and good asset again, aww, that is so adorable. I mean, I don't think Finch would have any difficulty cleaning up the audio if he left it in his jacket pocket, but this way is much easier and it's really rather cute. Jamie was stoned, Bannerman ordered a cab to get him out of there but his diligence as a friend doesn't seem to have extended to taking the guy's keys away. Some friend. Some friend will at least cough up some information about a lot of money, no known drugs, but shady dealings with shady people. Like you, Mr. Banker? Fusco doesn't buy this shit either. I love you Fusco. At least you have decent people instincts. Finch would've let that go and dug in a different direction! Granted he wasn't there to see the microexpressions of smarm and sleaze and I'm too important you can't arrest me, but still. The rich and powerful have lined up their lies and will toss the young and stupid and reckless poor kid under the bus to protect themselves. Finch has such distaste for that on so many levels.

Reese has reached the hospital and has one number in sight, with a second to probably come along soon. It's a hospital, she's probably down getting drinks and snacks from the cafeteria or vending machines or whatever. Or in the bathroom. As you do. Time to catch up on the data! Jamie was headed to LaGuardia, was he? For the Caymans, you say? On a plane owned by Davis Bannerman? Well no wonder they're so cranky. Supposedly this was for the Haitian orphans' charity, which Finch no longer believes even a little. Because he's not stupid, just not people-smart. We love you, Finch. And now Reese will take advantage of Wendy, the quieter and meeker of the sisters (which is kind of hilarious considering she's the redhead), being alone. Aw, they were worried about him? That's adorable. This ep is made of adorable, and that's the only reason I can stomach the moralizing contained within. She tells Reese the story of the crash from a witness POV, which is useful to finally have, they were out walking and the car crashed almost in front of them and yeah, it probably took a few seconds to recover from the shock and decide to go over, at which point Claire and Matt were already there. Wendy by now is engaging in recriminations and second thoughts over how they did the wrong thing, shouldn't have taken the money even though it was illegal and they were going to use it to help their mother, on and on and again, it's the delivery that sells this to me despite the moralizing. There's plenty of people out there who wouldn't be able to resist that, and plenty more who would defend their right to it no matter what. The money's in pretending to be Susan's knitting right now, and dont' mind me I'm having a Madame DeFarge moment. And then the Machine cuts over to the vending machines where Paula's trying to make the stupid thing take a dollar bill (good luck with that) while an orderly comes up behind her with a wheelchair. That orderly looks an awful lot like the guy Reese just beat up, though the resolution is so shitty it's hard to tell for sure. Conservation of characters would indicate yes, along with the part where he injects Paula with a knockout drug and carts her off. So Wendy (and Paula?) have agreed to give the money back, you know, in exchange for their lives. She's clearly not happy about that, and Reese brings up the house (which gets him nearly no startle response, a sign of how much shock Wendy's in), but they'll find a way. Better than dying at the hands of drug dealers or the Mafia or whoever! I have to agree. And now the ransom phone call! Money, third floor of the parking garage, no muscle, standard terms are standard. Well, I look forward to watching Reese badass through this!

So about that lampshade Carter and Fusco dropped awhile back about wishing they could hear what the guy was saying but not being the NSA? Hi, Machine! Hi, unidentified number and subject! We just love unsubs around here. Their marrow's good in stew. Our unsub is, of course, the guy with the would-be broken down car who just grabbed Paula and knocked her out. He doesn't give us any much information that we couldn't have guessed, but the continuation of the story is useful from a narrative and Machine perspective, so: he was sent after Jamie, confirms the kid's death, tells them the money's gone, tells them there are cameras and he might need some help. GEE. I WONDER WHO COULD HAVE THE PULL TO HANDLE THAT. I don't wonder long. Hello, Machine carrying us over to Congressman Hallen. That's not pointed even a little! Finch. FINCH. THOMAS PAINE? THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOING WITH? I'm sorry, I think my capslock key broke along with my brain. Thomas. Fucking. Paine. Even playing a blogger that's just egregious. She says, typing from a pseudonym with the last name Hammett, shut up. At least Hallen will lampshade it for us, and now I really fucking wonder what the fuck Finch's game here is. Ohhh. Oh Finch you are a bastard running a false flag operation like this and I love you for it. Much to nobody's surprise, and I'm quite certain this is the truth, the Haitian orphanage charity hasn't disbursed any funds at all. And Finch's story is that Bannerman's set this up to bring down Hallen! Meanwhile I'm over here quite sure they're in on it together and Finch is setting the information among the wolves in order to see if they'll tear each other to shreds without his lifting a finger directly. If Finch weren't who he is, this would be a really, really dumb move, since Hallen's shown himself willing to kill to protect this information already. As it is, it's only a rather dumb move, Finch, tell your pet spyssassin you're going to stick your neck out like this before you put yourself on a Congressman's hitlist? Please? Even only aliased-you? There are some teeth back there over doing the right thing and extricating himself from this; I even believe that Finch is genuinely giving Hallen a chance to stop fucking up here. Not that he expects Hallen to take it, but he'll leave him that little bit of room to be pleasantly surprised. (Sort of a Michael Garibaldi in reverse, and points to whoever got the reference before the parenthetical snark.) Hallen would like to get rid of this nosy "blogger" and his bad news so he can go do bad things, but first Finch will leave him with a terrible fucking pun (plume de nom? REALLY? ow) and what we all immediately assume is a microphone if not a camera. Ooh, it's a camera! And yes, Hallen's on the phone with Bannerman within a minute of Finch getting outside and... right in his car outside Hallen's window? Really? I'm judging both of you, Finch for surveillance stealth failure and Hallen for security failure. Bannerman tries to brush it off to start and now we know whose mook that is when he tells us tacitly that he's the one keeping tabs on the progression of the "items." And fuck you very much too, Mr. Bannerman. Hallen gets around to his point, which is the Cayman accounts, which means Finch has it on tape, which means he's sending it to Fusco. Honey, no, haven't you heard of fruit of the poisonous tree?

Reese is contacting his favorite cop (I have a theory that Finch likes Fusco more because he doesn't feel as threatened by Fusco, and also because he feels sorry for the poor bastard, the way Reese treats him) as he sets up the meet 'n slay in the parking garage. It's like a meet 'n greet, only with more guns and fewer pleasantries! Ahem. Reese, I question your motives here, but okay, fine, you're calling your crush and offering to make her look good in the hopes that it'll take the heat off her as regards him rescuing her from the alley. No, Reese, that's going to make her look WORSE on account of how she's being watched and all her body language just tightened up to say "DON'T LOOK HERE SECRETS HAPPENING." The way she hangs up and the attempt at revealing vulnerability and gratitude at the end makes me severely question, before I ever know, how much she's playing him, or playing to the version of him that Snow's planted in her head. (A lot.) Anyway, it's time to go off to the parking garage with money and Wendy, the badass walk, and a quieter version of the all out of bubblegum leitmotif. Carter looks torn with indecision and very unhappy about picking up the phone and calling Snow. Aw, we have a name! Not much of one. Synonymous with snow job, snow as in static, snow crash... that last one might be stretching it a bit. Ahem. And she's giving a location. Well this went very south very fast.

Parking garage! Sniper rifle! Tripod mount for it! God that's hot. Standard hostage negotiation tactics are standard. That was not a very high dosage or powerful knockout drug. And I have to say, for all that Wendy is the more visibly timid of the pair, she's a better option for handling this situation, because Paula might get reckless and annoyed and do something to throw Reese's game off. His game is already off enough, let's not make it any worse, yeah? And Wendy is very good and very quick on the uptake that Reese by and large knows what the shit he's doing. Hey, it's that nurse who asked if she could help Reese and nobody took note of it because nurses are always making sure that random people aren't bothering their patients! That's not significant at all. Also, she caught Reese almost off-guard, which means she's immediately suspicious this time. Also, she probably saw the gun and she's not batting an eye. At least she has lousy aim and Reese is automatically turning to check that the "civilian" is getting the hell out of the way in time to dive for cover. Oh Reese. Given your training as well as your history I really expect better of you than to assume a female form isn't lethal. On the plus side, he spotted the steam pipe right over the other muscle as a better target than the shooter himself! So the civvies book it out of there again, with the money, because fuck right I wouldn't leave the money at this point either! And Reese will take them both on, the woman in hand-to-hand which is a foregone conclusion as nearly every hand-to-hand combat with him is, and especially with someone this much smaller and ill-trained. (Thankfully, aside from the one quip about "I thought you were nice," there's no gendered anything about the fight. It's the same series of moves, with variations for environment, that he's used half a dozen times before now and will again, and I love the fight choreographer just that little bit more for it.) The guy gets slugs to the chest, and it looks like he's not wearing a vest based on what appears to be a squib going off and that scream of pain. No, sisters, you are keeping that money, Reese says so. Do not argue with the scary spyssassin. (It's a large bit disturbing that the sisters in this ep could pass for a Hollywoodized version of me and Kitty, by the way. Well, me when I'm dyeing red, anyway, but still.) (K: So where's our random gift of a hot spyssassin with a shopping bag full of money?) (A: It comes with multiple free attempts on our lives, are you sure you still want it?) 

Back at the library of infinite knowledge, Finch is checking up on Carter just like he promised, and he's all touched over her thank you! Aww. And then not at all touched and very alarmed. Finch, the best thing to do here is CALL HIM while you're tottering down the stairs to the car. The Machine cuts over so we can hear the CIA chatter, cut the cameras, and we get a sequence of three (rule of three! drink!) and if an AI could communicate that it's pissed off via static and snow (ha. ha. yes, I see what you guys did there) and a "searching..." bar? This one would be. Reese is wandering back to his car on the roof of the parking garage, yeah, that's probably a nice and secluded location as these things go at that hour, while a truly anvilicious song plays with a sort of cowboy theme. Aheh. He has full poker face on when the car pulls up, though the camera is too far away when he stops on hearing it to see what if any microexpressions he had before that. There's a shark-toothed smile there for Mark Snow, with extra teeth about "I bet you are." He bets no such thing. Snow is almost certainly using information from past associations with Reese to hurt him and throw him off-guard, and it's interesting that he references Montana and a cabin in the woods, though all we can do for the moment is file that away under potential profile information and see if it turns up later. They're using first names for the mockery of intimacy it gives them and the weapon that is, not because they hold any affection or trust for each other any longer, and Carter's beginning to realize just how bad she fucked up when she called the CIA in on this. Real bad, Carter. "Slate's been wiped clean" is clearly a codephrase that's relevant to... everyone except Carter, I think, and though Reese would've gotten shot anyway his lack of correct response to that definitely contributes, I think. Are any of us surprised that Snow's mostly-silent and still-unnamed partner is a sniper? No? Good. That's one gut shot, one leg shot, and those are gonna be some truly godawful wounds. 50 caliber rounds will fuck you up. Worse than normal, which I guess is why he didn't go for an upper-chest shot or a headshot? Still, there's some viciousness about a gutshot that indicates the potential for past history. It also keeps Reese alive and staggering around long enough to get his gun up, get some covering fire, and topple down the parking ramp and out of everyone's sight. (Note that he aims his bullets mostly at Snow and the sniper? Uh-huh.) Like a good spyssassin, going out of sight to fight, die, or both when wounded badly. Carter takes off after him because she has no time for this Company bullshit anymore and she'd far rather bring Reese in alive, because that's who she is, and the spooks take off to make their pathetic attempt at damage control. Heh. I'm not even going near the juxtaposition of lyrics and dialogue/action in this scene, because we would be here dodging anvils all day.

To the stairwell! Where we will cut between Finch and Reese talking, and it's clear how terrified Finch is and how little he thought this would ever happen. And massive, massive kudos to the writers for not pulling any punches and putting this right up front in the first season, even before the midseason finale: these are not supermen. We can joke all we want about Reese batmaning in and out of places, and he is incredibly well-trained, but that's all he is. Alright, so they chopped out the part where Finch was calling Reese on his earbud because they trusted us to just understand that, which is really a nice change from writers who assume the audience is stupid. Have I mentioned how I love everyone in this bar lately? And Reese doesn't even quite manage to blame Carter for selling him out; he knows the tricks Snow can play and he knows that she doesn't approve of his tactics and those two things can easily combine into deciding that life will be better with him off the streets. Our boys are freaked out enough that it's first names all around right now, in real and growing intimacy to contrast with the parody of it that Snow and Reese engaged in not two minutes ago. (And to give us a little bit of healthy fear that maybe someday Finch and Reese will betray each other and end up like that.) It's also telling, as little as we've seen Finch drive, that he's not just driving but doing so recklessly here, out of panic for his colleague. And remember back when I said he'd come to face the realities of what happened to the people he didn't save? And here he is driving to his not-quite-friend's rescue, because he can't live with himself in inaction anymore. Reese, it's adorable that you think you can get Finch not to risk himself for you, but he has NO intention of going back to before. So if you die (and you better not die) it's either suicide or a new spyssassin for him! No points for guessing which, though I'd love to see how the Machine interferes to keep its creator alive in the case of active ideation. (Not really. This is morbid curiosity speaking.) Carter being Carter and far more intelligent than the spooks, she's following the blood trail rather than hopping in the big black inflatable government SUV (I swear, no matter where a go team is, a black SUV arrives, it's an ooold joke from Criminal Minds fandom) and trying to block the exit. Which is totally not working, you see, guys? Because that would be a Reese coming out the side door and a Finch going to help him into the car. We will take a moment to facepalm over the irony of fleeing the scene with two bullet holes when you have a hospital next door that you can't go to for reasons of being a fugitive. But only a moment, because Carter's about to reclaim her title of The Best, first by instantly recognizing Finch as the "civilian" from the evidence lockup robbery and second by deciding that she wants answers for herself and for the law she represents more than she wants to aid and abet the Company's twisted sense of how to bring in a spy from the cold. There's a second where she and Reese trade looks, but they're not the kind of people who apologize in words; they're the kind of people who have long painful looks full of things that it's dangerous to say. Bonus points for the longing look of confusion over whether or not that was the right thing to do. Oh Carter, honey. You've fully entered a world full of shadows and nebulous morality and fuck you, book of bad porn, for taking one of my favorite metaphors away. Ahem.

I will just note a couple OTHER overwhelming theme of this episode, which is that having people means you survive, whereas being alone leads to death. And of course there's the one about the government being more dangerous than the less powerful (if not exactly pure as the driven snow, pun intended). Power and its corrupting effects, insert standard quote here. My toes, you guys. Ow. They are neatly woven together, though, I will definitely say that.

Next week, Reese recovers from his injuries. Grumpily. With extra special bonus points for all the Hitchcock references.


  1. Totally just slammed through all the POI recaps thus far. Love em and can't wait for more! :)

    1. Aw, thank you! Always nice to hear from a fellow Beloiter. We're aiming for one a week until we're something like caught up to currently airing eps, which by our calculation will take... uh, until mid-s3 or so. Oops.

  2. I love these recaps so much I've read them more than once. Please don't stop!