The teaser of the episode involves a guy waving to some people (his children?) as he leaves what looks like a very ordinary house. Reese, naturally, is doing his spy thing. Not much to go on there, really. Having watched at least up to mid second season we know a lot of what's to come out of this episode, but for the moment, nothing. We start off with the Machine sifting through the noise to find the signals, and this time its words of note are along a theme of betrayal. Traitor, liars, backstabbing SOB is my favorite. This may be our first look at what passes for the Machine's surface thought process, in a way we can see and understand: first it sifts through all the available data, then it seems to pull out the parts relevant to bodily harm, anger, imminent danger, etc. Then it sifts through that to determine if the pattern indicates an actual imminent threat, since we humans do love our hyperbole. This is apparently called a semantic analysis, which I ... sort of question for accurate terminology? But it's close enough for folk music. In this case it determines that, as it says, a threat is imminent, and gives us a countdown clock. 27 hours and change till the Machine believes the event will happen, which is actually less time than Finch and Reese tend to have in any given case in the episodes we see. That's. Interesting. Though that may only be because those cases are notable in some way, we do also see the ends of a number of other cases at various dramatically appropriate points.
From that cluster of fairly inflammatory words over to the serenity of Finch making tea. Aww. The blurry label does seem to indicate that it's Sencha Green Tea, and he will walk? Really? Walk it over to his workstation; he is walking stiffly but nowhere near with the limp he usually has, giving us a few indications of where that limp comes from, i.e. pain and intermittent weakness rather than physical alteration of ability. (Look, it's either that or Emerson briefly forgot to limp for however many takes it took them to film that one shot. And from what I've seen of Emerson, I'm banking on the first theory.) At any rate, he seems to be having a good day, or at least a good pain day. He arrives at his workstation and sits down and greets Reese through the microphone with a pleasant, calm voice.
Which means of course we cut to a scene that's anything but calm. It's Combat Reese! Going for, okay, at least some of the soft spots again, instep and nose but I question the shot to the chin. That's a pretty hard piece of bone there. Though then again, that one might have been intended for the throat, he did have his head kind of ducked and wrapped in one or more of their coats. But yes, he's fighting and not doing as well as he might due to likely a combination of bad luck and a heftier opponent. We love our Reese, but that guy looks like he's got considerably dense mass. Reese does manage to hit him inadvertently with a fold-out bed later, though! So there's that. The music also switches over to a variant on Reese's standard ass-kicking soundtrack for as long as he's the focus of the scene, for extra bonus hilarity and contrast. It also gives us the opportunity to note that Finch's quiet contemplative hacker leitmotif and Reese's all out of bubblegum motif have some melodic/counterpoint similarities; they vary the tempo, bass, and volume to give the impression of greater disparity than really exists. Why look, it's a veritable theme in multiple senses of the word! At any rate, Finch makes a couple faces and mutters something about a bad connection. FINCH. Do you not recognize that the sounds of fighting are very different from the sounds of static on the line? Yes, the line and direction are likely in there because it's funny, and so it is. But oh FINCH. You are so adorably fucking clueless sometimes. He is, at the moment, trying to inquire in more words than are strictly necessary about Reese's progress with the current perpetrator. I should say, more words than are strictly necessary in ordinary dialogue, but since we don't know what the case was before the fight sequence it's just enough words, concise and informative without being noticeably expositional. In this case, the guy Reese is attempting to beat the crap out of is intent on killing his ex-wife. Presumably for the usual reasons involving personal slurs, anger issues, and views of women as things to be controlled. And yes, Reese is working on it. Him. Right now working him through a set of glass-paned doors and onto a collapsing table! No, Reese, you don't really have time to stop and talk to Finch right now, he's still coming after you. As amused as I am at Finch's Coulson impression, I have to wonder why this fight is taking so long and why, not to put too fine a point on it, Reese is employing methods I would use to fight a guy like that. Specifically, I'm five feet tall, my usual method of fighting is to get to the high ground, usually on the person, as quick as possible so I don't get smooshed, flattened, or otherwise have my movements restricted, and then go for soft squishy parts. Reese, on the other hand, is a good six-two. He's probably as tall as the other guy is, he doesn't need to climb him like a jungle gym. And yet he is. When we get the view of them going staggering down the galley kitchen you can see his feet are almost touching the fucking floor. As a combat tactic this makes no sense and is most likely purely for amusement value, I'm not all that amused. I mean, I can see why other people would be, including the production folk? This just isn't my particular thing. I will say, though, the editor has some very good comedic timing, we get just enough of Finch to give us the impression of his impatient waiting on hold listening to bad hold music, and just enough of Reese at random moments to laugh at his predicament. Ah-hah! Okay, not climbing but being inadvertently lifted as he's trying to choke his opponent, that makes more sense. The body movements didn't give that impression at first, but when the fight ends in the other guy passed out face first on a bed (his bed? his ex-wife's? god I hope not, this is going to be a hell of a mess to come home to) it makes a lot more sense. Reese will now confiscate his gun with a crack about violating his parole and he can talk to Finch. Who still looks impatient. Finch, calm your bits. Reese is going though the numbers as fast as he can. And his "I had a feeling you were going to say that" is exactly as resigned as A and I are when we realize that the reward for work well done is still, in fact, more work. And so it is with this. Finch is sending him the address now.
The Machine takes us past a couple of addresses as we get a voiceover of the case in question. Actually, that is not like the case in question, that's more like just plain questions. Man: "You sure he's the right guy?" Woman: "He's perfect." That at least limits some likelihoods of what's going on, and in fact boils it down to either blackmail or patsy. Not in-show, but more because of narrative convention; that fragment of dialogue generally only appears when someone is planning to use a hapless third party. Still, it is only a fragment of dialogue (with, let's not forget, some serious voice modification on the woman; This Will Be Important Later), so caveat lector. Reese is, at the end of this, doing his surveillance thing and I swear, the only reason he hasn't been picked up yet as an obvious child molester is because he's an obvious cop. Or at least, his manner, bearing, and style of dress peg him as either a private investigator or an investigating law enforcement officer of some kind, possibly local, probably federal depending on who catches a glimpse of him. Still and seriously, if I saw a guy with that kind of heavy camera sitting in a car taking pictures of my neighborhood, I'd have some major questions. Starting, most likely, with "badge and ID" if I felt brave enough. We're getting the precis of the guy in question, good family man named Scott Powell, as Finch says it we see it on camera. The wife is observant at least enough to notice he's not wearing his watch today, which since we know these writers tend not to put in dialogue unless it means something, indicates the watch is going to come into play later. And back to watching. Only not, because Reese is having a contemplative moment. He asks Finch if he's ever thought about living a more normal life. More conventional and crave are the terms he uses, and it's not hard to guess what he's thinking of given what he's looking at; it's also telling that he doesn't use the phrase "simpler" or "easier." We won't even go into the "crave" aspect, because oh John honey. Finch interprets this to mean a life without the numbers, which, okay, that's one way of looking at it, although I would imagine that if Finch were willing to work at it (and put a couple people at risk, admittedly) either or both of them could have the spouse and children type of family. Which is, I suspect, what Reese is thinking at least. He doesn't seem attached to the ideas of things as such, more people, as one might expect from his career military lifestyle. Neither of them spend much time on the subject, though. Powell is ostensibly headed off to work, and Reese is following in his car as Finch comments on how rarely people are what they seem. Read here: banal.
A few surveillance shots later, Reese is sitting outside of a park where Powell has set down and, apparently, not gone to work? Unless this is work. Interesting. Reese will listen in on his phone conversations, should there be any! That's a depressing phone conversation, an inquiry about work with someone who won't even answer your further questions and hangs up on you in mid-sentence. And very emblematic of the current job market. So it turns out that Finch's initial information is wrong, and now I want to throttle him for not being a better hacker/investigator and checking Powell's bank records as he talks to Reese, surely he had time while Reese was in transit. Now we are updated, Powell has been out of a job for eight months (hence the lack of watch, which was probably pawned) and not only has the stress of needing to find a new job and get another paycheck, he has the stress of maintaining the fiction that he still has a job with his family. Ouch. Still looking, and from that over to a pawnshop where, heh, apparently he pawned his watch. And now he's trying to pawn what seems like his wedding silver, going by the engraving. He's also dodging phone calls from the bank, ugh. Desperate enough to take fifty bucks for wedding silver which probably set him or someone back, okay, a quick look on line says that's not taking much of a loss on those. But while we watch his increasing desperation, Reese and Finch discuss how maxed out he is on his credit cards. Double ouch. There's a lot of looking through windows and leaning on windows in this moment, which might be standard liminal or transitional imagery or might be leaning more heavily on the Dickensian-popularized image of standing on the outside in the cold looking in on a feast. They discuss Powell's desperation and whether or not that might induce him to do something violent, Reese suggests (well, tells) Finch put Carter on Powell's background while he follows the guy around a bit. We'll politely handwave what Fusco's working on right now. Finch would like to get a look at Powell's home computer, too, so he'll be joining Reese on the stakeout, leading to a fucking hilarious conversation about stakeouts and the uses of empty water bottles. Oh Finch. That's one thing I didn't expect him to know, because it's not something people tend to think about (or talk about in fiction, for that matter), but it is hilarious to watch his expression as he realizes what Reese is talking about and Reese's as he tells Finch. Doubly so when you consider that on a two-man stakeout, there is no actual reason to use an empty water bottle because one can spell the other for the five minutes it takes to use a bush. In other words, Reese you troll. I love you.
All right, anyway, over to Reese's surveillance car, I'd say he should get a van but he doesn't carry enough field equipment for that, and vans tend to be suspicious unless you do them right. Which is trickier than you might think. Finch is explaining to us the concept of the cantenna, which you can find plans for and build on the internet if you're of a mind (I'm pretty sure most of the things they'd be used for are illegal, though, just saying.) and Reese has this smirk of "Finch, you sly dog." Aww, he's proud of him. Or amused by him. Or both. Or something. It's a cute and funny smirk, though. It also seems to indicate that Reese either knows less than he thought about Finch in the same way that Finch knows less than he thought about Reese, or that he simply hasn't taken into account what a lot of Finch's skills and proclivities mean in terms of extrapolating other behaviors. Ahem. Anyway. What's on Powell's computer? Lots of slagging off Congressman Delaney, lots of political browsing in his cache, and a large encrypted file? Really? That seems either unlikely or stupid given the lack of security on the rest of Powell's computer. Which is which depends on how security conscious Powell seems within the rest of his life, and given that he's been clearly taking great pains to hide something big from his family in other ways, that leans towards unlikely. Not that, yet again, Finch and Reese are thinking along those lines. Powell has a phone call about a job position to distract them, too. Two day temp position, but he's grateful for whatever he can get at this point. None of this, as Finch says, indicates more specifically than "financial trouble" why the Machine dropped his number, though.
We'll watch the sun rise over the river via Machine for a bit, then over to the front steps of a venue where Congressman Delaney's having some sort of event, if the banner at the front steps is any solid indication. The timestamp on the footage says 12:25 and an insignificant number of seconds, which means it's likely some sort of lunch speaking engagement. And Finch and Reese are in the car, leading me to wonder if they actually went to their respective beds or slept last night. Powell is eating lunch in his truck, which they're of course watching, as Carter gives them her findings on him. A couple of parking tickets and an application for a firearm, specifically a rifle. And given that they're the ones asking, she questions as to whether or not she should be looking harder at this guy. Finch, unlike Reese at least with Fusco, is straightforward and non-dismissive of her even if they don't have anything at the moment. While they wait for Powell to do something outside his truck Finch will now exposit for us that the encrypted file was a secure email account which, from that list of sent email headers, he only uses to send threats to Congressman Delaney. Which makes sense on the face of it, and at the same time, why would he a) use his home laptop at all instead of a series of internet cafes or the library computers, b) why would he send them, conceal them, and have all that browsing on his cache, and c) has he ever given any indication of being tech-savvy enough to set that up? C is questionable only because we don't have the information or any way to poke Finch to look it up, though a quick wiki search indicates that the type of encryption used is something I'd expect out of an unsophisticated hacker, or a hacker trying to look that way. In between all the talking out the links between email, information, and Powell's behavior we do learn that the Congressman is responsible for the budget cuts which prompted the layoffs which cost Powell his job. Which is, indeed, motive. So, there's a thread there, but at least some of this is fishy under closer examination. Not that Finch or Reese will either examine it more closely or, it seems, have the time. Powell's heading into the Congressman's luncheon now and those emails do look an awful lot like death threats. But why, Finch, would you say he's not there for a job? Or at least, why not draw the conclusion that he's assassinating Delancey on behalf of someone else? Because that phone call and the resultant relief were genuine, so how does that connect with angry emails and the permit for a rifle? Did he even actually buy a rifle? Do you know? Why would he legally buy a rifle given the effort involved in covering his digital tracks? Guys! Do better research! For that matter, Reese! You should know everything there is to know from both ends of the equation about setting up a patsy!
We break on that ominous pronouncement and Reese getting out of the car, anyway, and come back to Reese looking for Powell. Who is being let into the service entrance at the event. Sorry, Reese, you don't look enough like security to get away with going in the service entrance, which means he has to ditch his gun before he goes through the main entrance and the security and, you know. Metal detectors. Reese reports the problem to Finch, who has apparently Batmanned into line next to/behind him. It's about freaking time someone did that to Reese. And it's true, Finch does look like a man who would be at the table at this sort of luncheon. Reese assigns Finch bodyguard duties on the Congressman, to which Finch is naturally rather startled. And Reese continues to fuck with his head by expressing faith in his abilities to think on his feet in a crisis (earned) and not giving him any pointers whatsoever (not helpful). Though it's probably good that he didn't tell Finch the first duty of the bodyguard is to take the bullet. The second duty, which Finch would likely be at least competent at despite his misgivings, is to get the client to safety. He does have some practice at that by now, between Ghosts and Foe. So there's that? Finch is still having a good pain day so he'll walk over to a pillar and do something with technology, giving us a brief mention of Matheson the campaign manager, while Reese authoritates his way downstairs to find Powell among the other staff. Again, walking and behaving as though you know exactly what you're doing and belong there, especially when you're trained so well and for so long that you pretty much look like security no matter what you're doing. And while they're working we get actual audio of a conversation someone's having with the congressman: translating from the political speak it means back off of this issue which is going to hurt us or we'll stop funding you and fund your enemies instead. And possibly kill you, but we don't know if this is that type of monied person yet or not. As Finch fiddles with whatever it is he's fiddling with (sadly, we don't get a good look) he reports to Reese and us that the emails Powell supposedly sent with the death threats are being flagged by his system. Finch, honey, they were flagged by my system the second you discovered them. Silly man. But no time for that now, Finch is bidden to take his seat and the festivities will now commence. As the introductions are made Finch tells Reese that the emails did not originate from Powell's laptop and okay, fine, I will stop doing the I told you so's. Reese is more interested in finding Powell and his alleged gun and Reese. If you would stop and listen to Finch (and, admittedly, if Finch would cut out the technobabble and just drop it) you might learn that Powell probably doesn't have a gun. He's being set up. Reese. Never mind. Patsies usually get killed too, so this is probably why the Machine dropped his number, at least Reese will be nearby when whoever set this up tries to kill the fall guy. Applause! Matheson! Delancey! (A: Dr. Scott!) Catwalks, because these sorts of things always take place on catwalks. Lots of short cuts here, Finch barely getting two words out and Reese barely getting two steps before we cut over from one to the other, it's ramping up the action. The music quickens, etc, we get a spotlight on Powell which is also good for blinding Reese since he has to face towards the light, all he sees is Powell with a rifle shaped object. Which turns out to be a confetti shooter. Crap! Meanwhile someone else is shooting the Congressman with an actual rifle, likely from above or below Powell to leave the path open for law enforcement to come swarming in and arrest the poor bastard they're setting up for the assassination. This comes, of course, seconds after Finch tells Reese he thinks Powell's being set up. Oh boys.
It turns out the assassin is further down the walkway rather than above or below. Not where I'd choose to put him, but, sure, that means we get Reese squinting against the light just to highlight how little he can see the real shooter, before he gives chase. People are swarming around the Congressman on stage, we have a view from above for maximum breadth of visuals, and then a Dutch angle to get a look at Powell as he stands, confused, and gets pointed at by half a dozen hysterical luncheon attendees and a spotlight. Great. He's proper fucked. Reese takes a couple of seconds to shoulder open the door the shooter fled through as we get a repeat of Reese's all out of bubblegum motif, sped up maybe a few bpms and heavier on the strings. Curtains! Across a room! Hallways! Reese gives chase! The camera's surprisingly steady until we get outside and get the 360 (well, maybe 270 at best in this case) rotating view of not finding the guy anywhere. And everything slows back down to the normal pace as Finch and Reese meet outside to share the nothing that they've got. In the background and, after that sharing of nothing, in the foreground, Powell is protesting his innocence as the cops hustle him into a car. Okay, yes, it looks suspicious, but really. Nothing about his behavior suggests he's the shooter. Hopefully that will count for something when they question him back at the station. I suppose the first question is "by who," but a motive would also help, because this kind of setup is generally the purview of political assassination. Both kinds.
We stop there briefly after the break, but only long enough to see Powell being perp-walked down the hall. Just in case we'd forgotten, I guess? Then it's over to the library, where Finch is watching streaming news with Reese hovering over his shoulder in what almost looks like military at-ease about-to-be-reamed-out-by-his-commanding-officer position. It's a nice touch by Caviezel, if only slightly odd given his current "commanding officer." The Congressman appears to not be dead yet, he thinks he'll go for a walk. Or maybe he's only mostly dead. Reese makes an exhale like he's about to apologize or fall on his sword, oh Reese. By this we can see that it really does stay with him, the people he's failed to save, whether this includes the Congressman or no. Finch just has his blank contemplating face on, most likely but perhaps not only going back and trying to figure out where he went wrong so he can repair it, or undo it. He even shares some of this aloud with us, not that we hadn't already figured this part out. Reese is grumpy that he, Finch, and the Machine were fooled, to which Finch corrects it to just him and Reese. Good man, and I agree. And I feel like the only reason they talk this out is so the audience can understand it, but really, Reese. Why are you so ready to believe the Machine was fooled? You've more than likely conducted operations like this, you should know that in a perfect operation, Powell wouldn't be left alive. The Machine saw this, and therefore coughed up his number. Not to mention that wouldn't Powell genuinely wishing to kill Congressman Delancey because of his positions and actions on budget cuts be more along the lines of domestic terrorism, which would come under the Machine's primary capacity and therefore his number would go to a different receiver? Well, and maybe not, maybe it would just come under premeditated homicide, which is their purview, the point being that even though Powell didn't have a real rifle up there, he is not out of the woods just yet. And the Machine did not make a mistake. Finch goes and retrieves something that consists of a box with cables while they talk this out and come to the conclusion that there were two people. I'd disagree on that, too, no reason a hacker can't also be a sniper, except that the two skillsets do generally take enough time to learn, and the man Reese chased wasn't old enough to have mastered both, so yes, the likelihood is that there were at least two people. It's worth holding on to the possibility that it was a single person, but not likely. We can, however, disagree that they're anything like a team; the likelihood is much higher that whoever hired them hired them separately. Better deniability that way, even if Reese is used to two-or-several person teams with his work history.
Finch will now proceed to pull off one of the dumbassest moves in the history of the show, and A and I are truly boggled by how astoundingly un security conscious this is. He will now proceed to hack back the traces from the inserted emails from his home base and even from his home system. FINCH. For a guy who's incredibly security conscious how the fuck dumb are you??? BAD HACKER, NO TEA. Just in case you guys should ever find yourselves in this situation, here's a tip: if you have a laptop, device, program, or any such thing operated and coded by an unknown with any likelihood of being hostile at fucking all, do not attempt to pull it apart on your home system. If you're doing this on a regular basis you should have a backup system for this, possibly a mirror but not necessarily and at least with all your utilities, so that in the event that the hacker put in some kind of self destruct or a trace into the program, your main system and all its identifying information or anything you may want to keep secret isn't compromised. In other words, don't give your fucking enemy hacker a backdoor into your home base by using your goddamn home base. Bonus points if you move somewhere else to do it so all your location data is legitimately spoofed rather than including layers of spoofing that can be unpeeled, because the best lies are always built on truth. And no matter how good you think you are, always assume someone else can unpeel your lies down to the truth. That goes for hacking as well. And oh my GOD Finch. Are you stupid? Did you take stupid tea this morning? Narratively, I understand why they did this. They needed to create tension within the episode, they needed to give the hacker (no, I'm not naming the hacker yet, yes, I know who it is) an inside track on Finch, this accomplishes both. As a writer, though, and just as a fan, I have a hard time believing Finch, who is normally incredibly paranoid and security conscious to the point where he has false identities going back decades, would be this fucking dumb. Swear to Turing.
While Finch is making the dumbest mistake of his life, Reese is on the phone with Carter, who proceeds to tear him a new one the second she picks up the phone. Given the information she has: guy on the Machine's list, rifle permit, appearing at an event where someone gets shot, yeah, I probably would too. It is a measure of how much she trusts Reese, though I don't know that either of them notice it, that she at least half-believes him when he says Powell was set up. And she's probably also heard Powell claiming as much with believable body language, but still. They have a brief argument where Carter resists helping Reese, who begs her into it anyway; this seems like it's going to happen a lot. All he wants is to get an ear in on the interrogation, which of course she does since it only involves leaving her phone on in the interrogation room or in observation. At which point she's already breaking some more laws, and can we now throw out the fiction of Carter being a good cop as in one who plays by the book? Because she's not, hasn't been for a couple of episodes, and never again will be. She's firmly in Team Machine's camp, and if she claims to be a good cop she's lying at least to herself if not to whoever hears her. She may be on the side of justice and do what she can to keep her lawbreaking shenanigans to a minimum so as to avoid any prosecutorial entanglements or misconduct later down the line, but she is no longer playing by the rules to which she is bound, whether or not she gets caught. Whether or not this is a good thing I leave as an exercise for the reader and watcher's opinion.
So. Powell keeps protesting, the guy who actually shot the Congressman must be the guy who sent him up there and gave him the confetti rifle, he must have known where the cameras were, and do I really need to explain why no one saw him? Witnesses and their reliability and all. So, clearly, again: trained assassin. The staffing agency was a front and now we do know that this was a team, there's just too many balls in the air for it to be one person coordinating everything. Okay, it might be one person coordinating everything, but the 'everything' involves a team. And just as we finish figuring this out Carter gets back on the phone and tells them the Congressman died of his injuries. Oh goodie. So, booking Powell on Murder One it is, and he gets his one phone call to his wife to try to tell her that he didn't actually do it, and tells her to comply with the police, which is smart. We also get a tidbit of information in the form of a computer stashed on top of a wardrobe that neither Powell nor his wife seem to know about. That's. Interesting. I would have thought the frame-up emails were enough, but sure, another computer's good too. Just in case the police thought maybe they'd better check into his frame-up story? It's a degree of thoroughness we haven't seen from very many perps in this show. Save, you know. Elias. Anyway, Powell would like his wife to remember that she trusts him, and we conclude that scene on Carter looking frowny and worried. Like you do when shit's going down that you can't properly see. And assassinating a Congressman complete with fall guy is definitely some important shit going down.
Back at the Library of Infinite Poorly Interpreted Information Reese is pacing and Finch is thinking in place. Oh, now we get someone (again) pointing out in words that Powell's likely to get assassinated himself. Staged suicide is pretty standard, yes. And once they find out about his money problems they won't even need to do a detailed job at faking motive. Yes, Finch, Reese is more than likely speaking from experience, but Reese will neither look at him nor answer when Finch asks that. If you have to ask, you're not ready to hear the answer, especially since Finch seems to be clinging tooth and nail to the delusion that Reese isn't or wasn't as bad a man as the facts are leading him to believe. Yes, Finch. Yes he was. That doesn't necessarily mean he is now, but he was a very bad man who did some very bad things, deal with it. Or get distracted by the Trojan Horse on Powell's computer, that's good too. And by good I mean bad, so very bad, Finch, goddammit, be smarter. No? No. Sigh. I take a moment here to note that these are the exact same fucking tactics Finch uses, setting the hacker up as Finch's equal and opposite before we even get hints at an identity. Just so we're all aware. Which should make it even more apparent to Finch that he shouldn't be doing this at his "home" computer, no, I will not stop bitching about this. He has now installed this thing on his own home computer virtual system. No, Reese was right, it's his home computer, it's the same physical box or set of boxes, it's still connected to everything in his home computer, it's a fucking dumb move. Rarrgh. So, Finch traces the Trojan back to the hacker, drooling the whole time. I guess this is the Finch equivalent of letting his attraction get the better of him? Certainly his admiration. Finch. Fiiinch. Pull the plug. Now. FINCH. Argh. No, right now they're looking at the hacker's computer in real time, and it seems like the hacker is viewing blueprints of the courthouse building, yes, fine, good, Finch get the fuck out of there before the hacker finds you. Nobody in this bar - er, blog - is the least bit surprised that Reese has the blueprints to presumably a variety of federal or otherwise important buildings in the city memorized, but it's a nice bit of standard spyssassin knowledge acquisition. Reese calls Carter to make sure Powell's... something. Of course he's being transferred to the courthouse for arraignment. Reese, would it have killed you to update Carter as you walked? You have legs and a mouth that operate independently for a reason. No? No. Sigh, all of you.
REESE. REESE WHAT ARE YOU DOING. While I yelp what Reese is actually doing is staging a decently efficient one-man breakout, but I still yelp because goddamn, Reese, could you possibly be more illegal or likely to alienate Carter? No, probably not. Unless he killed the feds. Which he wouldn't be inclined to do, being Reese, who at least tries if not always succeeds at doing things with a minimum of bodies on the ground. Anyway, his leitmotif kicks in, the rescue/breakout here is very reminiscent of the first episode, right down to the similarities of the black SUV the prisoner's being transported in, the firing of gas grenades into the car (or in this case, opening the hood with a shotgun and then tossing a gas grenade into it so the gas filters into the car), the gas mask, even Reese's outfit is similar. He pulls Powell out of the SUV and into presumably his damaged car, and answers Powell's questions with short declarative sentences while he waits for Finch to tell him what he's got. I do love Reese when he's in super-spy mode, all focused and efficient. It's also a very subtle way they play Reese to his former profession; when he's doing what he's good at, what he's experienced at, he's very direct and brutal and fast. At other times he fidgets, he paces, he puts his hand to his mouth like he might chew, his eyes are wide and his brows slightly upturned in an expression of uncertainty. Here, we see none of that. It's also a very good, subtle acting job on Caviezel's part, consistent through the episodes. So, Finch has not yet cracked the ISP masking but he thinks he's found a vulnerability to exploit. Uh, Finch? Oh, why do I even bother. These are also some of the few genuinely strong emotional responses we get to his side of the job, enthusiastic, eager, and triumphant. At least until Finch realizes that he was let in so the hacker could penetrate his system, FINCH. You IDIOT. Well, now we have the oh shit moment we should have had a lot sooner, and Finch tells Reese to destroy his phone, destroy everything, they've infected everything connected to his home system. Going by the profile and hands visible on the glimpses we get during the dueling hackers sequence (or rather, one hacker dueling and the other one destroying or shutting down everything including the power and getting the fuck out of dodge) the hacker is a woman. Which is also interesting, though not necessarily significant. Still, thus far almost all the opposite numbers or pairs we've seen for Reese and Finch with the exception of Ulrich Kohl (Foe 1x08) have been women. Which is significant. I don't think the writers intend this to be a men against women battle so much as they are attempting to bring more competent women into the field, and most of the time that means pitting them against Reese and Finch. Not always! Sometimes they're Zoe. The library is full dark, the music is not exactly mournful but certainly minor key, and Finch tucks his bag with what he feels is the last safe remnants of his system in it, and walks out.
A series of Machine shots later and Finch is actually walking almost normally down the street, though in this case whether it's lack of pain or adrenaline, hard to say. He picks up a burner phone for cash (good Finch, having cash on you at all times, likely in significant amounts) and voice-dials it to a number. Meanwhile somewhere else in town Reese is unlocking Powell's cuffs and handing him a change of clothes. Fair enough, not that it'll get either them or the police very far to pay attention to what Powell's clothes look like, but okay. This must be a pre-assigned hotel room because it turns out, when Reese dials to voicemail, that this is the number Finch was calling and leaving the number of the burner phone he grabbed. So Reese hangs up, dials it back, Finch is in a library! Like he should have been the first time, oh Finch. Yes. Yes you did underestimate the hacker. You idiot. Though it is hilarious to see Finch getting shushed by another library patron. At any rate, with everything compromised like this Finch feels they might need a little help, so he's called in a specialist. Hey, speaking of Zoe! Even though Reese is either alarmed or annoyed (likely more annoyed by the look he gives the phone) by Finch's lack of clarifying descriptions other than "specialist" and "she", he doesn't seem too bothered. And here's Zoe in her red coat to sit Finch down and give him a come to hitman speech. They'll have this meeting in the study room, where a couple of either older high school students or younger college students seem to be studying the details of reproductive human biology. Ahem. Fifty bucks gets the couple out of there, complete with commentary on Finch's skills to pick up someone like Zoe. Oh kid. Neither Finch nor Zoe react to this, too. And that said, Finch does seem to appreciate either Zoe's beauty and poise or her abilities or both, because goddamn he's smiling and almost blushing as she figures out who he is. Also inviting first name basis relations. Finch. Do you have a crush on Reese's crush? That's hilarious and adorable. Zoe asks after 'John,' which is both entertaining and significant, hell, everything about this is entertaining. The three of them in general, and Finch and Zoe in particular, interact with a greater level of familiarity and comfort than we're used to seeing even Reese and Finch interact, as though Zoe relaxes some of the usual barriers to human contact. Like a good profiler-cum-fixer. At any rate, Finch is asking for Zoe's help with their current client "in the same manner" that Reese and Finch helped her out earlier. She looks both dubious and agreeable, most likely dubious because she doesn't yet know what this help will entail. Given what she knows about them, or rather doesn't, I'd be dubious, too. Agreeable, most likely because she operates in an economy of favors and back-scratching and blackmail, and she'd probably like a chance to clear what she perceives as her debt to Reese and Finch.
And, you know, meanwhile the FBI guy in charge of the investigation into Powell is explaining to Powell's wife how one guy was able to break him out of federal custody. That has to be embarrassing. Still, she's in interrogation, which means he theoretically has control over the conversation and thus the narrative, which is at least somewhat less embarrassing. One hand clasped over the other and held in front of his face is still defensive posture, concealment at best. So, currently the narrative is that the man in the suit had ties to an armed group. I can... kind of understand that mistake, all right. Standard set of questions comes now about ties to radical groups, etc., even though the wife isn't likely to know going by the degree of her surprise. They still have to cover all the bases, regardless of what they might personally think. And now comes the bombshell, and the worst of it is this isn't even a lie the government's made up, this is a big lie that he's been telling his wife for months now, leading both of them to be more willing to believe smaller lies, like his alleged assassination of the Congressman. Okay, that's not necessarily a smaller lie, but since he's not the one telling it, it sort of counts?
Finch sums up the case for those of us just coming in at the middle, and for Zoe, who comments on their taste for challenges. She makes comment that all of the suspect Finch lays out for her have been at each other's throats at some point or another recently, then gets down into the individual profiles of each of them. I love you, Zoe, can you be on the team full time? Please? This team badly needs a profiler type. The one she picks out as likeliest is that Delancey was running a contracting company with his campaign manager, one that the district attorney is now investigating quietly for bribes to inspections, skimming and corner cutting, etc. Finch presumes, not unreasonably, that Delancey either didn't know about this or willfully chose not to pay attention because he was busy running for office, while Matheson did a number of very naughty things. And now that Delancey's dead, Matheson can pin the blame on him! It's a neat theory, at least, if it's true. Zoe and Finch will do some investigating now, to Zoe's delight and Finch's... surprised delight? I think so. She keeps a tight lid on her expressions but there's definitely a twitch of a smile there, and Finch responds almost in kind, certainly with widening, lifting and crinkling of the corners of the eyes.
Over in the anonymous no-tell motel of hiding out! Powell is watching his wife on the news as they report on the manhunt, poor bastard. Reese is being vigilant and securing the premises, and explaining to Powell how this works. Group or individual wants person assassinated. Group or individual is at all complex and competent. Group or individual sets up fall guy. Powell is the fall guy. While Powell can't understand why this is happening to him specifically and Reese doesn't have time to explain desperation because, hey, hitman, Powell might get it if he has time to stop and think about it. Alas, he doesn't, because someone's rattling at the door. Oh, hey, it's a cleaner! Who looks suspiciously like the glimpses we got of the original hitman, matter of fact. Reese will be having none of this, flipping the guy over a ledge that wasn't nearly high enough. Poor boys. I mean, I do appreciate the Reese kicking ass motif (which has seen a lot of action this episode, I note) and I do enjoy watching him work, but this is going to get very exhausting for Powell and thus for Reese, too, very quickly. Important question left hanging: how exactly did they track Reese and Powell to the hotel? Low-tech or high-tech? We'll have to wait and see.
Over to Delancey's memorial! Where Matheson is leaving instructions to someone, security, presumably, to make sure that everyone (all the mourners) can stay as long as they want and he'll get back to the office. So, he's in his public persona, then. Regardless of whether or not one believes he did it, this is still very much a public persona of holding it together yet grieving for the audience. As he heads down the steps to his car Zoe will now intervene, because if there's anyone who knows how to pick out persona from person it's Zoe. He attempts to dismiss her as a reporter despite her lack of any remotely reporterly accessories, but she isn't having that and introduces herself with a nod to a person and a situation that we don't know, but presumably Matheson does. Having established that Zoe is trained in crisis management he'll go aside with her a bit, but he still doesn't see why he needs her services. Well then, she'll just lay it all out for him, including the part where all sorts of skimming, blaming, and assassinating shenanigans are going on. Her use of the term "vendor" amuses me, though I've customarily heard it as "broker" but, whatever, it's true, Matheson is not getting satisfactory patsy for his money. She gives him her card, though he still plays for deniability since he doesn't seem to trust her just yet. Not that this fazes her. In all of the episodes I've seen with Zoe in, nothing seems to faze her for long. Now that she's left, though, trailing some seeds of doubt and annoyance, Matheson will linger and place a call with his vendor, oh, who's that there with a candle-inna-cup? That would be Finch, yes. Listening in on the call. Matheson, you're kind of an idiot, aren't you. Doing this out in public where people can eavesdrop on your calls. Either the technological way Finch is doing or right there in public, for new extra people being dumbshits about security. Honestly, did everyone in this episode take their stupid pills except Zoe, Carter, and Root?
We next get a fish tank, the same woman hacker from before, and a distorted voice. Actually, with that distortion, it sounds a bit like Zoe. Anyway, Hacker is irritated that Matheson is calling her, Matheson is irritated that the patsy is still alive to sing his patsy song, confusion to our enemies! Yay! Do we even need to point out how they're shooting her from the back with enough glare on the monitor not to give even a good reflection? Yes? There, now you know. She is handling this, she says, and if he wants a demonstration of her abilities she'll just go on and ruin his life because, hey, everything is online now, and as Cosmo ranted, it's not about who's got the most weapons, it's about who controls the information. Tonight, that would be her. Matheson caves in like a wet cardboard box and she reminds him to have her final payment ready. Then it's over to her muscle flunky, so now I guess we know who hired whom, and she seems to have lo-jacked Reese and Powell somehow, which answers that question as well. It also points up the parallel between her and her muscle flunky and Finch and Reese, right down to the GPS sharing via smartphone and the angles from which they're filmed.
Over on the train in question the muscle flunky is being sent to, Reese is picking a transmitter out of the guy's shoe. Once again, I severely question not only the location but also the nature of that bug. Unless it's been waterproofed and fitted with some form of either super-adhesive or a spike to keep it in the shoe and keep it from shorting, neither of which appear to be the case given the look we have of the bug, that thing's going to be useless the first time he walks through water or anything that might dislodge it. Stupid pills, I'm telling you. It's like a giant game of high-stakes, high-conspiracy Pass The Idiot Ball. Anyway, Reese surmises that they got it into his shoe by going to his house, which understandably freaks Powell out. Reese, you're not... the best at pep talks, but this one at least is sufficient to keep Powell up and moving. He is, surprisingly, good at picking points of similarity and empathy with the numbers of the week and using that in conversation with them, Powell being no different. It's an interesting dichotomy between ability to empathize with people when they're right in front of them and inability to profile a person based on hard data, and a gap the Agency should have fixed. You know, if they were competent in any universe. In this case, it's living inside of lies, which they both have experience at albeit one of them considerably more all-encompassing and full of death than the other. And now it is time for the weekly "I'm gonna get you out of this" from Reese, not that Powell entirely believes him. This is Bourne Identity shit! This is political assassination of both the political and the corporeal sense, and Reese hesitates just a little too long in his assurances. It doesn't help that Powell was already close to hitting bottom and this just pushes him into making demands because, hey, what else does he have to lose? Bonus points to the writers for the 50 ton anvil of how he could die and the person he loves most in this world will think he's nothing more than a killer and does Reese even know what that FEELS LIKE, DO YOU? Right where Reese lives, ouch. Though he could possibly look a little more psychotic when he says that, yes, in fact, he does, because it's true, I don't see how. He looks the way he does right before he hurts/kills someone. Eek. For now, it'll be enough just to get them both off that train, thank god. Killing people can happen later. While the muscle flunky continues to follow the bug around and around and around the train.
Reese is more than likely still in a bit of a killing mood when he calls Carter, who is clearly also in a killing mood since she doesn't even look at her phone before answering. Often, she does, which is an interesting if not unjustified form of caution. Hi Carter! It's your friendly neighborhood vigilante. And boy is she pissed at him for taking out a federal transport. Of all the favors he could ask her for, this is probably the best; it costs her nothing more than helping Reese has already cost her, and it doesn't actively keep the cops from gaining anything. And it might even gain both her some goodwill with the wife and Reese some goodwill with Powell. And since Reese called her phone instead of anyone in the Powell family's, it's not even bugged! (Though given how much Root knows about them I would have serious reservations even so.) Carter manages to come up with a plausible excuse to get the wife away from the feds and over to a more private corner to talk on a phone, and she sells it well. Which is good because she's going to have to do a lot of lying in the future if she's going to work with Reese and keep her job. There's some nice, subtle, and most likely deliberate setting work here, with Powell in a train station complete with arriving/departing train imagery as he goes through a pivotal transition point in his life and his marriage, and his wife in a tiny pool of light in the shadows, which must be where she feels like she's living right now. I also appreciate that they allow them to have the hard conversation, or at least of much of it as the muscle flunky on their tail will allow them to have. Because, oh, hey, there he is! The approaching assassin and the heartbroken wife talking to an empty line is a good place to cut to commercial! But we stick with the train station after the break, and the muscle flunky following a red dot played by a tallish guy wearing a dark hoodie. At this point I think either we know it's Reese because we're genre savvy, or we know it's Reese because at any given point Caviezel is half to a full head taller than the people around him, but sure, we'll go with the suspense they've created. Mostly it's the genre savvy that breaks it. The guy in the hoodie goes into a bathroom, the flunky follows with his little red box, the music swells and.... the tracker is on a toilet roll. Flunky barely has time for an expression of "...the fuck?" before Reese is on him. Unlike the fight we opened with this one is much more efficient in terms of his movements and maneuver choices, though I still question why he isn't making more use of the fact that bathrooms are all hard surfaces. Maybe he's still recovering somewhat from the gunshot wounds? Which would be a surprisingly realistic length of time for that kind of recovery. And of course, there is the requisite ripping off one of the bathroom fixtures, usually the air dryers, and beating someone with it. Reese will then collect the flunky's phone and walk off as though nothing happened.
Back at the precinct Carter is doing paperwork when Powell walks right in and surrenders himself. Which is probably best, to establish that he didn't actually mean to break out of police custody? But damn, that takes some brass ones both on his part and on the part of Reese in that they both have to be very assured that that assassin was the only one. I know I'm not sure I would be. Maybe there was something on the phone that said? They handcuff Powell, march him over to the transport as Carter watches with some concern. Possibly looking for Reese, probably wondering what the hell he's up to now.
And over via Machine shots (mostly indicating the passage of time, in this case; it's evening now) to first a shot of a woman in a car looking at a phone, then Reese walking down the street still in the hoodie to get into a car as the phone in his pocket rings. Finch. Fiiiinch. I really hope you trust your driver, because this isn't shit I would want to share with anyone. It's hard to tell, though, but I do think that might be the same driver from the pilot. At any rate, Reese hands the phone over to Finch with one of his bland looks. Oh look, it's a blocked number. She, the hacker, asks if it's finished. Presumably she anticipated the muscle flunky would have accomplished his task by now? Finch is all about the cat that ate the canary right about now, though interestingly enough this doesn't involve much in the way of smiling. Anyway, he has to gloat a bit, and she gives a little tilt of her head as if to say 'that's interesting' as she hangs up. Which is a good move, hanging up, no further dialogue, no further data to pick apart or profile. If they had a profiler. Not that she knows that. The hacker will now proceed to type something that begins with "Dear Friends," which is interesting in both the stilted sense and in the plural sense, friends? Plural? Is this something for her current persona or something she's making up for someone else, because I highly doubt this is something she's typing for her own self. This is a rehearsed set piece, she's typing too fast and far too isolated in all the shots we've seen of her for it to be anything else. Plus there's the gun next to the computer, in case we wanted visual confirmation that she's not afraid to do her own dirty work, just disinclined to. Hey, while we're committing nefarious and legally dubious acts by computer, let's send Carter that incriminating phone call conversation! Which she evidently shares with the FBI, because from that brief cut over to a scene of a townhouse (that looks like a familiar townhouse, I'd almost bet they've used that before, or similar architecture) and the FBI coming in. Again, the long hallway shot with the narrow focus, plus the ominous clip from the phone conversation where Matheson complains that hacker lady assured him of her abilities and right now he's not seeing any of them. So, clearly we're meant to take Matheson's death as a sign of her abilities, oh look. It's that document our hacker lady was writing. Just in case we didn't get it.
Back over at the Powell's he's being released by the cops in a small cluster of reporters, as Reese looks on from the distance as per usual. Powell seems to have reunited well enough with his wife, or they've come to a mutual agreement not to air their dirty laundry in front of the press; for these purposes it's all one. Zoe will now join Reese in his surveying of a job well done, and it's awfully adorable that he can't resist smiling a little when she comes up. Seriously, his mouth does this little twitch at the corners thing before he gives up and just smiles about as much as he ever does. He thanks her in their highly oblique way for her help, she brings up payment because you don't thank people in their line of work. That would imply relationships and connections, or at its most impartial, debts, and they can't have that now can they. So, payment, which apparently for this will be in the form of either a date or booze, I'm not sure which is her priority here considering she has to know she did contribute to getting Matheson killed. I'll outline the leap here because that was a fair jump even for me: Zoe most likely realizes that pushing Matheson to make an urgent and less discreet than usual phone call where Finch could record it would both annoy the person on the other end of the phone (the hacker, or as she knew it, his unknown more lethal fixer) and it would provide leverage that could be used later. Leverage that, the instant it became any form of public knowledge that the plan had gone even a little bit awry, would be anticipated by Matheson's compatriot. Thus, cleaning up loose ends, thus, Matheson dies. So, Zoe is either comfortable with that, good at compartmentalization, or in need of booze. Or all three? She looks pretty happy with events until Reese brings up her past, so most likely at least the first two. Of course, then Reese does bring up her past, and if she ever figured out what this mysterious past fixer said she is not prepared to share it with Reese just yet. Reese, you should know better than to ask things like that. Though in this case I think he's not so much asking in the hopes of getting an answer so much as obliquely asking her to do the same for the Powells. Aww, you two.
Well, speaking of tying up loose ends, Reese gets a call from Finch to check in, to confirm that Powell made it home safely and is coping with the reporters and so on, that Powell's all right. He also would like Reese to know that he's taken care of Powell's employment problems by hiring him to oversee the construction of a new facility one of his many many companies is building. Awww. How very... feudal of you, Finch. Reese's word of choice is noble, but it amounts to the same thing, and bonus points to either Caviezel or the writers or both if they did mean noble in the sense of feudalistic nobility as it ideally should have been. Heh. Finch disclaims this as just recognizing the value of good people as we get an easter egg of the kid who was in the study room when he went in there with Zoe, passing Finch and giving him a thumbs up. Again. Oh kid. Reese inquires about the hacker, and Finch has, well, her first layer of addresses, which appears to go to a dorm-room-like setup in an apartment that is now clearly abandoned when the police break in. Oh, hey, look, it was a dorm room! Not even her false identity's dorm room, either. Poor college student. Poor Finch. Running into someone as good as he is. Suddenly he's not the smartest guy on the internet anymore, that has to both sting and be gratifying, because it really sucks when no one else is talking on the same level you are. So, Finch and Reese will go spend their most likely brief downtime in their own ways, Finch repairing his system and Reese... recharging his batteries? Going by that look he gives Zoe before he Batmans out of there, I'd say that's a distinct possibility. Happy family reunion, satisfied Reese.
One last bit of ominous, though, because we can't have everything too wrapped up. An IRC private chat pops up to let Finch know that the FBI didn't catch the hacker, and he can call her Root. She is not, as he suspects, in the library with him, but appears to be at a coffeeshop on public wifi, good plan. And yes, Finch, that answer means she totally killed him. You can have Reese translate from cryptic wetwork if you like, later on. The only other thing she'll give him is a nod and the title of 'worthy opponent,' because with a confrontation like this did anyone really think there wasn't going to be a next time? I hope not. The fact that she knows his first name (I am not going to call that his real name yet even if current signs do point to it being so) is indicative but hardly terrifying, even Reese found out that much through means not involving computers. (And can we note, briefly, that Rachel Miner is fucking amazing? Because she manages to convey while never showing her face and indeed mostly using her hands, a degree of casual competence and danger that is damn impressive. I'm a little sad they didn't get her back for the finale.) But we leave Finch not quite smiling at his computer on that note, because he, too, is pleased to have found what he might think of as 'a worthy opponent' and what Reese would probably term a pain in the ass. Sigh, everyone. That's going to bite you in the ass later, Finch, and you're not going to like it.