Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pulling Your Strings (Person of Interest S1E23 Firewall)

We're still twitching over the altered titles as we begin this season finale, and today's number is a young woman Reese seems to be following. A young woman, I note, played by Amy Acker, who seems to specialize in evil geniuses these days. That's not entirely here nor there, except that if they wanted to play her up as an innocuous number, casting someone relatively well known by genre viewers is probably not the way to go. There's a phenomenon in TV crime dramas and so on that TV tropes calls "Narrowed It Down To The One I Recognize." For those who are familiar with his body of work, it likely worked in favor of (or to the detriment of?) Enrico Colantoni in the first appearance of Elias. And so on and so forth. So, yes, when we see Amy Acker show up, we know her character is likely to be more significant than a one-off number.

At any rate. We start out at 10:30 or so at night, Carter still at her desk apparently finishing paperwork (we still want to know how Captain Renard on Grimm keeps his desk so goddamn clean, paperwork is the constant bugbear of all police jobs both in and out of television) when she gets a phone call from Finch. He has an emergency he needs her to take care of. Her comment about dinner plans likely is more snark and exasperation at them constantly in need of favors than it is actual complaint about interrupted dinner plans, unless she's going to dinner with a fellow officer who might be up at that hour. Unfortunately for the alleged dinner plans and Reese, Donnelly also needs Carter, and he won't take no for an answer since FBI trumps both police work and dinner plans, and he doesn't know about Finch. Nor would he likely be concerned with the needs of a pair of extralegal vigilantes, for that matter, even if he did. Poor Carter must be really exasperated by now, getting yanked all over the place with people making quasi- to actually-legitimate demands on her time. For good causes, but still, aggravating. A couple of Machine shots and what looks like a trip to another building later, both indicated by the change in timestamp on the Machine's clips and by the architecture of the next room, Donnelly and Carter walk into the most political campaign-y-est situation room I have ever seen outside of an actual political campaign. Seriously, are the FBI running for office now or something? The FBI, not an agent of the FBI. It looks like it's happening in the back of some kind of theatre between the high ceilings, the tall blue curtains, the ladder. The sheer size of the situation room, the brief glimpse of the pillar and moulding we get as Carter and Donnelly come in. I have no idea why they seem to be in an auditorium. Maybe Donnelly co-opted that too? He explains how he lives by the precept that every criminal, no matter how clever, will inevitably make a mistake. Most law enforcement officials whose job involves actively hunting down dangerous criminals (as opposed to the ones whose job involves patrolling or preventing) tend to believe this. Because by and large, it's true. As with casinos, even flipping coins, no run of luck lasts forever, and no criminal enterprise is without some element of luck. Along with the fact that no one goes forever without making a mistake, and there are myriad reasons why this is true. Which is why the smart criminals, or at least the ones who remain mysteries never to be solved, stop on their own. Donnelly explains that the Man in the Suit has made his mistake, but we don't see what it is because the Machine backs us up to give us context on this. Yay?

It's the 15th of May, a little over 36 hours earlier, and Reese is in a chipper mood. Chipper enough to snark about corrupting Fusco when Finch asks him where he's been. At which point Finch snarks back about Fusco not really needing any help there, and a little trollface creeps over the horizon. Because while I don't ship these two, many many other people do, and this is one of those adorable bonding moments when I can see why. Anyway, Reese's nudging Fusco up the HR ladder will have to wait on this new number, Caroline... Turing? Turing? Fucking seriously? Okay, for the five of you who don't know and haven't looked it up yet, Alan Turing was a computer scientist and mathematician/logician who is most famous for discussing and testing the question of whether or not machines could be made truly artificially intelligent; the phrase Turing test for exactly that circumstance was coined due to his work. While I imagine there are people who legitimately have the last name Turing and have no connection to the scientist, on a show where the third main character is an artificially intelligent surveillance machine the idea that this is a coincidence not only strains credulity, it snaps it like a twig and jumps up and down on the pieces for good measure. So, it's an alias. Finch and Reese being unaware that they're in a show and things like this are contrivances, they're assuming she's one of those legitimate Turings with no connection to the scientist. We, on the other hand, can only hope the show writers give us enough clues to figure out who the fuck she is and what the fuck she's up to. Unless you're one of those who doesn't treat stories like this as a puzzle to be solved as fast as possible! I'm told they exist. I am not one of them.

So, Caroline Turing. Finch and Reese go over the details of the case, while Reese seems to still be in a hilarious mood and comments that she's a lot prettier than Fusco. Oh Reese. Apparently she's also discreet, which is to say that her online profile is carefully managed, in Finch's words. Meaning information about her is more difficult than usual to track down, further underscoring the 'what the fuck is she up to' aspect. She's a psychologist! Oh goodie. The briefing continues over the surveillance we saw in the opening credits, she apparently is one of those psychologists who caters to the high-end, secretive sort of clientele. Which explains the discretion; there are only so many secrets you can keep before you start becoming hyperaware of how easy it is to dig into other people's secrets. So, Finch will keep digging since he's most likely only done the same cursory examination he does for all numbers, and which usually nets him more but not this time, and Reese will follow her, get close to her, try and find out what the threat is. All fairly standard so far. Except for the fact that the woman named after a computer scientist who explored the potential psychology of machines is... a psychologist. Heh. There is no way that's a coincidence. Reese clones her phone while she's getting a coffee and pastry, and reminds Finch within the context of the briefing that Turing could be the threat. Possibly he's running off of how she seems to have something to hide. I'd tend to agree with Reese, and not just because Turing. But, hell, no one knows at this stage, insufficient data out of clay error. Please reboot universe. So, okay. Fusco calls up while Reese is surveilling Turing and therefore distracted, says he's going to meet with a bunch of the 'bigwigs' in HR. Reese gives the verbal equivalent of patting Fusco on the head and giving him a cookie. Which is funny when he takes that attitude while talking to Finch in the privacy of their library lair, and less so when he's actually treating Fusco that way. Reese. Be nicer to your allies. He's not going to join in on the meeting though, sounding positively cavalier about that and the fact that he has no intention of taking HR down. And while I have to wonder just how Fusco thinks Reese and Finch are going to take HR down (or if he's just trusting that they have resources he doesn't and can accomplish a complete sweep and clear by some covert means), his rapid speech and emphatic phrasing show he's not very happy with being left dangling in HR right now. Implying that something big is happening, or at least, he's feeling particularly vulnerable today. Carter might have something to do with that! He claims she keeps giving him the stink eye. Reese, now might be a good time to tell your assets about each other. No? No. Come here so I can slap you. No, they'll do this on Reese's schedule, which means not wrapping up HR yet. And in the meantime in addition to HR, would Fusco look into Caroline Turing please and thank you. Only less of a polite request and more of a command. Reese, you are really goddamn lucky Fusco hasn't decided to hell with you and he'll turn you in even if it means torching his career. I'm just saying. This is no way to treat an asset. Carter is, indeed, giving Fusco the stink eye, too. Oh everyone.

And now, a word from our current client. Who doesn't seem to think Ms. Turing is a very good psychologist, she's not helping him at all and he believes she's not paying attention to him. That's at least some sort of indicator that she might not be a psychologist, although it might also be an indicator that either she's just a bad psychologist or he's a bad client who isn't ready to receive help just yet. That's the annoying part about picking a psychologist for a cover; there's no distinct markers here of whether or not she's competent, and if competent, where that ability came from. If she'd picked stockbroker or something as a cover we could likely tell from a couple line references whether or not she was any good or knew what she was doing. Alas, it's hard to tell here whether she's good, bad, bad with this client but good with others, distracted because she's received a threat on her life but otherwise good, etc. Her client claims that the things he's told her could get them both in a lot of trouble. Which seems to be the kind of trouble Reese specialized in, or a close cousin. That doesn't sound good. In fact, it sounds like it could be a threat. From a structural point of view it's almost too early to be the threat, at least going by the expected structure of this episode (secret identities, twists and ruses within ruses), so we'll discount him for now.

Fusco comes into a restaurant with HR Goon Simmons, one of those restaurants that must be mobbed up in some way because it's got the setup of these guys get lunch and it's closed to everyone else as far as they're concerned. It's a steakhouse that starts with Be-, but we don't get more than that. Simmons introduces Fusco; apparently we have a City Councilman, a Detective, and another untitled person at the table. Perhaps the untitled person is the money? Or a money. Actually, Simmons could have said 'Ben Lewis,' meaning this is his steakhouse? It's all speculation and largely irrelevant, the point is that HR has a fair number of highly placed people and Fusco is ass deep in alligators without backup. Lovely. Reese, about that slapping. They proceed to troll Fusco by commenting on what a dirty cop he is and how the DA and city council will never tolerate malfeasance and the world 'troll' was invented exactly for shitheads like this. They even go so far as to try to make Fusco justify himself before laughing. Fusco, an HR cop brought you here to a meeting of bigwigs, what did you think was going to happen? Though it's always possible that it's a major sting operation, Fusco doesn't seem like he's in a position to be a major target of a sting, so. Then again, that's not the easiest set of conclusions to draw under pressure. Down to business at the dirty cop table, then, apparently there's someone rich with a problem that needs taken care of. Method isn't an issue, speed and timeliness is a factor. Simmons has a guy and Fusco will run interference with homicide, which gets him an "I will?" look from Fusco. A subtle one on account of having been shoved into this role before, but possibly given that he was brought to the table because of trying to climb up the HR ladder he expected to be given the assignment himself. I know I expected that for a second. Fusco would like details if he's to be covering for someone, yes? No. Simmons shuts that down hard, and asks his question about whether or not the client is trustworthy. HR Councilman or HR Lewis says that his money is trustworthy, as though that's the important thing, and hands over a down payment envelope for expenses. He also says the money's already in escrow, which I dearly hope for their sake (not very hard, but still) is figurative. Because if he means actual escrow involving actual banks that's a hell of a paper trail to be leaving. While Simmons goes over the file Fusco sneaks a peek at the mark. Well hello, Caroline Turing. Where's the damn jar with our surprised face. It is nice to know, though, that we're not running two lines at once.

Over with Reese, Turing displays some signs of competence or at least astute observational skills by referring her current client to another therapist. Which he doesn't appear to like even as she clarifies and emphasizes that it's not a reflection on him, it's a statement on her, she's admitting failure on the basis that he isn't trusting her the way he needs to in order to be helped. Lacking any context, we have to assume face value on this, because the ways in which this could be twisted by him, her, or the writers are myriad and varied. The client is, as Finch calls him, clingy, but he does eventually accept her decision. While this is wrapping up Fusco calls Reese with the news that he's met the inner council and they're involved in murder for hire, specifically against Turing at this point. There's a forty eight hour time limit on the hit. Ruh-roh, Reese!

When we come back Reese is in a maintenance type uniform installing a thermostat. Well, to be more accurate, a thermostat shell on a motion detector camera; that's not a bad cover, really. Thermostats tend to be at average eye level so people can program them, and they blend right into the background as people are very used to seeing them and don't pay attention until they decide they want to use them. That office and hall are most likely climate controlled anyway, and at the temperature most clients and renters in the building would expect. So. Finch guesses that one of her clients hired HR to keep her quiet. It's a reasonable guess? She doesn't seem to be connected to HR any other way. Except for that whole Turing obvious alias thing that we as the audience know is an alias but they don't, so. Finch suggests Reese work through some of his issues by way of getting close to Turing! Reese gets a look of "who me?" as he says "Issues?" Yes, you, Reese. Don't make me pick up your encyclopedic set of issues and beat you with them. Besides, on that we cut to Turing in her practice talking to another client who, predictably, turns out to be Reese when we pan over to him. I honestly don't know why they bother cutting it like this except the perfunctory surprise shot seems to be obligatory as well. Today his name is John Rooney, and he's a consultant. Imagine the finger quotes around that. I write about these kinds of consultants sometimes! He tries to dismiss what he does as not important, which she seizes on. Finch is, of course, outside in the car listening, and John is doing a decent job of pretending to be restless without making it obvious that he's pretending. He doesn't need to pretend to be paranoid. Vigilant. When they actually are out to get you we call it vigilance. Or CONSTANT! VIGILANCE! if you're a Harry Potter fan. He asks her if he can rely on her discretion, and she uses some fancy language to reassure him while giving him an evaluating look. Given what we now know she has to know who he is and what he's trying to do at this point, so I'm assuming that evaluating look is trying to decide how much Reese knows and whether or not her cover is blown and he's biding his time figuring out more things about her. She tries to ask what brings him to therapy, at which point he asks her to close the blinds. Heh. See, Reese, why are you so comfortable in an apartment with those big fucking windows? Oh, never mind. Maybe he isn't, either.

So. She responds to his deflection with a stall of her own, asking him if he wants something to drink. Given what we now know about Ms. "Turing" it's also possible that she's deliberately giving him the opportunity to read through her client list which is, as Finch notes, only initials. Because she is both smart and careful. We don't get any more of Finch's thoughts on this dead end, though, because Carter is calling with news! The hit was paid for through a series of transfers via a shell corporation called the East Borough Construction Group. Because nothing says mobbed up like a construction company. Apparently the escrow account mentioned earlier was not only literal but also an actual factual New York bank, so cue the headdesking once more. Guys. If you're going to commit massive numbers of criminal acts, you might want to try paying for it in ways that are less fucking traceable. On the other hand I can't complain too much because this is what makes it easy for our heroes to track them down. So, yes, please. Do go on enabling the Machine to track your activities better. I'll sit back here with the popcorn and a bottle of aspirin. Finch, just to make me truly earn that bottle of aspirin, signs off abruptly with Detective Carter leaving her annoyed and tired and facing a conspiracy of cops who are now involved in murder for hire. Just what she wanted for her birthday.

Therapist Turing (heh. heh heh heh.) is trying to get at Reese by asking what the goal of his turn in therapy is. Well, Ms. Turing, the goal is to get closer to you. Only he can't say that so he throws up some chaff by way of jittering, tapping his fingers, looking around. Playing up how edgy he must feel, and it is playing up, because Reese is very rarely comfortable with the security of other people's homes and offices. He's just also much better at compensating for it than he's pretending to be right now. She calls him on the jitters and tries to get at why he's nervous, so he calls her on having a panic button installed. Lampshades for everyone! Mostly on Reese's by now nearly innate behaviors, along with his military background. Her descriptions aren't in-depth but they are accurate, and perceptive, showing that even if she's not actually a shrink she is very good at reading people. But not so good at helping them, given her previous client? It's hard to say at this point, along with not knowing what she's after other than that she has an acutely on-point sense of humor. Finch continues to play backseat reverse interrogator. I like to think that that pained smile from Reese is as much for Finch's constant litany of "be careful" as it is for what he's pretending to be right now. Finch, Reese is a very good spy, that's why you hired him, remember? I'm sure he knows how to do his job.

Unlike you, who can't do Reese's job to save your life. Which, okay, and Reese can't do his, we know this, but there's some very good, subtle juxtaposition here. First off, Finch yammering in Reese's ear about things Reese already knows, pretending to skill at spycraft, then with Finch being blatantly surveilled and photographed while having no clue that someone's tailing him and photographing him. It's Alicia! Hi Alicia! You has good spycraft. Not only can you has your mark, you can also has his lair. God, Finch, would you please acknowledge your lack of training and take some fucking tips or lessons from Reese? Please? No? No. You're lucky you're good at what you do, which in this case nets Team Machine the source of the money in the escrow account. Apparently it comes from many offshore accounts, so at least someone is proficient at covering their tracks. The balance in the account is five mil, which makes the five hundred thousand either a ten percent down payment via writers who can't do math, or a nearly ten percent down payment. Either way, someone really wants her dead. Finch says he's bringing in some help to figure out why. ZOE. WE LOVE YOU ZOE. TALK SENSE INTO THE BOYS ZOE. Notably, and as he always does, Reese gets this relaxed grin when she comes up next to him. If anyone else came up next to him like that he'd be at least still on his guard, if not even more so. Zoe being a special case, he relaxes enough for a genuine smile. Yes, we ship it, we have the trollfaces and we make no bones about our prejudices, but the smile is there. (If not necessarily proof of the ship; we don't demand other people ship it as well!) He doesn't even react with anything but more amusement when she lampshades how broken Reese is, which is pretty significant. Normally when people who aren't Finch call attention to his weak points he buttons up. He does, still, change the subject to Caroline Turing, which Zoe follows because she's not there to pry, she's there to help, and the comment was more along the lines of gentle teasing. So, down to business. Zoe explains that men usually like to talk to female shrinks and offers a theory as to why. Her skills thereby established for the benefit of the viewing audience who haven't yet met her, she also has gone through the client list (presumably provided by Finch) and narrowed it down to three possible suspects. 1) A lawyer with a temper who's supposedly out of town but the way Zoe tells it implies she has reason to think otherwise. Apart from him making a mysterious return trip for therapy, I mean. 2) A banker who's being investigated. 3) A public official who is sleeping with his intern. She frames the last two in terms of rumors, but given her history and profession it's likely this is only because she doesn't have proof she can use for or against them yet. Reese hands her the lampshade about keeping other people's secrets, which Zoe dutifully balances on the tightrope of, payoff if you work it right, fall off if you don't. Ahh, we know this tightrope well.

The Machine keeps us with Ms. Turing as HR's Simmons rattles off the details of her routine to a thug, which provides us some voice-over narration for what happens next. Or at least, what's supposed to happen next. In HR's ideal world, the hitpeople take the window of opportunity of a construction area on Turing's walk home where there are few lights and no cameras, kill her, collect the money. (And by the way, no woman that I know of would willingly walk that alley in New York City if she had any alternative, which Turing as a high-paid shrink surely would, so there's another suspicious aspect to her.) What actually happens is that Reese steps in and attempts to escort her to a safe place. She assumes that this is more of his hypervigilance at work and him being overprotective and tries to assure him that she'll be okay. Nobody is buying this. Well, Reese might be buying that she believes that, but we aren't, and he definitely isn't buying that she's safe. Which is a good thing because here comes HR's semi-competent assassin! And there go said semi-competent assassin's kneecaps. So, yeah. Reese doesn't even pretend to be surprised or gentle as he marches Turing off. She's flustered, and of course her first instinct is to go towards the cop car she sees, which Reese prevents and briefly explains to her that the people trying to kill her are cops. Oh goody. Now HR's Simmons wants to know if it's done and then wants to know why five dirty cops can't take care of one petite shrink. Clearly he's never seen Firefly. The HR cops' excuse is that some guy in a suit came out of nowhere and saved her, and kneecapped one of them. Simmons can already guess who this is, and now that they've both gotten the attention of the man in the suit and gotten themselves witnessed by the mark, he's really pissed. The usual ultimatum applies, do the job or you are the job; we've seen a lot of that in this show and I wouldn't be surprised to see some more of it later. In Reese's case it was more do the job and he is the job.

Hey, speaking of the job, here he comes with her in tow. Into what looks like a very upscale hotel, which is at least decent for having extra security around. The only room available is the honeymoon suite. The, singular? That must be one hell of an upscale suite. Not that Reese cares what it costs, he has Finch's black card bankrolling him. Which is good, because he's also going to need a very confidential and therefore very expensive private doctor. Ms. Turing looks back at the hand he didn't use to pass over the credit card and notices the blood trailing down the outside of his hand. Oops. He's keeping it close to his body and between the two of them, which works well for keeping it hidden both physically and in terms of what's drawing attention and eyetracks outside of them, but she's still going to notice. Just as Reese is going to notice Simmons lurking outside! Hi Simmons. Reese notifies Finch of his intent to lay low until morning, at which point Finch assures him that he's working on an escape route. Since Reese is essentially talking to thin air Ms. Turing voices her concern that Reese is talking to voices in his head. You know, as much as it used to be true that someone talking nonsense, or sense, to himself was likely someone hearing voices and going some form of crazy, hands-free phone devices are so common now that you'd think she'd check for an ear-widget of some kind. I'm just saying. The fact that she doesn't is likely down to her being flustered, or at least putting on a good show of being flustered. Because if she's cogent enough to notice Reese bleeding thickly but not say anything, she's cogent enough to notice that he's wearing some sort of cleverly hidden earpiece. Or at least to assume it; she's on the wrong side of his body most of the time, and certainly when he's talking and therefore when she knows to look. She may also be fishing for enough information to determine whether Reese is talking to Finch or to the Machine directly, since presumably she doesn't have full data on the extent of the boys' contact with the Machine, and we do know she's a bit, um. Target-fixed. Like water is a bit wet. Anyway. Reese assures her that there's a person on the other end of the line, a very resourceful friend. Good description.

And now we're circling back to the beginning, with the call to arms to Carter and Donnelly pulling her into the backstage room. Heh. Backstage room in so many more ways than one. We don't spend too long with this since we saw it already, and it's back over to Reese and Ms. Turing in the honeymoon suite. She's bringing him a towel for his arm, which doesn't look too bad since the blood trail only goes halfway up his forearm. Really, with a white shirt like that, we'd notice if it went any further. She goes through the usual stages of realizing someone's trying to kill her, denial, disbelief, the gradual freakout. Reese responds in his usual manner, which is quietly and brutally practical. They need to find out which of her clients hired the hit squad, etc. Turing continues to quietly freak out. Reese has been reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, evidently; he prescribes chocolate. Which Turing attempts to attach some kind of scientific high-tech jury rigging justification to? No, they just taste good. Oh Reese. I love you. Especially because there's an underlying women-and-chocolate thing here, likely both on a meta level and a character level. The scientific justification, too, because there is one that neither of them are describing possibly for lack of knowing it, is that that's likely to be high-end gourmet chocolate with real ingredients and possibly dark. Dark chocolate being good for you with anti-oxidants and creating an endorphin response. So, yes? Just not the one she was grasping for. Her last bout of freaking out comes with a demand to know who he is; he drops down to her level so as to be less threatening when he tells her he helps people. Just like her, which is a nicely done and gentle way to build rapport, along with minimizing and rendering harmless what happened by describing his way of helping people as being "more hands on." Really, for someone who's as bad at profiling and picking out tells in people, reading people at a glance, as he is, he's awfully good at being non-threatening and tender when he wants to be. At a guess, this comes both from being with Jess and from doing the opposite of Things That Make One Terrifying.

And we're back to Donnelly's war room! He has a subordinate read Carter in on what's going on, which is basically that they heard a reports of shots fired and actually caught Reese on camera this time. They're assuming Ms. Turing is a hostage. That's adorable. Not the most unreasonable of assumptions, either, given the body language as Reese marches her off to safety, but still a hell of an assumption to make. And adorable. Subordinate figures they're somewhere within a six block radius, Donnelly mutters something about that being the most heavily surveilled six block radius in the world. Um, I can list about five other locations that are probably more heavily surveilled. Most aren't in this country. But sure, you think that if it makes you feel better. Which it seems to, since he's flexing his federal muscles by muttering about federal manhunts. Oh, hey, look, Fusco's there, too. This is not making Carter feel any better about him maybe being a dirty cop or at least out to get Reese. Which is not making me want to slap Reese any less. This is wickedly inefficient, Reese. Bad spy, no network. They snipe at each other for a bit, Carter and Fusco, before we go back to Reese.

Who is checking in on Ms. Turing. Aww, he's wrapped her in his coat, universal visual sign of This Woman Is Under My Protection (And There May Be Feelings Involved). Not romantic feelings, necessarily, but we've seen that Reese isn't the most objective when it comes to protecting his weekly assignments. Reese looks over the rail as a car pulls up, plainclothes and siren blaring. Hey, it's HR! Or at least he assumes it's HR, I doubt even he can make details of faces at that distance, but it's a safe working assumption because even if it is the more dutiful cops (who would be more restrained in hunting him) it's still cops who would be obligated to catch and arrest him, leaving Ms. Turing vulnerable. So, he needs an exit route and strategy, which Finch is coming up with. That seems to involve a billionaire and a helicopter? Ah-hah, the billionaire's in jail and won't be needing his helicopter. We get a glimpse of how tense they are by the jokes they crack, really morbid ones about short falls should Reese not remember how to pilot a helicopter. At least Ms. Turing can't hear Finch's side of the conversation. That's not reassuring, guys.

Nearly all the footage we're looking at in Donnelly's war room is street level, which is not doing anything to convince me that this is the most heavily surveilled six blocks in the world. He does, however, catch them going into the hotel. The NYPD detective whose body language is still screaming I'm-a-subordinate attempts to command an all teams move in. Which doesn't work because Donnelly is obsessed and in charge, and sends in his teams instead. This might not necessarily be a bad thing, given that the detective missed the footage of Reese and Turing entering the building. I'm not entirely sure, though, whether that's meant to indicate incompetence on the part of the detective, whether it ties in with his subordinate body language, or whether it's simply a convenience of the writing and directing in order to give Donnelly everything to do in this scene. I'm not sure which of these options I like better; it'd be nice if some cops other than our protagonists and HR were at least decent at what they do. In both the competence and the on the side of the angels senses. Hey, speaking of HR, looks like the cops got there first! Well, HR did. Clearing the room, which naturally Reese and Ms. Turing have already left, complete with requisite hallway near-miss scene. She keeps psychoanalyzing him, too, as they head up the stairs to the helicopter. Honey, now is not the time. We get a nice justification for it, though; talking about his issues distracts her. That's valid, and I know it would distract me. He offers a form's sake denial that he has issues, more in tone than in specific words, which she takes as affirmation that his dedication to saving her is making up for someone he didn't save. Let us not read from the book of Reese's Issues: everything to do with Jess. That would take forever. Besides, Reese is too busy listening to that helicopter land on the roof, thereby preventing his escape via stolen helicopter. Damn. And now they need another exit as federal men with federal boots and rifles come marching down the stairs. This would be a nice moment to panic, but, no.

Donnelly reminds his team that he wants Reese alive. Yes, we knew that, thank you. He's also just now pulling up the internal hotel security feeds which means no, this is not the most surveilled block in the world, you are fired. If all you had was street level cameras before you are fired for your ignorance and arrogance. Fired from a cannon. Bad Feeb, no cheap suit. Everyone's doing quite a bit of running, which makes for faces that go by too fast for us to tell if it's decent or crappy ADR. Reese still needs a new exit route. Finch is working on it. Rather quickly, too, given how little time passes between Reese nagging Finch and Finch coming up with a service elevator. Service elevator to sub basement to service tunnel to Finch as getaway driver. It's not actually a bad plan as far as that goes, but since it's a plan being slapped together on the fly it's already got some holes in it, if only the one where it's not as carefully thought out as it could be. Finch must be leaving the keyboard immediately after he says that, because first the shot is of him leaning over the keyboard from a standing position, then Reese is clearing the hall of threats (visually, not with a rifle), then Finch is hurrying down the walk as fast as his poor broken body will carry him. Which, tonight, is pretty fast. Not at a run, but a decent clip. And who is watching this lurching gait? Hi Alicia! This is clearly the episode of everyone watching everyone, which only adds to the meta-implications of we should be suspicious of Ms. Turing. I will admit here that I could be biased because of knowing who she is and having seen all of season two, except I don't think I'm basing that conclusion off of aft-knowledge. More a knowledge of how plot works.

At any rate. Hey, speaking of people watching and being watched, Finch is texting Carter from an anonymous number asking for her help with Reese. We're not even going to go into how he seems to know she's in on the chase. In part, I suspect, because narrative says so, but it also wouldn't be a stretch for Finch to have heard the comment about FBI and interpreted that to mean Donnelly, which would explain why Carter never either showed up or called and imply that he's dragged Carter in on the manhunt. It would be nice if that chain of thought was spelled out in a couple sentences of dialogue, but arguably there isn't time for it. We're so used to Finch knowing everything anyways, where all the pieces are and where they're moving to, that this isn't a stretch of anyone's credulity. So, Carter is now keeping an eye on Reese and communicating with him through text message, telling him when to stop and hide and when to go. It's super-effective! Seriously, an eye in the sky is a massive asset when you're fleeing or infiltrating or otherwise attempting to covertly move through a space. But we're missing a complication, so here's HR to brighten our day. The Feds are being a pain in their ass by stomping all over their search for Turing, which Simmons distinguishes as being separate from HR's objective. The Feebs want "the shooter", i.e. the man in the suit, and they want Turing. But they're not too concerned about the man in the suit either, so what the hell, take them both out. They've got a man on the inside of the federal investigation too, no points for guessing who that is. They're going to bring explosives to a gun fight, it seems, make it look like Reese is the special forces crazy man the Feds are halfway thinking he is, that he blew them both up rather than risk losing his hostage. That's a dumb plan, you guys. I mean, I'm not saying it's not going to work, but it's still a fucking dumb plan.

Back in the land of trying to figure out what the fuck is going on instead of blow people up or shoot them, Zoe and Finch are discussing who's making threats on the shrink. Apparently the lawyer with the temper really was out of town! So I guess that means we don't have to look for the other things he's lying about, because sneaking back into town for therapy is not usually what people do. On the other hand, it means we do have to look at who was pretending to be him. Oh good, Zoe's on it. It takes less than a minute for her to reduce him to a nervous, compliant pile of petty criminal putty, because she's Zoe and not only does she radiate confidence and badassery, she's also very good at picking people who will roll at the slightest whiff of badassery. Like this guy! He doesn't know who told him to impersonate a prosecutor but they wanted him to threaten a shrink (i.e. Ms. Turing) under the prosecutor's name. They were blackmailing him through email, which is nice and anonymous when you're as technically unadept as this guy. And I'm guessing that by "they knew everything" he means everything about his various misdemeanors, because I can't imagine that he gets up to much else noteworthy. His questionable intelligence aside, he doesn't seem to have indulged outside of petty criminal acts. If he had, he was smart enough not to get caught by either the police or Zoe's somewhat wider net, which means he wouldn't have been a likely target for the blackmailer(s). For something like this, the clever blackmailer would prefer a more biddable, less intelligent or discerning target. All of which amounts to, no one is any closer to answers than they started out. Well, Alicia might be! She's breaking into the library, quite efficiently, too. Breaking in, taking pictures, not bothering to try and crack passwords, just getting an idea for what's what about the place. Possibly doing a little amateur profiling in her head, by that expression. I know I would be.

Thanks to some friendly intervention Reese and Ms. Turing make it to the elevator and check in with Finch, which means it's time for Finch to check in with Zoe! Who is getting all kinds of hinky feelings about all of this and is feeling inclined to follow the money. Not a bad solution given that the money is getting increasingly good at covering its tracks. Not just all kinds of overseas shell accounts providing the actual payment to HR, but now an adequately disguised patsy? Barely adequately disguised, I should say. These surface disguises would be enough to fool a perfunctory scan, but not the kind of in-depth digging our heroes are doing. Which raises a whole bunch of questions about how, if these villains are so smart, are they being so dumb? Layers within layers. The overlying theme of the show! Carter, from her vantage point of above all the layers or at least all the ones taking place in the hotel, alerts them to HR's presence two floors down. Reese stops the elevator just in time for a quick change of plans and a brief lampshade on just how many guys are out there wanting to kill the two of them for one reason or another. Really, it's an irrelevant question which of the two of them the guys closest are trying to kill right now. The point is, they're trying to kill you. This is a distinction Reese has learned not to make, but Ms. Turing, not so much it seems. Reese gives her instructions on how to jury-rig the elevator so they can bypass the floor full of HR goons and in the process reminds me of every game I ever used cheat codes on, and Simmons directs HR to set the charges in the stairwell. Sure, why not. Ms. Turing attempts to apologize to Reese for diagnosing him as paranoid, to which Reese responds with the only possible response we would accept: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not trying to get you. He acknowledges the cliche with a half-grin, too. Albeit a strained, homicidal half-grin. It can't help that he's been on the other end of that paranoia oh so many times. Hey, speaking of people trying to kill him, HR can hear her talking through the floor and now know exactly where to set charges, and Donnelly's found him through the security cameras and is setting up FBI teams at the floor above. If he plays his cards right they could run right into each other, creating a HUGE mess. We will now proceed to have the ramp-up montage of boots on stairwell, rapid changes of camera angle and shot, leaders usually in profile but sometimes on dynamic movement, etc. Plus dire pronouncements from Reese about holding them off as long as he can, and the music edging slightly louder. We even have an increase of frame rate in at least one segment of all of this, just so we know it's serious and/or moving quickly. Oh, hey, there's Finch! Shot cuts go faster, Simmons gives us a countdown for sake of drama. Finch is on a tower! What tricks could he have up his sleeve that involve a tower? Why, cellular tricks, of course! We don't get a dramatic commercial cut, just a bunch of people waiting for the go signal. Which doesn't come. And Reese, waiting to be ambushed. Which doesn't happen. Well, now we know what all those appearing overlapping circles meant! All comms and cell phones are down just long enough for Ms. Turing to get the elevator wired properly. Apparently, according to Random FBI Tech #19 (Yes, I had to.) Homeland Security had the cell towers wired so they would be able to take control in an emergency. Aheh. Aheheheh. That just means that someone else can take control of all of them during a personal emergency. Hi, Finch. Good to see you, too.

As the tech is informing us that only whitelisted numbers can use the cell towers, which in this case it's a white list of one, Fusco is sneaking off in a way that could only be more suspicious if he were muttering "sneak sneak sneak" under his breath the whole time. Come on, Fusco. I know you can do better than that. Carter catches him, even if no one else does. Finch gets back on the line for Reese, who is duly relieved to hear his voice. Meanwhile everyone is frothing at having lost communications. But wait! Since the FBI only lost audio and not visual, they can see Simmons acting ten kinds of suspicious on the surveillance cameras. Especially when he does something with a wire cutters in a box and then the feed goes dead. Yeah, now would be a good time to get over there and get even more boots on the ground, Donnelly. Somewhat akin to muddying up the waters so the small fish can escape.

Still with the quick cuts between shots, Carter calls up Reese to tell him that she thinks HR has a man on the inside tracking them and feeding the HR hit squad information, but she's going to take care of it. Complete with the kind of tone that says she's bracing for something and that she's disappointed either herself or Team Machine before and she's not going to do it again. Most likely, in fact, this is a tacit behavioral reference to the episode with Snow's attempt to use her as bait to catch Reese. You know, the one that almost resulted in his death? For all that Reese has done some stupid shit, that's the kind of thing that would stick in Carter's mind as something she needs to atone for or do better on. We only get time for one brief look at Reese being dubious before we're following Carter into what appears to be the men's room, going by Fusco's feet and voice behind that one bathroom stall. Heh. He's also talking about smuggling someone out and exit strategies and routes, and we can guess what's coming here. Carter is very efficient! And full of conviction. Fusco is full of indignation and a bit of panic considering he's got a gun pointed at his head. She accuses Fusco of working with HR, to which he replies that he's working undercover in HR. Only he doesn't have paperwork to back it up because he's working with Team Machine. And now we take a five to go pound the wall with our faces some more because Jesus Bleeding Hitman Christ, Reese, this is what happens when you maintain too much separation between assets. Friendly fire happens. The music swells as Carter's determination and Fusco's prevarication force a conflict, only his answer of "the guy in the suit" isn't what Carter was expecting. It gets her to blink long enough for Fusco to get some more words out, trying to explain Reese and Finch's operation to her while from her perspective this all sounds sickeningly familiar. We also get a slight perspective/dominance flip here, where the camera focuses on Fusco and he pushes forward as Carter retreats with her head turned away. She's trying to adjust her world view but has lost some measure of control over the situation with that revelation, and while Fusco's not actively trying to take control over her per se, he is attempting to control the situation inasmuch as it won't get him shot. Which is likely why, as Carter turns and leans on the sink, the somewhat threatening blocking and camera work on Fusco doesn't continue. She tells him to describe the other guy, Fusco does a decent job of describing Finch, enough for her to recognize him. As she's realizing this the man in question calls her, distracting her with her irritation at him and Reese and then with reminding her that Reese is still in trouble. Well, that'll get her to focus on the job at hand rather than yelling at them, but she's a big girl, she can multi-task, and one or both of them is in for a nasty amount of rebuke later. Still. Priorities! If Fusco isn't the mole, who is? Well, helpfully, Fusco has what he thinks (or at least advertises considering Carter had a gun on him until a minute or less ago) is a complete rolodex of HR in his head! And apparently he's willing to take them all down! Yay! After rescuing Reese, of course.

Dynamic entry time, since everything about these last few minutes must be dynamic. Which means we cut back to Reese pointing a gun at the camera and moving slowly out of the elevator, followed by a long continuous pan as he fills her in on the next couple steps. With short sentences, because the audience already knows this information and Reese is a terse bastard. But ho, what's this? It's HR's car! Or rather, as far as Reese is concerned, a car parked where it shouldn't be with guns in it. Not that he knew that last part until he broke in, but he knew it was a car parked where it shouldn't be, which makes it even more fair game than he usually sees parked cars as. Seriously, the man has very little regard for other people's personal property when he has a mighty need for weapons and/or escapes. Guns and explosives. Hmm. It's heading on towards dawn as the Machine shows us with time lapse photography and timestamps on camera feeds, and Finch pulls up at the meeting point. Reese sends Ms. Turing on ahead, telling her he's going to hold them off, which at least explains why he's loading up on guns and explosives. It's difficult to do that and be an effective bodyguard at the same time, not impossible, but difficult, because when you load up on guns like that you're effectively upping the chances of imminent violence and bullets flying, neither of which are very healthy for people who need bodyguards. Like, oh, hey, look. HR. Bullets do indeed fly as Reese takes cover and returns fire on what looks like three HR mooks, letting Finch know he'll be a little late to the rendezvous. Heh. The music swells, Finch fidgets in the car as he waits for Ms. Turing, there's a person in a dark coat at the door and... hey! That's not Turing!

Alicia Corwin's efforts have borne fruit, it seems. She greets him by name, or in this case, most used alias, much to his evident shock. He wasn't prepared for this, though he's at least put together enough to pretend not to know who she is. We know from many, many flashbacks that he knows exactly who she is, and she knows from either a good memory or her investigations or most likely both exactly who he is, so let's all be knowledgeable together, shall we? At gun point, because we also do not trust each other. She refers not to the overall guise of Harold Finch, but to Nathan Ingram introducing him as an IT guy, largely as a matter of audience convenience I think. Harold's had many aliases over the years and one five second meeting during a conference that was about several other important things wouldn't be enough to seal an identity in the average person's mind. On the other hand, Alicia isn't an average person, really. And given her next comment about Nathan's talent for understatement she's at least learned some of the scope of Harold's real function within the partnership, which means she may well have uncovered that and other cover identities. It's difficult to say exactly what she knows at this point, apart from more than enough to want to point a gun at Finch. Who is duly wary. But whereas he's wary of the gun pointed at him, Alicia seems terrified of the Machine, referring to it as 'God' and stating her goal as shutting it down, which runs counter to the entire government organization (or ostensibly government organization, let's not kid ourselves here) she used to work for. This isn't going to end well.

The firefight seems to be progressing about as well as it could, though! Which is to say Reese isn't dead yet. Standard shaky-cam angles and requisite acrobatics carry us through this portion of the scene, which serves only to establish that Reese is pinned down and running out of ammo. In a perfect situation for the cavalry to come in! Also for Reese not to have the luxury of being able to question why the cavalry is working in unison when he took all that trouble to keep Fusco and Carter in the dark about each other. Oops. They lay down some good suppression fire, good in several ways because it also keeps the HR cops from realizing that one of their own has turned on them, let alone being able to identify Carter for future retribution. Into the car with Reese and this variant on his ass-kicking music, and out of the parking lot with all of them.

Back in the car Alicia refers to Nathan's death and says the Machine killed him. Given what we know now it's a safe bet that she didn't know exactly who carried out the order or very much surrounding it, but given who she works for she's also not exactly risking the bank on betting that the government had Nathan killed. Or a rival organization. Safe money's on the government, though; she's worked in that department and she knows exactly what it's capable of. She says the Machine, its use and uses, were eating away at Nathan, and that she thought he was fighting with himself over the ethical implications of their project. But he was fighting with Finch, a truth that has to at least cut a little because we've seen their debates and arguments in flashbacks, whether or not they have any right to the knowledge the Machine confers, what responsibilities might come with that knowledge. And here's where she takes a turn for the more nakedly fearful as she says she can feel it watching her, that she's been running from it. Finch's voice is stern and firm but his words aren't overly accusing. She hasn't been running from the Machine, she's been running from people, and here we see a line rarely drawn in science fiction involving AIs. The distinction that it's not the Machine itself, nor its purpose, that is inherently harmful. It's the people who are running it, who are maybe not controlling it but certainly directing it and taking advantage of its functions. Those are the evil ones. Who, incidentally, both Alicia and Finch once trusted and worked for. She agrees with this, tearful but still clear which is in and of itself an indication of long-standing trauma, and she says he's lucky she found him first. First? In general first or a specific first? Details, woman!

No, no details, only Zoe breaking into Turing's office. Though since we see her from the back and hands at first it takes a second to determine that this is Zoe and not Turing or someone else. Another very subtle way for us to maybe think that Ms. Turing isn't what she appears to be. We have a second to process what Zoe's doing before we go into loud and rapid action, deliberate contrast there partly to shake our mental processes up and partly for the feeling of urgency. Carter and Fusco demand to know why Reese didn't tell them they were working together, and much to my amusement it's Carter taking the traditionally male cop role of driving the car in the crazy chase and Fusco taking the role of bringing up trust issues. And the very valid point of if he doesn't trust them, how are they supposed to trust him as he requires? Reese diverts the issue onto the fact that Fusco once tried to kill him and Carter spent six months chasing him, a fact which doesn't seem to deter or shock either of them. Reese telling Carter to slow down shocks them a bit. Carter either doesn't see the detonator in his hand or it isn't registering, more likely the latter since she is rather busy driving a car in hot pursuit. Of course given the conversation about trust Reese has to say "Trust me" before he blows the HR car. Fusco and Carter look back at him with that "the fuck did you just do??" expression as Reese smiles his best spyssassin alligator smile and says they should all grab a drink together sometime. He's buying. He damn well better be buying, as he takes advantage of their WTFing to get out of the car and wander off. I can only imagine the conversation taking place in that car right now. Probably it involves a lot of swear words and insulting Reese's parentage. Zoe is looking through Ms. Turing's desk right now, because it's not a climactic sequence in an action show if we don't have the juxtaposition of loud explosions and quiet dramatic reveals. Oh look, Turing's pictures are fake. Oh look, her computer's rigged to burn. That doesn't even merit the jar. From there to Alicia metaphorically and verbally shaking Finch by the lapels over what he's gotten himself (and her) into by creating this machine of near-infinite information gathering. In the wrong hands, etc. Finch accuses hers of being the wrong hands by accusing her of using Turing to lure them out so she can grab Finch. But wait! Alicia has no idea what he's talking about! Lots of quick dialogue cuts here, from face to face, which means we're ramping up to something. Apparently to Alicia getting a bullet in the head! From Turing! Hi mysterious not-Turing lady. Finch is visibly frightened and shocked, to the point of shaking, and we cut back and forth between this in the car and Reese and Zoe over the comms. Yes, that's the mysterious Root we ran into around the half season mark. Zoe tells Reese Root put the hit out on herself, that her whole life as Caroline Turing was a blind to lure them out. And since she's not with him right now and she left him rather easily, Reese well deduces that she was after Finch. Who is currently having a breakdown of near-tears proportions in the car. Poor Finch. Root compares the operation to a trust fall, saying she knew they wouldn't let her down. Another way of describing this is saying they're incredibly predictable. Oh boys.

Back over at the assigned meeting place the theme has taken on a decidedly minor/modal tone, if it were a little slower it would be funereal and as it is it's intended to give us a sense of tired resignation as things come to a denouement for the season, and Reese is coming across the body of Alicia Corwin. The FBI is cleaning up HR, or at least as many of them as they can get at, leaving Fusco with a very satisfied smile on his face and an almost puppyish look for Carter. They can be friends now, yes? Well, maybe. Simmons seems to be walking away, though. And Reese is walking up on an empty library office, which we see from overhead to emphasize both his solitude and the lack of Finch as we can see all the monitors are dark at this angle. His whole posture is hunched, confused, he shakes his head side to side in disbelief and disconcert. All he can apparently think of to do is go outside, in a scene that nicely mirrors a couple from the pilot episode where he's about as lost in a crowd as it's possible for the focus character of a shot to be. And in a crowd of New Yorkers intent on their business and looking mostly down or ahead, Reese is looking up, which further stands him out from the crowd. Up at the security camera and therefore the Machine, and delivering a command with aggressive certainty: The Machine got Finch into this mess, so the Machine is going to help him get Finch out of it. The Machine clearly realizes something's going on, with the text about operations being compromised. We get the first of what will turn out to be an iconic shot in the second season, Reese picking up a ringing payphone. Aaand scene.

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