Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Dime in the Jukebox (Person of Interest S2E03 Masquerade)

Look! We have new credits now! How exciting. Many of the graphics are the same as s1 with a different computer overlay to them, or a different order, or both. Usually both. Less with the percentages and more with the random anonymized faces in the crowd, and they've been shortened down a fair bit. Finch's voiceover still gives us all the relevant (hah) information we could want, he designed the Machine for anti-terrorism but it sees everything, he and Reese work together on the so-called irrelevant list, etc. It's also much less about helping other people, this season, and much more about the fact that Finch and Reese have a Mission. I hope you all appreciate the self-restraint it's taking me to keep from making this post nothing but Blues Brothers jokes. Ahem. At any rate, they still have to give Carter and Fusco the hunted by the authorities lines, but the images accompanying them match Finch and Reese's a lot closer, they're more static, less actively hunting or being coerced by the boys, as an indicator of their newfound status within Team Machine.

Our first look at this week's number is a young woman, wealthy, possibly some kind of debutante or other social elite from her body language and wardrobe. Okay then! This should be all kinds of fun for Reese. We begin the case proper with some Machine scans of the city skyline and a phone conversation. One of those ominous ones where someone's going to get dead. None of the voices are familiar to us, so this probably isn't Elias or HR or any of the other usual players, but I'm sure the word choice here is intended to remind us of the micro-to-macro aspects of the show. Loose ends are apparently good for defenestrating? Certainly power-hungry peons are good for defenestrating. Poor random witness. With that, we move along to the library of infinite murderboards, hey Reese, you're in Finch's chair. And remarkably comfortable with what bits of his system Reese has access to in the intervening time. In this instance, he's there because he's working on Root's case, and it's amazing how over the course of a season this has gone from a symbol of Reese fucking with Finch to a symbol of him protecting Finch. Tracing her by the money again, which is about all they ever have to go on, though now at least they have an original name even if she hasn't used it in years. Plus her friend's name. Bear's there too, on a doggie bed, aww!

Finch is much less sanguine about, oh, approximately everything. And on edge. Like you do when you've been recently kidnapped and held hostage, it looks like he hasn't even changed the bandage on his right hand, to give us an indication of how little time it's been. Of all the things Reese is good at, comforting isn't really one of them, but he obviously feels duty-bound to try. Oh Reese. Don't quit your day job. He looks like a kid with his hand stuck in the cookie jar, and I bet he was going to go for the usual platitude of if you ever want to talk about it before Finch calls him on it and he switches to get a beer. That's more Manly, y'know, because Men Don't Talk About Their Feelings. Reese is also very bad at not talking about things when they're jumping up and down being loud and obnoxious. Right now that includes Bear being there for Finch's protection and the fact that he's deliberately working on Root's case without Finch as a form of emotional protection. Oh John. (P.S. Zoe Morgan is the closest thing to a profiler you have, and she'd be a good person to run this by, yes? No? Because you'd have to cough up about the Machine? SIGH.) Look! It's a wild subject change! They have a new number. Which would be super-effective if it didn't remind Finch that Reese was capable of running this operation without him now, that the Machine gives Reese the numbers as well as him. And that in and of itself is interesting in what it says about the Machine, since it could easily have removed Reese from the contingency loop with Finch back in town, and it hasn't. Whether that speaks more to its acknowledgement of Reese as a worthy partner or more to its concern about Finch's well-being or merely the utility of operational redundancy is left as an exercise for the viewer.

We get a brief rundown on Sofia the diplomat's daughter with the Brazilian consulate in New York, Reese clearly relieved both that Finch is back in terms of getting back in the saddle (because that's one of the few things he knows to read as an indicator that recovery is happening) and that he no longer has to be responsible for all aspects of each op. Reese is many things, and good at many more, but he does his best work when someone else is directing the course of an operation, even if that's just via the flow of information. Annie Parisse's name crops up as we zoom in on Sofia's picture on the board, heh, we wondered how long it'd take for her to show up again! Answer: Not Long At All. Several Machine shots later and we move along to the live-action surveillance of the weekly number, highly educated and poised, an only child, lost her mother five years ago and opted to travel with her father rather than go to Oxford for reasons we can easily guess which range from political expediency to a desire to be close to the one parent remaining. Particularly given that she probably wasn't close to either of them growing up, away at boarding school and the like. We are duly unimpressed by the bodyguard who can't spot someone doing not much at all to hide the fact that he's surveilling his supposed protectee, and a longish spiel about how daddy dearest has had political troubles lately which are culminating in a run at the presidency. All very run of the mill, none of it noteworthy aside from the fact that Brazil does have a history of politically motivated kidnappings and murders, though much less than many other South American countries I could name off the top of my head. This case is in general pretty run of the mill and serves as backdrop for getting back to normal, what beginning attempts at recovery Finch is making, and moving the entire s2 plot arc along. The diplomat's child (almost always daughter, almost always male bodyguard, usually involving some kind of UST) is a really common trope in these sorts of procedurals, but they circumvent the sexual aspect of it neatly and, in fact, do a really good job with making the case interesting despite its rote nature. Which we can safely chalk up to Caviezel and Paloma Guzman's screen chemistry, which is mighty.

Sofia's first words are to treat her bodyguard like a dog, which says a great deal about how little she enjoys this aspect of her life and how much she lacks for mental stimulation from anyone approaching her intellectual equals. It also says a lot about the general caliber of the bodyguards her father's hiring, because it's not actually a line of work well-suited to the dim, but this guy seems very locked into a particular mode of bodyguarding which doesn't involve feisty rich brats. Sorry, dude, but you're kind of a moron and I don't know how you got through the screening process. He didn't clear the store, he hasn't been clearing the street, his eyes have been more on Sofia than on the rest of the crowd which could conceivably pose a threat to her, and when Reese reverse-pickpockets him in the store he hasn't the foggiest clue what just happened. While we roll our eyes and giggle, we also realize that this is a lot more initiative on getting himself into position to deal with a mark than Reese usually takes. Another sign of how things have shifted in the wake of Finch's kidnapping. It's also a nice bit of camerawork, framing Reese and Sofia with their backs to each other but each more aware of their surroundings than the bodyguard down the way who's nominally responsible for her.

We'll put a pin in that and head over to the precinct, where Fusco has a box under his arm and would like to talk to Carter. No, Carter, now, in private. I love how they're are slowly beginning to learn how to read each other as proper partners, and they have a couple hiccups to start as a result of having lied to each other both tacitly and directly for so long. Carter mentions a gang shooting out in Queens which we will only note briefly because they so rarely have a wasted line in this show. Ooh, that's some nice evidence from Corwin's hotel! Carter doesn't directly praise Fusco for snagging that, but her attitude in general is that of someone relieved to have a competent partner to be working with. That only lasts so long, she asks what the microchip reader and Fusco responds with, yeah, it looks like something from the vet. I love that that's his frame of reference for it. But more than that, he's inclined to stop digging into this, he's uncomfortable with hit, and Fusco, you have to have brought this to Carter knowing she'd want to sink her teeth into the case - unofficially, you understand - and hoping to be convinced otherwise. Which he's not, the only point she has in her favor is that they're detectives and this is what they do, whereas Fusco has years and years of flying under HR's radar to know when it's time to let sleeping dragons lie. And there are, indeed, dragons lurking in that box. Carter will take it anyway, and Fusco wants her to be careful without saying those actual words, and oh you two. You'll work this out eventually, but these initials stages are a bit painful.

By contrast and comparison, we have Reese and Finch's hilarious fucking banter as Reese heads out to his job interview. Two companies, Finch? Two? That is one helluva background check. Meantime Reese is seen only picking one pocket and that's a much nicer suit than he usually wears. I giggle. And imagine how much of a fuss he must have put on just to reassure Finch that things were headed back to normal. God, this banter, it's definitely a sop to the shippers but can be read as familial if that's your thing, too. I will wave a tiny trollface for the shippers because Reese is a bad, flirty man when he's feeling the need to reassure both himself and his handler. Ahem. He's apparently going by John Randall, which is a nice, safe cover identity, easy to remember and not so close to his usual alias that he's at risk of slipping. At least, not a trained spyssassin. Speaking of identities and aliases! Reese will now perform a job interview by demonstrating that he's stolen the wallets of the other three potential bodyguards. I am once again disappointed in the quality of New York's supposed finest. I mean, one assumes they'd need to go through a similarly rigorous background check! And yes, this is partly to demonstrate for early-season new viewers just how much of a badass Reese is, but I'm still gonna facepalm at the lack of any kind of difficulty he's having with these guys. Alright, well, he's apparently read his target audience right, probably in this case less from having read Campos' file and more from knowing how diplomats with daughters they're overprotective of work. Yes, Hector would be happy to hire him, at least provisionally. Sofia's gone through half a dozen bodyguards in the last, what, six months? As I recall it's about May or June 2012 in this episode, give or take a bit, so this just highlights how difficult she is. Like the clip from earlier didn't demonstrate that. Hector goes on a bit about how consulate security's not to be trusted for political reason, totally a valid argument, and while yes, John's resume is impressive, he was also... shall we say allowed? Encouraged? To use lethal force in Iraq and Yemen when necessary. Guarding a spoiled diplomat's child is a whole 'nother matter, frankly. The daughter in question wanders on into the office and introductions are made, I'm not sure if she's supposed to recognize him from the store the day before or not. Judging by the assessing look, I'm guessing she thinks she's seen him recently but can't place him, and doesn't want to contribute to her father's paranoia, so she comes up with a flighty-silly-girl reason not to hire him. Which of course doesn't work, so she delivers one of those you work for me lines that I suppose might intimidate a lesser bodyguard. Reese just looks like he's trying to restrain his amusement. I'm actually increasingly convinced that beyond snark, finding inappropriate things hilarious is one of his coping mechanisms. The Russian consul wanders in, too, because daddy dearest is late for his dinner! Complete with standard jokes about Brazilians never being on time, yes yes, and then we have the requisite insult in Portuguese when she's invited along and Reese calling her on it, though speaking in English. Which is probably all to the good, because I'm not sure Caviezel could pull off Portuguese. Or Russian, which would be the other option. By splendidly, Hector, do you mean you hope they don't kill each other? Because that's what I heard. Verbal evisceration if not literal.

Sofia manages to look chagrined and evaluating at the same time. Yes, honey, your attempts to evade your bodyguard and treat him like a walking meatshield at best are going to be much more difficult now. Particularly since Reese automatically turns himself into a meatshield and the rest is actual smarts. He checks in with Finch and oh look, she doesn't leave her wifi enabled for bluejacking, so he'll have to do it manually. Assuming he can pry it away from Sofia, who will no longer be joining the men for dinner because she has a headache. Nobody believes that, especially given that she was just texting someone and probably (read: definitely) set up plans, but it's a polite fiction that diplomats are capable of accepting. Reese doesn't believe it either. A few hours later, by the camera timestamps, she probably did take a bath and, hell, might have had a nap in preparation for a night out clubbing, but she is definitely dressed for a night at the clubs and sneaking out the back. Reese is having none of it and will bring the car around! I suspect, despite that frustrated look, that that runs counter to her expectations of him tattling on her to her father. He also will go menace the car full of possible bad guys with intent, possibly just paparazzi, who promptly take off. And he rattles off the license because Reese is the best and knows that Finch is always there to hack into things for him. Awww. No, he doesn't have anywhere else to be and even if he did, he wouldn't be inclined to leave the building right at the moment. There's a nice pan over and down to Bear, who just looks alert and content. Aww, Bear. Who's the cutest guard dog ever? Yes, you beat out Reese for the title!

Anyway, on over to the club we go with a pair of unknowns in the wind and we meet Gabi! Who I'm pretty sure is supposed to be a French diplomat's daughter, or something similar, maybe a would-be Francophone? Hard to say, we don't get much detail on her since her job is to be pretty blonde that ends up dead. Sadly. (I would file more of a complaint about this, except generally speaking this show goes out of its way not to victim-blame or sexualize women's deaths, and it's very, very good at dealing with the cold harsh realities of statistics. Despite the overwhelming manpain of our two leads, this is the biggest network show I've seen do this well with such topics since Criminal Minds was still good, I think.) Sofia would like him really not to come along, which isn't happening and for once she puts the attitude down a little bit and Reese, you already know the Cyrillic alphabet or I'll eat my bra. Seriously. The girls attempt to ruffle him a little, treat him like a pet, and they do have a point, he could possibly stick out more in a club scene but he'd have to be in cop uniform. Although depending on the fit of the uniform and the attitude he bore with it, that might stick out less. They go on in, standard loud and crowded club is standard and really fucking awful to try bodyguarding in when there's only one of you. Ugh. No, Finch doesn't have anything on the plate, Bear keeps trying to get him to play fetch. Best therapy dog is best, but also distracting, I will grant. And high-energy. It's still one of the best ways to get Finch out of his own head and back into the real world. Meanwhile, Sofia's doing her seventh shot of vodka holy hell, woman, you have zero sense of self-preservation. Including dancing on the bar, which Reese tempts fate by starting to say she's not doing, and then removes the pictures as well as Sofia herself, who is far, far too drunk to protest being slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. I'm a little surprised that apparently nobody got pictures of that, actually. Bright and early the next morning, Sofia looks none the worse for wear and is protesting about how they have to fire Reese because she lost face. Darling, you lost face when you got shitfaced drunk, not when Reese hauled you out of there, though I suppose at 21 she wouldn't necessarily believe or admit to that. Hector, on the other hand, only cares about what's available on the internet, and I bet that even if anyone got photos, Finch has erased them by now. It helps to have a hacker partner backing you up. It really does. She has a meeting at noon for which she's ordered to be present, Finch confirms that the photo ops are an indication that Campos is likely about to declare his candidacy for the presidency, and in the meantime? They're going shopping. Hoo boy. Delivered in the tones of a woman who knows how to use traditional performative femininity to punish and/or trick the men in her life. Reese knows it, too, by that look on his face. And Bear sits at Finch's side, panting and hopeful over the tennis ball. Can we just take the "aww" as a given at this point? Because really.

Down to the precinct we go to move the metaplot along a bit, Carter's just confirmed that the weird thingie from Alicia Corwin's hotel room was an RFID reader. Well, Carter, the chip's IN Alicia, because she's that kind of a paranoid fucker. Sadly, you're going to be too late. Plus, Finch has a favor to ask! There are a few pleasantries first, of the checking up on him/thank you for saving my ass variety, very muted and carefully treading around dangerous areas. Though those dangerous areas have shrunk, in relation to their particular working partnership, and they're allowing themselves to express and accept even the vaguest glimmer of Feelings for each other, along with John's for his employer. And thus we see them becoming, slowly, a little more of a working unit, with promises of the sort of family of choice that you only get when you're thrown into danger together repeatedly and trust that everyone will have your back. There are fractures, of course, but this is a nice, tentative start to it. Also she has the plate, it belongs to a rental that was picked up yesterday at JFK, which is not particularly helpful but gives Finch a place to start tracking it via traffic cams.

Reese has been turned into a bag-holding bodyguard, which is not something you should ever, ever let happen to you and I'm surprised he didn't snag a store clerk and tell them it was their job to do this. Because it is, just as it's his job to keep his hands free to protect her, even if Reese has no compunctions about flinging terribly expensive clothes on the floor in an emergency. No, he hasn't cloned her phone. Yes, it's nearly noon. Yes, he's tired and exasperated with her. Thanks for asking, Finch. Finch will now throw the ball for Bear, because even he can't resist those eyes any longer. Reese thinks this is adorable. And hilarious. And is distracted. REESE. At least they've got GPS on her cell, which means Finch can a) lie through his teeth about Bear and b) promptly provide a more important topic of conversation, like, oh, Sofia sneaking out the back of the store. To do what? Why, to go see her boyfriend! The music does a nice fake-out for us as the man with her tries to insist she get in the car, yeah, if that was my first glimpse I'd be prepared to do violence too. He looks slimy to me right off the bat, but then I have a well-developed creep radar and they're not exactly trying to hide it for TV purposes. He's apologizing for bailing on her some night or another, trying to make up for it now by hauling her away from her duties as a diplomat's daughter. I am unimpressed. She isn't all that impressed either, by the looks of it. Reese is definitely unimpressed, and also loomy. No, he will not shake hands with Jack the boyfriend, he's in full bodyguard impassive fuck-off mode. Which gets through to Jack even if it doesn't have the same effect on Sofia (some sobering effect, yes, but not the immediate backing down he engages in) and it's time to head back. No, her father doesn't know about the boyfriend and no, she's not going to tell him. Given that, neither will Reese, despite their missing the photo op with the Japanese. Sofia is terribly chastened and expects to be sold out, so when he offers up a blatant lie about traffic that everyone's forced to accept, daddy dearest isn't pleased but he understands. I think. More to the point, it buys Reese a lot of goodwill with Sofia; the only reply he offers up is the sly-bland bodyguard look and her own words flung back at her. You two are adorable. And she's given him the perfect opportunity to finally clone her phone thank GOD. Before this can turn into any more of a clusterfuck of insufficient data.

Carter heads down to the morgue, which we get an exterior shot of for the first time in... awhile, if at all, which may be because it's relevant later. Pun intended. She'd like to check on Corwin's body! Wouldn't we all. Preferably with all the data intact. Stupid cleaner. Much to nobody's surprise, Carter knows the ME/assistant ME/whathaveyou on duty by name. Like you do when you've been working homicide long enough. But wait, there's more! There's an Agent Snow limping out of the morgue! Ray-on-duty doesn't seem particularly bothered or surprised by this, except in the way that all locals are a little perturbed by feebs wandering in and throwing their weight around. Carter is more inclined to gloat a little and generally glare at Snow for having used her to get to Reese the way he did mid-s1, not that I blame her, but it keeps her from noticing the microexpressions of tells that Snow's putting out there. (Which, by the way, is a really nice job of acting.) We have fear, concern for his front, a lot of quick half-truths and near-lies, and most of what Carter's seeing is the last, because she's used to seeing that with Snow and thus used to looking for it. The fear is infinitesimal and gone by the time he starts talking, mostly, so, yes. He's been reassigned, by which we mean kidnapped by Kara Stanton and turned into her errand boy, and she doesn't want Reese (John, Carter says, a nice indicator of how much she cares about him/is close to him, more the latter if she's doing it on purpose to piss off Snow), she wants the people who set them up. Mind you, she won't turn down Reese's expertise if he gets in her way or she thinks she can make use of him, but Team Machine doesn't yet know she's even alive for sure. I also wonder if Snow's "that's good to know" means he half-hopes that Reese will throw a wrench in whatever Stanton's planning, not that he's going to tell us. Grumble. Carter also notices the limp, which frankly means it must be a pretty bad wound. Snow's kind of shit at fieldwork, but he's been getting a lot more practice in lately and he knows that you shouldn't be showing weakness or, for that matter, significant change around someone as observant as Carter. And he gives her everything he can with the line about an old mistake that comes back to haunt him, which finally tips her off that something more is going on here than meets the eye. But she doesn't have the right puzzle pieces to figure out what it is, it's like having some edge pieces but they're all sky. I'd be staring at him in irritation too, if I didn't know what I do.

Given that, it's time and more than to head into the morgue proper to take a look at Corwin's body. And why yes, it is way too convenient to be a coincidence that Snow was after her body too! Corwin's been dead at least a week by Ray's word choice, probably closer to ten days if she's been in cold storage a week and was presumably autopsied prior to that. Say, look, there's a two-inch incision in Corwin's upper right arm, just about the right size for someone to have hauled something subcutaneous out. Yes, it was done post-mortem and post-autopsy since it wasn't in the report, the way Ray rattles it off gives Carter enough pause to ask what the fuck, and it turns out that Snow was asking the exact same questions. Which means that it wasn't Snow (probably) who did the cutting, as Carter might have previously assumed, it was something that happened before Snow was there today, so that leaves us with Snow coming in twice, once to pretend innocence and once before to get the chip, or an unknown third party. We hate unknown third parties around here too, Carter, you have our sympathy. About the only good news out of this scene is that Stanton's not getting the chip.

We'll put a pin in that and go on over to the Brazilian embassy, where Reese and Finch are discussing what little information they've acquired: the plate on the rental registers to a PI out of Sao Paulo, which could be a problem and could be paparazzi, impossible to say without digging into him and his partner a little more. Sofia and Gabi are talking on the phone and Gabi's concerned about Paul from the other night, which gives them absolutely zilch to go on other than Finch hunting down a first name and maybe searching some cameras for people associated with the women from past clubbing nights. Which will be long and tedious fucking work without an AI to properly assist in the search parameters. Finch is also moving Bear's bed right next to the desk, awwwww puppy! The only other thing they can come up with is that Sofia's boyfriend is a trust fund brat who wouldn't look good on Hector's platform of financial equality for all, but I kinda question what other type of man she's going to meet as a diplomat's daughter. Lip service, etc. And no more time for them to toss spaghetti at the wall of who the fuck could want to hurt Sofia, because she's decided to go clubbing again. Using the front door this time! Reese politely not-teases her, with that bland smile that we know and love so well. The trip to the club is noteworthy only because the folks in the rented BMW turn out to be paparazzi and because Gabi's not responding to Sofia's texts. One of these is more important than the other. The other is kinda funny, as Sofia questions what Reese is doing and gets told in that same bland I'm-not-laughing-no-really tone that her father said no pictures. I wonder if she's ever had a bodyguard deliberately protect her from the paparazzi before (and note too that Reese uses the correct singular to refer to him? I do love a multilingual spysassin), or if they all just pretended that had to be part of what they signed up for.

Back over to Carter for a moment, who has Mark Snow's card from last season and a handwritten possibly-cell number on the back. She's definitely using her cell to call it, though given her profession I wouldn't be surprised if the NYPD had subsidized her smartphone in some way. It's not like she doesn't need/use it on the job all the time. Lots of subtle glancing around to be sure nobody's listening in or watching her as she calls, made less subtle by the extreme closeups of This Is A Conspiracy, Shh. That is not Snow. That is some random professional sounding woman, and by professional I mean spy-sounding. (I'm sure she's just an analyst, though!) Carter does, in fact, believe that to be Snow's cell, which means that the CIA rerouted the number once he disappeared off the grid. That much I will give them some credit for, though it might have been smarter to have a man answering the phone in case whoever had that number didn't know Snow's voice offhand. Well, regardless, Carter's getting maybe hung up on? No! Transferred to a man with one of those I Am A Spysassin This Is Serious voices. They'd like to know if she's had contact with him and where she saw him, and she'll give them the first but not the second. Guys, if you had any kind of profile on Carter at all you'd know she doesn't pass out information to the feds for free, she likes there to be at least the appearance of an exchange of information. Which they're not willing to engage in, they'll just hang up and presumably go pull her phone's GPS records for yesterday. Like you do when you're a creepy government agency. If she knew how serious this was she might ask Finch to spoof them, but she doesn't and so she won't, though there's a school of thought that says hanging out her actual information as bait at this early stage is a pretty good plan too. Carter looks like she might want to throw the phone across the room, and then like she has an Idea, and that should be interesting. Hopefully for the CIA.

The Machine takes us back to the club, it's about 12:30 and the place is rocking, and we are yet again reminded of how fucking awful a location that is to bodyguard anyone in. Reese could stick to Sofia's side like glue, but then his attention wouldn't be freed up to take in the scene around them and parse medium to long-distance threats. And nor would she thank him for it, though she's edgy, too, looking for her friend who's nowhere to be found. We see a number of blondes go by in frame, none of whom are Gabi, and then a series of men in jackets intended to conceal weaponry. Oh goodie. Because a fight scene in a crowded club with a bunch of amateurs is exactly what we needed. Reese takes out one, two in short order, heads for a third and uses him as a meatshield against a fourth which is the point at which people (including Sofia) start to realize something's actually wrong. Drink for Rule of Three! And kudos to them, a gunshot would likely be heard over the din of that place, both for type of noise (sudden, sharp, not meshing with the music) and for decibel level, whereas I know any number of other shows have used "oh it was a loud nightclub" as an excuse for nobody hearing anything. Good show. Good verisimilitude. Have biscuit. Lucky for Reese, the guy he used to shield himself and Sofia with fell with his gang brand facing up, so he can just grab a quick photo and drag her out of there. Good bodyguard.

An hour or so later, depending on how long we were supposed to believe they spent down on the floor, and it's time to bring Carter at least partway in on this. No, Carter, Reese would not like to tell you about the thugs whose asses he kicked, though in that way that's the thinnest of plausible deniability. He's a spysassin. Everywhere can be his scene if he wants it to be. Although I'll grant he's probably a little on the old side to blend in at all at that club. (Which does seem to maybe exist? Or at least the photos of Element I'm finding when I search for "club 225 New York" are awfully similar architecturally though not in color palette to the ones on their website.) Aaanyway. The brands on their necks are, yes, gang initiation ritual, Carter's on finding out whose it belongs to and Reese is cooking. I love you Reese. He's managed to make a favorite comfort food of Sofia's thanks to what I assume is Finch's snooping around her phone, because their invasions of privacy come with a side of "here let us take care of you now that we've rescued you from the life-threatening danger." Aww? I think. I'm a little surprised that this is as close as Sofia's gotten to serious danger, by her reactions, though then again, got sent off to Switzerland for boarding school where presumably most of the other students were in similar situations. Reese will now proceed to lead the witness, did she recognize them, could they have been friends of Gabi's? I'd say that's bad interrogation technique but by now he knows damn well that when a number comes up, everything is relevant. He's also not-admitting that he's snooped in her phone to find out about Paul and the fact that Gabi was supposed to be there but never showed. Because he was looking. Because he's the best bodyguard ever. He gets location and last name, or possible last name, and a story about how last weekend they were partying, Jack went home early and Paul invited them to his place but nothing happened. Yeah, I believe her, she might be a little flighty and prone to falling in with the wrong crowd, but she doesn't seem like the kind of person who leaps at a chance to cheat on her boyfriend. Given a last name, Finch pulls up Paul Romano as a club promoter with a penchant for drug dealing on the side, and I love that for once this whole thing has nothing to do with politics. Have I said that before? Because it's true. The idiots don't even seem to have thought about the possibility of ransom, or how much trouble they could get into for killing a diplomat's daughter as a "loose end." But I get ahead of myself. One of the idiots is already dead! Sorry, Paul, you had a good attempt at it. Neither of the boys think it was suicide, and nor do we, but say, there was in fact a fourth guy at the penthouse and Gabi had the great good fortune to take a video on Sofia's phone. Which is, unfortunately, probably what's earmarked them as loose ends more than anything else. It's also what will let Finch analyze all the data to a fare-thee-well. Yay! Yes, the guy talking with Paul is from the club, no, Paul probably has nothing to do with tonight and no, that wasn't a suicide, Sofia. To her credit, she catches on quick, she's just not accustomed to dealing with people who want her dead. Or her friend. It's also to her credit that her first thought is for Gabi and that she insists on going with to find her, and we can see Reese visibly restraining himself and remembering that according to what Sofia knows, he's her employer and no, he'd have a hard time stopping her.

Bright and early the next morning, Finch seems to have developed a routine for playing with Bear while doing his work, see, not so bad, right, Finch? He gets a decently clear shot on our friend from the club and now it's time to check in with Carter. Who's staring at the pile of evidence and glossies on Corwin and Snow like it might shake something loose in her brain. I know that feeling. I get it all the time with the murderboards for the other two shows. By comparison, this is straightforward government conspiracy plus reclusive eccentric billionaire genius. I'm just saying. Carter needs a moment to decide whether or not she's going to add Snow to the already long list of problems Team Machine is facing right now, but evidently decides against it. She's concealing the truth, and she's not as good at it as usual having been up all night on various cases (or at best she got 3-4 hours of sleep, depending on where home is or if she sacked out on a couch/cot down at the station), but she moves on fast enough that Finch can't call her on it. The gangbangers are 14th St Mafia, which isn't exactly helpful in a real-world analysis but it's not intended to be, but Finch is reading her in on more of the case. She can rattle off the details of Romano's death same as the boys and doesn't buy the whole suicide story either, hey, new data, the penthouse cameras were malfunctioning! Aheheheh. Yeah, that'd be enough to kick it up to Homicide for investigation. I'm amazed she can see the branding on the other guy in a shot that blurry, but for narrative convenience we'll take it. Carter will work on a name for their mystery gang member and on tracking Gabi's cell, all the more readily since Finch gives up the info about Gabi as a potential witness and thus in danger without being pressed. Aww, you're all learning to work together and share information I'm so proud. Some more adorable interaction with Bear to the tune of getting him a walk and some treats and Finch is trying so hard to maintain his usual stoic composure but the dog is too damn intelligent and adorable. Especially the intelligent part, I'm betting. But wait, what's that lurking under the treats container? It's a glossy of Root, along with the full file Reese (and, one assumes, Finch before him) has assembled. I think walk time's been postponed. Sorry, Bear.

Fuck knows what Reese has been doing for the last few hours, though maybe he insisted that they catch a few hours of shuteye? Whatever happened, he's now getting around to talking to Carter again and asking after Gabi. We can tell the second we hear her voice and see her face that it's not good news, that's a plastic evidence bag with the cell phone in, and Reese is trying really hard to deny it. I think mostly for Sofia's sake. I'm also a little surprised he hasn't memorized the address of places like the city morgue, that seems like a useful one for him to know offhand, but I suppose he might also be coming to rely on Carter for that information. So, no, they shouldn't go downtown, Gabi's dead and a couple uniforms found her downtown. There's really not much more to say, especially if she guesses he's with his protectee right now, so she hangs up and lets Reese break the bad news as best he can. Poor everyone; the rest of this scene is a really excellent job of using physical acting and music to convey the tragedy without saying a word. Again, one of the reasons this ep goes over as well as it does despite the trope-laden plot is because Caviezel and Guzman have ridiculous screen chemistry.

After the ad break, the Machine takes us to a bridge where Sofia's gotten out of the car to, well. Pace and stare and cry in as much privacy as she can get right now. Enough privacy that Reese is out of earshot and can check in with Finch, at any rate. I'm sure the line about her best friend was murdered and she blames herself isn't meant to have any long-term resonances with Finch and Ingram, who is Sir Not Appearing In This Episode. Of course not. That would be silly. More to the point, right now Reese would like to bring Finch into the field on what is, essentially, a milk run. He's right that Sofia's not safe if he's out looking for the killer(s), but normally he'd put Fusco on a job like this without a second thought. So it's a test, to see how Finch is recovering, and I suspect Finch guesses it's a test, assuming he can manage that around the encroaching panic attack. But it's about as kind a test as Reese can devise, given the strictures around their relationship and their general inability to talk about their feelings. Cultural conditioning: ain't it grand. Bear will help! I bet having Bear is what gets as far as he does, which is actually a pretty decent way since we can't see the library from the streetcam we next move to. I mean, it might only be a block or so, but it's still not bad on the whole, considering how recent the trauma is. This is a really, really well done representation of a panic attack with complicating agoraphobia, both in the acting and the shooting and directing and... it's just good, okay? Up until Iron Man 3 this was one of the only decent representations of trauma on any screen. You freeze, you get overstimulated, you eventually make your way back to a safe place to wait out the adrenaline crash. It sucks. (Ask me how I know.) Bonus points for the fact that this is probably both an acute stress reaction (a week or less is not enough time for me to declare Finch as Having PTSD relative to this incident) and old PTSD flaring, because if Finch didn't have it before Nathan's death he damn well picked it up after. Poor bastard. The aftermath is well done, too; Reese clearly knows what the complication is if nothing else by tone of voice, and it gets Finch a first-name moment of concern. But that's all, and from there we move onto the usual jab about how Fusco doesn't have anything better to do. In this case I think that's more annoyance with the situation than with anyone in particular that makes Reese say bad things about his usual verbal punching bag.

And now it's time for Reese to also take care of Sofia, who quite understandably doesn't want to or feel up to going back to the consulate and playing hostess. Reese who is easily one of the least in touch with his emotions on this show, rivaled only by Finch. He does a pretty decent job of it, having at this point a fair amount of practice with grieving survivors. Civilian survivors. You know what I mean. Oh look, now for some clunky dialogue that's somewhat rescued by the delivery, sorry, guys, you could do better than that and we all know it. As we could easily surmise by Sofia's prior behavior, she feels lost and out of place everywhere and she just wants to belong and be happy, she didn't want to hurt anyone. Sofia. You didn't hurt people. The idiots with guns did. Not that she'd listen to that from anyone right now, Reese reaches out to her on the feeling lost aspect instead except he doesn't really have a good solution to offer. I don't think Sofia's going to get her own Finch, though she might pick a purpose without that assistance, being rather less broken than Reese was at the time. It does have the dual effect of getting her out of her head a little bit and of reassuring Finch via the comms that their purpose is still intact even if they themselves are a bit battered, and that Reese appreciates it. Aww, you guys. All things considered, Fusco is probably a better choice for this than Finch, because he's personable and easy to tease, and Sofia could use a little of that right now. She goes off with him, giving us a glimpse of how good a politician/diplomat's daughter she really is as she sets Fusco at ease after a once-over, and Reese batmans out of sight right after telling Fusco not to let her out of his. Reese, sometimes you have an overdeveloped sense of the dramatic.

It's evening, and Carter has an ID on the guy from the penthouse who was also a shooter at the club, Monty, but no explanation for how he and Romano were in business together. Not so much how they hooked up - that could be easily explained by any of half a dozen loose acquaintances that would require more data than they have - but how they stayed in business. Because going from small time drug dealer to big time drug dealer with nobody who can invest that kind of money in your operation is a strange step to take. As always, it's about following the money when nothing else pans out. Money trails are great for spotting discrepancies like this. At any rate, Reese's hypothesis that Romano tried to renegotiate his take of the business and it went... poorly... is right on the nose, it's just who the fuck the silent partner is that eludes them. Well, Carter has a location for people to question! By which we mean for Reese to beat up, because that's what he does.

Over at the party for the current Brazilian president, Sofia's doing a remarkable job of pulling on her game face and gladhanding the politicians. Meanwhile, Fusco has a call from... from... um. Fusco, you have Finch in your phone as Mr. Good News? I think I love you. (He also has a wallpaper that looks like his son. These are the kinds of tiny details that I love a good props department for.) They are duly snarky at each other for their first post-kidnapping phone call, aww, they care. This whole episode is full of aww. You might have noticed. Complete with snark about staying away from the shrimp puffs, just as Fusco's about to bite into one. FINCH. Be better. At any rate, they've got eyes on the cameras and eyes on Sofia, so this should be a cakewalk, right? Don't throw things at me, at least they didn't say any such thing. But wait! Finch is multitasking - like he does - and just found us some more data, namely a third man in the penthouse the night that Romano was murdered. Gee, I wonder who it could be, with that perfectly coiffed dirty blond hair.

He is not, however, in time to keep Reese from getting into a barfight. First we have the banter with Carter, who would like to roll her eyes and snark at him both for his macho ego (which would be more annoying were he not generally right about his capabilities) and for his methods. It's got that rote feel of "I object to this because it's habit," now, though, instead of genuine objections. Plus I suspect she expects to get more mileage out of an I-told-you-so than actual rational discussion, particularly as edgy as Reese still is after getting Finch back. The asskicking music kicks in, we get raised voices and a few crashes and one of the "at least ten men" thrown out the door to the curb. The tolerant look for his antics is fairly epic, and continues to demonstrate how far Carter's crossed the line into, shall we say, extralegal remedies.

Back to the party, cutting back and forth to heighten the tension even though we're not getting the reveal as to why the tension's mounting, and Hector makes his campaign announcement with absolutely no shooting. Well, that was a letdown. Sofia, though, needs a moment alone; grief hits at the strangest times and for no discernible reason, so I'll give them this for narrative convenience. Fusco takes her at her word as far as wanting privacy, which, no, bad bodyguard. You can give privacy, even in a house, while still keeping an eye on the protectee. Fuckssake. Then again, Sofia might or might not take that style of bodyguarding from Fusco, where she certainly would have from Reese, at this point, so... hard to say. Oh, it's Jack on the phone, trying to get Sofia to come out for the night. And she's not so close to turning over a new leaf that a night out on the town with her boyfriend sounds like a bad idea. Even the boyfriend who from everything we know about him wants her to shirk her responsibilities and do nothing but have fun. Sigh.

At the bar, Reese has one more guy to take out, but he had time to get a knife out, so this is a slightly longer fight - by a matter of seconds, which is actually quite awhile in hand-to-hand - since he's being duly cautious. Like you are. If you ever want to try an experiment, take a sharpie. Then take a trained opponent who doesn't have any disarm training. Then see how many nasty, potentially fatal "cuts" you can deliver with the sharpie in ten seconds or less. It's enlightening. And there's a reason that there's very specific sets of techniques for it. At any rate, it delays Reese for long enough that he's still choking Fights With Knives out when random dude with a gun shows up. Hey, Carter, been taking kneecapping lessons from Reese? I see that you have. I have no idea how they're doing cleanup on this scene, and Carter would like to file a complaint over his interrogation methods. Yes, John, asking questions before you knock them all out is usually a good move, neon sign to the head or no. Though too many hits to the head explains a lot about Reese, come to mention it. And now that the bar's been a bust, all the things come together! Finch confirms that the third man was Jack, Reese has him pass it along to Fusco, Fusco has no idea that Sofia's departed via window and/or convenient interior doors, and Reese is in the wrong place. At the wrong time, though we don't say it like that, we just leave it implicit for the theme of the ep. Fusco, this is why you memorize the layout of a place if you're going to be bodyguarding in it oh never mind. My competence kink is showing again.

Jack doesn't look or sound very sorry at all about this, where "this" is defined as "Monty with a hand cannon." Dude. With the overcompensation already. I suspect that's a Desert Eagle, the overcompensation weapon of choice for all good thugs. We come back from the ad break to Sofia's growing comprehension and dismay, and Jack villain-monologuing at her because he's a fucking moron. I think Monty thinks so too, by the way he's looking impatient with holding a gun on a pretty, obviously wealthy woman in public. Once she knows what we know, we get a truly atrocious line that seems like Jack's been watching waaay too much noir lately. It's okay. I have some noir for him. Like Reese's soul! Ahem. Over to a secluded park area, I assume that's Central Park but am willing to be proved wrong, where Monty confirms that nobody else has been sent the video. Not by Sofia, it hasn't! What Reese did with it she either hasn't thought about or is lying through her teeth, and I'm thinking probably the former since she's too scared shitless to be an effective liar right now. Fusco comes up on them at the last possible moment, forgets the crucial bit about range of efficacy and gets his gun taken away, and oh NOES everything is not going according to plan! I hope he's got his vest on under there, just in case, and I love, love the extent to which they're willing to make use of cars as weapons in this show. Because they are. Big, several-ton, very fast weapons that make great bludgeoning implements when you need one in a hurry. The cops go to cleanup detail, Reese goes back to bodyguard detail, which in this instance also involves tracking down Jack.

Which is easy, when your pet hacker will give you a trace! Jack's busy setting up a flight to the Caymans, much to nobody's surprise, and hey, it's time for a breakup speech. Complete with dangling over the rooftop. I've had a couple breakups I could've wished for a Reese to do that half of the work on. Sofia gives a nice little speech which gives Jack a chance to maybe genuinely apologize or admit he fucked up, but no, he's too much of a self-absorbed little shit to do anything other than babble and hope that someone else will take the blame. Sigh. That's a really feral grin from Reese as Sofia disappears off elsewhere, but alas, he will not be dropped from great heights at this time. Just shoved in the back of a police car, which I will also accept, provided his parents don't bail him out. Maybe they won't! They were certainly absent in this, though that was also for very obvious character conservation reasons. We can hope, anyway. Reese does not take kindly to pretty, intelligent women being fucked over, no matter what their station in life is. Their goodbye is awfully stilted, and I'm not sure if that's intentional or not. There's not really sexual tension here so much as the tension of forced familiarity and intimacy due to circumstances that neither one of them is sure how to handle, but Reese knows how to handle it! By walking away, now that his job's done.

Tying up a few other loose ends, Carter's headed home presumably after dealing with the initial paperwork on the drugs-and-homicide case she'll have had to open to deal with the arrests from tonight. She and the CIA might get somewhere if they could manage to work together, but given the ways in which she's approached - demands for information without offering any of their own - I can't blame her for the fuck-off speech she gives instead. Complete with a variant on I'm not my brother's keeper, this one of the flavor "he's not one of mine." Heh. No, he's not, but here's the thing the Machine's trying to teach you humans: that's not relevant. She won't learn it in this ep, but the fact that she won't help the CIA look for Snow undoubtedly allows Stanton's scheming to pay off, in the end. She also mentions, for the benefit of new viewers and continuity, that Snow's partner Evans is dead as of five weeks; since this doesn't seem to surprise the agent I'm assuming they did actually have that data and Carter's just being obnoxious because she can. Also, Unnamed Government Thug #2 is busy talking to OSC guy and thinks they have a serious problem, having taken a prelim look at what he pulled out of Corwin's body. Ooh, ooh, can we have a look? Please? It's my birthday and everything! (It's not. Shh.)

And former Agent Mark Snow is in a basement location somewhere, undisclosed, though there's at least one camera or the Machine wouldn't be able to know about it. Hi Kara! I'd argue the gun plus the detonator for that bomb jacket's a bit of overkill, but I suppose she knows his capabilities better than I do. He gives her his report, complete with banter about whether or not people are really dead, which means yes, he got proof, there's photos. From the morgue. Apparently the original mission was to ask Corwin who was responsible for the mission to send Stanton and Reese to China, which is a motivation I can get behind. Methods maybe not so much, but I don't feel all that sorry for Snow, either. He knew what he was doing when he sold his agents out, and he knew that if they survived they might very well want revenge, and he did it anyway. Probably in the belief that even if they survived through sheer luck, he'd have the Company's backing. Only that works better when you haven't been taken off-grid. Silly Snow. He's got some more jobs to do, then, because he can be seen on cameras but she can't. Snow. SNOW. Do not taunt the happy fun assassin with fingers all over your bomb vest. There's bravado and there's stupidity, even if I agree with his assessment of her damage and instability. And oh yes, but he believes by that jawtwitch that she'd leave him in the basement to explode if she decided he was more trouble than he was worth. And yes, that scene looks deliberately shot as a parody of lovers, with the shirt unbuttoning and her fingers doing delicate/careful work which in this case is about death instead of sex. They're not supposed to go together literally, ma'am.

Finally, another dysfunctional relationship or two, the unstated one between Finch and Root as he assembles his murderboard on her, and the more explicit one between Finch and Reese. It is definitely time to stop obsessing for the night, Finch, and when the spysassin who tends to target fixation to an unhealthy degree tells you that, you're way overdoing it. I like that they've expounded on the characters such that we don't actually need to see more than the briefest glimpse of Finch at the murderboard to understand via Reese that he's been working for a long, long time. With Reese and Bear both, apparently Finch feels safe enough to wander outside, though I suspect it's going to be a longish process and one of those things that they just Don't Talk About. Still, he's feeling good enough to get in a quip, which gets a real grin out of Reese, and say it with me now: awww.

1 comment:

  1. I love your analysis, and this one was really good, and funny. Thanks.