Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back Up Against The Wall (Person of Interest S2E04 Triggerman)

Today's opening credits give us nothing of use; Reese is tailing a young man with a determined look, and that's about it. Familiar looking kid, and if this were a whodunnit that would be enough to put him at the top of the suspect list, but it's not. It's more of a who's trying to do it to him, and why, so this gives us nothing. The opening sequence gives us marginally more. It sounds, both in the voice and in the dialogue and word choice, like a mob boss lamenting the "good old days" which likely only existed in his head. Which doesn't mean he's not going to try to impose what he feels is the old type of rule, in other words, lots of death and pain and blood. Woo! Wait, no, that other thing.

So. Through a bit of banter we get the case of the week: an enforcer or lieutenant of some kind who works for George Massey, head of or one of the heads of the Irish Mob in New York. The number himself is named Riley Cavanaugh, and has worked for Massey for several years with no other real prospects. Reese has learned all he can at this distance, so he's going in. No, Finch, not because something's gone horribly wrong. Something doesn't always go horribly wrong. At least not at this early stage of things. Give it time. Reese walks in and sits himself down, despite the sign telling him not to, because he's a rebel like that. Oh hell, Elias is in this? The opening credits are fun like that, if you pay any attention at all to the actors you can get that nice juicy sense of dread and anticipation before you ever hear their voice or see their face onscreen. Meanwhile we can pick up the mafioso conversation, which involves talking to the owner of some bar or another. Reese clones Riley's phone for morebetter listening in and gets teased by the greeter, flirting back. He's really cute when he's in casual flirty get acquainted mode. Relaxed, at his ease, and dare I say even happier than usual because Finch is back and doing better and everything's good again? I dare say. Meanwhile the restaurant either manager or owner, I'm betting part and would-be owner, comes over to say hi to Massey, ask him how his lunch is, that sort of thing. Which might be the manager being friendly as with some restaurants, but in this context definitely means the restaurant is in to the mob for a decent sum of money. And apparently they're behind in their payments. That's not good. Now comes the threat! Interesting that it doesn't come from the son, but from Riley. Indicating that he's most likely the perpetrator in this week's drama rather than the victim. Well, shit.

For our next victim, er, player in this little mafia drama we have the greeter. Slash server? She has plates in her hand so maybe she just has the tables nearest the door? The most likely answer is she's doing whatever jobs fit the narrative role she has at the moment. It turns out that Massey knows her and is interested in her. Sexually, at least. No one believes that he's just being flirty because he's married and how dare she insinuate that he'd step out on his wife. Uh-huh. Really, no one believes that. And it turns out she's the widow of one of Massey's soldiers, too. Double trouble. It turns out her late husband got himself killed over gambling debts with the Russians, and while she blames the mafia life for that, Massey blames the dead man's gambling habits. I'm not ready to make a call on the real backstory here yet, because it's entirely possible the complications are elsewhere and this story is worth its face value, and exists only to bring in other complications (Elias, I'm looking at you). And that said, Massey clearly should not be trusted with anything. At all. Ever. They snipe back and forth at each other, she gets in a good last biting comment about who's going to miss him when he's gone, and stomps off with Massey searching for l'esprit d'escalier. Reese likes her. Considerably. Massey does not like her and isn't pleased about losing face in front of his boys.

The Machine takes us to mid afternoon and the Irish boyos' next stop, which looks to be a bar. The back room of which is likely their chief meeting place for non-public business. As Reese says, they're cautious, they check their cell phones at the door, not a bad thing considering the use cell phones are being put to these days both in the show and out of it. That doesn't worry Finch too much, he can use the proximity of one phone to the others to piggyback the wiretap program onto theirs. Reese is more worried about getting ears in that room, though "worried" might be exaggerating it a bit; he seems to have dropped that bug in Massey's coat pocket pretty easily. A little too easily, actually, to my way of thinking. Massey, are you that out of it that you don't notice someone doing a lift or a plant in your own pocket? Yes? Yes. Well, good for our heroes, and bad for him. Of course, bumping into Massey like that gets him thrown out of the bar for being a drunken nuisance, but that's nothing Reese isn't capable of handling. He picks himself up, dusts himself off, and listens for the signal. It's a measure of how used to each other they've gotten that all Finch asks is whether or not the bug was successfully planted. No questioning Reese's judgement call, or his abilities, just being his usual fussy self. And now, both of them listening to Massey talking about Annie the waitserver. Even his son is telling him to forget it, but Massey doesn't wanna forget it, he's been disrespected, dammit. Riley offers to pay her a visit, and we can all guess what that means. Massey, despite still frothing at the mouth over this, doesn't think it'll work. Whether it's because he's in favor of a more violent or coercive solution or because he doesn't actually want her hurt is up for debate for at least another minute. Son Eddie sides with Riley, and that's about all it takes for Massey to agree and take it one step further. So, more violent, then? I'm not entirely sure I buy the escalation with seemingly little more than usual provocation, but since we haven't been introduced to a single redeeming quality about Massey yet, sure, why not. Riley balks, on the grounds that it will hurt morale to disappear the widow of one of the boys. And as much as he's right, knowing your family will be taken care of and not in the disappearing way, if you die, that does a lot to earn the loyalty of any mafia lieutenant. That said, Riley, I don't believe you and the only reason Massey believes you is because he's a thug with no perceptive abilities. Massey's not having any of that, though not likely because he's noticed Riley lying, just because he's been hit in the ego and he wants to see some blood on the ground before he'll be appeased. So, fine, Riley agrees and Massey tells him to "use the Pearl," which will no doubt come into play later. And to take Eddie with him. So right now we have the set up either for a coup or for Riley to get a hit out on him because he's going to have to kill Eddie, one of the two. We can hope for coup, since Eddie looks like the sort of violent, eager-beaver thug who might have decided his Dad's weak and needs to be taken down. Not too much hope, though, Eddie's still looking at his Dad with a fair amount of idolization.  Now Reese and Finch have an idea of the crime the Machine is looking at, and what they'll have to do to stop it. Or they think they do, anyway. It's never that simple this early in the show.

It's late by the time Riley and Eddie make their way over to Annie's apartment, about one in the morning by the Machine's time. Why the long delay? Who the hell knows, we don't get an explanation for this one. Some time elapsed to get Annie off shift, but after that, not a clue. Maybe just time for the neighbors to go to sleep. Finch is fussing at Reese over the earpiece, though at least he's doing it now rather than when Reese is actively in combat. Yes, Reese knows they're dangerous men, Finch. And what is he, chopped liver? Reese diverts him to the background on Annie, which amounts to her husband was shot nine months ago in Brighton Beach, which was Russian territory at the time. They have her address and, yes, as expected, Eddie, Riley, and Reese are all headed in that direction. Riley and Eddie are discussing the terms of homicide, which Riley isn't feeling inclined to share. His tells are all over the place, too, fixed focus straight ahead, facial tension, slowed speech. Unfortunately these are mostly visual tells, and all Reese and Finch have to go on is audio. Finch is getting more and more worked up over this, too, I'm not sure why apart from pretty young female, which tends to get the boys in a somewhat greater frenzy than usual. Men. Reese is gritty and determined. With a shotgun, now! Only, now comes our first complication: Massey is calling Eddie to tell him to kill Riley for his insubordination and something else? Come clean about what? Anyway, it'll be two bodies for the Pearl instead of one and, Eddie, seriously, control your eye movements. And your face in general. And your voice. Oh, never mind. You both are terrible liars. Riley is marginally more perceptive and knows that Eddie's been given orders to kill him, as Reese speeds up to try and catch them and prevent Riley's imminent murder. Finch. Finch, honey, why are you being so slow right now. You heard that conversation. And, I might add, you are at least smart enough even in a human interaction sense to figure out what's going on here. Both they and the audience now have enough information to put the pieces together, namely that Riley and Annie are more closely tied to each other than they are to the Irish mob, or at least Massey and son think so, thus the death part. And Riley would agree with that, thus the offering to take care of it himself while having no intention of doing so, so that he can protect her. The audience, being familiar with the conventions of narratives like this and since we haven't seen any indications yet that this will be anything more or less than boilerplate, can also assume that either Riley and Annie are romantically involved or Riley has a romantic interest in Annie. But Reese and Finch don't have that information yet.

Two gunshots ring out! The car jumps, crashes nose first into a parked car as Reese pulls up, gets out. Riley staggers out of the wreckage and Reese, not according to the initial plan I think, backs off to see what develops. Since we can't see what Riley's punching into his phone Finch narrates for us that he's calling Annie, also underscoring Finch's agitation since we and Reese would know this in a second when her voice comes on the line. Annie's been asleep, but wakes up quickly. So, romantic relationship, or at least it's heavily implied by Riley talking about how Massey must have found out about her and him. He tells her to go to "their place" and wait for him, which must be some sort of pre-arranged safehouse we'll find out about at the dramatically appropriate time, and he's got to make a quick stop. For supplies, money, guns, something like that, not that he says it out loud. Oh, there's the L word. So, yes. Romantic relationship. Riley ditches his phone, smart guy, and goes off to get his things. Finch is amazed. Reese is... if anything, it looks like Reese is irritated by this complication. More determined than ever to keep them safe, but irritated.

Coming back from commercial it's early in the morning and Reese is still following Riley, sans Annie. In the rain, poor boys. And now begins the ideological split between Reese and Finch, wherein Finch not so delicately suggests that Reese spend his time looking for and protecting Annie rather than wasting time on a killer like Riley. And I have to go ram my face into my house wall because, really? Really, Finch? Do you remember who you're talking to, a largely unrepentant killer with a much longer history than Riley's? Who's probably also done quite a bit worse than Riley, for that matter; Riley's been a leg-breaker and killer for, what, a decade and a half? And on the small scale? Reese is a global spyssassin who's had at least a good ... oh, let's see, he started after 9/11 and we're roughly in the present day so we'll give him a round ten years at being a spyssassin, plus whatever operations he engaged in as a military officer that involved lethal force. I'd like to say that this was above-board legal force engaged on only enemy military targets, but I'd be lying if I said I believed that. Reese has killed a lot of people in his time, twice as many as Riley, for equally shitty reasons, Finch. Suggesting that you find Riley's life of little worth, or less than, anyway, is not helping your case, is not helping your relationship with your pet spyssassin and alleged friend, and in general is not fucking helping. In some ways it's even more infuriating because it's in character, it's not as though Finch hasn't demonstrated some screwy moral sense before, albeit not quite this kind of screwy. And it's a relatively well integrated secondary conflict. But god do I want to smack him. Reese points out the similarity without the smacking I so dearly want to give, but then, he likes Finch more than I do. I will say, though, that Finch does have a point. At the heart of it and with bullets likely to fly, you can only bodyguard one person at a time, and Reese may well have to make a choice who he's going to save. And why do these moralizing conversations so often happen in the rain, anyway? He also has a point that the cops are likely to be looking at him, which means it's time to bring in Carter and Fusco. Ooh, it's organized crime, to we get a Szymanski, too?

Carter picks up the phone first, and gives Reese the "don't you give me this shit until I've had my coffee" speech. Oh how accustomed she's become to him, and to this work. Also to busting his chops. I approve heartily. Reese gives her the location of... a body? Likely the car that crashed 'cause the driver took two to the ribcage. Or face. I would also approve of two to the face, less likelihood of body armor. While he's telling her this both Reese and Riley are hiding from Massey's men, which means (as Finch narrates for us, I do love how the part about having two equal protagonists gives us dialogue as a means to connect the dots for those who can't at speed) that Massey already knows about Dead Eddie. Also, Reese, where are your razors? Really. I'm not sure if this is a test by costume/makeup or if this is meant to play up Reese's rugged anti-hero aspect, but that's less shaven than he usually is. Or, now that I think about it, maybe it's meant to play up the sleep he's not getting and the time crunch they're under, considering Riley's been up all night, too. That seems more likely, at least. Anyway, now that Massey knows about Eddie and has sent more triggermen out after Riley, he'll send more after Annie as well. Which means they need to make sure she's not at her place or anywhere else Massey's likely to look. Which means boots on the ground. Reese, mindful of his friend's recent trauma, does offer to get Fusco first. And there's definitely the sound in his voice that says he's doing this because of Finch, as a silent question if Finch wants to stay  benched a while longer. Meanwhile the poor guy in question looks... dare I say almost ashamed? Most likely of (as he may think of it) hiding safe in his lair while people are in danger. I'm speculating this way for two reasons, one based on Finch's slight downward glances and the near-lipbiting thing he's doing, and two because of his history with the dilemma of staying put versus going out and doing something. Nathan Ingram went out and did something about the irrelevant list, and Finch held back then. He may be facing the same dilemma now, and aware of the echo. Or it's possible he's having the internal dialogue of whether or not he wants to get back on the horse, to let the fear rule him, etc. Either way, he does decide in favor of going out, doing the full extent of his job, and making sure Annie hasn't been caught yet. No doubt this isn't helping his mental state nor his reactions to Riley either, though. Poor guy.

Carter rolls up to the crime scene and hi Szymanski! Good to see you again! For Carter, too, as Szymanski cracks jokes about how he can't afford the dying part. She dodges questions about how she knew there was a body on the ground and gets read in to what they have on the scene; two in the side, hollow points, close range. Ouch. It's a quick, out-loud set of deductions from there to the shooter being someone Eddie knew who was in the car with him, another lieutenant, most likely. Oh, hey, there's a phone! The call from Massey's on it, and then several missed calls, also most likely from Massey. Yeah, this isn't going to end well.

It's difficult to say, but given that we don't see the lock jiggle as Finch attempts to pick it, chances are pretty good that the lock's already been picked and the place has already been cased. Either that or Annie figured since she wasn't coming back there it wouldn't matter if she left it unlocked; either of those is likely. Finch looks around for any sign of where she went, and now it's his turn to be on the end of a nagging voice in the earpiece asking him every two minutes if he's found anything. I have a great deal of pointing and laughing. Sadly, no one points this out, so I'm left with pointing and laughing by my lonesome. Finch looks on the computer for their secret meeting place, his area of particular expertise, I guess, but as it turns out this is also the best place. The photo on her desktop was taken personally, not a stock photo of the skyline. Reese reminds him not to stick around, causing him to lose Riley, but we do learn via dialogue that he's put both their pet detectives on the case, saving(?) us a Fusco scene. Aww, I wanted a Fusco scene.

Back at the blue door pub which is apparently called Massey's, Szymanski and Carter give Massey the bad news. No one is surprised, nor does a jar with a surprised face feature. Carter is concerned, if that's the word, as to how Massey's dealing with his grief. Yeah, if a grieving father I was talking to had dozens of armed people at his disposal I'd be worried about how he was dealing with the loss of his son, too. The usual set of questions here, and the usual non-answers we've come to expect from mafia leaders. Along with Carter highlighting the fact that none of Massey's usual crew are around protecting their leader from an unknown assailant, and maybe that unknown assailant isn't so unknown after all. And then the threat, and both parties walk away unsatisfied. Or, well, one party sits there and the other party walks away. We all know how this goes. However this does give us a nice transition as Carter passes Fusco at the bar, hi Fusco! He's buying the guy at the bar with him a drink, in the fashion of trading his full drink for the guy's empty one, so as to appear as though he belongs there so he can eavesdrop. And to Carter's credit, she barely slows down as she passes Fusco. Now, here's an interesting thing, despite Fusco working for HR for so long, Massey doesn't recognize him as a corrupt cop. Indicating, what, that Massey never worked with HR or used their services? Or, and I would say more likely, that Fusco never went out on those particular details. Food for thought, although not exactly breaking my suspension of disbelief here. Massey orders another round of check-ins to see if Riley and Annie have shown up yet, and we're back to the dynamic duo.

Finch is using triangulation software based on height of landmarks and so on to determine where on the map that picture was taken from. Because he's badass like that. Reese isn't interested in the science behind it, which he calls voodoo, which amuses the hell outta me; he's more interested in the address it might give. Ah, there we go! And it's trigonometry. See, remember when they told you that would come in handy later? Nyah. The address also happens to be the address of the building where Riley grew up are you KIDDING ME? You fucking moron. That may not be the first place Massey will look but you can bet it's on his list. You couldn't have picked a tourist trap, an unrelated building, or something else? Something a little less obvious? Jesus Hitman. Well, at least Reese is on his way, albeit not as fast as one might like. Reese. Move your fine ass. Which he does, because then he's on the roof overhearing the argument between Riley and Annie about how Massey found out about them, and they need to get her out of there, and she won't leave without him, and so on and so forth. Well this has to hit Reese where he lives. Not quite so hard as the one episode in around this time last season (Mission Creep 1x03, third instead of fourth), because the parallels aren't exact, but close enough. He's certainly in a position to empathize with Riley wanting to get out of a bad job and a bad situation where his employers have turned on him, particularly for love of a good woman. And it's not much of a stretch to imagine Jess saying some of those things. That said, he would do better to do a little less letting them talk and a little more getting them the hell out of there. Oh, well, then we wouldn't have this touching conversation wherein we learn the start of their relationship as a romantic couple and bond with them as sympathetic characters some more. It might not be sensible to the mission, but it's important to the story, and that we see this growth of character. Plus the little .38 on the mantel there of how Riley promised if she needed him he'd be there, because you know that's going to come up at the end of the episode. You can't tell me you don't know that. So. He agrees to go with her, they start to head out, stopping to grab something from under a vent panel. But it's not there! Oh noes! There's a phone there, though! Yeah, Massey knew about that. And the relationship. And everything. Riley, honey, you are awfully predictable. Oh look! Assassins. Not very competent ones, but they just need to get the bullets in the right place. That's okay, Reese is more than capable of handling them, no matter Finch's wide-eyed questions. Complete with badass music, braced stance, and flattering angles on our dear spyssassin. Riley and Annie have no idea what's going on and don't much care as long as they get out of there without getting shot. Okay, so Riley cares a little, in that he shoots Reese in the chest vest as they're fleeing. Just as Finch tells him to be careful, too, for extra darkly hilarious. Wearing a vest is totally being careful! And Reese's voice is hoarse and annoyed, indicating that yes, it did hurt, as being shot in the vest does. But now Riley and Annie are in the wind, with a number of loyal mafia killers after them. Oh goodie.

Back from commercial and over to Szymanski and Carter, coming up to speed that it was Riley's car, that he was seen leaving the building where apparently many shots were fired with a woman, though they call her a hostage. Well, he did have her by the hand, shots were fired, and they don't know who she was, though I question the leap to that judgement. Maybe in the interests of civilian safety? Ergh. Riley is apparently also a suspect in three hits over the past two years, though again, I question his characterization as "stone cold killer." Still. Finch. I wish you could hear that because that is so far from Reese they may as well be on different continents. That's JV. Reese is pro games. I continue to bitch and moan about this as we go back to Massey's, and Fusco passing on his drink to the other guy next to him, and more Irish mob men dropping their phones in the phone check box. And then over to the library base, where Reese is leaning up against a wall and being thoughtful. Finch would like him to stop chasing after Riley now please and thank you; the whole shooting Reese has not endeared Riley to him. Reese doesn't seem to hold it against Riley, as well he might not, considering Reese has been in many more life or death situations, not to mention firefights, than Finch has. He's thinking he might want a new shirt, though. Oh Reese. At least Finch doesn't put up much of an argument there, since they don't even know where Riley and Annie are, which is the first step in figuring out which one or both of them to save. Interrupted, now, by Fusco notifying them that there's a million dollar bounty out on the Romeo and Juliet couple, spurred by Reese's actions at the apartment building. Who's surprised. Are you surprised? What show have you been watching? Apparently, and this is also the first we're learning of it quite so directly, Massey isn't a powerful enough mob leader to pull off a city-wide bounty notice quickly, making him more of a gang leader, I guess. It's hard to say who Finch and Reese are thinking of when they talk about the help Massey must have had to pull that off, but given what happened to HR last season I'm guessing they mean Elias. Which also goes to Reese turning to Finch to deal with it. Entertainingly, Reese's phrasing puts him in charge for that moment at least, in the "see what you can do" phrase that's usually spoken by superiors to subordinates. They do switch off in that role depending on whose expertise is needed, though, and I am always pleased to see them managing that without conflict. Meanwhile Reese will follow the money in a less conventional sense, anticipating where Riley and Annie might go for go-bag money.

In the meantime, Carter is calling Reese up to yell at him for not telling her the truth and accuse him of using her. So it's a day ending in Y. He has the grace to look sheepish about it, and warns him that Szymanski is also looking to take Riley down, because he's still a murderer, after all. And they're still cops. Or at least, Szymanski is still a cop, Carter's sort of moonlighting the vigilante thing, Jim Gordon to Reese's Batman. Reluctantly. And angrily. Reese, hanging up on her isn't going to make her yell at you any less. Just saying. Anyway, at the restaurant we saw earlier the manager/boss person gets all the money out of the register and hands it to Annie as I hear Trans-Siberian Orchestra playing in the background. Not really, but if you know their signature Christmas show you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, I just rambled on for a couple of lines for no reason. He also warns her that Massey's men came by the restaurant looking for them. Oh, hey, look. Assassins. Yay. These do not look like your typical Irish mobster, although I suppose they could be? All we see of them is that they're black guys, one with big hair, they're dressed in black sweats and they're running. Well, chasing. Now running, straight into Reese. Oops. I do love Reese's ass-kicking music. Short work of those two and kicking the gun into a corner, Reese, you couldn't have just taken the gun? Maybe keep a collection at the library and turn them in at the next buyback? No? Actually, that would amuse me, some fanfiction writer should get on that. Reese checks in with Finch and impresses upon him the urgency of getting a good answer from their "old friend." Cut to Finch in a prison visiting room and, yes. Elias. Apparently Finch is going by Crane, now. Elias doesn't know him, which is a really damn good thing, and Finch introduces himself as saying he works with a man who saved the life of someone close to Elias: Charlie Burton. O-kay. That's one way of putting it! And also one way of not showing how much information you have access to, and I approve of this strongly. Not that it helps much. Elias immediately pegs him as the boss and the person he has to thank both for his life and his prison sentence. Oops. Elias isn't too bothered by his prison sentence: he still has control over most of the crime in the city, he's got a lot of uninterrupted time to read, play chess. Not that he's very appreciative of his chess opponents. Yeah, this is not making him seem any less scary. Finch agrees with me, don't you, Finch. But since they need him, Finch brings him up to speed on the Riley situation. Elias sticks a big old lampshade on both their heads over Massey, and the relative lack of wisdom of being the visible boss as opposed to the hand behind the curtains pulling all the strings. It's funny both because it's true and because both the actors and the cinematography are very aware of the parallels here, and doing their best to make us aware of it. And now we get down to it, which is that Finch needs Elias to withhold his assistance, being the greater mob boss in the picture. Elias indicates a certain willingness to accomodate them at least in certain areas, but then it comes down to a matter of price, in this case, not being in material objects. Of course we cut away before they can settle on a price, because why be clear when you can be murky and leave the audience in suspense.

Over to the train station, where Riley is being quite the idiot and letting Annie off on her own. Not so much that she might wander off as that letting her out of your sight even for a minute is a good way to get one or both of you caught, have you never played D&D before? Never split the party! Reese and Finch offer us some reassurance in the form of a dialogue disclosing that Elias has made the bounty on Riley and Annie's heads "forbidden fruit," in Finch's words. And it's a good bet that the would-be bounty hunters are more scared of Elias  than they are of Massey. Would we bet our lives on that? No. No we would not. For this exact reason who happens to be walking up and setting fire to a janitor's cart right now. There's always some dumbass who thinks he can get away with it and get the money. The janitor's cart is a nice touch, lots of flammable materials there most likely, between the chemicals and the paper products. A nice distraction, too; while everyone's running around in panic or trying to thread the panicked hordes, the bounty hunter grabs Annie. Oh noes!

After the break, Reese is tracking Riley,  being the one number he does have left and also at a guess because Riley is tracking Annie, and might know better than Reese where the bounty hunter is likely to have taken her. Because at this point either the bounty hunter killed her and is taking proof of death back to Massey, in which case there's nothing either of them can do, or she's alive and the bounty hunter's taking her back to Massey, in which case Riley would know where Massey's likely to be. At least, that's my logic, and I would assume that's Reese's as well. And yet, Finch is somehow too agitated to follow this line of thinking, possibly still due to his recent trauma? Difficult to say, but that would be my guess based on Finch's panicked blurting of Root's "bad code" phrase. Reese has no idea what the hell he's talking about, and Finch seems to realize what he's said as soon as he's said it, if not how to get the notion out of his head. Reese, brushing this off with what sounds like mild irritation, explains the reasoning to Finch, with the added reminder that "everything [Riley]'s done so far has been to protect Annie." Just in case Finch forgot why Riley's the good guy here and not the perpetrator. Immediately after that, again the continuing switch of points of view and scenes as the tension mounts, Fusco tells Finch that Massey's on the move, that he lost him, most likely out the back of the pub. And then we're back over to Reese, who is... ambushing Riley. Why, Reese? Why now? Why? This fight is pretty much a foregone conclusion, but we can admire Reese's badassery nonetheless. And drool. Can't forget the drooling. For those of you/us paying attention to such things, also, Reese is throwing very few punches here. A lot of blocks, a lot of aikido-style dodges and using Riley's momentum to "escort" him in a direction away from punching Reese, and not a lot of direct hits until the end, when it's a few sharp hits to the chest and lung area. We've seen Reese fight more than often enough by now to know that this is on purpose; he doesn't want to hurt Riley, but he needs Riley on his side and that means getting past the part where Riley sees everyone and everything around him as out to get him. Particularly a man in a suit who moves like Jagger an assassin. So. Once the punches stop flying Reese establishes that not only does he know who Riley is and what he's trying to do, he knows what happened to Annie's dead husband. Ah-hah! Yeah, the laws of narrative make this somewhat of a non-surprise, both because the dead husband came up a little too often to be unimportant to the larger story, because people generally don't kill people who owe them money, and because in order to keep the episode storyline as contained as it's turning out to be, it had to be someone we've already met. Conservation of characters, and all. Therefore, yes. The only question now is, is Riley the sort of person who killed the husband to get at the widow, or did he do it because he's a loyal gun for Massey and the falling in love came after? The one is considerably more admirable than the other; misplaced loyalty is generally a better trait in killers than ruthless emotional manipulation. And it turns out, yes, he killed the dead husband on Massey's orders. And if anyone was pulling a Uriah gambit here, it was Massey. We will now pause for a steel wool shower, because ew, while they establish that everyone is in this for Annie's good and to get her out of the life and out of town where she can start over. Or, well, Riley establishes it, Reese doesn't need to prove a damn thing to him. Finch, I hope you were listening to all of that.

Reese and Riley are now playing dodge-cop over to an alley that actually looks suspiciously familiar from the pilot episode, huh. Reese pulls Riley into cover and calls Carter for a sitrep, which is that Szymanski's got a dragnet out for Riley. Oops. The banter between Reese and Carter continues to be excellent with the "don't tell me you're with him right now" "... okay, I won't." Seriously, you two, you're adorable. It takes some doing and some sideways looks from Riley (while Reese makes with the "trust me" eyes, Reese, it's adorable that you think that's at all convincing) but he does at least manage to get Carter to take the dragnet off to a different direction. More likely due to his track record of being right and reliable than to any promise to turn in Riley if things turn out sideways. Not that that's going to convince Riley. What does convince him is that the cop car pulls away abruptly, sirens blaring. And now it's time to get Annie, but not at the pub. At the Pearl. The Emerald Pearl, what? That's a stupid name, but a real place as it turns out, another club Massey owns that he keeps for doing the kind of illicit business that needs open spaces and a lot of lye and chemicals. Off to the Emerald Pearl, then!

The Machine will kindly escort us there ahead of the boys after the break, Annie sitting scared in a folding chair surrounded by Massey, the bounty hunter, and a couple of thugs. Massey's only mildly irritated that they don't have Riley, but he figures out loud that they'll catch up with him soon enough, and he's even in a good enough mood to pay the bounty hunter in cashy money rather than in bullets. One assumes. Bullets would take a couple of seconds to deliver and Mook Cory does leave the room without the bounty hunter so we know he's not being dragged off somewhere to be killed. Outside the Pearl, Reese is playing bounty hunter turning in Riley, which is as good an excuse as any to be turning up face first at an unfamiliar location full of heavily armed enemy. Inside, Massey is doing the traditional villain speech about how he tried to help but got his good gestures flung back in his face, blah blah blah. He also confesses to having her hsuband whacked for stealing, in pretty much the same tone of voice and with the same expression, so somehow I doubt she's going to be swayed to the notion of magnanimous Massey anytime soon. Oh, and did Riley ever tell her what really happened to dead husband Sean? At this point it shouldn't be too hard for her to guess, but before either that can happen or Massey can tell her, hey, it's Riley to the rescue! Sort of. Massey isn't worried, it's about three? five? to one, depending on where the bounty hunter throws his loyalties and how many of the mooks we can see; five, at a guess. Okay, he's worried enough to keep the bounty hunter from starting the firefight, but that might as easily be a factor of needing to control things as fear for his life and the bullets flying. Because it's still five against one, six, if you count Mook Cory coming back with the money and setting everything off, only now it's about six against two as Reese comes out, gun drawn and held low.  Brought high to shoot Mook Cory, who hasn't gotten the message that we're still in standoff mode. Naturally, this sets off the firefight and the subsequent argument about who gets Annie out of there. No points for guessing who gets sent out with the girl? No, not really. Riley convinces her to leave with Reese, that he'll be right behind her, which is essentially signing his death warrant in great big narrative-says letters even if he hadn't done enough of that already. At this point the only thing weighing in favor of him coming out of this alive is the fact that he's the number of the week. That's not very much, especially when a major theme of the show is not only saving lives but also living well, or helping people to live well, i.e. Finch with Reese, Reese with Shaw, etc. We've seen them lose a number under similar circumstances when the number decided the world was better of without him. (Foe, 1x08) Anyway, for several reasons, the number-of-the-week immunity theory gets shot down, literally, as one of Massey's half-wild shots gets Riley straight in the chest. Everybody else, it looks like, is dead. Riley lurches to his feet as the two of them have some last hate-filled words, involving Riley acknowledging that he's generally a thug like Massey. Before shooting him.

Outside Finch drives up and, dear dear Finch, asks after Riley when he sees only Reese and Annie waiting outside the club. Reese basically pushes her into the car and tells Finch to get her out of there, and he'll go back in for Riley, but he has to know what's going on in there, too. Even if he's not saying or betraying anything by his face. Riley pulls himself up again, inside, oh, hey, not everyone else is dead. Here's the bounty hunter! Here's an ambiguous gunshot with the camera off at an angle where we can't see who got shot! Here's Reese coming in too late! So, the bounty hunter got killed, then. Riley's on the ground, dead, by this point, and Reese takes the train ticket and leaves quietly, and the rest is silence.

Not quite. Reese escorts Annie to the train station and gives her the ticket, by which she knows Riley didn't intend to come with her after all. Which she interprets as he hadn't changed, hadn't intended to leave the life, and which Reese corrects to Riley had wanted to leave but knew he actually wouldn't be able to, not alive, anyway, not and have her be safe. Not that he's speaking from personal experience or anything. Of course not. Off goes Annie for the wide open west and a new beginning, and up comes Finch for a quiet conversation with Reese about people changing, evolving. Not inherently flawed or broken, not "bad code," not even killers, Reese. Finch knows that now, as stated when he explains that the term only applies to machines, not people. He's adorable, he is. But we never did hear what Elias wanted in exchange for calling off the bounty, did we? So, by way of answer and foreshadowing, our second to last scene is Elias and Finch playing chess. There's a whole pile of symbolism here in the fact that Elias is playing white, and moving first, and Finch is playing black. Finch in the more reactive role of acting only once someone has stated an intent to murder, Elias being pro-active in his role of taking over organized crime, subverting the expected moral paradigm by assigning the traditionally evil tone to Finch, etc. Our final scene of the episode has much less symbolism and much more satisfaction. It turns out the bounty hunter wasn't killed, after all! An oversight Reese will now correct.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this eppy and I love your reviews. This one was exceptionally good. Thanks.