Person of Interest: "Flesh and Blood"
For a network TV show, Person of Interest crams an impressive amount of narrative into a relatively short span of time. I know, we're not talking The Wire levels of nuance here, but with the first season wrapping up, creator Jonathan Nolan has done a more than adequate job fleshing out the backgrounds of his principals while continuing to further the overarching plot involving the show's Big Bad.
After last week's somewhat static episode (we learn the FBI is after Reese, probably because nabbing him before the CIA does would amuse them), it was nice to get the ball rolling again with Elias. With just four episodes remaining, you assume he's going to figure prominently in the season finale.
At least, I would have before last night.
We begin with Det. Carter and her son Taylor sharing a moment as she drops him off for school. Remember the rule in shows like this: We never see family unless something bad is going to happen to them. Anyway, no sooner has he left than she's informed that Elias has drained all four million dollars from his flagged bank account. Something is afoot, unless he was just buying Mega Millions tickets.
Logic would suggest he's going after the heads of New York's Mafia families. Well, that and the fact the Machine spit out all five of their numbers (I'm not *that* good at predicting this crap). After kidnapping his own dad, Elias just(!) needs to take out the Dons and organized crime in NYC is his to control. Reese doesn't see a problem with "trash taking out the trash." Finch argues they should be "reaching for a higher standard." Hippie.
Conveniently, all five men are having their monthly meeting at some place called the Covenant Club. More conveniently, nobody in charge of their security seems bothered by Reese taking their picture. No cameras or cell phones are allowed, which is small potatoes for Finch, who hijacks the emergency com system to eavesdrop. Turns out Moretti's son (Paul Schulze of The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie) wants them to go after Elias, the others -- Zambrano especially -- not so much.
Elias's dad, the elder Moretti, wants to know why his bastard son hasn't killed him yet. It's because he wants Dad to watch him do what he never could (unite the Five Families). When Pop scoffs, Elias as much as says he's going to "make them an offer they can't refuse." He also brings up the fact Dad murdered Mom *again*. Let it go, dude!
And here's Fusco, who the crooked "HR" cops have decided needs to inform them of whatever the FBI finds out about Reese. Now we know some of Elias's $4 million went to Simmons (Robert John Burke -- Rescue Me). Simmons also tells Fusco it's going to get very busy for Homicide in the next few days. I hope that means Det. Munch is going to make an appearance.
Simmons wasn't kidding. Reese decides to approach Don Capparelli, who declines his offer of protection. Hey, you know one thing TV shows don't do all that well? Hide the fact that a car's about to explode. You saw that coming like Sir Lancelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That's one capo kaput. Reese watches the (probable) bomber drive off, teeth set in steely determination.
Whoa, flashback! It's 1981, and a young Carl Elias is confiding to his...aunt(?) about being called a bastard. She tells him to be his own man. That turned out well.
Back in 2012, Carter is playing the same game as Reese, trying to bring in the Dons. She doesn't know Elias's plan, or that HR is in on it (though you'd think at this point she wouldn't trust anybody). She goes to grab Don Vasilay(?), only to have her entire police escort up and vanish while an assassin shoots the don. Reese shows up...well, not in the nick of time, the Don is dead after all. He's still quick with a Schwarzenegger-ian one-liner ("You should return your calls").
Flashback again! Now it's 1991 and Elias is having his first meeting with Dad (a bewigged and be-youngified Mark Margolis...hey, they did the same thing to him in Breaking Bad), who agrees to show him the ropes. That also turned out well.
Carter meets with Reese and Finch, who reassure her she can trust them. She confesses she doesn't have time to get warrants to track all Elias's money transfers. Finch suggests..alternative means of obtaining that info. Reese also offers her a shotgun and a few grenades. You know, for home defense. She goes to Fusco for backup, because he's "the only cop she can trust." Hoo boy. They go to the last three Dons and basically shanghai them for their own protection. They beat Elias's button men and make it to a Finch-provided safe house. Everything seems to be going swimmingly until Elias's man kidnaps Carter's son. Reese attempts to break up the kidnapping, but ends up once again watching a car drive off again while gritting his teeth.
Elias has a bargain for Carter: Taylor for the Dons. Reese vows to get him back unharmed, but he better hurry because Elias shows up at the safe house and reiterates his offer, all while thoughtfully massaging a scar on his hand. Wait, that can only mean...
Another flashback! 1991 again (I can almost hear "[Everything I Do] I Do It for You" playing). In a surprisingly artfully shot scene, Elias foils an assassination attempt by dear old dad's men (including a hand-scarring garrote). So much for family reunions.
Finch seeks help from...Simmons? "HR severs its ties with Elias as of this moment." Yeah, it's always been my experience that cops respond well to threats. Then again, maybe the photos of an ex-con surveilling his family struck a chord.
Zambrano starts dishing about Fusco's bad old days, but things happen pretty fast and Carter can't properly process the insinuations (for now...). Reese shows up at the house where they're holding Taylor (he doesn't like it when they mess with kids). He kills two guys but fails to neck-snap the third, not coincidentally the same guy who eluded him after the Capparelli bombing and Taylor's kidnapping. Luckily, Taylor (and Moretti) is now safe.
HR pulls coverage off the safe house, which would be good news for Carter and Fusco, until Zambrano turns out to be a rat. He appeals to Fusco's worse nature, which apparently doesn't work because when Elias and his guys finally break in, there's Zambrano dead on the ground. Elias comes in and...gets arrested? He's harmless now, right? Well no, because the guy Reese didn't kill plants a car bomb that takes out Moretti and Moretti Jr. And just like that, all five Dons are worm food.
Unfortunately for Elias, he can't immediately capitalize on this. It's apparent from his little nod to his jail guard that escaping won't be a problem. And once he gets out, he's probably not going to be as patient with Reese and Carter.
"Flesh and Blood" was a solid episode: well paced with a ton of action and exposition out the wazoo. It'll be interesting to see how they keep the momentum going for the last few episodes.
And the answer to that is: not very well. We're not getting another episode until April 26. See you in three weeks.
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