The worst thing a network can do to one of its developing TV shows is to allow it to slip into the same hole so many of its other signature programs occupy. ABC has its doltish sex dramedies like Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice, NBC peppers its legitimately humorous comedies with horrible reality shows, while CBS - home to our beloved Person of Interest - loves it some crime procedurals and fortune cookie moralizing.
And if there's anything that will sink PoI, it's descending into this familiar formula. I've come to accept the show is going to be mostly "number of the week," teased with hints of Reese and Finch's histories. But last night was a welcome low-key outing, showcasing Reese's soft skills and not just his ability to pull your heart out of your chest and show it to you before you die.
As this episode begins, X-rays reveal Finch has spinal fusion surgery recently. This might help explain the limp, and is also a convenient inroad to the latest number, one Megan Tillman, Columbia Medical grad and ER resident.
But Reese isn't the only one on the good doctor's trail. Enter Andrew Benton, urban sophisticate and serial Roofie rapist. He's set his sights on Tillman, who appears to be leading a double life of the emergency doc by day/Looking for Mr. Goodbar by night variety. Finch and Reese learn Benton has been implicated in a number of sexual assaults, but not of the alleged victims ever pressed charges. Reese pays a visit to his apartment, which doesn't provoke much in the way of sympathy thanks to its distinct America Psycho vibe.
But what's this? "She's stalking him?!" Turns out Tillman is seeking revenge for her sister, who Benton raped in college and subsequently killed herself. At this point, we're all just waiting for Reese to double tap the guy and utter some witty bon mot, but the show's only half over, so...
Over in the supporting character department, Carter has a follow-up visit with Finch (AKA "Burdlow the paralegal") following the evidence room robbery. He's able to put her off the scent, but realizes she'll be back and tells Reese as much.
Reese's pet cop Fusco also has problems. Some drug dudes are leaning on him over missing drugs and he wants Reese to take care of them. Reese is nonchalant, but starts gathering dirt on a backup dirty cop, just in case.
The easy thing to would be to let Tillman carry out her plan (she even has a pantry full of lye to dispose of Benton's body...hard fucking core, as Rafterman might say), but Reese is worried about the damage to Tillman's psyche if she goes through with her plan (she's dedicated her life to healing, etc. etc.). Finally, he reaches the obvious conclusion: he needs to take care of Benton himself.
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In a sort of backhanded attempt to help Fusco with his problem, Reese kicks hell out of the cartel guys and steals some blow to plant on Benton. It doesn't work (Benton apparently has Alan Dershowitz on retainer). Tillman surprises Benton in his apartment and subdues him (taser + anesthetic), but because Reese is jumped by the cartel guys after Fusco gives him up, he can't follow. At least, not yet. It's a simple matter for him to escape and reveal he has some dirt of his own on the lead drug guy. After that, he tracks Tillman down and talks her out of her plan. This sets up a nicely ambiguous ending as Reese and Benton face off across a table, a gun between them, as Reese exhorts Benton to "help me make the right decision."
It's a nice change of pace for Reese, this talking people out of things instead of kicking the shit out of them. I'm 99% sure he killed the guy anyway, though.
And look at that, he was scoping out the other dirty cop to get Fusco reassigned from narcotics to robbery, where he's partnered with...Carter. Damn, Reese is one smooth operator. Now he has a mole to keep tabs on her investigation.
Next week: Reese is back kicking the shit out of people.