Person of Interest: Day of the "Dead Reckoning"

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That's how you come back from a hiatus.

Just like that, Person of Interest pushes a very loud reset button on Reese's back story and introduces what looks to be the next Big Bad. And all this one episode after reintroducing Kara Stanton, who killed Agent Donnelly and absconded with Reese.

Now Brennan Brown is free to make more Geico commercials.

But first, we had to learn Stanton's plans. If she simply wanted to kill Reese she had the perfect opportunity, so what'll it be?Assassinating a foreign head of state? Robbing Fort Knox? Obtaining the perfect egg salad recipe? What?!

But first, it's a Flashback! Only this is just to last episode, which we already covered. Stanton left Carter (Taraji P. Henson) alive, and she makes like a shepherd and gets the flock out of Donnelly's car. Mr. Reese (Jim Caviezel) wakes up on the subway with the patsy formerly known as Agent Snow (Michael Kelly), and both of them are wearing Semtex vests, courtesy of Stanton. I was right in that she wants them to "run a few errands," muttering something about "three dead spies and a brave new world." In true Die Hard With A Vengeance fashion, if they complete the tasks in a timely fashion, she'll let them live. Yeah, right.

Fusco (Kevin Chapman) calls Carter from the scene of the crash to tell her the Feds are asking after her. She mets with an Agent Moss who has some questions about Donnelly's state of mind. Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) brings the cops up to speed on Stanton, as much as he can. They'll try to figure out what she's up to, meanwhile Reese and Snow go on their first errand: picking up a hard drive from some generic Slavic bad guys. Negotiations go south and Stanton (Annie Parisse) shoots them from a sniper roost when Reese and Snow are a little slow in cracking skulls.

Flashback again! This one spans 2010-11. It starts in Ordos again with the whole "you're to retire Agent Stanton/Agent Reese" thing. Haven't we seen this three times already? What's the endgame? Killing Snow? Aha, this time we see the aftermath. Stanton was captured by the Chinese and a bedside meeting with a Mysterious Old Man (who looks like a less dessicated John Hurt) who welcomes her to "the afterlife" and shows her the laptop the U.S. was so willing to kill her (and Reese) to destroy. The M.O.M. compares her former employers with the Titans of old (not the Tennessee ones) who feared the new gods so much they ate them. He offers an answer to Stanton's question: who's responsible for sending her to China?

Back in the present, Reese and Snow are supposed to steal a car from some suits who turn out to be ATF agents. They're to assume the identities and respond to a bomb threat. Boy, good thing it's so easy to beat and rob two guys in broad daylight in New York City. Reese also gets a text message off to Finch and Carter goes to track him.

Their next job: infiltrate a secret DOD facility atop an office building ... and they have 15 minutes to do it or boom goes the dynam, er, Semtex. This is awfully stressful. It turns out the lab develops weaponized malware, and Stanton is keen to grab something called "Cygnus" which could *cough* "destroy the internet." Reese gets a technician to tell him how to wipe the servers, and he does so (after a brief fight with Snow). Of course, Stanton is actually looking to upload something into the DoD's mainframe.

She locks the two in the lab. They escape, of course, but while Reese wants to keep civilians safe, Snow wants to try for a CIA safe house. Carter and Fusco show up, but John elects to walk the last mile to the roof and detonate safely, I guess. What is this bullshit? No one can clone the phone strapped to his chest? Genius hacker man Finch can't stop the timer.

Oh, of course he can. And does. The exchange between the two, especially Reese's increasingly pained expression as Finch explains his "process" for defusing the bomb, is priceless.

The virus deploys, the Mysterious Old Man congratulates Stanton and gives her the name of the person who sold the laptop that got her "killed" in Ordos. Of course, we don't hear it. Of course it's Finch. What Stanton has planned for the name, we'll never know, for even as Finch defuses Reese's bomb, Snow -- hiding in Stanton's car -- blows them both to Planet Mongo. Give this to Snow, he may be a weasely prick, but he went out on a high note. Guess they're gonna need some more CIA guys.

Agent Moss shows up to tell her the Feds are convinced Snow was the Man in the Suit. Gee, everything wrapped up nice and neat, except for -- you know -- that pesky virus Stanton uploaded that's still out there. And until we see a glimpse of the paper with the name "Harold Finch."

"Dead Reckoning" was one of the more satisfying PoI episodes in recent memory, and demonstrates how the show has stayed fresh over the course of almost two seasons. Remember when everyone assumed Elias would be the series' main villain? Well, he's in prison, "Root" is in the wind, Stanton and Snow are dead, and now we have this old British guy pulling strings with a weapon potentially capable of destroying the Machine itself. That was some hour.

Next week: unfortunately, it appears we're right back to the crapola.

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