Man, how long has it been since there's been a new Person of Interest? It feels like we haven't had one since before Thanksgiving...[checks Wikipedia]...holy crap, we haven't. So in case you've forgotten everything about the show in a haze of tryptophan and college football, I'll remind you that Messrs Finch (Michael Emerson) and Reese (Jim Caviezel) work together to prevent Bad Things from happening to/being committed by persons selected by The Machine, a device invented by Mr. Finch that measures threat levels.
Reese is being hunted by Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and her partner Det. Fusco (Kevin Chapment), who is actually Reese's plant inside the NYPD. She's also on the trail of the formerly mysterious Elias (Enrico Colantoni), who is moving to take over organized crime in the city. He has previously warned Reese to stay out of his way, and when the Machine spits out Carter's number this week, it looks like Elias has set his sights on her as well.
We've been curious for some time about Carter's background, and last night there was finally some partial illumination. She worked as an interrogator in Iraq, and in a flashback sequence to 2004 (which was spread throughout the episode but I'm going to summarize as a whole right now because I'm lazy), she coaxes the whereabouts of several suicide bomber vests out of an Al Qaeda operative named Yusuf. Carter develops a rapport with Yusuf, who is only helping the bad guys to protect his family, whom she assures him she can protect.
This turns out to be a lie when the squad leader in charge of disposing of the explosives informs Carter that Yusuf was killed in an "accident," which I guess is the Iraq War equivalent of "shot trying to escape." She's understandably pissed off, and I guess this is the incident that stripped her of her naivete and turned her into the hard-ass yet sensitive cop she is today.
Case in point: Back in the present day we see her trying to convince one Mrs. Kovac to press charges against her husband for knocking her around. She declines, but Carter tells her she'll be in touch anyway. It's gratifying to know murder rates have dropped to such low levels in NYC that homicide detectives can spend their time comforting abused spouses. Hell, I may move the family there next month.
She also pays a visit to Don Moretti (Elias's matricidal father), in the hopes of getting Moretti to help him track down Elias. No dice. This is probably because he's played by Mark Margolis, the same guy who played Tuco's bell-ringing uncle in Breaking Bad, and you know what a jerk *he* was.
Reese is touching base with Fusco at the scene of the murder of Ron Middleton, one of Carter's former snitches when Finch tells him the Machine has pulled Carter's card. Reese tails her to a lunch with her heretofore unseen teenage son while Finch puts a camera in her car and her office. He follows her to see her brace the suspect in the Middleton murder, one Hector Alvarez, but nothing comes up.
Fusco does some digging of his own and finds out Elias is playing mob ball the old-fashioned way: by buying off the right people, all the way up to the city council. He's the one who presents the danger to Carter, and his old captain as much as tells him there's a bounty on Carter's head, her being the one good cop in a bad town, and all.
Of course, there's also Alvarez, who's menacing in a more traditional TV bad guy way, and if that wasn't enough, Carter goes to a bar to confront Mr. Kovac about beating his wife. Hey, that's a good move, antagonizing the wife beater by mocking the size of his penis. Of course, while Carter and Fusco check into the possibility Hector had a secret girlfriend in the vicinity of Middleton's murder. Reese takes a more direct route, blasting his way into Hector's body shop and stealing his guns and GTO. Dude is taking this one personally.
The detectives get both of Hector's girlfriends together to give him up, but Carter is diverted by an emergency call from Mrs. Kovac, whose husband has surprisingly taken unkindly to her threats. Reese beats her there (and beats Kovac's ass), and warns Carter that someone's out to kill her.
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In the meantime, Elias drops some flowers off for Carter. Reese magically acquires a SWAT uniform and shows up at Hector's warehouse in time for the raid, though Carter doesn't need any help arresting him. That puts Kovac and Hector out of the picture, leaving only Carter's twitchy informant, who I ignored all episode because I'm an idiot. Carter tasked him with getting some dirt on Elias, who turns the tables by buying the guy off. He shoots Carter and is, in turn, killed by Reese. Carter lives (I suspect she'll never take that flak jacket off again), and shares a tender-ish moment with Reese. Reese then visits Fusco's old captain and pulls an L.A. Confidential-style bad cop/bad cop, dangling him off the roof and threatening to kill him if anything happens to Carter.
I'm glad we finally fleshed out Carter some. The character needed to be more than just the cop equivalent of Mr. McGee from The Incredible Hulk, and while I'm not entirely sold on Henson in this role, they're doing a decent job fleshing each of the characters out equally. Next up, all Fusco, all the time.
Okay, maybe not.
Next week: Reese runs into some old spook buddies.