Did I forget to mention there was no Person of Interest last week? Sorry folks (said in my best John Candy from National Lampoon's Vacation voice), I'm not sure what the deal was with that. They didn't pre-empt it for the World Series but did for...Thursday night football? Crazy old world.
One of the better things about PoI is how the show has managed to throw a few curve balls when it comes to the whole good guy/bad guy thing. It isn't a 180 every time (though it threatens to go that route), but the characterization has largely been a pleasant surprise.
Last night's ep found Reese facing one of those "stare into the abyss" moments noted philosopher/linebacker Ray Nitschke once talked about. The Number of the Week this time is an old Stasi operative hunting down the men responsible for the murder of his wife. He's a guy with eerie parallels to Reese's own covert background, which we learn more about.
Our NotW is one Wallace Negel AKA Ulrich Kohl, whom we're introduced to through a phone conversation among several heavily accented fellows discussing "what he knows." Negel/Kohl also has a CIA dossier. But really, who doesn't nowadays?
It turns out Kohl fled to the USSR and went off the grid in 1987, after the death of his wife Anja in a car accident. Fortunately, Finch has a contact for pre-digital information (who looks a lot like an older Harry Shearer). Kohl and his team of East German operatives were responsible for "neutralizing" defectors before they could reveal valuable information like the horsepower of a '75 Trabant.
Reese goes to check out a cemetery plot "Negel" purchased and finds evidence that Kohl is back in action. His mission this time: avenging Anja.
Hooray! Another flashback episode. This time Reese is a wet-behind-the-ears agent back in 2006 working for something called NCS. Stanton, his attractive mentor, dubs him "Reese."
Back in the present, Kohl's first trip is to another elderly German he summarily shoots in the chest. This is (was) Hauffe, part of Kohl's team. Reese arrives shortly thereafter, using an East German mark found at the plot and tracing it here. He discovers the identities of the other two members of Kohl's team as well: fellow assassin Styler and Wernick, a forger. A German agent shows up about this time, but Reese makes short work of him and learns Kohl's next target is a Wall Street lawyer named Warner.
But he arrives too late. as Kohl has already poisoned Wernick. Reese solves his immediate interrogation needs by hijacking the ambulance, where Wernick reveals the rest of the team gave up Kohl to the Americans in exchange for new lives in the States. Anja's death was apparently arranged by the U.S Government, which doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense.
The German agent, now in police custody thanks to an "anonymous" call from Reese to Fusco, doesn't get a chance to say much before someone from the German consulate drops in to foist his shitty accent on everyone and take the agent away for immediate extradition. They call that one "the Polanski."
Kohl moves on to Styler, now "Stegan," as Finch and Reese listen in (thanks to Finch's hacking the roster of a German-American club all three belonged to).
Warner...Wernick. Styler...Stegan. These guys didn't put a lot of effort into their cover identities.
Styler drops the bomb on Kohl: Anja is still alive. The government helped her fake her death after she discovered Kohl's true profession. Styler ends up dead and Kohl bails before Reese can get to him, though he and Finch both realize he's going for Anja. They turn to the one guy who can help them find her, the about-to-be extradited German agent (who's fairly open to questioning after Reese shoots the engine out of his car).
Kohl gets to Anja's apartment to find Reese waiting. Surprisingly, he drops the younger man (though Finch gets Anja safely away). When Kohl starts torturing him, Reese casts his mind back to 2006, when "Stanton" executes two local officials who allowed a terrorist to bribe his way out of the country. After telling Reese to dispose of the bodies, she tells him there's no turning back. He's now "Mister Reese" forever and ever.
Beats "Mister Pink."
Kohl takes a break from "enhanced interrogation" and finds a picture in Anja's apartment. It's his daughter Marie. That's gotta be a gut punch.
To make a long recap longer, Anja hid her pregnancy from Kohl and faked her death, but told Marie her father was a hero. After Kohl escapes the apartment (thwarted by Fusco from killing Reese), they meet at a park where Anja asks for his forgiveness. He pulls a gun on her, forcing Reese to kill him. As it turns out, the gun wasn't loaded, he just needed Reese to end his pain.
A solid effort, I think. Very cool to bring in venerable character actor (and fellow Lost alum) Alan Dale as Kohl. It never hurts for Reese to be reminded he's not always the biggest badass on the block. Last night's episode continues what I hope will be a decent mix of standalone entries sprinkled with bigger picture "mythology" episodes. Keep 'em interested, but don't alienate potential new viewers.
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Of Further Interest:
+ As movies and TV have shown us, all Germans have blond hair and speak like Sgt. Schultz. Being German myself, I can confirm this. Sorry..."zis."
+ "We have diplomatic immunity!" "I'm not a diplomat."
+ Surveillance is always useful, but sometimes you need a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle to get the job done.