Person of Interest: Kind of "Baby Blue"

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We're baaack. It seems not even TV's #1 new drama wanted to go up against the juggernaut that is a two-hour episode of American Idol last week. I'm sure we all appreciated the break, and the chance to contemplate the long-awaited return of Elias in February 24's episode.

We're in what one has to consider the home stretch for a major network TV season. With six episodes left, Elias still has plenty of time to make his displeasure with Reese manifest, as well as deliver what will surely be a cartoonish supervillain-like blow. There's also the yet untold fate of Finch's old partner Ingram, and will the mysterious "Root" make a reappearance?

I wish Finch would send Reese after Steven Tyler.

NYPD cops are the worst, considering the ease with which Reese sneaks up on Carter. It's a special day: Gianni "The Blade" Moretti is getting released from prison. You may also remember him as Elias's dad. Carter and Reese (and everyone else) suspect Elias of engineering dear old dad's release, but Carter is unable to convince the old man to enter police protection. Meanwhile, Fusco gets his walking orders from his buddy in "HR" to find out where Carter stashed Moretti.

Meanwhile, Finch has a second Number of the Week, this one issued two months ago by the SSA to one Leila Smith. Finch reasons it's fraud or a new citizen (from the Matrix, perhaps), while Reese is annoyed to be doubled up on Numbers. Finch goes to Leila's work address, a hospital, only to find out she's a patient. A baby, in fact, dropped off at the hospital months earlier. Worse, the two men Finch saw changing into nurse's scrubs outside are coming in with a long bag perfect for baby smuggling.

As Reese and Carter are tailing Moretti, his car is T-boned by a pickup. Ambush! And boy, do the producers of PoI like destroying cars. I'll bet some of them used to work on T.J. Hooker. R&C make short work of the assailants, and Carter delivers Moretti to the loving arms (and safe house) of Detective Schemansky (Geico spokesman and supporting character from episode 7: "Witness"). Carter reconnects with Finch and we see the old softie has improbably spirited the little girl away.

But he's got her riding in the FRONT SEAT? What kind of genius are you that you couldn't scare up a rear-facing infant seat, Finch? Jesus.

Like all couples with new babies, Reese and Finch have to make adjustments. There are playpens to be constructed out of books, diapers to be changed and Amber Alerts to be avoided. Finch notes more than $100,000 has been donated anonymously to the clinic since Leila's birth and spoofs an IRS e-mail to try and get more info, and also gets Carter to piggyback on the police investigation.

They're cheap laughs, but the interplay between Carter and Finch when she realizes he's the abductor was pretty funny ("John? John! You trust him with a baby?").

The hospital donations are coming from Patrosian Construction. A quick trip by Reese to the Patrosian family manse finds daddy having a clipped convo with sonny boy: "Are there any more...unpleasant surprises?" "It's all taken care of." Oh, we're not falling for that one.

The nurse at the hospital tells Carter Leila came in with a bracelet with the initials "C.C." Finch finds a "Claudia Cruz" working as a receptionist in Patrosian's head office. Claudia died in a fire four days earlier (Fark would be so proud) that wasn't an accident, duh. Carter investigates further, abetted by a helpful Fusco, who overhears her talking to Schemansky yet insists he's "got her back."

Claudia's parents deny she was pregnant, though apparently see nothing hinky in the fact she moved out "nine months ago or so." First indications are that Claudia was in a relationship with Bradley Patrosian, which seems like a slam dunk, until Reese catches him getting his man love on in a coffee shop. Daddy P, maybe? A bigger issue arises, however, when Leila escapes her playpen and discovers Reese's arsenal. Cute as it is to watch a baby play with a grenade, Finch resolves to deliver her to her grandparents. Which would've been a sound idea were it not for the presence of our kidnap-happy friends from the hospital. On one hand, I'm happy to finally get to the Reese Kicking Ass portion of our program; on the other, they knocked out Finch and stole Leila.

Reese snags a medallion off one of the kidnappers and bum-rushes the Patrosians, rightly accusing the dad of fathering Claudia's baby, but guessing wrong on the murder/kidnapping. Mrs. P's are discovered on the murder weapon, and she confesses to setting up Claudia's death and arranging for Leila to be taken away, but won't give Reese any more info. Helpfully, there's an Albanian bar in town with the same emblem on the medallion. Not so helpfully, no one can tell Reese anything, in spite of his best Jack Bauer interrogation methods.

Reese uses his last option and contacts Elias, appealing to his need for order. Elias comes through with an address. The Albanians arrive with Leila in the bag. Reese naturally gets Leila back. Until Elias has a change of heart, that is. He locks them in a refrigerated truck, insisting Reese tell him where dear old dad is. Amidst a cloud of CG-rendered frost breath, Reese relents. As a result, Schemansky gets gutshot and Elias nabs Moretti. More importantly, Carter decides she's had enough. Though her insistence that Reese should've gone to the cops to find Leila is laughable. Knowing New York, they wouldn't have answered the 911 call in an hour, much less tracked down a kidnapped infant.

In the last scene: Elias faces off with Moretti. Does he kill him? You'd think so, but Elias has proven a slippery character. Though I'm not sure what benefit there might be from keeping the old man around.

- For some reason, I never tire of Reese's casual badassery. His smiling "Really?" when confronted by an Albanian thug with a knife was freaking hilarious.

- Now that Carter's backing out, will we see more of Fusco? He was becoming pretty superfluous there for a while.

Next week: March Madness! No, really...basketball's on.

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