Person of Interest: Life of "2πR"

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Merry New Year! Been a few weeks since we chit-chatted about things. You know, the fiscal cliff, the NFL playoffs and Reese getting picked up by the FBI.

Last night's winter premiere was unique among POI episodes so far in that Reese was barely in it, leaving the heavy lifting to Finch and Fusco (and Carter, to a lesser [clad] extent). The result was short on action, but provided Michael Emerson with a chance to explore his nurturing side. It was a pleasant change of pace.

Just don't make a habit of it, guys. We likes our weekly dose of Reese ass-kicking.

In July, 2010, a kid is pushed in front of a subway (talk about ripped from the headlines). Back in the present day, the Feds are taking DNA swabs of Reese and the other Men in Suits grabbed at the bank. Agent Donnelly (Brennan Brown) plans to make the most of his legally mandated 72 hours to hold terrorists by keeping the four in Rikers Island. The cop in charge at the jail reminds him, "This isn't Guantanamo," while I can't help thinking of Rorschach from Watchmen: "None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."

Finch assures Reese he'll be free when those 72 hours are up (I'd trust him: A guy who can sneak a cell phone into Rikers can probably spoof the results of a cheek swab). Meanwhile, he has to tackle the Number of the Week. Enter "Mr. Swift," substitute high school teacher at the Brooklyn School of Science and Humanities.

The NotW is a kid named Caleb Phipps, who claims to be befuddled by Finch's math problem. "Coincidentally," it was Caleb's older brother Dylan who got killed by the subway, though Fusco says the kid was drunk and slipped. Caleb was also the only witness.

We're also treated to an amusing interlude as Finch tries to clone Caleb's phone in the school hallway and is inundated with collateral texts. Fortunately, he accomplishes his task before receiving any unsolicited dong pics.

Carter has already deleted Reese's fingerprint records, but she needs "a couple things" from Finch before she deals with the DNA problem.

Principal Lott doesn't appreciate "Mr. Swift's" novel approach to math. But Finch finds an unlikely ally in Chris Beckner, computer science teacher, who tells him to "run wild." So he breaks into the principal's office and discovers Caleb may be a genius. All from a goofed ScanTron. I guess that means every other kid who took the PSAT with me was a genius as well.

Fusco pays a visit to Caleb's mom, and continues the episode's parade of civil liberty trampling by secretly planting a Webcam. All in the interest of the greater good, right, Officer Stalin? But Caleb's not necessarily a bad person, as his run-in with drug dealers "Diego" and "Ronnie" proves. And Finch discovers a snippet of code Caleb was working on that could lead to something "revolutionary." Or maybe he's still basking in Beckner's adulation of the still-undiscovered hacker who laid ARPANET's secrets bare. Meaning Finch himself, presumably.

Fusco tails the dealers' money man to a money transfer place, when Caleb happens to show up and pick up the money. Could Caleb be the drug dealer? Is he fronting for someone? And why is Beckner stealing Caleb's file? TRUST NO ONE.

Well, Caleb's dealing all right, but the dude whose territory BSSH is in (Hassan "Wee Bey" Johnson) wants whatever profit Caleb has made from his drug sales. Fusco sits on him while Finch tails Beckner to his meet with a venture capital partner, where he attempts to deal Caleb's compression algorithm, which will eliminate that buffer period at the beginning of video clips, or something. Clearly this is for the betterment of mankind.

Forty-five minutes in. Still no shots of Reese beating up rapists.

Speaking of bit players, Carter's big plan to deal with the DNA thing is to: 1) drug an unsuspecting barfly, 2) swab him when he passes out and 3) swap that with Reese's swab. How she sneaks into a secure FBI installation is sort of...glossed over. Or maybe I was in the john.

Fusco meets with the transit cop on scene at Caleb's brother's death, and it turns out they were just screwing around and Dylan got killed. Meanwhile, Finch meets with Beckner, who tells him Caleb *wanted* him to front the compression algo-thingy to the venture capitalist guy. It turns out, Caleb just wants to kill himself (after leaving the algorithm money for his mom, of course). Finch convinces him that he wants to live. And also confirms he was the ARPANET hacker. Hey, that's a good idea: give a demonstrably brilliant hacker personal background info. Surely this won't come back to bite Finch on the ass.

Finally, the DNA switcheroo doesn't work, as Donnelly pulls ranks and says until they can confirm they aren't dangerous, the four guys are staying locked up. Even better, he wants Carter to put her Iraq interrogation skills to use and figure out who each one of them is, starting with Reese. OH HELL NAW.

For a largely Reese-less episode, this was still pretty entertaining. Again, though: no mythology, and no further expansion of Finch's past.

Next week: It's Carter vs. Reese, only not really.

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