Person of Interest: Murder by "Number Crunch"

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While Person of Interest remains, at heart, a procedural on a network positively glutted with them, it's managed so far to engage us by slowly but surely advancing the overarching mythology week by week. By avoiding too many standalone episodes and spreading the explication out among the three principals (Finch, Reese and Carter), the show has avoided the ruts plaguing so many other franchises (*cough* Law & Order *cough*).

Granted, PoI isn't even a season old. There's still plenty of time for the program to go down that road of repetition and complacency, and at that time I'm sure I'll change my tune, like we all did with The Simpsons. Until then, last night's mid-season finale was a high note for a series that's been consistently better than my expectations.

Reese first checks on Ryan, but is a little late, finding her dead in her apartment. He runs into Fusco, because there were no other murders in NYC that day, and tasks him with tailing Paula. He does so, and he sees her buying a gun off the street before she makes him and splits. Reese moves on to Wendy, who runs a salon where they've apparently never met a straight man before, while Finch is forced to follow Matt, who's doing what most of us do after we quit our jobs: buying a Ducati. This is relevant because recent purchases in Ryan's apartment showed she had also recently come into some money.

Meanwhile Carter is being interrogated over Bottelcap's shooting. And now some unidentified suits have taken an interest in Reese.

Oh, and the guy buying the Ducati? He's out of the picture as well, courtesy of a stroller bomb. Again, the show's 80s-ness rears its ugly head. It's like PoI takes place in an alternative universe where 9-11 never happened. Can you imagine the panic and ensuing lockdown of Manhattan if a freakimg bomb went off there today? On the show, it's just, "Hey, Duggan was killed by a bomb." Like bombs are going off every hour.

Reese and Fusco finally realize all four of the Numbers came upon the scene of the opening car crash. Carter, assisting on Fusco's investigation of the Ryan murder, starts piecing it together as well. Turns out the driver was Jamie Hallam, son of Congressman Hallam, who'd been at a party thrown by Davis Bannerman, a banker the Congressman was coincidentally investigating. The theory being, sonny boy had money in the car. Fusco thinks drug-related, which means it's probably not. Fusco is never right.

And "David Bannerman?" Too bad "White Goodman" was already used in Dodgeball.

Reese tracks Wendy down and sees her and Vasquez together. It turns out they're foster sisters who took the money to save their mother's house from foreclosure. He foils an attempted hit, but the women take off.

Carter gets the skinny on Reese from the two spooks. One of them, Snow, says they're just looking to bring him back in from the cold. Probably horseshit. They tell Carter he killed Claire Stanton, his handler we met in a flashbook a few weeks back, in cold blood. This is also most likely not true. Damn CIA! Can't they just be more open and honest about things?

Fusco and partner interview Bannerman, who Fusco believes has coordinated his story with the Congressman, using the son as a go-between then throwing him under the luxury sedan, so to speak.

Wendy confesses to Reese they stole the money because they thought the son was a drug dealer, but now want to give it back. While they're talking, the bad guys nab Paula and want the jack. Reese steps in the alley/With a single shot .410/The road goes on forever/And the party never ends.

Sorry. Anyway, Finch fronts the Congressman on his son's bogus charity, who then predictably goes to Bannerman. Finch, who has recorded their conversation, forwards it to Fusco. Reese gives Carter the tip about the bad guys being at the hospital, but instead she rats him out to Snow. Oh Carter, Iraq didn't make you cynical enough.

Man, Reese kills somebody every episode (this time around, it's the goons hired to kill the sisters). That's entertainment.

Finch overhears Carter's conversation with Snow, but is unable to stop Snow and his fellow spook from shooting Reese. Carter, evidently experiencing some double-crossers's regret, helps Finch get a critically wounded Reese into a car and boogie out of there. Now Carter knows what Reese looks like. Further, she recognizes Finch from their previous interaction over the evidence room robbery.

"Number Crunch" ushered in the mid-season hiatus in fine fashion. Carter's fate is not intertwined more than ever with Reese and Finch, and now that the CIA knows Reese is alive, look for the pressure from them to cause even more problems. And even though he didn't make an appearance last night, don't forget about Elias.

See you on the flip side.

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