Film and TV

Person Of Interest: On The Horns Of A "Prisoner's Dilemma"

We're entering our second episode with Mr. Reese sitting on the sidelines, locked up on Rikers Island while Finch, Carter, and Fusco carry the burden of saving some NotW's bacon and stymying the authorities.

The authorities who are hunting them, as we're reminded before every episode.

Going into last night, I found myself wondering how long they could keep this up. Shaking up the dominant paradigm (or whatever) can be successful from a novelty standpoint, but will audiences desert the show if they can't see Reese shattering tracheas? What if -- heaven forbid -- they take this into Sweeps?

Well, they didn't do that. But you could certainly describe the ending to this most recent episode as, "Out of the frying pan, into the complex web of deception characteristic of clandestine intelligence operations."

We open with Carter (Taraji P. Henson) interrogator mode with Reese (Jim Caviezel). She's taking a tough stance, but I trust she won't have to go full Abu Ghraib. The other men in suits adopt varying angry postures, while Reese (AKA "John Warren") opts for the softer side, and pleads with Carter to let him go home. Is it code? It sounds like code.

Meanwhile, Finch (Michael Emerson) is tasking Fusco (Kevin Chapman) with looking after the latest Number of the Week. The detective's protestations die a quick death when he sees pictures of the NotW in question, real-life Czech Victoria's Secret model Karolína Kurková. That'll make your Prague spring.

[The Fusco arc is largely ignored, though intermittently played as comic relief throughout the ep. It's pretty hilarious, actually.]

And just to liven things up, our old buddy the Special Counsel (Jay O. Sanders) as now been apprised of the arrests of four men in connection with the "Man in a Suit" case. He calls his button man Hersh (Boris McGiver), already in NYC hunting for the "rogue operative," and tells him about the four suspects in Rikers. Hersh's brilliant strategy to get in? He pulls his piece and fires into the air. And because he's a middle-aged white guy and not, say, a 23-year old immigrant from Guinea means he's merely arrested and not shot.

Donnelly (Brennan Brown) smells blood where Reese is concerned, and takes Carter to check out "John Warren's" Wall Street office. Imagine our surprise when they discover an actual office full of workers and a secretary who's "worried sick." Finch has concocted a hell of a cover, but he and Carter know they'll have to frame one of the other poor dumb bastards to get Reese out of there.

Whoa, speaking of Prague, it's a flashback! To Prague! It's 2007, and Reese and Kara Stanton (Annie Parisse) are "extreme prejudicing" a traitor selling drone tech to (I guess) North Koreans. It's their first op together, but serves primarily as a segue into Carter (back in the present) asking if he's ever killed anybody (we get a similar Stanton-Reese flashback later: Paris in 2009). Donnelly is linked via earpiece to Carter, goading her own, but Warren/Reese has a pretty damned good cover. Can he break it? Oh, I hope not.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar