So it's come to this. Slowly but surely, the prehistory of Mr. Finch's (Michael Emerson) Machine has come into focus, as well as that of his muscle/partner Mr. Reese (Jim Caviezel). Unfortunately, the noose is tightening around them both, because even though the CIA has backed off for now, the FBI has taken an enthusiastic interest in our mystery men.
"Firewall" started with a (metaphorical) bang and rarely let up, making for an enjoyably tense season finale to a show I started off reviewing by saying it was better than we dared hope. 22 episodes later, I'm still pleasantly surprised (and relieved) that PoI remains as engaging as it is. There's filler, sure, but unlike some other shows I've reviewed here (*cough* The Killing *cough*), I'm already looking forward to next season.
But first we go back...to the future. A flash forward shows a frantic call from Finch to Det. Carter (Taraji P. Henson) regarding a (what else?) Reese-related emergency. The nature of the crisis becomes apparent when Carter is intercepted on her way out the door by Special Agent Donnelly (Brennan Brown), who shows her the FBI's Big Board. Reese is on it, escorting an as-yet unidentified woman. Caught by surveillance camera? Tsk. Sloppy work, Machine.
Skipping back a couple days, the new Number of the Week is a psychologist named Carolyn...Turing (Amy Acker). Yeah. Reese asks Fusco (Kevin Chapman) to check up on her (well, "asks" may be putting it politely), even though the detective is eager for Reese to help him bring down HR and get his ass in the clear.
I'm writing this with the benefit of hindsight, but I can't be the only one whose plot-foreshadowing alarms went off when he heard the NotW's name. I mean, we all know who Alan Turing is, right?
Reese observes Dr. Turing in session with a dude straight out of a casting call for square-jawed Don Draper lookalikes. He mentions how sensitive the information he's given her is. I hope this isn't another Tony Soprano situation, but frankly the guy's too thin to be a TV mob boss. She disentangles herself from her client, but she has a bigger problem. Namely, a contract on her life given to HR (in the person of Fusco and Simmons) by a city councilman and a couple NYPD captains.
Reese becomes a patient (I'd have assumed intake and background check would take a few weeks, but, you know, TV) while Finch stakes the place out. He soon gets a call from Carter informing him Councilman Larsson recently received a $500,000 payment, padding an account worth $5 million that's apparently to bankroll Turing's murder.
They're going to need help, and get it in the very acceptable form of Zoe's Morgan (Paige Turco). Unfortunately for Finch, there's another -- uninvited -- guest, because Alicia Corwin (Elizabeth Marvel), late of the NSA, has him under surveillance and tails him back to the library.
Reese interferes with HR's first attempt on Turing's life, and I still maintain few things are more gratifying than watching Reese kneecapping someone. The pair then go to a hotel to hunker down, and that brings us up to the present. Attempting to answer Dr. Turing's obvious questions about who this dude is who just shot a couple cops and is on the run from the FBI, Reese says, "Let's just say we both help people cope with their problems. I'm just a little more...hands on."
HR tracks them to the hotel, thanks to one of HR's plants in the FBI control room. Agent Donnelly also spots one of HR's detectives trying to change a monitor channel and calls in the feds. Finch has an escape route for Reese, but there are FBI dudes all over the hotel. Carter starts texting info to Reese so that he can escape, but sees Fusco on the phone at the same time Simmons cuts the camera feed to the hotel lobby, logically concluding he's in cahoots. This potentially tragic mix-up could've been avoided if Reese ever bothered to tell them they were both working for the same team.
Meanwhile, Zoe tracks down Turing's former attorney client "Hans," who's actually a con artist blackmailed into threatening the doctor, but something doesn't feel right, so she decides to check out Turing's home.
Left with no other choice -- the FBI have Reese and Turing cornered and HR is about to blow up the entire floor of the hotel they're on -- Finch kills communications in lower Manhattan (except for his cell phone, natch), and Reese and Turing make it out. Carter also confronts Fusco, and the two finally (FINALLY) realize they're on the same team. They're surprisingly okay with this discovery, for now. Reese is still on the run, after all.
Reese gets Turing to Finch's pickup point, but HR's tracked them down. He holds them off while Turing flees, but Alicia finds Finch first (awesomely appropriate alliteration). She wants to shut down The Machine (or "God," as she refers to it), partially because she blames it for Ingram's death (I knew she had the hots for him), and partially because of the "hubris" involved in creating it in the first place. Before she can explain further, she's shot in the head by...Turing. Oh, doctor!
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And why is that? Cut to Zoe, who's accessed Turing's computer only to find all files and network access wiped, with just a single word repeated: "root." She's back, and surprise surprise, she wants access to The Machine.
Carter and Fusco rescue Reese from the shootout, but not before Simmons IDs them. We also get a nice Reese Moment during the ensuing car chase when he blows up the explosives in the crooked cop's trunk. Not since the salad days of T.J. Hooker have we seen so many exploding cars on prime-time TV. Me likey.
In the end, Fusco and Carter (anonymously) put the FBI on to HR, mostly (Simmons is still in the wind, which isn't good for Fusco). Finch has been spirited away by Root, and Reese, at a loss, addresses the Machine directly through a street surveillance camera. The last shot, of Reese answering a ringing pay phone, kicks off even more questions: Is the Machine self-aware? Will it start a nuclear war? Can we look forward to cameos from Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton in season two? Or is Root already in the system? Where did Zoe go? Honestly, after what happened to Alicia, I'm just glad they didn't kill her off, too.
"Firewall" was a satisfying end to what's been a solid season, especially by network TV standards. I had my doubts, especially given CBS's track record with procedurals, but I'll definitely be back for season two. See you then.