Film and TV

Person of Interest: The "Root Cause" of All Evil

With over half of season 1 in the bag, Person of Interest has finally developed some internal history upon which to fall back. So now, even in episodes that have abandoned the whole "Elias" story arc (as the last several have done), other plots can be advanced and characters can be developed in different ways.

And characters from the first part of the season can reappear. Hellooooo, Zoe Morgan.

Things start off with the bang of broken drywall as Reese has his hands full with a very large gentleman when Finch calls. He chokes him out, Gina Carano style, though not as sexily.

Finch is calling with -- what else? -- a new number. Scott Powell works for the city as a construction manager. He's also married (Leslie) with two kids. Construction? Mob. Missing watch? Gambling problem. Reese interrupts my predictions to wax rhapsodic for a simpler life like Powell's. Wait a minute, he...*envies* Powell's simple life? This sounds familiar. Are we gong to find Leslie's head in a box?

Turns out Powell's unemployed, and has been for eight months. His family still doesn't know. It also turns out he didn't gamble away his watch, he pawned it. And he's maxed out on almost all his credit cards. My precognitive powers still need work, it seems.

Finch joins Reese in staking out Powell's home and the two men share a touching scene of knowledge transfer: Reese advises Finch to bring an empty bottle for urine collection, while Finch shows Reese how to intercept wifi networks with a Pringles can.

Powell blogs a lot about a Congressman Delancey, and not nicely. He's also downloading a large, encrypted file, then receives a phone call offering him a temp job. Maybe the Machine was mistaken? Oh, please.

Carter's background check turns up nothing, well, except for an application for a rifle permit (!). Unsurprisingly, Delancey's cutbacks cost Powell his job, and the former construction dude has apparently been sending the Congressman death threats. Sure enough, it looks like he wants to assassinate Delancey. This'll be just like Taxi Driver, only with less pimp murder.

Turns out the e-mails on Powell's machine were planted there (probably by Matheson, Delancey's campaign manager...I'm trying to do better at focusing on the people who only have a couple lines) to set him up. Reese interrupts what he thinks is an attempt on Delancey's life, only to let the real gunman get away. Reese and Finch realize they're facing someone sophisticated enough to hack into Powell's computer, plant evidence and spoof his search history, paired with professional assassin.

It's "Evil Universe Reese and Finch," in other words. I hope they have goatees.

Finch traces the Trojan horse installed on Powell's computer and determines Powell's going to be killed at his arraignment, so Reese springs him from federal custody. Because nothing says "innocent man" like busting out of a prison transfer van. Finch gets tricked into letting Evil Finch into his network, but severs the connection before she (!) can do lasting damage.

Aha, Finch has enlisted the help of Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco), from "The Fix." She and Finch suspect Matheson, which I totally called. She confronts Matheson with their suspicions, and offers to find Powell for a price. Matheson calls Evil Finch, who doesn't respond well to threats.

The bad guys track down Reese and Powell to their hotel room, so they're on the run. Powell wants to reassure his wife, and Carter facilitates the convo. But they have to flee the mysterious hirsute assassin again, leading to the inevitable subway bathroom brawl. It was just like the one in The Warriors, only with less overalls.

Do NYC subway toilets really have "WC" on the doors? How cute.

Evil Finch covers her tracks well, releasing the recording of Matheson demanding Powell's death, killing him and making it look like a suicide. He contacts Finch, says her name is "Root" and tells him she's looking forward to the next time, then calls him by his first name (Harold). Oh, and Reese and Zoe share a moment.

Random thoughts: If Carter's continuing role is merely going to be errand girl for Reese and Finch, they might as well get rid of Fusco, who was AWOL this episode (Reese told Finch he was "attending to another matter," meaning he was probably digging up dirt on ole Harold). I hope this isn't the case, but she hasn't done much the last two eps.

I approve of adding a new villain, especially considering Elias's extended absence. And it'll be interesting to see if Root's incursion (albeit a temporary one) into Finch's system will come back to bite them on the ass.

Then again, all this talk about what a well-staged plan this was, wouldn't forensics have shown the shot that killed Delancey came from 20 feet from Powell's position? Where's Gil Grissom when you need him?

Next week, Reese appears to go to work on the someone with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch. That's right, he's getting medieval on their ass.

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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