I grew up in what amounted to a suburban environment (small college town), so I can understand the disdain doled out by Hollywood writers. They can be insular, and xenophobic and almost comedically fascistic (check out certain local HOA guidelines on grass length and home color sometime). These attributes have been used as big- and small-screen fodder for decades.
So, sure: Sending Reese and Zoe to Far Rockaway for an episode was good for a few laughs. Not being very familiar with New York City, it seems far-fetched to call this neighborhood in Queens "the 'burbs," but they have soccer fields and actual houses, so I guess that counts in the Northeast.
Again, very little mythology this week. Beyond finally seeing Finch's "meet cute" with his ex-lady friend Grace, they dropped a bit of info on Nathan Ingram's apparent marital dalliances. And here I'd been hoping he and Finch were an item.
We kick off in 2004 -- day 859 of Finch and Ingram's little Constitution-shredding surveillance project. Finch (Michael Emerson) is updating Ingram (Brett Cullen) on the Machine, which he's programmed to detect "outliers," in order to get it better acquainted with human nature. Ingram scoffs, until Finch shows him the picture of the grad student he's cheating on ("Molly Cole"). It also pulls up a lone painter named Grace Hendricks, for as-yet unknown reasons.
Back to life (back to reality), Graham Wyler is the Number of the Week, though the highlight of this brief scene is Reese (Jim Caviezel) unwittingly chowing down on a doughnut Bear the Belgian Malinois has already gotten a few licks off of. Wyler runs a hardware store in Far Rockaway, is married (Connie) with a daughter ("Izzie," how unfortunate). Otherwise, as Reese puts it, he's "the most boring man alive."
Wyler gets a hand-off from a biker-looking dude...DRUGS! No, they're Bruce Springsteen tickets for his daughter. What a saint, except Finch discovers the real Wyler died 15 years ago. Finch wants more info, but the surveillance routine doesn't play well in the sticks, so the billionaire buys Reese a house across from the Wylers, plus an "appropriate wardrobe." Only one element of the facade is missing...
I said, hello Zoe (Paige Turco), well, hello Zoe. It's so nice to have you back on my TV. Reese mock proposes to his increasingly guest-starring associate in order to complete the illusion. It's like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, except not really and I'm too lazy to look up and appropriate comparison. In the midst of their scheming to get close to the Wylers, the couple pops on over and presents them with a welcome gift of ambrosia (that's the shit with the marshmallows, right? I hate the suburbs). I guess this is going to be one of those "funny-ish" episodes.
John and Zoe "Campbell" go to a backyard BBQ at the Wylers', where Izzie gives "Graham" a postcard from Philadelphia. It spooks him, and while Zoe keeps tabs on him that night, Reese lifts his fingerprints from a beer bottle and sends them to Carter (Taraji P. Henson). No dice. Bored, the newlyweds play poker with a bottle of scotch. Meaningful -- and semi-drunken -- looks are exchanged. Are they going down this road? I hope they don't go down this road. It's a classic jump-the-shark blunder!
Too early, morning comes, and with it a mysterious dude who bumps into "Wyler" on the street and calls him "Lloyd," then hops into a pickup truck and drives off. This is starting to feel like A History of Violence: The Series. According to Carter, "Lloyd" is Lloyd Pruitt, wanted for a string of safe crackings in Philly. The two guys are part of Pruitt's old crew, who did 12 years for a bust Lloyd was presumably not part of.
The bump-er is Christopher Vaughn (fun fact: It's Dominic Fumusa from Nurse Jackie), and when he shows up at Izzie's soccer game, Reese wants a word. Vaughn disappears, but not until he torches Pruitt/Wyler's family truckster. Vaughn wants to meet in the city. Probably just wants to catch up about the Phillies.
Further investigation reveals Pruitt bailed on the last safecracking job, and the other two guys took the fall. Predictably, they're less than pleased. Reese gives Pruitt/Wyler a lift into the city, and Zoe goes across the street to pump Connie (settle down).
Back in 2005, Finch is exploring the Machine's ability to discern hidden connections. Hey, there's Grace Hendricks again. Finch appears quite smitten, which makes sense. Remember, this is the girlfriend he has to abandon by faking his own death for her own protection.
Returning to 2012, Reese drops Pruitt/Wyler off and joins Carter in surveillance. Vaughn and the other crew member want their old buddy to pull off One Last Job to make things right. They're like Gale and Evelle Snoats, only not so lovably incompetent. They threaten Wyler's family, which is enough to prompt Reese to purge them from the roll book of humanity. A brief discussion with Carter about habeas corpus ensues, and Reese elects to plant a tracker on their truck instead.
Finch determines the location of the heist is a Manhattan high-rise. The target is a gem dealer. He's out of town, but his nephew likes to throw parties, so Vaughn and company are packing some heat. They get to work as Reese and Zoe show up. The idea is for Finch to get eyes in the apartment so Reese can get Wyler out while Carter and the cops bust everyone else. IT'S TOTALLY FOOLPROOF.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Long story short: Reese busts Wyler out (kneecapping!), but the former safecracker decides to turn himself in and turn state's evidence. He and Connie will be all right, so it's time for John and Zoe to pack it up.
Finally, going back to 2006: We witness Finch's fateful first meeting with Grace.
This week was less of a placeholder than the previous episodes, but was still pretty light. Is PoI finally going "full procedural," with fewer shout-outs to the overarching plot per season? I think that would be a mistake, since the bigger story is a significant reason people tuned in in the first place.
Next week: I don't know what the hell's going on. Hey, Julian Sands!