In recapping this show every week, I often neglect to mention (except in passing) what is arguably the most important component of the Reese-Finch partnership: The Machine itself. We know more or less how it came to be (NSA-funded project headed by the presumed deceased Nathan Ingram) and how it's used by Finch to prevent crime in NYC.
But remember that The Machine is constantly being used by the government to scan for terrorists (and people pirating movies, probably). As efficiently as Ingram and Finch designed it and as streamlined as the NSA's protocols might be, an undertaking this massive is bound to draw attention.
And now it has.
We start off in 2009. It's the night before Ingram and Finch are to turn The Machine over to the government, but Ingram is concerned about both it and Finch, who he feels has given too much of his life to the project. Though not enough, apparently. I mean, he hasn't gotten his limp yet.
Back to the present, and Reese is still tailing Finch, even as he takes a call from Fusco about an upcoming meeting of the secret police group known as "HR." It's a hushed conversation, since Fusco's at work. Can't he take his call in the hallway like every other cube monkey?
Interlude: Some NSA dude named Gibbons is thanking one Henry Peck for "saving their asses." Peck, it turns out, is the Number of the Week and a financial analyst for Decker North & Associates. Problem is, Reese knows from following Finch that he didn't get the Number in the office. And he wants to know how the information is passed along..."in case something happens to him." Finch relays the old adage about curiosity and the cat. You know, how the cat wants curiosity's grapes but ended up getting its paw stuck in a jar of golden eggs. Or something.
Reese tries to charm his way into the financial building, only to realize it's a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, not a Swedish boat, as I originally assumed). Peck, in spite of having the same name as the EPA guy from Ghostbusters, is actually a spy. After A-Teaming a hardwired camera into a coffee machine, they determine he's an intelligence analyst. They also learn they aren't the only ones watching him.
Somebody plants drugs in Peck's apartment, which has the attendant effect of getting him put on leave by the NSA. The analyst is talking to someone named "Alicia" (you don't suppose...) by phone and also keen to get hold of the aforementioned Gibbons, who is the NSA's Deputy Director, though he's not returning calls. And it isn't until Reese drives off an assassin in Peck's apartment and Finch eavesdrops on Peck's call to Gibbons's daughter's cell phone that he realizes Peck suspects the existence of The Machine, and his life is now in danger.
Back in 2009, Ingram meets with...dun dun daaa...Alicia Corwin. Recall that she was his NSA contact. Alicia's feeling a little squirrelly about the handoff while they discuss the particulars: facility, transport, how any names divulged will end up in the hands of "the right people." Ingram screws up and says there are eight people with knowledge of the machine when there should be only seven. Who's the other person? His wife? Daughter? Michael Jackson? IS THAT WHY THEY KILLED HIM?
Back in the present day, Peck gets a callback from Alicia, who tells him one word: "sibilance," and also to run.
Peck gives Finch and Reese the slip, and while Reese surmises who might be in pursuit (Intelligence Support black ops), we get a glimpse of some new players. The street team is probably insignificant, but as the conspicuous view of the Washington Monument shows us, their boss is someone in the upper echelons of the federal government. Peck breaks back into Decker North, where Reese foils another assassination attempt, but complications arise when Peck flees and gets himself arrested.
Two thousand nine again, Ingram wants Finch to build a back door, but he declines. For now. One must assume Finch already built the back door and lied about it, or Ingram did it himself, because this secret "in" is how Finch gets the Numbers of the Week.
Meanwhile, Peck is running his mouth (to Fusco, hilariously enough) and pieces together that the government is running a huge illegal surveillance operation ("sibilance" is the NSA's IT audit program that turned up the anomalies). Luckily, Reese has grabbed some NYPD togs (I like to imagine a big Carrie Bradshaw walk-in closet loaded with various uniforms) and busts Peck out. An increasingly agitated Finch wants all the evidence destroyed and Peck hidden away. Too bad Peck swiped a cell phone and calls the Office of Special Counsel (he wants whistleblower protection). But OH SNAP, that just happens to be the guy we saw giving orders to the assassins earlier. Finch knows this (he was one of the seven...er, eight), and sure enough, the ginger with the bad haircut takes out their car and Reese is forced to kill him.
Peck escapes. Again (you'd think Reese would hogtie him or something). He has questions, and Finch meets up with and does his best to throw him off the scent, giving him a passport and a bank account to get him the fuck out of his hair.
We go back to 2009 one more time. Ha, I was right. Ingram created the back door (code name "Contingency," good one).
Finally, Reese tracks down what he thinks is Finch's house, only to find Grace, his ex-fiancée, who thinks Finch is dead from an accident. Finch still keeps tabs on her, from a safe distance (in danger of accidentally bumping into your fiancée who thinks you're dead? There's an app for that.).
Nice dig at Reese's "four days" of happiness. And as we pull back to see who's spying on Finch's conversation with Peck...why, it's Alicia. Her desperate countenance combined with David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans" (NIN's version played earlier) as the scene ends means you can bet your ASS this will end well.
"No Good Deed" was heavy on the exposition, revealing quite a bit about Finch's protective nature -- both of his ex and The Machine itself -- as well as putting some final pieces into place about Ingram's final days. I'm sure next week's season finale will subject us to an obligatory cliffhanger, but I'm also hoping we finally see what happened to Ingram and how Finch was forced to go off the grid.
Next week: HR is coming for Reese, and everybody else.