When last we saw Reese, he was being led away in handcuffs by the FBI with a gaggle of other men in suits. In last night’s Person of Interest, Reese was booked into a cozy cell on Rikers. Lest you worried that Reese would be denied all creature comforts, the first thing Reese discovered in solitary confinement was a cell phone with Finch on the other end. Not even incarceration can stop Team Machine! Well, it kind of can. Finch was pretty much on his own in this episode, because as has been said many times, the numbers never stop coming.
Finch assumed the identity of a substitute math teacher in order to reach the person of interest – a slack jawed high schooler, Caleb Phipps, who hid his genius IQ behind a surly demeanor and smart assed quips. This was one of the more interesting side stories of the season because it was more subtle about weaving in the show’s philosophy regarding the mathematics of predestination. Finch explained to his class that all numbers are uniquely contained within the square root of Pi, including locker numbers, birthdays, and *ding, ding, ding* Social Security numbers. If our identifying information is captured within a mathematical formula, this lends credibility to the idea that a machine could shoot out the Social Security numbers of people in peril. Wait, no, it doesn’t. I’m still not sure how that kind of machine would work, but let’s just go with it. As Caleb said, people are the flaw, not the code. As we know from the last season and a half, subtlety has never been this show’s strong point, so the shift in approach was a pleasant surprise.
While Fusco and Finch were on Caleb’s trail, Carter had to keep the FBI from discoverying Reese’s identity. In order to obtain a substitute DNA swab, Carter unleashed her inner seductress to lure in a Ben Affleck clone. Nothing says sexy like rubber gloves and a cotton swab. It was great to see Carter out of her uniform and taking on the town. It feels like it’s time to bring Carter to the front and give her a prominent story arc.
Is it just me, or was it kind of nice to have a break from Reese? I’m not saying Reese is a bad character. But, his absence meant one less person to share airtime with, which made it feel like the other story threads were less thin and more interesting. Maybe the solution is to strip down the side stories and have an episode with just the person of interest and Team Machine in an isolated environment (cabin in the woods?). This would let viewers see Team Machine interacting with one another in a more open and natural manner. Imagine, Finch and Reese not having to communicate by seemingly talking to themselves all the time.
Unfortunately, there’s always a weak link in the episode. FBI Special Agent Donnelly (Brennan Brown) is wearing on my nerves. His performance was wooden, and it was almost laughable when he got the DNA results and muttered through clenched jaws, “They got to it. I don’t know how but those bastards got to it.” It probably isn’t Brown’s fault, I don’t know who, aside from Clint Eastwood, could deliver lines like that with credibility.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Reese will get out of prison at some point. But, we know Elias is also in prison, so we’ll hopefully get some exciting behind bars action in the coming weeks.
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