5 Character Redemptions on Person of Interest

Bear the dog, John Reese, Joss Carter, Lionel Fusco, Harold Finch - Person of Interest

Person of Interest is now in its second season. While in some ways it is a standard police procedural, it differs in significant ways, including featuring a scifi “machine” that is able to predict crimes as a fundamental part of the show’s premise. It is also a grittier, darker style of procedural. Most of the criticism I heard during the first season was because of the violence in the show. And, while I will agree that it was more violent than most other programs, I think the violence was necessary to stay true to the background of the main character.

I am finding season 2 to be less violent, or maybe I am used to the violence. I tend to think the former is true, though, because I think lessened violence would be part of the redemption of the characters in this show. And, I think that each of the main characters on this show is on a journey of personal redemption. Redemption can take many forms, however, and on this show that is very apparent.

John Reese

John is a former member of the military and the CIA. When we first meet him, he is living on the street, blending in nicely. As we come to find out, he is believed dead. The show has yet to reveal exactly what happened in his past that led him to being presumed dead and living on the street, but it had to be something pretty extreme. Whether or not he felt guilt, or loss, again we are not sure.

However, in a recent episode, we did get a little glimpse into his past and his future. During a discussion with one of his clients, Reese said “I’ve spent some time feeling lost. someone found me; told me I needed a purpose.” Clearly, working with Finch has been a huge factor in his personal redemption.

Bear the Dog

Bear the dog - Person of Interest

Ah, Bear the dog! Since his first appearance on the show, there has definitely been a lot of buzz about him. When we first meet him, he is working for a white supremacist organization, having been used as partial payment for a debt. He is certainly a large dog who can be ferocious when provoked.

Reese, as we have come to expect, is a man of many talents, and languages apparently, and realizes that Bear (whose name was originally Butcher) “speaks” Dutch, having been trained as a military dog. When Reese and Fusco are captured and it looks like the end for our heroes, Reese has Bear save their bacon by issuing a series of commands in Dutch and thus taking out the bad guys. Bear now works on the side of good, which is part of his redemption.

Another part of the redemption of Bear has been his role as protector of and companion to Finch. Finch is suffering from PTSD after being kidnapped recently, and while Finch at first was not thrilled to have Bear with him, the two of them are morphing into solid companionship.

Harold Finch

Harold Finch - Person of Interest

You are probably asking yourself what Finch needs to be redeemed for. Well, we don’t know much about his background. We do know that he “lost someone.” We also know that he was not happy with how the machine was being used by the government, and that is why he used a backdoor into it to be able to retrieve the social security numbers of ordinary citizens about to be involved in a crime. In my opinion, he feels some guilt over the way the machine is being used.

I believe that he is trying to make amends for what he perceives as his fault by helping people. In fact, when asked why he helps people, he will only respond with an enigmatic “I have my reasons.” As the series proceeds, I believe we will understand better why he does what he does, and how it is leading to his redemption.

Joss Carter

Joss Carter - Person of Interest

While detective Carter has never been portrayed as being “bad” – she is not a dirty cop, and served honorably in the military – she did have the single minded intention of bringing John down during part of the first season. This was despite the fact it was starting to become clear that he was not acting to harm innocents, but rather protect them. However, as a good cop, Carter would be sworn to also bring in vigilantes, which we could characterize Reese and Finch as being.

However, Reese saved her life, and also that of her son, which swayed her over to the side of Reese and Finch, and a team was born. While she frequently does not approve of their methods, and will insist that things go by the book, it is clear that she understands the importance of what they are doing, even if she is totally in the dark about how they know who is going to be targeted next. This is the form her redemption has taken.

Lionel Fusco

Lionel Fusco - Person of Interest

Lionel was definitely in need of redemption, since he was a dirty cop. He was on the take when John first met him. John blackmailed him into working for him by making it look like Lionel killed another detective who was also on the take. Lionel was not at all happy with this arrangement, but really had no choice. He was forced to continue working with other dirty cops, when he clearly did not want to.

Over the course of the first year, and very clearly in the second year so far, Lionel has become a force for good, turning over a new leaf as he works with Reese and Finch. And, he is clearly enjoying being on the right side of the law, thus showing his redemption.


Do you watch Person of Interest? Do you feel the characters are being redeemed by virtue of the work they are doing or for other reasons? Please let me know in the comments below.