Entertainment Magazine

Review #3079: Person of Interest 1.5: “Judgment”

Posted on the 22 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

“Person of Interest” weighs with an episode that judiciously balances the now-expected elements with a dollop of new information, taking care not to tip the scales too far in either direction. OK, that should get the puns out of my system. All because this episode is titled “Judgment”, and this number belongs to Judge Samuel Gates.

Review #3079: Person of Interest 1.5: “Judgment”

Finch delivers the case to Reese over breakfast, which allows for some more verbal fencing. The interplay between these two intensely private men has been the most interesting sub-plot of the series. Reese keeps trying to penetrate Finch’s facade and redress the imbalance between them. Finch knows all about him, he knows very little about Finch. Finch is well aware of this, and is not ready to play along, yet. Of course, the viewers also want answers to these questions, so, rest assured, Reese will get there eventually.

The twist is that it’s not the judge who is directly threatened, but his son, Samuel Gates, Jr. Reese’s investigation rapidly reveals that the thugs tailing the judge are setting up a kidnapping of the boy. Reese races to intercept, arriving just as they’re dragging the boy out. Reese cannot stop them, although it takes a bullet to hold him off.

For the first time, I had the twitter stream with Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams up during the episode. They mentioned it’s hard to make Reese losing a fight believable, given his mad bad-ass skills. I think resorting to the gun here was a mis-step. The killing of the nanny established these guys are ruthless. Now they’ve pulled a gun on an open street, and are willing to leave Reese lying there. I don’t think they’d think twice about popping a couple of insurance rounds into him before driving off. Everything happened very fast, but there was time as the guys Reese clobbered were scrambling back to the car. With a show like this, I’m always willing to stretch my suspension of disbelief, but this was a step too far.

However, this show lives or dies on the strength of its characters, and this one has a winner in David Costabile as Judge Gates. From his resume, I know many will know him as Gale, from “Breaking Bad”, which I have yet to catch up on. He made an indelible impression on me as the corrupt, murderous Detective Messer on the first two seasons of “Damages”. Here, he deftly flips sides as a tough, principled officer of the court, struggling with his new role as a single father. You can see his foundation cracking and toughness crumbling, as he takes the call from the kidnappers on the courthouse steps.

As in the last episode, Reese steps out of the shadows to directly approach the judge on those steps. I usually avoid promos, but had seen the judge described as resistant to our hero’s methods. So, I expected major problems to ensue, probably involving him insisting on calling the authorities, despite what the kidnappers said. Perhaps some nifty cell phone spoofing when he tries to make that call. Instead, I got reminded why I consider promos agents of misdirection or outright ignorance, as the judge rather easily acquiesces to Reese’s assistance. The scenes between him and Reese are very well done, with Jim Caviezel getting a chance to invest Reese with more sincerity and compassion. But they are not the promised battle royal between established authority and vigilantism.

With the judge on board, Reese and Finch get to work with their respective specialties. Finch hacks the thug’s cell phone, which leads to some more field work. They are doing a good job of getting Finch away from his computer. Like Artie in season one of “Warehouse 13″, the less time Finch spends playing case monitor, the better. An on-site visit to the phone company, playing on a tech’s insecurities, nets the intel Reese needs to spring into action.

What follows is my favorite sequence of the show so far. Reese tracks down one of the thugs, and subjects him to interrogation by car trunk. I didn’t need the twitter feed to know that this was a direct homage to “Get Carter”, the fabulous Michael Caine gangster revenge film. The slow escalation worked beautifully, from the carrot of the burger to the stick of “two cats in a bag.”

The final fire fight was another super soldier army-of-one affair, but I’m more accepting of that aspect than the earlier mis-step. I’ve started to see Reese as a close cousin to Riggs, from the “Lethal Weapon” movies. They certainly share similar skills and backgrounds. Their portrayers even share belief systems (sorry, couldn’t resist.)

The one element of the show I haven’t mentioned is the police angle, which remains the weakest link. Reese’s bullying of Fusco has some entertainment value, but I consider it out of step with their subtler, sneak-around-the-margins approach elsewhere. Also, while I am always forgiving of minor continuity glitches (water glass levels in a dining scene are almost impossible to maintain, for instance), if the position of a file folder is integral to the scene, don’t have it shift position with every cut!

All in all, though, this was a very satisfying episode. I have said, before they need to expand the team as they move forward. So, I hope the strong hints about Judge Gates’ future aid come to pass. And I also hope Reese enjoyed the eggs Benedict.

Writing: 1/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Total: 7/10


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