Entertainment Magazine

Review #3039: Person of Interest 1.2: “Ghosts”

Posted on the 03 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

The transition from a tv show’s pilot to first production episode can be a treacherous one. Once a show is picked up, months may pass, networks may meddle, casts may be reshuffled. Sometimes basic tenets laid out in the pilot will be re-jiggered, or even ignored. Thankfully, “Person of Interest” is showing no signs of these problems. “Ghosts”, the follow-on episode to the pilot, builds on what was working, dials back on some excesses, and starts filling in the background in a very satisfying way.

Review #3039: Person of Interest 1.2: “Ghosts”

The show opens with the final act of another case, as Reese slips into an elevator with an adulterous husband and the two hit men his wife has sent to kill him. The pilot established Reese as a major bad-ass but the delicious maliciousness he shows here turns that up a notch. He shows a greater ease and comfort with the job, and a much improved ability to stay under the radar. No mid-street cannons this time, which makes Detective Carter’s difficulties in tracking him much more believable.

This time around, Finch’s machine (which is desperately in need of a sinister, government-issued acronym, by the way) throws a curve ball by spitting out the name of a dead girl. However, this circumstance doesn’t lead to any skepticism about the machine. We know Finch, as its creator, has absolute faith, but I thought Reese might question it, creating some tension between them. Instead, we are treated to the start of a cat-and mouse game, as Reese starts trying to track his employer. It makes perfect sense for his character, and it’s a deft device for ferreting out more background info for the viewers.

The detective work felt more organic this episode, mixing both shoe leather and high-tech. It also feels right for both of them to get involved in the investigation. Having a coerced mole in the NYPD helps, but expecting Reese to handle everything is just unrealistic. And, especially once we discover Finch’s Dilbert-esque cover within his own company, who better to impersonate an insurance company flunky?

Another welcome shift from Reese as one-man-army was the handling of his adversary. Reese is very good, but, faced with another pro, using similar techniques, he has his hands full. He does prevail, but only barely, and almost loses the girl twice. Reese does learn from his mistakes, though, avoiding the vest the second time he shoots the hit-man. Roping in Detective Carter as an unwitting ally at the end was another nice touch.

The improved case work was only part of the story. In addition to Reese uncovering Finch’s current situation, we see flashbacks to the machine’s genesis. We meet Finch’s partner, Ingram (played by fellow “Lost” alum Brett Cullen), the public face of the company. He is also the conscience of the company, who is far more uncomfortable with discarding the ‘irrelevant’ data than Finch. Revealing that Ingram’s death was just last year would seem to indicate that was what drove Finch to finally reconsider the data.

Also, using the machine’s feed as a framing device for the flashbacks raised an intriguing question. Were these Reese’s memories, or the machine’s? The camera’s initial dive into the red light certainly raised unsettling memories of HAL9000, from “2001″. Could the machine be helping shape these events, not just reporting on them?

In closing, I wanted to correct an oversight from my previous review. While this show is the latest from producer J.J. Abrams, he is not a solo act. Jonathan Nolan is the creator, co-executive producer, and (so far) primary writer. Given his pedigree, co-writing “Memento”, “The Prestige”, and both “Dark Knight” movies with brother Christopher, I look forward to seeing what dark and twisted visions he has in store for us. It has certainly been a promising start.

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

Final Rating: 8/10

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