Entertainment Magazine

Review #3053: Person of Interest 1.3: “Mission Creep”

Posted on the 09 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

As I’ve mentioned previously, “Person of Interest” needs to build compelling characters to move beyond the confines of its case-of-the-week format. The previous episode, delving into Finch’s past, did that quite well. “Mission Creep”, focusing on Reese, was not so successful.

Review #3053: Person of Interest 1.3: “Mission Creep”

The case, this time, centers on Joey Durban, an Iraq war veteran who has come home, only to find the best he can do is work as a Manhattan doorman. So, he has gotten involved with an armed robbery gang. Sadly, this one was even more predictable than the pilot. From the moment Reese mentions the gang hadn’t injured anyone, I was just waiting to learn what “right reasons” he was doing it for. Sure enough, the “other woman with a baby”, with whom he appears to be cheating on his girlfriend, turns out to be his dead buddy’s wife and child. Which neatly justifies the need for extra money to help support them. I thought Reese’s over-identification with his subject would wind up blinding him to some flaws, but none were to be found.

Instead, all the villainy falls to the ringleader, Straub, who ropes in the vets and then kills them before they can collect their payoffs. Given the early emphasis on not knowing if they were tracking perp or victim, I expected the cases to involve more shades of gray. So far, the pattern is distinctly black and white. When Reese finds it necessary to join the gang, he is never in danger of compromising his principles. Even in the brawl with the bankers, however cathartic it was after the economic news of the last few years, the two suspenders were such buffoons, Reese’s actions were fully justified.

A little more ambiguity would have helped the introduction of the new on-going villain, apparently attached to the police evidence the gang is tasked with stealing. Reese’s reluctance to turn Joey in earlier seemed tailor-made to produce a more tragic consequence down the road. Instead, Joey rides off with his girl, while Straub winds up dead on delivery of the goods, shot by the corrupt cop, Latimer. I actually found it rather distasteful to see the old trope of killing off the minority ringleader rearing its head. Having Joey killed, perhaps after tracking down Latimer and then sharing his fate, would have underlined that actions, however well-meaning, have consequences, for both the numbered and our heroes. It would also have given Reese an extra, personal incentive to go after the man responsible.

Reese’s flashback, to a chance airport meeting with the woman he left post 9/11, was equally pedestrian. Finch’s flashbacks extended over time, showing a progression. Here, we repeatedly return to the same scene, with the conversation extended by one or two lines each time. This can be an effective technique if, as in, say, ‘Memento’, something intriguing or surprising is revealed as we go along. Here, we learned nothing about Reese that hadn’t already been shown, explicitly or implicitly.

Reese’s new relationship, the one with Detective Carter, is developing nicely. Taraji P. Henson is doing an excellent job mixing her dogged pursuit of Reese with a growing, begrudging respect. Michael Emerson was more in the background this episode, apart from further confirming he’s not the action type during the police robbery. This was Reese’s episode, and, as I’d feared, it emphasizes that Jim Caviezel does not have the acting chops his co-stars do. The writing didn’t help him, but great actors can overcome a weak script. If the series is going to survive, it will need better scripts, and a better balance between the cast members, as the season progresses.

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

Total: 6/10

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