Entertainment Magazine

Review #3191: Person of Interest 1.10: “Number Crunch”

Posted on the 19 December 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

“Person of Interest” ups the ante for its mid-season finale, throwing multiple numbers and ghosts from the past into the mix. The action opens inside the Machine, as it observes a nasty car crash. How discerning or selective the Machine is has been an open question so far, but the hints keep piling up. Reese happens upon Arthur Koestler’s “The Ghost In The Machine” in their library base. The title speaks for itself, but Koestler’s theories of humanity as both individuals and part of an interconnected web, with its attendant interactions and conflicts, pertains, too. To punctuate the point, a photo of Finch and Nate Ingram, his now-deceased partner, tumbles out of the book, labeled “In the beginning – N.I.”

Review #3191: Person of Interest 1.10: “Number Crunch”

However, it’s Reese’s past, not Finch’s, which impinges this time. Det. Carter is feeling some heat from her shooting in the previous episode. She’s assigned to desk duty and maintains she doesn’t know who saved her in the alley. Her Captain brings the stonewalling to an end, at the insistence of a visitor from the CIA, and she admits it was her mystery man. Not surprisingly, the Captain keeps mom about his roof-top encounter with Reese. That thread, and the inevitable showdown with Elias, will have to keep until the second half of the season.

Meanwhile, Reese and Finch are confronted with four seemingly random people. While it’s the first multiple selection of the show, Finch has seen it before, presumably pre-Reese, when all he could do was impotently monitor the people the Machine served up. To Reese’s surprise, the first person, Claire, is killed before he can get to her, but not before she went on a spending spree. This is a stroke of luck, since, at this point, the team can only extend to tracking three people.

Reese, very wisely, takes the red-head, Wendy, played by the ever-delectable and vivacious Bridget Regan. The inadvertent encounter with her at her hair salon was a treat. His discomfiture at the unwanted attention makes it plain that he is not a ladies’ man. In fact, he’s so befuddled he lets her slip away.

Det. Fusco also finds, and then promptly loses, the second woman, Paula. Finch is assigned to Matt Duggan, who is throwing cash around at a Ducati dealership. Matt falls victim to a bomb, as Finch looks on in horror. Although, like Carrie in “Homeland” recently, his brave, if ill-advised, reaction to a suspected bomb is to run towards it. While not a stellar outing for the team, it is refreshing to see them as fallible, not supermen.

Eventually, all four are tracked back to the opening crash, where they split a suitcase full of money. The dead driver was the son of a prominent Congressman, played by Michael Murphy with his usual slightly off-putting gravitas. Naturally, he is also up to no good, but Finch again proves almost laughably adept at bringing down the rich and powerful. There are multiple threads and characters to juggle, but the writer, Patrick Harbinson, a veteran of “Millenium”, “Dark Angel”, and “24″, keeps the story moving without letup or confusion.

I was intrigued that the two victims were the ones who used their windfall for more selfish, materialistic ends. The two sisters, with their more altruistic aim of saving their foster mother’s house, not only survive, but with the money intact. Was this just conventional TV manipulation of audience sympathies, or another sign of Machine morality at work? The incident happened at night; Finch and Reese are mobilizing the following morning. Was there a delay to give them less chance of saving the less deserving?

While Reese returns to his usual bad-ass self protecting the sisters, Carter is being worked on by the CIA men. They claim that, whatever good Reese may have done, he went off the deep end and killed his handler, last seen in flashback in “Foe”. (And if she’s actually dead, I’m more closely related to a monkey than deduced by Darwin.) Eventually, they convince her to help them bring him in.

In that final showdown, the CIA sniper has a clear shot, and appears to be shooting to maim, not kill. Presumably, they would still like to make use of his considerable talents, which adds another twist to the rest of the season. Being on the radar of the Feds, the NYPD, and Elias will certainly make their job harder. However, Carter’s change of heart, having gotten a clearer view of both sides, promises a new ally. Given my reservations from last episode, it’s good to see her come in from the cold. I think she works a lot better as part of a team, than on her own.

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

Final Rating: 8/10

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