Entertainment Magazine

Review #3275: Person of Interest 1.13: “Root Cause”

Posted on the 08 February 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

Last season, “Rubicon” treated us to a flawed, but fascinating, recreation of the paranoid ambiance of ‘70s thrillers like “Three Days of the Condor” and “The Conversation”. “Person of Interest” has been giving us a fresh take on those themes. Now, it offers up an alternate ending to another of those ‘70s classics. What would have happened if someone had been watching Warren Beatty’s back at the end of “The Parallax View”? In “Root Cause”, we find out.

Review #3275: Person of Interest 1.13: “Root Cause”

But, first, we get an opening set-piece highlighting Reese’s approach to marital counseling. This is a therapist who lets his fists do the talking, and his arguments are very compelling and convincing. Then, the Machine offers up an unemployed construction foreman, Scott Powell , who appears to be targeting the Congressman whose budget cuts cost him his job.

The investigation starts conventionally enough. Reese continues Finch’s education on field work, and the rough pleasures of a stakeout. Finch gets to show off his Pringles can prowess. And Mr. Powell’s picket-fence existence gives them a chance to muse on whether they would ever opt for the conventional life. These two outsiders have a history of not quite getting it right the first time around, and they are true to form. Just as they close in on the apparent assassin, Finch starts to realize all the “evidence” has been planted by a very clever hacker.

At this point, the story, and the show, really takes off, as circumstances force them to split, and even abandon, their resources. It is a nice bit of hubris as Finch follows the hacker into her ‘honey trap’, forcing him to flee their library base. (The architecture lover in me hates losing that location!) Reese pulls another of his car-demolishing kidnappings, which are becoming a bit of a trademark, to spirit Powell away from the Feds.
And Finch, realizing they’re out of their depth in these murky political waters, makes a much-anticipated call.

Zoe Walker becomes the first (of a few, I hope) to transition from former Person of Interest to consultant. She immediately disentangles the political players and refocuses the team on the slain Congressman’s campaign manager and business partner, Pete Matheson. Zoe’s approach to Matheson, using her reputation as a fixer and punctuated by the classic line, “If you’re going to do wrong, do it right!”, gives Finch the foothold he needs to turn the tables.

The cat-and-mouse game between Reese, the hacker, and her hitman brought to mind another show: the evil leaper and her handler from season 5 of “Quantum Leap”. However, where that move smacked of desperation and decline, for “Person of Interest”, the introduction of Root adds another worthy adversary to an already strong base. I’ve used the Holmes template previously, comparing Zoe to Irene Adler, and Elias to Moriarty. Now, it seems each of our protagonists gets their own Moriarty. Reese matches up with the more traditional crime boss in Elias, while Finch is faced with a high-tech version. Certainly her disposal of Matheson hints at manipulation skills that match those of the modern Moriarty in BBC’s “Sherlock”. (And I’m sure John wouldn’t mind Zoe emulating the modern Irene, but they’ll have to have that drink first.)

While the twists of “Witness” represented a coming of age for the show, this episode really took them to the next level. After establishing patterns of hubris and cluelessness, those all came to crashing fruition here. They have had their come-uppance, but are wiser and stronger from it. And have the makings of a team to rebuild it all. But, I still think you’ve got a problem….Harold.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 3/4

Total: 9/10

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog