“Person of Interest” recap (5.3): Stealthy Cocoon

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(I know “gay” here just means cheerful, lighthearted, etc. in the anachronistic sense, but: what if it is about Shaw.)

Bless this show’s PR department, honestly

Keith David was entertaining as John’s old boss, Terence Beale. At this point, I tend to start worrying the second Person of Interest introduces an intriguing, vaguely villainous black character, because we’ve had Cal Beecher, Alonzo Quinn, Dominic, Dominic’s various lieutenants, Zachary (Greer’s lackey), and whoever the woman was who recruited the overlooked number to Samaritan last week. At a certain point, you have to start to wonder about the proportion of black innocents to black criminals and masterminds in New York. (I suppose Carter’s ex-husband and son are still out there somewhere, so there’s that.)

But for now, Beale is interesting because he’s a shadowy figure who would have had some dealings with Northern Lights, but doesn’t seem to know anything about Samaritan, and his relationship with John is one we haven’t quite seen before. He likes and respects John, though he bears him no real love or loyalty, and he’s content to let him keep being a “ghost”—until, I assume, the next time John gets in his way. He comes off as a relic of the Cold War in some ways (the way he dresses, the way he carries himself). Perhaps he’s a less-altruistic twist on Justin Jackson. I can’t imagine the writers would spend an episode introducing Beale if they don’t intend to make further use of him, so it’ll be interesting to see what his role will turn into.

A quick rundown of the problems before I get out of here: The basic plot was already done lightyears better in “Root Path,” and the comparison doesn’t help. Clunky dialogue, which the actors usually smooth over very well, abounds in this episode. Yet somehow the clunk never transcends into hilarity, as often does happen on Person of Interest, especially when John or Shaw is talking. We’re stuck in the uncanny valley of clunk.

John’s attempt at “a normal life,” followed by a confrontation with the person he used to be, followed by rejection of said normalcy, might have been moving in theory. He says it’s the demands of the job, but obviously, it’s also that he feels he doesn’t deserve affection and peace. The problem is that Iris has never been established as a character we have any reason to care about or particularly respect, and their bond has never felt believable or desirable. They’re attractive people going through the motions, and when they broke up, I was simply relieved that John’s chance to retire to his proper position as Zoe Morgan’s eye candy/bang-maid is restored.

Final notes:

  • Between the Times Square CGI and Keith David’s presence, I’m calling this episode a Mr. Robot crossover, which can only improve it.
  • Last week the Machine’s rundown on John during the surveillance test showed he had a deceased sister. This week we find out he was adopted. I’m not exactly thrilled with Kara calling his adoptive family not “real,” but between these data points and John’s saying he has no siblings—which doesn’t mean he never had any before—it seems like his family background is going to be important.
  • The Machine is lower-case “it” this week since it was kind of just chilling. No special events in the realm of pronouns.
  • I always love when they mess with the opening credits. If I’m not mistaken, this was the first time we’ve heard Greer’s version of Harold’s usual monologue. The differences reflect their differences perfectly, of course.
  • Root this week was the living embodiment of “do no harm, take no shit, beg no man pardon,” and I loved it.
  • Again I say: #real

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