Person of Interest: Season 2
The television show ‘Person of Interest’ clearly qualifies as a program of interest especially for a discerning viewer demanding a higher level of production values than usually found. Sadly some of the series’ detractors have cited slow pacing and exploitation of the post 9-11 paranoia that exploited the greatest tragedy every to occur on American soil. Admittedly I have been a loyal fan of the series since the first episode decidedly for the elements just cited. I enjoy a story that is tightly woven with a plethora of threads each imparting a unique flavor that synergistically enhances the whole. Like an expertly prepared meal it takes time to simmer, to permit everything to properly blend together. A series that is slowly paced provides that temporal requirement. In a similar fashion the series does tap into the feelings of fear and paranoia that pervaded the nation after that darkest of days when the towers fell. Deriding a series for of emotionally manipulating the audience is not reasonable. It negates one of the fundamental techniques available in entertainment. To be truly effective it is imperative for the story to connect on an intimate level and one of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to embroil the characters in a shared experience that profoundly affected the viewers. With ‘Person of Interest’ the writers did make 9-11 as a major plot point but considering the premise the usage is entirely legitimate.
The basis of the series is after 9-11 the government commissioned the construction of ‘The Machine’, a super computer system that monitors in real time every email, phone call and CCTV floating around. The purpose is to shift through that unbelievably staggering amount of data to root out and identify potentially viable terrorist plots. As a side effect the Machine in seeing and hearing everything even acts of violence that concerns individuals. The chief architect of the machine, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) came to regret the myopic scope of his creation and installed a back door the machine gives ‘relevant’ threats to the government agencies but erases the potential crimes it categorizes as ‘irrelevant’, those affecting regular people. Each night at midnight Finch receives a single social security number of a person who will soon be involved in a crime; either ads a victim or perpetrator. In order to prevent what is to happen Finch needed a partner, one with the skills in fighting, tactics and surveillance to intercede and prevent the unknown criminal activity. That partner was found in the person of John Reese (Jim Caviezel). It isn’t his real name that has been erased a long time ago. He is a highly trained military operative exceptionally effective in what is euphemistically referred to covert wet work or black ops. Together this unlikely pair ferrets out the details of a crime from only a nine digit number. Finch is a billionaire with nearly unlimited resources able to hide in plain sight pulling strings.
The pitfall that looms before a series like this is to fall into the perpetrator of the week if that was all the show had going for it. Fortunately, there is a lot more swirling around this show to hold our interest. Initially the side story concerning a diligent New York City police detective, Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson). She has been on Reese’s trail ever since he handily dispatched a gang of young toughs although he seemingly was a homeless man. Since then a man in a suit has been using the same skill set to intervene in apparently unrelated crimes. As the first season unfolded other players were introduced and elaborated on in this second season. This once again greatly enhances the texture of the series. Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco) was once a person of interest provided by the machine but her skills in crisis management are occasionally utilized. On a more regular basis there are representative of the government’s alphabet soup of agencies with knowledge of the machine and who consider Reese as a danger. Next is a group of dirty police officers called HR. it is led by Alonzo Quinn (Clarke Peters): the Mayor's Chief of Staff, devoted to rebuilding the organization and align it with organized crime families. Finally there is Decima Technologies, another secret organization with the intention to take control of the machine for their own nefarious purposes.
The cliffhanger for the first season had Finch kidnapped leaving Reese somewhat adrift; a feeling he is not accustomed to experiencing. It turned out his abductor was Caroline Turing (Amy Acker). For those that recognize the name the Turning test are the criteria to determine whether an artificial intelligence is truly self-aware. She set up events so that the Machine would pick her in order to capture the man behind it. Under the Alias of Root, another popular computer programming term, she is one of the major motivators for this second season. While this thread to not overwhelm the basic episodic motif established right from the start. The Machine still releases its enigmatic number and Reese still investigates the crime looming ahead.
The intensity of the stories requires actors with the talent to handle the roles properly. Jim Caviezel has a range that encompasses everything from the mysterious Number 6 in the remake of the cult classic ‘The Prisoner’ to Jesus in the controversial Aramaic Mel Gibson vehicle, ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Here he instills an emotional and complexity and psychological texture to Reese that makes him the thinking man’s action hero. Sure he can best any opponent psychically but as a man who has dealt too long with violence would rather find another resolution. If pushed he is quick and deadly. In contrast Finch is a man of incredible wealth and power who freely chose this path in life. He realizes this course is very likely to result in his death but his intrinsic sense of morality compels him to act as he does. Both men together form a formidable team and very strange partnership. The series has the action necessary for its genre but it is far from mindless. Underlying it all is the fact that the technology used here is possible without stretching the imagination too far. If it does exist the government would undoubtedly want this machine as outlined in the premise. Instead of the usual sophomore slump the series built upon the first season coming out as strong as ever.
View From The Machine: 24 Hours Behind Person Of Interest - Follow Cast And
Creators Through a Day Of Weaving A Complex Web Of Episodic Action Adventure