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Mary’s 2012 TV Goodness All-Stars: Person of Interest’s Kevin Chapman 

Photo Credit:CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

In the Pilot for Person of Interest, we meet a short, doughy, corrupt cop with a plan to off Reese (Jim Caviezel) and dump his body in Oyster Bay.  To say the least, the cop was annoying, pissed many viewers off, and left some of us hoping Reese would blow his head off after crashing the car they were riding in (and I was one of them).  This dirty cop was Detective Lionel Fusco played by Kevin Chapman, an actor who I barely had heard of before.  Little did I know that by the end of 2012, Kevin Chapman would be one of my favorite actors, and Fusco would be one of my favorite characters on television.

While we may have thought Fusco was a little prick and didn’t deserve a second chance, Reese saw something more, something good in Lionel.  Before we know it, Fusco is helping Reese and Finch (Michael Emerson) with their cases while still playing the role as a corrupt member of HR.  As Fusco begins to feel better about himself with the good he is doing with Reese and Finch, he begins desperately looking for a way out of HR.

That hope diminishes in the episode “Blue Code” when dirty Detective Davidson catches Fusco stealing evidence for Finch and then, plans on killing him for betraying HR.  I loved this episode and consider this one of the best performances of Chapman in the entire series.  I have to admit that I got pretty emotional in “Blue Code” when it looked as if Fusco was going to be killed, especially when he said these words regretfully while facing imminent death:

You ever been shot?
Craziest things go through
your mind…
Glad I put on clean underwear,
hid that stash of porn.
Sorry that your son had to find out
that his old man was a dirty cop.
Then you realize you’re gonna die.
You try to go down
doing something good.

Photo Credit:CBS
Photo Credit:CBS

Wow, what a performance.  It is clear here that Fusco has a good heart and very much wants to do right – even if it means dying. For him, dying doesn’t seem too bad, if everyone knows he was trying to do the right thing. Fortunately for us, Reese shows up just in time to save Fusco, but not without sending him back in with his corrupt cop buddies because “that’s where he is needed”.  Sigh.  Here we go again – poor Lionel!

At the end of season one, Fusco and Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) finally discover they are both working for Reese and Finch, and so, at least that secret is out of the way.  In addition, a good deal of the players in HR are apprehended, and they are having to rebuild their organization, but Fusco is still in the middle of the whole mess.  Detective Simmons (Robert John Burke) knows about the murder of Detective Davidson, and so has that leverage over Fusco.  This guy can’t seem to get a break at all.

Photo Credit:CBS
Photo Credit:CBS

What makes Kevin Chapman exceptional and what I feel makes him an all-star for 2012 is that he has one of the most difficult roles on Person of Interest and does an extraordinary job at it.  Reese, Finch, and Carter have their own consistent roles that they have to play on a daily basis.  In contrast, Fusco is in a position of almost playing 2 roles.  He has to play the bad guy (but not quite as bad as the terrible Fusco we saw in the Pilot) because he is still in bed with HR, but he also has to play this good guy helping to save innocent lives by assisting Reese and Finch.  That takes some amazing skill to pull something like that off, but Chapman does it perfectly.

We were on a conference call with Executive Producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman recently, and one of the comments was how Fusco’s popularity was totally unexpected from the writers’ and producers’ viewpoint.  No one ever imagined that the fans would embrace Fusco like they have, and they certainly didn’t think he would become “somewhat of a lady’s man”, as Nolan put it, which is why they introduced a love interest for Fusco in the recent episode, “Til Death”.

Photo Credit:CBS
Photo Credit:CBS

The only big question left is when in the hell is Fusco going to ask Reese and Finch for help, so that he can finally be free of HR.  Nolan and Plageman didn’t give many details but promised that would be answered in the first few episodes in 2013.  Let’s just hope that Fusco can finally leave his connections to HR behind and lead an honorable life of integrity that he so desperately wants – and deserves.

Person of Interest returns on Thursday, January 3, at 9/8c.






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1 Comment

  1. Cuttler

    Reese pegged Fusco correct in the pilot. Fusco is just a loyal follower. His heart wasn’t in what he was doing with Stills but he was doing it because Stills made him and he didn’t have the strength to get himself out of it. It’s the same reason Reese was able to get him to do his bidding too. He’d rather do the good stuff with Reese and Finch but is willing to do the dirty stuff when needed because he’s asked to and he’s still that loyal follower.

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