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Why Carter’s Death Matters, Person of Interest “The Crossing” 

Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros.
Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I’m having a lot of feelings about “The Crossing,” and I’d bet that you are too. Let’s hash this out together and see where it goes.

Carter means a lot to me, always has. I’ve admired Taraji P. Henson for quite some time and I was so excited when I heard she’d been cast on a new show called Person of Interest. I knew I’d be watching it because J.J. Abrams was involved. Those two things were really all it took to get me interested in the show before it premiered. I’ve also been a Jim Caviezel fan for a while and if you’ve ever seen even one episode of Lost with Michael Emerson as Ben Linus, you know that man can deliver. Kevin Chapman’s Fusco grew on me and I was pretty into Amy Acker’s Root and Sarah Shahi’s Shaw almost from the beginning.

Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS
Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS

One thing that is very important to me about this show is that the team isn’t always safe. Their job is to prevent the death of an innocent person (usually) and they never know if the number they receive is the perpetrator or the victim. And I love that twist. It definitely makes for a more interesting show. So when Reese’s number comes up this week, we knew going in that his life was in danger. Strangely, I wasn’t that worried about him, but maybe it was because of all the promos I’d seen going into this episode. It looked like it would actually be Fusco’s number that was up, not Reese’s. I have to say, that was a pretty good fake out. But let’s talk about Fusco for a minute. I was genuinely upset at the thought that this was the end of the line for him. I think “The Crossing” is only the second time we’ve seen Lionel’s son and that just screamed “doom” to me. It seemed like he was going to die a sort of heroes death. His death was going to matter. He was taking one for the team. He was redeemed in his own eyes and in ours. But Lionel saved himself in the end because Shaw couldn’t. And I like that. I love that, actually. Fusco saved himself. It’s a big deal. But that wasn’t the end of the episode, so I knew something else was coming.

When Carter got Quinn to the FBI and the members of HR started going down, I got nervous again. When Carter was reinstated to detective I started really feeling the dread. And all that Reese and Carter stuff? So, so good. Carter’s journey has been so interesting this season. We met her ex and saw that her son has a relationship with him now. Her relationship with Beecher set her on this journey, but she allowed herself to feel something for Warren Kole‘s Ian Murphy while she was working that job. She got shot at when Laskey was killed, so we’ve seen her in the line of fire recently. And we knew HR was a huge threat to her life and to the life of her son. But it was important for her to take HR down so I was right there with her. I wanted – and needed – to see her take Quinn in. I needed to see the good guys win. So when Simmons turns up like the bad penny his is, it’s a surprise. He’s gunning for Reese and because Carter had just gotten him out of police custody, he’s unarmed. So he goes down and so does Carter. I can’t say it was really a surprise when she died, but it was a shock. And it was upsetting. Not only for me, but clearly for Reese and Finch.

I’ve always loved the chemistry between Carter and Reese so I was actually pretty excited about the kiss and everything that led up to it. And when things got truly dire and it looked like Reese was about to be discovered, he drew the bad cops away from Carter and Quinn. Nothing was going to prevent him from getting Carter in the clear. Nothing was going to prevent him from making sure Carter turned Quinn over to the Feds.

I mean, I guess there were signs that I just refused to see. As I mentioned Carter’s story has been so good all season. Her life has been in danger more than usual because of her plight to take HR down. She turned to John and to Harold when she really needed helped. She realized she wouldn’t be able to do this on her own and she trusted them to have her back. And they did. Right until the end.

This show isn’t really about happy endings, is it? Not for the Team. They’re all damaged, but trying to help others. They’ve all got demons and this job isn’t safe by any means. And we got two new series regulars this season. That’s a big cast for a show like this. So, maybe I should’ve seen this coming and I’m sure some people did.

Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS
Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS

So what does this mean for the Team and for Reese? Just from the end of the episode and from the previews for next week, we can tell he doesn’t take it well. Even though Carter tried to ask him/tell him not to let her death affect him like that. Reese doesn’t listen so well, especially when someone he cares about is involved. And you’ve got to admit, this is such a good twist in this story. Reese is usually the stoic man in the suit. Now he’s angry and he’s sad. He looks like he’s going off the rails. And that’s interesting. That’s something we haven’t really seen so far. So while I’m really and truly devastated about Carter’s death, we’ll feel the ripple effects of this for a long time coming.

Why is Carter’s death important to me (and hopefully to you)? Because she meant something to us and to the team. She was a character who brought something different to this group of people doing this important job. More than anyone, she knew the difference between right and wrong and knew when she was making the wrong choice, even if it was for a good reason. She was probably the person we sympathized with the most because she was the most normal (or as normal as you can be in the company of these people). She was a good cop and a good woman who may have been a bit corrupted or compromised by the POI team, but in the best possible way. Did she make bad choices? Sure, but we understood them. Would she still be alive if she’d never gotten mixed up with Reese and Finch? Probably and that’s very interesting.

How will the rest of the team take Carter’s death? How will this change their dynamic? How are they going to keep doing this without Carter? I can’t wait to find out.

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.

There’s no way we could just write one article on such a major POI event. Tina Charles talks about her Carter/Reese Rewind and Repeat Moment here.

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  1. MByerly

    I’m a professional novelist, and I teach writing so I look at shows with that viewpoint as well as a fan’s.

    Carter’s death is an extremely dangerous creative decision to make. They risk alienating or chasing away lots of fans.

    Carter is, as I said in my comments on Tina’s post, the viewpoint character for most fans because she is real in a way Reese and Finch are not. She has been the sane one in the middle of all the craziness, she was the heart of the group as Finch is the brains, and she has never lost herself. She’s arguably the strongest “normal” female character on TV.

    They are replacing her with Shaw who is a sociopath with less human emotional skills than an android and Root who is a psychopath with nothing to recommend her unless you are seriously into creepy and crazy. This leaves a giant narrative hole for the viewer.

    With Root’s character now a regular, this means that the story lines are moving away from the POI of the episode and more toward The Machine as a thinking being/manipulator and the dangers involved. This means a shift away from suspense toward science fiction which I doubt most viewers will be happy with.

    This whole choice looks like the writers and producer are heading straight toward a cliff they don’t see.

  2. Mary

    I have watched POI since the very beginning, and having thought about the progression of the series, I have realized that many storylines are now ending, and so, that opens the door for new ones. If you think about the end of Season 2, really most of the questions about the main characters (particularly Finch and Reese) and how the Machine was made have been answered. We know about Reese’s past, we know what happened to Nathan Ingram and why Finch does what he does today. The only storyline from Season 1 that’s still hanging out there is the one centered around HR, and it looks like that one will be wrapped up soon too. So, what now? You just can’t continue with the POI-of-the-week indefinitely, and expect to keep viewers attention. So, now, we have new storylines involving the Machine and it evolving and learning to think on its own. That said, I do understand why Carter was killed off. With HR finally being brought to justice, what would be next for her? Go back to working with Fusco on the POI-of-the-week? In many ways, Fusco and Carter have redundant roles, and I wonder if a choice had to be made between the two, and why Carter got the short straw.

    Oh, one other thing. We have seen Reese hell-bent-on-revenge in one other situation — when he found out that his ex-fiancee, Jessica, had been murdered. He tracked the guy down, sat in wait in his house, killed the man, and made sure no one ever found the body.

    1. MByerly

      Reese didn’t kill Jessica’s husband/murderer. He took him to Mexico and left him in a hellhole of a jail.

  3. MByerly

    The executive producer of POI talks about this decision on the website if anyone’s interested.

  4. Liz

    I understand the producers wanting to move the show in a different direction, but since Carter supposedly knew about the Machine why kill her off? Despite the EP saying this was a longterm decisions, it didn’t feel that way. All along, Carter had been asking Finch and Reese where they got their information. We, the viewers, were cheated by not seeing her discover the Machine. We’re supposed to suspend our belief that she had time while gathering info on HR to research about a supercomputer. I didn’t buy this for a second. That wasn’t good writing to me. If this was to be a planned departure, then that question should have been answered in a satisfying manner.

    And what of Elias? All we received in The Crossing episode was that he called Finch to tell him his boys weren’t going to pursue the bounty on John’s head. There were too many loose ends for me. I enjoyed the acting of TPH, JC, KC and ME. They were all tremendous, but to kill off Carter seemed a cheap way to plunge Reese back where he was in the Pilot.

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