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Person of Interest “Panopticon” 

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

I’ll be honest here. It’s been a year since the last time we’ve seen a Person of Interest premiere and I truly had forgotten just how good these things can be. Suspense. Action. Humor. An old friend. A new foe. And one big twist at the end. Is there anything the episode didn’t have? Well, our team completely back together but hey, we’re getting there. Regardless, if tonight is any indication, I think we are looking at a fantastic new season.

The premiere opens basically where the season finale left off and that’s with Samaritan. Since Samaritan is now officially the top dog, the entire episode is shown from her point of view, with a very similar user interface but different enough to let you know we’re not dealing with Harold’s (Michael Emerson) Machine anymore. It also appears that Samaritan has its own personal femme fatale, Martine Rousseau (Cara Buono, Mad Men) AKA Meghan Watkins, or whatever her alias-of-the-week may be. She quickly takes out a journalist in Budapest who was researching companies involved in artificial intelligence and then immediately scuttles off to New York. We can probably take a good guess as to who her targets are going to be there.

This is where the fun part of the episode begins. When I talked to executive producer Greg Plageman (who also wrote tonight’s episode) and the cast at Comic-Con this summer, they hinted that there would be quite a bit of humor in the premiere surrounding the new day jobs assigned to Finch’s team as part of their cover. And they certainly weren’t lying about that. Harold — actually Professor Harold Whistler (probably the funniest bird name given to the character thus far) — is a college professor, not too much of a surprise but still pretty funny. Reese (Jim Caviezel) is a narcotics detective, which is an interesting choice but one we learn later was cherry-picked by the Machine so that he would be at the right place at the right time. And the funniest one of them all — Shaw (Sarah Shahi) as a makeover consultant.

Yeah, this day job thing isn’t really working out — Shaw

Sorry, Sam. You need an identity and you need to trust the Machine — Root

Wait, the Machine put me in this silly-ass job? — Shaw

And she’s being harassed to death by some Romeo on a dating site called Angler. Needless to say, Shaw isn’t a happy camper. But, don’t fret, Shaw, because help is on the way. Masked in the form of a boring calendar alert, Shaw is pleasantly surprised when she shows up for the meeting to find Reese there, as well as the next number from the Machine. It looks like they are back in business, at least part of the way.

The number turns out to belong to Ali Hasan, an Egyptian national and owner of a local electronics store. Ali had promised to build a private cell phone network for a drug-dealing gang called the Brotherhood and he’s having some serious technical difficulties. Because the Brotherhood is expecting a very large shipment of heroin, they put the heat on Ali by threatening him and his son, which leads him to retaliate in the form of a bomb.

Reese shows up in the nick of time like he always does to save the gangbangers, but he now knows Ali is the perpetrator and the Brotherhood knows that Ali tried to kill them. So yes, Ali is technically a bad guy but he’s also a sympathetic one and so Reese, along with Fusco (Kevin Chapman) agree to help him get his son back and take down the real bad guys. But, they have two major problems: 1) Ali has to complete the phone network to save his son and really needs a computer guru to do it. Finch would certainly come in handy at this point, but he’s supposedly grown a conscience and won’t have a thing to do with the numbers and the Machine any longer. 2) They need to do all of this and still fly completely under the radar to avoid being detected by Samaritan. Piece of cake, right?

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

The first problem is solved by Root (Amy Acker), who is quickly turning into the moral compass of the show, as well as one of my favorite characters. Who would have thought that the assassin back in season one would turn out to be one of the most moral and likeable characters in the entire series.

       Now is not the time to be precious, Harold. You don’t get to sit this one out…Every life matters, you taught me that… You got your friends into this mess, the least you can do is get them out — Root

Well, her little speech did the trick because Harold does finally step up and is able to solve Ali’s technical issues with his phone network.

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

The second problem is solved by a stroke of genius on Reese’s part — and a stroke of genius on the writers’ part because it involved bringing back a character who is also slowly becoming a fan favorite. As John said himself, if you have a job to do and are forced to follow the rules, then you find someone who can break the rules.

      Which brings me to the other reason why I am here.   I’d like to hire you — Reese to Elias

Yes, Elias (Enrico Colantoni) is officially back and I’m so excited! He, as well as Scarface (David Valcin), are the perfect patsy and diversion to go in, guns-a-blazing, to take down the Brotherhood and get Ali’s son out. Of course, narcotics detective “John Riley” is there to take credit for the major drug bust, with everyone including the NYPD completely clueless that anything is out-of-the-ordinary.

And the very best part that came out of all of this — because of the major drug bust, detective “John Riley” is promoted to the 8th and assigned as Fusco’s new partner. Very very bittersweet scene. We are reminded of Carter (Taraji P. Henson), who used to sit at that desk but at the same time, if she could pick anyone in the world to replace her, I think it would be Reese.

At the end of the day, a pretty ingenious plan put together by the Machine to get at least part of the team back together. Finch was able to modify Ali’s network to create one completely undetectable by Samaritan. Reese is exactly where he needs to be with Fusco. And lastly, the typos in the doctoral dissertation the Machine put together for Harold and his new cover job leads him to some place underground. If you wanted to send a secret message, doing it through typos in a paper is a pretty slick way to do it, don’t you think?

All in all, an excellent, top-notch episode. Plageman had said at SDCC that season four would be about “the empire striking back.” But, a well-executed counterattack takes time and a great deal of care. And if tonight’s episode was only the first step in the Machine’s plan, I absolutely cannot wait for what the rest of the season has in store.

Oh, and if you loved the song at the end of the episode as much as I did, it is “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After and you can find it on iTunes.

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

Most memorable quotes and random observations

  •  Notice how Senator Ron Garrison was flagged as “Possible Threat” by Samaritan. Any guesses as to how long he will last?
  • Is that your perfume? I could smell you all the way down the hall — Reese to Shaw
  • I need you to drop the eyeliner, pick up a gun, and help me take down a criminal street gang — Reese to Shaw
  • Your former associates, the mayhem twins, are back to trying to save people — Root to Finch
  • Elias says ‘hello’ — Scarface
  • It’s not just about the numbers, Harold.  It’s about survival — Reese

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  1. MByerly

    A question. Do you know who “Romeo,” the guy in the van, is?

  2. Mary Powers

    No, I don’t think we know that yet. Since the “date” seems to have been set up by the Machine, of course, I think we can assume he has something to do with some mission. We just don’t know what that is yet. Can’t wait to find out, though!

    1. MByerly

      Thanks. Shaw was really quick to hop into the van as a “wheel man” so she must know them, and they must know her to offer.

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