S1E12: Person of Interest has been on a steady incline in quality for a few weeks now. The latest episode, “Legacy,” is neither quite an exception of nor a continuation of this pattern. Of the four elements that make up the episode, three are big winners. And the mere fact that so many different storylines are going on in an episode of Person of Interest without it getting cluttered or confusing is a testament to how much the show has organically grown. But there’s that one holdout: the Number of the Week story. It’s not a bad story at all. It is fueled by some good old-fashioned sentiment and humanism. It is well acted by all major parties. But something about Reese’s mission to protect a fledgling defense attorney who defends rehabilitating ex-cons, operating under the maxim, “Everybody deserves a second chance,” just feels a little bit like it is torn from the pages of your ordinary, less creative television procedural.
“I’m not running away from who I was. I was taught everyone deserves a second chance.” – Angela Gutierrez
Angela Gutierrez is a Queens-born, Queens-educated and Queens-based attorney whose belief in the goodness of humanity has driven her to defend ex-cons, such as Terrence King: a man whom she claims was wrongfully imprisoned for drug possession. The drugs were found at his house, where he claims they were planted. King is placed in a detention facility while his son is handed over to a pair of foster parents with several other children to their name. A hit man’s attempt on Gutierrez’s life is foiled by Reese, who traces the hit back to King’s parole officer. It turns out the officer has been planting evidence on various ex-cons with children; his goal is to get the parents put in jail and split the state-paid foster salary with foster parents like those who took in King’s son. All of this is made possible via some illicit paperwork undertaken by one of Gutierrez’s trusted coworkers, who claims to truly believe the children will be better off without their ex-con parents.
As stated above, the story, while sweet and not at all poorly executed, just feels a little too complacent. The surprise culprit is the nice guy we meet early on. The corrupt state employee’s big motivator was a little extra cash. I could have pictured Law & Order “dun-dunnns” accompany every scene change. But I don’t believe the real meat of this episode is intended to lie in the Number of the Week story. We get plenty of good stuff elsewhere.
“You’re getting paranoid, Carter. That’s a step in the right direction.” – Reese
Carter officially joins the team this week. Reese gives her the job of looking into Angela Gutierrez’s juvenile file once her number comes up. Carter is eager to join the task force, but has conditions: she refuses to do anything illegal. This is clearly not in close conjunction with the Reese/Finch business model. Still, throughout the episode, Carter becomes privy to the sort of activities her coworkers make their M.O., and rapidly decides to shrug many of them off after a quick hostile look and maybe a shout or two at Reese. She’s in the game now—it’s exciting to see how much of a conflict this will play for her in episodes when the police, or the CIA, start to catch wind of her mysterious behavior. Police more adept than Fusco, that is…
Fusco’s role in this episode, while not much more than trivial until the very end, is actually some dynamite comedy. Fusco, thinking he’s contributing something to the Reese/Finch team, keeps calling Reese with tips that Carter (about whose involvement he knows nothing) is “up to something.” She doesn’t know anything about Fusco’s involvement either—but she still manages to seem a lot less like a buffoon about it. Poor ol’ Lionel.
But the befuddled officer will get his moment to shine. In the final moments of the episode, Reese gives Fusco a mission—follow someone, and find out what he is up to. That someone: FINCH. (Now there’s your “dun-dunnn” scene break).
“You have your rules. And you have a chance to save a life. It’s your choice.” – Reese
See, throughout this episode, the open book that is Harold Finch is uncharacteristically enigmatic about some personal matters to which he must attend. We see Finch waiting outside of a courthouse, happily embracing a much younger man when he emerges. The man thanks Finch for bailing him out (“again”), and Finch expresses a great deal of pleasure to see him. Thoughts arise regarding who this kid might be. Does Finch have a son? No (or, probably not), but this is the closest thing we’ll likely see. He is Nathan Ingram’s (Finch’s old Machine partner) son, Will—a good-hearted, handsome young doctor with a suggested gambling problem—coming back to New York City to consider selling the old place his billionaire father left him.
It turns out the young man has very little knowledge about his father, despite (or, maybe, in accordance with) his apparently close relationship with Finch. But Will begins to uncover information in the investigation of his father’s old paperwork. What secret project was his dad working on? Why did he shut down his company for seven years, leaving all of his employees with only severance packages? Why did he sell his mysterious project to the government for just one dollar? All good questions. All questions he seems to be bent on finding the answers to. At least, bent enough to decide not to sell the house after all, and to stay in the area until he figures out the mysteries surrounding his deceased dad.
Therein arises a complication for Finch. Someone he cares about poses a threat to him and his secrets. And we’re not supposed to simply believe that Finch is afraid Will is going to find out about his vigilante work. There is more to Finch’s backstory, as has been overtly suggested since day one, that we do know know about. Thankfully, Will is operating with the same curiosities that we’ve had for weeks. But there’s dissention in the ranks—Reese’s distrust for Finch is brewing, and he’s having Fusco tail his boss to find out what is going on.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Do you think Will might uncover some dark secrets about the ominous Machine and the men who created it? Might we see a future where Reese turns on Finch entirely? Share some of your thoughts and theories in the comments section, or on Twitter (@MichaelArbeiter).
And if you're interested in reading more on the subject of the unfortunate life of Det. Lionel Fusco, check out our interview with Person of Interest star Kevin Chapman.