S01E04: Well, this is a nice change of pace! My main issue with Person of Intserest has been that each episode so far was too self-contained. The theme lends itself to continuity, ongoing stories, cliffhanger endings…but so far, it has seemed like a high-concept procedural. Tonight’s episode, “Cura Te Ipsum,” is a big step in the right direction. Episode highlight: Linda Cardellini playing a doctor with a vendetta.
Cardellini’s character Megan is a workaholic doctor who spends her nights out late, always bar-side at the same club. Her number comes up on Finch’s machine, so Reese tails her. At first, it seems like Megan is being stalked by a power suit prep, who turns out to be a sexual predator. But Reese soon learns that it is Megan who is stalking the predator—Andrew Benton. Via Detective Fusco, Reese finds out that Benton raped Megan’s sister years ago, which led to her suicide. Thus, Megan has adopted a plan of vengeance against Benton and plans to kill him.
Speaking of Fusco, that guy’s having his own slew of problems: seems being a crooked cop isn’t all peaches and cream. After the events of the pilot (wherein Reese thwarted Fusco’s crooked cop crime ring, leaving Fusco as the only survivor and his eternal blackmailee), the drug dealers pay Fusco a visit, demanding the money they would have gotten if things hadn’t gone awry. They threaten Fusco with some light beheading if he doesn’t pay up in two days. So, Fusco brings this to Finch's attention, and instead of actually helping his “pal” out, Finch knocks out all three drug dealers and steals a hefty sum of their coke to plan on Benton.
Reese wants Benton put in jail, both to protect innocent women from him, and to protect him from Megan. However, it is not really Benton’s well-being that Reese is looking out for here. He doesn’t want Megan to kill Benton because of what it would to do her. Reese, having some experience in the field, knows that taking a life can and does remove “the only part of yourself that matters,” and doesn’t want this to happen to Megan, who he clearly thinks of as a good person. Unfortunately, rich Benton manages his way out of jail in no time.
“I know what happens when you take a life. You lose a part of yourself. Not everything. Just the part that matters the most.” – Reese
This episode may not have any literal backstory construction for Reese or Finch, but it does build a lot in terms of the former’s character. So far, all we’ve seen of him in the present is a cold, sly battle-droid; flashbacks have shown us the beginnings of his deterioration. But tonight, we see that he’s not entirely soulless. And of course, he can’t be: he’s made fighting crime and protecting the innocent his new job. Yes, he’s not above extortion and heavy violence, but usually that’s just an ends to a “Greater Good” means. But tonight, we see genuine sensitivity in Reese. He doesn’t know Megan, but he relates with her. He understands her pain, and he doesn’t want her to turn into him. So, he begins to follow her, puts on an act as a fellow griever at a support group for victims of sexual abuse. And finally, after Meg has all but done the deed (she breaks into Benton’s house, drugs him, wheels him into a van and intends to drive him out to Montauk where she will kill him and destroy his body—pretty smart doctor), Reese cuts the act and comes straight out with her. He explains that killing him will actually kill her, that taking a man’s life destroys a person.
After much hesitation, Megan gives in to Reese’s words and gives him the keys to the van. The last scene in the episode sees Reese out in Megan’s Montauk house, sitting, gun at arm’s length, across a table from a disheveled Benton begging for his life. The episode ends with Reese questioning whether or not he should kill Benton—we never get an answer, presumably to highlight the impossibility in defining what is ‘right’ in that situation: let the man live and allow him to go on hurting women, or murder him? It’s an interesting way to end an episode. Philosophical debates are always good seasoning for shows about good and evil.
“He told me to stop staring at him.” – Finch
“That’s interesting. Most peoples’ instinct is to look away.” – Carter
“I’ve never been accused of being like most people.” – Finch
But back to the idea of continuity. Although it’s not a huge push for a story arc, it is refreshing to see things carried over between episodes. Dramas demand a good deal of continuity to keep the characters real, the themes honest, and the conflicts worth caring about. This episode sees Detective Carter examining the videotape of the robbery in which Reese participated undercover. She questions Finch (who uses the name Burdette) as to his relationship with Reese and involvement in the crime, as it looks as though on the video that Finch and he exchange a few words—probably because they do. The expert liar that is anyone played by Michael Emerson manages to convince Carter that it was merely a threat passed to him by Reese, and that he knows nothing of who the man is. It seems as though she buys it, but it’s hard to say. We can be sure that she is not giving up on figuring out Reese’s deal…which is exactly why Reese pulls some strings (more blackmail, on other cops) and has Fusco put in the bullpen to become Carter’s new partner, presumably to deter her from finding anything useful on Reese.
Although it’s not a huge piece of continuity, it’s something. And Reese’s development in this episode is appreciated. I’d venture to say that the show is increasing in quality steadily. Hopefully we’ll see more arc construction next week, and more insights into Reese and, hopefully, Finch. But the best thing of all to take away from this episode is how this season of Fall TV is turning out to be a surprise Freaks and Geeks fest. Bill Haverchuck on Community two weeks ago, Neil Schweiber on yesterday’s Modern Family…and now Lindsay Weir? Couldn’t be cooler.