‘Person of Interest’ Recap: Return of Criminal Mastermind Elias

Person of InterestS1E16: Person of Interest always has something worthwhile to deliver, week after week. There’s never an episode that feels like a total letdown—and this week’s “Risk,” with its exciting ending, is surely not an exception. But, frankly, there’s an awful lot to wade through before the payoff. The bulk of the hour—and when I say that, I mean the first fifty-two minutes—is really just work to be done before we can get to the fun part at the very end. It’s the same old song and dance. 

Reese introduces himself to our Number of the Week—this time, a young Wall Street prodigy—with some falsified identity. After the first attempt on our new friend’s life, Reese reveals himself to be a guardian angel with mysterious origins. A few innocent bystanders die, a few trusted allies are revealed to be traitorous backstabbers, a begrudging assist from either Carter or Fusco. That’s your episode.

“What’s wrong with my regular suits?” – Reese
“They’re fine for a hired assassin.” – Finch

This week follows the pattern to a tee. Adam Saunders is a young Wall Street wizard who comes from humble beginnings. He was raised by his uncle, currently a good-hearted food truck vendor, after his mother died and his father left. At the beginning of the episode, Saunders makes a fortune on a risky transaction involving the fall of a corporate giant who dedicated Person of Interest fans might recognize from an earlier episode.

Adam has friends at his firm—like Paul (who turns out to be not as great a pal as Adam thinks) and Sydney Bailer, the boss with whom Adam has a romantic relationship. But Adam also has enemies—like Paul (see above parenthetical) and an SEC agent who has been investigating Adam for some time. But again, really, none of what happens throughout the episode’s A-story is at all that captivating, or discernible from the plot of any other week of this show.

“I never said thank you for looking after me when I needed it.” – Reese

The one exception throughout is the reveal that John used to live among homeless squatters during his days in a stupor—back when we met him. John reconnects with an old friend, a homeless woman who apparently took care of him when he needed it, and makes a point to thank her for her friendship. He also makes a point to return the favor: he and his “client,” using the latter’s newfound riches, buy out the building for the use of the homeless and supply them with food from Adam’s uncle’s mobile restaurant.

The end of the episode aims to compensate for a reasonably uninspired story by addressing a question so many of us have been asking week after week now. We’ve been focused on Snow. We “met” Root. Will Ingram is in the picture. But what happened to our original arch villain? Person of Interest’s first grandmaster of evil? The character that launched this show from a simple week-by-week procedural into something far more intriguing: ELIAS? Well, he’s back.

“So what’s this?” – Reese
“The bigger picture.” – Carter

Paul and the SEC agent are apprehended after attempts on Adam’s life—but only the arrest of Paul is reported. The SEC agent is disposed of “unofficially” by a policeman—something that Carter takes notice of and finds horrifyingly suspicious. She then realizes that said policeman must be working for someone “above the law.” Someone who’d want an individual with the kind of information this particular SEC agent has out of the picture. And then we see Elias—answering the discarded cell phone that John and Carter apprehend and dial, knowing immediately that it is they on the other end of the phone. Oh, that Elias. He’s a good villain.

But aside from the resurgence of the show’s foremost figure in evil intrigue, the episode really strays from the idea of noteworthy. Adam’s relationship with his uncle and adoptive father is sweet and light, which, in this show, is hard to come by. But the rest of the characters and angles about his plot just seem cut straight from the mold of not only your typical Person of Interest episode, but of your typical crime drama episode. You know from the minute Paul says “What are friends for?” (twice) that he’s the secret bad guy. And it seems to me that a show as incredibly intelligent as Person of Interest – which is smart enough to have subtle seasonal arcs and intricate character backgrounds – might be able to come up with something less hackneyed than this week’s Murder of the Week plot.

But it’s reassuring to see Elias back in the picture. But will this muddle things with the other nemeses? Will we still be seeing Snow around town? And what about Root—who hasn’t really been brought up at all since her inception? What would you like to see happen next? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter @Hollywood.com and @MichaelArbeiter.