‘Person of Interest’ Recap: Root Cause

Root CauseS1E13: In my recap of the previous episode of Person of Interest, I noted particular flaw I found with the episode’s Number of the Week storyline. It seemed too basic—offering little that we haven’t seen before. On the plus side, we were introduced to a few interesting new developments: Carter’s admittance onto the team (and her cat-and-mouse game with Fusco, which was rife with some very funny dramatic irony—if that’s not an oxymoron), and, even more interestingly, a glimpse into Finch’s personal life. The week prior, we had gotten an extensive look at Finch’s past, learning about the creation and the inner-workings of the machine, and more about his relationship with Ingram.

This week forgoes most of that sort of thing, at least on the surface. There is a single storyline, and it centers on what seems at the start to be your standard Number of the Week. But quickly does the excitement amplify. First of all, this week’s Number story is a heck of a lot more complex than that which we’ve seen. Political intrigue. Mysterious enemies. Setups. Computer hacking—and not just by Finch! Person of Interest fans, I do believe we have met our hero Harold Finch’s ARCHENEMY.

“If there’s one thing our little venture has proven it’s that people are rarely what they seem.” – Finch

The Number: this week is unique in that instead of a high profile judge or big name Wall Street executive, we get a typical guy as the machine’s printout. A man named Powell. He has a wife and kids, and was recently laid off from work (a fact of which his wife does not know). Powell has been seeking work everywhere he can, and the episode opens with a job opportunity finally presenting itself to him. Unfortunately, what he doesn’t know is that his hirer is actually using him as a patsy. Powell heads to work, rigging the tickertape machine (or something of that nature) at a political rally for the controversial Congressman Delancey: the victim of an obscured shooter.

“There are no bathrooms on a stakeout, Finch.” – Reese

Those behind the murder succeed in framing Powell, and he is brought into custody by the police. They have also succeeded in planting incriminating evidence on his computer—forged hate mail to the congressman, a history of visiting terrorist websites, etc. Needless to say, Powell’s wife Leslie is going out of her mind—but don’t worry, she doesn’t go nuts and get trigger-happy. It’s just an emotional vehicle for the man’s story. And an effective one.

“IT’S A HONEY POT!” – Finch

One of Delancey’s associates, his business partner and campaign strategist Matheson, is behind the whole thing. But he isn’t acting alone. Matheson has hired the work out to an expert—the aforementioned archenemy. An expert hacker who is so skilled, she even breaks into Finch’s computer and taps his and Reese’s phones. A figure so mysterious, that we never see her face, or hear her real voice. She taps away at a computer, adjacent to a menacing fish tank, with her voice garbled—the whole ordeal is almost a bit too over the top for such a serious show. She kind of reminds me of Inspector Gadget’s nemesis Dr. Claw.

“So you’re the guy on the other end of the phone.” – Zoe

At any rate, Finch and Reese are resourceful. The later breaks Powell from the grasp of the FBI, who usurp his custody, and does his whole “You have to trust me/We’re in this together now/I’m a warrior of the shadows” routine that wins Powell over pretty quickly. And on the other end of things, Finch brings in an independent contractor of his own. You might recall Zoe, the fixer from the sixth episode of the series, and a sort of friendly rival for John Reese. This time around, Finch calls her in to utilize her familiarity with the political spectrum. Zoe helps Finch keep tabs on Matheson, who, in turn, leads them to the mysterious fish tank woman. Unfortunately, neither criminal can be apprehended: Matheson is killed (by his own faceless accomplice), and she flees the scene, which turns out, comically, to be the dorm room of an unexpected college student away on break. So she’s still out there. Lurking. And teasing Finch with “Hello, Neo”-esque Instant Messages.

“I could die. And the person that I love most in life would think that I’m nothing more than a killer. Do you know what that’s like?” – Powell

“Actually I do. Of course, in my case, it’s true.” – Reese

The fun part of this is the introduction of a new big villain. An astutely capable one, who matches, and possibly bests, Finch in her powers of secrecy and surveillance. But there’s one thing that worries me. One commenter, Jnwngh, pointed out last week that we haven’t seen anything of Elias lately. I’m not in the business of doubting Person of Interest, as it has succeeded in surprising and impressing me so very much over the past few weeks, but the fact that he’s never even mentioned anymore does seem odd. Is the crime lord going to get back in the game in a big way? I’m almost certain he will—and perhaps, the show is waiting for sweeps week to bring him in.

Although I love the idea of this new villain, I hope they balance her neatly with Elias. They are very different types of threats to our heroes and to New York City itself. I’d like to see them both played out, and not at the expense of one another.

“We have no proof that Mathison had Delancey killed.” – Finch

“Let’s go get some.” – Zoe

Another thing I’m glad to see: the return of Zoe. She was an interesting figure when we first met her, and she continues to serve a healthy energy to the show. Not only that, I think that if anyone can derive a little bit of humanity out of Reese—and maybe help to flesh out his obscured back story—it’s her. So here’s hoping that her request to get coffee with Reese at the end of this week’s episode is met. Repeatedly.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Where might they be going with the mysterious new villain, known only as “Root”? Could she overshadow Elias? What could Zoe bring to the table if she’s on the show more often? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter (@MichaelArbeiter ).