I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spoiler Alert: Person of Interest S01E02

Person of Interest remains sensitive to the problems that we have faced in the ten years since September 11, this episode referencing the stock market crash and its repercussions. Furthermore, we find out that "the machine" and its logs of video and audio are a perfect method for integrating flashbacks into the show. Person of Interest remains smart and interesting, and here are some of my reflections on the show.

1. Good Cop, Bad Cop

Detective Carter, who I referred to in a somewhat sexist manner last week as the "lady cop," is clearly the good cop, at least on the surface. When Reese calls for a "meeting" between himself and Carter, only to give her Theresa Whitaker, the girl relates that Reese said she could trust Carter. In this sense, she is a good cop.

But perhaps Carter's being a good cop could be exactly the problem. As a cop she does her best to stand up for justice, but in fact she is much more connected to the laws. What's the difference? The laws are little steps here and there meant to lead us toward justice. But since they are imperfect, since they are not justice itself, they can sometimes lead us away from justice. Carter is trying to track down Reese, or as she says, "some guy in a suit." His fingerprints are at tons of crime scenes, he relates to eight case files (four of which have been redacted, making me wonder: who is redacting Reese's "crime spree"?) and to be fair, he's killing people. Regardless of how much the audience believes that these criminals deserve it, much of Reese's activity is straight up illegal. But it may just be just.

Carter is doing what a cop ought to do, and that is exactly what might make her and Reese enemies.

Lionel, on the other hand, is described as a dirty cop from the very beginning. In this episode he tells Reese that he cannot get a file for him because people may suspect that he is a dirty cop. Reese responds, "You are a dirty cop."

Lionel has underground connections, and we can suspect that he is useful to Reese both because of his underground connections and because of his police connections. But what happens if we find out Lionel is all bad, that he is setting Reese up, working with some people that Reese has already pissed off in order to make things hard for Reese. There are tons of ways that Lionel could be either a terrible foe or a horrible liability for Reese. If he works in with Carter, she's probably going to be the first one to know that he's not doing the right thing, and by investigating Lionel she may find her way to Reese.

But, then again, maybe Lionel is as loyal as Reese believes he is. Maybe Lionel believes in doing the right thing, believes that Reese is doing the right thing, and believes that he ought to do everything in his power to support Reese.

2. Crazy Theory of the Week

I mentioned at the beginning of the "Spoiler Alert" project that I used to be obsessed with LOST. Well, one of the things that comes out of watching a show like that for a very long time is that you're likely to have some crazy theories that don't fully make sense. The other thing that comes out of it is that your theories are sometimes right.

This week, I have this crazy idea that Mr. Finch is a cyborg.

When Mr. Reese is attempting to track Mr. Finch, Finch allows it for some time before disappearing and suggesting that they have their meeting on Finch's time, not Reese's. This suggests that, without the use of some supercomputer, Finch can track Mr. Reese. Is this because his back door into the machine is somewhere in his body?

Also, it has been brought to the forefront a couple of times that Finch has a limp. But it's more than that. Finch walks so squarely, hobbling like a 1950s robot in a sci fi movie. Maybe he doesn't walk correctly because he is a first generation robot / human hybrid, a cyborg.

Consider also the fact that Mr. Reese could be a reference to Kyle Reese, the man who traveled back in time to protect Sarah Connor in Terminator. With this in mind, "the machine" seems a whole lot like Sky Net. What if Finch has become "the machine's" creation rather than the other way around? What if Finch is the part of the computer that deals with the irrelevant?

3. Finch's Past

Through "the machine's" records we see a glimpse of Finch's past. In this glimpse, we see Finch (did anyone notice if he was limping in the past? my bet is that he wasn't) interacting with an unnamed colleague (an actor that LOST fans may recognize). We know very little about this character, but he has quite a bit to say about Finch and his machine. He calls "the machine" an "Orwellian nightmare," due to the fact that it can track people so carefully. (This is, of course, a reference to George Orwell's 1984.) He says that Finch has been leading a double-life, presumably balancing a normal family life and job with a secret federally contracted computer project. But what if Finch is something else?

In the second flashback, Finch keeps referring to the builders of "the machine" as we. There is the possibility that this mysterious colleague is responsible for some part of "the machine," and perhaps this is why he criticizes the thing's existence. When they discuss the relevant and the irrelevant, the colleague holds Finch personally responsible for "the irrelevant," the people slipping between the cracks who could be saved. Last episode, we thought that it was Finch's conscience that held him accountable. I think there's a decent chance that Finch's colleague is actually a close friend, and that he was one of the irrelevant people who got killed as a result of Finch's oversight. Guilt is one of the most important motivators for personal change. (Of course, it also connects you so thoroughly to the past that it's hard to change.) I think we can assume that, dead or alive, this character will play an important part in the upcoming story.

Finch also mentions that only eight people in the world know that "the machine" exists. If that number does not include Finch and his friend (and later Reese), we can assume that there are somewhere between eight and eleven people who know of it now. And if I know anything about television drama, this means that all of those people have a target on their heads.

Finally, we see a bust of The Founder in the office building that Mr. Finch (or "Harold," as his co-workers know him) leaves. The Founder lived from 1962 until 2010. Is the founder actually Mr. Finch? Did he fake his death in 2010 when everything went wrong and he decided to start doing some right? Or is this more of a tribute to a filmmaker who died in 2010 who was integral to getting Person of Interest off the ground? Of course, there's always a chance that this is an entirely different mystery altogether. Looking at the bust again, The Founder looks a whole lot like Finch's colleague. I guess there's only ten or less people in the world who know about "the machine." What do you think?

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