Person of Interest "All In" Review: What Happens in Atlantic City...

By Tim Surette

Mar 15, 2013

Person of Interest S02E18: "All In"

Is Manhattan in the middle of a city-wide truce or something? Is the Machine longing for a vacation and living vicariously through Reese and Finch? It's been a month since we've had a Reese & Finch case set in the Big Ol' Apple. I can only assume that criminals were too busy loading up on 64oz. cups of Mountain Dew and Mr. Pibb in anticipation of the soda ban that was supposed to go into effect this week. Crooks need their go-go juice! 

This week's episode, "All In," took Reese and Finch out to the wretched, awful, dilapidated, can't-carry-Vegas's-jockstrap excuse for a gambling destination Atlantic City, where old people go to die after they lose their pensions on nickel slots and shrimp cocktails (not even prawns, we're talking those lousy little bay shrimp!). This week's number belonged to a senior named Lou (Spencer: For Hire's Ron McLarty), who was seemingly so old that he couldn't even read the numbers on his playing cards because he was one terrible gambler. After a few hacks into the online blackjack machines (LOL!) to track Lou's casino loyalty card, Finch discovered that Lou had been losing a few grand a day and was nearly half a mill in the hole. But Lou had also been as broke as a sociology major for some time, so tell me old man, where was all this money coming from?

It was a fun set-up for a few reasons. First, we're clueless as to what's going on right alongside Reese and Finch and the case unfolded slowly, allowing the intrigue of Lou's situation to dominate while Reese and Finch watched him from afar. Second, A CASINO! The predictable Ocean's 11 homages (long shots of people pushing casino carts!) and James Bond references ("I was an international spy, Finch. I know how to play Baccarat.") were great, and Person of Interest respected its elder influences knowing that if it weren't for them, it wouldn't be here today. These two things made for a good time in the well-paced standalone story, which ended up 

After snooping and tailing crotchety old Lou in pharmacies and at Baccarat tables, Reese and Finch finally got the truth: the casino owner was squeezing old people to launder drug money by having them lose thousands at his casino. It's a fiendishly corny plan: the Fogey Squad would go to pharmacies where they'd pick up prescription bottles full of thousands of dollars, then they'd take that cash to the casino and hit on 19 or bet on the Charlotte Bobcats. Ha ha, I got a kick out of this. Person of Interest can be ludicrous in the best ways. 

But the episode quickly became about the little guy versus the big guy, when Lou revealed that, with the help of his wife's advice from her deathbed many years ago, he wasn't going out like a chump and was going to take the casino for every dirty dime he helped launder. See, Lou happened to be one of the city's best cardsharps (not card shark as I thought for the first 99 percent of my life), so Finch lent him a million bucks to help him win it back. Then Lou CHEATED his way to pocketing about 20 million dollars through hand switcheroos to hit nines (the Baccarat winning hand) all day. Sure, why not?

The victory was short-lived as Mr. Casino Owner wised up to their cheatin', and soon Reese, Finch, Lou, and Leon (more on him below) were in the one room of a casino you don't want to be in: the ones with the blood-crusted vices where scammers are taught not to mess with The House. There's a completely silly game of Russian Roulette played, but it's worth it when Lou revealed he slight-of-handed the bullet out of the gun and then punched the casino owner in the face. This certainly obeyed the unwritten law of entertainment, which states: "Anything old people do is infinitely more awesome than if a younger person did it." Finch turned in some hacked documents indicting the casino owner, and his elderly-abusing ass was thrown in the slammer. Later, Finch handed over that two-million-dollar watch that was given to Reese by the millionaire tech genius from "One Percent" to Lou, telling him that if he fixed it (Lou was a watch repairman of course) he could keep it and buy that diner he's always wanted. Yay! Good guys win!

While Reese was getting free cocktails on the casino floor and Finch was playing cards in a diner, things were much more serious with Carter and HR. Detective Bill Szymanski (the Geico guy) was under heat after supposedly getting set up by HR conveniently before Szymanski was supposed to testify against Russian gangster Peter Yogorov. Alonzo Quinn (Clarke Peters) kept Szymanski off the witness stand in hopes of partnering with the Russian mob for funds to help rebuild the crippled HR. Despite Carter's attempts to prove that Szymanski is clean, Quinn was willing to go one step further and murdered Szymanski and his lawyer, ensuring that Yogorov would be eating Borscht with his other Russian mobster friends later that day. I hope Geico has good life insurance, Szymanski! And because Person of Interest villains are a special kind of loony, Quinn had his own man shoot him in the shoulder to make for a believable story about a gunman shooting everyone. Do not mess with HR.

The emotional punch of the episode came near the end, as Finch and Lou bonded over the loss of loved ones. When Lou found out that Finch's love Grace was still alive and kicking, Lou smacked Finch upside the head and told him to go get her. But poor Finchy, he just can't and *sniff* it tears him apart. "I'll grow old with her, Mr. Reese, just from afar. Beyond that, it's best not to think about it." And that's the sound of my heart shattering into a million tiny pieces.

"All In" worked as both a standalone and a mythology episode, splitting the episode between fun and serious business. It was certainly a better episode than last week's, but I'm still grouping into the big middle pack of Person of Interest episodes. Entirely satisfying, but my brain is still intact.



NOTES OF INTEREST

– "All In" brought back Leon (Ken Leung)! I love how the guy is on the Machine's speed dial, and that any time he's in trouble (as he was with Nigerian scammers in the episode's opening scene), he knows Reese is going to save his ass. This was what, his third time being a number? Great recurring gag that I hope never ends. And hooray for Bear getting some action in the field! 

– I'm still concerned about Cal Beecher and how dirty he is. Yes, he made the call that turned in Szymanski, but was he doing it as part of HR or because he saw the evidence? And how tight is his connection to HR? Is he being roped into working for them against his will? I'm guessing he's not entirely clean, but he's definitely not entirely bad, either. HR is probably holding something over his head so that he's forced to work with them. That's my official call! 

– I may be wrong, but isn't Baccarat really hard to lose at because it's simply a game of chance? Don't you just pick Banker, Player, or Tie and the cards fall where they lie? Upon further investigation, there are two variants of Baccarat that do involve skill, but they're rare and the overwhelming favorite for American casinos is the version where no skill is involved. 

– Really bummed they didn't squeeze in some scenes of Reese playing cards. Lots of missed potential there! 

– As Finch was hacking the blackjack machine: "The game is so eager to let me play, it's allowing my malware to slip through." How does Michael Emerson say these lines without cracking up? 

– Those cuts to scenes of dudes who've been freshly beaten up by Reese never get old.

 


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom

  • Comments (72)
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  • joeloffreno May 15, 2013

    Great show to work on, Can't wait to do it again!

  • Finn75 Mar 18, 2013

    Totally didn't recognize Ron McLarty from "Spenser for hire"! Damn, this guy got old! Oh and Tim, it's Spenser with a S. Like the poet. :) But thanks for reminding me of that show, now I feel almost as old as Mr. McLarty. :)

  • JensPeterTop Mar 18, 2013

    Ron McLarty was outstanding!

  • Caviezelized Mar 17, 2013

    Bird names Finch has used:

    Wren
    Crow
    Crane
    Gull
    Quail

  • TomWayne Mar 18, 2013

    Didn't he use Sparrow once as well?

  • MikeUK123 Mar 17, 2013

    I wonder if it is Ken Leung's (Leon) dog?

    Anyway, very glad Reese didn't play cards. I think the Bond reference from Reese was enough. Subtlety won in my opinion.

  • TomWayne Mar 18, 2013

    The way Jonathan Nolan hinted at the new 70-lb character during an interview at San Diego ComicCon last summer, I figured that Bear was his (or maybe Caviezel's) dog.

  • bleumystique Mar 17, 2013

    LOL! That Finch line didn't sound dirty until I read it.
    This was an okay episode. Relatively mediocre. I actually preferred last week's to this one. I mean but it's POI. Even when the episodes are mediocre it's still enjoyable to watch.
    -Finch surely has unlimited expenses because he's been doling out money like it grows on trees this season.
    -The Cal Beecher thing has me intrigued and wary. It feels like Carter has slipped into a bit of obscurity. Like she doesn't interact and engage with the other characters like she had previously been. Her conversations with Finch are very brief and I don't even recall if she's spoken to John since the entire thing with Donnolly and Kara Stanton. Even her interaction with Fusco has been limited. Add that to Cal being sketchy and too persistent for anyone to feel comfortable and I'm just curious as to when this will all come to a head and in what way. It feels like something big is brewing and because of that they're intentionally isolating Carter for the other characters rather than putting her in the backseat like they've been doing with Fusco for forever.
    -I love it when Leon is on. He takes full advantage of the knowledge that Reese will always save him and it gives that extra bit of comic relief. Plus Bear got in on some action. Loved it.

  • jreg79 Mar 17, 2013

    Back to an entertaining episode where the viewer has to figure out if this week’s POI is a perpetrator or victim. In this case, it’s both. I enjoyed the story with Lou. It reminded of the recent Oceans movies and 21.

    I’m finally getting a handle on how Leon Tao contributes to our dynamic duo. With Zoe Morgan, I understood her role from the start. The first 3 times Leon Tao has been on POI, I couldn’t understand how he was helping Reese & Finch. The third appearance didn’t help because he was an EMT on the Sam Shaw episode. Now, I get it. He’s the finance wizard/playboy millionaire the duo turns to in cases like this one.

    The HR storyline finally gets a shot in the arm. Not that I like this storyline. I prefer the other one (The Machine/computer virus/government/Greer storyline). But the storyline is back and has my attention. HR does look like it’s getting desperate. How else would you explain Quinn killing Szymanski and the D.A. to get on the good side of Peter Yogorov. I hope Reese & Finch find out soon about HR trying to resurrect itself. With The Machine malfunctioning, they have no idea what is going on. The Machine should’ve spit out the SS numbers of Szymanski and the D.A. to save them. If they don’t know what is going on, then that will lead into the next paragraph below.

    Carter had better watch out. If she continues to dig deeper for more info on HR, Fusco was right. She won’t like what she sees. That new detective, Raymond Terney, is probably keeping eye on her for Quinn. Beecher looks like he can’t be trusted. I thought I read somewhere he was the nephew of Quinn. Beecher either is a part of HR or isn’t. If he is part of HR, he is playing innocent very well. I can also see Quinn trying to kidnap Carter’s son, Taylor, and use as a bargaining chip if she gets too much info. If HR does something to Carter’s son and Reese & Finch don’t get involved, Carter might question whether to keep helping Reese & Finch on their cases or not.

    Two other things noticed in this episode: Grace and the Swiss watch. I’m guessing the writers are foreshadowing a return of both Grace and Logan Pierce within the final 5 episodes of the season. It was a nice touch to match up Lou’s relationship with his wife to Harold & Grace. I hope Grace doesn’t get harmed with all these major storylines going on. It was nice going back in time to find out how Harold was before The Machine. Logan Pierce is probably coming back to help Harold diagnose what is going on with The Machine.

  • AdamCetnerowski Mar 17, 2013

    It was pretty obvious, what was happening. I'm disappointed it took them so long to figure it out. Also, don't casino use cards made for them, so it would be hard t have spares for the switch.

  • TomWayne Mar 17, 2013

    Tim, what's the rest of your sentence? Either my IE10 is on the fritz, or you left a paragraph hanging in midsentence up there--"which ended up" ... what?

    Maybe that was where you left out your comments of how wonderfully ridiculously funny it was that Finch got his "career in the clandestine arts" dreams shattered by an elderly man, so much so that he "decided" to go (slink) back to the library. I guess it was harder to remember that though after seeing him go back again at the end with shattered dreams, this time definitely powerfully moving instead of funny. This show has amazing range--thanks as always, Mr. Nolan!

  • SokkaAppa Mar 17, 2013

    I think Beecher is totally dirty. From that one scene where we saw him talking to the HR chief of staff at the end of an episode a few weeks back, he seems like an eager dude.

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