Person of Interest: The Lone Wolf Finds His Pack

By Tim Surette

May 18, 2012

Person of Interest S01E23: "Firewall"

Hey guys, that Person of Interest finale from last night was off-the-chain good. SO GOOD. How glad am I that I watched this show even though it's on CBS and somewhat follows a procedural formula? "Firewall" was just about perfect in every sense, inundating us with babes, suspense, gunfights, twists, and so many great one-liners from Reese—all the things we love about Person of Interest. Everyone else, take note: "Firewall" was EXACTLY what a season finale is supposed to be.

And what I especially loved was that it was all done in the context of a "normal" episode. There was no big to-do about the finale being a special episode or steering away from the normal formula like other serialized series tend to do when they realize there's so much left to wrap up. It was just a very, very, very good episode of Person of Interest that started out like every other episode: with a number.

This time that number belonged to a hottie, a psychologist named Caroline Turing (Turing... that should have been a dead giveaway of the big tweeeest) who was played by the always-welcome-on-my-screen Amy Acker (Angel, Alias, Dollhouse). Because Turing was privy to a wealth of potentially damaging information, one of her clients wanted her dead and put a hit out on her. It could have been the Ponzi-scheming lawyer, the city official who was sleeping with his intern, or the cocky prosecutor who threatened her during one of their sessions. And that's about as simple as this episode got.

While Reese went about protecting her from the dirty cops of HR who were hired as hitmen, the Feds started closing in on Reese after surveillance picked him up. That started a heart-thumping chase through a New York high-rise, which included a near helicopter-jacking by Reese. (What I would have given to see Reese hotwire a chopper and fly away with jets in pursuit.) But alas, an army of FBI agents arrived via the rooftop where the helicopter was parked, and the walls began to close in on Reese and Turing, with HR was in pursuit from below and the FBI squeezing him from above. With Carter, Fusco, and Finch helping Reese, the Feds using all available means to track Reese, and HR using their man on the inside of the FBI, it became a game of cat and mouse and whatever eats cats as Reese ducked into corners and got ambushed in elevators. Not a shot was fired, but it was as thrilling a sequence as any Person of Interest offered us this season.

One of the best scenes came in the middle of the chase, when Carter cornered Fusco in the john because she suspected him of ratting out Reese to HR. That forced Fusco to tell Carter the truth about his work with Reese and Finch, the "professor looking" guy, and it was one big "Oh, you too?" moment that I've been waiting for. But my favorite part was the way Finch handled it when he called, saying, "Hello detectives! I understand you'll have some questions but we're somewhat short of time." Spoken just like a professor.

After that, the dynamic of everything changed. Now we had Reese on his own, with Finch feeding him information; Zoe (oh, did I mention that Zoe was back in the fold?) doing some recon; and Fusco and Carter sending texts to Reese. The one-and-a-half-men operation that we've come to love became a full-fledged team effort, and something about it felt so right. This was a team crafted over twenty-something episodes with patience, and it paid off. If there's one thing Person of Interest has been so good at all season long, it's been pacing. Well, that and Reese being badass every week, even when he's on crutches. But even with more minds working toward the same goal, nothing could prepare them (or us) for what came next.

During a sweet shootout in the lower-level parking garage in which Fusco and Carter served as the cavalry (yes!), Reese let Turing head to safety. And waiting to carry off the damsel was Finch, who was parked outside. His car door opened and the chick hopped in. Except it wasn't Turing, it was Alisha Corwin (did I mention SHE was in pursuit of Finch this whole time?). Of course she had issues with the Machine and wanted Finch to shut the thing off, arguing invasion of privacy, God complexes, and stuff like Nathan Ingram's murder. Finch was all like, "Step off! The Machine didn't kill Nathan! And the machine is totally cool as long as it's not abused." The conversation also relayed a lot of what Person of Interest is really about: Technology is good! Technology that is abused is bad! But as long as it's out there, it will be used for both good (buying an MP3 of Kriss Kross's "Jump" when a party needs to be started) and bad (seeing penises that belong to politicians). Person of Interest wants you to handle your iPhones, laptops, and social media profiles with caution.

Elsewhere, Reese, Fusco, and Carter were in hot pursuit of HR grunts, but Reese had everything covered because he had the foresight to use HR's own munitions against them and blew up their car. It was badass.

But that was far from "it." A knock on Finch's car window and BAM! Alicia was shot in the brain. Shot by Turing... or should we say Root, our old hacker friend from many, many episodes ago who we knew would spring up again. This big twist was very reminiscent of the time Reese was unknowingly protecting Elias, and though I should have known better, I fell for it. Root—get this—put the hit on herself in order to draw out Reese and, more specifically, get to Finch. That's hardcore. Guys, I think I'm in love. She wants in on the Machine, and now she has the only person in the world who knows how to get in.

That left Reese alone, and in the final scene that wore out the edges of our seats, Reese looked straight into a surveillance camera and told the Machine that it's going to help him get Finch back. And the Machine responded. A payphone rang, Reese picked it up, and we cut to black. I think it would have been funny if we'd heard that screechy modem/fax sound, but I guess Jonathan Nolan didn't get my note.

"Firewall" was a spectacular finish to what has been an incredibly surprising first season of Person of Interest. The episode didn't seek to answer all questions, but it satisfactorily took care of some bad guys AND raised the stakes for everyone involved with plenty to build on for Season 2. THAT'S how you finish a season, kids.

Surveillance Notes

– Lots of great lines from Reese! "I promise, I will let you know when it's time to panic." And the bumper-sticker-friendly "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not trying to kill ya." And the capper, after blowing up a car with his new teammates Fusco and Carter, "We should all grab a drink together sometime."

– Always great to see Reese shoot for the leg.

– I guess this means Finch's schoolboy crush on hacker Root is over? Or does this make it even more intense?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • TomWayne May 29, 2012

    In standing at Finch's table and apparently rehashing their conversation about what if anything ever happened to Finch (just a week earlier in "No Good Deed") Reese finally figured out how to activate Finch's "contigency" that he mentioned. Through his partnership with Finch, Reese had been given the designation of "Asset" status with the Machine, and, as such, could directly address it for "help" if Finch was ever "in danger." (The Machine is not self-aware AI, but like most, operates on keywords.) The Machine would not need to cross-reference Reese's comments due to his status, but instead would act directly in response to them.

    Jonathan Nolan had stated on a number of occasions that fans would see the Machine's role and interaction with others develop over the season if they watched carefully. Identifying Reese earlier in the season by name as having "Asset" status was one of those clues, apparently--you can see it most clearly with the "new" version of the opening montage, where CIA agent Evans' taking aim at Reese is labelled "Threat to Asset" by the Machine. (Side note: Reese himself has used the term to refer to Carter and Fusco, but as far as I 've noticed the Machine hasn't applied that designation to any beyond him.)

    Also, Root had apparently figured out something of how the Machine works even beyond the hit on herself, as she never let it see or hear her put Finch in danger--she kept the gun in front of her (back to the camera) and kept her voice singsong and her words innocuous. Even killing Alicia would not have necessarily triggered an alert within the Machine that Finch was in danger, as Alicia had, after all, gotten in the car threatening Finch. It was only when Reese told it that Finch was in danger did it go into contingency mode ("Error: Continuity of Operations Compromised. Evaluating Options.") and call Reese.

    I agree--telling the Machine (instead of asking) is awesome and in perfect character for Reese. :)

  • SavhCaro May 28, 2012

    Still impressed that Reese TOLD the Machine it was going to help get Finch back.....he didn't ASK if for help.......he TOLD it............

  • NeeUyank May 27, 2012

    now, how will 3-4 months pass without POI? this show was the best of all for the season 2012.. period.

    and though I very, very much love the appearance of Zoe every once in a while, I would love to see other persons of interest helping them too: like the judge whose son was kidnapped, or the lady lawyer who was in danger helping the wrongly accused inmate within a foster child scheme.. the guy reese took from FBI.. the lady from last week.. there are so many people owing to this team, I really would like them doing some payback..

  • rigger Jun 24, 2012

    What I really loved, though, was that they didn't stuff in every former POI and turn this into a Very Special Episode. It was just a very, very intense episode with additional twists. I love the continuity, and also that we see Reese has developed a real loyalty - dare I say friendship? - with Finch.

    One question though -- wouldn't the FBI now be putting a clear photo of Reese out on every darn news station and BOLO and milk carton in order to nab him? That was one HELL of a giant task force. It seems they could now do some facial recognition and dig up his service record eventually. Ive liked the fact that we didn't get a huge info dump once Carter read his record, so that they can continue pacing out the different reveals.

  • AdityaIyer May 26, 2012

    dam I didn't realize it was the finale, it was that simple and classic :D

    one of the best shows ever, hats off to Jonathan Nolan and JJ Abrams

  • VanessaBrocki May 26, 2012

    greatest show

  • bothcats May 26, 2012


  • ipod2010 May 24, 2012

    CBS will rebroadcast episode 1.12 "Legacy' tongiht @9pm ET,

    then 1.13 "Root Cause" next week 5/31 9pm ET.

    I love watching reruns to look for the clues or backstories I missed. Yep, even a rerun of POI beats all other shows out there. :)

  • artemis39 May 24, 2012

    Best new show, great season, awesome season finale. The writing and directing were first rate. I loved the way they simultaneously showed Reese and all of his pursuers on the police monitors. As someone here said: "I miss Finch and Reese already."

  • friendoftv May 24, 2012

    @timsurette, is this info correct? " A knock on Finch's car window and BAM! Alicia was shot in the brain. Shot by Turing... or should we say Root, our old hacker friend from many, many episodes ago who we knew would spring up again. This big twist was very reminiscent of the time Reese was unknowingly protecting Elias, and though I should have known better, I fell for it. Rootget thisput the hit on herself in order to draw out Reese and, more specifically, get to Finch." Cause it's Turing (Amy Acker) who shot Alicia and not Root", our old hacker friend (Paige Turco), unless I'm reading this wrong.

  • nemosnanny May 24, 2012

    The identity of Root was not revealed until the finale as Turing. Many viewers speculated that Zoe was Root, but that was pretty much conjecture. Many other fans were convinced it was not Zoe--and now we know (as much as we can "know" anything on POI) that it was Turing.

  • LauraHerrera1 May 24, 2012

    Well, Turning (Amy Acker) and Root turn out to be the same person. In other words Root created "Caroline Turning" and got herself in danger to get to Finch because she knows about the machine and wants access to it. Hope that's what you were asking.

  • SavhCaro May 24, 2012

    Great review......totally agree. But the best part of this review was the title: Lone Wolf Finds His Pack! LOVE it! Almost as much as I love POI & Mr Reese!

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