Person of Interest "Trojan Horse" Review: Going Viral

By Tim Surette

Apr 05, 2013

Person of Interest S02E19: "Trojan Horse"

I'm not afraid to admit that sometimes I have no idea what's happening on Person of Interest. The rewind button is definitely my friend while watching The Adventures of Finch and the Leg Shooter, and I found myself backing things up quite often during last night's "Trojan Horse." I can only blame so much of my disorientation on feeling out of the loop because of the show's extended break and a few life epiphanies achieved during my recent vacation (turns out your core values can experience quite a jolt when you meet a man who's happy as can be selling noodles for a buck on a dirt road; meanwhile, I stress out over making fun of Revolution). The fact of the matter is, Person of Interest is a deeply complex series that never stops expanding, and just when you think you've caught up, the show is already speeding around the block again.

"Trojan Horse" was the type of POI episode that's very emblematic of the show's constant movement. Things started vanilla before exponentially branching out by the end, like Russian nesting dolls finishing with the old can 'o nuts spring-loaded snakes gag. And if you really want to push it, you could say that the way things unfolded was a perfect metaphor for the events of the episode and the idea of a Trojan Horse. 

This week, Reese and Finch investigated the number of Monica Jacobs, a senior vice president of strategy at a networking company called Rylatech, and right away we knew the geek speak would flow like a horde of computer nerds leaving a LAN party. Finch quickly infiltrated Rylatech by getting hired as an IT guy (I like to think that he's also responsible for getting someone fired in order to open up a spot for himself), and instantly it was "self-upgrading firmware" this, and "applets and root kits" that. Person of Interest relishes in speaking over our heads when it comes to techno-babble, and I had to hire Best Buy's Geek Squad to come over just to translate for me.

But what Person of Interest does well is make sure that this computer talk isn't that important (and it wouldn't surprise me if someone with a pocket protector somewhere was pretty upset over inconsistencies with the jargon). The real root of the story was the ever-exciting (sarcasm meter at a 7) field of corporate espionage, and we were led to believe that Monica was being targeted by rival companies looking to gain advantages through planted spies. In fact, one Rylatech employee recently died under mysterious circumstances. Was he a spy? Was he a victim? Who did he really work for? And was this episode going to get any more exciting? 

YES! By the end, Rylatech became the epicenter of national security leakage and a sieve for government secrets making their way to China. Well, that escalated quickly! But that wasn't all. The Chinese spy circuit was just a fraction of the real problem: Our old British friend Greer (he's the one who sat with Kara Stanton in the hospital bed in "Dead Reckoning") was using Rylatech and one of its clients—oh just THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE!!!—as an entry point to spread more of his malware for his eeeevil plan to infect The Machine. What a jerk. 

"Trojan Horse" was another example of Person of Interest playing the slow game effectively, and subverting expectations by remaining unpredictable. And the unpredictability can't exist without Person of Interest being occasionally entirely predictable, as "Proteus" was. It all becomes set up for twists like the Rylatech president being the actual man behind the spy games and a dick like Head of Product Development Ross (set up early in the episode as Monica's nemesis) being one of the "good" guys. I didn't see that twist coming, and it was really appreciated. I swear, this show is just playing games with us. And I don't mind.

But "Trojan Horse" had way more to do than just deal with international espionage and the destruction of domestic computer networks (like that would be enough for Person of Interest). Badass Samantha Shaw (Sarah Shahi) returned for the evening for the first time since her debut in the excellent "Relevance," and though her action was much more toned-down this time around, she ended up grabbing some intel on Root and running off after her, giving fanfic writers plenty of ammo to fuel their sapphic fantasies. The particularly interesting detail was Finch offering her a spot in his gang; she refused again, but what if she'd said yes? Do we want her to be part of Finch and Reese's operation? I gotta say no. Keep Shaw as an independent contractor and let her pop in and out from time to time to help.

The real big development of the episode came with our homie Cal Beecher, whose role in HR had been murky. But we finally learned the truth: He was mostly innocent all along, being played by HR to dirty Szymanski. And once Quinn learned that Cal had been poking around to discover exactly who was behind what, it was curtains for him as Quinn staged a hit. It was a legitimately sad moment, a tragic end for a character who didn't deserve to be caught up in this mess. Well I hope you feel bad now, Carter, because I sure feel like a jerk. 

"Trojan Horse" was a solid episode of Person of Interest that unfolded slowly over the hour before going totally bonkers in the last 10 minutes. Things are coming into focus as we head into the final three-episode stretch, but there's still a lot of work to do with Control, Root, and Quinn still running around. Will all three find bullets in their legs by the finale, or will one or two escape to Season 3?   


– The line of the night goes to Shaw, who totally burned Reese when she told Finch: "You think I should have a hobby. Now what would that be? Hanging around your derelict library with you, your poorly socialized guard dog... and Bear here?" Ouch! I dare you to say that to Reese's face, Shaw!

– Finch to Bear: "Traitor!" Gotta agree with Finch, Bear didn't even bark when Shaw broke in.

– Monica's squirrely assistant Jerome goes down as one of the worst characters this show has ever given us. I was very happy when he died. 

– I like how on his first day of work, Finch walked into the office talking loudly to himself (actually to Reese). His coworkers must have thought, "Oh boy, another weirdo IT guy with imaginary friends."

– I went halfway across the globe for two weeks, came back, and didn't miss a single episode of Person of Interest. And it turns out I can do it all again and still not miss another episode of Person of Interest. CBS's scheduling has been (March) MADNESS, and after waiting three weeks for last night's new episode of POI, we'll have to wait three more for the next installment. This is just how television scheduling is, guys. Try not to get too upset about it. 

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

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  • NeeUyank Apr 28, 2013

    Finch calling Bear a "traitor" (Bear's whining in return) made me giggle:) I rewinded it a couple of times.. oh and the look on his face when Shaw entered the room.. oh my, he was shocked! and "poorly socialized guard dog" for Reese? Ouch, man.. the guy saved her ass like several times, she should at least show some basic decency about that.. yet, I loved, I LOVED the idea that now Shaw is on the hunt for Root.. I am so hoping that she will kill her by the end of the season; as of all the villains in the show, Root is annoying to an extraordinary extent.. I dont think the HR issue will be resolved this season but maybe one of the top guys would end up dead.. speaking of death, I felt sorry that Cal got killed but that was kinda inevitable.. now Carter is much more infuriated and will be much of a badass as she lost two people she cared about.. and no one mentioned but I liked the way Fusco was acting kinda brotherly to help and protect Carter, he seems to be really appreciating her..

  • SweetMissJaye Apr 26, 2013

    I doubt that the last three episodes will resolve much but I do hope they take care of Root once and for all. She annoys me and I'm so tired of having to think about her.

    I love POI. The show is great!! I love the action and complex storylines. I know they are going to torture us so good and leave us wanting more (and we'll be forced to wait until September).

  • hockeyrick Apr 11, 2013

    Top 5 show, same category as BB or SOA, or?????

  • JonSavvy Apr 09, 2013

    The best scifi action show on tv
    Andd I agree about Shaw been an independent contractor that can pop in and out to help out just like Zoey.......

  • NWBill Apr 08, 2013

    OK - first thing, LAY OFF BEAR!!! Here's what I know .... if I'm a dog, and Sarah Shahi comes by, wanting me to look the other way, or whatever - I'M GOING TO DO IT! Why? Because it's SARAH SHAHI! Have you SEEN this woman?!?! And, why wouldn't you want HER to go after Root, while our other heroes, oh, I don't know, keep Elias in check, ride herd on HR, and keep Carter from going nuts with her pretty tragic dating life!

    I mean, COME ON, PEOPLE!

    Sarah is NAILING this role; if you saw her in her previous series, "Faily Legal," and "Life," you saw an actor of towering talent who was in shows that were just too small for her. Now, though, I think our Ms. Shaw has arrived in the BIG LEAGUES! The Bear knows what the Bear knows, people - follow the Bear!

    What an INCREDIBLE episode! These are, IMHO, the best writers on TV - period, paired up with the perfect mix of actors; both main, and character. The only other program I've ever seen that even comes close is a series that used to be on AMC called "Rubicon" - one of the BEST TV programs I've ever seen, until the channel decided that they felt too bad not being smart enough to follow the threads and writing of THAT show! Hopefully, that won't happen with "POI."

    I love the idea of there being an entity or group of persons that knows about, and wants to destroy, the Machine. To what purpose? And what will that mean for Root, Shaw, Finch, Reece, and our lovable NYPD cops?

  • xubxerox Apr 08, 2013

    I have to agree with you on Sarah Shahi.

    She was great in "Life". To bad that show was cancelled. "Fairly Legal" wasn't really my thing.

    I hope she stays on as a recurring guest for a long time. She is just awsome as Shaw. Who would have thought - cast a Cheerleader to play an assasin - and it works perfectly. LOVE IT :D

  • Glimmy Apr 08, 2013

    I loved this episode, it had the classic POI balance of plot, humour and action. I must confess Finch is my favourite character and he was really on form in this episode. I do like Shaw but why bring in a new (I assume) regular character when they are already under utilising Carter, not to mention Fusco? To be honest as long as the concentrate the bulk of future episodes on Finch, Reese and Bear, I will be more than happy.

  • Onenote111 Apr 08, 2013

    Why doesn't POI show full eps on their website?The other CBS shows do.

  • Suncatcher1 Apr 08, 2013

    I have the same question, Onenote. Maybe Tim can help us here. I am guessing that CBS has leased the rights to I believe, HULU, and a large number of their top shows as the industry moves towards online programming and away from cable. I believe Netflix leads the way overall. In doing so, you no longer can get full episodes online for free as now they are being sold via subscription or individual episodes as you find on Amazon. I am surprised we can still get NCIS for free online! I occasionally can find Person of Interest full episodes still online for free on European sites. (They end in .eu). Check it out, they are still out there! Good luck!

  • SavhCaro Apr 08, 2013

    The WB owns POI not CBS. They are the ones preventing POI from being shown on the & hulu & other sites. WB still lives in the past & thinks everybody only watches tv at the time required by the networks. Personally I think it boils down to a p*ssing contest between CBS & WB, What I don't understand, if this show is doing THIS good without online viewing and itunes, hulu etc...........imagine what it would do the access WAS available?

  • tatianajaunzems Apr 18, 2013

    It's interesting because they've sold the rights to air and stream past episodes to networks in other countries. It's only viewers in the US who aren't able to catch up on episodes without Usenet or torrenting.

  • Suncatcher1 Apr 09, 2013

    Excellent question, SavhCaro! It would probably blow right by #1 NCIS.

  • bleumystique Apr 07, 2013

    I reserve the right to be pissed about the scheduling. It isn't just with this show or CBS shows, but damn near all of them. I know that they have to stretch things out and make accommodations for sports and awards shows, and repeats or whatever. I fully understand that, but I've noticed that this year, it's been somehow worse than ever, with how they've scheduled things. It used to be you'd have two or three episodes and then a three week break, and you just sucked it up and dealt with it, but I'm noticing more sporadic patterns, like a brand new episode, a three week break, a brand new episode and then a two week break right after that, and that's just insanity. It's difficult to keep up with story lines, especially shows that pride themselves in having convoluted ones, and I know it has to affect viewership and ratings. I thank God my DVR does most of the heavy work because half the time I don't even know if new episodes are coming on or not and I could totally miss it like some of my friends. So, yes, I reserve the right to be annoyed with the scheduling.
    - I liked this episode. There was nothing more adorable than watching Finch and the poi have their version of techno-geek speak flirting and foreplay. So freaking cute. I was totally with Reese on that one. Do ya'll need a room? Maybe you two need a room. In fact, I found her to be rather pleasant. She didn't stand out too much, but the cutesiness with her and Finch is enough for me to think I wouldn't hate it if she made an appearance in the future as another asset. I love how they have managed to have a collection of assets with various skill sets as a result of their helping so many people. It's cute.
    -I like Shaw. I do. But I was hesitant about her appearing in the episode because I didn't want her to sort of take over. I think that's my biggest thing. I love Shaw, but she's such an interesting character that if she were to work with them regularly it would feel like she would detract too much from the other characters. I don't want to see that and I love her, but just in small enough doses. I like the idea of her being an independent contractor and her appearing much like Zoe, or Leon. I like the core 4 as is, so they don't need the addition. Well, excluding Bear.
    -Speaking of, Bear is always and forever the most awesome dog on TV right now and I love him so much. He was a total traitor not really batting an eye at Shaw, but he made up for it with that wearing the id tag and scaring off security. Heart Bear.
    -I found the stuff with Carter, Fusco, and Beecher interesting. It was good to know that Beecher wasn't a snake, and sad that it was too little too late. I know that Carter probably feels guilty, but I sense that our dynamic duo probably feels a bit worse. I mean it's kinda messed up that other than short and brief work related calls Carter and Fusco have been sort of apart from Finch and Reese for a bit. You could tell Reese and Finch felt really bad and perhaps a bit guilty when they found out Cal was dead, because so much has been going on over there at the precinct that they haven't been privy to or taking the time to pay attention to because they are understandably busy with so much other stuff. It's been feeling like Carter and Fusco have been having their own side show. Fusco really gets the worst of it, as I'm still waiting for him to get a bigger story line going for him. I do love that he forever and always has Carter's back no matter what, and I hope she remembers that when his associations with HR etc come up down the road as I suspect they will.
    -I love seeing Elias. Elias is just a really cool character. He has a pragmatic approach to crime that you can't fault him for. Like he knows things and has all these connections and there was this smugness that he had, because he knows with him in prison, things are really falling apart. I love that he at least tries to bring the "organized" back in Organized Crime. You don't condone or like what he does, but you kind of respect him anyway.

  • tatianajaunzems Apr 18, 2013

    Overall, I like Shaw, but in this episode she didn't shine. She was menacing and nasty with Finch and John, when in "Relevance" she just wore a cold, professional mask. Her behavior in both episodes is understandable given what she knows and doesn't know and her experiences, but as there wasn't anything admirable about her in this ep, I could have done without her presence.

  • TomWayne Apr 10, 2013

    Same break is going on with Arrow over on the CW--Arrow of course also being owned by WB, along with the other DC Universe properties (heck, Reese is Batman, as we know--the man in the (non-bat)suit).

    Now if only the writers of Arrow would take lessons (and not just alluded content) from the Nolans... :)

  • bleumystique Apr 11, 2013

    I know!!!

  • layle1 Apr 08, 2013

    See, it used to be that the networks would complement their rivals' breaks with new programming and the viewers would benefit. Now there are just gaping holes filled with award shows no one cares about and the ratings tell the story.

    As for Shaw, does no one else remember her labeling herself as a sociopath? Sure, she's task-oriented, but that's why she's perfect as a contract agent.

  • bleumystique Apr 09, 2013

    RIGHT?! There isn't even the options for the midseason show that they try out among all of the breaks to make up for the lack of new episodes of shows that we adore. There is nothing. As you said, just gaping holes where scheduled shows used to be.

    Oh I don't forget that at all. When she brought up the DSM IV that was easily one of my favorite lines of that episode. Her being sociopathic, or rather having sociopathic tendencies since I wouldn't jump on board with her being diagnosed as a full blown sociopath just yet, that is one of the reasons why she's so interesting as a character. So much so that if we see her too much it'd sort of take away from the other characters, so yes, that's exactly why I'd prefer her as the independent contractor.

  • Shreela Apr 07, 2013

    I blame Lost for skippy episodes. Not sure why Lost wasn't able to come up with stories in time, or their actors were out of control, but once the other shows saw viewers stuck around with sporadic schedules, all went to heck in a handbasket with the other shows that have a following.

  • Rolamb Apr 07, 2013

    I loved the episode. Although there was a little less humor, it was compensated by the events. Not only was the main story intriguing enough, alle the side stories were perfect to get me on the tip of my chair for the next episodes (and probably next season). The way they set up a believable storyline for Shaw in only two short shots was great. Love her.

    I also learned new Dutch word (in directing bear) and that is special as I'm Dutch.

  • vicbjones Apr 07, 2013

    Were you distracted by the macaroni vendor? About the only thing less predictable than the head of the company being the bad guy was Cal being dead by the end of the episode after Carter decided he wasn't a dirty cop (like a Cartwright asking a woman to marry him). It was the same situation as "The Fix." And for a minute, I was afraid John from Another World was going to paraphrase the bum's speech from the climax of They Live. Greer calling the boss up from nowhere and his committing suicide more than made up for the obviousness of that "twist" (Deus ex machina in a positive light for once), but really, that's the part that blindsided you? "Trojan Horse" was definitely worth the three-week wait though.

    I wonder if Erik Mountain and Sean Hennan have a friendly rivalry going, because the whole episode almost played like "Risk 2.0." However, in contrast to one of Hennan's season 1 episodes, as jam-packed as the episode was, the pacing didn't seem to suffer at all.

    Could you elaborate some on how you felt the head of the other division was a dick and in what way Monica's assistant was the worst POI character ever?

  • tatianajaunzems Apr 18, 2013

    Thought the Cal storyline was well executed in this ep because it wasn't straightforward. The emphasis for me is really on how things unfolded and less on the predictable outcome.

    Even though, you knew that Cal was doomed, little seeds of hope were planted all along the way.

    First there was Quinn's hesitation in getting rid of him, his minions questioning of his order the second time the subject came up, Cal realizing that he was being set up and drawing his weapon, Carter's knowledge of his location and her racing to him.

    Even the scene where his death is revealed is drawn out. The viewer knows from the other detective's face when he sees Carter and because of Fusco's uneasiness at the crime scene, that Cal must be dead but Carter doesn't register his death until she sees his body (in a cut to a pretty grim shot).

    This last sequence only took a few seconds, but for me it seemed longer and brought out lots of different thoughts.

    So, the Cal storyline had a simple outcome (Cal dead) but we get there in a complex and interesting way.

  • vicbjones Apr 18, 2013

    I agree with your assessment that they dragged out Cal's death well where the audience might have hope that he survived the ambush. For me, the sign of hope was the body we saw before getting to Cal, showing he didn't go down without a fight.

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