Person of Interest "Allegiance" Review: Pledge Carefully
There wasn't a whole lot to this week's Person of Interest as the show retreated to one of its exceptionally complicated case-of-the-week formulas, but what little there was (in the big picture) was sah-weet. "Allegiance" made an effort to tie the main story to the oncoming War of the Machines while maintaining some of the momentum that was built up with "RAM" and "/" and has been busting through concrete walls like the Kool-Aid Man, but let's call this episode what it was: a standalone hour with a few bells and whistles.
I'll do my best to break down what happened with the number-of-the-week in "Allegiance," but it was so full of slow set-up, a high-tech power generator's manual worth of information, lecherous suspects posing as dignitaries, and all the usual expected twists that I don't even know if I'll get it right. This week's digits belonged to Maria Martinez—whose name popped up in the final scene of last week's episode and who we accurately predicted would appear this week. Martinez was a former government contractor trying to debunk a terrorism accusation slapped on her Iraqi friend Omar, who happened to be seeking asylum in the United States. In fact, false terrorism accusations were the theme of the episode, with brown skin and a few shady phone calls setting off our internal alarms because we're all secretly ignorant stereotypers.
Of course Maria and Omar weren't the terrorists, in keeping with Person of Interest's penchant for rooting for the little guy. No, the real terrorists were the rich white guys and foreign diplomats from the United Nations who "eat on our dime," as Fusco so eloquently put it, because screw those guys! They're all evil. Maria's boss, who was in cahoots with pinning terrorist accusations on Omar, was a huge knob of a man named Ken Davis, and with a name as pure as the driven snow like that, he may as well have had a huge neon sign over his head that read "ME! I'm the jerk!" Davis's company was in charge of a half-dozen high-tech generators that were supposed to juice up impoverished parts of Iraq, but those generators mysteriously disappeared, leaving critical parts of Iraq power-free and killing lots of Iraqis because the hospitals didn't have hamster wheels to power their life-saving machines. Omar worked as a translator on that project and determined that Davis's company never shipped the generators there, and Davis wanted to hush him up by deporting him back to Iraq, where he would be killed because he fended off an attack by insurgents on Maria. Why did he do that? Because they were in love! Phew, this story, right?
Eventually things came to a head in the United Nations building, when Fusco and Reese posed as firefighters and fought not fire but French Foreign Legion badasses while providing a distraction for Maria to dig up evidence that Omar had been framed. The good guys won, the bad guys lost and got shot in the leg, and Omar and Maria lived happily ever after. Well, not ALL the bad guys got shot in the leg. Ken Davis escaped and met with Decima head Greer to collect payment, because Davis, that sniveling weasel, sold the generators to Greer so Decima could power up Samaritan with the type of computing power it needed. To Greer's credit, he had Davis killed because Greer knew Davis was a huge dick, even for a rich white guy. So that was the tie-in to the bigger story in the final moments of the case.
Of much more interest were the episode's bookends in two short scenes involving Root as she tracked down Greer. The microchip from last week's episode was already reverse engineered and thrown on an assembly line, Root told us, so now her job was simple: put a bullet inside Greer somewhere where it hurts. Greer wasn't a man to hide in an evil genius' fortress, so he took public transportation just like anyone else. But sensing he had a tail in Root and The Machine, he called into his people to tinker with the subway's surveillance system. First he blanked the security system. No problem, The Machine went to audio mode to track his footsteps. Then Greer clouded that by turning up the subway's PA system and polluting it with feedback. No problem, The Machine tracked the GPS on his phone. Then Greer dumped his phone in a passerby's pocket. Ummm, help? Greer went off the grid and The Machine was helpless, leaving Root with nothing to do but grab the first grey-haired man she saw instead. (By the way, that man was rude to Root. If Root grabbed me mistakenly, I'd demand that she apologize to me over a drink with a romantic view.)
In the second scene, which closed out the episode, Root tried it again, but this time she decided to ditch the digital and go analog. Or should I say, ana-dog? Boom! I just earned my paycheck right there! Root "borrowed" Bear for a little reconnaissance, and Greer and The Machine did their little dance again. Only this time, when the phone was ditched, Root told Bear to sniff out that moth-ball stench on Greer, and the two met face-to-face in a suspiciously empty portion of the tubes. After some verbal sparring about who will be on the winning side of this Battle of the Bots, Greer proposed an alliance to Root, saying he could use someone like her on his side because they both know what's up.
It's an interesting proposal even though there's no way in the world Root would ditch her path to join up with Greer, right? I like what Person of Interest is doing here with Root and Shaw, the latter of whom got her own proposal from Vigilance to join their ranks previously. Obviously doubt can't be planted in Reese and Finch because they're the core of the show, but if the writers can—and they're certainly talented enough to do so—conjure up some plots that put Root and Shaw's allegiance (there's that second entendre from the title) up for question, then things could become that much more interesting. Vigilance isn't exactly a cabal of horrible terrorists. They believe they are fighting for the people, like Anonymous with guns. Shaw is no stranger to going AWOL but she still knows which side to fight for, so it isn't inconceivable that she'd take an interest in Vigilance's interests. And Root's devotion is to technology, and who is more poised to be on the forefront of that side than Decima? Person of Interest will need to navigate some narrow paths if it wants to pull this off, but if it does, it will be awesome.
One last thing before I take off. Are we seeing enough of Reese lately? He hasn't exactly been the star of the show since Carter's farewell arc (and even that was more about Carter). Season 3 has done a lot of work to bolster its lethal ladies, and thank the holy Machine they did, but I'm getting antsy about not seeing enough focus on Reese, and there's nothing pointing towards shoving him to the forefront in the final episodes. Yet. He's awesome as muscle and provides some thrills, such as his tackle out of a window and onto the top of a car followed by a no-big-deal shrug, but he's played supporting character for most of the season.
The story at the center of "Allegiance" didn't make the episode a great outing, but thanks to a few key scenes with Root, some good action, Bear!, and Person of Interest's surprising humor, it was enjoyable. There are still five episodes left in Season 3, so a little pullback was expected, but from here on out, it's war.
NOTES OF INTEREST
– Fusco made his own Greatest Hits mixtape this week with all his amazing quotes. "How many countries do you think there are in the UN, like fifty-something?" Shaw: "You really should get out more, and learn something about other cultures." Fusco:" What are you talking about, I just ate a falafel!" "Excusez-moi!" "Go figure, turns out immunity doesn't stop you from bleeding." "Drop the gun or I'm gonna get realpolitiky on your ass!" "That's what's great about New York, you don't have to travel to learn about other cultures. They all come here." And of course, the simple but sweet, "Happy New Year, Sameen." AWWWWWW! I love Fusco and Shaw's relationship, and I demand a special episode featuring just the two of them talking to each other.
– However, my favorite line of the night was just about Fusco. As Reese and Fusco pulled up in that firetruck, there was a gem of a throwaway line from Reese: "Stop playing with the horn, Lionel!" Can you picture Jim Caviezel saying that in post-production? HILARIOUS.
– "Either you're planning to bring Samaritan online, or you're the world's most ambitious gamer." What IF Greer was just a gamer? SWEET RIG, BRO! You could totally dominate Minesweeper with that.
YOUR QUESTIONS OF THE DAY!
– Do you think Root will accept Greer's offer? I don't, but I think the writers will have fun teasing us that she will.
– Do you think this season has been lacking Reese?
– Were you able to follow the labyrinthine story of the week, or did you just nod your head and pretend to understand it like I did?
– Is there anything out there more annoying than rich, powerful white guys?
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