Person of Interest "Provenance" Review: Not One for the Heist-story Books
Oh man, this episode! We've been tricked before into thinking that a new episode of Person of Interest that was isolated on a little scheduling island would be a standalone adventure, so as not to disrupt any season-long flow the show had going, only to have it be a big, mythology-raising installment ("Lethe"). But "Provenance"—which is sandwiched between two, two-week-long breaks, as the show won't be back until February 18—was as self-contained as an episode of POI can be. Was it entertaining? Sort of. Was it necessary in the annals of Person of Interest? No, absolutely not, unless you are obsessed with Shaw's wardrobe.
In fact, no previous knowledge of Person of Interest was necessary to follow "Provenance," because the hour was basically cartoon-like, in that each character behaved like their one-sentence description would dictate. "Me John Reese! Me tough mumble guy!" "Me Shaw! Me grumpy and love guns but can be pretty too!" "Me Finch! Me tappa-tappa on the computer box!" I often think of Person of Interest as a product, and how it could be licensed out to comic books, graphic novels, or even an animated series as a lesser version of itself. "Provenance" was a script for one of those adventures, a comic issue come to life or 30 minutes of Saturday-morning TV. It was entirely derivative, Xeroxing elements from and paying homage to every heist movie you can think of.
But "Provenance" was just as much Person of Interest as "The Crossing" was, because the show proudly trumpeted, "I yam what I yam!" And as long as the show is having fun and self aware, I'll enjoy it.
This week's number belonged to Kelly Lin, an accomplished event planner who would be quickly outed as a former silver-medal-winning gymnast who was now employed as a tumbling thief. Ha! Of course she was. But somewhere around the episode's second or third act, we learned she was a cat burglar with a heart of gold: She was extorted into elaborate heists of precious valuables because some evil man held her adorable daughter hostage and threatened to harm her if Kelly (fake name) didn't do as he said. Obviously, that meant Reese, Finch, and Shaw decided to help her pull off an incredibly complicated burglary of the Gutenberg Bible in order to keep her kiddo safe, because that's what they do.
The mission itself was nothing new and everything old. There were laser sensors and motion detectors and electrified fences and rooms that required fingerprint access etc., etc., etc., and that's where the episode disappointed. I was all for a Person of Interest heist episode because why not? But some originality would've be nice. Coincidentally after watching "Provenance," I watched a rerun of Community and it was "The First Chang Dynasty," the comedy's own heist episode. And you know what? It did the heist story better than POI did.
However, I'm still heavily invested in POI's goofy characters and I love the show's cheeseball humor, and watching these guys choreograph themselves into a well-lubed heisting machine had its moments. "I'm a sucker for watered-down booze and mini quiche," Shaw deadpanned. And was Reese wearing a fake mustache as a disguise, or as part of an audition for The Americans? There was some really entertaining tongue-in-cheek stuff here, and you have to respect POI for shamelessly going all-in on the caper drama. The show even went so far as to soundtrack the whole thing with late-'90s big beat electronica from The Propellerheads and The Lo-Fidelity All-Stars (which provided plenty of nostalgia for my old breakdancing days).
In the end, they got the Bible! Yay! And Ms. Lin got her daughter back and everyone was happy. And it wasn't until the very end of the episode that "Provenance" tapped into the emotional core of POI when the crew was sitting around enjoying post-heist cocktails and Reese demanded that a fifth glass be poured for their absent member, the late Joss Carter. That made me sad. It was a sobering reminder that despite the non-lethal high jinks and wisecracks of "Provenance," their work is dangerous and, sometimes, deadly. And also that Reese is a big softie.
NOTES OF INTEREST
– Poor Fusco. He was relegated to errand boy this week, showing up with security plans for the targeted building because of his connections, taking Reese out of cops' hands with an "I'll take it from here," and pulling over security guards to get their fingerprints. It became funny toward the end, because whenever someone was in trouble, Fusco would pop in and solve the problem with "I'm a cop."
– I have it on good authority from sources who are close to the matter that the French Interpol guy's accent was terrible. (Thanks Aghie!)
– Question: Did the lady who was checking guests off the list imply that Reese and Finch were gay, or was she noting how handsome Reese was because she wanted a piece of that? Second question: Is there Reese and Finch slashfic?
– Was anyone else confused by Lin casually strolling out of the freshly burgled museum in her thieving outfit? Not exactly low-key.
– Not much else to talk about, so which Shaw outfit did you like best?
- Comments (181)