Person of Interest "RAM" Review: Filling Out the Wiki
When you think about "RAM" and the relevant new information it provided, it essentially comes down to one item, er, person: Daniel Casey, the episode's number of the week and a key component of the Machine's personal army. Casey could've been introduced in a number of different ways—a number in 2014 seemed like the obvious choice—but Person of Interest said, "Screw that noise!" and used the opportunity to flesh out its past by filling in a huge blank with an extended flashback. "RAM" felt like the best-written POI fanfic ever because it was such a service to viewers; it wasn't necessary for us to know so many details to understand the show moving forward, but dang it, it was fun and really helped fill out the Person of Interest wiki.
"RAM" gave us a peek into Finch's pilot program for saving the world, as the episode was set almost entirely in 2010, before Reese and Finch became New York's most powerful power couple. Back then, Finch was partnered up with Mr. Dillinger, and boy howdy was this guy not the proper kneecapping gentleman that John Reese is now. Reese is polished and detached and respectful of life; Dillinger was haughty and obtrusive and regularly aimed a full two feet above the knee. And he saw nothing wrong with reaping the rewards of rescuing an impressionable young damsel in distress a.k.a. he boned a chick he saved. Reese would at least wait until the third date, sheesh. But man oh man was Dillinger (and Finch's efforts to rein him in) entertaining to watch. He was a Grade-A selfish prick and the type of mentally abusive partner that made me want to sit Finch down with a bottle of rosé and tell him, "Girl, he ain't good for you, you need a man who respects this [elaborate hand motion to signify Finch]." And lots of credit goes to "RAM" writers Nic Van Zoebroeck and Michael Sopczynski and their spellcheck-nightmare last names, because they didn't relent on painting Dillinger as an asshole: He was a jerk the entire episode, and Finch's squirms indicated that he knew it, too.
But "RAM" was about more than Finch's poor choice in men. I'm still in awe of how the episode did this, but it wove so many characters—including several folks who are dead in the present—into a single case, including CIA-era Reese and his ex-partner Kara Stanton. Casey wasn't just some keyboard jockey who walked into the wrong chatroom, he was employed by the government to hack into systems to test their security. And one certain project spooked him. When he began to tell Dillinger (and Finch) about a set-up that was so complex he'd never seen anything like it before, I was all "NO WAY." The Machine! Casey was hired by the government to break into the Machine, and Casey was on the run because he discovered too much! BOOM BANG went my brain.
After that, the layers peeled off quickly, like the G-string of a stripper who wanted to beat traffic, as "RAM" went about filling in a bunch of blanks in the series' mythology. Decima Technologies was after Casey, Control was after Casey (and had Special Counsel send Reese and Stanton to kill him), and Finch had Casey in his clutches. But Casey wasn't dumb enough to leave his job without collecting some evidence, so he copied a few strands of Machine code to a laptop—the same laptop that became the target of Reese and Stanton's Ordos mission in Season 1. BOOM. BANG. And it wasn't Finch who sold the laptop to the Chinese, as we were led to believe, it was Dillinger after he decided to take a quick payday selling national security secrets instead of working a steady job of chasing numbers. BOOM. BANG. But Dillinger would not live to spend his spoils, because Special Counsel sent in a fresh-and-pretty-faced agent to mop up the mess and take him out. That agent? Samantha Shaw. BOOM. BANG. So awesome!
Or course, as I said above, the purpose of "RAM" was to bring Daniel Casey into the story, and at the end of the episode, time sped up to 2014 to find Casey pulling a Walter White in "Granite State" by hiding out in a tiny cabin in the woods (it's unclear how many times he watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium). And who should come knock-knock-knockin' on Casey's door? Our sexy psycho Root, who told Casey to go to Colombia to look for a man named Greenfield. Greenfield, as you'll recall, was the guy Root collected for the Machine in "Mors Praematura," a man who the Machine targeted in order to prepare for its own fight. And now Casey and his intimate knowledge of the Machine's "backdoor" (tee hee) is the Machine's second recruit. BOOM and BANG, we're going to war, folks.
On a more sentimental level, "RAM"'s greatest contribution to the Person of Interest saga was a better understanding of what makes Reese and Finch so perfect for each other. Dillinger's boorish behavior and Finch's gasps in response said more about Finch and Reese's partnership than it did about Dillnger and Finch's. Dillinger had the physical skills to be Finch's brawn, but Reese and Finch complement one another perfectly thanks to Reese's ability to see the entire picture when he's on a job. The Reese we saw in 2010 was already becoming jaded as a CIA agent. He was questioning orders, and heck, he even very plainly defied them when he chose to let Casey go rather than put a bullet in his brain. Reese and Finch are their own bosses, they don't answer to anyone. And although Person of Interest has always said in its own way, "Government bad!," it seems now more than ever the show is promoting intelligent anarchy and free thinking.
"RAM" and episodes like it are the reason we sit through some installments where Reese saves a sailor boy during fleet week or Finch protects a 911 operator. Person of Interest's mythology is as rich as anything out there, and the scary thing is that as it gets bigger, it gets bigger. "RAM" may not have opened things up too much, but it went back and filled in some holes in a wonderfully creative way. It deserves to be recognized as one of the series' best.
NOTES OF INTEREST
– We still don't know a whole lot about Mr. Greer, a.k.a. the British man behind Decima Technologies. But he sure does know how to make an entrance! I'm guessing that the upcoming war the Machine is preparing for will pit the Machine against Greer's Decima and whatever it can get out of Samaritan.
– That dude who was captured by Reese and Stanton preferred to jump out a window while taped to a chair over getting more wasabi in his bullet wound. Awesome.
– Those opening credits were from Season 1. "You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn't act, so I decided I would, but I needed a partner—[REWIND NOISE]" Loved that! That's how I knew this episode would be good. Does any show adapt its credits better than Person of Interest? Can you tell when I ask a rhetorical question?
– Dillinger to Finch: "Ever think of getting a dog?"
– Casey: "I grew up in Tucson, you gotta do something to pass the time." Oh dang, slam on Tucson!
– Stanton to Reese: "I'm not ready to see you in a Speedo." And with that, millions of ladies broke their hands on the television while trying to slap some sense into Stanton.
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