Last night's episode of Person of Interest was exactly the type of hyper-accelerated action television the show excels at. Pick a setting (a hotel), add a number of the week (an Albanian woman posing as a maid in the hotel), add a threat (Serbian hit squad), add some more threats (a grumpy assassin with no regard for anything), bring back a familiar face (Zoe!), add a twist (Root!), and then wind up John Reese and let him loose. The Person of Interest writers' room must have a blast crafting these episodes, and it shows on screen. "Booked Solid" was just plain fun.
This week's number in danger was attached to Mira Dobrica (Alias's Mia Maestro), a hotel maid with dirt on some war crimes committed during the Kosovo War by some Serbian bigwigs. She was under deep cover, so rather than spend her days playing FarmVille or having fun, she worked 60 hours a week in a fancy hotel. Reese and Finch deduced that her schedule meant whatever horrible atrocity was bound for her would happen on the job, so Finch gets them gigs at the hotel. I love how Person of Interest has carved out a little groove between specifics and just getting on with it; it knows what we want, so this episode opened with Reese and Finch walking to their first day of work rather than wasting precious minutes getting them the job. Who has time to watch Reese go through an interview process when there are Serbian hitmen to kill?
Finch took the open concierge position and hacked the hotel computers for his own Central Command, and Reese played grunt on the ground as New York's most ruggedly handsome bellhop. Immediately Person of Interest kicked into gear, throwing so much information at us that we enjoyed some tasty sensory overload: The hotel manager had a mystery "side business" going on, Zoe just so happened to be working at the hotel, we got details on Mira's refugee past, and Pennsylvania Two sent his incredibly determined goon Hersh (he was finally called by name!) on the trail of Reese. And this was only eight minutes into the episode, people! This show is efficient at setting the table fast, then narrowing the details as things progress.
It wasn't long before we learned why Mira was in trubbs. She was about to leak info on some WAR CRIMES to a journalist, meaning bad times for a guy named Petrovic. Naturally, Petrovic sent a SERBIAN HIT SQUAD after Mira, and the goons were crawling all over the hotel and operating like whatever the Serbian equivalent of a well-oiled machine is. Eastern-European hit squads! War crimes! Man I love this show.
There were some quick bursts of action as Reese took out members of the hit squad (Reese's aim must be off, he shot someone in the shoulder) while escorting Mira to safety. Good old Fusco even put some notches on his kill stick, taking out a pair of baddies while they were hauling the pieces of the murdered journalist into a van. Fusco loved it too. Now no one can tell him he's never killed two highly trained Eurotrash assassins.
But these were all undercards to the main event: Reese vs. Hersh in the battle of grumpy killers. Hersh is essentially a living Grand Theft Auto character, showing so much disdain for law enforcement that he stole a cop car right in front of a police station without a second thought. How badass is that? He needed a car, he just so happened to be in front of a police station, so he jimmied it and drive it around town. I love this guy as Reese's nemesis. And does anyone else think he looks like grumpy cat?
After Reese whisked Mira away to safety, Hersh bumbled in to find out who Reese works for, and the two had an epic fight in the hotel kitchen involving chef's knives held at cool-guy angles, stove burners nearly melting Reese's face, and more pots and pans flying around than there would be if Gordon Ramsay collapsed a soufflé. It was a great hand-to-hand fight scene (almost as good as the time Reese was fighting on crutches), and Reese stuck Hersh with the pointy end, but not so far that he fatally cut an artery, as he noted. No hard feelings, Hersh, there's honor among emotionless Terminators and Reese let you live. That won't come back to haunt Reese or anything. But let's all give Hersh a round of applause for putting up a good fight. Of course, later we saw Hersh in a hospital bed yanking off all the tubes he was hooked up to and going back into "KILL REESE" mode. Are we sure this guy isn't a robot?
Back at the police station, Carter was up for a spot in the FBI but had to take a polygraph for background. She was worried about getting busted lying about working with Reese and Finch, but it turned out she should have been worried about her dealings with handsome Cal Beecher, who was under investigation by Internal Affairs. Her involvement with Beecher got her job-blocked and vagina-blocked by the FBI, as she had to cut ties with Beecher both professionally and romantically. Bummer, Carter, but that guy is dirty!
And somehow there was STILL another surprise waiting for us. In the final moments of the episode, we met Pennsylvania Two's new secretary: ROOT! She's, err, taken root in the Office of the Special Counsel and will no doubt use those ins to get closer to The Machine. Nice twist, and a great way to add more heft to these government bad guys.
"Booked Solid" hit Person of Interest's preferred tone square on the noggin with its mix of action, suspense, and humor, and it also managed to include a twist in its caboose that signals fun times down the road. Does the return of Root and more details on Pennsylvania Two mean we're done with standalone episodes and gearing up for a lengthy serialized finish? Or are we in for more self-contained stories with mythology peppered in? Either way, it's good times ahead.
NOTES OF INTEREST
– That was one of the best "fuck you I quit!" moments ever, when Reese took off his tie and popped that wormy hotel manager in the face.
– But the real move was Finch defying the manager's orders to recommend the hotel restaurant when he told some guests about the best rib-eye in town at another grubbery. Fun fact: The restaurant he recommended was the place the waitress worked at in the episode "Triggerman."
– When we first saw Hersh through The Machine's eye, he didn't have a red square (threat) around him. Why not? You slippin', Computer?
– As soon as Mira showed knowledge of the hotel's inner workings, we all knew she would be given the hotel manager position by the end of the episode right?
– Finch ended up buying the hotel. Dude is spending CA$H this season! He'll own half of New York soon.
– Zoe and Reese were SMOLDERING! Fan that flame and let's get this heated romance going. So nice to see Reese loosen up a bit and proposition Zoe for a romp in the penthouse.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom