Person of Interest: Carter's Number is Up

It's been too long since the robotic Reese and gimpy Finch saved lives on our television screens, but after a few weeks off, Person of Interest returned last night with "Get Carter," an overdue look at a character we know too little about. Taraji P. Henson was busier than ever as Detective Carter, the NYPD detective with a love-hate relationship with Reese and Finch. Obviously she doesn't want a grenade-launching maniac terrorizing the streets of the Big Apple, but considering that the same grenade-launching maniac also happens to wrap up crooks in a tidy little bow for her to cuff and saves her life on occasion, she kind of has to take the good with the bad.

Person of Interest always has to come up with interesting ways to present its "cases," and this week it was a triple-suspect whirligig with a one-and-a-half-twist ending. After Finch's TroubleFinder 3000 spat out Carter's social security number (and picture! It spat out a picture!), it was up to Reese and Finch to find a way to protect her and lay low. Carter's past dealings gave us three likely goons who wanted to give her an early retirement from life: a recently released dirtbag who shot a witness, a repeat wife-beater, and the series' Big Bad, Elias. There's always a sense with this show that we're going to get a bunch of misleading information and follow the scent of a bad lead, but dammit, it's fun and that's exactly what happened. And even though the twist at the end—Carter's criminal informant, a carbon copy of The Wire's Bubbles, turned and was the triggerman—wasn't super unpredictable, it was forgivable because the show is all about its characters. The cases, which so far have ranged from genius to average, are just part of the ride.

Going into the episode, all we really knew about Carter was that she's tough, she works hard, and we're not totally sure that Henson is the right fit for her. But last night we learned that she was once a chatty interrogator back in the Middle East, has an adorable teen son, and has a minimum of three people who want her dead. We didn't exactly get to spend a weekend in the Hamptons with her, but it was a good start.

But the details aren't what stuck out about Carter. The most revealing bit of information we received was that Carter deservedly has trust issues. In the flashbacks, she gave her word to a suspected Al Qaeda accessory that if he gave up information, she would protect him and his family. Well, a few soldiers had a different idea and took justice in their own hands, killing him. This profoundly hurt Carter, and showed us partly why she acts the way she does today. In the present time, she has her hands full making sure things are just and that good people are protected. She's got dirty cops on her tail, she makes repeated house calls to a woman looking for protection from her punchy husband and that staircase she just can't seem to descend without falling, and she's raised a fine, young man in her son. Carter is a good person who wants to help, whether it's part of her true nature or due to a sense of guilt from not saving the man in her flashback. Reese and Finch recognize that, and want to keep her that way.

But how can she fully trust Reese or accept his favors? She can't. She can't even trust her crackhead CI not so shoot her. Her experience with getting burned has made her stubbornly stick to a "Screw it! I'll do it myself!" attitude. It's an interesting thing the writers are building here: No matter how well-intentioned Reese's Clean Up the Streets program is, Carter can never truly get on board with it even though they're essentially the same sides of two different coins. Until Season 4, that is!

This was a great episode for Carter, and now we not only have a better idea of how she fits into things, we also have a better idea of who she is as a person. But we still have a lot to learn. And that's how Person of Interest is going to survive, by slowly revealing the complex pasts of its players. Heck, we still barely know a thing about Reese and Finch, and they're the main draw. Patience is going to really pay off in this series if you take the time to keep watching it.

Surveillance Notes:

– I'm still not a full supporter of Henson as Carter, but there were a few moments this week when she really shined. When Carter was talking to her CI in the car, and in each scene with Carter's son, Henson was great. But when Carter's in full detective mode, it doesn't work for me. She's an Oscar-nominated actress, but it sure wasn't for playing a detective.

– GRENADE LAUNCHER! The idea that Reese can walk into a room and shoot three gangsters before they even have a chance to say, "Isn't that the guy who played Jesus?" doesn't even faze me anymore. I love it. It's wonderfully ridiculous and badass.

– How about Reese's new ride and duds? Of course he looks awesome on a motorcycle.

– What's with Elias dropping off the flowers? What was that all about? Did I miss something? Was he assuming she was already dead, or was it just a threat?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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What kind of motorcycle was Reese riding? It looks a bit retro...



I LOVED the grenade launcher! Why go in with just an automatic weapon when you have something that can take out the whole wall?



Elias' flowers were like the horse head in the Godfather. Plus I agree with someone else who wrote that it gave him a chance to see his own dossier.
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whoa...new layout for website is trippy...

Elias was leaving the flowers as a threat/taunt.

Good episode, but the interrogation scene fell flat for me. Then again, after watching Homeland, I suppose that's somewhat to be expected.

I think I kind of want her character to die-she does have an inflated and unrealistic sense of "holier-than-thou" syndrome. Especially for a former Army interrogation specialist and homicide detective. She should be more jaded, trying to save lives because of all the terrible atrocities she's seen and give her life meaning, not because she feels morally superior. It's irritating.
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I think Elias was just trying to play mind games with her when he left her the flowers. And I agree with you about Henson. I'm familiar with Taraji's movie roles and I am not buying her as a cop at all. Ever seen Baby Boy? It's a ridiculous movie that she acted in. Once you see in that film, it's hard to watch her in anything else. I don't know if I'd like Carter killed off the show or recast but it's just not working for me. The show is still great despite her role on it.
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Get Carter was so much better than Get Gellar. Just saying... ;)
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Elias dropping off the flowers was a threat, letting her know that her death by his orders was pretty much just a matter of time.
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This is a show that has had such great plot and character development, to me. I was skeptical before the premiere, but now don't want to miss an episode. I am glad to see that Carter is truly starting to understand what Reese is doing.
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It has been too long since we have seen the dynamic duo (for you Batman allusionists). I missed the show and these recaps.



This episode set up a critical paradigm for the show's core characters. Carter has been slowly coming to see that Reese's actions are not all "bad" yet she remains steadfast in her efforts to apprehend him and stop his vigilantism. In this episode we learn why the issue of people working outside the system cuts so very close to Carter's heart, and she revealed this not only through flashback but also through the language she used when communicating with Reese. When she speaks with Reese, she tells him that if he continues playing God eventually someone innocent would die. We come to understand how deeply held and painfully earned this belief is when she flashes back to the scene in which the platoon commander reports the successful neutralization of the explosives and the execution of the detainee Yusef. The manner and circumstances of Yusef's death made Carter complicit in both a betrayal and murder, and for her, men who operate outside the rules of the established system are not to be trusted. Carter wants the good guys to prevail, but she does not want to have to beat the bad guys at their own game in order to do so.



I think having a character with such steadfast integrity adds spice to the mix, and I like Henson, though to be honest my issue with Carter is not with the actress portraying the character: Carter is meant to be such a high calibre detective yet she seems to not have checked out her new partner Fusco at all, and it seems far-fetched that the man's reputation as a dirty cop has not preceded him like week-old decomp.



I think Jim Cavieziel would look good in just about anything. Perhaps not in drag. But in a suit or on a motorcycle, he is still one of the most handsome men on tele.



Bottle Cap seriously has nothing on Bubbles. Nada.



I loved Elias coming into the station to drop off the flowers. I think the writers want us to see how superior this man believes himself to be, how arrogant he is. Elias, a classic narcissistic sociopath, loved not only rattling Carter, but walking into the lion's den to do so. He may want Carter eliminated, but knowing his is a priority case for the determined detective, going through her files on him, at her desk, in the middle of the squad room crawling with cops, gives him a profound thrill. Driving home the point that he is the one with all the power between them is icing on the cake.



I find myself stuck on the scenes with the police captain Fusco and Reese both met with. The dialogue about the level of corruption in the NYC police department and how connected organized crime is to the police gave the show more of a graphic novel flavor than I felt was present in the show thus far. Many fans here have alluded to the Batman flair Reese has but until this episode I viewed the show a more engaging and interesting take on procedurals with a little science fiction to spice it up. I am not certain Reese the superhero would be as engaging as Reese the badass wounded warrior.



I love that Reese is still picking on Finch, calling him by his given name, trying to break down the barriers Finch is determined to impose. Something about their interaction in this episode felt off after the previous installment. Was it just me or did Finch and Reese seem a bit testy and distant this episode? Based on their interaction it almost feels as if this episode is a bit out of order, perhaps this was meant to follow "Witness" as Reese was in this episode professing his issues with the limitations and failures of the machine, attitudes many commenters felt were missing from and should have been expressed in "Foe."
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agree with this in it's entirety. : )

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I loved this episode because I've been dying for more development for Carter as a character. I'm a huge fan of Tariji P. Henson and she's a superbly talented actress but I just think the writing for Carter as a character is the weakest of them all. It pains me to see that because she can be so awesome. I think this episode helped a great deal though. We got to understand why the character is the way that she is and we got to see the connection and the similarities between her and Reese. I loved it. I hope that this is a stepping stone to them really writing her charcter better and fleshing her out. I don't think it's Henson...I think it's the writing. The cheesy lines, the faux badassness, the attitude. She shined in this episode though.



I also like that it opens the doors to things being more complex but interesting. Many fans have been saying that Carter isn't believable as far as posing a real threat to Reese and Finch and I agree she isn't...but perhaps now it's because she's not meant to be that true antagonist in this...Elias is. It's fascinating...seeing how long it will take before she and Reese and Finch are actually working together. I mean they sort of inadvertently are already. I LOVED the Reese and Carter scenes..it would be fantastic if they found a way to make them share more screentime. I think they feed off of each other quite well. That scene in the alley where he wanted to make sure that she knew she wasn't alone was Awesome. And the scene afterwards where she's watching Reese (looking droolworthy in the leather jacket and on that motorcycle) and probably knowing it's him but kind of had a hint of a smile there. Loved that. Even watching Reese be soo protective of the woman who is after him. He really took her number being up personally...and it was probably the first time that I've seen him show an actual deep respect for someone. I mean sure he has a bit of respect with Finch...but he seemed to truly respect and admire Carter. I love seeing the layers to him as well...seeing when and with what people he chooses to show some vulnerability or internal conflict with. truly fascinating.
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1. I could not have said it better. I could not put a finger on why I didn't like this character and you nailed it: there are incongruities in the character as written and the way the actress portrays said character. The words, the tone, the facial expressions, the body language are not all in sync and it bugs the heck out of me. But she did have some moments in this ep when she nailed the scene and made a light lunch of the scenery.



2. Reese was completely drool worthy this ep. He is one yummy bad boy (actually chaotic good boy).



3. See previous comment. I have to not think about it anymore to save the keyboard.



4. An extremely well played threat. Even though no one but the audience knows he was the delivery boy, the message was he can get to her any place any time.



For whatever reason, Reese as Carter's 'guardian angel' totally works for me.



Something about the dialog between Finch and Reese where Reese was saying Carter has been trying to save people her entire life and people like her need to be saved was great.



I just wish I liked the actress more. Maybe she will grow into the role and grow on me. Hopefully.
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LOL! Agree with 2. He was truly droolworthy! Whether he's silent or whispering something he makes a girl melt. LOL I too loved the Reese as Carter's "guardian angel" thing and some of the lines he had in regards to her....they were awesome without being cheesy or overdone.



I know a lot of people share the sentiment with Tariji. I personally adore her as an actress but I think the writing for carter isn't up to par with the writing of some of the other characters.
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I guess it was a threat. I LOVE Colantoni and hopes he's on this show a lot more.

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This show is getting better and better. And yeah, Reese can be pretty kick-ass sometimes.
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I had thought Elias' reason for dropping off the flowers was obvious. It was an excuse to get him in so he could look at the file on himself and see exactly what Carter had and hadn't figured out about him. That the card on the flowers would maybe rattle her was just a bonus.
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One thing is for sure: adding Carter's own backstory & moral dilemmas to the mix is a real game-changer for the other main characters. She's certainly not the type to ever officially condone what it is Finch & Reese do...but she may be sympathetic enough to turn a blind eye should the situation demand it. And Fusco better watch his butt, because she is way out of his league.



AngelaBeith is correct, Henson "shone" and not "shined"..."shined" is the transitive conjugation, requiring an object.
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I think Henson does a good job as Carter. If you think about it I am not sure another actress could walk that fine line between tough and vulnerable. A character like Carter can make or break a show. If the character is played too tough, then it seems like she is trying too hard and it pulls away from her being able to accept the help of Reese. You make her too vulnerable and she is a crappy cop trying to punch above her and is good intentioned but then Reese has to waste too much time saving her and helping her is merely a futile effort on the part of Reese. I think she is walking the fine line pretty good. I would like to see her mix it up with someone. However her shooting the bad guy was pretty good.



As for Elias, I think it was a warning. Though I thought that she would check the video tape and see that it is him and realize that he has no qualms walking right into a police station and putting the threat on her desk himself. That would have been kind of cool.
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That focus on Carter was needed. If she ends up being the helpful police lady who understand to vigilante's motivation without being able to approve it (Gordon to say it short), I'm not sure to understand where Fusco would fit in all that.



I can't wait to see the big fight between Finch/Reese and Elias. I hope they will continue to slowly build the rivalry to tease the big confrontation in the season finale (looks like I'm talking about wrestling or MMA). We definitely need a villain and Carter is obviously not the one.



The badass action moments are still hilariously entertaining. As Tim said it, the only lack is a bit of complexity and stakes and it should come around soon enough.
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the grenade scene was awesome! and the scene where he packed the wifebeater was even more.. but I especially loved the scene where Carter was going hard on the wife-beater (the "big" gun thing:D) and how Reese loved her attitude, a hardass like himself.. Reese very rarely smiles, so seeing him appreciating and almost joyful was a great moment:) and I liked him more with the suit I think, it made him look even more badass:)
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Even after tonight I hope Carter will be sent on witness protection to some small town where she doesn't have 300 potential enemies and we get a more interesting cop. She is not convincing as a soldier nor as a detective
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Elias dropping off the flowers was a warning, meaning she wasn't even safe in the station. Hell, he just walked in, passed like two dozen cops and put those flowers on her desk. How the heck did he even know where she was sitting? So yeah, obviously a threat.



Reese looks awesome in that leather jacket.



I'm soooo looking forward to the episode in which it is revealed how Finch got that spinal cord injury. I guess there are enough speculations out there by now so I won't bother mentioning mine ;)



Also: does it not bother anyone else that Finch is lying to us in the opening sequence? The "government" decided those deaths are not important? HE is the one who decided not to include the "small" crimes and have the machine delete their numbers...
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In the episode where we learned that Finch has initially made the decision to ignore "small" crimes, his friend was murdered - a death that his machine could have predicted and helped prevent if "small" crimes weren't being ignored.



I don't think it has been explicitly stated, but I get the sense that Finch - overwhelmed with guilt for not saving his friend's life - tried to get the government to investigate all potential crimes - and not just arbitrarily decide some potential crimes were more important than others. The government refused to change how they were running the program, so Finch quit working for them, hired Reese and they took over handling the "small" crimes the government considers unimportant.



So, basically, while he originally made the decision to ignore certain crimes, after his friend died, he "saw the error of his ways" and tried, unsuccessfully, to get the government to change how they handled the information from the machine. When the government refused to make the change, it then became the government deciding those deaths were not important...
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Liked this episode, the ending was especially good
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This episode was great. I'm glad we found out more about Carter's past and present life. Not that I ever doubted Henson as a cop (Heck, I think she's doing very well), I just wanted to get a better idea of who detective Carter is. As usual, Reese and Finch were awesome in their roles, especially Reese with that grenade launcher! I love how this show is moving along, giving us bits and pieces, but still keeping the bigger picture under wraps for now.
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I loved seeing her character fleshed out this week. I'm a fan. I think Reese might even have a crush...
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I'm not one of those shipper types and I certainly wouldn't actually root for those two to end up being paired together. But he did have an intense respect for her, admire her, was very protective of her and at times seemed rather smitten!
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It's insane that this show is limping along. If you like Jack Bauer without the screaming or vein popping and batman without the rubber nipples and cape then you'll like this show.
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That is spot on true!
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Loved this episode. Reese was a badass as always and we got to see a little of Carter's past. But next week's episode is going to be interesting.
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This show is just hilarious! Usually I don't fall for shows were a macho male character kicks ass left and right while muttering one-liners under his breath. But this show just makes it so seem so fun and campy. Reese is such an over-the-top man's man. Like when he blew up the warehouse door with a grenade launcher, entered and went: "Knock, knock". I laughed out loud. Or in the last episode when the ex-Stasi operative was about to torture him, and Reese just told him that he can stand pretty much any pain for hours. And he took the needles without a flinch. The people who are writing this show must have so much fun.
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not shined, shone
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I loved this episode. It was a whole lot of fun to watch. I don't really care either way about Henson in this role. Sometimes it seems to work, sometimes it seems a bit off. There'd probably be plenty of actresses better suited for the role, but Henson as Carter isn't really ruining anything for me.



I assume Reese still mumbles and whispers a bit too much, but it didn't really bother me in this episode. Maybe he's actually doing it less? If so, hooray for that.
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-I like her as the Detective. Though I haven't really seen her in much before, so maybe I'm coming at it from a different angle. She does a good job being a true policeman. She is honest and good, and I like that Reese and Finch are going out of their way to try and keep her that way.

-I'm sticking with 'the explosion knocked the wind out of them" reason for them not firing back. Also, it was awesome.

-I like him better in the suit. But that's me.

-As said below, threat. Awesome threat. Enrico Colantoni. He was in 5 seconds of this episode and I still love him. Keep him around a long time.



This show is great, and I can't wait to see where they keep going with this. One thing: Predictable murders from merely surveillance cameras and the like have to be something, for all the murders and deaths in the USA, that aren't flowing through 5 times a day. So I like the fact that there is no mention of "all those other ones we miss while focusing on this one". Quite realistically, you just can't predict that many murders just from security cameras. But one thing is true: they can't ALL be in NYC. Have them take the road to LA or Chicago once or twice a season. Then I'll be fine.
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This was one of the best episodes of the series so far. It showed all of the characters at their best and all the faults they face. I was hesitant at first that this show would run out of steam, but it hasn't. Each week they keep moving forward with good story-lines and more info on each characters back story. I like that Reese is like a watchful angel over those that are good, even though he is being hunted by Carter.



They have introduced Elias' character as an old skool mobster. I hope they can keep him on as a full season villain instead of a short arc. Tune-in its one of the better dramas out there now.
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Yep, agreed that it was meant as a threat. I've been really impressed with this show, I think it has good enough action to be taken as an easy-to-watch, fun show, but also has the potential for (and has already shown some) great character development. Before this episode I thought Carter was a very weak character compared to the two leads, but this episode has given her a lot more depth.



Reese's comment about how she is not another number and the world cannot do without her added weight to her character without her having to do anything!



Out of all the shows I watch that are currently airing, I have started to look forward to this one the most. Good soundtrack use in this show too.
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About the last "note": seems pretty obvious it was a threat meant to rattle Carter.
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Pretty sure it was a super creepy threat, Loved the grenade launcher, but I still don't really care about Carter
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