When trying to determine the quality of last night's episode of Person of Interest, "One Percent," it's important to remember that the previous handful of episodes were really good. And then hold on to those happy thoughts, because "One Percent" was not a good episode of Person of Interest (but I still kind of liked it anyway).
Remember when Reese got stuck in that bank vault and then got thrown in prison and Finch had to get hacky on his computer to give Reese alibis on the fly and Reese and Carter shared secrets and then Kara Stanton shot Agent Donnelly and Reese and Snow modeled the season's most fashionable explosive chestwear and then Snow and Stanton blew up? That was awesome. Remember when Reese protected that snobby self-made billionaire and social-media mogul who broke all the rules? Yeah, unfortunately I do too, but hopefully we'll forget about it pretty soon.
After one of the series' better multi-episode arcs came to a close last week, Person of Interest yawned through last night's standalone follow-up. It was a return to the most formulaic of setups for the show: The Machine pukes up a number, Reese is tasked with protecting the person attached to that number, multiple people have motive to want him dead, a twist, a turn, Reese shoots a few guys in the leg, and the day is saved. These types of episodes range from highlight of the week to downright embarrassing, but because this is Person of Interest, a show that gleefully comes with a side of cheese every week, even the stinkers manage to be entertaining in their own way.
This week our person in need was Logan Pierce, a billionaire made rich by his social-networking site FriendCzar.com (LOL, right?) that was almost one billion members deep and about to go public. He was straight out of The CBS Procedurals Stock Character Handbook, a college dropout tech whiz kid who flaunted his wallet by going through cars like Kleenex (I have a cold, it was the first thing to come to mind). He was a pesky POI, because he skipped over to Russia for appetizers and took helicopters all around town. He played by his own rules! Rule number one: Be a jerk all the time! Thankfully he was played by the very likable Jimmi Simpson, who you'll recognize as one of the McPoyle brothers from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and as Lloyd from Breakout Kings.
Let's avoid the details of the sloppy case-of-the-week and sum it up quickly: Logan's lawyer and best friend both wanted him dead, Reese let loose a whirlwind of fists on both of them, and Lloyd started a rival site with a former enemy that will set him up nicely in the future. That's actually a generous description of what happened; I think at one point every person in the world was considered a suspect because we all wanted to kill Logan. Even I wanted him dead, and I'm a famous lover. That's not Simpson's fault. The writers never really pulled Logan out from the slime to make him a person to root for.
But that might be the point, because here's where things get interesting: At the end of the episode, Logan gifted Reese with a watch that costs more than you'll ever make (it tells time to the nanosecond so when someone asks you what time it is you can say 10:51, 24 seconds, and 3 nanoseconds and reach an all-new level of asshole), and Finch instantly put his boot on it and pulled out a GPS chip from the pile of million-dollar watch parts. "Your friend is just curious enough to be dangerous," Finch warned Reese. And it's true, Logan was crushing on Reese pretty hard. But the implication is obvious. We haven't seen the last of Logan Pierce, and when we see him again, will he be friend or foe? Without that payoff, Logan is a forgettable one-off who wasn't developed that well. But now he's a big question mark with the cash to be a pain in the ass to Reese & Finch Inc. in future episodes, and he'll either make for an interesting annoying ally or a villain-in-training who will be easy to hate. Add another entry to the Person of Interest Monster Manual!
The real meat of "One Percent" came in the flashbacks, where we saw a giant 9/11-sized light bulb turn on over Nathan Ingram's head. Following the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001, Ingram set out to make a difference, and he did so with The Machine. And in 2009, it was Nathan who was out saving the "irrelevants" that The Machine noticed were in danger but weren't important enough for the government to waste time on. Nathan was the beta version of Reese! Is this how Nathan eventually dies? Could it be that simple? Would he still be alive today if he was better at shooting people in the leg ? Personally, I think there's still one more wrinkle to Nathan's death, but I have little doubt that it's job-related. Nathan, you become more and more of a badass with each passing flashback. Keep up the good work. (And sorry you're dead.)
Fusco also felt the errs of his past squeezing his nuts a little tighter. Carter had a couple dead-cop files on her desk, and the dead pigs were unsolved mysteries because they'd vanished without a trace. If memory serves, Reese killed both those men (they were bad dudes, one in the pilot and one who was about to kill Fusco out in the woods) but Fusco was tasked with burying their bodies and he's tied to them through HR. So we got a few scenes of Carter looking at these files and scratching her head and Fusco looking around shifty-eyed NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL. There were no real developments in this story, just reminders that Fusco is one slip-up away from swan-diving into a pile of deep doo-doo.
But by far the most important part of "One Percent" involved Bear, obviously. The pooch was depressed because his dad was out all day shooting people in the leg and he didn't have any bad-guy throats to rip out, so Finch went to the internet and researched canine sadness and found out that Bear just needed a friend. Maybe Finch started DogCzar.com, the first social networking site for dogs, because at the end of the episode Bear turned his frown upside down with a dog pal at the park. Yay Bear! Just as Logan said, everyone needs to feel a connection to someone, even killer attack dogs.
Given the strength of the previous episodes, I'll forgive "One Percent" for taking a week off and churning out some clunky dialogue and lazy plotting. The important thing is that Nathan Ingram was out there killing fools in '09, a new friend/foe was introduced, and Bear got a buddy.
– John Reese has a pretty sweet jumpshot!
– The car chase was one of the laziest Person of Interest action sequences ever. The show never even tried to pretend Logan was in the car.
– One of these days someone will tell a story about a hotshot social media guru whose business partner and best friend doesn't want him dead, but yesterday was not that day.
– I don't know why, but "handwritten letters from Albert Einstein" as an auction piece made me laugh.