It's hard to imagine that with all the times John Reese has been hilariously plucked out of his fishbowl and thrown into a new pond, it took almost 30 episodes of Person of Interest to drop him off in the suburbs so we can see him with a lawnmower. "The High Road" had all the expected gags, but also surprised with a touching story, strong themes of redemption, and one match-making super computer, making it one of the stronger episodes of the season so far.
This week's person of interest was a man named Graham AND named Lloyd. He was the owner of a local hardware store AND one of the best safecrackers in the business. You see, Graham used to be a career thief before he ditched that life and his identity for the safety of the 'burbs with a wife and a kid. But the two crooks he used to pal around with just got out of the big house after serving 12 years for a crime job that Graham/Lloyd backed out of because he thought it was too dangerous. I don't know if you know this, but most criminals are unreasonably sour people, so they blamed Lloyd for their jail time and wanted revenge. And that's how Reese ended up moving to the suburbs with his trophy wife Zoe and became neighbors with Graham/Lloyd.
Person of Interest has been on a big redemption kick lately, exploring the idea of whether or not a person can change and if their past sins can be absolved. This was most obvious in "Triggerman" when the P.O.I. was a former hitman who had a change of heart, but there were crumbs of that theme in "Masquerade" and "Bury the Lede" as well. It works really for the show as John gets to play the shining example of a man escaping his rough past and doing something good for a change, but it doesn't always guarantee a happy ending. Penance doesn't come for pennies, and sometimes the price you pay for a clear conscience is already written into the order of the world as Riley found out in "Triggerman."
But occasionally fate says let's let a guy off the hook, and that's what happened in "The High Road." Forced to go on one last job by his old co-workers to protect his family, Graham/Lloyd cracked the safe of a rich guy and stared down the barrel of his old pal's gun because when he said one last job he meant LAST job as in last anything he'd do. But Reese infiltrated the group and shot some bad guys in the leg, saving the reformed Graham/Lloyd so he could hide in the suburbs and get back to his new life. Except Graham/Lloyd didn't run back to his one-car garage and backyard and gas BBQ. Instead he turned himself in for his past crimes in an unexpected twist, proving that he was indeed a changed man and knew the difference between right and wrong. He was ultimately rewarded for it; he turned over evidence to the judge in exchange for a sentence of house arrest in his lovely 2,500 sq. ft. house just outside of New York City.
This all played out between flashbacks of Finch in 2004-2006, when he was explaining to Ingram how The Machine was learning people's foibles and intricacies to identify those in danger and those that could be the danger. And part of me thinks that the computer chose Graham/Lloyd because it recognized someone who was truly worth saving and didn't pick him simply on a binary basis of whether he was dangerous or not. The Computer seems to be picking its people more carefully as it gets smarter, and dammit, I love this little wrinkle.
And apparently it's been a lot smarter than we thought for a long time. Back in the mid-2000s, the computer kept bringing up future fiancé Grace Hendricks (Michael Emerson's real-life wife Carrie Preston) and Finch–work-minded as he is–could not for the life of him figure out why the computer kept pestering him about her. There was no reason to suspect she was in danger, and her records showed her to be an upstanding citizen. Almost a perfect citizen. With a love for books. While Finch was too dumb to recognize when someone was handing him something on a platter, we figured it out: The Computer was trying to set Finch up! It was like if OKCupid actually worked! This computer is totes adorable. In the beginning of the season it was looking after its dad, and now it's finding him a perfect mate? Stop it computer, you're too cute.
"The High Road" stripped Person of Interest down to its basics and spread the themes of the case-of-the-week out toward its main characters for an outstanding hour of television. With plenty of humor, touching flashbacks, and at least two bullets to the leg, it was a perfectly formed standalone episode.
– Zoe is really coming into her own in the series. She's been a blast all season long and playing House with John was her finest performance. Those two really play well off each other, and the one-way sexual chemistry is fun to watch. Zoe would throw John down on a bed in a second, but John isn't as sure. BATMAN DOESN'T NEED GIRLFRIENDS AND NEITHER SHOULD JOHN!
– Ummm... the donut scene with Bear and Finch and John? Too funny. Why does this show crack me up with the cheesiest gags? Why is John eating a donut that a dog just licked so darned funny? Lots more humor with the parking ticket and petty cash talk, John pulling a gun when the doorbell rang, and Harold as the security system installer. It's not that the show knows to add humor to lighten the mood, it that it knows how much is too much and stays just below that tipping point.
– It's telling that John saw Graham, with his ideal life of a wife and a great kid, as "the most boring man in New York." It just shows where John's priorities are.