Harold Finch and John Reese got back to business—and it was all business—this week on Person of Interest. "Triggerman" was the most rote episode of the season so far, ditching the high-altitude season-long plots for a purely self-contained episode that played around with our rigid notions of morality. But aside from that and a guest appearance from our old friend Elias, it was as plain as can be.
This week's number belonged to Riley Cavanaugh (Brotherhood's Jonathan Tucker), an up-and-coming hitman for a lousy Irish mob boss named George Massey. Naturally the thug with a gun was pigeonholed as the perpetrator, but we quickly learned that Cavanaugh was the one who needed protection after Massey ordered his own son to kill both Riley and a hostess at a local restaurant, Annie, who George had the sweets for. Because dammit, if he couldn't have her (which c'mon, he was old and his teeth were an Irish yellow and she was a cutie), no one could. Riley objected to being killed, turned the gun on the mob boss's son, and then tried to skip town with Annie because—DUM DUM—they were secretly an item. That's romantic and all, but there was a catch: Annie was the widow of one of George's former employees, Riley was the triggerman for his death, and Annie didn't know about it.
As complex as that sounds, it was a fairly routine procedural story in its execution, with a large chunk of the episode spent just looking for people. But that's not what made the case interesting. Person of Interest plays with morality a whole bunch, but here we had a known mob hitman whose rap sheet was filled with vile deeds. The computer would normally send his number to Finch and Reese along with Google search results for coffins or the nearest police department, but Riley got the call for protection from Reese because Riley was protecting an innocent woman in Annie. Clearly the computer has a soft spot for people trying to rectify their evil ways, because Riley was trying to find the righteous path. He just got sidetracked by working for the mob and killing people. It happens!
In the end, Riley was more concerned with getting Annie out of the mess alive than he was with saving his own skin, and it's good he came to terms with that because soon the life of Riley was OVER as he got blown away by one of the many assassins sent out to kill him. But he made sure Annie would be safe, and even though the plan was for both of them to take a train to New Mexico and eat green chile enchiladas in peace, he'd actually only bought one ticket. He knew his life and the truth he hid would be bad news for their relationship and thousands of dollars in therapy, so he opted to give Annie the fresh start she needed and stay behind where his line of work would lead to a shallow grave in a New Jersey junkyard. It was sad, but in the end he was definitely painted as the white knight for his efforts.
When you look at Riley's life leading up to the predicament he got himself into, it goes something like this: Riley works for the mob, Riley kills Annie's husband, Riley starts boinking Annie, Riley withholds the truth that he murdered Annie's husband. Can a man with such a bad history be redeemed by one honorable decision? Or is it too late? Forgive and forget? Reese, who's no stranger to that kind of life, seemed to think so. And the computer (which doesn't REALLY make decisions on protecting or stopping the people it sends to Finch) obviously did, too, otherwise it would have just spit out Annie's number. Are you going soft on me, Person of Interest?
Well-intentioned bad guys and bad-intentioned good guys are the norm for this show, and the biggest bad guy of them all returned last night to help out Finch and Reese. Jailbird Elias used his connections to help Finch call off the bounty hunters who were after Riley, and in return he asked for only one thing. We weren't let in on what that was until the end, but it was a moment that brought the charismatic Elias even further out of the dark. Cooped up with criminals of inferior intellect, Elias had grown bored, and he just wanted a man to play chess with. Finch had no problem sitting down on the other side of the table with him in the final moments of the episode. I frickin' loved that! Enemies with respect for each other. Reese and Finch know thay can't just shut down Elias, and Elias knows he can't just squash Reese and Finch. They let each other go about their business except when their businesses are at odds, which keeps the delicate ecosystem of crime lords and vigilante justice viable.
On the outside, "Triggerman" wasn't the most interesting episode of Person of Interest, but it did a great job of exploring the ideas of right and wrong that have been created for this world.
– Person of Interest beat Grey's Anatomy in the adult demographic last night, 3.0 to 2.9, for the first time this season. Take that, horny doctors.
– How did you like Finch's ability to find Annie and Riley's secret meeting spot from triangulating the location where her computer's desktop wallpaper photo was taken? That's detective work! Completely unbelievable, contrived, and bogus detective work, but detective work all the same!
– Next time I'm out in New York, remind me to sit next to Fusco at the bar. That guy was giving away all his drinks!
– Bear needs to get in on some action. Rip a guy's throat out, castrate a burglar, SOMETHING!
– Enrico Colantoli was particularly good as Elias. Seems like the guy is doing alright in jail.
– Reese is one of those guys who likes 100 percent completion on his missions, as he found the hitman who killed Riley and finished him off at the end. What a badass. And hey Reese, if you don't want the money, I'll take it.