I'm not afraid to admit that sometimes I have no idea what's happening on Person of Interest. The rewind button is definitely my friend while watching The Adventures of Finch and the Leg Shooter, and I found myself backing things up quite often during last night's "Trojan Horse." I can only blame so much of my disorientation on feeling out of the loop because of the show's extended break and a few life epiphanies achieved during my recent vacation (turns out your core values can experience quite a jolt when you meet a man who's happy as can be selling noodles for a buck on a dirt road; meanwhile, I stress out over making fun of Revolution). The fact of the matter is, Person of Interest is a deeply complex series that never stops expanding, and just when you think you've caught up, the show is already speeding around the block again.
"Trojan Horse" was the type of POI episode that's very emblematic of the show's constant movement. Things started vanilla before exponentially branching out by the end, like Russian nesting dolls finishing with the old can 'o nuts spring-loaded snakes gag. And if you really want to push it, you could say that the way things unfolded was a perfect metaphor for the events of the episode and the idea of a Trojan Horse.
This week, Reese and Finch investigated the number of Monica Jacobs, a senior vice president of strategy at a networking company called Rylatech, and right away we knew the geek speak would flow like a horde of computer nerds leaving a LAN party. Finch quickly infiltrated Rylatech by getting hired as an IT guy (I like to think that he's also responsible for getting someone fired in order to open up a spot for himself), and instantly it was "self-upgrading firmware" this, and "applets and root kits" that. Person of Interest relishes in speaking over our heads when it comes to techno-babble, and I had to hire Best Buy's Geek Squad to come over just to translate for me.
But what Person of Interest does well is make sure that this computer talk isn't that important (and it wouldn't surprise me if someone with a pocket protector somewhere was pretty upset over inconsistencies with the jargon). The real root of the story was the ever-exciting (sarcasm meter at a 7) field of corporate espionage, and we were led to believe that Monica was being targeted by rival companies looking to gain advantages through planted spies. In fact, one Rylatech employee recently died under mysterious circumstances. Was he a spy? Was he a victim? Who did he really work for? And was this episode going to get any more exciting?
YES! By the end, Rylatech became the epicenter of national security leakage and a sieve for government secrets making their way to China. Well, that escalated quickly! But that wasn't all. The Chinese spy circuit was just a fraction of the real problem: Our old British friend Greer (he's the one who sat with Kara Stanton in the hospital bed in "Dead Reckoning") was using Rylatech and one of its clients—oh just THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE!!!—as an entry point to spread more of his malware for his eeeevil plan to infect The Machine. What a jerk.
"Trojan Horse" was another example of Person of Interest playing the slow game effectively, and subverting expectations by remaining unpredictable. And the unpredictability can't exist without Person of Interest being occasionally entirely predictable, as "Proteus" was. It all becomes set up for twists like the Rylatech president being the actual man behind the spy games and a dick like Head of Product Development Ross (set up early in the episode as Monica's nemesis) being one of the "good" guys. I didn't see that twist coming, and it was really appreciated. I swear, this show is just playing games with us. And I don't mind.
But "Trojan Horse" had way more to do than just deal with international espionage and the destruction of domestic computer networks (like that would be enough for Person of Interest). Badass Samantha Shaw (Sarah Shahi) returned for the evening for the first time since her debut in the excellent "Relevance," and though her action was much more toned-down this time around, she ended up grabbing some intel on Root and running off after her, giving fanfic writers plenty of ammo to fuel their sapphic fantasies. The particularly interesting detail was Finch offering her a spot in his gang; she refused again, but what if she'd said yes? Do we want her to be part of Finch and Reese's operation? I gotta say no. Keep Shaw as an independent contractor and let her pop in and out from time to time to help.
The real big development of the episode came with our homie Cal Beecher, whose role in HR had been murky. But we finally learned the truth: He was mostly innocent all along, being played by HR to dirty Szymanski. And once Quinn learned that Cal had been poking around to discover exactly who was behind what, it was curtains for him as Quinn staged a hit. It was a legitimately sad moment, a tragic end for a character who didn't deserve to be caught up in this mess. Well I hope you feel bad now, Carter, because I sure feel like a jerk.
"Trojan Horse" was a solid episode of Person of Interest that unfolded slowly over the hour before going totally bonkers in the last 10 minutes. Things are coming into focus as we head into the final three-episode stretch, but there's still a lot of work to do with Control, Root, and Quinn still running around. Will all three find bullets in their legs by the finale, or will one or two escape to Season 3?
NOTES OF INTEREST
– The line of the night goes to Shaw, who totally burned Reese when she told Finch: "You think I should have a hobby. Now what would that be? Hanging around your derelict library with you, your poorly socialized guard dog... and Bear here?" Ouch! I dare you to say that to Reese's face, Shaw!
– Finch to Bear: "Traitor!" Gotta agree with Finch, Bear didn't even bark when Shaw broke in.
– Monica's squirrely assistant Jerome goes down as one of the worst characters this show has ever given us. I was very happy when he died.
– I like how on his first day of work, Finch walked into the office talking loudly to himself (actually to Reese). His coworkers must have thought, "Oh boy, another weirdo IT guy with imaginary friends."
– I went halfway across the globe for two weeks, came back, and didn't miss a single episode of Person of Interest. And it turns out I can do it all again and still not miss another episode of Person of Interest. CBS's scheduling has been (March) MADNESS, and after waiting three weeks for last night's new episode of POI, we'll have to wait three more for the next installment. This is just how television scheduling is, guys. Try not to get too upset about it.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom