The debate-turned-brawl over Samantha Shaw's compatibility with Reese and Finch isn't likely to entirely subside after "Ragovor," but I'm hoping that just for an hour, Shaw-haters stopped throwing punches and started dishing out very squeezy hugs. The episode focused on our pretty killer robot, yet it still served every one of the show's character (except for a vacationing Fusco). And it was FANTASTIC. "Ragovor" was by far the best episode of this young third season, and another one of those ideal "blueprint episodes" whose formula Person of Interest should continue to follow as it evolves.
It's as if the Person of Interest writers' room heard the caterwauling from the vocal anti-Shaw alliance, but instead of succumbing to their complaints, decided to introduce Shaw all over again. Taking up the pen was David Slack, who has written some of the series best episodes, including a personal favorite of mine, "Prisoner's Dilemma," and the fan-favorite "Zero Day," and he wrung out some eyeballs by adding an effective glimmer of humanity to the femme assassin previously known for cracking wise without cracking a smile. "Ragovor" was "Relevance 2: Shaw's Boogaloo," and I loved every minute of it.
This week's number belonged to a wee lass named Gen, who lived in a ghetto full of drug dealers and other two-bit criminals. An import from Russia, the 10-year-old girl had mostly raised herself, and she ditched princess tea parties to dabble in a hobby passed down to her by her late KGB grandpa: spying! Gen had her whole building wired to some Fisher-Price-type cassette tape recorders, and she made a habit of snooping on her neighbors, collecting all sorts of naughty incriminating conversations on good ol' fashioned analog media. Such a hipster move, Gen. Naturally, bad guys don't like their dealings preserved for the record books, and they wanted the tapes. Naturally, it was time for Reese, Finch, and Shaw to f*ck up some bad guys.
Shaw was sent in to check out Gen (I don't know why Shaw was picked, probably because it worked better for the script that way), and there's no better way to thaw out an ice queen than to hold a mirror to her face and make her feel like she's 10 again. Despite her protest of "Fine with me, I hate kids," Shaw reluctantly took an instant liking to Gen because the kid was such a badass herself. Not only did Gen boast some above-average counterintelligence moves, she had an impressive knowledge of espionage agencies and looked up to Shaw. And when Shaw and Gen were hiding in the bowels of Gen's building while on the run from scary Eastern Europeans, Shaw's job became a full Ripley-and-Newt-from-Aliens relationship and it was CUTE. Gen's inquisitiveness and admiration for Shaw slowly broke off chunks of frigidness from the stone-cold woman; it was like watching the human version of those glaciers that are falling apart and splashing into the Arctic.
Eventually Shaw did lose Gen to the Russkies, and her entire demeanor went from "irritated babysitter" to "big sister out for blood." Despite a broken wing and Finch's insistence that she stand down and heal, Shaw was like, "F THAT! I'm getting this kid back because this is how I work out my deep-rooted personal issues!" except she didn't say it with her mouth, she said it with her eyes and her guns. The details of how Shaw got to Gen aren't that important because "Ragorov" was working on an emotional level, and that emotion ran on the same juice that allows 100-pound mothers to flip over an SUV when their baby is stuck beneath it. In fact, instead of details, let's just enjoy a gallery of pictures and .GIFs that show off how fearsome Shaw was in this episode once Gen was taken from her.
Heightening this display of badassery were flashbacks to 1993 when Shaw was just a kid, let's say about Gen years old. They were not good times. Shaw had just gotten into a car accident with her dad, her dad didn't survive, and Shaw was unfazed and asked the friendly firefighter for a sandwich. One could argue that it was slightly cheap to show just this one moment, but it was so direct and well-written, without any sappiness to it, that it captured the essence of Shaw and what she was trying to overcome in the present day—her lack of emotion and attachment. Had she always been so level that not even her dad's death affected her? Or was that THE moment when her emotions were ripped away and she set out on a path to become the perfect killer? This was exactly what the character of Shaw needed.
In the near-final moments of the episode, Shaw walked Gen to her first day of hard-to-get-into prep school for their sweet goodbye, and then it was Kleenex time. "I'm just not wired for this kind of stuff, kid," Shaw said when Gen handed her a keepsake. "I know," Gen said. "I figured you out. It's not that you don't have feelings, it's just like, the volume is turned way down, like the sound on an old tape. The voices are there, you just have to listen. Bye Shaw." Then Shaw grabbed Gen and gave her what Shaw must think is a hug, which looked like what it would feel like to be embraced by Robocop. "You're hurting me," Gen said with a smirk, and then Shaw did some weird and perfect pat-down thing on Gen and sent her on a way. All without a word. Here, look at some pictures while I take a minute to collect myself.
As all this was going on, Reese and Finch were figuring out the answers to exactly WHY bad guys wanted Gen, tying their story to Shaw's nicely and taking care of the mythology aspect of the series. Gen had audio-snooped on some of Detective Terney's HR business and had proof that HR was in the business of manufacturing drugs, and not just any drug, some form of super eat-someone's-face bath salts! It led to a great industrial-area gravel parking-lot brawl between Reese and Terney, with Reese disappearing just as Terney's backup arrived.
In the long run, it meant Finch had evidence (the tapes) against HR should they choose to use it. But in the episode's third great storyline, Carter made it known that they shouldn't take steps against HR until they find the ringleader (Alonzo Quinn) to cut the proverbial head off the dirty pig. With Carter getting closer and closer to finding out the truth, Dirty Laskey pulled her aside for a drink to figure out what she knew, and Carter was like WHAT and let Laskey know that she knew he was corrupt the entire time. And then Laskey had the nerve to call her an arrogant bitch who didn't know her place. OH NO LASKEY DIDN'T! But Carter is harder than week-old dog poop and she told him off like an angry mom, shot the shady HR cop/bartender that had the shotgun behind the bar, and used Laskey's gun to do it. By the balls, kid! You're screwed! Now Laskey is going to be working for Carter as her inside man in HR. OH SNAP. This was the most awesome thing Carter has done.
But that wasn't all. In the final FINAL moments, Shaw was all tuckered out from her day of shooting guys and rescuing a little girl when she was woken from her dreams of shooting guys and eating raw meat by... ROOT. And a stun gun. And these words: "Did you miss me? We're going to have so much fun together." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Hell and yes.
"Ragovor" ruled, plain and simple. Every person on the team had their moments, but the hour belonged to Shaw. There are some people who will never be comfortable with someone else sharing the spotlight with Reese and Finch, but Shaw just needs some time to grow. By breaking the ice on her emotions, she's giving something a chance she never thought she would. Shouldn't you give her the same chance?
– The .GIF above is one of my favorite Reese punches of the series. Gotta love that smile!
– Big fist-bump to Sara Shahi for putting in a great performance this week. She showed just enough increasing cracks and vulnerability as the episode went on, but still stayed well within the character. High-fives to the rest of the cast as well, especially Taraji P. Henson in her final scene. Wow! You could tell everyone had a lot of fun in this episode.
– The episode's title, "Ragovor," means "conversation," perhaps an ode to the fantastic Gene Hackman film "The Conversation."
– This kind of episode is exactly what Person of Interest should be. Character exploration and plenty of action in the vein of an old '80s action series.
– That was some outstanding interplay between Reese, Finch, and Shaw over their private channel, especially when Reese and Finch switched to their own line and Shaw interjected because she bugged Finch's office and heard the whole conversation. But where is this bug? I'm thinking Shaw but it up Bear's butt. Or on his collar.
– Shaw: "We're not any agency, we're just a... I don't even know what we are. To be honest, I'm only in it for the dog." Gen: "YOU GUYS HAVE A DOG!?!?" Haha, adorable.
– Shaw: "Hey Finch, how much do you know about chemistry?" Finch: "Enough." And then... KABOOM.
– Why did Reese put his gun away when he was with Terney? Does he respect the code of a "fighting chance" when dealing with villains? Because that's badass.