There's a darkness to Person of Interest that lives just under its surface. It's within all of its characters, it's in the writing, it's in the look and feel of the show. That darkness took over "The Devil's Share" like an apocalyptic storm as one of the series' biggest stories came to a thunderous ending in what might be Person of Interest's best episode. "The Devil's Share" was an absolute stunner, the kind of television hour that only comes around a few times a year, and it proved once again that this show does not get the respect it deserves from the mainstream. Though to be fair, let's not forget that Season 3 started with that awful Naval shipmen on parade episode.
But "Liberty" is a distant memory that we've all erased from our minds thanks to this thrilling three-episode arc that culminated in a smorgasbord of revenge, redemption, and resolution. "The Devil's Share" didn't go how I thought it would, which was something like an hour of John Reese shooting holes in anyone who stood in his way of avenging Carter's death. Instead, the entire team came together to deal with the grief of a lost team member with fury and justice. And in the end, the decisions made by the writers once again proved to be the correct ones for the series. In summary, I LOVED this episode so much that I've petitioned Congress to allow marriage between a man (or woman) and a television episode and I won't stop fighting until it is law.
And the love began immediately with the opening. Holy. Moly. Set to Johnny Cash's version of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," a powerful song that has been overused in other instances but felt perfect right here, we caught up with the aftermath of Carter's death. This was the greatest sequence the series ever put together, a montage full of gravitas and respect for its fallen team member and the varying mindsets of those her death affected. Shaw and Reese hit the streets and wiped the floor with the blood of those who might know Simmons' whereabouts. Finch was torn up inside and wore a look of such grief that I've never seen Michael Emerson emote on the outside. And the pans of Carter's funeral attended by her ex and her son and her coworkers were absolutely devastating. I shuddered inside. That opening left me in ruins that I may never recover from. It was painful. So let's get hurt all over again and watch this perfection one more time, shall we?
From there, "The Devil's Share" became about finding Reese, who was still smartin' from the bullets he took from Simmons. There was a massive manhunt for Simmons from both sides of the law, but all the U.S. Marshals, Russian mobsters, and vengeful cops looking to get payback for one of their own were nothing compared to a pissed-off Reese. He was bleeding, unshaven, unkempt, and his trademark dress shirt was even wrinkled! This was a version of Reese that only poked his head out every once in a while. But for all the focus on finding Reese and the fear of what this out-of-control tall, dark, and deranged man could do (and he showed us a glimpse in that ridiculously awesome takeover of the hotel Quinn was being held), the episode really wasn't about him. It was about everyone.
Peppered throughout the episode were flashbacks to big moments in the characters' lives when they opened their souls, were faced with ugly truths, and confronted past actions. There was Finch, speaking with a shrink and giving birth to the idea of using The Machine in Nathan's honor out of guilt for what he had inadvertently done to him:
There was Shaw, getting kicked out of medical school for not exhibiting proper bedside manner because she ate energy bars while breaking bad news to patients:
There was Reese taking a verbal beating from an Army higher-up who said he was too soft. Of course, Reese was there as part of a larger operation to take out the officer for selling intelligence to the Chinese:
And there was my favorite of the bunch, Fusco getting his head shrunk by a mandated police psychologist about the shooting of a drug dealer. Except Fusco didn't need his head straightened out because he killed that kid on purpose. Because that scum killed another cop. He was a total badass in this scene, referencing the episode's title–The Devil's Share–as karma for the kid.
Each character shined in these sessions with faceless interrogators, highlighting the curses they're saddled with, and for a few, the curses they'd have to confront in their pursuit of vengeance. Finch was overridden with guilt from Nathan's death, so much so that he'd do anything to honor him. Shaw's inability to connect with others ruined a promising career as a doctor, though it made her a perfect assassin. Reese was reprogrammed as a killing machine for others and was trying to amend that by fighting for what's right. And Fusco's best intentions as a cop and friend turned him toward a dark place.
But only one team member was able to turn things around in "The Devil's Share," and that was Fusco. It was shocking that it wasn't Reese who would take down Simmons given the attention that was put on Reese's revenge plan, but that's what makes Person of Interest so sharp. Instead, the honor went to Fusco, who beat the crap out of Simmons at the airfield Simmons was planning to fly to freedom from. And instead of acting out his old mistakes again, Fusco cuffed Simmons and turned him in. Though the guy is a lovable lug, Fusco has always been attached to HR and his past as a dirty cop. But Fusco hauled Simmons into the precinct as a hero, completely absolving himself from his past sins and ending all doubt about his ability to stay on the good side of things.
It was a perfect wrap to Fusco's history, and a fitting way to usher in the new Fusco, the man who will succeed Carter as the team member on the inside of the police force. Finch told John that killing these bad guys wouldn't honor Carter, who sacrificed so much to make these men accountable legally. John didn't listen as squeezed the trigger of an empty gun a few times (badass!), but Fusco did. The team may all be championing the same cause, but the moral paths they're taking to get there are varied and complex. Their hats are all a different shade of white. Remember when this was just a show about a computer that helped a billionaire and an ex-Army guy catch bad dudes?
But hey, Person of Interest couldn't let Simmons off with a trial or prison sentence. It would be Elias who would finish off Simmons as the filthy cop lay in his hospital bed. Technically, Elias had his henchman do it while he watched, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to. And this was the best way everything could have turned out. Revenge was achieved with Simmons' death, redemption was Fusco's for honoring his dead partner's wishes and severing ties with his sordid past, and resolution was finalized with the end of HR.
You might be tempted to compare the last two excellent episodes of Person of Interest and try to rank them against each other, but don't! Can't they both be great? They were each fantastic in their own way, and played off each other. "The Crossing" needed "The Devil's Share" just as badly as "The Devil's Share" needed "The Crossing." Whereas "The Crossing" played out more like an action-packed mystery, "The Devil's Share" was more psychological and dark. I'll take either of them over any other network drama currently on the air.
– The cinematography and direction of "The Devil's Share" was the best the show has ever looked. That sequence just inside the hotel with the strobing lights gave me epilepsy but it was so worth it.
– I didn't talk much about Root in the body of the story but boy do we have lots to talk about here. Given the way she's been used this season and because she is the greatest thing ever (<3 <3 <3 <3 <3) it's not surprising that Person of Interest found a way to tangle her into the team. She'll never fully be trusted, and rightfully so because she's a crazy bitch, but she's invaluable to the team. She's essentially a walking, talking representation of The Machine, and as a disciple of old nuts-and-bolts, she's practically sworn to do its bidding. That almost makes her harmless as long as she sticks with her main directive and as long as The Machine never wishes harm upon Reese, Finch, and Shaw and recognizes them as its protectors. And now she's sticking around Finch's library. "We have a larger fight ahead of us," Root said to Finch. "I think we should be together when that begins. Don't you?" The way Person of Interest has structured itself, that fight could be one of many things. Is it against Control and the mystery woman in the government? Is it against that hacker collective? Is it against stupid Norwegian viral music videos?
– Fusco, seeing Root in the car with him: "You know, if you had told me about the carpool arrangements, I would have drove separately." And har har Fusco was named after Lionel the lion cub.
– Shaw, watching Root shoot up the joint: "Okay, that was kinda hot." Yeeeeeeup.
– The episode began and ended with a machine. The opening showed Reese's heartbeat on a monitor, the ending showed Simmons' flatline. The Machine... so instrumental in life and death.