We get a masterpiece of an episode like this one!
Jonathan Nolan steps in to co-write the story on this crucial episode (and we thought that last week's clarified a lot of stuff and had a surprise ending!)--and it shows. Not that the other writers have done poorly under his supervision, but you can tell the intensity of Jonathan's pen, and the expert pacing of what is revealed when.
His brother, Chris, had said after The Dark Knight was released that he was not going to do the third movie until his brother had come up with a script that topped that one. I was originally hopeful yet concerned about this summer's upcoming The Dark Knight Rises when I heard it was definitely being made well over a year ago, because I was skeptical that Jonathan could top it. With Person of Interest, that skepticism has progressively faded--and now, with this episode, all doubt has been eradicated. "Many Happy Returns" is his best work yet!
The acting by Caviezel, Emerson, and Henson is so well-done; this episode required that they act more with their unspoken thoughts/feelings than even their superbly written lines--and they each do an amazing job. Despite the previews, Caviezel's handling of Reese is not one-note (not that it ever has been)--we witness the transformation as he goes through virtually every possible human emotion as the episode--backstory and present--develops.
In the midst of all of the tension and instensity of the stories, all three leads I mentioned (sorry Fusco fans, but this one's not about him) have a scene that is powerful and endearing in its simplicity of portraying their character's compassion. Reese's game of checkers with the blind elderly man got me near the start, then I was further moved along with Carter through her emotional progression as she discovers the truth about Reese's past--and present--both at Jessica's mother's home and near the end at her office. But I have to admit--the true lump-in-my throat came at the end, in the final few seconds, with an unexpected very brief Finch moment for which Michael Emerson deserves an Emmy in my opinion.
I simply can't wait for the final two episodes, but I know I'll be missing the season once they're over--September siimply won't be able to get here soon enough this year!