Person of Interest

Season 1 Episode 13

Root Cause

Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Feb 02, 2012 on CBS

Episode Recap

The Machine turns up a number of news article hits.


At the headquarters, Finch pours himself a cup of coffee and checks in over the radio with Reese. Reese is busy "convincing" Mr. Ted Billick to abandon his plan to kill his ex-wife. Once he takes down Billick, Finch tells him that they have a new number and sends him an address.


A woman tells a man over the phone that they have the right guy for what they need.


Scott Powell is a project manager for the city. His wife Leslie, son Owen, and daughter Mia are with him at breakfast. He leaves for work, unaware that Reese is watching him. Reese admires his normal life, but then follows Scott to a park for an unexpected meeting. He clones Scott's phone and listens in as Scott calls about a job. Reese realizes that Scott is out of work, and Finch confirms that cutbacks have put him out of the job eight months ago. They figure that Scott hasn't told his family.


Next, Scott tries to pawn some of his belongings without success and snaps at the owner. He gets a call from the bank and leaves, while Finch reports that Scott has maxed out all of his credit cards except the one he shares with his wife, and that one is at its limit. Reese has Finch call Carter to run a background check and tells his partner that Fusco is handling something else for him. Finch wants to be at the stakeout with Reese, who warns him that it won't be easy.


That night, Reese and Finch park outside of Scott's house and Finch makes a wi-fi capturing device out of a Pringles can. He easily hacks Scott's computer and determines that he spends a lot of time blogging about Congressman Michael Delancey, who he dislikes. Finch finds a large encrypted file and starts to hack it, while Scott gets a blocked call. He takes the call, which is from a temp agency which says that they have a two-day staff position for him at a Delancey fundraiser. Scott gratefully takes the job.


The next day, Finch and Reese continue to follow Scott. Carter calls to tell them that Scott has a clean record, but he recently applied for a firearm license for a rifle. Finch says that they're checking on Scott and she shouldn't worry about him, and then tells Reese that the file contained emails that Scott has been sending to Delancey. Delancey is the one in charge of the cutbacks that cost Scott his job. They realize that the emails are death threats and that Scott plans to assassinate Delancey.


Reese follows Scott into the hotel where the fundraiser is being held. He sees Scott go into an employee entrance and tries to follow him through, but a security man directs him through the main entrance. After Reese ditches his piece, he and Finch go through the metal detector. Reese has Finch watch Delancey while he goes to the basement where Scott and the temp staff have gathered. Meanwhile, one of Delancey's backers warns him to lay off the rhetoric. Finch tells Reese that his system is flagging Scott's emails. It turns out that the emails were copied onto Scott's computer from a remote location.


As Delancey takes the stage, Reese goes to the balcony and spots Scott with what appears to be a rifle. He tackles him and discovers that it's a confetti cannon. As they realize that Scott is being set up, a shadowy figure on the balcony shoots Delancey. The shooter runs off and Reese runs after him, while the people on the floor see Scott and assume that he's the shooter. Meanwhile, the real shooter gets to the street and fades into the crowd. Finch comes out and meets with Reese, and they watch as Scott is taken away by the police.


Back at their headquarters, Finch and Reese watch newscasts on the shooting. Finch says that the people responsible made an extensive effort to set Scott up. However, he warns Reese that Scott is still in danger if the Machine gave them his number. Reese figures that a team is involved, with a hacker and a shooter. He calls Carter, who is angry that Finch said she didn't have to worry about Scott. She tells Reese that the Feds have brought Scott to her precinct, and Reese tells her that Scott wasn't the shooter. When Reese asks for her help, Carter warns that she can't do much.


Carter goes into the observation room to watch as Special Agent Donnelly talks to Scott. Scott says that an employee took him up there but the man isn't on the cameras. There's no record of the temp agency, and the gloves that the man gave Scott test positive for gunshot residue. The hospital calls to tell the police that Delancey didn't make it. Meanwhile, Scott calls his wife Leslie and tells her that it's a mistake. The FBI is searching the house and he tells her to take their kids next door while she cooperates with the police. The agents find a second computer and Leslie tells Scott about it, but he has no idea where it came from.


Reese worries that Scott is still in danger because the killers will take out the patsy with a fake suicide or accident to cover their tracks. Finch finds a Trojan virus in one of Scott's emails, giving the hacker access. He puts the virus into his own system so that they can track it, but warns Reese that the hacker is clever. Finch can't access the IP, but he can tell that the hacker is accessing the plans for a Federal courthouse. Carter calls to tell them that the Feds are taking him to the courthouse for arraignment the next day. Reese tells Finch to send him the most direct route to the courthouse and leaves.


That night, Reese waits along the direct route. The van delivering Scott goes by and Reese rams it, knocks out the Federal agents with a gas grenade, and gets Scott out. As he drives away, Scott realizes that he's the man from the balcony that tackled him. Finch tells Reese that he hasn't been able to unmask the hacker's IP, but he's spotted a vulnerability in his firewall. He gets into the hacker's system, but realizes that the hacker let him in so they could plant a worm that gives access to their electronic systems. Finch tells Reese to destroy his phone and cuts off, and then shuts down the power in the headquarters before leaving.


Out on the streets, Finch buys a disposable prepaid cell phone and calls to leave the phone number for Reese. Meanwhile, Reese takes Scott to a hotel for safekeeping. He then calls the answering machine and gets Finch's new number. Finch has gone to a library and tells Reese that the hacker compromised their systems and he had to abandon the library. He tells Reese that he's called in a political specialist: Zoe Morgan, their former Person of Interest. Finch hangs up without telling him who he's meeting with.


Finch and Zoe go to a private study room and he explains that he's friends with Reese, who is on the run helping another client. Now Finch would like her to return the favor.


Special Agent Donnelly talks to Leslie, asking if her husband had any radical political views. They think that terrorists freed him, and points out that Scott has been out of work for months. Leslie is surprised at the news and Donnelly points out that she doesn't know her husband as well as she thinks.


Finch tells Zoe about how Scott was framed and shows her a list of alternative suspects. Zoe figures that it's something beyond the political, and explains that Delancey owned a contracting company before running for office. The DA's office was preparing an investigation into the company concerning reports of kickbacks and bribes, and Pete Matheson, Delancey's business partner and campaign manager, was the one running the business. Finch and Zoe both figure that Matheson was responsible for the crimes and planned to eliminate Delancey and let him take the blame. They have no proof that Matheson had Delancey killed, and Zoe suggests that they go get some.


Scott watches the news as the reporters try to get a statement from his wife. He wonders why someone chose to make him a patsy, and Reese explains that he fit the role. Someone arrives at the door and Reese attacks the shooter when he comes in. After a brief struggle, Reese tosses the man over the second-story balcony, grabs Scott, and runs off.


Zoe goes to the site of the vigil for Delancey and approaches Matheson. She suggests that Matheson can use her services to deal with the impending investigation. He's surprised to learn that Zoe knows that he and Delancey were business partners, and she offers to bring Scott to him. Matheson denies everything but Zoe gives him her card and suggests she call him if he wants her services. Once she leaves, Matheson makes a call, unaware that Finch is nearby monitoring the whole thing. The hacker, a woman, insists that she is handling things. Matheson wants to know why she's failed to kill Scott, and the hacker says that she'll take care of it. She threatens to blow all of his secrets if he doesn't stop calling her, and tells him to have the payment ready when she fulfills the contract. The hacker then calls the killer and gives him Reese's location on a subway.


On the subway car, Reese finds a transmitter on Scott's shoe and realizes that the killer planted it on him at his house. Scott worries that he has nothing to go back to. However, Reese says that he's been in the same position and tells him that no matter how bad it looks, there's always a way out and it's never too late. Scott asks Reese to promise that he can save him, but when Reese hesitates, Scott demands to talk to his wife before he dies, so that his wife doesn't think he's a killer. Reese says that he knows how it feels, but admits that in his case it was true.


At the next station, Reese gets Scott out of the car and calls Carter. He wants her to set it up so that Scott can call his wife, and insists that Scott needs it. Carter reluctantly agrees and tells Leslie that the neighbors are calling to check in. Leslie takes the phone and Scott apologizes. When she points out that he hid their financial status from her, he admits that he couldn't tell her and promises to make things right. Reese spots the killer coming and gets Scott out before he can say goodbye.


The killer follows them through the station, following the tracking signal. It leads into the woman's bathroom and he goes in. However, he discovers that Reese has put the transmitter in a stall. Reese ambushes the man and they struggle. When the killer goes for his gun, Reese knocks him out with a hand dryer and takes his tracker as he goes.


Scott goes to the police station and turns himself in. Carter is there and looks on in surprise.


Reese meets Finch and turns over the tracking unit. When the hacker calls to confirm if the killer has finished the job, Finch tells her that it isn't quite over. She then starts typing a suicide letter.


Carter gets a text message saying to check her email. It has a voice recording of Matheson telling the hacker that he hired her to kill Delancey. Carter takes a team to Matheson's home and discovers that he's dead, an apparent suicide, with a suicide letter on his computer.


Later, Scott goes home, his name cleared. Reese watches from a distance as Scott is reunited with his wife. Zoe comes to see Reese and he thanks her for helping them catch Matheson. She asks for her payment: a drink with Reese. As she walks away, Finch calls to tell Reese that he controls a company that will be hiring Scott to oversee things. He admits that the hacker has covered her tracks but traced the signal to an address and sent it to the FBI as an anonymous tip. However, the hacker was using the dorm room of an unsuspecting student who was on winter break. Finch says that he'll contact Reese when another number comes up. Meanwhile, Scott catches a brief glimpse of Reese outside.


Finch is at the library when he gets a text message from the hacker. He asks who she is, and the hacker says that her name is Root. Finch asks if she killed Matheson, and Root says that he was a casualty of his own weakness. When Finch wonders why she contacted him, Root says that she wanted to acknowledge a worthy opponent, refers to him by name, and says that she's looking forward to the next time they meet.