‘The Equalizer’ meets ‘Minority Report’. That’s the comparison I was trying to make in last week’s recap of ‘Person of Interest’, but I couldn’t think of the second half. Of course, the show’s magic computer that predicts criminal behavior is reminiscent of the Pre-Crime system in ‘Minority Report’. I’m annoyed that I didn’t make that connection earlier. Anyway, I honestly don’t know how I feel about ‘Person of Interest’ yet. Last week’s second episode wasn’t much of an improvement over the underwhelming series premiere. I want to think that this show has the potential to turn into something interesting, but it’s really not there yet.
In ‘Ghosts’, Mr. Finch’s computer spits out the Social Security Number of a teenage girl who has been dead for two years. My obvious assumption here was that he and Reese would be dealing with a case of identity theft. Someone must have stolen the girl’s SSN, right? I guess that was too sensible. Instead, it turns out that the girl is still alive. When her family was murdered by a hit man, the killer couldn’t bring himself to whack a kid, so he let her run. She’s been living off the grid ever since.
Now that a couple years have passed, her parents’ estate is about to come out of probate, which will release a very valuable piece of property into her uncle’s hands… unless the girl comes forward to claim her inheritance. She’s too scared to do that, because her father’s shady business partner (who already pulls her uncle’s strings) was behind the murder, and has hired a new assassin to make sure she stays dead this time.
Finch hides the girl in a hotel while Reese takes care of the business partner. When the assassin finds them at the hotel, they have to engage in a game of cat and mouse until Reese can show up and save the day.
The show keeps trying to play Reese as a total badass, but then keeps undercutting that by making him ultimately a pansy. Take, for instance, the opening scene, a standalone mission in which Reese saves a man from being murdered by two thugs in an elevator. After sounds of gunfire, we see that Reese of course got the upper hand. When the elevator doors open, he walks out confidently with the two baddies seemingly dead on the floor behind him. But then we hear them moaning and realize that he just shot them in the legs. He shoots everybody in the legs. Only two episodes in, and this is already turning comical. Isn’t CBS the network behind a dozen different ‘CSI’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ and similar shows that routinely feature gruesome violence and murder? Why is this one so tame?
Also, as I said last week, Jim Caviezel is a pretty terrible actor. He has no charisma at all.
Of more interest, Reese tries to snoop on Finch to learn more about him. He tracks him to an office, where it turns out that Finch has been employed for 17 years as “Harold,” the IT guy. At the same time, Finch secretly owns the entire company. This is his cover identity, hiding in plain sight. After being found out by Reese, Finch arranges for Harold to be “transferred” and just walks away from the job.
The episode also has some flashbacks to 2002 and 2007, where we see Finch and a partner (Brett Cullen from ‘Lost’) building the magic computer network for the government. At those times, Finch didn’t seem too concerned about the “irrelevant data” on individual crimes. Presumably, something must have happened to his partner to change his mind. (A bust of the partner’s face is seen in the lobby of Finch’s office building, identified as the company’s Founder.)
If the series can flesh out some of that backstory better, it could form the basis for an interesting “mythology” story arc. I’d also prefer if the show abandoned the case-of-the-week structure and focus on a recurring serial narrative, but that’s probably not in the cards. At the very least, Reese needs to be made into less of a joke. Somehow.