I have to say I was slightly disappointed with this episode of Person of Interest, partially because I pre-judged it. This is Die-Hard on a plane, with 4C being the seat number of a programmer being escorted out of the country by armed guards. Mr. Reese (Jim Caviezel) has been placed on the plane by someone who hacked the flight booking system, kicking him off a flight to Istanbul and putting him instead on this flight, which has a first stop in Rome.
There’s been speculation online about how Mr. Reese would return to the fold after quitting in the last couple of episodes. One very interesting theory was that he, too is an analog interface to the Machine, like #Root (Amy Acker). Unfortunately, #Root has taken-up the job with substantially more zeal than Mr. Reese and so is the sole beneficiary of the Machine’s wisdom. I was hoping therefore for the Machine to give him a little call and a pep-talk, or perhaps for #Root to meet him at Rome airport with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Alas, this was not to be.
By the conclusion of the flight, we have several heads kicked, including that of an Operative from the same assassination group as Miss Shaw (Sarah Shahi), the aforementioned Government agents doing the escorting, two Mossad agents and two Colombian gang members, one of whom, posing as a member of the flight crew, manages to render the pilots unconscious and tries to crash the plane.
The episode could have gone two ways here. First, it could have gone the Doctor Who route, from the Series 7 episode, The Bells of St. John. Here, the Doctor merely yanks on the controls and with some effort rights a 500,000KG plane full of passengers and sends it on its way. The second was what this episode did, which was a little deus-ex-machina for my liking. With Mr. Reese still fighting the Kamikaze Colombian, Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson), pulls out some handy flight controls and uses them to land the plane. Person of Interest has so-far been well-plotted, cleverly written and more-or-less plausible to date, and this solution might have flown (pun intended) in a show from the early 90’s or in something like the short-lived Threshold (2005) but here it’s just a rubbish conclusion to an otherwise reasonable tale.
We do, however get a few good character moments. The first is in the plane’s hold where Mr. Reese confronts the young programmer, with Mr. Finch on the line, and finally expresses how angry he is with computer programs being used to solve large human problems, and the hubris of the programmers for thinking they know the answers.
The second is where Miss Shaw confronts her handler in a restaurant, and, having successfully drugged him, is asked if her new employers are treating her well. This is despite his being ordered on several occasions to kill her.
The third is back in Rome, where Mr. Finch, suitably chastened, admits to Mr. Reese that he designed the Machine in such a way as to give as much latitude to its human agents as possible. This is the reason it only gives out numbers rather than background checks, assessments and other detail.
Whether it was the Machine that engineered this meeting, or whether it was #Root doesn’t seem to matter at this point (but hopefully will later), as the two compatriots walk off into the sunset to fight another day.
The band is back together again. It’s just a pity it took such a rubbish episode to make it happen.