Person of Interest - S04E01 - Panopticon
Previously on Person of Interest... 3 awesome years of captive storytelling, ruthless action and some damned fine suits.
But seriously, Year One introduced us to the core members of the show:
Harold Finch (Michael Emmerson... YAY!!!), a genius computer science programmer, whose previous injuries have left him with limited movement, and obfuscated resources that seemed at times to be without limit and access to 'The Machine' which provided him with the Social Security number of a person whose immediate future was either that of a criminal or a victim.
John Reese (Jim Caveizel... who IS Jesus), an ex-cia black-ops specialist whose field experience and personal detachment from events is second to none, hired by Finch to execute interventions covertly and provide either protection or a thoroughly unleasant whupping.
Detective Jocelyn Carter (Taraji P. Henson).... yeah, watch from the beginning... this is going to be chock full of spoilers anyway, so you might as well have a reason to check out the earlier seasons other than my on-going praise. Suffice to say, Carter is an awesome character and a joy to watch.
Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), a dirty cop, has red hands from his previous exploits with the corrupt police faction simply referred to as 'HR'. Fusco was 'recruited' and then subsequently handled by Reese to become a semi-active member of the group. His moments of bad-ass are outstanding...
The first season are the random encounters, gaining experience, allowing the characters to find their equillibrium and ultimately to find it's niche with the audience, but most importantly lays the ground work for some of the characters that will be recurring, including Carl Elias (Enrico Collantoni... YAY!!!), Root (Amy Acker... Hubba hubba... YAY!!!), and a whole host of faces you'll be glad to see coming back as the overall plot progresses. The characters will find themselves dealing with the CIA, the NYPD and their 'HR', factions within the government who operate on a strictly black budget and also groups whose endgame will be to create and engage a new artificial intelligence known as 'Samaritan'.
Season 2 will bring to light and throughly embroil you with teh machinations of 'HR', who become the primary heel for the next year and a half, and with good reason, but will also introduce Shaw (Sarah Shahi... Hubba hubba... YAY!!!), also ex-cia, but due to her medical condition makes her an outstanding killer, and will make Root a force to be reckoned with.
Season 3 brings us death. Lots of it. And by half way through the season, New York is virtually burning, 'HR' has fallen, Reese is pissed and murdering bad guys like it was going out of fashion, Finch is already getting wind of a terrifiying development while recruiting Shaw to work as a mainstay team member and is dealing with the fall-out that was Root's inclusion in to the Machine's 'Big Picture' and her subsequent unique connection to the Machine, all in time for the Season 3 finale where Samaritan is brought online and is hunting for them all with only one order: kill them without mercy. And so, the team go dark and find themselves falling in to character with personas that have been created by 'The Machine' that will best hide them from Samaritan's all-seeing-eye.
SEASON 4!!! And have I been looking forward to this? Oh yes... yes I have...
Panopticon is set several months later, and, as the extended trailer promised, a young man standing at a bar is assassinated by a hot blonde who casually confirms that he's right: everyone that is even faintly aware of the existence of some super computer and its inclusion in to a mass-surveillance network is being rubbed out. She's even kind enough to inform him that two others had figured it out and was able to inform him when and where they would die, right before she shoots him as Samaritan provides the opportunity and then 'forgets' seeing her.
Senator Ross Garrison (John Doman), public servant and puppet-on-a-string, sees fit to give John Greer (John Nolan - uncle to Christopher and Jonathan Nolan) a quick update on how efficient Samaritan has been and then poses the issue of accountability, noting that Decima Technlogies (the corporation that Greer and the late Lambert both surfaced from) had been effectively dismantled and thusly leaving the American Government holding the baby should the public ever discover that the NSA feeds that provide Samaritan with its global coverage should ever come under scrutiny. Greer is all for having Garrison shot like everyone else, but Samaritan, whose new 'voice' is that of a black screen printing underlined, white capital letters, simply denies him the priviledge. Upon asking, Greer is informed that Samaritan's search for the Finch and the rest is 'ongoing'.
Enter Shaw. Now working on the perfume and make-up desk in a department store, Samaritan simply determines that this particular entity is a 'non-threat', despite that she's the most incompetent saleswoman EVER... 'Huh, must be allergic...' being her reaction to those she effectively pepper sprays with the latest fragrances. Also, enter Root. Waiting for a make-over and to remind her to do what her phone tells her and to stay in character, implying that the time will come for her to go out and hurt people again.
Enter John Reese, now John Riley, detective for the NYPD narcotics division with the single most effective means by which to avoid paperwork:
Officer: 'Sir? Don't you need to file a report? Firing you service weapon?'
Reese: 'It wasn't my weapon.'
Enter Harold Finch aka. Professor H. Whistler, lecturing today on the ethics of high frequency decision making to a virtually empty auditorium, lays down the law when he states that he will not be available most of the time, won't be negotiated with and is hiding Bear under his desk. A member of the faculty does him the kindness of reading and spell checking his alleged dissertation on the 'Ethical Considerations of High Frequency Econometrics' and points out that he was quite stumped at the $9m budget Finch had apparently used in order to achieve this feat of academic engineering, and reminding him that dogs are not permitted within campus buildings.
Enter Fusco. On a roof top. With Reese.
Turns out the body up there is already a suspicious thing and Fusco really wants to be in on what's going on, unfortunately to no avail, since Reese has no idea what's going on himself. But there are some wire strippers up there and Reese is fairly certain something's going on with this scene - Fusco, not so much.
Shaw and Reese turn up to the event on their phone's calendar, a self-help seminar which seemingly drops inadvertent suggestions. They have no idea why they are there until they are about to leave and finally, a phone rings and a new set of numbers are provided. Finally, Reese and Shaw are back in the game! A sentiment that Finch does not share, reiterating that ANY movement that goes beyond the parameters of their alternate identities wil draw the attention of Samaritan and the trigger-happy nut jobs that go where it tells them to.
A hardware store; an Egyptian store owner and his son are confronted by a pretty nasty piece of work who is insistent on getting an untapped communications network up and running for reasons currently unknown. Reese makes an introduction, but the father, whose son has been clearly threatened, has no interest in working with the cops - possibly due to having a negative customer experience with 'HR'.
Events spiral swiftly out of control as Reese and Fusco note that Ali is actually tracking the mobile phone he has just given to the goon and Fusco spots the store owner entering a text. Reese catches up with their vehicle and snatches the phone in order to dispose of it before the text arrives and detonates with some aplomb.
One interview room later, Reese and Fusco ascertain that the son is in serious jepordy and go looking for him at the store, only to discover that the store is ruined and the son has been kidnapped. Cue call from aggitated gangster who cooly scolds Ali for attempting to kill him and that if he doesn't get the network up and running by the night, his son will be killed. Fusco and Ali then watch as Reese puts on his game face and informs them that he will be getting the boy back. A quick call to Shaw to give her the chance to get involved receives a stern reminder that this kind of thing is going to get them noticed. His assurances of a covert operation fall on deaf ears. They aren't wrong...
Next scene: John reese, in a leather jacket and balaclava, weilding a revolving grenade launcher, standing in the middle of a street, looking at a bar front with 'that look' in his eyes.
Madness ensues. Some dude gets some serious air and velocity out of the remaining front window: I did laugh at the sudden and unflinching stop to which the unnamed douchebag finally succumbs to inertia. He discovers the existance of 'The Whale' only to knocked out by Shaw weilding a Asp baton and relatively unimpressed grimace.
Finch knows what the dissertation is and is flicking through it as Root appears and lays the verbal smack-down on Finch's reluctance to get involved. And again, Root refers to 'The Machine' as a God and draws multiple parallels, while at the same time she warns him that while Samaritan has near unlimited resources, including governement agencies that don't even know they're involved and unscrupulous technical corporations who have a knack for getting killers involved, her Goddess (which is considerably more appropriate under the circumstances) has five operatives protecting her, '...6 if you count the dog.'. (And you have to count Bear. Because he's as hard core as Fusco, Reese and Shaw combined).
Reese wakes up and is determined to find the son. Shaw is still receiving invites to meet 'ROMEO'. To which she declines with the appropriate 'Asshat' insult. Reese makes a plan, while Finch introduces himself to Ali and to Ali's network: namely the antennas that have been in place since the 60's. Reese, however, has gone to see Elias. Elias can't help much but he can inform him that 'The Whale' is not a person but a drugs shipment that 'HR' used to operate but recently has had problems distributing. Reese then goes on to do the unthinkable: he hires Elias for a job.
Finch and Ali get the network in place and confirm the network is ready only to find out that the gangsters are indeed going to betray them. Then they call Reese to set the plan in motion. SHaw is in place with a high powered, silence sniping rifle and the game is afoot!
Again, Reese is reminded that he has to 'play by the rules'... and he does... sort of...
The goons leave the house only to have the RV smashed off the road by a truck driven by Elias' right hand man, who then confiscates one of their phones. Shaw engages the men leaving the house with lethal force, while Detective Reese... ahem, Riley, deduces that the RV was leaving the house and that it looked like a gang war action and enters the building, acquiring an AK47 and goes for the boy. Who has already been moved. Shaw can't quite get the shot, but Reese is Reese and he secures the boy with efficient brutality. When the police turn up, the officer from earlier recognises Detective Riley from earlier and they begin clear up.
Ali and son have a heart-felt discussion about their futures and the store, concluding that they are the store wherever it ends up being.
At the gang house, a familiar, unnamed blonde turns up and deduces at a glance that this was clearly not a gangland shooting, and promptly dumps her FBI badge and walks away enigmatically.
Reese and Finch have a chat in the park, Root and Shaw talk shop over make-overs and Fusco is introduced to his new partner: Detective John Riley. A silent moment as Reese realises that he is sitting in Carter's old place and all Fusco can say to make it all okay is, 'Welcome to the 8th.' Somehow it seems fitting. Carter would approve.
Shaw finally shows up for her date, but it looks like she's getting stood up. As she's about to leave, a black van pulls up and 'ROMEO' asks if she's interested in being a wheel man for what looks like some kind of break-in and burglary. She couldn't be quicker getting in to the van.
Finch, however, has homework. He goes through the typos in the dissertation and discovers The Machine is asking him to check out a book on 20th Century engineering. Since the library was compromised, they've not had a place to go and get the set-up and stock-pile their gear (though Reese does have an arsenal stashed someplace, evidently), but the promise of Finch's own Bat-Cave is found deep under Manhattan and the promise of an outstanding Season 4 becomes more and more likely.
For a season starting episode, I couldn't have asked for more. This was an absolutely brilliant episode with all the fun and intrigue that goes with the terriroty of Peron of Interest. The crew are obviously loving the job, the series has seen the highest U.S. viewing figures of most shows, on par with the 3rd season of The Walking Dead (though Walking Dead are now boasting the 15m viewer mark) and surpassing Game of Thrones by far. It's fair to say that Person of Interest is, without doubt, my favourite show. Long may that continue!