Person of Interest - S04E06 - Pretenders
So, my review of episode six can be pretty much summed up with a single, telling picture. A little something that the props department handed to Jim Caviezel and said, 'Bet you you can't look casual carrying one of these puppies...'
'Nuff said, really...
As episode starters go, we're informed that a guy 'jumped' out of a building to become sidewalk salsa and the police aren't really paying any real attention to it, while Samaritan is aware of the communications going between who ever assisted the jumper and the owner apparent of the truck (or at least its cargo). But John isn't involved - he's beating up a man in an eaterie because the man in question is annoyed that the pastry chef has slept with his wife and intends to shotgun him to death (like there's much of a grey area when it comes to shotguns...).
And so I want to point out something that's intrinsically important to this series - Ramin Djawadi.
That's him. He's the chap responsible for some of the most notable scores in television and movie soundtracks at the moment. The 'Peter Dinklage Tune' for Game of Thrones, the power guitars of Pacific Rim, the futuristist tones of the the first Iron Man movie, the one good thing about Blade: Trinty and most recently Dracula Untold... and that's just the stuff I've been paying attention to (oh, and the Strain, now... took my time over that one...).
I just want to take a moment and praise this chap for a job damned well done. Each of these shows and films have acquired a soundtrack that simply buries itself into your collective memories because of their simple, yet provocatively enduring, grace. When it comes to doing a themed piece of music for a project most of Hollywood is looking toward this fellow with dollarsigns for eyes due to the atttractive nature of the sound he attaches to the project: whenever John Reese gets in to a serious scrap or Finch suddenly finds himself getting hacked by Samaritan the music associated with the scene is urgent and threatening, leading to the very element of what Person of Interest is: a thriller. And that sums up Djawadi's music, it's thrilling! So there.
Oh, and while the intro music to The Strain is short, it is so unbelieveably effective - the whole Armenian hammer dulcimer tone is utterly compelling. Just saying...
Shaw however is actually not enjoying her part of the puzzle, in so much that she gives the most wonderful (and sexiest) grunt of annoyance to appear on television EVER! I dare you not to find it attractive. I dare a woman not to feel for her, given that her objective works in an insurance office on her day off and happens to perhaps the most boring fellow she has had to track yet.
Yup... the costume department has done a wonderful job trying to make him look both boring and interesting at the same time, and yet there's a bit of controversy about this particular character, as Shaw finds out as Walter slips up as he consoles the sister of the man that jumped at the beginning of the episode, implying that he is in some way involved with the investigation surrounding the man's demise. Walter, it appears is leading soemthing of a double life, which is where the likeness to Walter Mitty abruptly ends, in my mind.
You see, there's a few folk out there that believe that Walter is actually Person of Interest's nod to Thruber's short story character, and perhaps it is, but in that case I'm not impressed as Walter Dang is in fact utterly proactive, while Mitty is entirely passive and henpecked. And don't get me started on Ben Stiller. Seriously. That guy... he..., makes me all kinds of angry.
But Shaw isn't going to get to play with Walter for much longer and manages to escape the insurance company without having to threaten anyone... sadly. Instead she's heading back to the Finch Cave (yup... looks like I'm sticking with that one...) to play Nerd while Finch is over in Hong Kong attending a conference as Prof. Whistler, amongst other objectives, but more about that later.
Reese is following Walter as he scales the hotel that Abel fell from and Reese notices that Walter is packing a firearm, one which Shaw notes is unregistered and therefore breaks with Walter's hitherto spotless record, and as the two of them investigate further, Shaw discovers that the SIM card that Walter swapped earlier is, in fact, from Abel's phone. How did he acquire it and what does he have to do with Abel's 'flying squirrel impression'. Suffice to say, Walter is anything but the mild mannered insurance underwriter that he has been portraying, and why has his number come up?
Further searching has turned up that there is no digital link between Abel and Walter, but Abel had been texting a fellow by the name of Banks Van Hess, a member of the Ports Authority, which, oddly enough, Walter has just pulled up at an airport. And finally the penny drops; a security guard stops Walter, only for Walter to introduce himself as Detective Jack Forge and flashes a badge at him and blags his way in to the secure records. Reese is actually kind of impressed! It turns out that Walter / Jack is looking for Van Hess as well but is about to discover more than he bargained for. Van Hess is pleading for his life when he is executed as Walter walks through the door: he's got the drop on the bad guys and even draws his side arm with practised fluidity, only to be out-psyched as the perps draw down in response. Walter is fast on his toes and pulls the door shut as he flees, narrowly escaping four rounds. He closes another door behind him as the two masked goons set fire to Van Hess's offices, and then turns in to Reese, pauses, and then takes a swing which John dodges without even trying. He then slugs him once and throws Walter over his shoulder and leaves as bullets start tearing up the place. Possibly his easiest impromptu extraction to date.
So, back at the precinct, Walter Dang / Det. Jack Forge is explaining to John Reese / Det. John Riley about the case they are both apparently working on, and Fusco is included since the suicide has fallen on his desk since it turns out that it might not be a suicide at all, and Forge has managed to acquire a lead via Abel's phone... the one without an evidence tag... because it 'fell off'.
I need to remember that line.
For all those time when someone asks me about something that I failed to do or want to cover up, I need to remember to simply say, 'It fell off.'
Evidently, it's fool proof. I'll let you all know how that works out for me...
Fusco is less than impressed to find out that Reese is harbouring a guy that is pretending to be a cop (one appears to be more than enough for him as it is). It doesn't help that once the two of them turn around Walter's done a runner straight out the front door. Good lad...
Bear is not eating. He misses Harold and Shaw is accusing him of going all Belgian Super Model on her. That dog is super well trained. For the record, most of the cast and crew would like to adopt Bear. He has effectively become the show's mascot and with good reason.
And you know he could...
Walter fails once again to say anything to Helena at work, but Shaw has discovered some new information: Abel had discovered that he was transporting weapons and ammunition illegally, and even worse, this wasn't just any old guns and ammo, this was High Explosive (HE), High Explosive Incendiary / Armour Piercing (HEIAP) and Semi Armour Piercing High Explosive / Incendiary (SAPHEI) munitions - the kind of stuff that doesn't just make big holes; it makes REALLY big holes in stuff like tanks... for giggles. Seeing that on screen implies some serious military porn right there, it's like the whole season premiere of The Last Ship in less than a second, and we haven't even seen them being used yet... AND WE WILL!!! Oh yes, we will... TWICE!
Take that Michael 'Talentless Wannabe' Bay...
Shaw now has a good reason to leave her desk... the same way Walter receives a couple of phone calls, from sources unknown, who appear to know of his double life.
Walter is abducted for all of five seconds, and we are privvy to what Walter doesn't see but certainly hears as three gunshots are heard and his captors are incapacitated in short order, only to have Reese lift the hood in time to spot a new vehicle pulling up. Out pops a masked man with a VERY big rifle. Action ensues and, adding that wonderful RP gaming twist, Reese rolls a 1 and fumbles reloading his pistol, dropping his magazine to the floor and is at the mercy of a damn big gun death. Fortunately, he's not the only one on the scene, but for those of you who need to see it again, here it is:
Italian suit, hair gel, possibly some decent cologne, polished shoes and a high calibre anti material rifle. Just taking the gun out for a stroll, baby, yeah...
It's at this point I want to point out that the director is Stephen Surjik - a director from loads of shows including Warehouse 13, Burn Notice, Flashpoint and the ill-fated Intelligence.
You've seen his name behind a lot of episodes recently because his TV work has really played out well for him, since his films don't get quite the same response, namely Wayne's World 2 and Weapons of Mass Distraction, but then his TV work appears to be more his thing, and when he can offer up shots like those above with some cracking composition and action sequences like the one just described, it's apparent that he has an eye for the dynamic sequences - keep an eye on this one: I suspect we might be seeing more of him...
But I digress...
And Walter isn't thick, he knows who Reese is. He even points out that Reese is like a super hero, which John flatly denies, only to have two cars pull up, a classic and a hot rod, Fusco and Shaw get to do the whole walk against the wind, bad-ass stroll in to dialogue and Walter to assure him that he most certainly is.
Meet the Barret XM109.
There you go, Michael 'What's a Transformer?' Bay. That's how you do military porn. And I'm only writing a review. Understand? Tantalise, tantalise, BIG REVEAL! It's why Transformers and Godzilla didn't work - and while I know he had nothing to do with Godzilla, you can probably see where I'm coming from with the whole military porn failure thing. Plus there was nowhere near enough Godzilla in that movie (and they wasted all of the good actors for the military fools and drama baggage no one could care less about... but I'll save that for another time, I suppose).
Okay, that's enough of the military porn.... for now... I'm digressing again...
And then there's the quote of the show, possibly the whole season,
Walter: 'How do you do that thing with your voice?'
John: 'What thing?'
Genius... thanks Surjik. Well executed.
So John stashes him in the precinct and explains in short order that Shaw is NOT his girlfriend, Walter asking with due concern and exasperation "Why not!?". Because they'd kill each other, I figure...
But trouble is afoot at the Circle K / Precinct (see what I did there?)
An FBI guy turns up to acquire Walter, while Fusco realises that there's something wrong in lock-up just a moment too late. He's knocked out and the big ass gun is stolen, and Walter is narrowly kidnapped a second time (or was it merely a distraction to give the others a chance to coplete their work? I suspect the latter, to be perfectly honest), and John realises that a new player is involved in this particular instance: Elias.
So John pays Elias a visit and is greeted with one of the most magnificent collections of firearms I have ever seen in a show, or a movie for that matter. Seriously, Tom Clancy (may he rest in piece) would have had something very pleasant to say about that amount of ordinance. If even a fraction of that kit is used in the show Michael Bay would be out of a job.
CBS: PLEASE, please, please, use a fraction of that kit in an action orientated episode of gun-totting, knee-capping, John-Woo-ing, bad-assery and make a billion movie-lovers happier by putting that talentless, pathetic, joy-killer out of work forever. Because Transformers, that's why. Just sayin'...
Elias divulges to John that there's been some messy dealings and the guns are actually still out there in a truck and Walter's phone with Abel's SIM card is the treasure map to the truck. Cue Walter being kidnapped (AGAIN!) and John getting shot in the arm (AGAIN!). Seriously, if we ever see Reese's left arm it should be just a mess of scar tissue and pocked abrasions. Swiss Cheese has fewer holes, and yes, I just went there...
Turns out, though, it wasn't Elias that took Walter this time. The other player, the group run by the Armourer is actually at play and is straight to the truck and acquiring their goods, only Reese and Fusco have tracked them down and brought some friends: Elias' hench-goons, including Scarface with big ass gun. The firefight is short and wonderfully choreographed, proving once again that a plausible action sequence can be done quickly and to great effect with all the punches thrown and making the heroes look awesome in the process. Not to mention big damn holes: I really wouldn't want to have had to mop up the guy that if hiding behind the container that Scarface shoots with the Barret. A pressure hose would be easier and just rinse him in to the river nearby.
But it's Elias that has the last word...
The Armourer is in no way impressed by Elias' offer to save his life and won't sell out who is behind it all; but Elias already knows and when the Armourer attempts to kill Elias Scarface puts him down in a heartbeat. Dominic and the Brotherhood are up to no good and it appears they have their hands in the weapons trade as well as all the other big pies. Elias is far from happy.
Walter is returned to the office where he works and is thanked publicly, and more importantly in front of Helena, for his assistance taking down a weapons trafficking ring. Apparently, it was just a scratch.... :D
Walter goes on to tell John about the Man in the Suit. Turns out, Walter wasn't such a bad detective after all. Walter closes down by taking Helena to one side and having a chat about her brother Abel. Nice wrap up for that number.
Under a bridge, Elias and Dominic meet. It's a social call but not an entirely pleasant one. Elias explains that he's been out of the picture for a little while, but that's soon to change and he has no interest in interfering with Dominic's business, but Dominic believe Elias is intruding and the two of them part on less than amicable terms.
So where is Finch in all of this? Why, he's in Hong Kong. Playing a new game.
Welcome back, Finch, you've been away too long. For the last few episodes he's been flying a little blind and out of gas, but now that he's 'had a talk' with the Machine, (or Smaraitan?) he's got a long term play and it starts here. With Elizabeth Bridges (Jessica Hecht).
Mathematician and technology company CEO, Bridges is sponsoring the conference that Finch is visiting and he carefully introduces himself and the two of them bond over their mutual love of mathematics, if not the methodology. For me, this is the science fiction bit of the show I love and so I've saved this part for last: for those of you that actually like to geek out a bit, this is for you.
In short: Finch is going to steal her laptop, install some stealth software on to it and then give it back to her via a chap he's paid to rob them and then take a dive when he belts him with a brolly. Awesome stunt too, considering hie's on a motorbike at the time, but the real strength to this episode is in the underlying science of the episode and the chemistry of these two characters. Personally, I'd like to see Bridges again and I utterly suspect her Number to come up at some point in the none-too-distant future.
Meanwhile, Bridges has been dying to meet Prof. Whistler because she's wanted to tell him that his piece on 'Precautionary Principles on Neuro-Evolutionary Decision Making' is wondeful but all of his conclusions are wrong, which Finch / Whsitler reacts quite surprised by. She even goes so far to say that his paper 'couldn't have annoyed me more even if he'd tried'. Despite the obvious disappointment (nicely portrayed, Emmerson... again with the facial subtlety) he challenges her as soon as she mentions innovation, by referring to her as being a proactionist. This disarming comment has her hooked from the word 'go'.
Now for the standard audience, this is wonderfully written: what is essentially very complicated behavioural study of Artifically Intelligent algorythmns and their development in relation to Human participation is made snappy and quintessentially interesting for the layman viewer, not to mention managing to add a hint of sexual tension.
Meet Ashley Gable.
This fearsome writer and producer is one of the crew responsible for a couple of episodes of Buffy and has worked with Bruno Heller on The Mentalist. There aren't a lot of pics out there of her and there's not a lot of info in the public domain on her, but here's hoping she's going to turn up more, because her writing on this episode is sheer genius.
Bridge's arguement is that people have a right to science, while Finch's arguement is that of people having the right to responsible scientists.
So much has been implied in so few lines of dialogue that it brings me such joy to feel the underlying geekery imposed on the characters: here we have Finch's cautionary nature as a mathematician and as a man that has created an A.I. and shackled it in such a way that it can operate and save people but essentially fears the uncontrolled application of such technologies, while Bridges believes that true science needs more freedom in order to allow for true evolutionary leaps to occur naturally. There is a subtext of these two individuals comparing parental beliefs and how they would bring up an artificially intelligent child, and it is enthralling.
Add to that the later conversation about their personal favourite mathematical formulae: Finch prefers Pythagorean Trigonometric Identity: a very practical and direct conclusion with stable values and absolutes which, as far as maths is concerned, infallable, while Bridges approaches with Euler's Identity - a considerably prettier, more aesthetic, positively romantic calculation that discovers a link between 5 repeating variables in mathematics (1, 0, i, e and Pi). These formulae are absolutely characteristic of the characters themselves: it coms as no surprise that these charatcers would pick these as their favourites and for the characters to react the way they do when comparing these personal affectations, it reinforces their chemistry. Shame that's when they're 'mugged'. Story gets in the way of a Geek Romance but that's just the way of things, I suppose.
For the record, I discovered that Emerson doesn't actually write the Chinese characters from the back of the bike, to be able to read and write old Chinese dialects like the one in the show requires a higher understanding of Chinese as the characters can be misinterpretted if the characters are repeated incorrectly (as actually happens in the episode, since 'Finch' copies the one from the bike incorrectly), but since Finch is a master at all of the above (including being able to read braille on sight, like he did in the episode 'Nautillus' earlier on in the season) we'll forgive any discrepancies. ;)
Bridge's company, Geospatial Analytics, is creating an algorythmn that interests Samaritan, and Greer has no idea why but since Samaritan has promised a serious donation to the company it will be intrinsically involved from here on in, and Finch has already played what could well be the winning hand.
Welcome back, Finch. The game, as they say, is afoot.
PS: Why is it taking so long to get PoI season 3 on a Region 2 port done? It's been over in the US for a while now and and it's not like it's not popular over here (becaue it really is!). Just sayin'...