The Rise and Rise of CBS’s ‘Person of Interest’
In many respects Person of Interest came full circle with Thursday’s season finale episode Firewall. Watched by an audience of just under 13.5 million (a figure almost identical to that of the pilot episode) the show finished its freshman season by placing its central character John Reese right back at square one, alone and on the run from persons unknown.
However, to suggest the show has not grown over the course of the season would be to do it a disservice. Person of Interest has matured from a quirky but potentially gimmicky police procedural to a tightly-written, engaging story, complete with nuanced performances from its cast. No longer the central linchpin of each episode, the machine has, in recent episodes, become the means by which fresh faces – including Enrico Colantoni’s Elias, HR’s ruthless go-to guy, Officer Simmons (Robert John Burke) and most recently Root (Amy Acker) – have all taken center stage.
A good season finale will do much to tie up loose ends while spinning new ‘must-see’ threads in the closing moments. Although Firewall chose to deliberately omit Reese’s former CIA partner Kara Stanton (Annie Parisse) from events, and to leave the HR door firmly open for season two, the show’s most intriguing mystery – the identity of the mysterious Root – was finally addressed.
Desperate to save the life of their latest POI and hunted by the CIA, Police and HR, Firewall saw Finch slipping up and being taken hostage by the seemingly benign POI of the Week, leaving Reese alone with a machine he doesn’t know how to use.
Amy Acker was perfect in the role of a vulnerable woman potentially at risk from any one of her patients, and her reveal as Root came as a surprise to many. Root’s ‘Doctor Turing’ alias was also a nice little nod to the famous Turing Test which measures a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior, proving that the clues to Root’s true identity were there from the get go, if any of us were smart enough to catch them!
Detectives Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) have also grown with the season, with Carter’s discovery that she and Fusco are both working for Finch and Reese serving as a wry highlight in the final episode. Overall Firewall‘s smart and pacy finale has set the scene nicely for the show’s return. Person of Interest is a show which genuinely deserves its weekly audience numbers. Unless it somehow manages to put its foot very badly wrong, season two looks set to hit another home run.