CBS’ Person of Interest offers a unique twist on the crime drama genre by presenting a scenario in which crimes are not solved, but prevented. And it seems to be working. The quirky, tightly-written show which effortlessly taps into the post 9/11 ‘Big Brother is watching’ zeitgeist, continues to pull in the viewers, with recent episodes (Root Cause, Wolf and Cub) tallying at over 15 million viewers apiece.
Not content to present an (albeit successful) ‘crime of the week’ formula, the show has been upping the ante in a number of interesting ways recently, indicating that Person of Interest is becoming more than a weekly crime procedural.
1. Recurring Characters
When a show features a small core cast of characters set against a backdrop of an ever changing guest cast, a certain staleness can often set in, with warmed-over, flat dialogue and predictable outcomes to many verbal exchanges. Person of Interest has managed to avoid this by introducing a series of memorable recurring characters who shake up the show dynamics in different ways.
Paige Turco’s Zoe, the resourceful and well-connected fixer who first appeared in The Fix, and later in Root Cause, gives the audience a breath of fresh air and Reese a much needed respite from mourning the loss of his deceased lover Jessica.
Elias, played by Enrico Colantoni is a complex and shadowy character whose influence is far reaching. With his fingers in the LAPD, the crime families of New York and even the Russian mob, there’s no telling just where or when he will make his presence felt. Elias continues to be an ominous and very real threat and the audience is never sure where he is going to pop up next.
Will Ingram (Michael Stahl-David), son of the late Nathan Ingram is a wonderful thorn in Finch’s side. Will is the son of Finch’s previous partner, Nathan Ingram, and thinks he knows Finch well enough to call him ‘Uncle Harold’. However it isn’t long before Will starts asking questions about his father, the machine and his connections to Finch – questions that Finch is desperate to avoid.
2. Bringing the Supporting Characters into the Fold
As engaging as Reese and Finch are to watch (in a chalk meets cheese kind of way) the show was headed on a collision course since day one where the supporting characters of Detective Carter and Detective Lionel (‘Fiasco’) Fusco were concerned. Apart from the fact that both are just far too interesting to remain on the sidelines, having Carter and Fusco brought into the fold serves the greater story and creates a space for new possibilities.
Recent episodes have illustrated Carter’s growing sense of paranoia where the CIA’s interest in Reese is concerned. As an active and engaged member of the POI team, her efforts to assist Finch and Reese are watched with sense of unease by the audience. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before Carter is caught. But the question remains, will it be at the hands of the CIA or Elias?
Fusco’s latest storyline is equally compelling. ‘Poor Fusco. He is a HR B**CH now,’ as actor Kevin Chapman recently tweeted. Chapman’s Fusco – a bad cop turned good cop, playing bad cop – is one which keeps the audience guessing and gives the underused Fusco some meaty moments onscreen.
3. Introducing a Big Bad
A worthy opponent, equal to Finch and his infallible machine and Reese and his infallible ethics, is what Person of Interest was missing until episode 13 Root Cause took us all by surprise. Who is the mysterious Root and what does she want? We don’t quite know yet, but her introduction has blown the story wide open and literally anything is possible.
4. Less Leg-Shots. More Kill Shots.
This one’s a little difficult to explain without sounding like a gore-fan, but there were times his season when I just wanted Reese to kill someone instead of simply incapacitating them with a bullet in the leg. The notion of a hard as nails special forces soldier and CIA field agent, highly skilled in the use of several types of weapons, choosing to take down bad guy after bad guy with a non-lethal tap to the leg didn’t ring true, and the more I saw of it, the more the show began to steer into family friendly territory for me as a viewer. However, recent episodes see Reese more true to his character and skillset, offing villains with lethal force when the need calls. Even the writers seem to be aware of the leg shot love, with a recent episode featuring an anonymous police officer quizzing Fusco as to why he’s not more interested in the mysterious rash of knee-cappings happening all over the city recently.
5. A More Human Reese
One of the largest obstacles for me initially with the show centered around Reese’s basic unfathomable personality. There wasn’t much to like. But there wasn’t much to dislike either. It was therefore difficult to feel a sense of attachment to the story’s central character – which is kind of a problem when you are considering investing your time over 22 episodes.
However recent episodes have shown a softer side to Reese. He’s smiling more and his banter with Finch and even Fusco carries a lighter note, giving rise to moments that will make you laugh out loud.
Reese is never going to burst into song on this show, and if truth be told, we probably wouldn’t want him to. His world-weary reserve is a large part of his appeal, making lighter moments all the more enjoyable for his dry, observational wit.
For my own part I’m glad I stuck with Person of Interest and equally glad to discover that beneath that dour exterior there is a smile or a joke that will briefly flutter to the surface.
Person of Interest continues to be a show worth watching Thursdays on CBS.