Episode Title: "Ghosts"
Writers: Greg Plageman & Jonathan Nolan
Director: Richard J. Lewis
Former CIA Agent, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) gets on to an elevator and makes small talk with a man bringing flowers to his date. He tells the man that he shouldn't have stepped out on his wife, as she sent the two men behind them to kill him. Before the elevator doors open again, Reese has subdued the would be assassins and their intended victim runs away. Reese then gets a call from Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) about their next case, a young girl named Theresa Whitaker (Valentia de Angelis); whom the machine identified as a potential person of interest despite her death two years before.
In flashback, we see Finch and his business partner, who appears to be the public face of their company. Finch shuns the spotlight as he builds the machine that will enable the government to spot a terrorist attack before it happens. In the present, Finch presents Reese with all of the info that he can find on Theresa. Her family was murdered and her body was never found. The police suspected that her father killed the family before committing suicide, but Finch points out that Theresa must still be alive if the machine gave them her number. At her local precinct, Detective Carter (Taraji Henson) runs Reese's fingerprints and she learns that all files on his identity have been redacted.
To find Theresa, Reese begins flashing the badge of the dirty cop he killed in the pilot before he finds Deacon Page (Conor Romero), Theresa's ex-boyfriend. While Deacon claims to have not seen Theresa since her death, Reese clones his phone and intercepts a text message to Theresa warning her about Reese. Spotting Teresa skimming numbers from an ATM, Reese pursues her until she pulls out a box cutter and slashes his hand. Elsewhere, Finch enters an office and he is treated as an ordinary employee before making his way to his cubicle. To his surprise, Reese is there waiting for him.
As Finch listens, Reese reveals that he knows that Finch owns the company and that he has built an identity that allows him to hide in plain sight. He gives Finch the ATM skimmer so that they can track Theresa when she tries to sell them online. In the meantime, Finch visits Theresa's aunt and learns that Theresa's uncle has stopped returning her calls and messages. But she has no idea why the family was killed. Using his reluctant ally, Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), Reese finds the assassin who killed Theresa's family in prison. The man admits to letting Theresa live, but because he has been saying that openly to protect himself in jail, the people who hired him also know that she is alive.
Reese tracks down Theresa to a laundromat with wifi, getting there just ahead of another assassin who actually gets the best of Reese in a fight. Reese manages to shoot the man in his bulletproof vest before fleeing with Theresa. In another flashback, Finch's partner confronts him about the machine's imperfection: it dismisses any non terrorist related crimes as irrelevant. And at this time in the past, Finch doesn't seem to care about the implications of letting some people fall through the cracks in exchange for stopping mass attacks. Back in the present, Finch joins Reese and Theresa in a hotel room and stays with the young girl while Reese confronts her uncle.
Theresa's uncle tells Reese that his brother was convinced to buy land that was covered with oil at the time. He and his family were targeted because some shady investors lost their money at the time. But now the land is worth a fortune and the shady company will quadruple its investment if it can get Theresa out of the way. The assassin from the laundromat catches up with the uncle, but he refuses to help him find his niece. For his defiance, the uncle is killed and Detective Carter catches wind of the case. Reese confronts the head of the company to call off the hit on Theresa, but it's too late. The assassin has already found her and Finch at the hotel.
Finch does his best to keep Theresa safe, but he is ultimately forced to stay and confront the killer. Theresa stays with him and they face death together until Reese shows up and takes out the assassin once again. Reese then arranges a meeting with Detective Carter, who tries to lay a trap for him. Instead, she finds Theresa safe and sound. Theresa refuses to clearly identify or describe Reese, but she is soon happily reunited with her aunt. Elsewhere, Reese tries to visit Finch at work, only to find that he has left his cover job without explanation. Finch then calls Reese and tells him that he will instigate contact in the future, not the other way around.
As Finch leaves the building, we see a memorial statue for his business partner who passed away in 2010.
"Person of Interest" is a solidly crafted show, but I'm a little disappointed that it's essentially just a standard procedural. I was expecting something more innovative from Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams.
There's a certain dry sensibility to "Person of Interest" that can make parts of it difficult to sit through. It definitely looks and feels like a CBS series. But it's not breaking any new dramatic ground by any stretch.
Regardless, the second episode was still enjoyable. Finch remains the most interesting part of the show and this story offered up some interesting revelations about his past. It was especially intriguing to learn that he didn't always care about the "irrelevant" people whom he is now risking his life for. Doubtless the death of his business partner played a large role in that change, but that particular transformation hasn't been shown yet. Finch also seems oddly determined to hide his whereabouts from Reese, who seems to be the only employee he trusts to actually go through these Person of Interest investigations. That implies that Finch is still hiding something from Reese despite his promise to never lie to him.
It's also interesting that Finch allows his employees to treat him as one of their own, even if that means being berated by the local manager who seems to relish the power that he thinks he holds over Finch. It's an odd decision, since Finch doesn't appear to want to get too close to any of the people in the office. And yet he's surrounded by coworkers who seem to know him. If it really is about hiding in plain sight as Finch claims, then the question now is what is he hiding from?
Finch doesn't strike me as a coward and he's even quite brave while attempting to protect Theresa. Michael Emerson deserves a lot of credit here as well. Finch could have come off as a much flatter character if it wasn't for the life behind Emerson's performance.
Valentia de Angelis had her best moments early in the episode when Theresa was practically feral towards Reese. If anything, she warms up to him and Finch a little too quickly after living her life on the run for years. But it did lead to a truly hilarious moment in which Reese nervously removed all metal forks and knives from the hotel room so she wouldn't be tempted to use them on him again.
I don't really have any complaints about Jim Caviezel, but there's nothing he did here that he didn't do better in the pilot episode. If John Reese is going to be the hero on this show than he needs to be more than just a convenient excuse for an action sequence. The nature of procedurals is that the regular characters can fade away behind a steady stream of guest performers. That can't happen here. We need to care about John Reese as well as the people he's trying to help. But there's such an emotional distance between Reese and the audience that it's hard to feel anything for him at all.
In short, "Person of Interest" has an impressive body. It just needs a soul.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.