As the best show on CBS will return very soon let’s talk about the best episodes of each season.
As I’ve said before, when I heard that CBS had picked up a show with people like JJ Abrams, Michael Emerson and Jonathan Nolan involved I was in. Without a doubt. But just because a new series has an interesting premise and interesting names attached to it doesn’t mean that the show itself will be good. So when the pilot aired I had some expectations. Thankfully, the pilot delivered. We were introduced to Finch, saw him hiring Reese, we got introduced to Fusco and Carter as well and we got to see what the machine can do. One of the things I was sceptical about was the format of the show. Person of Interest was going to be episodic. Meaning that every episode would have a new storyline which would be resolved by the end of the episode. CBS is very much a fan of episodic series because people can generally speaking miss a few episode without it being a problem and series like that usually have a steadier following whereas with serialized shows, which have ongoing story arcs and where you cannot miss an episode, start with high ratings and shed viewers along the way. But despite Person of Interest being episodic I loved the pilot. It was a great set up and I knew I was going to be on board for the entire first season at least.
“When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different, someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?”
Cura Te Ipsum
One of the things Person of Interest liked to play with since the very beginning is, if the number of the week is going to be a perpetrator or a victim. In the pilot that worked very well and in Cura Te Ipsum it was the same. Reese and Finch track down a doctor who is about to kill a man who raped her sister. The doctor’s sister ended up killing herself and the rapist turns out to be a serial rapist. Reese intervenes and at the end of the episode there is a super intense scene where Reese needs to decide whether he kills the perp or not. The prior episode had an insanely strong ending where we see Reese and his dead wife. Cura Te Ipsum had a just as strong and intense ending as the episode prior and these two episodes were the start of a trend. Because of the episodic nature of the first seasons of the show the beginning of an episode could feel like going through the motions at times. Team Machine received the number of the week and then they had to find out whether the number belonged to a victim or a perp. And right when you thought this was going to be a mediocre episode for Person of Interest’s standards, which is still a very good episode, something happens that takes the episode into awesome territory. Cura Te Ipsum was the episode that pulled me in for good. The acting of Jim Caviezel and that ending? I fell in love with this show right there and then.
This episode isn’t among the very best in and of itself but Root is such an amazing antagonist turned protagonist that I had to put the first episode we see her on this list even though we don’t actually see her face. In Root Cause a mysterious hacker orchestrates the murder of a congressman and frames a troubled family man for said murder. She proves to be very skilled and a worthy adversary for Finch whom she forces to abandon the library hideout. When she communicates with Finch directly at the end of the episode it’s only a glimpse of what is to come. Her later relationship with Team Machine, especially Shaw and Finch is one of the best things about Person of Interest. Amy Acker is a great actress and she was a perfect addition to the cast from the very beginning.
One of the many things that make Person of Interest such a good show is its backstory. In Matsya Nyaya, we get to see the mission Reese went on with his partner Cara in China. How he was supposed to betray his partner but he refused to do what agent Snow instructed him to do and was instead shot by Cara who had the same orders. Before Reese went on the mission Jessica reached out to him clearly needing his help. He promised to come to her within 24 hours and it’s heart-breaking because we know she ends up dead because he was left no choice and had to take the China mission. The China storyline also ties into the Machine’s mythology as we later find out. Matsya Nyaya was part of a very strong end run for this show’s freshman season.
“The problem with trying to be the bad guy, there’s always someone worse.”
Many Happy Returns
Another strong episode with great backstory material. Here we see the moment where Reese finds out that Jessica is dead and was in fact killed by her husband. John ends up killing him in a very intense scene. We also find out that Finch was there in the hospital when Reese found out. In present day Finch tries to hide a case from his partner because it has too much resemblance to Jessica’s story but he finds out anyway. Reese solves everything and the perp ends up in a prison across the border. What I loved about this episode is Jim Caviezel’s acting. From that moment in the hospital to the encounter with Jessica’s killer. It was great acting. The parallel with the present day was greatly done as well and it was very cool to see that Finch was there in the hospital. Person of Interest has had great flashbacks from the start and they never felt like a gimmick. And where in previous episodes the flashbacks were so interesting that the number of the week only seemed like a distraction, in Many Happy Returns it really added to the episode because of the juxtaposition with the backstory.
Firewall was an excellent season finale of the first season of Person of Interest. It brought Alicia Corwin’s storyline to a close, Fusco and Carter finally find out that they have both been working for Finch, there is a big showdown between Reese, HR and the FBI and Finch (and the audience) finally get to properly meet Root. This episode had everything a season finale needs and more. It had action, suspense, twists and turns, good acting, good writing and it set up the next season perfectly. Rewatching this episode I got reminded of how much of a villain Root actually is in the beginning. Her relationship with Finch remains very complex throughout the show and this is where it started. I can keep on raving about this episode but Firewall was just pure awesomeness!!
“He’s in danger now because he was working for you. And now you’re going to help me get him back.”
So overall season 1 was very strong. Because of its episodic nature there were a few episode in the middle part of the season that almost felt like mediocrity. But the writers always managed to avoid having true filler episodes often with strong endings. I have said it again and again but Person of Interest has great villains. In season 1 we had Root, HR and Elias as the major baddies and the following seasons only build on that. But recurring characters like Zoe, Nathan and Alicia, to name a few, also add something to the mix. I have always been a little bit surprised that this show has practically been ignored during the awards season. Especially after the later stellar seasons. Season 1 was one hell of a ride. Let’s continue the rewatching and talk about season 2!