Tonight on Person of Interest, the anti-surveillance vigilante Collier finally gets his moment to discover the truth about government spying... and A.I. We talked to Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Collier, and he helped us invade Collier's privacy. Spoilers ahead...
We were lucky enough to have a phone interview with Odom this morning, and he talked to us about what's next for Collier — and whether Collier could ever team up with the Machine gang in some capacity.
In tonight's season finale, Collier puts all the major players on "trial" on the internet, to get to the bottom of their program of spying on the American people: Greer from Decima, Control and others from the government... and Finch from the Machine gang.
"Everybody 's going to collide in the courtroom tonight," Odom tells io9. "Collier and Vigilance want some answers, and they're going to take some pretty extreme actions." He adds that Collier hopes to catch his enemies unprepared so they have no choice but to reveal the truth instead of "prepared statements."
"Collier's like, 'You have access to all our dirty secrets. You have access to all our information. What are you hiding?' As an actor, you can really get behind a mission like that." He's really enjoyed playing Collier in these scenes, because the mission is so clear and his character is so passionate about it.
But Odom hints that Collier may not be so thrilled about some of the things he learns tonight. "I will say that there are twists and turns. It's not what you expect. It wasn't what I expected." He had an easy time portraying his character's surprise at the turn of events, because he was surprised by them as well.
And we find out more tonight about who recruited Collier, and who's behind Vigilance. Officially, Vigilance has no leader, it's run collectively in a truly democratic fashion. But somebody recruited Collier to join the organization back in 2010, and tonight we're going to find out more about who that was.
Odom feels as though his character is way more sympathetic, now that we know his backstory involving his brother being falsely accused of terrorism. "I loved how the writers revealed it to the audience, and also to me. I had no idea why he was doing this, but I figured it had to be a good reason. I just tried to give it as much honesty and truth as I could."
But understanding what really motivates Collier " gave me the permission to go to those dark places," adds Odom. "I loved it."
Odom's had a nice bit of synchronicity in terms of the roles he's been playing lately — he's also playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton Mixtapes, a hip-hop musical about the death of Alexander Hamilton which focuses on the Founding Fathers and the ideals they had for this country. So Odom finds himself able to channel that passion for the founding ideals of the United States into his performance as Collier.
"I kind of think we sort of subconsciously draw things into our lives, whatever we're trying to work through," so the synchronicity of playing Burr and Collier at the same time appealed to him. "Getting into what those founding ideals were, and what we were trying to do when we wrote the Declaration of Independence... it's interesting to [connect that] to what Collier is trying to do."
Could Collier ever become one of the good guys, or at least join forces with them? Anything's possible, says Odom. After all, look at Root: "She started as a straight-up villain, and they work together now. Their methods are very different, and their reasons for doing what they're doing are very different, but they work together."
And we've already seen Collier have a bit of a spark with Shaw, where she seemed to sympathize with his goals, if not his ends. They seemed to have some chemistry together, too. Says Odom:
You know, what I like a lot about the character, as radical as he is — all the characters they've created have some integrity, because people with integrity can always find common ground. We may not want the same thing. You're fighting for your principles. I'm fighting for my principles. Where can we meet? I felt like [Collier] had that same connection with Finch [as with Shaw] — not a romantic connection, but they understand each other on some level. That empathy, that connection, it makes things complicated, in a very beautiful way. [But Sarah Shahi] makes things so easy. Looking into her eyes, you get everything you need. There's certainly possibility for them to find common ground.
But he's just taking his character's progression one day at a time.