Maybe Person of Interest shouldn't really try to do "funny" episodes

Last week's episode of Person of Interest took us deep into New York's corrupt political landscape. It was a fairly routine number of the week deal, which might be why the writers decided to make it an episode that was zanier than usual. Though this show often does a great job with its awkward jokes, I'm afraid it went way too far this time.


Spoilers ahead!

Witness the scene above, where Finch figures out how to get Reese into the orbit of this week's number, an investigative journalist named Maxine who has been tracking "the man in the suit," AKA Reese. Because Reese can't tell Maxine who he really is, he has to enter her life some other way. So why not with a wacky fake internet date subplot? Ugh. It hurts. Finch makes weird pickup artist-style commentary while Reese tries vainly to be alluring.

When we're not wincing our way through the thoroughly unfunny romance subterfuge, however, we did get a glimpse of how the HR subplot from last year will make its way into this year's arc. If you'll recall, HR is a gang of corrupt cops, tied to organized crime, that lived on graft and other ill gotten gains. Reese and Finch had Fusco infiltrate HR, and ultimately helped him bring down 75 dirty officers (with the FBI's help). But the head of HR hasn't been caught.

In this episode, we finally find out who he is — and it's pretty interesting.

Maxine gets an anonymous tip that the head of HR is the son of a former mob boss, but she turns out to be deadly wrong. She writes a story "unmasking" the wrong guy, and angry gangsters who were screwed over by HR assassinate him. Yet for some reason Maxine doesn't lose her job — she just isn't officially allowed to write anything for a while. Which gives her plenty of time to investigate the REAL head of HR. Through various shenanigans, she manages to get some evidence about who the real boss is, while Reese and Finch are hot on her tail. These shenanigans include a lot of silly stuff where Reese has to pretend to be Clark Kent while secretly smashing everybody's faces when Maxine has her back turned to do reporter stuff.

Unfortunately, Fusco makes off with most of her evidence — a log book with payout information — because the HR henchman Simmons has threatened Fusco's kid if he doesn't cover up Simmons' involvement in HR. Poor Fusco. He's never going to escape from his dirty past.

Nevertheless Maxine gets a smart phone picture of a page from the log book that fingers Walker, a mayoral candidate — whom she decides must be the HR boss. So she writes a story blaming Walker, who goes down and leaves a guy named Griffin to win the mayoral race.


Finch and Reese, however, are still scratching their heads over who the real boss of HR is. Finch is convinced Walker was too stupid and poorly connected to run a giant conspiracy. And indeed, as we discover in a final scene, it turns out that the true HR boss is Quinn, a campaign manager who has been orchestrating the career of New York's new mayor. So Maxine got it wrong again. And she somehow didn't figure out that Reese is the "man in the suit" either. She may be a little easy to fool for an investigative reporter, but I do love it when she describes the man in the suit as "like somebody out of a comic book" — just in case you hadn't noticed the overt Batman references that spike this show like an extra shot of rum in your Dark and Stormy.

So now we've got our new municipal big bad in Quinn, a guy so devious he is secretly controlling the mayor, various criminals, and the remaining dirty cops through his HR tentacles. Once again, Person of Interest is doing its difficult balancing act, juggling municipal crime/corruption stories with tales of high tech surveillance/intelligence community black ops at the federal level. Is there anything this show can't do? Oh yeah — there is. A humor episode. Let's try to dial back on the goofy, everybody, and get back to the darkness.




My interpretation of the last scene with Maxine is that she did work out who Reese was. After all, she went from "this is my next big story" to "he's an urban myth" pretty suddenly for a supposedly top-notch dogged reporter, and her comment about how, given what she'd been through, she really should have met the mysterious man in a suit seemed quite pointedly directed at Reese.

My read of it was that she absolutely figured it out, but chose to drop the story so that Reese could continue to do what he does...