Saturday, February 4, 2012

Person of Interest searches in vain for the "Root Cause"

CBS's Person of Interest's newest installment is "Root Cause." The latest number to pop up from the machine is for a man named Scott Powell (Myk Watford), who, after losing his job and lying to his family about it, wracked by debt, and pushed to the breaking point, sure looks guilty. But Reese (Jim Caviezel) realizes, almost too late, that it's a frame job, set up to make it look like Powell assassinates a Congressman, through Powell is really innocent. Finch (Michael Emerson) looks for a way to prove that innocence, relying on Carter's (Taraji P. Henson) inside info, and bringing in a previous P.O.I., Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco, Damages, April O'Neal from the early '90's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies), to help. But he is thwarted by an expert hacker, the woman behind the frame job, who calls herself Root (Rachel Miner, Californication, Guiding Light), and knows Finch's name. 

Person of Interest is shaping up to be a mostly procedural series, but with enough serial elements to keep things interesting. For instance, the Congressman that is killed in "Root Cause" has been seen on posters and in the background during other episodes. Which leads one to believe that Root is involved in other events in prior episodes, but has just never been seen before this week. What is her connection to Finch? How does she know him? Does she have a grudge, or fancy herself in competition with, the fellow computer whiz? Or is he merely just crossing paths with her because her goals run contrary to his? There are so many questions, and so few answers. It seems Person of Interest will likely continue to dole out information in small, tantalizing pieces, thus keeping interest high.

Which is good, because the initial arc, that of Finch and Reese clashing with Carter, seems to be at an end. She still doesn't completely trust the pair, but seems to have acknowledged that they work for the greater good. Until they cause something really bad to happen, or betray her trust in a very serious way, she will probably stay on board. She is actively helping them a little, keeping the lines of communication open, and has stopped hunting them. She's kind of unneeded in "Root Cause," but it's been better in other episodes.

While her turnaround does seem a little too easy, and a waste of a great dynamic, it's also nice to have things resolved. Of course, that basically makes Fusco (Kevin Chapman) expendable, and true to that form, he does not appear in "Root Cause." Of course, this story may be reawakened if Fusco and Carter, who each do not realize that the other knows Finch and Reese, ever come to odds. Will they be the pawns in a Reese versus Finch battle?

That is a whole other ongoing story that is barely touched on this week. Reese is secretly investigating Finch, as Reese is more suspicious of his partner than Carter is of either of them. It really makes sense for Reese's character to be paranoid, despite the ways that Finch has been shown to earn Reese's trust. Still, as Finch's past remains unclear, it would not be surprising if Reese uncovers something very bad that leads to a (temporary) falling out between the two. Which could be a heck of a story.

As Person of Interest continues to take shape as a series, it's inevitable that recurring characters get added to the mix. Zoe looks to be the first one, and is a fine choice. Turco hasn't been in the Hollywood spotlight all that much lately, so she seems like a fresh face. She serves as a love interest for Reese, someone Finch is intrigued by, and a wild card, as she has her own agenda and past, as well as a murky job description. The character is great, and is welcome as much as the writers can find ways to use her.

As for "Root Cause" itself, and the case of the week contained within the episode, it's a thrilling, tightly played out plot, with some terrific twists, and wonderful action sequences. The case of Powell being framed and hunted is intriguing, and Reese crossing a major line by breaking Powell out of federal custody in the way that he does is fantastic. There really can be no complaints about this story, making "Root Cause" another excellent installment in a series that is quickly becoming a favorite.

Watch Person of Interest Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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