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PERSON OF INTEREST: “Witness” – RECAP
I really feel like Person of Interest caught me with my pants down. After weeks in between mentions of Elias, I assumed he would pop up once in awhile, but really wouldn’t leave his big mark until around episode 10 or 11. But not only was Elias a powerful presence in this week’s “Witness”, it was also a strong episode of PoI. I should clarify though that I mean strong compared to everything that has come before. This series is still a far cry from being what I know it could be. That said, there were some great twisty moments to shake things up and a big reveal at the end that took me completely by surprise.
“Witness” continues the new structure of having Reese and Finch already investigating a suspect as the episode starts. This week it’s a man by the name of Charlie. As Reese is spying on Charlie from a rooftop, he is unaware Charlie recently witnessed the Russian mob murder an employee of Elias’ and is now in danger. Suddenly Reese finds himself hustling to protect this guy from incoming Russian hitmen, completely in the dark as to exactly what is going on. For once, Reese and Finch are on a job they don’t fully understand and they get in over their heads.
Adding to the tension, for the first time Reese has to make his way through most of the episode without the help of Finch. While rescuing Charlie, Reese’s phone is destroyed, and while that’s not exactly the best excuse to leave Reese without traditional back up, it gets the job done. As always, Reese proves himself more than capable of handling things on his own and getting back in touch with Finch. Without knowing how to fully escape the Russians, Charlie has time to open up about who he is and why he’s caught up in this drama. He’s a schoolteacher and he happens to teach many of the Russian’s children, in hopes of helping them achieve better lives than their fathers. Well ok, in reality he’s using the children to gather information about the mob.
You see, in the biggest twist reveal since Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects, it turns out Charlie is Elias. This hit me like a ton of bricks. We spent a lot of time getting to know Elias without even knowing it was him, creating an almost sympathetic character. His mother was killed and now he’s on a mission to change the world in one deadly swoop. Even scarier, he now knows Reese. The two talked for a long time; it seems likely Elias will return to offer Reese a position in the new world he wants to build. I had high hopes for this seasons big villain, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. That’s a first for PoI.
It doesn’t get really addressed, but the reveal of Elias brings up a certain moral question. Elias’ number came up, causing Reese and Finch to protect him by any means necessary. They had no idea who he was, just that he was in danger. The machine doesn’t distinguish good guy from bad guy, just who may or may not be targeted for murder. I hope this has future ramifications for Reese and Finch as they investigate other persons. You really never know whom you might be dealing with. They might be about to be killed, but who’s to say they don’t deserve it? Like Benton, the sex offender from a few weeks ago, aren’t some people worth killing? Elias certainly plans on hurting more and more people in his agenda. If Reese had known ahead of time, wouldn’t the right course of action have been to just let him die at the hands of the Russians?
Despite the strengths of the episode, the usual weaknesses were also present. Just to name a few: Jim Caviezel, hand holding, expository dialogue, convenient plot devices, etc. I don’t want to repeat myself too much from weeks prior. Let’s just chalk this up to an episode that stood above its problems and delivered a surprisingly gripping hour of television.