Thursday's episode of Person of Interest, "Shadow Box," was the first in a four-parter that will continue after the mid-season break in January. The story is going to take us on a serious dive into the intricacies of New York's organized crime world, and will lead some Feds into a conspiracy even stranger than the one they'd imagined. Get ready for some serious conspiracy action and spoilers!
A Sympathetic Criminal
This was one of those episodes where our number of the week taught us a yet another lesson about how regular people in the military get screwed over. The number belongs to a woman who just quit her job at a charity that helps veterans get home loans. She's gone rogue, stealing city infrastructure plans and zooming around with her sexy vet boyfriend on a motorcycle. After some crazy shenanigans involving mobile phone hacking, shooting, and Finch asserting twitchily that he wants a motorcycle, we discover that our number is actually a good guy.
An aside: When Reese is investigating the number, how lame is it that he tells Carter he's been spying on her dates, and will basically kill Cal if he misbehaves with Carter? Then he follows up by sniffily ordering Carter to get him some surveillance footage! OK, first of all, Carter is NOT your bitch, Reese. If anything, you are hers because she can hand your ass to the CIA any time. Second, why doesn't Finch freaking get the surveillance footage? Isn't he like Mr. Surveillance?
OK, back to our number. She's discovered that her charity was setting up shitty loans for the vets that would be impossible to pay off. When they foreclosed and lost everything, the charity got major bank kickbacks. Some of the vets lost so much that their marriages crumbled, they killed themselves, or simply found themselves with less than nothing. So the number and her boyfriend are going to take revenge on the charity by blasting into the investment bank where they're storing seekrit documents that say stuff like, "We screwed over veterans for fun and profit." Reese goes from wanting to stop these bank robbers to wanting to help them. And so he does — at great cost.
The Return of Donnelly
Donnelly is the morally upright FBI agent who worked with Carter back when they both wanted to catch "the man in the suit." Since then Carter has become part of the Machine Gang and Donnelly was a little distracted by the HR takedown. But now Connelly is back and he wants to bring Carter into his investigation of Reese — a gig that he promises could lead to a job with the Bureau. Which would be an awesome promotion for Carter, not to mention a great way for her to get more intel for the Machine Gang. She agrees to work temporarily with Donnelly, who loops her in on what he thinks is going on with Reese.
Using new network analysis tools, the Feds have figured out the super-mega-hidden traffic that's constantly flowing between Finch's headset and Reese's ubiquitous earbud. So they know where Reese is at least some of the time, and Finch can't hide as easily. Fortunately, Donnelly has drawn all the wrong conclusions. He tells Carter that he thinks "the man in the suit" is working for a private intel company, probably connected with the Chinese. He thinks Mark Snow might be involved too, maybe working for Reese. I hope this means that the Feds will at least stumble on Stanton's little plot. (Remember, Stanton was with Reese in China, and has Snow under her control right now because giant explosive sweater vest.)
Anyway, Donnelly manages to track Reese down to the bank that the number and her boyfriend are robbing. In the ensuing chaos, Reese and Finch sneak the number out — with seekrit documents proving that the charity was deliberately stealing money from veterans (those evil banks!). But Reese stayed behind to cover them when the charity's goons come at them with guns. Because every charity has assassins. At least, all the good ones do. And then, when Donnelly arrives at the scene with Carter, there's Reese with his hands up. Oh holy shit. You know he's going to figure some spytastic way out of it, but I can't wait to find out what that's going to be.
But there's another conspiracy brewing and Fusco's got his eyes on it. I'm loving the new, tougher Fusco we saw in this episode, by the way. He's a constant surprise as a character, always getting cooler the more we know him. Remember Cal, the cute detective who took Carter out on a date? Well, it turns out that he's actually in Quinn's pocket. As he's flirting with Carter about her possible new FBI job, Fusco force-pairs with Cal's phone — and the Machine shows us a scary HR org chart that shows Cal has been talking to Quinn. In fact, he's part of the elaborate HR web that the Machine showed us last week.
An aside: I love how the Machine's visual expositions bring it in as a character. We've gotten to know how it communicates well enough that it's enough to see the HR chart come up, with Cal's face in it, to understand exactly what's going on.
Anyway, Cal goes out for a secret meeting with Quinn and gives him intel on how there's a Russian gang consolidating power. (It's run by one of the guys that Elias ousted.) This is the gang that Quinn and the remaining HR types are going to try to partner with. So Carter is dating an HR guy, and working (reluctantly) with Donnelly to bring down Reese. I hate to see the moral center of the Machine Gang so compromised.