Last night's Person of Interest was the ultimate comic book episode, complete with mobster caricatures and goofy tough talk — fun, but a little fluffy. Still there was one dark note struck, when Finch slipped up and revealed his evil, crazy side just a bit. Spoilers ahead!
So the number of the week was a mobster hit man who'd fallen in love with the widow of a man he assassinated, and wanted to go straight. Unfortunately his very 1970s-looking mob boss wasn't going to let him go without a bullet or two in the gut. There were a few interesting bits that came out as Reese and Finch tried to help the hit man and his lady pal. One thing I noticed was that Reese has started using phrases like "under our protection" to describe the people that the Machine chooses to send to him and Finch. I like the idea that the Machine Gang of Finch, Reese, Carter and Fusco are a group of guardian angels who "protect" certain people.
We got a brief glimpse of last season's big sort-of bad, the mob superboss Elias, in prison. In a sense, he's got Reese under his protection — he's still willing to do favors for the Machine Gang mostly out of a sense of honor. When the mobster situation gets out of control, Finch visits Elias in prison and asks him to send out word to the mob world that the hit man and his lady pal are to be left alone. Unfortunately, a few mobsters are part of that 1970s guy's gang, so everything ends in tears and blood anyway.
Finch is slowly getting over his agoraphobia but he hasn't quite gotten all the Root out of his system. When Reese decides to protect the hit man as well as the lady friend, Finch responds with consternation. Why should Reese help a killer? "He's just bad code," Finch says to Reese about the hit man. Uh oh. Those are Root's words for people she wants to eliminate. Root has already said that she thinks Finch is just like her — and now we know he really does have a bit of her nasty view of humanity. He quickly gets over it when Reese defends the hit man, though. After all, Reese himself is a killer who now walks the straight and narrow.
Then, in a final scene, Reese confronts Finch about his weird "bad code" comment. And that's when Finch gets really nuts. "It's a term that applies to computers not people," he says. "People can evolve and change." What's creepy here is that he's aware that using the term "bad code" for people is a problem — but then his rationale for not using it is patently false. We know that the Machine is evolving and changing. Finch knows it, too. But he's in denial. And denying that the Machine can be like a human is going to seriously mess him up later on, I think. Because when he finally confronts the reality of what the Machine is becoming, it will destroy his whole world view. Maybe he'll start to genuinely believe that some people are just bad code.
I like this small peek into Finch's dark side. I definitely don't want to see him go completely crazypants evil, but it's fascinating to see his computer geek equivalent of Reese's stone cold killer side.