Last night's episode of Person of Interest, "Mission Creep," gave us an emo glimpse of ex-soldier Reese's past — all mixed up together with a story about a group of soldiers who have become criminals. Though the dialogue was sometimes a little stilted, it was a pretty good episode and introduced what I think may become the season's big bad. Spoilers ahead!
The number that the machine spit out this week was for a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan, only to find that the country is in financial ruins. The best job he can get is as a doorman — which is why he starts robbing banks on the side with a gang of other ex-soldiers. When Reese investigates, it turns out our square-jawed soldier is doing it for all the right reasons. A friend of his died when he took Square Jaw's place on patrol. And now Square Jaw wants a bunch of cash to give to his dead buddy's kid for her college fund. Awwww.
So Reese has to insinuate himself into the ex-soldier crime gang, while Finch investigates the backgrounds on the major players. I love how the show takes the side of the soldiers, despite their lives of crime. In the clip here you can see that there's even this really awkward but sort of awesome showdown between Reese, Square Jaw, and two random bankers in a bar. The soldiers are complaining that bankers screwed the country, and then these bankers start snarking about how the country doesn't owe the soldiers anything and that if the soldiers were smart enough they'd be bankers. Which leads to a satisfying head butt from Reese. The wild improbability of such a bar brawl happening doesn't matter that much when it's so damn amusing.
As Reese shadows Square Jaw, we also get a series of slightly annoying, repeated flashbacks to a moment when Reese ran into his girlfriend in an airport right before he took his seekrit government job. He obviously loves her, but ran off on her because he thought he would die — mournfully, he intones something about how "what you learn over there is that you have to be alone." And she says she's gotten engaged because he was too much of a pussy to ask her to wait for him. (She doesn't really call him a pussy, but that's the upshot.) Finally, she stalks away, and once she's out of earshot, Reese does the Full Emo Wet Eye Look and mumbles, "Wait for me. Please." I know that I should care about this, but honestly the scene just makes Reese look like a lameass and made me yearn for more Finch flashbacks.
Finch wasn't in this episode much, except to confirm that yes, Reese had blown his cover at work and now he's not going to pretend to be a low-level database programmer at his own company. Also, he figures out that the guy running the ex-soldier gang is actually going to kill the guys in the gang after they do one last job. Apparently his MO is to recruit desperate ex-soldiers, keep them around for a few jobs, and then kill them before they are able to collect the money he's carefully laundering for them.
And that's how we meet the person I think is going to be our big bad for a while, if not the whole season. The ex-soldier gang was doing their last job for a guy who asked for them to steal a giant box full of evidence with the name "Elias, M." on it from a local evidence lockup place. After the leader shoots some of the gang (Reese and Square Jaw get away), he meets with a mystery guy we assume is Elias. Elias leafs through the evidence box, looking at pictures of a dead woman and a murder weapon that looks like a spackling knife. Then the next thing we see is Reese checking out the crime leader's dead body. Elias got the stuff he wanted, and killed the guy who needed to be killed anyway.
So who is this mysterious Elias? I assume we'll be finding out.
One of the best parts of the episode, other than the zoomy plot and fun banker smackdown, was that we got to see more of Carter in action (and she was wearing more sensible pants than she was last week). She's hot on Reese's tail, and is solving the mystery of the gang while he's solving it too. We also find out that she's a former soldier too, so she understands Reese's methods better than other investigators might. At the end of the episode, Carter contacts Reese on a military-grade phone and lets him know that she's onto him, he's playing a dangerous game, etc. We don't think he's going to answer, but then he does, letting her know that he has his reasons, he's a good guy, etc. I love that they are having this nice interplay, where they both acknowledge that they are sort of working together, but sort of not. Carter is basically the badass cop version of Reese, working on the inside and trying to do good when she can.
Even though Square Jaw is a criminal, he's still treated like a good guy and Reese helps him and his girlfriend get away from New York so that they won't be investigated. So what if this guy robbed banks? He did it to send a kid to college, plus the bankers are cocks who totally deserved it. That's the message of this episode.