I never thought I would be so glad to see a user interface as I was when I saw the Machine's familiar dashed boxes around everybody's heads on last night's Person of Interest. Things are getting back to normal, despite Samaritan, and we even got to see Fusco and Finch playing against type for once.
This episode was proof that you can still do a number of the week plot, even if the world is turning into a proto-fascist, surveillance-stricken hellhole. Our number was a former dockworker turned pickup artist, who sells his services as a wingman to lonely guys who need a few fashion tips. It's hard to make a PUA sympathetic, but somehow we felt for him — maybe because Fusco really did need a new blazer and shoes. Yeah, that's right. Finch hires the number to be Fusco's wingman for two days while they investigate.
There was the usual flip-floppery over whether our number was a perp or a vic, but as usual the coin landed vic side up. The guy's former co-workers were after him because he refused to join their corrupt gang of dockworkers, secretly siphoning select cargo containers full of guns off to gangsters and other bad guys. Like Fusco, our number had been caught up in corruption but tried to go straight. So the two guys got to bond over more than picking up chicks, and that was fun to see. Plus I can never get enough of Fusco's faces, which range from "why I gotta be the guy doin this?" to "shut the hell up, punk!" He even gets to play the cute guy, when somehow he actually manages to get a date out of the whole mess with our number.
Despite the number-of-the-week format, we never forgot that our guys are now embracing their cover identities to hide from Samaritan. There was a running gag in this episode where Reese is slowly learning to be a better cop. Of course he's solving like every open case the NYPD is tackling, mostly by gaining dubiously legal access to electronic records. But the main problem is that Reese just can't stop himself from shooting out the kneecaps of the bad guys. He's trying, though. And the new police captain, Moreno, was reluctantly pleased with his progress.
Meanwhile, the Machine was busy using Root to solve the Gang's one remaining problem: money. It sends Root and Finch off to buy a rocket launcher, after creating a fake online reputation for "Egret" (AKA Finch) for complete badassery. When one of the arms dealers doubts Finch's fake bona fides, Finch manages to growl out such a venomous, understated threat that it made me wonder how dark the hacker had really gotten during his pre-vigilante days. Ultimately, Finch refuses to sell the rocket launcher to some Latvian mobsters (now there are Latvian mobsters???) because he's too ethical, which is exactly what the Machine was counting on. Now Root can shoot the Latvians and they can keep both the rocket launcher and the keys to the Latvians' cargo container full of loot.
Yep, the Machine has figured out how to siphon ill-gotten cash to the Gang. I love that the vigilantes are now almost entirely supported by income from Shaw's heists and stolen gangster cash.
At any rate, the Fusco plot and the Finch plot all come together at the dockyards, where Shaw and Bear find Fusco and the number in a locked cargo container — and Finch and Root find the Latvian loot. Let's hope this means the underground lair is going to start looking even cooler. And maybe, at some point soon, we'll find out what the Machine has Root doing when she's not dropping in to shoot Latvians.
Also, let's hope we see more Captain Moreno. I like her!