Last night's episode of Person of Interest was promoted as the return of Taraji P. Henson as her beloved character, Detective Carter — but it was really a dive into the character of Reese, who can't open up to people and can't share himself with anyone. And in this episode, it nearly gets him killed.
The business of Reese not being able to share himself with other people has been pushed pretty hard lately, especially with Reese's sweet therapist constantly trying to get him to open up. I keep wanting to quote Tom Lehrer's maxim: "I feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up."
In any case, "Terra Incognita" is about Reese going and reopening a cold case that Carter investigated back when she was a rookie cop. And he doesn't tell anybody else that he's working on this case, because he wants to feel connected to Carter by investigating the same murder, and doesn't want to share that with anyone. But his lack of sharing is exactly why he never really connected with Carter when she was alive, and it means that after he gets shot, nobody is coming to save him. (Until Fusco finally puts the pieces together.)
The actual case that Reese is investigating is pretty basic — a rich guy was suspected of murdering his family, but he fled the country. And it turns out he was innocent, and it was his half-brother who wanted revenge for the father abandoning him for his "new" family. The half-brother is pretty cartoonishly evil and bratty, but luckily he's just a vehicle for Reese to get shot and start bleeding out.
And the Reese storyline has a couple of pretty good fake-outs — first, that you think you're seeing a flashback to a stakeout that Reese was on with Carter, back when she first joined the Machine Gang. (But actually, it's just the delirious Reese's hallucination of what he thinks happened back then.) And second, there's the thing above, where you realize that Reese really never did share any of his personal life with Carter, at all, even though he claimed to care about her and connect with her.
And there's something kind of neat about the irony that Reese's central flaw is that he's too private, in a show that's also constantly warning us that "You are being watched."
The episode's "B" story, which barely gets any screentime, is a bit more interesting for fans of the show's A.I. storylines. First of all, Root is searching for the Machine now that Samaritan is also looking for its physical location. (She can't just ask the Machine, for some reason.) And this necessitates almost getting married. Meanwhile, when the Machine doesn't give Finch a heads up on gang violence between one of Elias' men and two of Dominics', Finch worries the Machine is breaking down. But then it turns out the gang violence was just random and unpredictable — although it's still a weird notion to bring up and then let drop, like that.