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Person of Interest Review: "Ghost" (Episode 1.02)

September 30, 2011  |  11:50am
<i>Person of Interest</i> Review: "Ghost" (Episode 1.02)

With the second episode of Person of Interest, entitled “Ghost”, we start off with what the show believes to be the action that people care about. Jim Caviezel’s Reese enters an elevator, saving a man who was about to be attacked by two assailants, possibly murdered, and then moving on without anyone around noticing. Right after, we get to what makes the show interesting, the actual person of interest for audiences, Michael Emerson’s Finch, flashing back to 2002 and discussing his machine that finds the people in danger. The problem is, Person of Interest needs to realize who truly are the people audiences are interested in and focus on them.

For any Lost fans, the first few minutes should have seemed like a blast from the past. We are pretty much presented with Emerson isolated and in control from behind a metaphorical curtain, with a machine that gives him magical numbers and he even is working with Brett Cullen. In 2002, we see that Finch’s advancements are winning awards and accolades, so many that his partner, played by Cullen, is tired of receiving them. His machine that goes through e-mails, phone conversations, bank transactions, etc. is changing the world, regardless of the lack of privacy. Flash forward to 2007, where Finch’s partner realizes that Finch has been ignoring the lighter crimes and is disappointed by this.

Back in 2011, Finch is a seemingly low rung on the corporate ladder, a engineer in a company where he is underappreciated and works in a tiny cubicle. When Reese figures this out, he shows up at his cubicle, where Finch admits that he owns the company and that the best place for him to hide is in plain sight. However by the end of the episode, this revelation to Reese makes Finch pack up his boxes at his crappy job and move on. As he leaves, we see a memorial bust to his now deceased partner.

Speaking of the dead, Finch and Reese receive a new social security number, a new person in trouble. The problem is the girl in question, Theresa Whitaker, was murdered two years ago. With this realization, the episode seems like it is ready to make an interesting twist. Unfortunately, this dissolves into a runaway girl story that includes a chase with Finch in a hotel away from a pretty daft hitman and the reuniting of Whitaker with her aunt, who conveniently never had a daughter but always wanted one.

One of Person of Interest’s major flaws is in the person of interest formula. A great drama or thriller will take the new person or people of the week and relate it to the story. Even mediocre shows are good at having the seemingly inconsequential characters form into a metaphor for the main character’s lives. Person of Interest tries it here, and succeeds more than they did last week. The idea here is that while Whitaker tried to live in the shadows, she was eventually caught. Finch and Reese are trying to hide from the public, but eventually someone will find them. Most likely that person will be Taraji P. Henson’s cop Carter, who always seems right behind Reese, finding his bloody crime scenes way too late.

Speaking of the show’s weaknesses, there’s Reese. Person of Interest can have some pretty atrocious dialogue, but at least Emerson and Henson can pull it off. Not Caviezel. He seems to make it sound as stiff and stilted as it must read. Not to mention the show is already recycling ways of having Reese get his victims. For the second week in a row, we see Reese hitting a car with a possible perpetrator in it, with a vehicle that makes no sense for him to be driving and no explanation for it whatsoever. The show has also decided to make him to many of his evil deeds off camera more than once per episode. That’s not even bringing up the fact that Reese is everywhere he needs to be, all the time. Unless the show explains why Reese seems to be omnipresent, the show is just being incredibly lazy.

Person of Interest does genuinely have interesting aspects to its story. But all those take place in flashbacks, while the show wants to spend a majority of its time in the present, which to put it simply, is pretty boring. If Person of Interest can focus on the mystery of the show, the build up to the meeting of Reese and Finch and their relationship, the show could go some great places. But as for right now, Person of Interest seems content in being not that interesting.

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