For the past six years (and 11 of the past 12), CBS has been the most watched network in the United States of America. It’s been a few months since Grantland’s Rembert Browne has hazed himself, so he will be investigating this network by watching as much of CBS’s offerings as he can for a full week. He’s never seen most of these shows, watches none of them regularly, and has not even heard of a few of them. Each day, he will report back with his findings.
Day 3: Tuesday, February 3
Before getting into the star of the show, the belle of the ball, the sultan of swat — Person of Interest — another great thing happened on The Late Late Show, a.k.a. CBS on Acid, hosted last night by Sean Hayes.
Yes, that is Maya Rudolph as a ghost.
Ending any Sean Hayes segment with “It was an honor to finally meet the great French Stewart” is a winner every time. But enough of this stalling.
It is time to finally meet this “Person.” Of “Interest.”
10–11 p.m.: Person of Interest, Season 4, Episode 13: “M.I.A.” (new episode)
I’m starting to understand a theme that runs through a few CBS crime dramas. As in many a comic book superhero tale, it’s an idea of “there is crime, and oftentimes the normal crime-stoppers can’t figure it out, so we need you, star(s) of this CBS crime show, to figure it out by the end of the hour.”
Yesterday, I learned that to be true with Scorpion, and that seems to be the case with Person of Interest. In POI, there’s a man who used to work for the CIA but is now tasked with stopping violent crimes, anywhere the Metro North can take him. But he doesn’t work for any organization. He’s been hired in some capacity by a billionaire named Harold. And there’s some machine called The Machine that is very important, but why, I have no idea.
That’s all my CBS Deep Throat told me. Nothing more.
In just the first two minutes of this episode, there’s a lot to report. For starters, I have no idea what’s going on. But what is clear is JESUS:
JIM CAVIEZEL IN THE BUILDING.
He’s the main ex-CIA guy. He’s upstate with a woman, and they’re either slinking away for the weekend at an Airbnb or trying to solve a crime together. Caviezel is on the phone with the billionaire, Harold, but I’m not sure Caviezel knows that HE’S TALKING TO BEN, THE LEADER OF THE OTHERS.
I don’t know who Caviezel and his crime-stopping partner are looking for, but they’ve found themselves at a super cute, highly Instagrammable (if you live in the city) small-town festival. It’s the town of Maple’s “Founders’ Day.” Caviezel says something about asking The Machine for a clue, and then his partner says, “Don’t judge a town by its cider,” so who knows what’s about to happen.
I don’t fully understand The Machine, but every now and then we get a shot from a security camera. And the camera always focuses in on people’s faces.
Maybe someone’s controlling it or maybe it has a mind of its own, but since it sees everything, chances are it knows everything, including who has committed what crimes. And, if we’re getting super sci-fi, Agatha-and-the-preco-Twins with it, who will commit crimes in the future.
We learn that whomever they’re looking for has fled toward Maple. Which has brought Caviezel and partner to the Maple Police Station to request access to their security cameras.
What’s clear from the jump: The police chief is terrible and a creep and probably committed the murders.
The chief isn’t happy with their presence, but then Caviezel’s partner bats her eyes at the chief and he leads her to the back room. This won’t go well.
He compliments her on her computer skills, and then he says, “I got skills.”
She gives him side-eye, says she needs more access, and he says she can have it, if they go get drinks. And if that seemed to escalate at abnormal speed (it’s been about 30 seconds), moments later the police chief of Maple, New York, pushes himself up on who he thinks is an NYPD officer, tells her not to be coy, and grabs her butt.
This is a wild show so far. Don’t really know what to make of it. But I’m still here for it.
She grabs his hand and forcibly puts him in his place. While this is happening, Caviezel has created a diversion and stolen half of Maple, New York’s guns. And right when he comes back to his partner, she’s found the suspect’s truck through the surveillance footage. It entered Maple, but it never left. So the killer, or whoever they’re looking for, is in Maple.
The duo checks into a Maple hotel to set up base camp. Caviezel checks in while his partner (who by now I really wish I had a name on) drags all of those guns up the stairs.
SHE ABDUCTED THE HANDSY CREEP POLICE CHIEF.
There’s someone named Shaw. Sameen Shaw. And it’s unclear if Sameen’s alive or dead, perhaps in the hands of whoever’s driving that mysterious truck that hasn’t left Maple. Caviezel’s partner (who I’m just going to name Condoleezza until I get a name) is convinced Shaw’s still alive, but knows they’re running out of time.
Also, completely unrelated, but HEY, J.J.
It’s worth noting, as in all shows that have plots that extend over multiple episodes or an entire season, there’s an entirely different case being dealt with, by completely different characters, in this episode. It’s about gangs. But I’m just really not that interested in it. Because there’s no Caviezel. So we’ll just skip over those parts.
A really funny thing about Caviezel is that his character has no social skills — to the point where I definitely missed a crucial episode from which the viewing audience learns he’s actually a cyborg.
They go to a junkyard and find the truck there. Shaw’s not in the trunk, but it’s a bloody scene and there’s a medical saw. It’s not good. But, even more important news than life-or-death:
HER NAME IS SAMANTHA.
Hi, Samantha. Sorry about Shaw. Ya’ll seemed to be homies — SAMEEN, I’M SORRY.
What happens next is confusing and awesome. A man to whom Caviezel and Samantha run up has information. So Samantha points a gun at his penis. And he starts talking.
Most of Maple worked in textiles, but the jobs were moving overseas, so a company bought the factory and, in turn, took over the town. It did save the town, but people who protested the new company (and regime) were killed. This new company is no longer in the business of textiles — instead they make transponders.
One of the people who runs the company is Ms. Thompson. They remember her from the Founders’ Day festival earlier in the day. And they need to speak with Ms. Thompson.
So this happens, almost immediately.
This is now the second high-ranking townsperson who has been kidnapped almost in plain sight. I couldn’t respect Caviezel and Samantha any more. What talent. Much duct tape.
They have a talk and Ms. Thompson claims that she doesn’t know anything — that she just follows orders. Caviezel doesn’t believe her and then proceeds to keep it extremely real:
I’m losing my patience, and you don’t want me to turn you over to my colleague here.
So Samantha is Bauer. And just like that, Person of Interest went from having my curiosity to having my attention.
Billionaire Harold is on the line with Caviezel and tells him that Ms. Thompson is telling the truth. And then continues to keep it real about Samantha Bauer:
You cannot allow Samantha to take over the interrogation — it will lead to the torture and possible murder of a woman who may well be innocent.
Samantha, on all of this:
Do I get to come out and play?
This is magical. It’s like going to Six Flags when there are no lines.
Harold tries to talk to Ms. Thompson, over the phone, as a last-ditch effort before Old Leatherface gets a crack at her. He’s begging them not to be monsters, but Caviezel and Samantha really want to find their friend Sameen and are convinced that Ms. Thompson is lying.
Their reaction, as she’s speaking, pleading innocence:
Person of Interest, more like We Is Sassy.
Samantha’s fed up. So she grabs a drill and puts it close to Ms. Thompson’s neck. And just like that, Ms. Thompson begins telling the truth. Tells her where she saw Shaw (say that five times fast — it’s really hard). Samantha thanks her for her honesty, and then drills into her hand.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from television, it’s that torturing gets you the information you want about 90 percent of the time. And it looks like Sam watches a lot of TV, because not only did they get a location, but Ms. Thompson said that she was alive.
So they take Ms. Thompson, who escorts them into the company headquarters.
Caviezel and Samantha, they’re like Stabler and Benson, but with zero sexual tension, Bluetooth on fleek, and ARMY GUNS.
Also, a note on Caviezel: As the episode goes on, the cyborglike nature of his character does have hints of dry humor that appear, even in the most tense of times. Like when they have ski masks on, marching through a warehouse, taking out whoever stands in their way.
And then they find Sameen.
But then it’s not Sameen.
It’s some woman named Delia Jones. How do we know this? Because Billionaire Harold looked her up.
Oh word, Person of Interest? At least CSI‘s Snapchat knockoff had a unique name (Vidtry). LINKEDWEB?
Anyway, the mission was a failure. They have to shoot their way out of the warehouse, which they of course do, but things aren’t great. Because it really looks like their friend Sameen is dead.
Samantha and Harold have a conversation, and he’s attempting to convince her that maybe they should give up hope, as it’s putting their lives in grave danger. Then Samantha looks up at a street camera:
She knows. The Machine must know where Shaw is and if she’s alive, but she won’t tell me. Please help us.
And then the phone rings. A PAY PHONE.
They go answer it and Samantha looks hopeful. It looks as if The Machine has answered her wishes. On the pay phone, four words are repeated.
It’s code. For “STOP.” Harold says The Machine is telling them to stop looking for Sameen. Samantha’s reply:
And she walks off.
This is terrible. I just got way too attached for the gang to be splitting up now. Also, what a cliffhange—
And then a voice:
If this is the afterlife, it sucks.
SAMEEN IS ALIVE.
SARAH SHAHI IS SAMEEN SHAW.
YESSSSES ALL AROUND.
But then back to this guy:
I sincerely hope you manage to get some rest, my dear Sameen. You’re going to need it.
Person of Interest, you don’t play fair.
I hate you.
I love you.