“Matsya Nyaya” and “Many Happy Returns” are great examples of just how far Person Of Interest has come, using a combination of unspooling backstory and ongoing arcs to develop the characters and heighten their collective purpose.
In “Many Happy Returns,” the POI of the week, an abused woman on the run from her U.S. Marshal husband, was aided by a parallel case oh-so close to Reese’s heart. Carter’s investigation into Jessica’s death, discovering that she was abused and killed by her Replacement Reese, was supplemented by the backstory revelations in the previous episode “Matsya Nyaya.”
There we learned that Jessica had reached out to Reese for help but he had one last mission with the CIA to finish first (one with connections, unbeknownst to Reese, to the Machine). The two episodes work well in expressing the fact that Reese was too late to save Jessica, thus contextualizing his motivation for joining Finch, and the Machine, in the fight to save ‘insignificants’.
That’s not all, it turns out that Finch tried to save Jessica, whose number was repeatedly coughed up by the Machine, but like Reese, he was too late. The reveal that Finch was at the hospital when Reese learned of Jessica’s death was a fantastically executed moment. His unheard “I’m so sorry,” (which, for me, is right up there with Reese’s “wait for me”) further establishes them as two parts of the same avenging angel.
We’re led to believe that Reese killed Replacement Reese in that great scene where he stalks him after he learns of Jessica’s death, so his decision to not to kill the U.S. Marshal was another significant moment in his arc. Working with Finch has given him renewed purpose and self control.
The resonating moment carried through to the final kick where Finch’s birthday present to Reese, symbolised by a key, turns out to be an apartment overlooking his favorite spot. Not only does this reinforce Finch as a companion who cares for Reese, it encapsulates the idea that Reese has passed a test within himself; he unlocked his own painful door and can now start putting down roots.
“When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different. Someone better. When that person is taken from you. What do you become then?” — Mr. Reese.
A very philosophical question. One Reese has yet found the answer to. But, as illustrated in the episode, he’s in the process of finding that his future is not written in stone.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Reese.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- One of the great unspoken elements about POI is that there are so many secrets between the characters, yet so much heart and comrade.
- Carter’s decision to shred Reese’s file was a nice display of respect. It’s neat that she kept the Jessica/Reese photo, I’m sure that will mean a lot to him when the time comes.
- Reese in his new apartment overlooking the chess game conveys the notion that he now see the bigger picture.
- It’s pleasing to see that the show is prepared to go to some murky places with Reese. He decision not to kill the Marshal suggests restraint, but also respect for the Machine and the power it has given him.
- The big thing that still needs some exploration is the Machine, though the past couple of episodes have certainly pointed towards its looming presence. It looks like next week’s episode is going to give us some more on that, and the mystery surrounding Finch’s partner (remember, the Machine flagged him up as a threat), so that’s promising.