Jul 18, 2013

[TV] Person of Interest: Season 2

So the first season of Person of Interest wasn't as bad as we had feared but it wasn't quite a home run either. It certainly had an interesting enough premise at its core and they made an effort to show the wide variety of cases that the Machine could pick up.

But despite the always amazing acting of Michael Emerson, the show still lacked a true sense of focus and it took it a long time before they started to more fully explore the meta-plot driving the show. And one can enjoy the crime of the week format for only so long before you start to look for more.

But in the end the first season certainly left us with a lot of interesting plot threads and story angles to explore. And with Finch now kidnapped, it was up to John to figure out where he is with the help of the nearly intelligent Machine that has been giving them their cases. And that's quite a challenge for even a guy like John, who is practically Batman without the costume.

Synopsis: Person of Interest is a crime drama series with some notable executive producers including J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Greg Pageman and Richard J. Lewis. The show broadcasts on CBS and is already confirmed for a third season.

The first season ended with Finch (Michael Emerson) missing and John (Jim Caviezel) pretty much pleading for the Machine to help. And that help comes from a random phone call to the phone booth nearest to John at the time and an unusual message consisting of different recordings put together to provide a set of seemingly random words. But this is a distinct message from the Machine and John has to figure out what they represent in order to find out where Finch is being hidden.

It takes a good two episodes for John to eventually track Finch down - but first we get to enjoy more of the banter and intellectual arguments between Finch and Root (Amy Acker), the hacker from season 1 who had sparked Finch's interest to some extent. She's on a personal mission somehow related to the Machine but th fact that she knows about it is a mystery in itself. And thankfully this rather meaty plot hook is not immediately resolved by the time Finch is rescued.

Disappointingly, the series first goes back to the crime of the week patter after Finch's rescue and seems to put us back on the decently interesting but not overly exciting serialized storytelling format. I mean come on, they had such an amazing setup after the first story arc of this season and then they give up the momentum by going back to random cases? Even with the glimpses of the past and key events in the present, it still seems like a bad decision in terms of the writing.

Still, the season is not without it's interesting stories spanning several episodes. We have Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) working with the FBI in an effort to keep ahead of their investigation of the "Man in a Suit," who is of course John Reese. Then we have Detective Fusco (Kevin Chapman) and his dealings with corrupt cops as he tries to keep himself from being incriminated for past crimes. And Finch is still keeping the darn dog - and that's practically a story in itself.

To be fair, the season certainly tried to make up for things b y really revealing more about the Machine itself and its colorful history. And while the Machine has felt like a special character in itself in the middle of all things, now its practically self-aware and thus a lot more "worthy" of destruction for being a tad bit too dangerous for people's comfort. Now it felt a lot more like the Machine truly was a full character given it was certainly doing things that seemed a bit beyond its programming. And with respect to the story, this might have been a very good thing indeed.

The show really did a lot to keep Caviezel and Emerson front and center for all the action. Oddly enough, it felt like Detective Carter had less of a role since she was so bogged down with the FBI compared to Detective Fusco. At least that guy got to sort of explore his back story, deal with his demons and pretty much remain loyal to Finch and Reese's special quest. Plus we got to explore more of the whole HR corrupt cops conspiracy and managed to come to a better understanding of its structure.

The big driver for the season is the notion that the Machine itself appears to be under threat. But what exactly the nature of that threat could be is what helps give the season a bit more substance. The easy answer is accusing Root, who is rather prominent in this season. But of course the obvious is rarely the right option in television and the writers do a good job of giving us a number of options for people to be suspicious of.

The last leg of this season has episodes that could be considered the show's best as we have both interesting cases and of course more interesting meta-plot development regarding the threat to the Machine. And how things pan out and the final plan that will be put into action to "save" it do make for some great television. You just have to get through a lot of the meandering plots and cases of the week to get to this point.

Person of Interest remains a rather interesting show in its second season but its tendency to get lost in its own side-stories and episodic tales is holding it back from being a truly innovative show. It's still the closest thing we have to a true science fiction TV series and thus it still deserves our support in this regard. The season still merits 3.5 mysterious messages from the Machine out of a possible 5.

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