Sometimes the Numbers of the Week are goodies who need protecting, like last week’s. Sometimes they’re baddies who need to be stopped. Arguably, though, Person of Interest is at its most interesting when the morality is less straightforward. Like this week: the Number is weapons-grade asshat Wayne Kruger, an internet entrepreneur who owns a company named Lifetrace which harvests personal information, allowing individuals to be profiled in considerable depth. “Sounds a little like your Machine”, Reese playfully taunts Finch. As we know, of course, Finch really doesn’t like it when people diss his Machine; and he reacts by icily pointing out that Lifetrace sells the information on for profit, which his lovely Machine doesn’t.
Kruger, it turns out, needs protecting because there are a lot of people who have good reason to resent him and his company, and there’s someone spoon-feeding them with a variety of ways to get back at him. Shaw – more and more valuable to the show by the week – goes undercover at Lifetrace, to Finch’s evident scepticism (Reese: “Do you doubt her ability to be discreet?”; Finch: “I doubt her ability to keep from shooting someone”). The show is in part about the surveillance society on a week-to-week basis anyway, so a plot which specifically examines the extent to which our privacy has become a nuisance to some, and a tradeable commodity to others, is always going to be a winner. (The episode title, ‘Nothing To Hide’, is a reflection of Kruger’s position – shared, in real life, by a lot of people who really should know better – that innocent people have nothing to hide.) And meantime the back-in-uniform Carter has been landed with a rookie, who has presumably been planted by someone who wants to keep a close eye on her.
Excellent though the episode was, it was looking a bit straightforward once Reese and Finch had worked out who was behind the attacks on Kruger. But the final few minutes provide a classic example of how Person of Interest can take off in thrilling and unexpected directions, with a revelation which will no doubt spark another long-term arc. Another terrific episode.