An episode which starts with the funeral of a much-loved character, and scenes soundtracked by Johnny Cash’s aching version of Nine Inch Nails’s ‘Hurt’ – one of the finest covers of all time – is letting you know that it’s going to be gruelling. Simmons is in the wind, which is a particular problem for Finch, who now has two mad dogs to try and keep on the porch. On being told that one particular outrage bears the mark of his “psychopathic vigilante”, he replies “Which one?”
Finch is assisted by Fusco, and manages to locate Shaw, but Reese – grief-stricken, unshaven, and slowly bleeding out – is on his own, and on Simmons’s trail. Root, still in touch with The Machine, persuades Finch that she can help. So he sets her free, and even Shaw is eventually prepared to let her have a gun. (Or two. Whoa.) She also drops occasional allusions to what will presumably be the next multi-episode arc, but Finch isn’t too interested in that for now: Reese and Simmons, for different reasons, both need to be found. Simmons needs to be dealt with – and there are, as we will see, different ways of going about that – but Reese, even if he survives his injuries, looks as if he’s going to go back to what he was before he was saved by Finch and Carter.
As it happens, in an episode which is never less than intensely thrilling, Simmons’s ultimate fate will be determined by an unexpected protagonist. There are also brief but telling flashbacks to past events in the lives of Finch, Reese, Fusco, and Shaw, which do a remarkable job of illuminating key – and occasionally unexpected – facets of their personalities, even if the effect is spoiled a little by the fact that the “present day”, according to the onscreen graphics, is 2013. But that’s a very minor gripe. ‘The Devil’s Share’ is achingly sad, gratifyingly violent, thoughtful, morally complex, and drop-dead cool into the bargain. Network TV really doesn’t get much better than this.