In ‘Blunt’, the first of this week’s double-bill, the Number is college student Harper Rose, although Finch is a little perturbed about the unusual way in which the Machine is passing her details on. With, as it turns out, good reason: whatever her real name is, it isn’t Harper Rose. She’s using a job at a medical marijuana dispensary to take advantage of the fact that banks can’t take cash deposits which are the proceeds of selling drugs – legal at state level, not at federal level – and stealing the money. Her problem is that the Brotherhood has been hired to transport the dispensary’s cash, and Dominic does not take kindly to a grifter interfering with that, nor to her tipping off a Mexican cartel about the money, resulting in a Brotherhood vs Cartel shootout.
Harper is disinclined to accept Reese’s help at first, although within a few seconds she’s read him as “former military with a side of hero complex”. Which he pretty much is: Dominic has Harper’s boyfriend Trey, and Reese offers to exchange the stolen money for Trey’s safe return. A couple of Brotherhood henchpersons prove difficult to deal with, so Reese pacifies them in the usual way then demands a face-to-face with Dom himself. “Or I can keep kicking his ass from a distance. Whatever he prefers.”
The two of them do meet, and Dominic – perhaps not unreasonably – wonder why Elias gets a free pass. The answer is that Reese and Elias have an understanding, and if The Brotherhood would only stop trying to kill innocent people they and Reese could be friends as well. Dominic is meh on this as well.
Meantime Root – whose detachment from the main plots is, in the absence of Shaw, not playing to the show’s ensemble strengths if you ask me – is trying to develop an app to help with possible recruitment of like-minded people to The Machine’s cause. This brings her into contact with Caleb Phipps, the young programmer we last saw a couple of seasons ago being saved by Finch. Mind you, as we haven’t seen him since, and as he’s now apparently a successful tech entrepreneur, he might well be on Team Samaritan. To be determined.
Harper will escape The Brotherhood’s attentions with sufficient style to impress Dominic himself, who offers her a job if she ever gets fed up hanging with Reese and Finch, with whom she seems to have built a sort of friendship by the end. Which gives us another possible Shaw replacement, and another character who could yet go either way.
‘Karma’, on the other hand, is a little more murky, and perhaps slightly the better episode for it. The Number is Dr Shane Edwards, a psychiatrist who treats, and advocates for, those who have suffered as a result of violent crime, with a not-so-Secret Pain: his own wife was murdered. His actual Secret is that he is also a vigilante, getting revenge on aggressors who have harmed his patients; he even keeps details in a Dexter-esque hole in his wall. He does this by framing them rather than killing them, thus ensuring that they go to prison. “We should hire him, Finch”, suggests Reese. “Take the week off”.
Where it gets really interesting, though, is that the person who was convicted of murdering his wife, Wyatt Morris, has been released, and Edwards is determined to frame him for something. Reese is pretty relaxed about this; Finch, though, is almost frantic about the whole thing, because – as a series of flashbacks to 2010 reveals – he had an elaborate plan for killing Alicia Corwin, the person who killed his partner Nathan, and has since come to the view that revenge doesn’t give you closure. In addition, it’s pretty clear from an early stage that, whether or not Morris killed Edwards’s wife, it certainly didn’t happen in the way that Edwards said it did.
Meantime Reese needs to attend a charity dinner being thrown by Edwards’s foundation. But fortunately he knows a psychiatrist who can get him into it undercover: his own, Dr Iris Campbell. As our CJ observed a few weeks ago, Unpopcult is a huge fan of the “going undercover as a couple” plot, particularly when evening dress is involved. Reese tells Iris that she looks stunning, and he’s right about that. He’s still not ready to open up to her, though, and that might stop them ever getting together; Iris looks like the sort of gal who appreciates honesty. (Unless she’s in Samaritan’s pay, in which case I completely withdraw that.)
At one point I thought we were being set up for the revelation that it was Edwards who had killed his wife, and then framed Morris for it. What we got, in fact, was something much less clear-cut, and therefore much more satisfying. Both episodes are fine; it’s arguable that the suffocating tension of the first half of the season would have been difficult to keep up, for both the show and the viewer, and that some room to breathe isn’t a bad thing. I kind of feel, though, that we’re missing Shaw just a little.