‘Skip’, the first episode of this double-bill, would be an absolute all-time classic Person of Interest had the show not set the bar not so high. In consequence, it’s merely outstanding. The Number is Frankie Wells (Katheryn Winnick), a bail bondsman (I know, but “bondsperson” doesn’t sound right) trying to bring in Ray Pratt, ostensibly someone who’s skipped bail, but who in fact Frankie has a personal interest in. Ray, in turn, is being protected by Harper Rose, who we first met last week, and who is already a reliably entertaining and intriguing member of the PoI rotating support cast. (And who seems, did she but know it, to be getting messages directly from The Machine.)
Frankie is great, incidentally: sparky, fun, and good with her fists. It’s no surprise that there’s a fair amount of chemistry between her and Reese, which she at least acknowledges. Reese’s attentions are elsewhere, though; Iris, his therapist, has suddenly decided that she can no longer have Reese as a client, for reasons she’s initially unwilling to disclose, but which we can guess.
Finch, meantime, is excited because his lady friend Elizabeth Bridges is in town; partly because she’s an unwitting part of his plan to instal spy software on the Samaritan system, and partly because he likes her. But immediately after they meet for coffee she becomes a Number too. Finch, by degrees, works out that the threat to Elizabeth’s life comes from a source which is very close to home, who takes the view that Finch’s plan will inevitably expose him to mortal danger, and who has therefore concluded that Elizabeth has to be killed to stop the plan and protect Finch. It gives the episode an additional twist of emotion which elevates it into an exceptional one.
By contrast I thought that the next episode, ‘Search and Destroy’, fell just a little short, despite on paper having everything going for it, including Aasif Mandvi as the Number, Sulaiman Khan, the CEO of a software company who suddenly discovers that his whole life is being hacked, up to the point where someone – or something – is framing him for embezzling funds from his company. Khan is savvy enough to realise that the hack is too sophisticated to be the work of a human, and correctly concludes that an AI is behind it. No-one believes him, of course, until he falls into the hands of Finch and Reese, who deduce that Samaritan is involved.
Meantime Zoe floats in and out, gently grilling Reese on whether he really thinks that he’s the right guy to be getting into a relationship, which in all likelihood he isn’t; I’m expecting Iris to be a Number at some point. And Root has been instructed by The Machine to retrieve a briefcase which contains what looks like a Fabergé egg, although we don’t yet know why. It’s very good – very good indeed – but for my money not quite as good as ‘Skip’.