The Number of the Week – because, even as the world is falling apart, this is a show which knows the importance of structure; are you paying attention, Scandal? – is Ethan Garvin, a sound analyst who works at the Real Time Crime Center, which appears to be the surveillance branch of NYPD. Ethan’s particular interest is a piece of software named ShotSeeker, which picks up sounds that might be gunfire and decides whether or not shots have been fired. However, it’s not entirely reliable, so Ethan – who has a particular aptitude for this sort of thing – acts as a human filter before police are despatched to the scene, or not.
Ethan, however, is sneaking off after work to investigate the disappearance of Krupa, a young graduate who had been researching a method for the long-term preservation of fresh food, thus allowing its transportation around the world. A Big Agri company had been trying to buy Krupa’s research, but ultimately she’d decided to go with a charity devoted to relieving starvation. Shortly thereafter, ShotSeeker had picked up something that sounded like gunfire at her apartment, but had decided it was actually the sound of firecrackers. This is a conclusion with which Ethan disagrees, particularly given that he has discovered that Krupa is missing. Samaritan, of course, is involved.
Meantime Fusco and Reese are approached by Bruce Moran, a Elias ally, who wants to know what happened to his boss, and is prepared to use threats to find out. Not that these are going to persuade Reese. (The broom!) And Finch has created versions of the Machine and Samaritan, locked them in a Faraday cage, and set them loose on each other; in what I assume is a deliberate echo of last week’s episode, he has them running battle simulations in the hope of finding a weakness in Samaritan which he can exploit. But several billion wins for Samaritan later, he’s close to admitting defeat.
This would all be more than enough in itself but, as ever, the plotting of Person of Interest is so meticulous that nothing goes to waste. A bit part character from earlier in the season makes a significant reappearance. Krupa remains missing, leaving open the question of what, exactly, Samaritan wants to do with the world’s food supply. And an apparently casual enquiry, early in the episode, about the security of Finch’s safe house turns out to be the springboard for a punch-the-air twist that I didn’t see coming at all. Not an exceptional episode, merely a routinely brilliant one.