Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Why You Should Be Watching... Person of Interest

I’m currently making my way through the third season of Person of Interest at the moment, and have to say that it’s arguably the best show currently on television right now. Hit the break to find out just why I love this show – and as this post is designed to get newcomers onto the series, there are virtually no spoilers.

What’s It About?

Person of Interest is a science fiction/crime drama created by Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher Nolan, y’know – that guy), and JJ Abrams, so it has a lot going for it just by the names of the people attached. And that’s before you even get to the concept, which plays on the Post-911 era which saw America do their best to prevent threats before they even happened. It turns out that a mysterious billionaire Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) created a Machine designed to do just this such thing. The machine is capable of identifying a person who will be involved in a threat, and gives Finch their social security number. However, there’s just one problem – Finch doesn’t know whether they’re going to commit the crime or be a victim of one.

And that’s where John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former CIA Agent comes in. He turns up in New York where he finds himself approached by Finch and is convinced to work with him. Not long after Finch is enlisted by Reese, he recruits an operative of his own inside the NYPD – corrupt Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) as his source of information behind the force. However, Reese, who quickly becomes known as the “Man in the Suit” due to his choice of clothing, finds himself being made the number one target of idealist Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson).

That’s the basic premise of the show. Obviously, characters change and develop over the course of the series, with Carter being a notable character for this and new ones are introduced all the time. It’s great to see how Person of Interest deals with change and it’s rare that someone will stay in the same place for too long.

Why Is It Good?

The show itself starts off as a basic police procedural, with hints of science fiction undertones, but by Season 3 the SciFi has all but cemented itself in the show’s core and it makes a refreshing twist from the countless other shows on CBS right now. Its complex plots are normally resolved within an episode, but there are overarching arcs that sometimes stretch across multiple episodes, or even an entire season, but at the same time they all feel fresh and it manages to remain different, compelling and exciting. There’s always some twists included or revelations about the characters that will throw us off guard just when you think that we’ve sussed out who the real threat is. It’s consistently surprising and all the more better for it.

Its Characters Are Great

In a show with two male leads, you wouldn’t expect the women to get as much attention as they do. Thankfully, Person of Interest avoids from falling into the trap of the Supernatural root and making nearly all of the female leads only one-hit wonders or people to be rescued. The balance between the characters and the focus on each of them, villains, heroes and anti-heroes alike are all great to watch and there isn’t a single person on the team who I’m not hoping they get killed off each time they show up. I want them to stick around, and I care about these characters.

And you will too.

For starters, Reese, Finch, Fusco and Shaw are not the only people you’ll meet on the show. Root (Amy Acker) is one of the main female characters, a highly intelligent computer hacker with a keen interest in Finch and the Machine, and there’s also Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi) who is a Government Assassin when we first meet her in Season 2. Her character is probably one of my favourite of the entire cast – and it’s great to see her change and grow overtime. We also get recurring appearances from the likes of Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco), a specialist in crisis management, and Leon Tao (Ken Leung), whose schemes to attempt to get rich quickly often land him in trouble with the wrong sort of people.

All of these characters are fantastic, and it’s not just the good guys. The show has a wealth of villains to throw at the characters – Amy Acker’s Root is an antagonist when she is first introduced, and there’s a certain character played fantastically well by Enrico Colantoni that poses as a real charismatic, cool and calculative opponent. Heck, even House of Cards’ Michael Kelly (who plays Doug Stamper) gets in on the action as CIA Agent Mark Snow.

What Episodes Are The Best? (And Where Should You Start?)

One of the best things about Person of Interest and its crime-procedural-ish style is that the majority of the episodes you should be able to watch and understand what’s going on. I came into the show with the fourth episode of Season 2 and quickly got the hang of things, and it wasn’t too long before I went back and caught up on the season from the start. I’m now three episodes into Season 3, and itching to catch up before Season 4 airs this fall. Of Course, like most shows you can watch them in order from the pilot, but what I’d recommend is watching S2x16 “Relevance”, first. It’s one of my favourite episodes from television quite possibly ever and features (however briefly) pretty much all of the main cast, and acts as the introductionary episode for Shaw. With the focus shifted away from Reese and Finch it was a nice shakeup in the show’s formula – and as Shaw is finding out about the Machine at the same time the viewers are, it allows for a good handy jumping on point.

Of course, you’ll probably want to go back and watch the episodes from the beginning after that. But seriously, Relevance is an exceptional episode and can be watched by newcomers and those watching it in the right order alike. Aside from S1x01, it’s probably the best place to start.

However, Relevance is not the only episode that I’d rank as the best. It’s very hard to call and whilst I’ve not seen most of Season 3, these are my Top 5 favourite episodes at the moment: S1x07 “Witness”, S1x10 “Number Crunch”, S1x23 “Firewall”, S2x01 “The Contingency” and S2x16 “Relevance”. Although bearing in mind, the non Relevance episodes are probably best watched in conjunction with the rest of the show.

Still Not Convinced?

Try this link here, where Io9’s Annalee Newitz probably explains it better than I ever could. Also, let me know in the comments section below once you’ve seen the show and whether you’ll be sticking with it or not.

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