The one TV show that forever had my heart in my mouth has got to be ‘Person of Interest‘. Utterly different in every way from the rest of its kind, PoI set a bar as far as intelligent TV shows went. I remember being mildly interested going into the pilot episode of the series. The premise was intriguing; an all-seeing, all-pervasive machine modeled on the lines of Big Brother, saving the country, one bad guy at a time.
The episodes’ prelude goes thus-
“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people; people like you. Crimes the government considered ‘irrelevant’. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you.” If THAT didn’t pique your interest, I doubt anything will.
So yes, first season in and the show had me hooked. The scripting is really good (Credits to Jonathan Nolan), the actors are absolutely fantastic and bring much credibility to their roles. Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Sarah Shahi, Taraji P Henson and Amy Acker are the force behind the show.
But never mind the brilliant storyline by Nolan, never mind the brilliant actors; what managed to hold your attention was the fact that it managed to convey perfectly a sense of urgency and paranoia that had set in among the general public post 9/11. The creators have said that they realised having tapped into a public nerve on the increasing lack of privacy in the world. And that is the success of the show: the sheer possibility that the show indeed does mirror life today.
After a couple of episodes, the format becomes familiar. The machine sends the social security number of a person in danger to Finch. Finch gathers the team and they have to determine whether the number is a threat or a victim and then take action. Sleek gadgets, plain old fashioned recon and stellar action- the episodes are a treat for action lovers. And just when you start to think that is all there is to the show, there enters Root, played to perfection by Amy Acker. The character singularly changed the foil of the show and took intellectual entertainment to a whole new level. With her introduction, we start to witness some brilliant mind games.
The 11th episode of the fourth season ‘If-Then-Else‘ is arguably my most favorite. Heart-wrenching, chilling and highly suspenseful, the episode is an example of one of the best screenplays I have ever seen. It features the machine analyzing hundreds of thousands of possible scenarios to fix on the best case scenario that will keep its human agents alive. All in the span of a nanosecond. No, even lesser than that. An episode that showcases the truly limitless power of the machine, it is one of the most fascinating episode formats you will ever get to see and shows the technical and creative mastery of the team behind PoI.
The fifth and final season’s finale ‘Return 0‘ was telecast a fortnight ago and received almost perfect ratings. A cocktail worth your time and interest, Person of Interest is a must-watch if you’re a lover of action thrillers.