Person of Interest – Brotherhood Review
I’m probably going to be referencing HBO’s The Wire a bit in this review, and not just because Brotherhood serves to bring back the character of Link, played by Jamie Hector. The Wire, particularly in its 4th season, had a number of young actors in its cast who were often throwing out slang in a manner that felt surprisingly organic, especially given the issues that come from using child actors. Then there is the opening to Brotherhood, where a number of elementary school girls tell Reese that they aren’t about to “drop a dime” to “Five-Oh.” I groaned. I’m actually hard pressed to think of the last time that Person of Interest had dialogue that grating, and it certainly doesn’t help that it was being delivered by child actors. Fortunately, the brother and sister who serve as the numbers for this week are, for the most part, well acted and have much better dialogue.
That being said, the plot has a number of issues as well. While, on the surface, it functions as a case of the week, Brotherhood suffers from a case of borrowed plot points. Almost every aspect of this plot feels like it was taken from another episode in the series. To some extent, this is to be expected with a procedural. There is only so long that you can go on creating weekly mysteries or investigations before you’re forced to implement a previously used plot element. The problem is that those borrowed plot elements extend beyond just the case of the week aspects into the overarching plot of the season. This is most apparent when the show reveals the identity of Dominic, the leader of the Brotherhood. Judging from the episode they draw from in that regard (and even reference directly through dialogue), I suspect that the show is attempting to draw some form of parallel between Dominic and Elias, but it didn’t feel particularly natural in its execution.
The case-of-the week focuses on a brother and sister that are living in separate foster homes who stumble upon a drug deal gone bad and make off with the money. In short, it’s a blend of No Country for Old Men and Kindergarten Cop. The children are attempting to use the money to get a lawyer to represent their mother who is in prison on a parole violation, but the Brotherhood wants to reclaim the money. So Reese ends up pursuing the children with the aid of a DEA agent who is concerned with the threat of a Brotherhood mole in her organization. Meanwhile, Shaw takes custody of a Brotherhood soldier named Mini (Because he’s big… like Little Kevin from season 4 of The Wire) who was wounded in the drug deal gone bad and attempts to extract information from him about the Brotherhood. While these narrative threads do a decent job of not getting too tangled to follow, it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’ve seen this all before, and, as a result, the handful of twists and reveals that Brotherhood tries to throw at the viewer ultimately fail to surprise.
The episode does have a few things going for it. It’s great to see Link return despite having been arrested in the season premiere. Both Reese and the viewer are informed by Fusco that he was only charged with a misdemeanor after a corner boy took the fall for him. Furthermore, despite having a less than stellar introduction to the series, Dominic, at the very least, appears to be an interesting adversary. I look forward to seeing more of the character.
Before I wrap this up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Root is absent this episode, with Elias taking over for her in terms of counseling sessions with Finch. His stated role in the episode is to keep the Albanian gang who was involved in the drug deal from targeting the children, but the main purpose of his interactions with Finch is to give him an opportunity to question why the cover identities are now necessary.
- The little girl that Reese tries to question in the playground is credited as “Queen Bee.” I facepalmed when I read that.
- Winston Duke who plays Mini in this episode, does a surprisingly good job despite the fact that I could only find one other listed role for the actor, which was for a Law & Order episode.
Brotherhood plays out like a Frankenstein’s monster of story elements from the first three seasons, with a number of attempts at surprising reveals that go over like lead balloons. The result is a largely stale story that fortunately possesses an ending that is far stronger than its lackluster opening. While the Brotherhood may prove to be an intriguing enemy for both the agents of The Machine as well as Elias, familiar plot beats result in this episode falling slightly short of the quality I’ve come to expect from this show.
I'll be honest, I almost flipped a coin to decide whether this episode should get a 3 star rating or a 3.5. Ultimately, I feel that the episode functions well enough on its own to merit a 3.5, but just barely.