Movies/TV

Person of Interest – Pretenders Review


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Pretenders has one crippling problem. It’s a problem that hamstrings the plot and throws off the chemistry of the show’s leads. Honestly, it’s a little impressive that Person of Interest was able to turn in even a good episode despite this handicap. What is this problem that I speak of? This week’s number is freaking annoying!!! Normally I have a decent tolerance for irritating characters, but I really didn’t like this one. The number in question belongs to Walter Dang, a man whose very name says, “This might have been a mistake.” He is an office worker who, after the apparent suicide of a coworker’s brother, begins investigating the death under the alias of Detective Jack Forge. Subtlety is not in this character’s vocabulary. It doesn’t help that Walter walks around looking like he just left a L.A. Confidential themed Halloween party.  One might hope that Walter’s annoying traits will be turned down a bit once Reese confronts him, but initially Reese treats him as if he really is a detective, which means that we get treated to even more over-the-top noir-style swagger as Walter tries to maintain the lie. And things only get worse when Reese does finally reveal that he is more than just a simple detective as it turns out that Walter isn’t just an annoying wannabe Sam Spade, but also a fanboy. He was inspired by the reports he heard regarding a certain individual referred to as “the Man in the Suit.” Watching Walter pretend to be awesome isn’t nearly as painful as watching him be enamored with how awesome the rest of the cast is.

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However, as I said before, Pretenders IS a good episode despite the fact that its number is a reject from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. The plot hinges around the dead brother of Walter’s coworker. He was apparently a truck driver who was tasked with delivering a shipment of high powered rifles complete with explosive rounds to an arms dealer known as the Armorer. When the driver discovered what he was transporting, he abandoned the truck and died while attempting to escape from the individuals sent to question him. Walter recovered the driver’s phone during his “investigation,” so now various factions are trying to recover it in order to access its GPS records and find the truck. The factions include both agents of the Armorer as well as Elias who claims to have no particular interest in the business of illegal weapons and is simply trying to “keep it under control.” While it ties in a bit to the ongoing conflicts with the Brotherhood, this really does have all the elements necessary for a fun an interesting case-of-the-week episode. With enjoyable shoot-outs and intrigue, the only thing that really holds this episode back is Walter.

Finch largely sits the episode out, as his cover identity has him presenting a paper at a conference in Hong Kong. His scenes there are enjoyable as it’s always fun to watch Michael Emerson take on different personalities and personas, and his ability to switch between jovial and calculating continues to impress. All things considered, it’s probably fortunate that he wasn’t directly involved in the episode as he probably would have had to take part in a stupid “cool guys in sunglasses walking slowly” scene.

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Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:

  • How does a Person of Interest episode named Pretenders not have the Foo Fighters song in it!? For shame.
  • Fusco and Shaw get a bit to do in this episode as they provide support in the investigation… unfortunately the only thing I can bring to mind whenever I think of them is that stupid “cool guys in sunglasses walking slowly” scene that I alluded to before.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the upcoming NBC drama State of Affairs looks like a sillier version of Person of Interest?

Pretenders is a decent but frustrating episode. It’s certainly not the weakest episode of the season so far. In my opinion, that title still goes to the episode Brotherhood. The reason Pretenders is so frustrating is simply due to the fact that its biggest weakness is so obvious and simple to fix. The show should have toned down the character of Walter Dang and not tried to make him as comedic as it did. The episode has an enjoyable plot, but it is poisoned by Walter’s presence.

Person of Interest - Pretenders Review

Final Thoughts

Pretenders is a decent episode that is held back by the fact that its person of interest is seemingly a blend of Sam Spade and Jar Jar Binks.

Overall Score 3.5 Pretty Good

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