Person of Interest – The Devil You Know Review
The Devil You Know picks up right where Point of Origin left off with Shaw and the Samaritan agent, Martine, going head-to-head right in the middle of a mall. The shootout is relatively short due to Shaw fleeing to the street and into the open arms of Root, but the image of her yanking a P90 out from under her makeup counter did bring a smile to my face. Root quickly hides Shaw in a moving van parked in one of Samaritan’s blind spots, and explains to Shaw that her cover has been compromised and that they need to get back to the subway through the use of the shadow map. However, when Shaw learns that Reese is busy protecting Elias, she becomes adamant about providing aid. Even though this is primarily Elias’ episode, it has some strong character moments for Shaw. Her concern about having to go to ground would appear to be rooted not in her own self-interest, but in a desire to continue protecting the numbers and her friends.
That being said, Elias is the beating heart of this episode, even though it starts off with some questionable characterization. When Reese comes to alert Elias to the fact that his life is in danger, he responds with self-assurance and is quick to dismiss the threat that the Brotherhood poses. While Carl Elias has often been confident to the point of smugness, his arrogance felt unnatural. Once it is clear that the Brotherhood has used the information it stole from the police to create an index of Elias’ followers and turn them against him, he is forced to go into hiding with only the aid of his right-hand man, Scarface, and John to protect him. It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Scarface dies. The moment that they revealed that his name was Anthony, it became clear that he was not long for this world. In the hands of a lesser show, his death might have been played up to create an artificial feeling of significance. But Person of Interest is not a lesser show, and rather than make him out to be more significant to the plot than he actually is, they instead make him significant through his connection to Elias. Elias is a man who considers loyalty to be paramount and, just as Anthony was loyal to him, he remains loyal to Anthony. I will avoid focusing in on the finer details of the plot, as this really is a well crafted episode that deserves to be seen, and this is probably the strongest Elias-centered episode that the show has had.
I had noted previously that Person of Interest had seemingly set Dominic up to be comparable to Elias, but nowhere was that equivalence more effectively and cleverly implemented than in The Devil You Know. So far, the show has largely presented Dominic as a Godfather-esque, calculating mastermind, but The Devil You Know allows a peek behind the mask that reveals a previously unseen arrogance and impatience. When Dominic catches sight of a shortcut to true power of sorts, he allows some of that arrogance to be revealed. He wants to be everything that Elias is and more, and, for all his posturing and benevolence, when given the opportunity to seize the power that Elias has accumulated he reaches for it with little consideration for the costs. This allows for an interesting link to be draw between Anthony and… well… Link. Anthony makes it abundantly clear that he is willing to die for Elias, and Link appears somewhat shaken by his resolve. This is particularly notable when Dominic calmly dismisses their losses in the episode as insignificant. Still, it is a little funny to see Jamie Hector playing a gangster who is disturbed by how far his boss is willing to go. It’s as if Link wants it to be one way… but it’s the other way.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- No sign of Reese’s psychiatrist in this episode. Can you tell that I haven’t committed her name to memory? I’d really like the show to do more with her, since Reese can really be an interesting character, particularly when the show examines how grief drives him. Still, I’m not complaining about her not being in this episode specifically since trying to fit counseling sessions into such a tight narrative probably wouldn’t have worked particularly well.
- The episode also serves to introduce Elias’ accountant and advisor, Bruce, played by James Le Gros. Le Gros has been in a ton of minor roles both in television and film. I recognize him from a minor role in season 8 of Friends, but he also appeared in Zodiac and Point Break.
- Root’s explanation to Shaw as to why she can’t be assigned a new identity was utter crap. There are at least a half dozen better ways to explain it to the character than “I don’t make the rules.”
- There were a few moments where the episode could have used some more subtlety. Most notably, the scene towards where Greer provides Martine with a number of agents, all of whom are standing in shadows, came off as a bit too silly.
The Devil You Know is the Person of Interest we know. It is smart, well-constructed, and multi-layered. This is one of those rare episodes that gets even better the second time you watch it. The only significant problems that it has lie in some slightly off characterization of Elias and Dominic. It is just significant enough to be distracting, but fortunately doesn’t really drag the episode down.
The Devil You Know is a damn fine episode that allows for some strong development for both Elias and Dominic as they go head to head. Invictus Maneo, indeed.