Person of Interest – Q & A Review
Q & A is an episode that, in a number of ways, seems to challenge Costanza’s Law of Wrongness (“If every instinct [they] have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.) which I referred to heavily in my review of Guilty. This is not to say that Q & A is not predictable. It simply avoids being predictable in the same way that Guilty was. The outcome of events in this episode probably isn’t going to stun anyone, but the episode does allow for a degree of ambiguity as it progresses, so, while viewers may predict the ending, it does not feel like a foregone conclusion. The plot itself is split into two halves, with half the episode following Reese as he investigates this week’s number and the other half following Finch as he investigates a suspicious variant of a clue from the nautilus competition.
Reese’s investigation is the more straightforward, and, in my opinion, the more problematic of the two stories. The reason for this is almost solely due to a particularly weak ending. The number that he is investigating belongs to Anna Mueller, a software programmer working for a company called Fetch and Retrieve. Fetch and Retrieve is essentially Google with a healthy dose of Apple mixed in. The show is hardly subtle about this with the Fetch and Retrieve offices being awash in bright primary and secondary colors. It actually feels like Person of Interest accidentally wandered into the LifeInvader offices from Grand Theft Auto V and decided to film an episode while it was there. However, the show deftly avoids the threat of this location becoming irksome, by having Reese take on the role of a security guard. Watching him deal with the eccentricities of the location with his standard deadpan helps to offset the irritation that the conspicuous nerd stereotypes would have otherwise evoked. Reese initially deduces that Anna may be endangered by some aspect of her personal life since she’s covered in bruises and appears to be receiving odd text messages, but obviously the threat is tied to her work because if it wasn’t the show wouldn’t have bothered installing it with an over abundance of character. It turns out that her bruises and texts are part of her involvement in underground MMA tournaments which she is using as an excuse to avoid her sister who is living with her while undergoing chemotherapy. If that sounds like too much character to fit into roughly half an episode, then you would be right. It’s a testament to the show’s writing that it almost manages to make it work. As I said before, the ending is where this storyline falls flat as it ends with both the reveal of a laughably cartoonish villain, and an ending conversation between Anna and Reese that, for me, falls too heavily on the side of saccharine. A number of the ideas behind this story are rather good, but it feels too condensed for it to be considered fully functional.
Finch’s investigation begins when he finds a missing dog poster that is identical to the one from the competition in Nautilus. When he checks the GPS coordinates hidden within the flyer, he finds that they point to a location on the dark map and message hidden within the image on the flyer stating “You were right.” Sure enough, when Finch goes to the location to investigate he finds Claire, the number from the episode Nautilus, who claims that she fled Samaritan when she realized the full extent of what she was involved in. Their conversation is halted when a sniper shoots Claire in the shoulder, barely missing her heart. Finch moves her to a funeral home where he can tend to her wound. As a viewer, I naturally maintained skepticism towards Claire’s loyalty, but it was refreshing to see that I wasn’t the only one. Every step of the way, Finch checks and confirms her story, looking for holes or inconsistencies. For me, this storyline serves as a welcome return to the war on Samaritan. By simply dipping its toes back into this pool of intrigue, Person of Interest ensures that it doesn’t overwhelm the viewer by simply diving back in after only an episode away from it. There are still problems with the story’s execution though. It tries to touch upon the subject of the good that Samaritan does vs. the bad, but, like in Honor Among Thieves, the subject is only brought up late in the game, and isn’t really given the time needed to really be discussed.
Q & A is a decent episode. It feels like it might have been fighting with itself to try and meet the time constraints of broadcast television, and it may have been wiser to cut out elements from the middle of the episode, like the perpetrators hacking Anna’s sister’s health monitor bracelet, rather than rushing the ending, as that ends up hobbling both of the storylines. But hey… at least they didn’t run off looking for Shaw again.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- I’ll admit. I didn’t anticipate Root showing up again. I should have seen it coming, due to the cameras going offline, but it still took me by surprise.
- I’m simultaneously glad and disappointed that the episode didn’t use ChumHum from The Good Wife, because, as distracting as it would be to see those two shows dragged into the same continuity, it might be worth it to see Reese interact with Neil Gross.
- It’s been a while since we heard from Elias or the Brotherhood. Fortunately, the next episode appears to feature Dominic, so that may be interesting.
Q & A seems a bit confused on the direction in which the show needs to go. Currently, the goals and purpose of our characters feels a bit unfocused. With better pacing, this episode might have succeeded better at bringing Samaritan back into the show’s crosshairs, but as it stands it’s just okay. Maybe, the next episode will bring a better sense of focus. After all, it appears to involve medical marijuana, and as we all know, nothing breeds focus like marijuana.
Q & A is an episode that, aside from having a title that will ironically make it a pain to Google in the future, lacks focus and direction with both of its stories, ending in a less than graceful fashion. It's not bad, or even middling, but it certainly doesn't represent the show at its best.