No Scene on Person of Interest is ‘Irrelevant’

 

This will probably spark debate, because of the length and number of seasons, and the numerous, amazing moments throughout. Be they humorous, thought-provoking, romantic or sheer badass: Person of Interest is surely a show that has it all. I thought it’d be nice to have a little collection of small, under-appreciated moments of the show (so this discounts the big-ass fight scenes, dramatic death scenes, and huge storylines—hey, that could be another article…) that consistently amuse or touch me whenever I watch them.

I find it so rare that a show can contain seemingly pointless scenes (and then you think a few episodes later “Oh, that’s why she gassed an entire restaurant for that suitcase! She did finish her pancakes first, though, so excellent manners, Root. Wait—pancakes? Pancakes like Shaw’s pancakes? I—what do youmean I’m crying, I’m not crying—what? I have severe allergies to watching people eat their pancakes in honor of their loved ones—”) when really, they’re little clue-dumps for further plots or genuinely moving, emotional, funny scenes that advance certain stories or relationships; scenes that matter. Just like every Person of Interest fan is relevant—I find no scene on this show totally irrelevant. No flashback is wasted. Every single scene contributes to the growth of a relationship, a story arc, or a character’s traits. Person of Interest is excellent and may I say unrivaled in that regard. It sure has some funny ten-second throwaway scenes and one-liners, but for a show that revolves around saving irrelevant numbers, there are definitely no irrelevant scenes for me.

This article will contain spoilers, for those who haven’t seen the show—get on Netflix to watch all four seasons! Binge and enjoy and I promise I will eat my hat if you don’t! As for this article, here are my favorite five moments in no particular order.

 

“MARCH 20TH. PERSIAN NEW YEAR.”

This moment was exquisite in so many ways and genuinely made me tear up. Fusco and Shaw’s dynamic is amazing (as is every dynamic on this show…ah balderdash, I’m going to have to write an article about all of them and cry about them now, aren’t I…?) and Shaw relentlessly teases Fusco this episode about his inexperience of the world beyond New York City. In an episode that was all about murky, corrupt international politics, racial profiling, Omar’s unjust refusal of asylum approval and ease this notion passed through because of his race—this scene was beautiful. Fusco appreciates Shaw for who she is: not just a pinpoint shot and badass combatant, but for her heritage too. He acknowledges he hasn’t seen much of the world beyond New York City, but he is welcoming and open when he says: “That’s what’s great about New York. You don’t have to travel to learn about other cultures. They all come here.”

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Fusco wishes Shaw a Happy Persian New Year, in the place where Shaw’s mother and father first met. Touched, Shaw simply tells Fusco to “get outta here”–but Fusco, smiling, understands and complies.

Even if Fusco can’t afford to go abroad nor has a job that enables him to, he will always accept anyone of any heritage. When he wishes her Happy Persian New Year, it’s genuine and utterly unexpected and absolutely heart-rending. The entire scene with Shaw musing about her mom and dad’s first date, Shahi’s voice nearly cracking when she says “Get outta here, Fusco” accompanied by his knowing smile is immensely touching and beautifully, tenderly played by both Kevin Chapman and Sarah Shahi.

 

“I THINK SHE ALREADY KNOWS.”

Honestly, Root, I don’t think the audience nor the Machine gang need to know you love the living heck out of Sameen Shaw—but this little line from Harold confirmed that the gang knew all along, and acted utterly normally around them. There are no lesbian gags or jokes from the gang or over-sexualizing or fetishizing of a same-sex relationship from these fellas. Root, in the face of a certain death, needs Shaw to know that she loves her. I’m entirely convinced that’s what the message is (I mean, it could be something like: “would you like to bench press me if our weights in the subway don’t go high enough?” or “Pad Thai or Singapore Vermicelli?”) and Harold’s insistent, quick, knowing five words reveal to her and the audience that Reese (“Sameen? Not my girlfriend.”), Finch and Fusco know—and they have never, ever judged the pair for it.

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“The life I’ve led, a good end would be a privilege.”

Root has accepted her fate she’ll die a martyr for The Machine—she was fanatical about it once—but now she needs Shaw to know how she feels. The array of emotion on Amy Acker’s face as she says this is one of many reasons why I adore her inimitable acting ability—from plain old psychotic to subtle, tender, heart-aching moments like this.

It’s hugely emotionally relevant: Root’s convinced she will die out there in the hotel lobby fighting Martine; she’ll die a martyr—and she needs Shaw to know  because she won’t be able to tell her. That she loves her, I mean. Or, if your headcanon prefers a crackier version

 

JOHN ‘NO NONSENSE’ REESE

I think John Reese may be the king of no-nonsense. I sort of learnt and happily accepted this in the Pilot episode in which he acquires weaponry by shooting up a gun shop, and then—in the middle of a New York City road—he simply steps out with a balaclava on and launches a rocket at a car in which his person of interest is being held. When he barges into a man in ‘Allegiance’ from a building, using the man below as a shield as they land atop a car, Reese clambers off him and glances up at a concerned Shaw and Fusco as if to say “Sup, bro?”.

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Reese tackles a dude out of a window from a high building, lands on a car, crawls off him and shrugs up at Shaw and Fusco as if to say: “Wassup?”

When he and Shaw storm a building, Reese simply knocks a questioning guard unconscious with a good old wallop in the face with a stool. John Reese is resourceful, skilled and clever—but it’s these moments I can’t help laughing at. After all, who would flash would a dashing smile at someone—before decking them in the face, knocking them out cold? John Reese. That’s who.

 

THREE’S A CROWD: REESE, FINCH AND…A BABY?

“I may have done something rash,” Finch confesses (understatement of the year, Harold Finch, oh my God). Joss Carter quite aptly sums this up when Finch kidnaps a baby(!) in danger in ‘Baby Blue’ and looks after her in the library, with Finch assuring her she’s safe with Reese—and Carter, in utter horror and disbelief, hisses at him: ” John? John?! You trust him with a baby?” It’s a line riotously delivered by Taraji P. Henson, but perhaps the funniest scene was when the little baby went walkabout in the library because Finch thought an excellent makeshift cot for a baby would be a circular barricade of books. Reese and Finch desperately try to find her…only to find her holding a grenade. “It’s just a tear gas grenade,” Reese says coolly, clearly gunning for Father Figure of the Year, which earns him a harsh reprimand from Finch: “It’s still a grenade!”

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Please do not ever, ever let John Reese and Harold Finch supervise your baby. Please.

Reese eventually coerces it from the baby’s hands, but this entire episode was full of comedy gold—and further cements the proof that Reese and Finch absolutely cannot raise a kid together. In fact, it just reinforces the fact that whilst Reese is a badass and Finch is super-intelligent, they are also hysterically hopeless. The first lesson to be learned is that if you should be an odd-looking man kidnapping a baby, you’re already in too deep and you should re-evaluate your life. Turn around and hand the baby back. The second lesson is that if you do go ahead with said kidnapping, do not store your infant hostage in a library full of heavy books and your trigger-happy, former CIA officer’s entire arsenal of weapons. If there is a God up there: please do not let this happen. Please. Or only let it happen on Person of Interest.

 

“MR. BAREINSTEIN WAS A BIG HIT!”…KINDA.

When Finch enters the subway to find a handcuffed Shaw on a bench and Root in a bear outfit, it is a logical conclusion for Finch to make—assuming Finch and Reese know about Root and Shaw—that this is some ghastly, ‘I need to bleach my eyes out’ kind of kink—which I really wouldn’t put past the pair. (I think this calls for the infamous Tumblr meme “Harold, they’re lesbians!”) It turns out Root was under another alias, this time as a children’s party entertainer: Mr. Bareinstein—but the look of tortured exasperation on Shaw’s face in this scene indicates that she was subject to possibly many hours of Root taking huge delight in ‘performing’ for her. In the outfit. Finch’s expression is priceless because God knows Root what subjects Shaw to whilst she’s being held in the subway for her own safety. The possibilities are endless. But the MVP of this scene was Amy Acker, who delivers the line “Mr. Barenstein was a big hit!” with a hysterically deep voice as if Root was getting into character. Poor Shaw.

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Not a big hit for Shaw, clearly.

I legitimately crack up every time I watch this scene. It’s like a comedy that never gets old. The mix of Root’s self-satisfaction, Shaw’s increasingly exasperated eye rolls, and Finch’s look of sheer horror as if he’d just read ‘The Shining’ is a glorious thing to behold. Kudos to Amy Acker, Sarah Shahi and Michael Emerson for turning that scene into a legitimately hilarious treasure.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS (I know I’m cheating here but hey…):

  • Finch’s groans of despair every time the Degas painting was destroyed in the If-Then-Else simulations.
  • Carter’s response to Reese’s “I miss you” in Terra Incognita: “That’s good. Being missed means you meant something to people while you were here.”
  • “There’s a time for a scalpel and a time for a hammer. It’s hammer time.”
  • “A friend once told me, in our line of work, we walk in the dark. Doesn’t mean we have to walk in it alone.”

Now trust me when I say collating my top five was hard because there are so many damn good little moments in Person of Interest. There are so many episodes, and so many moments each episode (I could’ve written an entire post on Reese and Shaw’s high school reunion from hell), and so many that I’ve missed out that are sheer gold. And it’s not just between two characters constantly—there is banter and emotion heavy in scenes between all characters—that’s how tight-knit the Machine gang are. Every. Single. Dynamic. Matters. This show just never fails to provide absolutely everything—a lesson on morality, ethics, humanity, humor, emotion—so it’d be fun to hear your thoughts on this!

What were your favorite, brief, underrated little scenes on Person of Interest? I think I can guarantee that there’ll be about five billion moments the #POIFam will come up with, and I will vehemently and most excitedly agree with all of them. I hope this article was a bit of light fun before we delve into some character dynamics and deeper analysis. Hit me up on Twitter @NicolaChoi or even better, comment below and let me know what you think! (I swear I’m gonna take a shot for every mention of Root snapping Martine’s neck…)

—”Playfully witty sign off!” (Yes, I snuck another one in there, and yes, I’m a serial cheat).

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2 thoughts on “No Scene on Person of Interest is ‘Irrelevant’

  1. There has been no better, and I doubt that there will ever be a better show than PoI for providing such brilliant writing on all fronts. I often use scenes, if not virtually entire episodes, in courses that I teach in ethics, critical thinking, and the introduction to philosophy and religion. Like you, I can find something stellar in every episode and from every member of Team Machine and most of the other players, especially the semi-regulars like Zoe, Leon, and Elias.I find myself throwing out many lines in my own life: Zoe’s “It’s just a doorbell.” Root’s “Miss me?” “I couldn’t make you look bad if I tried.” or “This could take all night.” (There could be a book of Rootisms.) In fact, I doubt that I will ever be able to hear, or utter, the endearment, “sweetie” ever again without fondly recalling Root. If PoI had continued for another five seasons, it still would have been ten too few seasons for me.

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  2. Hi Nicola. I’m a lover of Person of Interest too and I love your blog. I have always felt that there is no scene, line of dialogue in this show that is ever not relevant. I have watched all four seasons over and over about 8, 9 or perhaps even 10 times and it never fails to surprise me on how many new things I notice, that I missed last time. I believe the Person of Interest fandom is the best in the world, even if many of us differ in our opinions. Some of us believe Reese may have lived, some of us believe Root is still alive. As a lover of the show overall, I hope all of these wonderful characters are picked up for a Season six and this show continues in some way. I would take a spin-off or a feature film or two, however I would prefer that Nolan get to finish the many ideas he had for where the story would go after Samaritan, as he did recently reveal he had a plan for this. When I get done reading your posts about Person of Interest on your blog, I will come and follow you on Twitter, hope you will follow me back. I write about TV too, and much of that writing has been about Person of Interest lately, but I do have a blog on Grey’s Anatomy and a couple of person blogs where I write about everything and anything. Thanks for this, And I hope we get to connect soon.

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