Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 9 Review: “The Devil You Know”

The Devil You Know

CBS takes a lot of crap from people. It’s often described as a cynical, money-making machine that has little to offer in the way of substance; or, it’s described as the old persons network, only showing easy-to-digest procedurals that don’t tax the mind.

If you haven’t guessed it, I think that’s a load of— well, a lot of four-letter words that I’m not supposed to say. CBS has two of the best shows on television in Person of Interest and Elementary, and yet a lot of critics like to point at Two-and-a-Half Men as the damning evidence against them. That is, of course, to ignore the copious amounts of garbage on every other network but what’s a little hyperbole among elitists?

Tonight’s Person of Interest wasn’t perfect. It was good, solid television that dove deep into character and rewarded those who had stuck around from the beginning. If you cannot see that, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Enough of my proselytizing. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Tonight’s A plot was not, as we all probably thought going in, about Shaw being discovered. That was actually resolved pretty quickly, with some very lovely Root/Shaw moments. Clearly, Root feels some type of way about Shaw, and Shaw reciprocates at least a little bit.

Quick tangent: I think that it’s pretty much canon that Root is a queer character. At least, that’s how I’ve always read her. When Person of Interest dove into her backstory, it was through her friendship with Hanna. There have been no male love interest for her, either, and she sees The Machine as a female, treating it with almost romantic reverence. There has been no explicit confirmation of Root/Samantha Groves’ sexuality, but I think it shapes her character. She could just as well be bisexual or anything else on the massive and wonderful spectrum of human sexuality but I think it’s an important thing to note. There are not enough queer characters on television, or media in general, and strictly from a socially progressive standpoint it’d be a good thing to acknowledge.

Back to the show.

The Shaw thing was kind of pushed to the side for the main plot of Elias. It was another Reese-centric episode, but one that was much more engaging than last weeks. Reese felt like a real person, with real pain and real problems; I have no doubt that is because he is around one of the few people in the show to have been there from the beginning. Elias, lest we forget, has been watching Reese and FInch and keeping in contact for four years. He knows about The Machine and Samaritan, in some small way. He has collaborated with them on a numerous things, as well as with the deceased Detective Carter. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Elias matters.

And this episode, delving a little deeper into his history and building a stronger foundation with his conflict Dominic, really hit that point home. Elias’s bodyguard, Anthony (I think this is the first time we’ve heard his name) is killed, and Elias’s organization is compromised. But that is just the larger picture, the consequences, and it misses the rich character history.

Bruce (whom we meet this episode), Elias, and Anthony were all foster kids, and they all grew up together. Anthony was in foster care because he killed his abusive father, getting the scar near his eye. That scar, by the way, is not native to the actor; that is strictly something for the character. That has been in play for four freaking seasons, only to be explained when it needed to be.

There’s a moment, when Anthony is getting the crap kicked out of him, that makes the whole episode worth it. Elias, over the phone, asks him if he’s okay. Anthony spits blood, smirks, and says “I seen worse.” He’s seen worse. Strapped to a chair, beaten to a pulp, about to die; seen worse, been through worse. That moment says anything and everything we need to know. It was incredible.

Things wrap up pretty quickly after that. Reese manages to rescue Elias from Dominic, Anthony dies, and Martine is given a task force just to look for Shaw. Those things are important, and exciting; they hint at a very dark future, and I can’t wait. But honestly, I care more about Root’s flirtations or Anthony’s moment of truth. I care about Elias being willing to give up all he has gained to save a friend, a person he loves. That’s what this show is all about; as Elias says, “the world is a violent place. We have to try and protect the ones we love”. If you get caught up too much in the big picture, you end up like Samaritan and Decima and Martine; you forget that its not a spreadsheet with social security numbers but living people who buy milk and go to baseball games. The show does its best to remind us to remember those people, those numbers, and thats what makes it so good.

Grade: A-

Photo via CBS

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