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Fresh off an epic three episode arc featuring what were arguably the best episodes of Person of Interest so far, it was more than inevitable that the show would return to its case of the week format. With Person of Interest, that’s rarely ever a bad thing. One thing that POI has been doing well since the beginning of its run was balancing standalone episodes with more arc heavy episodes. Whether it’s tangling with the likes of Root and Elias, or saving this week’s person of interest from some nameless Eastern European crime syndicate, each episode has its own entertaining facets. Last night’s episode, One Percent, was no exception.

The episode started with the shows most common beginning nowadays, with Reese already tailing this week’s POI and Finch at the library of solitude feeding him information. The person in question this week is a self made billionaire in social media named Pierce. He’s your typical eccentric young billionaire who parties all night and sleeps through board meetings. The rest of the episode went through the regular POI motions. Reese follows him around, a couple of red herrings are introduced, Reese beats bad guys up and shoots them in the knee caps, and the POI is saved. Even Bear got to have his own little mini story.

Though it seemed to follow a set template, it never feels trite or boring. Looking back at the show’s previous persons of interest, Pierce is definitely one of the more interesting people Reese and Finch have tangled with. For one thing, he’s a live by the minute kind of guy, so Reese already has trouble keeping up with him. What’s more, his intelligence with computers made him a bit of a threat to the machine.

This episode is notable for having a couple of firsts. This was the first time a standalone case has taken Reese international, with Pierce taking him to his favorite dive in Russia. It was also the first time we actually get to see what happens to Nathan Ingram. It delved into the oldest flashback with Ingram and Finch yet, all the way back in 2001. It was a flashback to September 11th, the day that Finch first decided he would create the machine. The episode let just enough details out there to keep the Nathan Ingram storyline interesting. As of right now, we know that he is the first one who decides to take action with the non-relevant POI’s the machine was dishing out. Is this what ultimately gets him killed? The episode never confirms or denies that, but that’s what makes POI so good. They know when to drag out stories and just how much is enough to keep things interesting. They always leave enough story for other episodes to delve into.

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If there was one problem with the episode it would be that it lacked in serious threats to Pierce. At one point he was poisoned, and another attempt was made in which his car was sabotaged. Other than that, it was quickly uncovered that his lawyer planned to off him and collect the money, and everything seemed to be well and done. However, in another first for POI, the machine spit out the same number two consecutive times, revealing that there was another threat to Pierce’s life. This was in the form of his best friend, who was killing him off because Pierce was partnering with their rival company because their technology and business is much more benevolent.

What it lacked in grave threats however, made up for in great characterization and commentary on today’s corporate world. The two threads worked hand in hand to give more depth to Pierce, as we learned that his family went bankrupt due to advancements in technology. He started off the episode as an eccentric and even self centered CEO, but as the story progressed, we learned that there was more to him under the surface. The partying, reckless self is just an outer shell to a noble man that’s main interest is connecting people through social media, not the money. Delving deep into the weekly POI’s character was something the show did much more of in season 1, so it was a welcome sight to have this kind of characterization once again.

Overall, this was another solid entry into the POI saga. The standalone case wasn’t really action packed, but after Prisoner’s Dilemma and Dead Reckoning, I’m sure we’ve had our fill of action. What the episode offered instead was a well developed POI character, a glimpse into the harsh world of corporate social networking, more bread crumbs into what led into Nathan Ingram’s demise, and of course, more funny moments between Reese and Finch that holds the show together. As an added bonus, the last scene establishes Pierce as a potential recurring character. Will he be an ally, or an enemy? He may prove a valuable ally against Root, but can just as easily compromise the machine. Until then, here’s to seeing more great episodes of Person of Interest.

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This article was first posted on February 9, 2013