TV Review: Person of Interest, 1.7 - "Witness"

“It’s only the beginning. Veni, vidi, vici.”

rating: 4.5

The NYPD€™s investigation into a gang shooting sheds some light on the mysterious and illusive Elias, while Reese and Finch try to protect the crimes only witness. Person of Interest is back to it€™s best after last weeks minor slump. The episode opens with Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) at the investigation of the late night grocery store shooting. The Organised Crime unit is also there because the victim was a la Cosa Nostra lieutenant, executed as part of an escalating gang war with the Russians over the territory of Brighton Beach. It is also revealed that the lieutenant€™s boss is none other than Elias, the faceless threat behind several crimes so far. Reese and Finch enter the fray after the machine delivers them the number of high school history teacher Charlie Burton (Enrico Colantoni), the only witness to the gang shooting. Reese is able to convince him that he€™s a better friend than the approaching Russian hit squad and the two of them escape Charlie€™s building. A shootout in the side road results in a shoulder wound for Charlie, and they have no choice but to hide out in a neighbouring council estate run by notorious Bulgarian drug dealers, where even the Russians fear to tread. Meanwhile, Carter and Fusco question their victim€™s wife (Saundra Santiago) and learn that Elias€™ war against the Russians is much bigger than the authorities know about and that the turf war over Brighton Beach is only the beginning of a larger plan. She claims, €œhe€™ll reunite the five families and take out the Russian trash, and when he€™s finished, you people will answer to him.€ This episode does well by tying together both stories of Reese/Finch and Carter/Fusco. Usually the two are quite separate and they connect only by circumstance at the end. Usually Carter and Fusco are always a step behind as well, but this time it is Finch and Reese who are on the back foot. The tie-in makes the episode much more interesting, because most of the time in previous episodes I didn€™t really care what Carter/Fusco were doing because it didn€™t directly affect the Reese/Finch case, which is always the main focus of each episode. More often than not, it felt like Carter was just along for the ride, the incompetent cop trailing in the vigilante€™s wake, but this week she really takes the lead in the investigation. I€™m getting into spoiler territory from here on out, so if you haven€™t seen the episode and don€™t want to learn the identity of Elias, I suggest you stop reading now. So Reese has lost contact with Finch and is trapped with a wounded Charlie inside a dangerous council estate. Lacking any field medical supplies, he improvises by €˜borrowing€™ some cocaine from the Bulgarians. This pisses them off a little€ actually quite a bit, enough that they let the Russians into their building to hunt down Reese and Charlie. Charlie is having a pretty bad day so far, but he€™s even more scared of testifying as a witness to the shooting. He explains to Reese that the Russians have a man inside the NYPD. Meanwhile Fusco meets Finch for the first time as Finch is attempting to reconnect with Reese. His own end of the investigation also puts him on the path of a suspicious NYPD cop (David Valcin), who he latter discovers is la Cosa Nostra, and a potential Elias suspect. Reese and Charlie eventually escape the council estate with the help of one of Charlie€™s students (Al Calderon) and even manage to nab their own Russian hostage Laszlo (Enver Gjokaj). Everything is set to hand Charlie over to Fusco at the pier, until Finch receives a tip that the location of the meet has been texted to Elias€™ men. It was at this point that I realised who Elias really was. Had they received a call, I probably wouldn€™t have thought twice about it, but when they said text it stood out to me. At the beginning of the episode when Reese€™s phone breaks he asks to borrow Charlie€™s but Charlie claims not to have one. He doesn€™t believe in them. How could any working professional let alone a teacher get by without a phone? Such a person could then send discreet texts with Reese being none the wiser. Finch believed it was Fusco but even before Elias€™ man knocked out Fusco I knew it would never be him. The only other person who knew about the meeting on the pier was Charlie. The twist is then revealed when Laszlo identifies Charlie as Elias. I thought it was pretty neat how he learnt everything he needed to know about his enemies by teaching their kids. Elias escapes once again, but not before he asks Reese to join his operation. Reese refuses, naturally, setting up a classic nemesis dichotomy for future episodes. Finch tries to reassure Reese that they have more numbers and more people to save, but Reese rightly argues €œhow many of those numbers will come up because we saved one man€™s life.€ Colantoni€™s performance as Charlie/Elias was the highlight of the episode, although I still rate David Costabile in Episode 5 as the best guest star so far. We can be sure Elias will return at some point in future episodes however, and this will give Colantoni a chance to develop his character further. As he says to the one of the greatest exit tunes of all time (Sinnerman by Nina Simone). €œIt€™s only the beginning. Veni, vidi, vici.€
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