Monday, March 3, 2014

MrAnderson212: Even A Spy Needs A Little Help Sometimes

My work doesn’t usually afford me the opportunity to date, however while on a mission today, I needed to get close to the woman I was following. Unbeknownst to me, my partner got me a date with her for 8 o’clock at one of the more upscale restaurants in New York City. You see, my partner is rather good with computers – he said he coerced the “background algorithms” to match us up (it helped that she loves dogs). He built initial rapport with her by chatting her up in the hours leading up to the date.

Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t bother to read to dossier prior to the date because I was busy stealing a slick car in order to impress her, which well, kind of worked. Her eyes lit up when I drove up, then she commented that she wondered if I was compensating for some yet to be discovered character flaw or deficiency. Ouch!

I ordered champagne, only to discover she preferred a white wine. Okay, a tiny slip. I smiled. She asked about my job. I couldn’t tell her the truth, and my cover was that I was the VP of my actuarial firm. Seriously? I hated math in school unless it was to calculate the trajectory of a particularly difficult sniper shot I was setting up. Okay, I got this: women love humor. “Well, it’s real boring most days, so I try not to fall asleep.” In my hidden earpiece, my partner berates me, saying she is career focused and looking for that in a man. Damn, two strikes. What happened to being the suave spy on sheer charm and personality?

My partner mentions something about using psychology and suddenly appears the one of the most powerful women of the city, who I have worked with on a couple of cases. Yeah, of course, she’s beautiful, but a colleague to my way of thinking. My date perked right up, knowing full well who my friend was. I smiled because suddenly, those strikes were history. Whoa, what was that? My friend patted my butt?! And in front of my date? And my date was still interested? Maybe my partner did know what he was talking about. I better pull those glasses out he got me so I could look more intelligent.

As a spy and a rogue one at that, trouble always has a way of finding me…..

The above entry is my spin on Bury My Lede, the fifth episode of season two of Person of Interest that was released on DVD a couple of weeks ago. The series is in its third season and stars Jim Caviezel as John Reese, a rogue CIA agent who has been hired by Michael Emerson’s Harold Finch, a wealthy billionaire who created the enigmatic Machine. The Machine is an advanced computer system that uses data gleaned from the omnipresent surveillance system in order to identify potential acts of violence (I hesitate to use “terrorism” because of the misappropriated use of the term that I believe creates a false identity into the nature of the show). During each episode, Finch and Reese work together to solve if their target irrelevant individual (the Machine provides Finch with only the social security number) is a victim or perpetrator to a violent act. In addition, I think the show also provides insight into the issue of surveillance, which naturally has been a hot topic for the past dozen years in the US.

Although billed as a crime drama, there are spy and espionage elements to the show. While gadgets are minimal and limited to technology in the here and now, and exotic locales are almost non-existent. The show instead relies on character development and the relationships that are formed and shaped by the various events the characters experience in each episode, a facet more easily explored on the small screen rather than the big one. The audience gets more insight into the covert world of the domestic and foreign secret agencies as well as the NYPD. Somehow, I just don’t think the show would work if it was set in Boise, Idaho – no disrespect to Boise.

While the rest of the world is into season three, I’m enjoying the evolving relationship between Reese and Finch. Reese rivals James Bond fighting and weapons ability, and as a rogue agent, we see a side of John that is conflicted, dealing with lost love, a lost sense of humanity and justice, but also with a sense of hope that comes from his partnership with Finch. Finch is also adrift, but for other reasons: mostly guilt for his role in the creation of the powerful network of surveillance his machine has assumed. He is looking for redemption through deeds that will save the irrelevant numbers from his Machine.

The exploration of morality and ethical reasoning is further fetered out with the two other main supporting characters, Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Detective Fusco (Kevin Chapman) – playing the good and corrupt cops respectively. Det. Carter and Fusco are both single parents; Carter’s singlehood is vague but we know that Fusco is divorced and has at least partial custody of his son. It is the norm rather than the exception in today’s society. However each has the added pressure of facing life and death each day – others and their own. They are faced with tough choices. Carter is used to taking the high road, but lately, that preverbal line has become fuzzy and muted. And Fusco, well, you just kind of have to root that he’ll get to wear the white hat for the entire world to see someday. He has to be dirty so everyone else doesn’t have to.

However, in this blog entry, I wanted to spotlight the lighter side to this series and the characters, in this case Reese and Finch as they provide protection of Maxine Angelis (Gloria Votsis), a star journalist that stops at nothing to get her headline story. My post opener is from the perspective of Reese, in the hours leading up to his date with Maxine. Up to this point in the series, the closest love interest and “equal” to Reese has been Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco), a high-powered crisis management fixer, who has worked with him on a couple of cases. She is the friend in the opener above. And unlike Bond, who is known, Reese is the “man in a suit” that seeks to remain anonymous, which has a way of cramping dating opportunities.

Finch has the intelligence quotient necessary for courting Maxine and wastes no time in flirting via texting, while Reese helplessly watches from afar as Maxine smiles as she reads some witty banter with Reese via Finch. It’s a power dance between the two men, who by this time, have been through quite a lot and have found trust in each other, but there’s still room for each man to find that point where they can gain the advantage over the other. Finch obviously has the upper hand with courtship.

Typical John Reese, at home with maintaining his high-powered sniper weapon at the office table, much to the chagrin of Finch, who abhors guns. When asked if he has to do that in the office, Reese retorts that he cannot very well do this out at the park. Dating material?

Jim Caviezel as rogue CIA agent John Reese tells Finch he cannot very well clean his sniper weapon at the park

Finch thinks Reese needs some help and sets up a phony profile at so he can get a date with Maxine.

John Reese becomes Mr John Anderson, bogus profile - even spies need a little dating help

Here's a portion of his profile:
44/M/Straight/Single – New York City, NY

My Details
Ethnicity:                        White
Height:                            6’2”
Body Type:                    Athletic
Sign:                               Aries
Level of Education:        Post Graduate/Professional Degree
Job:                                 Finance
Pets:                                Dog
Previously Married:        No
Languages Spoken:        English
Drinks:                           Socially
Smokes:                         Never

About Me
Intelligent, hardworking guy looking for a bright, vivacious woman to explore this dynamic city with.

I’m an outdoorsy, active person. My canine companion (his name is “Bear”) and I enjoy lengthy walks through the city and its parks. I’m always on the lookout for a great new restaurant or bar; Bear is generally interested exclusively in hot dog vendors.

And while I enjoy the out-of-doors, I’m also a big fan of cinema. I’ve been known to spend entire afternoons at Hitchcock retrospectives. Though some might think it clichĂ©, dinner and a movie sounds like a perfect date to me.

I enjoy my work – it’s a great balance between analytics and client relations. I believe that hard work, dedication, and loyalty yield strong relationships in business as well as in life. I’m always in pursuit of a healthy balance between work and well, the other important things in life.

Seeking to find that wonderful woman who knows who she is and what she wants. Someone who is self-possessed, witty, and wise, with a sense of adventure.

What I’m doing these days….
I’m a VP at an actuarial firm, specializing in risk management. (Don’t worry, I’m not a total square.) When I’m not working, I’m kayaking…..

And Finch lends a hand by texting Maxine prior to the date. Reese looks on worriedly, while.....

Maxine finds the texts endearing as Reese observes from afar asking Finch, "What I am saying to her Finch?"

 .... Finch finds getting the upper hand on Reese in the arena of courtship, amusing.

Michael Emerson as Harold Finch, finding a bit of humor in his job

The first, second, and third dates don’t go well and due to the extent of trouble Maxine is in – after an exchange of gunfire in the street – Reese tells her he is taking her back to his place. Of course, Finch is listening in and realizes that he has to drop Bear off before Reese and Maxine arrive. Finch gets Bear settled with his squeaky toy, but not in time for Finch to get away. He is forced to hide in Reese’s closet and while waiting for the opportunity to make a clean escape, he notices he is surrounded by an arsenal of weaponry….

Finch, hiding out in Reese's closet, finds the company completely unsettling

I’m anxious to see how the rest of season plays out and how our four (no, make that five, counting Bear) characters fair. Served with a light dose of humor that makes the seriousness of the series palpable and more engaging, if you haven’t watched Person of Interest, I do recommend it.


  1. Oh god, is Person of Interest ever so addicting.

    The weird thing about Person of Interest is, despite being a crime-suspense-action-drama show, it is actually very funny when it needs to be! Unlike other shows of a similiar ilk - say 24 which is dead serious, in the cool down moments there is actually alot of humourous moments and interactions.

    In a comedy were the laughs are generated from characters, usually the comedy is obtained by the playing off of a straight-man to the funny-man, the normal comedy duo configuration. Example - Simon Peg's character in Hot Fuzz is the straight man to Nick Frost's character. In Tommy Boy, David Spade is the straight man and Chris Farely is the foible (ok, any movie with those 2 follows that configuration).

    However in Person of Interest, the configuration is Straight Man to Straight Man. Both Finch and Reese are dead serious characters. But in a weird sort of way, the situation they are in dictates who becomes the "less" serious of the 2.

    Reese is more street smart than Finch and usually has a 1 liner or 2 to quip at Finch. However, Finch in his panoptic position of hear all/see all, has more control, and as this episode demonstrate, is able to orchestrate Reese into positions that Finch finds somewhat comical.

    There is a hidden irony in this episode that takes place on date #1. By all accounts, Reese should be able to nail this date perfectly. Reese is totally suave, attractive, and cool. He doesn't bother to read up on his date or the report Finch has prepared to help him because, lets face it, it's not hard to surmise in Reese's earlier days getting and going on dates was not an issue. This should've been smooth territory for Reese to negiotiate, while Finch, the nerdier of the 2, should be less equipped at courtship.

    But the thing is, Reese does flub it! The champagne gaff being the big one. Finch actually has to re-engineer the date to get it to be successful, by adding Zoe into the mix (with a secret butt slap from her to Reese I might add). When the topic of "the man in the suit" comes up, the eye glasses that Finch had suggested to Reese to wear that Reese disregarded, suddenly find themselves on Reese's face.

  2. Nice observations about the humor configuration being straight delivery between both men. I think by using this configuration, the humor works and doesn't sacrifice the intelligent edge and serious tone of the show. The butt slap was priceless, and the facial expressions were wonderfully acted by Caviezel and Emerson are subtle and timing of delivery expertly handled by two fine actors in the business.

    Like you, I'm addicted to the show and I do hope to write another post in the near future to discuss the serious content of the show. Thanks for your comments Nick!


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