Person of Interest Recap: Harold and Reese Track a Grifterby Alan Eggleston / February 25, 2015
Things have quieted down between The Machine and Samaritan in this week’s episode of Person of Interest, “Blunt.” Not even a whisper from Samaritan, it fact.
We are now back to Harold Finch, John Reese, and Lionel Fusco receiving person-of-interest numbers from The Machine to investigate and protect. This time, it’s a grifter named Harper.
A grifter is a con artist who swindles money from others through fraud or deception, and Harper does it aplenty. She steals from criminals “because they don’t report it to police.” Unfortunately, criminals like gangs don’t take it lightly.
Meet Harper the Grifter
Harper is a college student in a NYC university, and The Machine gives the team her college I.D. number instead of her social security number, a real break from the normal. It seems she has assumed someone else’s identity, and that’s the number The Machine has to go by. Harper shifts identities and residences at will.
Reese tracks Harper down at her dorm, then tails her to a boyfriend’s (Trey) room, overhearing him ask her to take her shift because he doesn’t feel well. She leaves and Reese tails her to an inner city medical marijuana dispensary. There he overhears the dispensary owner tell Harper to gather up the cash to take for dispersal.
Harold explains to Reese that although the medical marijuana business is legal in the states, it’s still a federal crime and banks won’t accept their money. Dispensary businesses have to find another way to handle the money, which makes it a target for criminals. In this case, the dispensary hands it off to the Brotherhood who launders the money through gaming.
We’ve met the Brotherhood before. It’s a ruthless inner-city crime gang relentlessly taking over New York City from other mobster families.
Harper stuffs the dispensary cash into a backpack and heads out the door and into the street just as cars from the Brotherhood arrive. But as the Brotherhood is about to take possession of the backpack, another group of cars rushes in, guns blazing. It’s the Cartel, mobsters with ties from south of the U.S. border.
Reese has followed Harper. He pops the bad guys with his gun, rescuing the backpack he thinks has the dispensary’s cash. When the dispensary owner shows up, they open the backpack to find it has been replaced with one filled with magazines – Harper has swindled them all. Dominic, the Brotherhood crime boss, is unpleased, to put it mildly. He wants that cash!
Reese returns to Harper’s dorm room to find multiple backpacks with multiple identities – and Harper’s clothes are gone. Harold finds out that Harper’s identity is false – the real Harper is a student who is on leave for mental health issues, so whoever this woman is, she’s not really Harper. And now The Machine has reissued Harper’s number as a person of interest, using a new number.
Now the question is, does Harper’s friend Trey even know about Harper?
Dominic visits the dispensary to interrogate the owner. He wants to know who tipped off the Cartel: How did they know when and where the pick-up was scheduled. The owner is as surprised as Dominic. He tells Dominic about Harper replacing Trey at the last minute. And Dominic wants to know who this Detective Riley (Reese in disguise) is. The dispensary owner only knows that Trey vouched for Harper. So now Dominic wants to know where he can find this Trey.
The Brotherhood Goes After Harper’s Boyfriend
We shift to Trey’s dorm room, where he’s alone. Someone enters and Trey thinks it’s Harper, but it isn’t – it’s one of Dominic’s operatives, a woman. She draws a gun on Trey. “We want your girlfriend and we want our money,” she demands. He doesn’t know where she is. Asked how he knows her, he can only say they met in class.
Meanwhile, Reese and Fusco have a member of the Cartel in the precinct interrogation room. He knows Harper as “Maria” when asked who tipped him off about the money pick up. She comes to their club he says, adding, “That girl loves to dance.” (Is that a metaphor for grifting?)
Reese goes to the club and finds Harper – Maria – dancing, and pulls her aside, asking where the money is. She says she has already spent it paying bills. It was a lot of money, she couldn’t have spent it all. Harper answers that the “other guys” spent it – the guys at the club: the Cartel. Reese tells her she didn’t just steal from the dispensary, she stole from the Brotherhood. Then he sees members of the Brotherhood. “You’ve been spotted.” A fight breaks out and as Reese punches faces, fends off fists, breaks limbs, and fells felons, Harper runs out the door – into Fusco. Harper pulls out a knife, threatening Fusco, but Fusco has a Taser. “You really want to do this?” he warns. She stands down.
A little later, Reese and Fusco are watching over Harper at a restaurant. Harold informs them that The Machine has given them a new number matching Harper’s friend, Trey. Reese tells Harper that Trey is in trouble because Harper stole the money. “Trey doesn’t know me,” she says. “We have to get to him before Dominic realizes he’s useless,” Reese replies and goes to find Trey, leaving Fusco to watch Harper.
Trey is in the custody of Brotherhood thugs, tied up in a chair and being beaten for information on Harper. But Trey doesn’t know anything. Dominic pulls up a chair to explain the situation to Trey, butTrey still can’t tell him anything. “They’re both useless,” Dominic mutters as he walks away.
Harold Develops a New Plan
Meanwhile, Harold has put together a briefcase of cash from his team reserves to pay back the Brotherhood. Reese takes the cash to the Brotherhood, meeting with two of Dominic’s chief lieutenants, a man and the woman who had captured Trey. Reese offers to exchange the cash for Harper and Trey, but the man and woman just want the cash. When Reese is reluctant, the man tries to attack Reese, but Reese strikes like lightning felling the man, and he gets the draw on the woman with his gun. He tosses his NYPD business card on the man lying unconscious on the floor and tells the woman to have Dominic call when he’s ready to talk – or Reese can keep kicking Dominic’s ass from a distance.
Later, Dominic has apparently called. He meets Reese in a restaurant. Reese offers to trade the money for Dominic to leave Harper alone. “It’s not going to happen,” Dominic assures Reese – she’s stolen from him. It seems a deal can’t be worked out, and then Brotherhood thugs walk in to surround Reese. Remember that Dominic still wants to know who this unlikely cop “Riley” is. But Fusco has Reese’s back using a sniper rifle with a laser tag, bringing the conflict to a draw. Dominic walks out.
Back at Harold’s apartment, Harper convinces Harold she can rescue Trey on her own and Harold lets her go.
Harper Has a Better Plan
We next see Harper in the Cartel’s club. They’re surprised to see her and more than a little annoyed that they came up short of cash earlier. She points out that the Cartel is bleeding cash and the Brotherhood is flooded with money that it’s laundering. Why not use her to strike a deal? They put word out on the street that they have her and arrange a meeting.
At Brotherhood headquarters, with guns drawn there’s a standoff between the Brotherhood and the Cartel, with Harper in between. Reese arrives on the rooftop and rappels through a rooftop window to rescue Trey. Fusco shows up with the police, who break in to arrest everyone, but Dominic tells Fusco all the Brotherhood weapons are licensed as security company weapons and so legal. This implies the Cartel weapons are not.
As the Cartel members are carted off, Harper tries to square things with Dominic. She has just disabled a rival gang, so: “Have I proved myself?” He’s not so sure: “Someone could be a member of my team if she’s done playing games.”
More From Root
Oh, yeah! During all the other excitement, Root shows up again, too. She doesn’t get to shoot anyone, but Root tells Harold that The Machine thinks they’ve been going at this the wrong way. Maybe they should be “enlisting.” When Harold asks her what The Machine has in mind, Root says it wants her to build an app to detract attention.
Next time we see Root, she’s at an app development company asking to partner with them to bring the app to market. When the CEO of the company has looked at the app, he’s very impressed with the code string. Root says she’s self-taught and this further impresses him. He wants her to work with them on another project, a security code they’re developing. She “shyly” accepts.
In the final scene, Harold and Reese are escorting Harper somewhere, we aren’t sure where. They wonder if she will stay out of trouble for a while. Then there’s a noisy traffic accident between two taxis, and as Harold and Reese look in that direction, Harper disappears. When they look back, Reese notices that Harper has stolen Harold’s watch. Harold isn’t bothered – he has taken her ring. “She knows where to find me if she wants it back,” he deadpans.
A Few Afterthoughts
Question: It seemed a little too easy for Harper to make up with Dominic after crossing him. This seems to make it easy for Person of Interest to bring her back in a future episode. Will she become a person of interest again? They have done that with other person-of-interest characters.
Question: I’m uncomfortable with how easily Dominic explained away being caught with the guns toward the end. As many people as the Brotherhood has killed in past episodes, wouldn’t their licensed guns show up in ballistic tests? Seems like a plot hole to me.
Question: What are Root and The Machine up to now? This “security code” she will be helping the development company work on has interesting implications – do they work for Samaritan or will it somehow otherwise provide The Machine a gateway to Samaritan’s servers? Is that what The Machine meant by “enlisting”?
Next week begins a few weeks of reruns for Person of Interest. It looks like no new episodes until March 24, when “Skip” airs.