What a ride this has been. I’m not even going to bother with some fancy opening because that was my reaction after this episode. Wow.
It’s hard to write about an episode that kills off one of the best female characters on television, not because it’s necessarily a bad decision, but because it’s so gut-wrenching when it happens. Taraji P. Henson created a character that was layered, complex, witty, and downright awesome, and her presence will be sorely missed.
Then again, I still don’t know what to think an hour after the episode ended. On the one hand, her storyline was essentially closed off; she’s grown from a regular cop into a determined, powerful woman, and her vendetta has come to an end. Yet, I can’t help but feel emotionally manipulated; why does Carter have to be killed off? Is this just sweeps bait? Still, my opinion will fully form on this matter over the weeks; it entirely depends on the execution by the writers. The fallout of this is key; right now, her death may feel a little manipulative, but if the show handles it with nuance and delineates the deep-reaching effects on the other characters, I may feel a little better about it.
Still, no matter what you think about those final five minutes, I think we can all agree that what comes before is one of the most thrilling, intense episodes this show has ever produced. Watching this show is like watching an action movie, and when we see these characters in different situations, we’re actually afraid for them. When Reese and Carter bond over their pasts and their almost impending doom, we’re scared they won’t make it out alive. When Fusco is tied up and taking a beating, we’re terrified for him and his kid. It’s really a mark of a well-crafted show when every single character can elicit such an emotional response from the audience.
Also, the character work is impeccable here; Shaw maintains that quiet demeanor because that’s how she moves on in life; she’s crushed that she can’t save Fusco, but she can’t let it show. Fusco remains steely at first, throwing out witty remarks to cover up his fear. Reese continues to believe in the strength of his comrades even while accepting his own death. The episode does a nice job of conveying acceptance of reality and emotional vulnerability amidst the facades we put up to help ourselves escape. For example, it might seem strange to see Reese and Carter kiss, but it’s understandable; they really do share such a powerful connection, and their shared hardship leads into it. It’s a kiss of compassion, not of lust. Of course, her death cheapens that scene a bit.
All in all, this is a roller coaster ride of an episode that barrels into the midseason finale with many interesting threads to tie up. Again, I don’t know what to think of Carter’s death without having seen the next few episodes. Perhaps it’s a symbol of the effects of corruption; such a powerful person can be brought down in the shabbiest of ways. Perhaps it’s a masterful way of closing out a fantastic character. Perhaps it’s cheap. You decide for yourself. Whatever the case, that final scene is a masterful handling of emotions, tension, and love, and moving on will be incredibly difficult to do.
-Using Fusco as misdirection? You’re killing me, writers. I must’ve had 100 heart attacks.
-Root and Finch also share some fantastic scenes. Finch also has to accept here; he’ll essentially give up Reese to prevent Root from escaping, and Emerson does some fantastic work detailing the struggle in his mind.
-That phone ringing over the final scene is chilling.
-I want one of those fortune cookies.
-This show, man. This show.
Credit to CBS and Person of Interest for pictures. I own nothing.