Person of Interest: Flesh and Blood: The Well-Rounded Antagonist

Person of Interest Binge LogoPerson of Interest has great antagonists, mostly because the writers refuse to see them as just Bad Guys. Every major antagonist they’ve had is layered, well-motivated, and intelligent, with the possible exception of the thugs from HR, and even they were led by the smart, smooth Quinn. Elias may be my favorite of all of the Major Big Bads because he’s so complex. And that, in turn, makes the stories about him as complex and layered as he is. The protagonist may drive the narrative, but the antagonist shapes it, and Elias always shapes an interesting story. Continue reading

Person of Interest: Witness: Reversals

Person of Interest Binge LogoA reversal is just that: a reversal of an expectation the reader/viewer holds about what’s happening next in a story. Reversals often happen at turning points in a story, events that show the protagonist that her or his assumption about what’s happening is wrong or at least too narrow, and that revelation turns the story in a new direction, sometimes casting everything that came before in a new light and sometimes blowing up everything completely. Continue reading

The Person of Interest Posts: A Table of Contents


Person of Interest is not just good TV, it’s groundbreaking TV both in terms of content and in terms of storytelling. It has one of the best communities ever put on film. It’s interesting and exciting and funny and heartbreaking. The showrunners and writers reinvent the show every year, upping the stakes to the point where this coming season, the fifth, nothing less than the fate of the world is at stake, so it’s a great lesson in how to escalate over the long run. And although I’ve seen some of the episodes a dozen times, I see something new every time. For all of these reasons and because I just love this series, Argh brings you the 2016 PoI binge watch, during which we cross our fingers that nobody we like dies in Season Five.

Person of Interest Binge Logo


1-1 “Pilot”: Premise as Frame for Story (Jonathan Nolan)

1-6 “The Fix”: The Useful Recurring Character (Nic Van Zeebroeck & Michael Sopczynski

1-7 “Witness”: Reversals (Amanda Segel)

1-19 “Flesh and Blood”: The Well-Rounded Antagonist (Amanda Segel)

1-23 “Firewall” (Greg Plageman & Jonathan Nolan)/2-1 The Contingency (Denise The & Jonathan Nolan)2-2 “Bad Code” (Greg Plageman & Patrick Harbinson) : Climax as Turning Point (Things Get Worse)

2-16 “Relevance” (Amanda Segel & Jonathan Nolan): Handling a Complex Character

2-21 “Zero Day” (Jeffrey Hunt)2-22 God Mode (Richard J. Lewis): Handling Complex Story

3-3 “Lady Killer” (Amanda Segel): Utilizing a Large Recurring Cast

3-5 “Razgovor” (Kenneth Fink): Character Arc through Relationships

3-6 “Mors Praematura” (Helen Shaver): Fusing Multiple Story Lines

3-10 “The Devil’s Share” (Amanda Segel & Jonathan Nolan): Rip-Your-Heart-Out Storytelling
(See also “Bullet-Proof Episodes”)

3-13 “4C” Melissa Scrivner Love & Greg Plageman): Character in Crucible

3-16 “RAM” ((Nic Van Zeebroeck & Michael Sopczynski): There Is No Good Back Story

3-23 Deus Ex Machina (Greg Plageman & David Slack): Act Climax as Crisis Turning Point

4-1 “Panopticon” (Erik Mountain and Greg Plageman): Starting All Over Again

4-3 “Wingman” (Amanda Segel): Multi-Thread Plotting

4-11 “If/Then/Else” (Denise The): Point of View as Meaning

4-20 “Terra Incognita”: Story Out of Time (Erik Mountain/Melissa Scrivner Love

4-22 “Asylum” (Andy Callahan & Denise The) and “YHWH” (Dan Dietz and Greg Plageman): The Shape of Story

5-1 “B.S.O.D.” (Greg Plageman & Tony Camerino), 5-2 “SNAFU” (Lucas O’Connor), 5-3 “Truth Be Told” (Erik Mountain)[

5-4 “6,741” (Lucas O’Connor & Denise Thé), 5-5 “ShotSeeker” (Andy Callahan) and End of Story Pacing

5-6 A More Perfect Union (Melissa Scrivner Love), 5-7 QSO (Hillary Benefiel), 5-8 Reassortment (Tony Camerino)

5-9 “Sotto Voce” (Sabir Pirzada), 5-10 “The Day the World Went Away” (Andy Callahan & Melissa Scrivner Love) and the Impact of Character

5-11 “Synecdoche” and the Importance of Consequence(June 7) (Jacey Heldrich & Joshua Brown)

5-12 “.exe” (June 14) (Erik Mountain & Greg Plageman)

5-13 “Return 0” (June 21) (Jonathan Nolan & Denise Thé)

If you’re not sure if the show is for you, here’s an intro:

Harold Finch is a computer genius who has written a diagonistic program called The Machine for the US government that watches everybody and pinpoints those who are about to commit acts of violence. Because Harold is fully aware of how dangerous to civil liberties The Machine might be, he has programmed it to only give out social security numbers that pinpoint those who might be involved in acts of violence; the Machine does not distinguish between victim and perpetrator, it just says, “Watch this person, he or she is of interest.” The government is only interested in acts of terrorism, but the machine also pinpoints regular crimes about to happen. Because nobody acts on that information, murders are committed every day that could be prevented. Finch begins to work to save the people in New York whose numbers come up, beginning by hiring a burned-out CIA agent named John Reese to act as his muscle. Over four seasons, a crooked cop (Fusco), a brilliant, principled cop (Carter), a demented programmer(Root), a German Shepherd (Bear), and a sociopathic CIA hitwoman (Shaw) join the team, forming one of the best communities in fiction. The team also draws on a smart NYC fixer (Zoe), a hapless, crooked, but very smart accountant (Leon), and a Machiavellian mob boss (Elias). It does not hurt that these people are played by Michael Emerson, Jim Calviezel, Kevin Chapman, Taraji P. Henson, Amy Acker, Sarah Shahi, Paige Turco, Ken Leung, and Enrico Colantoni.

The first season appears at the start to be a crime-of-the-week show, but once you watch the entire series and then go back to the beginning (which I’m warning you now, you will), you can see how carefully the entire series plot is layered in, and how brilliantly the community of damaged people who will come to fight the good fight together is assembled. This is a huge story that’s developed over four years of intricately plotted episodes, almost all of them excellent on their own and some groundbreaking in their approach. It’s not a comedy although there are laugh-out-loud moments, it’s not a caper although the best episodes are the team working together for the Machine like a finely tuned machine themselves, it’s character drama that increasingly becomes science fiction as the Machine reveals itself to be a full-fledged AI, heartbreakingly human-like in the last moments of the fourth season finale. It’s the smartest character-driven drama on TV. And while I hate that it’s ending, it’s ending with a thirteen-episode last act this May and June that I can’t wait to see because the people doing this show are brilliant, and I’m confident they’re going to nail the landing.

Here’s the promo for the first season of the show. Watching it now, I keep thinking, “I had no idea what this simple premise would become . . .”

Edited to Add:

Nicole asked a good question, and as part of the answer, I posted this, which probably should have been in this post from the beginning:

. . . for a shortened catch-up spree, here’s IGN’s suggestions for key episodes:

And io9’s:

And here’s Indiewire’s seven reasons to binge watch Person of Interest:

Including the not-surprising-to-anybody-who’s-watched-the-show fact that more half of the episodes have been rated 9.0 or above on IMDB and the lowest rated show is 8.2.

And it has an 87% critics rating for the series on Rotten Tomatoes and 93% viewer rating.

You should watch Person of Interest.

NOTE: This post has been revised many times.