In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Person of Interest, I’M STRESSED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.
WOW, WHO THOUGHT THIS EPISODE WAS OKAY.
It’s not that there isn’t any important characterization here or that there’s not a layered story at work in “Last Call.” Those are important aspects of this script! I love Lionel’s story, for example, as well as the brilliant parallels between Harold and Sandra. BUT OH MY GOD, this is one incredible exercise in tension and fear, and it’s executed so well. I COULDN’T BREATHE THROUGH HALF OF THIS, WHAT DID YOU ALL DO TO ME.
Look, I will be upfront about this: I don’t know that my bitterness over the loss of Carter is gonna go away any time soon. Like, could you imagine how great it would have been if Carter and Lionel had teamed up to help that rookie? If Carter had been the one to teach him about the importance of details, and Lionel had focused on how to avoid misusing or exploiting the power given to you as a police officer? Ah, I still miss her a lot, and I know that the show has frequently acknowledged that there’s a big hole left in her place, but IT HURTS.
Anyway, I don’t expect to see that rookie cop again, but this was a really neat chance to see Lionel do something good with a new cop. I was so used to suspecting every new NYPD officer as an HR plant that I forgot that there are other characters??? And that they don’t necessarily have an ulterior motive??? What is this weird world?
I AM SO TERRIFIED BY THIS PERSON!!!! THEY TRULY ARE LIKE THE POLAR OPPOSITE ON THE MORAL SCALE AS HAROLD!!!! SOMEONE CANCEL THEM! Also, they aren’t good for my health because this episode had my heart fucked up. Look, that first 911 call, the one that Aaron initially made, was stressful enough. I have a huge fear of home invasion scenarios, so yeah, already messed up. Once the Caller (I don’t know what else to call him!!!) took over this nightmare, though, the writers exploited EVERY POSSIBLE FEAR EVER in order to terrify the audience. This is actually a great example of escalation. At the start, all we know is that this man is responsible for ordering Aaron’s kidnapping. And then, the rules start to come into effect. Really, a good thriller has to have rules. What can the main character do? Are they restricted in their movements? What they can say? Do? Who they can talk to? A lot of good thrillers use isolation to build suspense, and despite that Harold is just feet away from Sandra, the Caller isolates her. He uses the camera in her headset to monitor her, and then threatens Aaron’s life any time Sandra isn’t perfect.
And it only gets worse. Because of course it does! But the point is that this is designed so expertly to make me FREAK THE FUCK OUT, and then, to make me hurt even more: it’s also so in line with the kind of stories that Person of Interest tells. This show swims in tales that straddle the line between right and wrong. While there is a strong moral undercurrent to the characters and their actions, these people are still incredibly complex. They’ve all done terrible, terrible things, just like any human being has. Sandra is no excuse, and a mistake she made as a teenager ended with the death of a kid she was babysitting. This episode doesn’t erase what she did, and Sandra certainly still feels guilt over what happened and how she was responsible. But this is a show about the complexity of human life, and it’s long followed people trying to be good in a world where that is sometimes a difficult thing to do. It’s why Harold feels so close to Sandra, and not just because they share a similarity in their current jobs. They’re both characters actively trying to undo the damage they’ve done.
That’s a pretty cool narrative theme, y’all.
ALSO: WHO IS THE CALLER, I’M SO STRESSED.
The video for “Last Call” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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