Person of Interest, Season 3, Episode 4: “Reasonable Doubt”
Written by Melissa Scrivner Love
Directed by Stephen Williams
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on CBS
“Reasonable Doubt” finds Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) trying to protect Vanessa Watkins (Kathleen Rose Perkins), a prosecutor who may or may not have killed her husband on a boat and thrown his body overboard. When Watkins escapes police custody, the team has to locate her and decide for themselves if she is innocent or guilty.
This is the problem that constantly exists within Person of Interest: it has a baseline story line that only serves to be procedural and nothing else. The case involving the number might be intriguing, but boredom erupts out of only having the case to focus on. If anything else actually does happen throughout the episode, it’s minor and little more than an aside. Is Person of Interest enjoyable and fun to watch? Yes, but a successful show needs more if it wants to continue being a success. It doesn’t matter how strong the case itself is; if the majority of the episode is nothing but that, then the audience will start to disengage.
Despite all of that, though, the case this week is an interesting one. The review last week requested that we get a number that is more perpetrator and less victim. This week’s number isn’t near as clear cut as one or the other, instead it lands on a largely gray area as far as morals or ethics go.
To that point, there is no protocol to how the numbers should be dealt with. Shaw (Sarah Shahi) is the epitome of that point, wanting to place a wager on whether Watkins is a murderer or simply a victim. The system that they’re working in is practically a new one with no clear-cut way of resolving a number’s given predicament. The very illicitness of The Machine prevents them from working directly with the police. If they did, things might be significantly simpler. That isn’t their reality though; they have to work outside of the law in a way that often involves illicit activities. Reese experiences the moral ambiguity that is found in his line of work when he has to resolve the matter between Watkins and her not-dead husband Jeremy (Daniel Cosgrove). Vanessa and Jeremy are both bad people that are attempting to do the other in. What’s the point in saving one or the other? Reese and Finch, in that way, have God-like power, deciding who gets to live or die.
Director Stephen Williams does great work in “Reasonable Doubt” shooting characters standing around talking, something especially important considering how much less action than usual we get this week, and shooting conversations is a skill at which the former Lost director is very proficient. His shots perfectly stage characters and what they’re doing or saying such that you feel drawn in as much one can be. Hopefully he’ll be brought back in the future, but we’ll have to wait to find out.