Person of Interest, Season 3, Episode 5, “Razgovor”
Written by David Slack
Directed by Kenneth Fink
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on CBS
It’s been shown numerous times since Shaw’s (Sarah Shahi) addition to the cast that she’s not quite what one would call a “team player”. It’s also been strongly implied that she might be some sort of a sociopath. Why someone like this would be in the business of saving people’s lives day in and day out is up to anyone to guess. “Razgovor”, though, has one very simple but vital goal- exploring deeper the strange woman that is Shaw.
“Razgovor” has a fairly basic setup with Shaw being forced to protect the latest number to be spat out by the machine, which just so happens to be a little girl who fancies herself a spy in the works. The idea behind it is rather apparent: place Shaw, a rigid, sociopathic character, into a situation that requires a bit more emotional depth than she’s capable of. It’s actually a bit of a genius move, or, at the very least, clever. Shaw has always been an enjoyable enough character, but getting any kind of emotion out of the character is a bit like fitting a square peg into a round hole.
Most of the episode is focused on Shahi and she’s consistently been such an enjoyable part of recent episodes that this is in no way a bad thing. Other characters are in no way absent throughout this episode, either. Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Carter (Tarji P. Henson) are given a cathartic not-so-side mission in their task to finally take down the corrupt police organization known as HR. This goal is one that Person of Interest has been constantly leading to for three seasons now and while the audience is fully aware that HR will come back no matter what happens, it’s good to see these two go on the warpath against these despicable people. Caviezel and Henson are great together and have a natural chemistry. There’s a Castle-esque potential romance being hinted at for these two and, for the moment, it doesn’t matter one way or the other if anything ever comes from that. It’s far more engaging to see these two former adversaries work together and share some light banter. Make no mistake though, Shahi is the clear star of the episode and she makes use of every single scene that she’s in. She sells being completely emotionless, perhaps a little too convincingly. Her actions reflect this, but where Shahi really pulls it off is in her eyes, which embody a sense of emptiness and intensity that amazes.
The larger question that the episode continually keeps going back to is why someone like Shaw would continually save people. It’s a fair question and it doesn’t seem that the episode has a sufficient answer. The most satisfying one that anyone could ever get is that she simply feels something inside of her that tells her that she needs to do be doing this, even if it is a minuscule voice most of the time. The sad fact is that Shaw herself probably has no idea why she does what she does. There’s a good chance that, had the cards been a little different, she could have ended up a serial killer.
It’s always entertaining to see a show take a character that could easily be just a static character or simply used as a blunt instrument and make something more of them. It’s encouraging; the show runners have care about enriching their characters and want the audience to have fun with them, along with meeting with them on a personal level. “Razgovor” is a clear success in that regard, along with many others, and we can likely expect more of this to come along down the line.