Warning: Spoiler Alert
The working relationship and personal bond between John Reese and Harold Finch the CBS series “Person Of Interest,” might qualify as the tightest professional bond in a television series. There are other shows with strong interaction between working partner, but none that come to mind rely on each other as much to fulfill a mission. It’s an interesting dynamic as the men in many ways are polar opposites, but it is their similarities that have forged the bond they have. Both have seen pain lost loved ones and both most likely would get diagnosed as having savior complexes, but what ever their motivation they’ve accomplished a lot of good over the past four years.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this article you are a fan of the show or at the very least know the premise of the series, so we’ll dispense with long-winded explanations. Quickly stated, Harold Finch invented an Artificial Intelligence system that he and his partner Nathan Ingram gave to the Government to more effectively capture terrorists. However, Harold put in a backdoor, that gives him access to information about people the government lacks interest in, but will soon be the victim or the perpetrator of a crime, many times involving life and death situations. Harold was the creator of the machine and stayed anonymous, while Nathan became the front-man and negotiated with the Government.
On the day that the United States Government started “Northern Lights” their project name for what Harold refers to as “The Machine,” Ingraham got assassinated by Government operatives, via a car bomb on a ferry that Nathan and Harold both rode on. Nathan got too close to the car and the blast killed him instantly, Harold realized he needed to live in the shadows, even convinced his own fiancée he died on the ferry.
Harold suffered severe damage to his spinal cord causing him to walk with a pronounced limp, but even at full strength, he’d be no match for some of the criminals they’ve dealt with. Finch needed a partner who could perform the acts that Harold couldn’t do on his own. After he went through a series of bad fits, he recruited a man he’d had his eye on for a while. John Reese.
A quick bit of information; John Reese and Harold Finch are the names we know the characters as, but that’s not necessarily their given names. We do know that Finch’s first name’s Harold, as we’ve seen flashbacks of his father calling him by that name. However, he’s used assorted other birds as aliases and now goes by the name of Professor Harold Whistler, at the University he teaches at in his cover guise. In the pilot, Harold told John he’d refer to him as Mr. Reese, as that’s what he prefers to be called. But whether he was born with the last name of Reese, remains a mystery.
Here’s what we do know, John was the typical All-American-Boy from Anywhere, USA, (if I were to guess, I’d say Midwest, he’s rather stoic, not a quality you readily find in East or West Coast residents.) He joined the military and apparently did such a fine job, the CIA recruited him. John got called a “boy scout,” by his partner and had to stop living by such a strong moralistic code that dealt in black and white, he now dealt with the gray. Though John felt uncomfortable doing it he held his tongue and performed up to standards.
Reese also has a lost love a woman who meant the world to him but he didn’t feel it was right that she wait for him, so she married the man who proposed to her. Turned out the husband was a psychopath and murdered his wife (he now resides in a Mexican prison serving a lifetime sentence for dealing heroin, don’t ask.) On his last mission for the Agency he and his partner got orders to take each other out. Reese escaped and came back to the States, but he was traveling a slow road to death. He became a homeless vagrant bailed out of an NYPD Jail by Reese so he could talk with John. Reese at this point was as far as possible from the dapper “Man In The Suit,” we’ve followed for so long.
Finch told Reese he needed a mission and Finch needed him to complete his mission. Without telling John about “The Machine,” he told them they would intervene in situations concerning a list of people Harold would provide. Although John’s never said this personally to Finch we’ve seen Reese credit Finch for saving his life, as he’s talked about fictional bosses and described Harold’s treatment of him as the way these fictionalized mentors deal with Reese. He’s said that the man gave him purpose and believed in him when nobody else would, one doesn’t have to be a behaviorist to realize John’s referring to Harold.
Both men have attempted to jump ship over the past two seasons as John took off out West after NYPD Detective and a member of Finch and Reese’s team, Jocelyn Carter got shot down in cold blood by a dirty cop last season. Finch finally convinced Reese, that the good they were doing was a tribute to Carter’s memory and he jumped back on board.
Harold’s situation was more complicated and occurred at the beginning of this season, as he feared for his team “The Machine,” as well as his own life over a rival Artificial Intelligence system known as Samaritan. The well crafted anonymity vanished and Reese, Finch, Sameen Shaw and Root, all had to gain new identities, the library that they based operations out of was no longer a safe haven for them. But “The Machine,” showed Harold a new place to build, beneath the city streets and he regained his inspiration and saved the team.
The best sports teams are the clubs where the whole’s better than the sum of the individual parts. John Reese and Harold Finch, as a pair can accomplish far more than the two of them working individually, that’s what makes their mission work, as well as the TV show.
The Story Continues Tuesday, at 10:00 pm on CBS.