Reviews > Television
John Paul Filo/CBS

Person of Interest

Television | New CBS drama offers themes of grace, redemption, and renewal

Issue: "Beyond the body count," Nov. 5, 2011

What if the federal government could record every conversation? And what if two vigilantes used those recordings to prevent crimes from occurring? Such is the premise of the new CBS drama Person of Interest, created by Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight).

Michael Emerson (Lost) stars as the enigmatic Mr. Finch, a reclusive billionaire genius who developed a comprehensive surveillance system for the government designed to prevent another terrorist attack. Since his machine captures all violent intent, it must then sort between recordings that are "relevant" (terrorist activities) and "irrelevant" (all other potential violent crime). Disturbed that the government is disregarding all "irrelevant" criminal activity, Finch creates a back door into the machine, which allows him to access Social Security numbers of individuals who are either perpetrators or victims of a planned crime.

Hobbled himself by a mysterious injury, Finch enlists John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a presumed dead CIA field agent, to investigate and help him stop whatever crime is about to happen.

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Viewers who can disregard, or at least set aside, concerns about Big Brother tendencies in the federal government will discover a well-acted drama filled with themes of grace, redemption, and renewal. Both Finch and Reese are tormented by memories of loved ones they failed to save and are driven to save others. In one episode, Reese prevents a murder by establishing a personal connection with a potential first-time murderer, relating how killing has damaged his own soul and that murder, no matter how seemingly justified, will create similar scars in the would-be killer.

CBS has justifiably high hopes for Person of Interest, considering the pilot episode drew 13.2 million viewers, winning its Thursday 9 p.m. time slot. Be it an apprehensive reflection of our times, the star power behind and in front of the camera, or merely an engaging premise, that's quite a few interested persons.

Michael Leaser
Michael Leaser

Michael is editor of FilmGrace and an associate of The Clapham Group.

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