Monday, April 2, 2012

PERSON OF INTEREST--When Fiction Feels Real--part 3

I began these entries as way to examine the popularity of a single TV show, that has struck a chord with its fans. Though clearly fiction, often evoking the mood of super-hero comic books, there are certain themes that make the show feel authentic.

First, we examined the paranoia that the average person feels, whether shopping in the mall, or driving under a traffic light. The second theme was that of deception--people and situations aren't as they first appeared. The final theme of Person Of Interest--and my personal favorite--is the theme of redemption.

Reese was once a soldier, then a CIA agent. When we are first introduced to him, he is homeless and living in New York. Carter arrests him after he fights off bad guys in a subway. She tries to give him some advice, one vet to another. Then a stranger, Finch, posts his bail and hires him to do a job that no one else can do. Finch knows Reese is the man for this job, because he has been watching him.

Reese is given the chance to make up for whatever he did in a former life that filled him with regret and self-loathing. He solves crimes and prevents murders in a vigilante style, though more efficient than the police. All the clues are given by Finch's creation, The Machine. In the episode, By the Numbers, Reese is critically injured and, as Finch attempts to save him, Reese thanks his partner for a chance to redeem himself.

--But Reese is not the only redemption story. In the first episode, Fusco is a dirty cop who intends to kill Reese and dump his body in a swamp. Reese forces Fusco to become his lackey instead. By the end of the first season Fusco admits that it feels good to be known as a good cop again. The feeling doesn't last long as Fusco is forced to go under-cover as a bad cop, to continue to work for the good-guys.

It is that feeling of redemption that drives this show. --But our characters are limited and sometimes make mistakes. They are sometimes manipulated by Elias and used as his pawns. Redemption is a difficult thing to attain when one is working in the human realm. --And Elias proves to be a formidable foe.

We feel Reese's struggle. We mourn over Fusco as his name continues to be soiled, and we wonder what is in Finch's past that drives him to lose one identity and constantly create new ones. Even Carter has past regrets that haunt her.

Maybe we look at our own secrets and hope it is possible to somehow redeem ourselves. Maybe we can make amends, recreate ourselves, and create a better life for those we love. Maybe that hope helps fuel the popularity of Person Of Interest.