Recap / Person Of Interest S 01 E 07

Season 1, Episode 7:

Witness

Scarface: Boss, it's done.
Elias: Nah, it's just beginning. "Veni, vidi, vici."

Carter and Fusco investigate a mob killing at a bodega in Brighton Beach, where the dominance of the Russian Mob is being challenged by a smart and secretive new player in the New York crime world: Carl Elias. The victim is one of Elias' lieutenants (no one knows what Elias himself looks like), and through security footage the police learn there was a witness to the killing, a local schoolteacher named Charlie Burton, who may have been privy to the victim's dying declaration. Fusco calls Reese to alert him that Burton is in danger, but Reese and Finch are already watching him, having been given his number by the Machine. The Russians show up, ostensibly to kill a witness, and Reese tries to get him to safety; Charlie takes a bullet to the shoulder, as does Reese's phone, and the two are forced to seek refuge in a slum tower controlled by Bulgiarian drug dealers.

Finch makes contact with Fusco and enlists his help in tracking down Reese, while Carter investigates the Russian Mob and Elias' crew to find the shooters and call off both sides' hunt for Charlie. The wife of the dead lieutenant claims that Brighton Beach is just the start: Elias plans to wipe out the foreign gangs, reunite the Five Families and bring New York under his heel. What's more, he's smart and ruthless enough to do it, and the fact that no one knows what he looks like means the Russians can't strike back. Meanwhile, Reese patches up Charlie's bullet wound and tries to convince him to testify to the police. Charlie refuses; he doesn't want to risk the wrath of the Russians, or leave the school where he's worked so hard to help the impoverished students, many of whom are mobsters' children, to get out of the mob life. And the Russians negotiate with the Bulgiarians and are allowed to enter the slums and hunt for Reese and Charlie, who only escape thanks to one of Charlie's students. They take one of the Russians hostage, call in an anonymous tip to Carter and make it to the ferry, fleeing towards Manhattan.

Finch sends Fusco to meet the ferry and take custody of Charlie, only to then intercept communications between Elias' men alerting them to the ferry's arrival. He suspects Fusco of betraying them, but Fusco is knocked out by "Scarface", one of Elias' goons. Carter picks up the Russian shooters and interrogates their leader, who enlightens the NYPD to what's really been happening: the Russians haven't been going to so much effort to kill a mere witness. On the ferry, Reese realises the truth, but it's too late to stop Charlie from drawing a gun and taking him prisoner, revealing himself as Carl Elias. As the ferry reaches the dock, he forces Reese to tie himself up, letting him live out of gratitude for saving his life. By the time Finch arrives to revive Fusco, Elias is gone. Reese blames himself for saving the life of a killer, wondering how many more numbers the Machine will spit out because of Elias. In the coda, Scarface kills the head of the Russian Mob in Brighton Beach, and Elias declares that "it's just beginning."


Tropes present in this episode include:

  • Actor Allusion: One of Charlie's students is reading The Count of Monte Cristo. Jim Caviezel starred in the 2002 film version.
  • Alone With The Diabolical Mastermind : Reese, alone with Charlie Burton, who he doesn't know it's actually Carl Elias.
  • After Action Patch Up: Reese tends to Charlie's bullet wound.
  • And This Is For...: Elias kneecapping the Russian who shot his mob contact.
  • Best Served Cold: Elias spend years studying his enemies as a history teacher to their children.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Elias seems like a genuinely nice schoolteacher, even though he's started a bloody gang war and has no problems kneecapping Russian mobsters.
  • Blatant Lies: Elias doesn't like mobile phones or guns. He uses both to get the upper hand on Reese.
  • Climactic Music / Crowning Music of Awesome: Nina Simons's "Sinnerman" over the final scenes.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Reese's mobile gets broken early during hand-to-hand combat, cutting him off from Finch. He rips a handline out of a derelict apartment, then later takes a mobile off the mook he captures. Unfortunately he then hands the mobile to Charlie/Elias, who then secretly texts Scarface to let him know where they're going.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind:
    • The witness is one of the most dangerous criminal masterminds of the lot.
    • Played with earlier; when the scarfaced patrolman meets with several mobsters, Finch openly wonders if he's the mysterious Elias.
  • Don Incognito: So incognito, the Russian Mob didn't realise that the head of the gang trying to take them out was their children's English teacher.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Elias' reason for leaving Reese alive. He wouldn't want to seem "ungrateful".
  • He Knows Too Much: Reese, Finch, Carter and the NYPD think this is why the Russians are after Charlie, to stop him testifying to what he saw in the bodega.
  • Hidden Villain: Charlie Burton, aka Elias.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Scarface. Finch also poses as a detective reporting a stolen car to get a security company to turn on the GPS tracker and microphone in Scarface's car.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Reese kneecaps a Russian thug at long range with a pistol, while lying out of a car on his back.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: When Reese appears in his apartment doing his 'trust me' routine, Charlie thinks he's with the gangsters who want him dead. Reese points out that he's talking, not killing him.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: Elias' war.
  • Karma Houdini: Other than having his Secret Identity blown, Elias gets off scot-free at the end.
  • Knee Capping: Elias kneecaps a Russian mobster, just like Reese.
  • Mob War: A war has broken out between The Mafia and The Mafiya, started by Elias.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Finch and Reese feel this way after realizing they just saved a man that is most likely going to be the cause of a lot more future numbers.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Reese ended up saving one of the most dangerous men in the city.
  • Not So Different: Reese compares "Charlie" to Finch. The comparisons only get more apt once we discover his true identity.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The 'bullet went through' kind, though Charlie should still be bleeding more before Reese superglues him together.
  • Person with the Clothing: Carter instantly knows who the Man in the Suit who kneecapped a Russian gangster is.
  • Prophecy Twist: "Charlie Burton" really was in danger, but it turns out he's a far more dangerous figure and saving him will put other lives in jeopardy.
    • And remember, the Machine spits out the names of people who are connected— they can be victims or perpetrators. This guy happened to be both so it's no wonder his number came up.
  • The Reveal: On two seperate fronts, it's revealed that mild-mannered schoolteacher Charlie Burton is really brutal crime boss Carl Elias.
  • Save the Villain: Reese unwittingly saves one of the bloodiest new crime figures in New York from being taken out by the competition.
  • Shout-Out: After trying to figure out who Elias is for the whole episode, Reese discovers too late it's the nebbish, helpless character who's been in his grasp the whole time. Sound familiar?
  • Source Music: The fight narration playing on the television as Reese beats up two Bulgarian dealers.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: When Reese and Finch are determining who would want to kill a teacher, Reese quips that it's a dangerous profession. Like espionage, Finch inquires?
  • Spare A Messenger: Elias looks like he's going to shoot the gangster son of The Mafiya boss, but kneecaps him instead, saying his father should get out of Brighton Beach. The boss is shown being murdered in the end montage, so he clearly ignored the warning.
  • Stock Episode Titles: At least 90 other episodes have this title.
  • Today X, Tomorrow the World!: Patti D'Agostino, the widow of the murdered Mafia guy, tells the detectives:
    Patti: Brighton Beach is just the beginning. Elias has bigger plans. He'll reunite the Five Families and take out the Russian trash. And when he's finished, you people will be answering to him.
  • Truth in Television: Using glue as emergency treatment for gunshot wounds was a technique developed by medics in the Vietnam War.
  • Try and Follow: Reese and Charlie flee into an apartment building controlled by Bulgarian gangsters. The Russians have to contact their boss to negotiate before entering, giving Reese time to treat Charlie's wounds and find a landline to call Finch.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Charlie Burton/Carl Elias.
  • We Can Rule Together: Elias offers Reese a job in his organisation.
  • We Will Meet Again: Elias says he'll leave Reese alone if he does the same. Both men know that isn't going to happen.
  • Wham Episode: The series' first.
  • Wham Line
    Peter: You honestly think we'd go to all this trouble for a witness?
  • With All Due Respect
  • Worthy Opponent: Elias spares Reese life not only because he saved his life, but because he admires his skill.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Averted by Elias, who challenges the Russian Mob for control of his former home of Brighton Beach.
  • You Remind Me of X: Charlie Burton reminds Reese of Finch. He's more right than he knows, as both are The Chessmaster characters who operate from the shadows.
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