Recap: Person Of Interest S 02 E 12

Season 2, Episode 12:

Prisoner's Dilemma

"It’s funny, how the choices you make change who you become. Take one path or the other ...
All these years later, I still wonder... if I had re-upped when the towers came down... who would I be now?"

With Donnelly demanding her assistance, Carter continues playing both sides of the fence to help Reese avoid being identified by the FBI, and Reese crosses paths with several old foes before finally being confronted with a figure from his past that he probably wishes would have stayed there. Meanwhile, Finch works on engineering an escape plan, and Fusco is doing... actually, we don't even know what was going on but it involved a supermodel, an Armenian gang, and the best unnecessary plot line ever.

Tropes present in this episode include:

  • Bait and Switch: The intro implies that the episode about Fusco saving the supermodel when really its just the side plot.
  • Batman Grabs a Grenade Launcher: Finch, at the end of the second act, though it quickly becomes unnecessary.
  • Book Ends: Donnelly's hunt for the Man in the Suit begins and ends when someone crashes into his car while he's transporting a prisoner. Poor guy can't catch a break.
  • Climactic Music: "Eminence Front" by The Who.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Elias tells Reese that he won't rat him out to the Feds, first because John saved his life once, and second, if he does, Harold will stop coming over to play chess with him.
    • During the interrogations, Reese mentions that he took a trip to Mexico last May. The previous season, he did go there to get the US Marshal Jennings locked up for drug-related charges (even better, that episode aired in May 2012).
  • Crazy-Prepared: Reese actually has a complete cover identity with a workplace that remembers him coming in to work.
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet: Reese is released from prison, but....
  • Earpiece Conversation: At one point, Donnelly and Finch are using the same earpiece to talk Carter through John's interrogation.
  • Gambit Pile Up: Everyone is trying to pull off a gambit, and Carter tends to be in the middle of all of them.
    • Donnelly is trying to identify which prisoner is the "Man in the Suit," and simultaneously determine if Carter is the "mole" in his investigation, by having Carter aggressively interrogating Reese and the others.
    • Carter is trying to interrogate Reese aggressively enough that Donnelly doesn't suspect anything, but without eliciting an answer that blows Reese's cover—and simultaneously trying to frame one of the mercenaries as "the Man in the Suit."
    • Reese is trying to maintain his cover identity long enough to get out.
    • Finch is listening in and adding supporting documentation for Reese's cover on the fly so that if Donnelly runs a search to confirm what Reese is saying, he won't find any gaps in the tale.
    • Pennsylvania Two just wants to Kill 'em All.
    • ...and then there's whatever gambit Kara Stanton is playing on top of all that!
  • Get Into Jail Free: How Hersh (Pennsylvania Two's chief thug) decides to get access to the Man in the Suit.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Fusco, supermodel Karolína Kurková, and an Armenian gang. The end.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Fusco can't believe he's being left out of the effort to free Reese, until he sees who the PoI is.
  • Hero of Another Story: Fusco.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: When Finch walks by three pay phones and each of them ring as he passes, he stares questioningly at the nearest security camera. Cut to the Machine's POV, looking directly at Finch.
  • Inspector Javert: This episode really rams home how obsessive Donnelly has become, even though he believes he's doing it for the right reasons.
  • Killed Off for Real: Donnelly.
  • Meaningful Echo: In a flashback to 2007, Kara Stanton tells the reluctant Reese that he needs to learn to love his work as an assassin. Later in a flashback to 2009, she finally gets fed up with his continued attempts to distance himself and threatens him at gunpoint to choose who he's going to be; the boy scout or the killer. He responds by disarming her, shoving her against the wall, and with his hand to her throat informs her in no uncertain terms that he loves his work.
  • Oh Crap!: Finch's reaction to the Machine's latest Number.
  • Prison Episode
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: Reese has to deal with Donnelly, Elias, Hersh and the Aryans from "The Contingency". Stanton is in the episode too, but as a flashback character. Until she's not.
  • Self-Parody: The standard "save the victim" plot of the show is never explained and looks weird because the one doing the saving isn't the hero.
  • Sexual Extortion: Stanton's interest in Reese has shades of this. Reverse of the trope, she's the one who instigates it and he's one who is uninterested — until she threatens him at gunpoint.
  • Shown Their Work: The interrogation scenes are extremely realistic, thanks to technical consultant Tony Camerino, an Army veteran and trained interrogator.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss / Romance Ensues: Reese and Stanton in the flashback.
  • Third Act Stupidity: After successfully fooling the FBI with some help from Carter, what made John think it was a good idea to go meet her in public the night he was released from prison?
  • Villainous Rescue: Elias saving Reese from the Aryans (and, unbeknownst to anyone, Hersh).
  • Wham Episode: To put it mildly.