Season 1, Episode 3:
Reese and Finch try to figure out how to help Joey, an Iraqi war vet that's fallen in with a group of ex-military bank robbers. Their middleman, Latimer, enlists Joey's gang to steal a single item from a police lock-up: a box of evidence from the murder of "Elias, M." Reese infiltrates the gang for the heist and Finch tries to intervene, getting caught as one of the hostages. When they return with the evidence, Latimer tries to kill the gang but Reese manages to save Joey and convinces him to leave town.
In the coda, Latimer delivers the evidence to his mysterious employer: crime scene photos from the 1970s of a woman found dead in her home, along the murder weapon, a kitchen knife. Latimer demands his payment, but when Reese tracks him down, he finds Latimer's dead body, killed with the kitchen knife.
In flashbacks to 2006, Reese is on his way through an airport when he runs across Jessica, his former lover; she's currently engaged to someone else, while Reese is on his way to some top-secret deployment. Jessica is still in love with Reese and offers to stay if he asks her too, but he can't, not until she's already gone.
Tropes present in this episode include:
- Brick Joke:
- Reese suggests that Finch should get some exercise. Later, Finch is shown doing pushups in the library. And then he denies it when Reese asks what he's doing.
- Reese facetiously suggests 'dog walker' as a possible job for Finch, who in later seasons is seen walking Bear a lot.
- One that doesn't come due until almost the end of the series. Joey does in fact meet a reclusive billionaire similar to Finch, and the two establish their own Team Machine operating out of Washington D.C.
- Chekhov's Gun: Reese's Glock 18.
- Cool Guns: Latimer's crew pack Heckler and Koch MP5K PDW submachineguns, which he sabotages. Reese also gets in on the act bringing along a fully automatic Glock 18 machine pistol which becomes critical in the climax of the episode.
- Framing the Guilty Party: How Finch creates an opening in the gang for Reese to fill.
- Honor Before Reason: Joey robs banks, putting his life and liberty at risk, to provide for the family of a deceased Army comrade.
- I Will Wait for You: Jessica's promise to Reese - all he has to do is ask. Sadly, he can't bring himself to say it and she leaves in tears... and then he says it after she's out of earshot.
- Innocuously Important Episode: While "Mission Creep" isn't the most stellar offering in season 1, the case files of the "Elias, M." murder kick off one of the major arcs of the first season.
- It Works Better with Bullets: Joey and the gang have a hard time fighting back against Latimer when their guns have no firing pins. Luckily, Reese brought a second gun with enough fire power to drive Latimer off.
- Manly Tears: Tears can be seen brimming in Reese's eyes as Jessica leaves.
- Mission Creep: The title of the episode which shows the trope in action.
- Properly Paranoid: The bank robbers.
- Put on a Bus: Literally. Joey and Pia get out of New York.
- Removing the Earpiece: Reese is forced to hand over his ear-comm when the gang destroy their mobile phones. Finch has to go directly to the place they're robbing to pass on his warning about Latimer's intended betrayal.
- Stealth Hi/Bye:Finch: Don't you knock?
Reese: Not if I can help it.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Latimer to the gang of robbers, and then Elias to Latimer.