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Recap / Person Of Interest S 04 E 20

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Season 4, Episode 20

Terra Incognita

"...there are two kinds of friends, ones you talk about the game with and ones you share your life with— the real stories. Up to you which one you want me to be."

The Machine gives Finch the number of Chase Patterson, the only survivor of a wealthy family; his parents and sisters were murdered in an apparent home invasion in 2008. Chase, the "black sheep" of the family with a substance abuse problem, quickly became the prime suspect, and certainly looked guilty when he fled the country to hide out in France. Chase has now come back to the United States, and when Reese pulls the case file, he discovers that Carter was the original investigator. While the rest of Team Machine deals with an escalation in the violence between Elias and the Bortherhood, Reese follows in Carter's footsteps and finds himself on a perilous personal journey.


  • Accidental Misnaming: Chase calls Gil "Phil." Apparently it wasn't the first time.
  • Bad Liar: Carter says that for a spy, Reese is a terrible liar.
  • Breather Episode: Focuses on Reese's emotional issues.
  • Brutal Honesty: Fusco flat-out tells Reese he's a terrible cop.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Detective Carter in flashbacks and hallucinations.
    • Terney, Carter's partner during the Patterson murder investigation, in the flashbacks.
  • Call-Back:
    • The conversation between Reese and Carter on the topic of whether or not people can change recalls the last scene of "Cura Te Ipsum"
    • When Finch is in the car with Reese and Carter, Reese asks him if he's brought his water bottle.
    • In the same scene, Finch complains about Bear's propensity to chew up rare books.
    • Finch and Reese's suspicion of the Machine's proper functioning recalls the virus Stanton injected into it in Season 2, which began to seriously affect its operations, sending numbers too late.
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  • Cliffhanger: Reese is near death. An unknown car is approaching. The End.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Brotherhood/Elias war is part of the episode's B plot.
    • The photo of Reese and Jessica last seen in "Many Happy Returns" is found by Reese in Detective Carter's effects.
  • Cop Killer: Gil tries to invoke this, having chickened out the last time he was pursued to the cabin by a cop.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Reese's plot in the episode consists almost entirely of an extended one.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gil murders his half-brother's entire family because their father refused to recognize him.
  • Dramatic Irony: Root says she's sure Reese is fine... while he's slowly dying of a gunshot wound.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Reese is momentarily distracted by Chase and fails to see Gil entering from the back of the cabin. This gives Gil the opportunity to shoot Reese in the back.
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    • Gil fails to spot the backup gun that Reese has in an ankle holster. This gets him shot just as he is getting ready to finish Reese off.
  • Fan Nickname: "Hallucination!Carter"
  • Fatal Family Photo: In Afghanistan, Reese stumbled upon a group of dead Rangers and Taliban, all of whom had pictures of loved ones. He decided he'd be good at his job if he didn't have a loved one to hold onto.
  • The Fatalist: Reese
  • Fever Dream Episode: Carter and Reese in The Stakeout turns out to be a hallucination after Reese is shot.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the stakeout scenes, the usual Machine timeline and date-stamps are missing, a clue that this is no ordinary flashback.
    • Resse constantly turning up the heat in the car is one of the early hints that something weird is happening during the stakeout.
  • Frame-Up: Gil tries to frame Chase as a druggie who murdered his family.
  • Happy Flashback: As happy as Reese gets, anyway. The beginning of John's hallucination is him and Carter on a stakeout.
  • Interface Screw: The Machine's interface is almost completely absent in the episode as it focuses on Reese and Carter. It is only seen tracking the POI and Reese for a few seconds early in the episode and declaring the two out of its range. There are no transitions between scenes or flashbacks, nor is there an intro.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Retroactively. John's hallucination of Carter implies that beating up Antoine and his friends and being picked up by the police stopped Reese from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge back in the pilot. Considering Carter's dialogue was Reese hallucinating, it's clearly what he was intending to do. This was actually a reference to the original first scene of the show as seen in the pilot script (see Mythology Gag below).
  • Jumped at the Call: After she returns to the Subway, Finch pitches the idea of Root helping the team in one of their usual, ASI-unrelated jobs (well, ASI-tangential in this case, as Finch is concerned that Samaritan might have found and started hurting The Machine).
    Finch: Ms. Groves, how would you like to try your hand at stopping a gang war? It would involve determining whether The Machine is functioning properly.
    Root: When do we start?
  • Long-Lost Relative: Phil was this to Chase, having had the same father.
  • The Lost Lenore: As well as Jessica, Carter has taken on aspects of this for Reese, too.
  • Monochrome Past: Reese's flashbacks of Carter's investigation have a blueish hue to them as many series flashbacks involving The Machine or Reese's CIA past from Season 1 and 2 did.
  • Mythology Gag: In the original draft of the pilot script, the first scene was Reese standing on the bridge, deciding whether or not to jump. In the episode as filmed, it's referenced when Finch says:
    "I know you've spent the last couple of months trying to drink yourself to death. I know you're contemplating more efficient ways to do it."
  • Noodle Incident: Root returns to the subway lair in a wedding dress and athletic shoes.
    Finch: ...Congratulations?
    Root: Don't go buying me that blender just yet, Harry. With Samaritan hunting down The Machine, I figured we should start our own search for her. I tried to get close to someone I thought had inside information. It ended badly. Not only am I still on the market, but we have no leads to help us find her.
    • Additionally, how Root gets Elias' man to talk.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Gil was obsessed with his biological father's approval.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted, and how. Reese is slowly bleeding out.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • In-universe, Finch knows that Reese's silence is unusual for him.
    • Many of Reese's actions during the stakeout scenes (such as constantly turning up the heat) are slightly out of character for him and make the audience feel that something serious is going on that we are not seeing.
  • Reality Ensues: Reese follows a PoI to a remote location without cellphone reception. He knows that the PoI is either a vicious killer or the likely target of one, yet he still goes there alone, without any backup or means of calling for help. A moments' inattention gets him shot and it's definitely not Only a Flesh Wound. While Reese is able to take the shooter down, he barely has the strength to retrieve his car keys and crawl to his car. Due to the cold, the car won't start, and Reese does not have the strength left to look for help or some other shelter. One of the show's biggest Determinators is forced to sit in a freezing car waiting to either bleed out to death or more likely die from hypothermia.
  • Rousing Speech: Carter gives a subdued one to Reese as he crawls for a set of car keys while bleeding out and freezing to death.
    Carter: All right, you know how this works: you stop, you die. Come on, you've seen worse than this. You didn't really survive all of that to just wind up dying now, out here, alone, at the hands of a psycho who got off one lucky shot! [Reese turns to glare at her momentarily] I didn't think so.
  • Running Gag:
  • Shown Their Work: The portrayal of the effects of severe hypothermia is very accurate.
  • Special Edition Title: There is no opening narration, just a title card at the end of the teaser.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: if the tea isn't Sencha green tea, Finch doesn't want it.
  • The Unreveal: Who turns up to save Reese's life? At the screening of the episode at the Paley Convention, Greg Plageman said Fusco was in the car.
  • Wham Line:
    Carter: You're dying, John.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Reese is shot In the Back.
    • Reese showing Carter the photo of Jessica and him he picked up from Carter's effects. Upon seeing this, we know something isn't right, considering he found the photo a year after Carter died.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Chase is last seen downing a bottle of pills at gunpoint; his ultimate fate is unknown. Presumably, he was rescued along with Reese.

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