I was reluctant to become invested in this show when it first aired because even though it’s a J.J. Abrams production, shows this good tend to get cancelled. But as it has been renewed for a fifth season, I think I’m safe to say I absolutely love it without jinxing it. This is totally unlike anything else on television, so don’t be fooled by its description as a crime thriller. Very apropos to the current goings on with the NSA, this show postulates a great what-if question. What if the government had an incredibly complex machine that spied on everyone for the purpose of thwarting terrorist plots against America? Harold Finch (played by Michael Emerson in a much more likeable role than Ben Linus on Lost) built such a machine but was distressed when the government chose not to act in order to prevent non-terrorist related violent crimes, calling them irrelevant. He recruits ex-CIA spook John Reese, brilliantly underplayed by Jim Caviezel, to help him deal with the never-ending stream of numbers and together they follow up on each one. Mr. Reese is very, very good at his new calling and he and the secretive Finch have an entertaining dynamic between them as they each stealthily try to figure out the other one.
The show’s writers ask great questions of the audience, dealing with the ethics of government surveillance, do the ends justify the means, and whether or not a complex machine can be called sentient. All the characters are beautifully drawn and slowly become more complicated and fleshed out as the narrative unfolds. Kevin Chapman as good guy/bad guy Detective Fusco is excellent and get a look at Taraji P. Henson playing the complicated Joss Carter long before she played Cookie on Empire. The introduction of Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi to the show is inspired, but since this is a story where it is better not to know too much going in, I’m being deliberately vague so as not to spoil it for you. Dramatic, wry, often surprisingly funny and deliciously intriguing, this cerebral sleeper is an amazing showcase of humanity in all its facets, running the gamut from the genuinely goodhearted to the truly despicable. – BETHANY
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Jim Caviezel evidently kept his look from when he played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.
Look out, Cookie’s got a gun! Taraji P Henson as Detective Carter.
Dang it, she stole a rocket launcher. MY rocket launcher! (Sarah Shahi)
Camryn Manheim as the mysterious ‘Control’.
Paige Turco as high society “fixer” Zoe Morgan.
Finch. “I’m a very private person.” (Michael Emerson)
Photos courtesy of Kilter Films, Bad Robot, Warner Bros. Television and CBS (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)