The arrival of the full Person of Interest on Salto is a small event in itself. Because this is the first time that the series, so far available on DVD and Blu-Ray, is visible on a streaming platform in France, since its broadcast on TF1. And this is the opportunity to (re) give a chance to a story that has not had the success it would have deserved.
WE ARE WATCHING YOU …
It all starts September 22, 2011 on CBS. That day, the American network launched one of the big novelties of its season: Person of Interest, fruit of the collaboration between JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan. At the time, the first just emerged from the success of Super 8, a year after the finale of Lost. Already established as one of the big names of the small screen, he is taking more and more importance on the big one and will be entrusted with the reins of Episode VII of Star Wars a few years later, after having brilliantly revived Star Trek in theaters. For its part, the second is not yet “than” Christopher’s little brother, for whom he co-wrote several of the feature films, including Memento, The Prestige and The Dark Knight. But his emancipation begins with this work of which he is the only creator, and which tells how two men will be able to intervene in crimes before they take place, thanks to a mysterious machine which gives them the name of the culprit or of the victim.
Between its concept, the talents behind the camera and those who evolve in front (Michael Emerson, the Ben of Lost, teamed up with Jim Caviezel, the Jesus of Mel Gibson), Person of Interest becomes one of the most anticipated novelties of the season 2011/2012, and 13.33 million curious are at the rendezvous across the Atlantic for the broadcast of the pilot. Which is promising, but the rest is struggling to transform the test. The whole may be neat and well conducted, the series does not manage to extract itself from the procedural format (a different plot per episode) and very quickly looks like a version of Experts mixed with SF à la Minority Report. Effective without being really captivating, in spite of the mysteries which surround the principal characters and their machine, the show even goes so far as to leave a cliffhanger without continuation and the televiewers start to go their way week after week. Nothing catastrophic so far, even if the word “disappointment” is read more and more in front of this formula which does not seem to want to evolve.
But everything changes with episode 7, which first manages to take us by surprise by making the sympathetic Enrico Colantoni (the heroine’s dad in Veronica Mars) the villain of the plot while everything made him the victim of the crime to be prevented. Better: his character of Carl Elias becomes a recurring antagonist who launches for good the mythology of a show which finally grabs us so as not to let go before the end of season 5. If you are one of those to whom we praised the merits of Person of Interest and who take advantage of its availability on Salto to start it, know that you will have to arm yourself with a little patience, because the beginning is a bit laborious compared to what you follow. Reserve. Don’t ignore it either, as you might miss out on key information about Reese (Jim Caviezel) or Finch (Michael Emerson), as well as the two police officers who are closely interested in their underground activities. Then expect to discover one of the great series of the 2010s.
Without turning its back on its concept (except in the last season, which serves as a conclusion to the story), or even leaving the surroundings of New York which serve its purpose, Person of Interest manages to find the right balance between its procedural aspects and soap operas, each investigation serving, by extension, to advance the overall plot. And it’s an understatement to say that this one will become more and more complex over the weeks and the arrivals of new recurring characters, starting with the brilliant Root (Amy Acker). Neither bad nor nice, she evolves in her own camp and viewers can identify with her when she tries by all means to unravel the secrets of this machine which obsesses her and with which she develops a bond more and more. most important. There is also John Greer, a former British secret agent played by John Nolan (Jonathan’s uncle) who becomes the main antagonist with a device designed to compete with Finch’s for some evil purpose.
We can also mention Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi), who joins the heroes despite herself. Policewoman Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson, then future Empire star) and her corrupt colleague Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman). And other protagonists who return regularly and revolve around the central duo, whose dynamics are at times reminiscent of that between Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth in the three parts of the trilogy The Dark Knight co-written by Jonathan Nolan with his brother Christopher. This is not the only point in common between the films and the series, which also meet in their desire for realism (with a few variations) and their anchoring in the post-September 11th. The choice of New York as the theater for Person of Interest’s action is, in this respect, not trivial. While wide and / or aerial shots of the city remind us of the absence of the World Trade Center, we learn that Finch designed his machine after a terrorist attack, to prevent other tragic events of the same ilk from happening. occur.
The power of his baby will be stronger than expected as he will succeed in predicting crimes that are smaller but deemed too insignificant by the government, thanks to various information, including the social security numbers with which each future victim or culprit is named in beginning of episode. Behind its police aspect, the series poses ethical questions that gain momentum in 2013, following the revelations of the whistleblower Edward Snowden on the global surveillance put in place by the United States, and the obstacles to privacy that they constitute. Reality thus joins fiction, and what presented itself as sci-fi becomes a little more tangible. In the show, this thunderclap is also reflected in the arrival of Samaritan, a device resulting from tests carried out by the United States after the attacks of September 11, and which becomes the diabolical counterpart of that of Finch. And, even more than in previous seasons, Jonathan Nolan takes the opportunity to address the topics of artificial intelligence and free will.
Key themes of his work since we find them at the heart of Westworld, his next series broadcast on HBO since 2016, and which at times resembles the little sister of Person of Interest. Especially in season 3, where it is literally a question of a machine capable of predicting the future with a white interface reminiscent of Samaritan, while the great villain Serac (Vincent Cassel) sometimes evokes Root and sometimes John Greer. In one series as in the other, Jonathan Nolan does not unnecessarily darken the picture with regard to artificial intelligence, the benefits of which he knows how to show, even if he favors free will. And he does it in a cold atmosphere (even icy, for some) which seems, at first glance, not very conducive to emotions. However, it is not.
Because if one could reproach Jim Caviezel for his somewhat monolithic score at the beginning of Person of Interest, the show quickly manages to correct this defect. Without making Reese more exuberant, but by giving his formidable efficiency and his way of destroying ball joints a sometimes comical side that also reinforces Finch’s irony towards his methods of vigilance. The series also manages to break its shell and touch us in the heart when it stays as close as possible to its characters, and does not hesitate to sacrifice some. As in this episode of season 3, centered on a major death, and which gives rise to a long introduction without words and of a mad power in the following one. Where the midseason premiere from season 4, the exceptional “If-Then-Else”, which took us to the heart of the machine to observe the different possibilities that the heroes had to get out of the trap in which they were. A story that shone as much by its playful side as by the pessimism and the inevitable aspect of its outcome.
CATCHING AGAINST THE MACHINE
An episode that sums up what Person of Interest was: a series with a strong concept, captivating, complex, enjoyable during certain action scenes and capable of making us tear a few tears. So many qualities that could have, which should have, allowed him to access the television pantheon of the past decade. But no. Never rewarded, nor even nominated, at the Emmy Awards, the show has regularly moved in the programming schedules and saw its audiences decline from season 3, after reaching 13-14 million viewers on average per episode in previous years. . While the whole gained in quality, the public was less and less there. Is it because his place would have been more on a cable channel than on a network like CBS, broadcaster of Experts? Because, despite its concept, its complexity made it more conducive to binge-watching than to a weekly broadcast?
There are things which, at the time, cannot be explained. But what seems certain, given the number of fans she regularly wins, is that Person of Interest did not get the recognition she deserves and was undoubtedly underestimated at the time of its dissemination. Its arrival, in full, on Salto can therefore make up for this, and to see how it remains relevant a decade after its launch.