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Season 1, Episode 7:
Scarface: Boss, it's done.
Elias: Nah, it's just beginning. "Veni, vidi, vici."
Carter and Fusco investigate a mob killing at a bodega in Brighton Beach, where the dominance of the Russian Mob is being challanged by a smart and secretive new player in the New York crime world: Carl Elias. The victim is one of Elias' lieutenants (no one knows what Elias looks like), and through security footage the police learn there was a witness to the killing, a local schoolteacher named Charlie Burton, who may have been privy to the victim's dying declaration. Fusco calls Reese to alert him that Burton is in danger, but Reese and Finch are already watching him, having been given his number by the Machine. The Russians show up, obstensibly to kill a witness, and Reese tries to get him to safety; Charlie takes a bullet to the shoulder, as does Reese's phone, and the two are forced to seek refuge in a slum tower controlled by Bulgiarian drug dealers.
Finch makes contact with Fusco and enlists his help in tracking down Reese, while Carter investigates the Russian Mob and Elias' crew to find the shooters and call off both sides' hunt for Charlie. The wife of the dead lieutenant claims that Brighton Beach is just the start: Elias plans to wipe out the foreign gangs, reunite the Five Families and bring New York under his heel. What's more, he's smart and ruthless enough to do it, and the fact that no one knows what he looks like means the Russians can't strike back. Meanwhile, Reese patches up Charlie's bullet wound and tries to convince him to testify to the police. Charlie refuses; he doesn't want to risk the wrath of the Russians, or leave the school where he's worked so hard to help the impoverished students, many of whom are mobsters' children, to get out of the mob life. And the Russians negotiate with the Bulgiarians and are allowed to enter the slums and hunt for Reese and Charlie, who only escape thanks to one of Charlie's students. They take one of the Russians hostage, call in an anonymous tip to Carter and make it to the ferry, fleeing towards Manhattan.
Finch sends Fusco to meet the ferry and take custody of Charlie, only to then intercept communications between Elias' men alerting them to the ferry's arrival. He suspects Fusco of betraying them, but Fusco is knocked out by "Scarface", one of Elias' goons. Carter picks up the Russian shooters and interrogates their leader, who enlightens the NYPD to what's really been happening: the Russians haven't been going to so much effort to kill a mere witness. On the ferry, Reese realises the truth, but it's too late to stop Charlie from drawing a gun and taking him prisoner, revealing himself as Carl Elias. As the ferry reaches the dock, he forces Reese to tie himself up, letting him live out of gratitude for saving his life. By the time Finch arrives to revive Fusco, Elias is gone. Reese blames himself for saving the life of a killer, wondering how many more numbers the Machine will spit out because of Elias. In the coda, Scarface kills the head of the Russian Mob in Brighton Beach, and Elias declares that "it's just beginning."
Tropes present in this episode include
- Actor Allusion: One of Charlie's students is reading The Count of Monte Cristo. Jim Caviezel starred in the 2002 film version.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Elias seems like a genuinely nice schoolteacher, even though he's started a bloody gang war and has no problems kneecapping Russian mobsters.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: Nina Simons's "Sinnerman" over the final scenes.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind
- Don Incognito: So incognito, the Russian Mob didn't realise that the head of the gang trying to take them out was their children's English teacher.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Elias' reason for leaving Reese alive. He wouldn't want to see "ungrateful".
- Growing the Beard
- He Knows Too Much: Reese, Finch, Carter and the NYPD think this is why the Russians are after Charlie, to stop him testifying to what he saw in the bodega.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Looks like Keith Mars decided to work on the other side of the law.
- Hidden Villain: Charlie Burton, aka Elias.
- It Has Only Just Begun
- Karma Houdini: Other than having his Secret Identity blown, Elias gets off scot-free at the end.
- The Mafiya
- Not So Different: Reese compares "Charlie" to Finch. The comparisons only get more apt once we discover his true identity.
- Prophecy Twist: "Charlie Burton" really was in danger, but it turns out he's a far more dangerous figure and saving him will put other lives in jeopardy.
- The Reveal: On two seperate fronts, it's revealed that mild-mannered schoolteacher Charlie Burton is really brutal crime boss Carl Elias.
- Save the Villain: Reese unwittingly saves one of the bloodiest new crime figures in New York from being taken out by the competition.
- Shout-Out: After trying to figure out who Elias is for the whole episode, Reese discovers too late it's the nebbish, helpless character who's been in his grasp the whole time. Sound familiar?
- Two Aliases One Character
- Wham! Episode: The series' first.
- Wham! Line
You really think we'd go to this much trouble for a witness?