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Season 1, Episode 11:
In the aftermath of "Number Crunch", Finch brings Reese to an out-of-work surgeon to be patched up.
A month later, Finch brings a wheelchair-bound Reese to an apartment building in Manhattan to investigate the latest person of interest: Trask, the building's landlord. With Reese out of commission, Finch is forced to do the fieldwork and break into Trask's apartment. They learn that Trask is obsessed with one of the female tenants and theorise that he's likely the perpetrator, with either the woman or her boyfriend who lives in the penthouse as his intended victim. Reese narrowly stops Trask from killing the boyfriend by activating the fire alarm, while the Machine intercepts phone calls from the woman where she talks about being terrified by a stalker who's broken into her apartment. Reese decides to intervene and threatens Trask at gunpoint, only to discover he's not the stalker: the supposed "boyfriend" is the one threatening the woman, and Trask is trying to stop him. With Reese and Finch's help, he saves the woman and the "boyfriend" is tossed out a window to his death.
Meanwhile, Carter is being trailed by Snow and a CIA field team who are still determined to find Reese; Snow wants to interrogate him and find out "what happened in Ordos", but is happy to kill Reese if it comes to that. She gives the CIA the slip and follows her only lead -- "Harold Burdett"'s contact information -- to track down Finch, so she can find out exactly what he and Reesedo. Finch tells Carter that one of the people in the bar, a man named Derek, will soon be involved in a violent crime. Trailing Derek, she intervenes in time to stop him killing the banker who foreclosed his house, and Finch calls to answer her earlier question that "this is what we do". And Reese gives Fusco an empty bottle of painkillers with his fingerprints on them, and Fusco drives to the next state to plant the bottle in a vet's office. When the bottle is found by local police and the CIA find out, they call off the hunt for Reese in New York and leave Carter alone.
In flashbacks to 2005, Nathan Ingram continues the ruse of prentending he's the sole creator of the Machine, keeping Finch's identity a secret from the government. When asked to demonstrate the Machine's capabilities, Nathan delivers a single social security number to Alicia Corwin, the government liason. Alicia returns with Denton Weeks, the Deputy Director of the NSA, and news that the social security number lead them to a traitor. Weeks demands to know how the Machine spotted a traitor, but Nathan says it's a Black Box system that no one can access, meaning no one's rights are being violated and it can't be aimed at particular targets (it already watches all potential targets). Weeks threatens to cut the government funding if Nathan doesn't comply, and Alicia informs him that in exchange for bilding the Machine, Nathan is being paid exactly $1 USD. Finch watches this exchange via the Machine's feeds, and it flags Weeks as a threat to the system. Later, Nathan congratulates Finch for the Machine's performance and asks him to briefly "pop the hood": Finch walks Nathan through how the Machine spotted patterns and made connections to pick out the number as a person of interest. Nathan finds the whole thing terrifying, which is why Finch plans to encrypt the operating system so heavily that no one will ever be able to crack it. He doesn't mind his role in the Machine's creation being a total secret because it's the only way to ensure it won't be misused by Weeks and others like him. As Finch comments on the Machine's "instinct for self-preservation", the audience sees the Machine flagging Nathan as a threat to the system.
Tropes present in this episode include
- Black Box: Referred to by name.
- Blatant Lies: Trask's stories of nightclubs and tigers are quickly disproved by Finch's background check...
- Cassandra Truth: ...until they discover Trask is a former nightclub owner from Miami, now in witness protection.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Machine can act to protect itself and can flag individuals as such, as demonstrated with Weeks. At the end of the episode, the Machine flags Nathan as another threat.
- Fish Out of Water: With Reese out of action, Finch is forced to do the legwork.
- Go for the Eye: Reese's self-defence tip for Finch when he's in the field.
- Handicapped Badass: Reese is laid up in a wheelchair for the entire episode.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: David Zayas as Trask, the person of interest. Sure enough, it comes in handy.
- The Man Behind the Man: Finch, to Nathan.
- Mission Control: Reese plays this role for most of the episode.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Deliberately invoked by Finch, who also kept his role in the Machine's creation a secret so that no one could recreate and then abuse the technology.
- Posthumous Character: Nathan, again.
- Power Perversion Potential: After gaining access to all the security feeds in the apartment building, Reese and Finch can't help but stop and look at one woman doing yoga. She's... healthy.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: How Finch gets Reese the medical care he needs.
- Shout-Out: To Rear Window.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Trask, who is correctly identified as the perp but is acting to protect one of the tenants.