Person of Interest
I have to get this out of the way … Charles Widmore and Ben Linus reunited!!!!!! Its a LOSTies’ dream come true!!!! Even if they had virtually no screen time together, major LOST squee!!!
Ok. This episode had a great unifying theme of Ulrich Kohl’s story of him becoming a killing machine out of duty and love for country, at the expense of losing all that he cared about, and Reese’s backstory which is filled out a little more tonight and which also appeals to the call of duty … and never being able to go back again once you’ve headed down that road. Heavy themes that I think probably resonates with a lot of veterans of war (clandestine or otherwise) and made for a great hour of Person of Interest.
Let’s go, the Machine is watching …
Wallace Negel (nee, Ulrich Kohl, a/k/a Charles Widmore) is an ex-Stasi agent and he is in Grand Central Station. Kohl spies the most obvious man in the world looking for him and as any good ex-Stasi agent does, he disappears. You hear a lot about “ex-Stasi” agents in TV shows these days, especially in the “spy”-based ones. If you don’t what it refers to, we’re here to help. The Stasi (an abbreviation of the German word, ” Staatssicherheit”) is a reference to the infamous secret police of East Germany. By all accounts, the Stasi were among the most ruthless of secret police organizations ever seen in the world and were also well known for extensive record-keeping of their oppressive deeds. After the reunification of Germany, and the disbanding of the East German network, its easy to see why these faceless men became a popular fictional theme for black market mercenaries offering their killing services for the right price.
Herr Kohl (well Negel since Kohl doesn’t really exist anymore) is also the Social Security Number of the Week! Finch and Reese are discussing Herr Stasi and after learning some of his background details, Reese concludes that “Negel” is an alias and a poor one at that. You see, Herr Negel dropped off the grid in 1987 and his last transaction was to buy a cemetery plot in the Bronx (who the eff wants to be buried in the Bronx?!? Parts of my family that lived in the Bronx, chose to cross the bridge and be buried in Queens, I’m just saying .. fishy). The Brain Trust wonders why someone who doesn’t exist would buy such a thing? Reese is going to go check it out while Finch goes to visit a guy he knows that specializes in the pre-computerized records … which is what you need when you’re looking for a German spy from the 1980′s. I really like that they are getting Finch out and about more. Its nice character growth. Finch’s guy looks just like ALF’s friend Willie Tanner (Max Wright) but IMDb … not being helpful. Anyway NotWillie! has all first edition books on German history ready for Finch when he arrives but Finch is looking for something “more precise than books”. When NotWillie! plays dumb, Finch says he knows this NotWillie! sold Russian intelligence schematics back to the Russians and maybe that income wasn’t reported? NotWillie! cracks pretty fast and flip his shops open sign to “We’re Closed.”
Meanwhile, out in the Boogie Down Bronx, Reese finds the mysterious plot freshly dug up and only a coin has been left behind, laying in the dirt.
Back in the bookstore, NotWillie! is talking about how the Stasi knew everything about everyone (um, sir, we covered this earlier in the recap, move on please). His love letter goes on that they were the greatest surveillance group to which Finch admits he’s a “sucker for surveillance.” Herr Kohl was part of their espionage teams; he travelled the world hunting down and neutralizing East German detractors. I imagine there were a lot of detractors.
Finch tells Reese that Herr Kohl’s wife Anja (who worked in the Stasi offices) ran to Russia with Kohl when the West Germans began chasing him (after the reunification). Anja was killed in a car accident in 1987, right before Herr Kohl dropped off the grid. Reese tells Finch that “Hegel’s” plot was a buried stash kit and, if it was like what Reese used to use, it contained weapons, IDs and definitely money. Yes Finch, it does seem like “Kohl the spy is back.”
Indeed. He’s so back, he’s arrived at someone’s apartment door fully locked and loaded. Herr Heinrich Hauffe I presume? Herr Kohl asks if Hauffe remembers his (dead) wife Anja. Hauffe is having a case of the disbelieving and tells Kohl, it “can’t be you.” Um, you sure about that because Herr Kohl is pretty sure he’s himself. Shoot, shoot, shoot and Kohl allows himself inside, you see Herr Hauffe, you two have something to discuss (this is his first line and its totally like a slightly Germanized Charles Widmore has come back from the grave).
Flashback to 2006 (some time not too long after his run in with Jessica in the airport). The “Duna Folyo” security camera image makes me think we are adjacent on the Danube riverfront somewhere inside of Hungary. Reese is at a dinner party and some handler woman named Stanton calls him the “new guy”. She tells him that his NCS (National Clandestine Service, the clandestine operations branch of the CIA) identification didn’t pass muster so she is going to give him a new name … Wilson maybe? She suggests that he start drinking when he’s on the job because being tense gets you killed and “you Tier 1 boys” are all tense. Also, Stanton continues with the happy advice when she tells him that he’ll never come back like he was used to in his old assignments because there is no line to re-cross over (seems like a fun job, no?) so he’d better learn to relax. By the way, she asks if he ran into anyone while in transit? He says, no. And she says, “Oh, reaaaaaalllllllly?!?” (That may be a paraphrase of what she said). Stanton produces some pictures of Reese running into Jessica in the airport and tells Reese “they” know about her and there is no going back. This is not the best job pitch I have ever seen unless she is going for Brave New World/Post-Apocalyptic/Mission Impossible angle, then its very effective.
Back at the Lair, we learn that the dropped coin was an East German Mark which have been out of circulation since 1990. Herr Kohl sold a whole set of Marks to a rare coin exchange that very morning (Finch really does know everything). Also, Finch knows that he used the store’s phone and that he called to Herr Hauffe’s apartment. Reese arrives and tells Finch they’re too late and confirms that Herr Kohl called only to make sure Hauffe was home. Also, he determines that Hauffe was interrogated.
While Reese is snooping in Dead Hauffe’s place, Finch has uncovered that Herr Kohl was a member of a four person team, consisting of two shooters (of which Kohl was one), a documents forger and a case officer named Hauffe which gave them orders. Dead Hauffe now goes by the name Andrew Honen, an unmarried, retired architect. Reese finds a pin for the Volks American Society and guesses that Dead Hauffe might have been a defector. Reese spies a shifted furniture piece which leads him to uncover a concealed strong box which contains a Certificate (Threnurkundt) in the name of “Hauffe, Heinrich.” Reese verifies the case officer’s name with Finch and makes the conclusion that Herr Kohl killed his Stasi teammate. Just as he puts two and two together, the most obvious searcher in the world from Grand Central shows up and says that Kohl will kill again. Also, he tells Reese that while he doesn’t know who Reese his, Reese should know this is just the beginning. In responds, Reese sighs that this is going to be a long day and then Reese-fus the guy, knocking him out and taking his gun. Is there anything more emasculating than having your gun taken away while you lay unconscious? I don’t think so. Most obvious guy in the world’s ID puts him as German intelligence and Reese relates to Finch that unconscious German agent guy was sure Herr Kohl was going to kill again. Per his good Samaritan routine, Reese calls Fusco to drop him a line on the Dead Hauffe and the unconscious German agent; also, he needs to know whatever unconscious German agent knows.
Finch and Reese are discussing the next target which they identify has Wernick (with a “v” sound cause its German ya’ll) , the documents forger. Reese’s working theory (which as the first one, we know will be wrong but only a little wrong which is an improvement) is that Herr Kohl had to drop off the radar while the rest of his team got cushy new lives and names in New York. He duhs that they need to get to Wernick before Herr Kohl. Too late! Herr Kohl finds Wernick in a restaurant and sticks him in the neck with a needle full of … something. Before leaving him (to die), Kohl makes sure Wernick remembers Anja and also chastises him for no longer having an accent. That seems like rubbing salt in the wound after you’ve killed the guy Kohl, right? Wernick didn’t know “they” would go after Anja too. The he asks what happened to Ulrich? Herr Kohl says he paid for all of their sins and that the people that caught him, kept him in a hole; he didn’t have the luxury of forgetting what they (the four person kill team) did. Okay, Captain Cryptic. Herr Kohl promised Anja he’d keep her safe and Wernick confirms he’s going after the last Stasi teammate. Wernick tells Kohl to be at peace once this last member is done … then he drops on to the floor and seizes. In the commotion, Herr Kohl pops out the back just as Reese enters from the front. Luckily, Wernick isn’t quite Dead Wernick and Reese is able to hijack his ambulance and drive away once the EMTs have loaded him in. The EMTs are thoroughly confused.
Reese explains to Wernick what’s killing him and says he can save Wernick but they only have four minutes before they’re discovcered. Tell Reese why Herr Kohl came after you and the rest of your team. Given his options, Wernick explains that the Americans came to the team because Kohl was killing all of their informants. They traded Herr Kohl for a new life. Reese pontificates that a soldier deserves better from his teammates. Really Reese? With the guy dying and before he’s done with his story? Can’t you wait to get on your high horse for just a minute, its finally getting good! The Americans went after Kohl in the Soviet Union; they got Anja with the car accident. Wernick concludes that the next target is Steiller (the other shooter) but Wernick passes out (dies?) before giving Reese an address or contact info. Reese finds another Volks American Society pin; it’s a (fictional I think) group of people with German heritage and would have been the only way for the former teammates to meet in public since outright contact would have been forbidden. The Mensa C team figure Steiller was probably a member too.
At the only police precinct in town, Fusco is reading in Carter on what he knows (though not necessarily how he knows). He reports that an “old guy” was seeing leaving
The Island the West Village and Wall Street crime scenes. Wall Street is also where the ambulance was jacked and a description of the hijacker matches “Carter’s guy.” Fusco shows her the German agent guy in custody. After a little persuading, he spills that Herr Kohl was captured in a joint operation 24 years ago between the Americans and (reunified) Germans. Kohl was thought to be old and feeble and during a transport to a minimal security facility, he escaped. The police duo asks the logical question of why not enlist the US for some assistance? German agent guy explains that Kohl was jailed without a trial and was not supposed to exist; no one wants an international incident. Carter makes the good point that he’s not supposed to be operating on USA soil but, before he can say anymore, a German consulate guy (those guys are all spies by the way) shows up and produces a document from the US State Department saying that German agent guy is to be extradited back to Germany ASAP so sorry, but your little interview is over. Auf Wiedersehen!
Back at the Lair, Finch has cracked the crappy security of the Volks American Society website and has fgiured out Steiller is currently running a construction site in Brooklyn (he uses some cross referencing mumbo jumbo relating to no credit scores for this guy before 1988 but there’s maybe some internet hubbub that credit scores weren’t really available until the 1990s but from my Googling, it seems to me that they have been around in some form for decades so whatevs, no nitpicking!)). Finch has Steiller’s cell phone number and calls to tell him about Herr Kohl coming after him. It … doesn’t go well. Steiller says Finch is speaking of a dead man; yeah well, that dead man just walked off your construction elevator so there you go. Steiller (who stuffs his cell phone in his pocket) says he knew this day would come, that Kohl was too good (a minute ago, he thought he was dead, don’t try flattering the guy who sold out dumbass). Herr Kohl says he learned from the best, he learned from Steiller. He goes on with the guilt trip that they were friends and his wife trusted him. Steiller rebuts that the missions changed Ulrich, that he began to believe in the killings. Herr Kohl says he believed in his country and in how Steiller trained him. Kohl says Steiller will pay for what they did to Anja. Steiller is all, wait, wait, wait, there is something you don’t know; someone else betrayed you. TWIST!!! Anja is alive. Steiller says she was more afriad of Ulrich than anyone and your whole revenge exercise was for nothing. Ooh, Burn! Herr Kohl is at first shocked but then they struggle, struggle, struggle and over the side Steiller goes. Dead Steiller I should say.
Reese shows up … again too late and says that he thinks Anja just got added to the list (remember, they were still patched in on Steiller’s phone so they heard that whole Greek drama unfold). Duh much Reese??
At the only police precinct in town, Fusco is optimistic about Carter’s vigilante catching the bad guys. Carter is less so. Fusco texts the details to Finch and Reese on the German consulate’s car. The Dynamic Duo track the car’s location and set uo a sniper nest in its pathway. Finch is uncomfortabe being there with the gun and whatnot and Reese is not so crazy about him being there either but he needs a spotter. After some hesitancy, Finch actually turns in some detailed information and Reese blows the hood right off the car forcing it off the road. I guess, we should not be surprised that he’s an excellent marksman.
The German consulate guy is all “diplomatic immunity blah blah blah” but German agent guy is wiling to talk once Reese makes his intentions clear. He hands over an address to Reese, Anna Kline (a/k/a Anja) lives in Morningside Heights (Manhattan). Herr Kohl shows up to fins Reese (he finally beats someone somewhere). Total Buzzkill. Reese tells Kohl that he can’t get to Anja. And, if you shoot him, it’ll annoy him. What’s your move Kohl? For the first time ever, Reese is over powered by soimeone when Herr Kohl knocks Reese out using a double carotid artery choke move. Impressive. When Reese comes to, he’s all strapped in to a chair and about to be interrogated as to Anja’s whereaboiuts. Herr Kohl is going on about his mad information gathering skills using needles. Reese boasts about the 16 hours of interrogation (involving electricity) he endured when they were just trying to get his name. Herr Kohl makes clear that he doesn’t care about Reese’s name. As he gags Reese, he starts talking abiut the ulna nerve which runs from your shoulder to your finger beds, through the (not so) funny bone. It’s the longest unprotected nerve bed. Yeowtch, this doesn’t seem so good.
The impending pain leads Reese to another flashback. This time, Stanton and Reese are meeting a Mr. S and … another guy. The newcomers to the meeting ask Stanton what they can do for her and Reese (they also are suspicious she might have a gun somewhere but given her dress, where could she hide one?)? It seems that Alim Masir (sp?) got into the country and then left again two days ago perfectly safe and sounds and without any kind of harassment. New guys say they sent their intel to Langley last week in the pouch. They shrug that Alim must have paid someone off?!? Stanton fake jokes about how much Alim paid them. Haha, jokey jokey, you guys are too tense. Let’s toast to taking the gloves off … then she’s all shoot, shoot, shoot. I guess she did find a place to hide that gun.
The only police precinct in town. Carter gets a call about Reese shooting the Germans off the road. Seriously, who called her about that? When she heads to the scene, Finch calls Fusco and says that Reese is in trouble and maybe Herr Kohl is worse than they thought. Here’s an address, figure it out Fusco. All this time, Finch is with Anja in a black towncar. She doesn’t want to go to the cops just yet as she needs to make a call first.
Back at the interrogation, Reese is assuring Herr Kohl that he’ll need to kill him and Reese gives Kohl his propers about his killing skills. Herr Kohl is fairly matter of fact about it; he responded when his country needed him. He says he killed wherever they sent him and yet, even the blackest heart still beats. While in his prison hole, he thought about nothing but today for 24 years. Reese asks an important question, “what about tomorrow Kohl?” He says that he has to see Anja. Back to the needle work; let’s explore the brachial nerve. Reese eye rolls.
Back in the towncar, Anja is giving missing pieces of the story. She knew she was involved with a spy but she loved him. They travelled to the Soviet Union separately and that’s when the Americans found her. They showed her pictures of Kohl’s bloody work and ultimately, she couldn’t get past the violence and death. She convinced herself that he lied first; the Americans set up the car accident to get her out.
Back at the interrogation, Herr Kohl is taking a break and finds some photos that Reese tried to hide, including a picture of young Columbia student with Kohl’s mother’s eyes (that’s gross, why does she have her eyes … oh, wait, I get it). He’s incredulous that Reese hid the photo albums. The girl’s name is Marie and Reese tries to convince him that Marie could still live a normal life even though its too late for killers like them. Herr Kohl can’t get past that Anja and everyone else kept his daughter from him, he finds her address on some mail and seems to make a decision. He goes to kill Reese so that he can’t follow him when the worst cop ever (Fusco) hoofs it into the scene and barely distracts Kohl from killing Reese. Herr Kohl escapes and Fusco frees Reese. Yeah, Kohl is totally going after daughter.
Herr Kohl finds his daughter and pulls a gun on her, tells her to call her mother. Well, this is not the way to make a first impression Daddy Stasi.
We learn that Kohl wants to meet in a park and won’t hurt Marie as long as Anja comes. While they wait, Herr Kohl asks what Marie knows of her father and Marie says that Anja always described him as a hero who helped get Anja out after the wall fell (true, after a fashion). He died before Marie was born, he died helping Anja get free. Anja and Finch choose now to reveal themselves and then so does Reese.
Carter and Fusco and some back up show up at the park on an anonymous tip. Carter is super psyched that she might catch her vigilante.
Herr Kohl ask why Anja betrayed him? She responds that she found out her husband was a killer and a monster. Marie pipes in with a, “um, mom? Who is this guy?”. Anja asks Ulrich for forgiveness and Kohl non-answers that he needed to see both their faces. When he goes to shoot, Reese takes him down. Ulrich tells Anja she was right to fear him as he sits on a park bench dying. Reese tells Finch to get the girls out of there. After they leave, Reese finds out that Herr Kohl’s chamber was empty (not a euphemism) and he explains he would never have hurt Anja. This leads Reese to ask how Kohl knew he’d shoot and Kohl responds that, he’s a soldier. In his final words, Herr Kohl says that they took everything from him but a part survived; Reese is with him as he dies.
Carter and Fusco show up to find Dead Kohl on the bench and Fusco ask Carter who she thinks took the shot? Reese looks on from the bushes, 3 inches away (not so subtle is he?).
Wrap Up Flashback. In the aftermath of the shooting, Stanton is trying out “Harper” as a possible name for Reese. Nope, not Harper. She tells Reese to dispose of the gun and bodies. Reese is a little dumb struck, and says that she didn’t even question them? How does she know they were the traitors? Stanton answers that they don’t have time for questions, only answers (that seems … illogical). She breaks it down for Bambi Spy, the dead guys took a bribe and let a mass murder escape. How do we know? An anonymous source that is very reliable (will it turn out to be Finch?!?!) told us. And that’s that. She finishes her job pitch from earlier with the only thing that I think would work on me. She tells him that he needs to know before it gets (more) complicated that, “this is right, the threat is real, your country needs you.” Then she reminds him no teeth or fingertips on the bodies. One last thing. You have no old friends; if you see them, you don’t know them. You are working in the dark here Reese.
Stanton gets an epiphany, She’s got the name. “You’ll be …” and back in the present, Finch finishes her sentence, ”Mr. Reese.” The Brain Trust is at (Negel’s) Kohl’s cemetery plot. Finch and Reese discuss the irony of being buried in the ground of am plot that isn’t even your own. Finch asks if anyone will ever carre for their names and Reese says, “after they’re dead.” Finch replies, “I thought we already were.”
I love how the backstory is unfolding though I’d like to get back to Finch and see if my suspicions that Finch and Reese have intersected in the past plays out. Get on with it show!!!! See you next week!