Post Mortems

Person of Interest Post Mortem: The Scoop on That Twisty Comeback

Person of Interest Carter Returns

CBS’ Person of Interest this Tuesday night found yet another way to noodle with its narrative, by surprising us as well as John Reese with the truth about his heart-to-heart with onetime associate Detective Joss Carter.

The set-up for the episode had John digging up a cold case that Carter (played by original cast member-turned-Empire star Taraji P. Henson) was unable to solve, and pursuing it to its bitter end. Along the way, John flashed back to a Season 2 stakeout he and Carter once were on, and the conversation they shared — except, as it was chillingly revealed, the end of their talk was merely the imagination of a delusional John, as he bled and froze nearly to death following a snowy shootout.

POI showrunner Greg Plageman (whose previous credits include, yes, Cold Case) told TVLine at this week’s Paley Center for Media event, “We thought a cold case would be a wonderful way for Reese to pick up the baton from Carter and say, ‘I want to solve this for her.’ And then when it devolves from flashbacks to delusion, it becomes a very interesting dramatic point.”

Describing the result as “a truly psychological episode,” Plageman adds: “We like taking the flashback structure the audience is familiar with now and tricking you a bit, with what you’re looking at. But the idea was that you had this moment where [John and Joss] almost connected on that level, they got right to the edge of sharing, and then pulled back.”

Though John attempted to remember it differently, as life drained from him.Person of Interest Carter Returns

“[Carter is] someone he cared about very deeply, someone he could really connect with and share with,” Plageman notes. “And she is there to gently point out, ‘We didn’t ever really have that conversation — though we almost did. And I wish we had.'”

Series star Jim Caviezel — who was as pleasantly surprised as viewers by Henson’s encore — recalls shooting their closing car scenes in the actual cold, at the the end of New York’s brutal winter. “I’ll tell you, we burned oil to get that one done. It was really cold,” he shares. Not having the luxury of dilly dallying, however, can result in a laser-focused product, he says. “Sometimes you watch these things like, ‘Wow, we did that?’ Sometimes those turn out better than the ones you think about moment-to-moment, when instead you just let it happen.”

Though Caviezel had yet to see the completed episode at the time we spoke, his bosses were quick to sing his praises. As showrunner Jonah Nolan explains, “Jim has always wanted to dig into the character a little more, and we were looking for the right opportunity to do that. So he was very excited by the episode.

“It’s a massively challenging episode for him in particular,” the EP continues, “because his is a character who is not emotionally transparent, and he just inched towards that.” The result, Nolan offers, was “some of his best work on the show.”

What did you think of Carter’s return and that narrative twist?

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45 Comments
  1. Heidi says:

    Brilliant to have Taraji return to this well-acted episode. Thank you from this long-time fan.

  2. APFW says:

    Very poignant and moving episode to make you think of what could’ve been! I miss Carter. This was the first time in a long while that I watched POI. I miss the characters and poor put-upon Fusco!

    • Grey says:

      I enjoyed it too but I have to laugh whenever anyone says something like, “poor put-upon Fusco!” He was a murderous crooked cop when the show started! LOL! He deserves to be a little “put-upon” now. :-) But all the characters have changed and pretty much done a 180 from where they are when we first meet them. That’s one of the great things about this show.

  3. Lexi says:

    It was wonderful!! Applause for both actors!!

  4. Nancy says:

    This was amazing. One of the reasons I like this show so much is the character development, and the actors are all great. I hear its a “bubble” show and I’ll be very unhappy if it gets cancelled

  5. Mr. Tran K says:

    Last night’s episode was the best if not one of the best of POI this season.

  6. TVPeong says:

    I agree. This was a very well done episode. Kudos to Jim Caviezel and Taraji P Henson for making it so intense and intimate. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed the two of them together until last night’s episode.

  7. Mary Bacon says:

    Loved it! (Although I wasn’t sure what was going on for a while!) I was not happy when Carter was killed off, but this episode was brilliant. Reminded me of Gibbs talking with his deceased friend Mike on NCIS.

  8. Deni says:

    In a season filled with many excellent episodes, POI has done it once again!

    Incredibly moving and well acted. I was not ready to say goodbye to Carter, just as I wasn’t when she actually died.

    Also a highlight: Root in every scene she is in, a little on the lighter side this ep. Loved it.

  9. Tish says:

    I almost quit watching when Carter was killed off glad she was back even if only once. Carter and John should have been a couple.

  10. cyrano says:

    Watching this episode just made me heart sore. Carter was for me the best part of the show. Ever since her departure I’ve noticed this running theme where they never totally win each week. With Elias, the Brotherhood, Samaritan. I guess they are heading in an exciting way but everything so far points to Samaritan being far too omni potent for it to be credible.

    ALSO: Please consider this a question for Friday’s article:
    Would a show or webisode with ALL of Root’s side jobs be just amazing? Who doesn’t want to see how she ended up in that wedding dress???

    • Viv says:

      Amy Acker is always so much fun. Would def watch that webisode! She needs her own show! Haven’t really watched POI much since Carter died but I love when Root is on so I’ll definitely be gettig this eppy on amazon.

  11. Ange says:

    I thought it was by far the best episode of the show. It highlighted their relationship while at the same time placing an appropriate closure to it. Job well done.

  12. That was acting at it’s very finest, and another reason why I totally miss Taraji on the show. Some people are just awesome at their jobs, and those two are the pinnacle for me…

  13. BTM says:

    This was magnificent on every level.

  14. Linda says:

    This is my very favorite show on TV. It was great to have Taraji back. I always thought John had a soft spot for her.

  15. Stephanie says:

    That scene where John swore he and Carter had that conversation about Jessica and she said I wish we had, hit me right in the heart. The looks on Jim’s face was incredible. Conveyed all kinds of emotion with barely any words. Amazing performance. I loved this episode!!

  16. dlflagg says:

    I always knew how much I missed Taraji’s “Joss” — and this encore only makes it harder to let her go. This episode was TV magic. It never ceases to amaze me when writers can put 2 cast members together and create remarkable scenes just sitting in a car!! Really!! Well Done POI!

  17. Justin says:

    It was a great episode. I was pleasantly surprise by her reappearance. I was surprise that they were able to kept it a secret. To the producers… well done.

  18. Liz says:

    Loved the episode and have been missing Carter- but I found myself wanting to scream at the TV that Carter didn’t push Reese to just go back into the cabin where there was a warm fire burning…if he could make it to the car; why not the cabin?

    • Karen says:

      He was losing blood. He would have never made it to the cabin. His body was already losing heat and he was weak with the loss of blood, he was just about a goner by that time.

  19. Karen says:

    I would love to watch this episode again because a lot was going on in it. So I’d like to watch it again and listen more closely to the dialog. It was quite an episode well worth watching over and over again. Not many shows are worth a second viewing. This one is!

  20. abz says:

    I MISS CARTER SOOOOOO MUCH!!! Taraji put herself back into the role so effortlessly. The emotion in this episode just wrecked me. The acting was beautiful and it brought some much need focus and depth to John. Even without Carter, the show has been pretty great, but seeing her return brought back so much nostalgia. She really had such an significant impact on this show. And even though I LOVE Taraji as Cookie, I hope to see her again as Carter.
    TVLine please at least give Taraji and Jim Caviezel performers of the week or at least honourable mentions.

  21. Kathryn Wightkin says:

    I was mesmerized, to say the least. Excellent story line, great acting.

  22. HAP says:

    It’s not beyond the real of possible that Taraji might get two Emmy noms.

  23. Frank Pavlick says:

    I feel that it was one of the best shows of the entire program. These two characters really made the show go in the beginning. Glad to see Taraji back if only for one night.

  24. mike minter says:

    Love having Carter back! This show makes me laugh and this episode almost made me cry. My favorite show by far.

  25. sladewilson says:

    As much as I absolutely love Taraji on “Empire”, I’ve always had a soft spot for Joss Carter. The reason I started watching Person of Interest in the first place was because of her and Michael. It was a brilliant epilogue for the Carter character and the dynamic between her and Jim was amazing. A brilliantly written and acted episode all around. Kudos!!!

  26. spmsmith says:

    PLEASE put Jim Caviezel on your list of the week’s best performances!! His work in this episode was masterful; he did so much with so little. The desperation in his voice as he kept pleading that *yes*, he did tell Carter about Jessica was heart-rending.

  27. Chase says:

    amazing episode, for the moment it was a top 6 episode this season. If-Then-Else still holds the crown followed by control-alt-delte and prophets but i can’t fault Terra Incognita with that. you don’t get an episode like If-Then-Else all the time but you can still get amazing episodes like this one.

  28. KT says:

    Calling it here, Taraji will score 2 Emmy nominations this year, lead and guest!

  29. PHam says:

    I loved seeing Carter again!!! This show hit a whole new vein of emotions!!!! So very well done!!!!!

  30. Diana Truelsen says:

    This was one of the best(& they are all excellent)episodes, because we got a glimmer of John’s emotional side-the closeness between Carter & John that we always knew was there & wanted to see. The character development in this show is phenomenal! Kudos to Caviezel and Henson their supreme acting abilities this episode-And to the rest of the cast/writers for keeping this show one of the best to watch/look forward to weekly. May it continue ☺️

  31. Jessie says:

    My husband and I are such fans since the very first episode! Last night’s show was so wonderful and touching with John and Joss. I cried!

  32. Jake says:

    This show reminds of Fringe in that both had great casts and great writers that make for classic series. Plus, beneath it all, POI is science fiction. Or fact, if you ask Elon Musk or Stephen Hawkiing…

  33. liame says:

    Brilliant episode! Thanks Taraji and Jim.

  34. Quinlan, Sue says:

    Loved the episode. JC and TPH always gave their characters an underlying chemistry. And here I get to say that one of the things Mr. C. has going for him is his uncanny ability to convey more with a look than most others can convey with a paragraph of dialogue. (See the civil war film he did for Ang Lee, and his performance in The Thin Red Line; it’s great when THE RIGHT person is given a particular part.)

  35. cej says:

    Fantastic!! I miss Carter so much!!!

  36. mike says:

    great to have carter back if only as an illusion. I think thats the most screen time she had on the show.

  37. I also love the girl that shows up from time to time to help. I really love she and john together.

  38. Adin Caffery says:

    Thought it was both heart wrenching and spectacular! It is by far the best show on the air!

  39. Just a brilliant eppy. Jim was mind blowing. There is such chemistry between Taraji and Jim. Loved it.

  40. Ann Wang says:

    Great episode. I am a big fan of the show and has become a big fan of Taraji. I do miss Carter and this is a wonderful way to bring her back in a small way.