Billowing, diaphanous curtains of a long lost love introduce us to Jesus Caviezel aka John Reese in happier, sexier times. He whispers to us in voice over about how when you’re in love you want to be a better person but when that gets ripped away from you, well, you go kind of crazy and find yourself riding the subway looking like you did when you found out Passion of the Christ wasn’t exactly the career changer Mel told you it would be.
Mel said it would make me a star. Mel lied.
A bunch of Manhattan dildos come upon a group of generic city toughs and swing their peens around trying to prove who’s toughest by chewing on their gold chains. The toughs are just extras, though, so they leave the subway car. King Dildo Anton and his gold chain spots Reese, drunk and seemingly out of it, and, like the good “tough” guy he is, tries to steal the half-empty liquor bottle. From a stumbling drunk. He’s so hard, y’all. Reese grabs King Dildo’s wrist who pulls away to piss himself. Not really, but you could see it in his eyes. Anyways, KD gives a speech about teaching Reese a lesson on sharing and all the other dildos start hovering like they’re in The Warriors and even though he’s been in a drunken stupor for months Reese goes all Jason Bourne on their asses and takes them out in 10 seconds. Because they’re dildos and he’s Jesus.
Some Big Brother footage later and we’re in the police station with the dildos and Oscar-Nominated© Taraji P. Henson aka Carter walks in, meaning business. After establishing that “the bum” is sitting ten feet away, Carter marches on over, feigning concern and giving him a plastic cup of water to lift his fingerprints. Weighed down by all that synthetic hair, Reese just makes small talk and stares at her.
While she and the lab tech discuss how many crimes HAS Reese committed and why an Oscar-Nominated© actress would take the third lead in a CBS TV series, even if Christopher Nolan’s brother created it, some goonish attorney swoops in and bails out Reese, whisking him away in a limousine that’s clearly driven by an NYC cabbie because it takes them all night to drive from let’s say midtown to the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge to see the goonish lawyer’s boss.
Turns out the boss is that guy from Lost aka Mr. Finch and he’s as lively and delightful as you’d expect. And still looks like a mole rat. But a cute one. Like a “furry” version. He exposits about how he knows all about Reese, if that’s what he’s calling himself now that no one remembers he was Jesus, and that he’s been trying to drink himself to death for months. They share ambiguously meaningful glances and Finch tells Reese he needs a job. The need for a bath goes unmentioned.
They walk around New York City expositing about how there are 8 million people, someone gets killed every 18 hours and that bad things happen every day. Finch asks Reese what if you could prevent premeditated violent crimes? What if you could be Batman? What if you could save Diane Hansen, that pretty lady over there buying a coffee? Reese, coming down off a month-long bender and buckling under the weight of too much synthetic hair, stands there for a while before turning Finch down, taking his goons out with a well-timed slap to the back of the neck, then sauntering off like he’s walking on water but not really. It’s just a sidewalk next to a fountain.
Despite rejecting Finch’s offer, Reese somehow manages to get clean clothes, a $600 haircut and a pretty nice hotel room in Manhattan all with no money. Granted, the hotel hasn’t bought new TVs since 1973, but still, nicer than a subway car. Reese cleans himself up to pass out drunk while watching his B&W TV. TV really did kind of suck before cable.
Is the broadcast from 1973, too?
After a brief swipe back to his long lost love flashback we swipe back to Reese’s hotel room when a phone wakes him to discover he’s zip-tied to the headboard. No time to explain that, though. Finch is on the phone telling Reese he needs to know what it’s like listening to someone getting murdered and not being able do anything about it. And a good morning to you, too, Finch.
At that moment Reese hears a woman screaming from the outer room. He’s a handy bum, though, so he breaks the mirror unnecessarily placed on the wall next to the nightstand and cuts himself out of zip tie in time to bust out of the room and see a speaker. Finch is all “Psych. She died three years ago and you didn’t save her like you didn’t save your friend Jessica,” never really considering whether or not it’s a good idea to punk a batshit crazy killing machine. And the answer is no, it’s not a good idea as Reese body slams wee tiny Finch and his glasses against a wall. Finch thinks fast, plays to Reese’s god complex and says he knows all he wants to do is save people but the government lied to him and blah blah blah. After a brief expository explanation that the audio tape was FISA but Finch isn’t government he offers Reese a way to save other innocent women, like say Diane Hansen, and we go into commercials.
I still think the ending of Lost sucked.
Back from commercials and it’s time to exposit about Finch. Except not really because he can’t be a mysterious benefactor if he’s not mysterious. He very rich, he limps, he lives in an abandoned library because people think he’s dead, and he will provide Reese with all the money and cover identities he needs. Reese gets his first look at the list and it’s just a computer print out of social security numbers, like he’s checking to see what grade he got on his Econ exam, only with Kabbalah yarn connecting the numbers to photos of adorable Asian toddlers in their Hello Kitty t-shirts, articles about gay teens getting stabbed in bar fights, and a flattering photo of Diane Hansen.
Hiding in plain sight outside Hansen’s office, they walk ten feet behind her while jabbering about how she’s a deputy district attorney, has a great conviction record, whatever whatever. Finch needs to move this plot along so he asks Reese how he plans to learn everything they need to know about Diane Hansen quickly. He Michael Westens about breaking into her apartment, hacking her computer, syncing their cell phones, installing a wireless camera and boom, Big Brother on a dime and he knows everything about her, narrowing the list of suspects who’d want her dead to two: her boss, Wheeler, whom she used to date, and Lawrence Pope, the guy she’s prosecuting.
She can HEAR you!
Despite being rather tall, rather handsome, and rather well dressed, Reese continues to follow Hansen from about 10 feet away, even taking a front row seat to watch her question a cop, Fusco, who changes his testimony at Pope’s trial throwing Hansen off since his testimony could exonerate Pope. They argue briefly in the hallway while Reese listens in, totally incognito since no one ever notices a tall, dark and handsome man skulking in a hallway. Later that night, Hansen goes to the jail and tall, dark, handsome and expensively dressed Reese totally blends into the neighborhood while he listens in on her conversation with Pope as she learns that Pope’s protecting his brother Michael who witnessed the murder.
Totally blending into his surroundings.
Back to the amber-colored dreams of long lost love where Jessica, Reese’s beloved, tells her mom she’s with “Cindy” and we get some exposition between them making out that they’ve been together for six months, it’s true love, they’re in Mexico, he quit the military to be with her, and it’s 9/11. Bummer.
In the present, Reese is still playing multi-tasking stalker guy and eavesdropping on Hansen, who’s chatting with Wheeler, and relays the information to Finch, who stands around his library looking startled. Does he always look like that? They narrate the scene because this is on CBS, also known as my mom’s favorite network, and she could never remember who the killer was on Murder, She Wrote so how could their audience be expected to follow along without notes? Anyway, while Finch and Reese narrate the scene, Wheeler comes back into Hansen’s office and sneaks onto her computer. Reese decides that Wheeler’s running the operation and runs off to protect Pope’s brother.
Everything looks sinister through binoculars.
Loitering outside some inner city high school, “tall, handsome, well-dressed guy who may or may not be Jesus” Reese goes unnoticed until he calls after Michael who, upon seeing a tall, handsome, well-dressed guy who may or may not be Jesus hightails it out of there. Good plan, Reese.
Despite being old enough to be Michael’s dad, New York provides enough obstacles to let Reese catch up to Michael and explain that he knows what Michael knows and between that and his creepy, whispery monotone Michael acts like you think he would. By telling the city workers nearby that Reese is a pervert who’s trying to force him into a cab to take pictures of him. Heh. Works like a charm. Michael manages to slip away as the city workers descend upon Reese, but not before Reese manages to slip his cell phone into Michael’s conveniently open backpack. Now how is he going to stalk Hansen?
You laughing at my vest?
Time to slip back to Finch’s library for a filler scene expositing how they’ll track Michael with the GPS on Reese’s phone while Reese heads on over to the dildo’s place and steals some guns from them. Because Granny was probably crocheting during the last scene and she can’t even work call waiting on a landline, how would she know what GPS is?
Awesome filler scene where the dildos all march into a green grocer like they’re in New Jack City. They’re looking at their stolen guns while Anton talks to William Sadler, who has to come back at some point because you don’t hire him for one scene, when Reese walks in all “Where’s the men’s room,” and because they’re dildos and he’s not wearing his Passion of the Christ wig anymore they don’t recognize him. He starts moving toward the table and all the dildos draw their guns on him, including a wee dildo who holds it sideways like he saw in the movies. Reese grabs it and, while it’s still in tiny dildo’s hand, shoots everyone but Anton in the leg. Then he just packs up all the guns and leaves. Y’all, Jesus is a gangster.
Stop shooting yourself…stop shooting yourself
On his way back to the library with his ill-gotten gains, Finch calls Reese to tell him they got a hit from the GPS in Michael’s backpack and it looks like someone else got to him first. Finch mildly freaks but, conveniently enough, Reese is just a few blocks away after it took him all day to get out of the green grocer and hail a cab.
In the SUV of doom we see Michael huddled on the floor while Stills, Michael’s would-be killer, catches up our viewers who were looking at pictures of the grandkids on why he wants to kill Michael and how he plans to do it. Because isn’t that how all killers operate? Meanwhile, Reese is using a smart phone whose GPS doesn’t take 15 minutes to load and can see exactly where the SUV of doom is.
Wow. That really is a smart phone.
Ever the multi-tasker, Reese loads his mini rocket launcher in the back of the cab before languidly strolling into the middle of Riverside Drive, waiting for the SUV of doom. Luckily, the SUV of doom is the only car on the street so Reese puts on his Carlos the Jackal ski-mask and launches a smoke bomb into the windshield of the SUV of doom. The SUV crashes into a parked car and the driver and Stills stagger out, giving Reese enough time to shoot the driver in the leg (he has a signature) and knock Stills out with his big bag o’ guns. Michael, moving the plot along, asks Reese if he knows who they were and Reese informs our vision-impaired viewers that they’re cops.
Sometime the next day, Reese got rid of Michael and followed all the dirty cops to the truck stop where they plan their dirty deeds and snaps some photos, not sticking out at all because truck stops are crawling with tall, handsome, well-dressed men lurking around corners carrying cameras with high-powered lenses.
Still totally blending into his surroundings.
Reese meets up with Finch in some park and they discuss what we just saw in case Aunt Phyllis was watching and didn’t catch the meaning of the scene. Reese starts to have a wobble about being on a need to know basis, and, remembering the last time Reese had a wobble, Finch feels an expository speech coming on where he explains how on 9/11, while Reese was living out his amber-colored flashback, Finch was a money-hungry bastard who didn’t even know the towers were hit, but the attack was a “Come to Jesus” (not Caviezel) moment and he built this super-mega-awesome all-seeing, all-knowing surveillance system that would pick up all chatter about terrorism because it’s not like the majority of dystopian literature isn’t about total government control of our lives or anything.
Meeeeemorieeeees, light the corners of my mind…
But a machine so awesome can pick up loads of stuff and they started sorting information into relevant (terrorism) and irrelevant (run-of-the mill violent crime) lists, dumping the irrelevant information because that’s NYPD’s problem. Realizing the flaw in the system, Finch wrote in a back door to retrieve the irrelevant list as a series of Social Security numbers so as not to draw suspicion and piece together how and why certain numbers are appearing. Exposition ends with Reese asking about “where the machine is” and Finch informs us that it’s everywhere allowing the show to press our collective paranoia button by showing inconspicuous but blinking boxes on lampposts.
Not dystopian at all.
Some quick establishing scenes (seriously, Jonathan Nolan…scenes can last longer than 45 seconds) inform us that Carter is still on the show and learns about Reese’s visit to Anton via a cop expositing about the lone guy in a suit who shot them all in the leg, Pope was stabbed to death, and Hansen’s on her way to meet up with her would-be killers. Reese’s avenging angel instinct kicks in and he storms down the alley with a purpose, prepared to kill her killers before they kill her except, d’oh, she was the mastermind. Damn, don’t you hate it when you think girls are just girly and need protecting and then bitches turn out to be running the whole thing? Anyway, Hansen explains this to the dirty cops for all the people watching who still think women should be barefoot and pregnant and Reese gets confused long enough for Fusco to waddle on up and pull a gun on him. Busted.
Thinking this will finally let him sit at the big dirty cop table, Fusco drags Reese out of the shadows. Hansen’s all, “Whatever. Kill him then kill Wheeler, but do it tonight. I’ve got things to do.” Then Stills knocks out Reese with a gun. Payback sucks.
Reese comes to in the back seat of a cop car, being driven out to “scenic” Oyster Bay, Long Island by Fusco. Reese uses his sexy-creepy, whispery voice to get into Fusco’s head, which isn’t that hard since he’s a big old meathead. He tells Fusco that he’s not a greedy bastard like Stills, he does incredibly stupid, violent and illegal things out of loyalty which is way better and why Reese is going to let him live. Understandably, Fusco is like “Dude, you’re handcuffed and I’m supposed to kill you,” until Reese tells him he needs to pay closer attention when he shoves someone in the back of his car and then flashbangs the car. Where he’s sitting.
Fusco loses control and the car, with Reese in the back seat, flips around before landing on its roof. Reese, with the power of Jesus, kicks out the window, crawls to safety and drags Fusco out so he can uncuff himself. After establishing that Fusco is wearing his bullet proof vest Reese decides to shoot him four times at point blank range. Just cause. And maybe to give Fusco some cover although Fusco’s still kinda screwed since he won’t look any more competent explaining how a guy handcuffed in the back of a squad car still managed to escape by flashbanging it.
Jesus take the wheel.
Finch is refiling his card library when Reese calls to tell him they were a pair of sexist assholes because Hansen was the ringleader not the victim. This news causes Finch to look startled unless he always looks like that. Does he always look like that?
Over at Wheeler’s apartment, Stills and another dirty cop are explaining how they plan to kill Wheeler for our viewers who need diagrams. Basically, they’re going to wait for him in the lobby of his apartment building then shoot him. Stills has also brought along a convenient scapegoat: Some extra that Wheeler convicted. Angel by Massive Attack starts clicking quietly in the background, letting us know that shits about to go down.
Even though he was just way out in Oyster Bay, Reese is driving so he manages to get back into Manhattan and over to Wheeler’s building just as Stills and his goons are getting in place. He sneaks up behind Dirty Cop and tells him to drop his gun to attract Stills attention. As Angel’s heartbeat clicks and ethereal drones waft over the background, Stills holds the scapegoat at gunpoint while Reese holds Dirty Cop at gunpoint and Wheeler decides to take his kid for a game of catch in the middle of the night. Wheeler’s kid coincidentally drops his baseball and it rolls over to Reese who stops it with his foot and smiles down at the kid.
Shhh….we’re hunting wabbits.
Once Wheeler and his kid are safely out of the building Stills, Reese and the unnamed day players they’re holding at gunpoint walk into a perfectly staged shot. They exchange ideas on how to handle the situation but when the random dirty cop who was watching Wheeler’s apartment tries to sneak up on Reese, Reese shoots him in the leg without ever looking away from Stills. Then he tells Dirty Cop to call 911 and take care of random dirty cop. Picking up mixed signals, Stills threatens Reese, who tells him “Whatever, no friends no family and just had a death wish two days ago.” We cut to the front of the building where we hear gunshots and see the scapegoat come running out.
Next morning and Hansen’s kind of distracted what with having to sit there with Wheeler at another trial when he was supposed to be dead and she can’t get through to Stills since he’s the one who’s actually dead. Judge hustles her along and she starts to play what she believes is surveillance audio of the defendant but is actually all that exposition she filled us in on earlier implicating herself. D’oh.
D’oh! Part Deux
One last loose end to tie up, and Reese visits Fusco at the station by napping in the back seat of his car. Some old habits die hard. They have a little establishing conversation where Reese explains that Fusco’s a series regular now, or at least recurring, because Reese needs someone on the inside and since Reese killed Stills with Fusco’s gun, Fusco’s his guy now. Fusco, still the dullest knife in the drawer asks where Stills is (the trunk) and what he’s supposed to do about it (dump Stills in Oyster Bay).
Finch and Reese debrief in some random park and decide what the hell, we’ll probably both get killed for real so let’s work together until then? Besties?
So I says to the guy, I says…
And Carter sends us out of the episode, shoving Dirty Cop into the back of a squad car telling him to can it with the whole “some lone guy in a suit took everyone out,” as Reese casually walks by, stopping long enough for the camera operator to get a great, ominous shot of him in the background. After a lingering glimpse at another blinking Big Brother red light, he wanders off into the crowd and we have our paranoia buttons pressed one more time as we see a massive labyrinth of servers culling our private information. Sweet dreams.
Phew. Sorry if I droned, but pilots have a lot of exposition and back story and way too many establishing scenes, but this one felt brisk and open-ended. Caviezel’s tabula rasa face is a good match to Reese’s lone man in a suit and Michael Emerson’s Michael Emersonness is perfect for Finch. Oscar-Nominated© Taraji P. Henson obviously will be an important cast member, eventually, and Kevin Chapman was properly idiotic and menacing as Fusco. All in all a good start to the series, but I sincerely hope they’ve set enough back-story so there won’t be nearly as much exposition in the future.
And if I haven’t completely bored you all, what do you think? Any ideas on where this is going? Tell me in the comments.