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I've been meaning to rewatch "Terra Incognita" and write up some thoughts about it for aaaaaaages now. So here we go.




No Finch voiceover with opening credits this week. We begin with a literal bang, as in the noise that the gun makes -- I'm asssuing this is when Reese shoots the murderer while lying in the snow? Sounds of a few footsteps, and then that flashback/hallucination/ghostly visit starts.

Sitting in a car, Reese and Finch talk about Bear's latest victory: eating yet another leather-bound book. Reese says he'll buy him a new one. "Some things simply cannot be be replaced," replies Finch, and then Carter enters the car. This is PoI's version of subtle, hah.

Finch leaves after Carter makes a small probe about the origins of Finch's information. Carter and Reese do not listen to his music choice - "Classic rock puts me to sleep" - and Reese bumps up the temperature for the first time.

Carter talks about getting used to being early. "Usually if you're spending time with me, it's because you're already dead." Again, super-subtle there, show.

The car scene fades out and Fusco talks to Reese Detective Riley on a street corner. He leaves to look into the shooting they're investigating, while Finch narrates the Machine's newest number, a young man named Chase Patterson who was suspected of killing his family, and who recently returned to the US.

Meanwhile Root shows up in the subway hideout wearing a bridal gown. Finch perks her interest by throwing her an investigation into the Machine's functions.

Reese Detective Riley seeks evidence in the Patterson case and discovers that it was Carter's case.

Back to the car of doom. Worse than a stakeout? Going back to the precinct at 5 a.m. to document the stakeout, says Carter. Reese didn't care much for red tape. Carter asks about the military, and what was Reese good at doing. "Taking orders. Got a little too good at that."

"You ever think about the future? Doing something else?"

Carter affirms that she has thought about doing her minimum twenty years, getting out, and retiring at the beach. But... "Two hours on the beach and I lose my mind." Then she talks about not uprooting Taylor from a place where he's thriving.

Back to the precinct, with Reese Detective Riley opening Carter's evidence box. There's a picture of her with baby Taylor, and then he finds the picture of him and Jessica inside an envelope.

Fusco asks what Reese Detective Riley is working on. "Just a cold case." Fusco snipes that he should stay and help, considering that Riley isn't exactly employee of the month.

"You saying I'm a bad cop?"

"I'm saying you're a terrible cop," replies Fusco. (This is true.)

Jump back to earlier days: a younger Terney is showing Carter the ropes with the Patterson case. The flashes of these scenes narrate Riley as he retraces her steps: a visit to the building where the Patterson family lived (and died), an interview with Chase Patterson...

Carter and the surviving son, Chase Patterson, have a moving moment; Riley fails to make such a connection.

Terney pushes for Carter to arrest Chase Patterson, and the DNA evidence points to a familial match.

Fusco and Finch are disturbed by Root's "interrogation" of one of the men in the gang war; all appears well with the Machine, since the murder the man committed was not premeditated. Meanwhile Reese Detective Riley drives out of range of the Machine's surveillance as he heads to the Patterson cabin without telling Finch where he was going.

Back to the car o' doom. Carter asks about the retirement plans of the Man in the Suit. "There is no after for people like us. No beach for you, no retirement for me. We don't do fairy tales. That's how we're built."

Carter: "You don't believe that."

Reese: "Tell me something. How's you wind up here in the first place."

Carter: "I'm pretty sure you drove us here."

Reese: "No, no, here in this car. Drinking cold coffee. Stalking a bar owner in the middle of the night."

Carter: "Well, where else should I be?"

Reese: "You went to law school; how about a corner office downtown."

Carter: "Thank you for proving my point. I started off on one path, but I changed. Because that wasn't the end game for me, John. You can change, too."

Reese bumps the car temperature up; Carter talks about taking detours from the paths they were on. Reese is full of gloomy fatalism, which means it's time for some comic relief. Fusco shows up with dinner.

"Hot dogs aren't dinner. Not for normal people," snipes Reese, and that's the end of Fusco as a hallucination for Reese's dying moments.

Reese tries music again, but Carter stops him. His fatalism continues, and Carter calls him out about closing himself off. "For a spy, lying isn't your strong suit"

Riley arrives at the Patterson's cabin. Again, Carter's visit in the past narrates Reese Detective Riley's trip in the present. Terney tells her on the phone that Chase Patterson fled the country; in the present day, though, Chase Patterson is at the cabin, and watches in horror as Riley gets shot by the doorman.

Phil -- no, Gil -- shares a bloodline with Chase, which we learn as he monologues about his evilness. He forces Chase to take some pills, planinng to watch as Chase dies. Reese Detective Riley's attempts to retrieve a gun fail, and Gil tells him about wanting to kill Carter when she was investigating the case the first time.

Gil drags Reese into the snow and leaves him to find a shovel. Reese manages to retrieve a gun from his ankle holster and shoot Gil.

Doom car: Reese says he's freezing. Carter talks again about opening up, and speculates that Reese was going to commit suicide the night he was picked up after the subway fight. John takes out the photo of Jessica and tells Carter about her. "She needed me and I left her behind." He says that Jessica deserved a better life than waiting for him, but then admits to more when Carter presses.

"You may be able to fool a police shrink with that version... maybe even yourself."

"Not you, huh."

"No. You're forgetting that I was over there too. You'd already been deployed once when you broke things off. Hell, you were already active military when you met, so you wanna tell me what really happened?"

"What does it matter now?

It matters because I'm afraid you're gonna use this poor woman to shut everybody out. Right until the bitter end. Cause whatever it is you're not telling me, that's the real reason why you're alone, John. And... because time is running out."

Reese says they have all the time (on the stakeout), and Carter tells him no, that he's dying. Reese hits the present day with a cold shock, seeing the bullet hole through the car window and his bleeding side. Carter narrates that Reese got the killer of Chase Patterson's family, but the killer got him too -- and if he doesn't do something soon, it'll be too late for everyone. And he didn't reach out, so no one knows where to look for him.

Fusco talks to Finch, who's worried about Reese. (Newest nickname from Fusco: the coiffed Columbo.)

Reese stumbles out of the car into the snow and Carter verbally pushes Reese to move forward, in caring drill sargeant mode. Reese gets to the killer's body and finds the keys.

Getting back to the car, the conversation turns more personal as a more romantic song plays. Carter talks about how being missed means that she mattered. She laughs at the idea of Reese as a cop. "Poor Fusco."

Carter continues to narrate Reese's slow realization that he's still freezing to death because the car won't start. She tries to keep him awake and focused, pointing out his confusion as another symptom of hypothermia.

Root observes Harold's concern in the subway car. He doesn't have a way to track Reese from the moment the car went out of range of signal towers.

Carter goes in for the (not literal) kill. "May as well tell me why you really left her behind. No point in keeping secrets where you're going, trust me."

"I figured maybe if I didn't have a picture to carry around with me, then I'd be better at my job. So when I got back, I broke things off with Jessica."

He then protests her analysis about closing himself off from others. "I didn't shut you out. We had a connection. I could talk with you about important things, the things that really mattered."

"But John, you never did."

Reese insists that he'd told her about the photo, but she tells him "I kept that photo to give to you at the right moment." But he was never ready.

Reese wishes they'd had more time, and that's why he didn't tell anyone what he was doing as he dug into her old case. "A chance to be close to you again. And I didn't want to share that with anyone else."

Carter and Reese both have tears at various times during this scene, and I am slain.

Reese: "Will you stay with me? Just for a little bit?"

Carter: "Yes, of course. Just hold on, John."

Then she holds his hand until backup arrives.




This episode didn't tell us much about Carter, but I didn't expect it to. We learned more about Reese. Personally I'm not fond of the show's tendency to hit the reset button when it comes to his character ( two dead women for manpain, plus the shutting people out mostly ended in season one), but I still liked "Terra Incognita" a lot. It was well executed, Henson and Caviezel were amazing, and as a Carter/Reese shipper, it fit with what I think Reese was feeling for Carter. He admired her, he wanted to open up to her, and he really wishes he'd said something about his feelings earlier.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
litlover12
Nov. 4th, 2015 04:39 am (UTC)
I really liked this episode. It was almost like having old-school POI back, just for a little while.
blacktop50
Dec. 3rd, 2015 05:15 pm (UTC)
This detailed resume of the episode brought tears to my eyes all over again, dammit! And for sure Caviezel and Henson were phenomenal. We, the show, and Caviezel lost a lot when they killed off Carter. I think Reese still does a lot of shutting people out after the first season: He keeps Finch at a distance by "manly" reticence/near mute non-responsiveness and he keeps Fusco away with plenty of bluff and sarcasm. I think he was ready to open up to Carter (despite his fears that such intimacy would lead to doom), but then TPTB killed her. Sigh.
rose_griffes
Dec. 5th, 2015 09:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know, it just seemed weird to bring up the shutting people out thing again when he talked to a therapist more than once this season. Having the new love interest be a therapist just didn't make sense for me with the theme of Reese needing to open up.

But I do agree that parts of Reese have stayed closed off for a very long time, even with a good friend like Finch, and with other people in a sort of makeshift family. And yes, Carter is someone who would have understood a lot of what Reese keeps bottled up, with the shared military experience and desire to serve a greater cause...

We're starting season three in the rewatch. I'm bracing myself for it. (Not sure yet if I'll rewatch the episodes after Carter's death.)
(Anonymous)
Dec. 9th, 2015 06:04 pm (UTC)
Thank You!
Worth the wait! I loved this episode, I still miss Joss Carter so much! Jim and Taraji were awesome and you could that they had missed working with each other. I just wish Person of Interest could have sprinkled in some Joss Carter references before Terra Incognita and now with the shortened fifth season we will probably never see Joss Carter again.
I think John Reese shut down a lot after Joss Carter died in his arms. Jim made you feel John Reese's grief and pain as something real and not simply as exploitative "man pain" IMO Even Jim's tearing up in the "car of doom" as you call it, seemed in my opinion so raw and honest and I guess it was since John Reese was basically talking to himself LOL! The evolution of emotion during this episode is what gets me every time. This episode was sadder for me than "The Crossing"
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )