KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM (23)
December 7, 2022
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of favorite killed-off TV characters. Series edited by Heather Quinlan.
Person of Interest began as an episodic crime thriller featuring an omniscient computer program written by Harold Finch (Ben Linus) to stop terrorism that is feeding Finch and reformed CIA assassin Reese (Jim Caviezel) vague information on non-terrorist crimes that have yet to be committed but are being ignored by the terror-obsessed U.S. government. NYPD detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) initially is trying to stop them (they keep mysteriously shooting people and showing up at crime scenes) but becomes persuaded to their side and is their contact inside the police before too long.
Because of Caviezel’s, um, low-affect acting style and Emerson’s super-genius computer programmer persona, the role of being a relatable, emotive, human character for the audience to connect with fell entirely to Joss. She made the show function emotionally and narratively while wringing as much pathos as she could out of Caviezel and Emerson, who are portrayed as well-meaning lunatics with nothing to lose.
If you’d asked me towards the end of Season Two who the show could least afford to lose, I would have said Joss — she was the only one who really grew as a character, the only one who affected the other characters, who worried or mourned or found herself in moral quandaries. So, when she got whacked by a dirty cop syndicate nine episodes into Season Three, it seemed like the show would probably wither away. And in a way it did — the idea that it was an episodic show with a vague and long arcing backstory is kept up very briefly, but, really, that show ends with the death of Joss Carter.
And, impossibly, it turns into two seasons of a terrific serial sci-fi series — dystopian supercomputer cults, fiendish government cover-ups, and two world spanning AIs moving humans around the board with terrific 9/11 fever-dream consequences. Joss Carter’s death burned off the episodic thriller coating to reveal a compelling and timely show — her presence not obliterated, but somehow granting Caviezel a soul, turning his woodenness into laconic depth, investing villains with humanity (Enrico Colantoni’s suddenly tortured Elias), and sociopaths with yearning (Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker’s Shaw and Root who rush in to fill the void left by Carter’s death).
I don’t want to say, especially given Caviezel’s most famous role, that Joss Carter died to redeem this show, but it would be hard to disagree if someone did say it.
KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Max Alvarez on LANE PRYCE | Lynn Peril on PETE DUEL | Miranda Mellis on LISA KIMMEL FISHER | Trav SD on COL. HENRY BLAKE | Russ Hodge on DET. BOBBY SIMONE | Kathy Biehl on PHIL HARTMAN| Jack Silbert on MARTY FUNKHOUSER | Catherine Christman on MRS. LANDINGHAM | Kevin J. Walsh on YEOMAN JANICE RAND | Heather Quinlan on DERMOT MORGAN | Adam McGovern on LT. TASHA YAR | Nick Rumaczyk on BEN URICH | Josh Glenn on CHUCKLES THE CLOWN | Bart Beaty on COACH | Krista Margies Kunkle on JOYCE SUMMERS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on DENNY DUQUETTE | Marc Weidenbaum on SGT. PHIL ESTERHAUS | Michael Campochiaro on GORDON CLARK | Fran Pado on EDITH BUNKER | Mark Kingwell on OMAR LITTLE | Bridget Bartolini on ALEX KAMAL | David Smay on VANESSA IVES | Tom Nealon on JOSS CARTER | Michele Carlo on FREDDIE PRINZE | Crockett Doob on AUNT LOUISE.
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