'Person of Interest' cast on Season 3's new status quo
The thriller follows ex-CIA agent John Reese (Caviezel) and billionaire genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) as they use a computer system — referred to as “the Machine” — that can predict violent acts to secretly try to stop the crimes before they happen.
The third season sees a new status quo, and a move to a new night and time, which Plageman said is something the writers were particularly conscious of in the first episode.
“We wanted to bring in new viewers to the show, and there was a certain amount of resetting of what do these characters do,” he said. “We had the two opening action vignettes where you see Shaw with Fusco, and then Carter comes upon Reese after the car crash and we see her walk up in the uniform. There was a little bit of resetting there, reminding the audience where everyone was at.”
“I think the difficult part of doing a show on broadcast television is we want to be able to tell standalone stories but we want to be able to tell serialized arcs,” Plageman continued. “If we can do the resetting within the drama itself, great, as opposed to everyone trying to watch a recap. My understanding is people just tune out when the recaps come on. You want to be able to tell that bigger story. That’s the kind of show we are. We want everybody on board. We don’t want to be a show that totally alienates new viewers. It’s a delicate balance between the standalone and the serialized.”
When asked how much is plotted in advance and how much changes as they’re working, Plageman admitted, “We know the way the show ends.”
“We love working with Clarke Peters. Taraji has some amazing scenes coming up you guys are going to see with her and Clarke Peters. Robert John Burke was cast for one episode and we were like, we’ve got to have this guy back. He’s just so great,” Plageman said of two of the series’ recurring villains. “People pop like that. We try to bring them back and develop further story lines for them.”
For Henson, Acker’s Root, who joined the show as a regular this season, is her favorite character. “She’s the bad guy you love to hate,” she said. “That’s very difficult to play. That’s a fine line to walk and she does it effortlessly. I love watching her. And because she’s so sweet, that’s why you love her. She’s so cuckoo and does it so well. But then you wonder, is she crazy or am I crazy?”
Henson’s own character, NYPD homicide detective Joss Carter, has been demoted and is now plotting her own course of action to take down HR, a group of corrupt police officers. Carter remains a key part of the team, but she’s also alone in a way she hasn’t been since the "Person of Interest" began.
“Pretty much all the characters are like that. They’re loners and that’s why they work so well together because they understand how to move in that space,” she said. “Again, Carter is good down to the core. If there’s anything she can do to right a wrong situation, she’ll do it. I think that’s why the audience loves her because at the end of the day if you want the truth, you look to Carter, because she’ll give it to you. She’s the last of a dying breed.”
The character is being pushed in new ways. and Henson said it’s been both difficult and fun. “It’s great to be on a show – and I say this over and over again – where you can totally trust the writers,” she said. “I totally trust them and jump in with my eyes closed. I don’t even worry because I know that they have every character’s best interests at heart.”
“I’ve been doing this for over a decade and I’ve received some pretty shitty scripts, especially on television,” Henson continued. “When I got this script–and you have to remember in the pilot Carter was barely in it – I just knew that it was something special. At that time I had no idea where the show was going and all of these incredible ideas. It’s been a great journey.”
“I’m so grateful to our actors because we give them so little sometimes,” Plageman said. “We’ve been really sparse with defining Carter’s backstory, and it’s something we want to get into this year. I think it’ll be really rewarding for fans. When fans want to know something I feel like, do you really?”
“We always saw your character as the moral compass of the show,” Plageman said to Henson. “You’ve actually up to this point been the least gray character in terms of understanding where she’s coming from and what she believes about right and wrong whereas Reese has done some stuff. What’s becoming interesting about her character now is in the vendetta she has against HR is putting her out on a limb and you have Elias in a basement and we would never have seen that from Carter in the first season. She’s been doing some desperate things.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Henson said.
When asked whether part of Carter’s solitary quest this season is self-imposed because the character feels like she betrayed her own values, Henson emphatically disagreed.
“I think Carter’s very clear on everything she’s doing. I don’t think she questioned any of her motives,” she replied. “Once she decided this has to happen, she went for it. You have to understand, underneath it all, it’s the right thing to do. Maybe she’s going about it in a not so legal way but it’s something that must be done. At the end of the day, she’s a cop to the core. She’s going to save a life no matter what by any means necessary. She did it for the right reasons.”
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