Person of Interest got all sappy, and I liked it

Last night's Person of Interest was one of those great number-of-the-week setups where we actually got to know our number well enough to really like him. Which made his moral conundrum all the more engaging. Plus, we got some awesome backstory on just how intimate the relationship between Finch and the Machine really was.

Our number of the week was an adorable guy named Graham who owns a hardware store out in pre-flood Rockaway. He's a sweet guy with a wife and kid whose background check turns up nothing but suburban vanilla stuff — until Finch figures out that the guy looks so clean because he's stolen the identity of a dead guy. His real name is Lloyd, and he used to be one of those super-skilled safecrackers who can pick combination locks just by putting on a stethoscope and listening to clicks in the device. Now his old partners are out of prison and they want to destroy him. Apparently they blame him for their arrests, and they threaten his adorable family. If he doesn't join them for One Last Job, it's curtains for everybody.

Person of Interest got all sappy, and I liked it

The weird part is that the only way Reese can spy on Graham and insinuate his way into the guy's life is to pretend to live in the house across the street (which Finch buys, of course). So Reese plays suburban guy — in a black polo shirt and black slacks instead of his usual suit — and goes barbecuing and stuff. And for some reason Zoe comes along to play wifey. Why does he need a wife to complete his disguise, exactly? It's never clear. Plus, this is the second week in a row when the badass, super-connected, ultra-mastermindy Zoe has been used solely because she possesses ladyparts. That's a misuse of Zoe, period.

Person of Interest got all sappy, and I liked it

But all is forgiven because we got one of my favorite Finch flashbacks ever. We go back to 2004, when Finch was first training the Machine. He's showing Ingram how he's trained the Machine to find "anomalous" people, or "outliers." ("Should an introvert like you really be teaching a Machine about human nature?" Ingram wonders kind of rudely.) After singling out a few unusual people in the park, the Machine highlights a woman who is painting nearby. It's Finch's future wife Grace (played by Michael Emerson's real-life wife Carrie Preston)! There's nothing unusual about her, other than the fact that she seems extremely nice, so Finch assumes it's a bug. But then, a year later, the Machine singles her out again when Finch is teaching it to find connections between people.

By now you've figured out that the Machine played matchmaker between Finch and Grace. Which is kind of awesome. Eventually, a year after the Machine points out the connection between Finch and Grace, Finch finally gets up the nerve to talk to her. I think by now we have ample evidence that not only is the Machine a sentient creature, but it also cares deeply for Finch and probably knows him better than any human. It knows and loves him enough to introduce him to a woman it has picked out as anomalously connected to Finch in some way.

Person of Interest got all sappy, and I liked it

Speaking of connections, Reese and Finch have to rescue poor Graham, who really tugged on my heartstrings with his "smart safe cracker gone straight" routine. To protect his family, he's left his wife a note telling her everything about his criminal past, and has gone to do his safecracking thing with his former partners. There's a fun "cracking the safe" under pressure scene, and then Reese comes in to beat everybody up and rescue Graham. But Graham has become such a good guy that he A) decides not to shoot his ex-partner for protection and B) ends up turning himself in. Of course he's so nice that he just gets house arrest, and his wife forgives him because he's so freakin adorable.

Person of Interest got all sappy, and I liked it

It's a job well done for Reese and Finch — and Carter and Zoe are along sort of as window dressing. Let's cut it out with the "Carter is our secretary" and "Zoe is our ladyparts person" routine, Person of Interest. We'd like to see Carter getting into the middle of some action instead of sitting in the car. And don't bring Zoe back until she gets to do something other than be a girlfriend/wife.

Person of Interest got all sappy, and I liked it

Overall, however, it was a terrific episode. I always like it when this show explores the idea that even hardened criminals can change their ways. Plus, the tale of how the Machine helped Finch find love was fantastic. And sort of sappy. You know, cyber-sappy. Plus there was a bit at the beginning where Bear licked a donut and Finch let Reese eat it. This show is so weird and awesome.