After I asked Twitter for a series of their favourite Sameen Shaw one-liners (which come in truckloads, I now remember—and shame myself for forgetting) I’ve collected a brief run-down of what I think my favourite character quotes/exchanges are: for Reese, Finch, Carter, Fusco, Shaw and Root. Some are a little more trivial than others, but all I think are magnificent—and I did sort of just want to copy and paste the entire Wikiquote of Person of Interest, but that seemed like cheating. So I’ve ranked my top ten for each character—and please, if you have any suggestions (because you will, won’t you? They are ridiculous. I love them so much. MAY 3RD—ahem) please comment underneath or indeed tweet me @NicolaChoi with a hashtag of—Gosh, I don’t know… #JustPOIQuotes! Or perhaps reply underneath the tweet. Thing.
JOHN REESE may be the king of deadpan humour and…well…deadpan deck-you-in-the-face and also deadpan falling off a multi-storey building and going “no biggie” but here are my top ten for him (and yes, I have to include the Pilot one—because I will sing ‘oh take me back to the start’ in dreadful Chris Martin fashion).
- “When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different. Someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?”
- “We’ve already started. Step one: Observe. The most efficient way to lose is a fight is to act without knowing your enemy.” (Okay, I have a bit of a weakness for some Sun Tzu…)
- [When Finch asks if he’s been under any recent stress] “You mean besides being locked in an 11×13 in Rikers and wearing a bomb vest around Manhattan? Not really.”
- “Hello, fellas. Can I borrow some of your drugs?”
- “You look worried, Finch. Did your tailor leave town?”
- “Dadda? Or dadda?”
- “You’re one hell of a Detective, Carter. And I can’t stop you from looking. But you already know quite a bit about me, Finch, and you may know we both had people who once cared about us. Not anymore. But you You still have your son, your life is still yours. So I think the real question you have to ask yourself, Detective is how much more do you really want to know?”
- Carter: “Something funny?”
Reese: “Subway. Thugs. Kind of reminds me of the first time we met.”
- “Elias can’t kill a cop without permission; run it up the chain of command… permission’s been revoked! Tell Elias that if he so much as touches Detective Carter again, I will put him, you… everyone in the ground. You got that?”
- “A friend once told me, in our line of work, we walk in the dark. Doesn’t mean we have to walk in it alone.”
HAROLD FINCH may be our sometimes morally questionable—yet always properly-spoken—computer genius, and his starch politeness is sometimes more amusing than it should seem. Still—he rocks a three piece suit, doesn’t he?
- “I am handi-capable, Mr. Reese, but I need some assistance. We don’t want to exclude Bear from our rainy day activities.”
- “Not everyone’s a social butterfly, Mr. Reese. For some of us, human interaction is… difficult.”
- “I’ve never regretted building the machine. But I didn’t fully realize the personal cost. I’m good with computers. People; well, people other than Grace; have always been a mystery to me. I failed to recognize the lengths to which they would go to protect the machine, to control it. By the time I realized it, it was too late for me. But not for her. You see, Mr. Reese, if knowing about the machine is like a virus that makes me patient zero. Simply being near me was putting her life in danger. I’m sorry. I was lucky. I had four years of Happiness. Some people only get four days.”
- “It’s not where you begin; it’s where you end up. You’re a brilliant woman, comrade and a friend.”
- Ingram: “You talk about the machine likes it’s a living thing.”
Finch: “Shhh. It can hear you…”
- “Hacked is such an ugly word…”
- “Let me show you. Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and this is just the beginning; it keeps on going, forever, without ever repeating. Which means that contained within this string of decimals, is every single other number. Your birth-date, combination to your locker, your social security number, it’s all in there, somewhere. And if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed in every possible combination; the first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush, your entire life story from beginning to end, everything we ever say or do; all of the world’s infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle. Now what you do with that information; what it’s good for, well that would be up to you.”
- “Sooner or later both of us will probably wind up dead. Actually dead this time. I said I’d tell you the truth. Didn’t say you’d like it.”
- “I’m good with computers.”
- [About chess]: “It’s a useful mental exercise. Through the years, many thinkers have been fascinated by it. But I don’t enjoy playing… Because it was a game that was born during a brutal age when life counted for little. Everyone believed that some people were worth more than others. Kings. Pawns. I don’t think that anyone is worth more than anyone else… Chess is just a game. Real people are not pieces. You can’t assign more value to some of them and not others. Not to me. Not to anyone. People are not a thing that you can sacrifice. The lesson is, if anyone who looks on to the world as if it is a game of chess, deserves to lose.”
JOSS CARTER—perhaps consistently delivering performances of the seasons was the magical Ms. Taraji P. Henson as the morally incomprehensible, noble, honourable Detective Joss Carter. A hard-working mother, a loyal and dutiful cop, and someone who instantly saw humanity and heart behind the city legend of ‘The Man in the Suit’, Carter didn’t come without her lines—and some are so hilariously delivered by P. Henson that you really kind of have to re-watch!
- Finch: “A baby went missing from a clinic in Washington Heights last night.”
Carter: “Missing? It was stolen! By some weird-looki…”
[Looks at Finch]
Carter: “No. You didn’t.”
Finch: “She was in imminent danger of kidnap.”
Carter: “So you kidnapped her?”
- “Guy looked right into my eyes, then he was dust. Never saw it coming. When your time is up, it’s up.”
- “You don’t work for HR anymore, son. You work for me“
- Fusco: You know, Carter, we’ve been working together for a while now. My friends call me “Lionel.” You got a first name?
Carter: Sure. “Detective.”
- “Let me guess. Some guy in a suit.”
- “You know, I always pictured you in the back of my car… in handcuffs.”
- Shaw: Remember, the aim shouldn’t be to hurt him, just incapacitate him a little. Also, watch your knuckles. I’ve punched a lot of guys—
Carter: [Punches Laskey] So have I.
- “You’ve got an entire NYPD task force looking for you. Had to run two lights getting here just to make sure my own people weren’t trailing me. I’m a cop, which means I’ve got rules. Rules that can’t be broken. But, um I want to know more.”
- “Why not just dangle them off the roof and force them to tell us how to find the hitmen?”
- Reese: “What is it about you, Joss, makes you want to do everything on your own?”
Carter: “What is it about you, John, that makes you want to save everybody else’s life but your own?”
I could probably create a War and Peace sized collection of LIONEL FUSCO’S nicknames for everyone, but that’ll have to wait for print. In the mean time, here are some excellently delivered bits of dialogue (seriously, this dude does not get a break).
- “Just when I think life with you people couldn’t get any weirder, one of you takes it to the next level.”
- Therapist: You killed a man—
Fusco: No. He got the Devil’s share.
- “Easy on the volume there! No wonder Mr. Sunshine is always in a foul mood!”
- “Is that glasses? Tell him this is the last time I chauffeur your ass.”
- “Bad things happen to people around me, Carter, so you should get out of here.”
- Reese: Just proves that no matter what we do or don’t do in this world, bad things are still gonna happen. It’s pointless. Irrelevant.
Fusco: How can you say that? You saved lots of people, including me. You’re saying that was pointless?
- “Elias said, “Go to hell”. Quite frankly, I second the motion.”
- “How many countries you think there are in the UN? Like 50-something?”
- “Dog showed up at the precinct with a message from Cuckoo Clock to meet at this intersection. Didn’t know she meant you and this guy.” [Points to Hersh]
- “That’s just it. I could’ve been just like you, a bottom-feeder who turns on his own kind. For what? Money, power? I got lucky. I had a partner. She was good for me. For a lot of reasons. She reminded me that I could be good again too. i could be a good father, a good friend. A good cop. I’m not gonna let you undo all the good she did. Carter saved my life. She – she saved me from myself. Because she believed in me. And I’m not gonna throw that away on a piece of crap like you. Patrick Simmons, you’re under arrest.”
SAMEEN SHAW has been a (literal, probably) nutcracker ever since she exploded onto our screens in ‘Relevance’. Badass, definitely not a yoga instructor, might’ve died once, and caught up in a messy whirlwind romance with Root, Shaw’s practically brimming with (sometimes grumpy) snark. Gooberish as she is, she is never robotic, which is something I greatly admire in Sarah Shahi’s portrayal of Shaw—this could be a very one-dimensional character but the way she’s written and the way she’s acted—good grief, Shaw is a goldmine.
- Special Counsel: “Hersh was right. You are a good soldier. You didn’t want revenge. You wanted to protect the program.”
Shaw: “A good soldier does both.” [Shoots Wilson]
- “I’m just not wired for this kind of stuff, kid.”
- “I’m a pragmatist, John. I go out, have a fun night or three, and then, uh, I move on. No muss, no fuss.”
- Root: “Shaw? I think it’s time you had a chat with your old boss.”
Shaw: “I’m on it. We’ll chat about how I’m gonna kill her.”
- “I would have taken the head shot, but Finch gets annoyed when I kill people.”
- Matthew Reed: “You look ten years younger than the rest of us. How do you handle stress?”
Shaw: “Well, every once in a while, I shoot someone.”
- “Well, I’ve got finesse coming out of my ass, Harold.”
- “There is no dead in team.”
- Maria Martinez: Foreign Legion? Why would they wanna kill me?
Shaw: I don’t know. I don’t speak French.
- “Yeah, sure, Root. Maybe someday. Is that good enough for you?”
ROOT, as the reformed killer-for-hire ‘Samantha Groves’ is best known by—and her name is Root—is impeccably played by Amy Acker…which means, somehow, she manages to make even the most psychopathic of sentences somewhat hilarious. I don’t know what that says about me. But as unwittingly uproarious as Root can sometimes be, the back end of season four gave Acker a chance to explore Root’s more vulnerable, broken side to her usually creepily chipper stance—and it blew pretty much everyone anyway.
- “I don’t want to hurt Grace. I’m not a sociopath, Harold. Believe me, sometimes I wish I was. The things I’ve had to do would’ve been so much easier. I don’t like taking lives. But I will. Because I believe in something more important. I believe in your machine.”
- Harold Finch: [about stealing a police cruiser] Are you out of your mind?!
Root: Since when is that relevant?
- “Oh, did you not hear about my chat with Control? She’s fun… in an unnecessary stapedectomy kind of way. But I do miss music in stereo.”
- “You think you’re in charge? It’s adorable just how wrong you are.”
- “Even without Her, I can still see the edges of the tapestry. The world is dark for everyone, but, Harold, things are gonna get much darker.”
- Root: She loves us, Harold. She taught me to value life, but war requires sacrifice. I’m not lost. I’m scared. We’re losing. But I know where I am and where I’m headed.
Finch: We have more to look forward to than death.
Root: I hope so. But the life I’ve led, a good end would be a privilege.
- “Remember, one false move, you’re dead. So have fun!”
- “What good is saving the world, Harry, if we can’t enjoy it?”
- “One day, I realized all the dumb, selfish things people do… it’s not our fault. No one designed us. We’re just an accident, Harold. We’re just bad code. But the thing you built… It’s perfect. Rational. Beautiful. By design.”
- “You once told John, the whole point of Pandora’s Box is that once you’ve opened it, you can’t close it again. She wanted me to remind you how the story ends. When everything is over and the worst has happened, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s Box: hope.”
Okay—so there you have it—ten painstakingly picked quotes from the core gang (I don’t think I can count Bear in this one, unfortunately…) but I know I could’ve picked a thousand more for Root in particular (the lady is…yeah). It’s a mix of dark and light, some morality lessons and some plain bonkers—but I think that quite adequately sums up what Person of Interest is all about. Ultimately, it is a huge war of ethics and humanity, and the battle each member of the gang fights every single day puts their life at risk—yet they aren’t without their funny moments, either. Person of Interest is a dark, somewhat scarily plausible future—it’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s emotional and it’s hard-hitting. But like Root says, there is always one thing left in Pandora’s box: hope. And it is my true belief that as dark as the world may grow for the gang, there is still a beacon of light—hope—worth fighting for. There is still a world they believe in, people they need to save, loves they need to find, bonds forged in steel…humanity is the very thing that glues everyone together, and it is their humanity they must fight for as New York City descends into a chaotic ASI-war. And it’s humanity that must win. But with this bunch of rag-a-tags? I think we’re in for a hell of a ride.
Also, I feel like “You can just call me Root, bitch.” will be the unanimous response. I’m pretty good with that.