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The Finest Hour of Network Television I've Ever Seen
After finishing this episode, I completely forgot that "Person of Interest" was a network TV show, because nothing about this story, or the episodes preceding it have felt so flawlessly created for a show airing on CBS.
Absolute wonderful cinematography, outstanding acting from the whole cast and some wonderful pieces of dialogue masked the tedious and overplayed plot devices you might expect from regular television. This could have easily been 43 minutes of Reese shooting a load of holes into bad guys but Jonathan Nolan and Amanda Segel managed to transform it into a spectacular character study whilst fittingly paying tribute to a lost member of the team.
Not only was this a fitting conclusion of an ongoing, monstrous storyline running since the show's inception, but also the culmination of Fusco's journey from 'reluctant asset' to one of NYC's finest. The scene of him escorting Simmons through the precinct is one of the most satisfying images the show has given us.
"The Devil's Share" is not only a thrilling conclusion to one of the most gripping story arcs I've experienced in a TV show, but it is also a heartfelt, emotional and unpredictable masterpiece of creativity.
Game of Thrones: Blackwater (2012)
The Most Ambitious Episode of Television... Ever?
It's all too easy to compare the climatic battle of the Blackwater to scenes we've seen in the movies: Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Braveheart and so forth. What makes Blackwater unique, regardless of its lower budget, is its tighter focus on the show's characters and their developments during and as a result of the battle. The action merely serves as a backdrop (whilst also satisfying its blood-thirsty fans) as the conflict doesn't fully begin until about 25 minutes into the episode.
The focus on King's Landing does wonders to the flow of the episode as a whole. Eliminating the need to bounce around different characters in different locations makes for a more coherent story. The fact that the script is penned by A Clash of Kings author George R.R. Martin fleshes out characters to their maximum potential, after all, who knows Martin's world better than Martin himself? Scenes such as those with Cersei within the Red Keep and the excellent final scene in the throne room seamlessly break up the action and provide a wonderful insight to Cersei's thoughts and Westerosi customs as a whole.
The acting throughout the hour long spectacle is exemplary, featuring especially outstanding performances from Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage and Rory McCann. Sibel Kekilli, who I feel has struggled more to get a full grasp of her character also puts in her best performance, and actually draws some sympathy to her character which had been lacking thus far.
Whilst I understand some viewers disappointment of certain omissions from the books, it would be unfair to compare the two storytelling mediums. One of which is limited by finance, the other has no limits with the right imagination. Needless to say I thought the omissions were perfectly acceptable. The wildfire explosion was a suitable replacement for the chain, the latter of which would have looked unbelievable whilst the former provided one of the most spectacular visual imagery I've seen on television. I personally thought the amount of action was more than substantial particularly in light of the intimate character moments aforementioned.
Providing the climax of Game of Throne's second season, this episode will only disappoint you if you care more for the action set pieces than the tight-knit and gripping story lines. There's no doubt that this is the most visually enhancing and creative television episode I've seen to date, but in reality it's all a masquerade, complimenting high quality dialogue, sublime character development and provides a greater scale of the world which George R.R. Martin has created.
Breaking Bad: Ozymandias (2013)
Gut Punch After Gut Punch
5 years and 59 episodes in the making, everything boils down to the most intense and devastating 45 minutes of the show culminating in what is perhaps the greatest TV episode I have ever seen. Every revelation gets more shocking throughout the course of the episode, none of which give you a moment to breathe. Many of the events have been long inevitable throughout the series, but when the time does arrive, you find you wish those secrets had been left buried.
The acting in this episode is phenomenal, testament to the chemistry achieved between the main cast, all of whom put out their greatest performances. The writing is sublime, maintaining the consistently excellent dialogue characteristic of this show. I'd willingly put money that this episode completely sweeps next year's Emmy awards.
Following the airing of this episode, the end has never felt so close and you quickly realise that you're not quite ready to let go of this show. It's not often that a show gets to end on its own accord and sometimes rarer that it goes out with a bang, but this episode signifies that the show will end with its head held high, and rightfully secures its legacy as one of the greatest programmes to grace the medium.
Person of Interest: Liberty (2013)
Whereas last year's premiere, "The Contingency", opened with a bang, "Liberty" goes for a more conventional, episodic Person of Interest approach having not returned with an ongoing cliffhanger from the end of Season 2. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly as the 45 minutes are stuffed full of story continuation and moving pieces that it flies by very quickly.
The case of the week is a welcome change of pace from the plethora of insanity which occurred during "Zero Day" and "God Mode". The storyline itself is not the most complex (which is partly a relief as some episodes tend to stumble as a result of becoming overly convoluted) but is insanely fun, providing great character moments and action packed brawls that state "hey, we don't have to always take ourselves too seriously!" The opening is particularly entertaining whilst simultaneously reintroducing our favourite characters doing what they do best.
The episode also sees Shaw (Sarah Shahi) making her debut as a regular. Whilst reception towards her has been polarising throughout the PoI community, I feel this was her best showing, as much of her icy persona has been transformed into cheeky zingers and a more spunky attitude. Whilst her transition hasn't been perfect (I feel she needs to ditch some of the Reese-isms and become more of her own character a bit), I'd expect that this dynamic should strengthen as the writers and Shahi become have become completely grounded with her.
Root (Amy Acker) also enters the episode as a newly promoted regular, and what the impact she makes in her (very short) three scenes is outstanding! Her final monologue concerning truths, and her relationship with the Machine provides is arguably the episode's standout scene, both establishing the character as a imminent threat as well as an outstanding exhibition of Acker's acting ability. It was definitely one of the most chilling moments the series has conjured so far and a fantastic way to end the show.
The seeds of future story lines are planted throughout the episode, such as a brief encounter with fan-favourite Elias and the revelation that Carter is on a personal mission to take down the notorious HR, and things are looking good for the third season of this fascinating show. On the whole, don't expect this episode to be as mind-blowing as those which preceded it but you can guarantee to find a bit of story progression and plenty of highlights which capture the essence of both the show's gripping nature as well as its more light-hearted side.