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Person of Interest Post-Mortem: Bosses Explain Shocking Kiss, Character Death

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Have you stopped ugly crying over last night’s Person of Interest conclusion?

The shocking death of Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) on Person Of Interest Season 3 Episode 9 was clearly one of the most emotional moments in the series history... but it’s not over yet.

I talked to Executive Producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman today to ask where Carter’s death is going to take us next, while also finding out what’s in store for Shaw... whether Root is on the good or bad side of things... and if The Machine will continue to be rogue.

The Crossing Scene

TV Fanatic: Talk to me about the decision to have Carter die? What was the thinking that got you to that point?

Greg Plageman: I think the thing that we always want is that element of danger on our show, real stakes. It’s stuff that we talked about from the very beginning. When you met Reese and Finch, the two most important people in their lives was already dead – Jessica and Nathan. It’s baked into the DNA of the show. I remember Finch telling Reese that if they continue to do this they would both probably wind up dead and he meant it.

What felt natural to us was with HR being with us from the pilot, their diabolical no-goodness, it felt like they had it in for Carter…it got to a point where you think if this person is going to hold her head up and walk into a precinct ever again she’s going to have to take them on [and] in the conversations she had with her son [in Person Of Interest Season 3 Episode 8] it was kind of understood what she had to do and it felt like the time was right.

TVF: The big kiss between Reese and Carter in last night’s episode, is that something you felt like you had to pay off before Carter went off.

Jonathan Nolan: That was actually unscripted. One thing about doing a show like this, ultimately in the beginning when it’s just you alone in a room, you have full custody of the characters. But by the time we shot the pilot, we’d already started sharing it with the actors and it’s a collaboration. You work on the storyline together.

Taraji [P. Henson] and Jim [Caviezel] found themselves in the moment in that scene, in a scene we had intended for the characters to have another moment expressing the deepening connection, bond and friendship between them. Spontaneously, in the moment, the actors took themselves to a place where it’s not platonic but it isn’t lascivious either…we saw it in the cut and as soon as we saw it we realized, ‘We can’t cut it out.’ The actors, very much in the moment, found themselves in that had a place of emotional honesty to it [and] we respected even though it wasn’t on the page.

TVF: Is it safe to say in the next episode we’re going to see Reese essentially out for blood due to his loss?

JN: Reese is definitely a little bit off the chain and I think he’s not the only one. The question becomes whether or not someone is going to kill [Simmons] but it’s a question of which one. That’s the challenge for Finch is determining which one of his closest friends or allies is going to become a murderer and he has to decide what he’s going to do about that.

TVF: Will this mark the end of HR or is this just a piece of that story?

GP: Definitely they’re going to take a hit. HR’s demise is eminent. Never say never on our show but I think we want to go in a different direction.

TVF: Kevin Chapman did such a great job last night. Is Fusco going to emotionally be affected by being tortured and almost losing his child?

JN: No doubt that Kevin Chapman delivered the performance of the year. He’s been doing phenomenal work for us and what we asked him to do there was extremely difficult and he pulled it off. The interesting part of it at this point and time is that he and Shaw had been at each other’s throats and she wound up being the one to save his son. There’s an opportunity here to advance the relationship between those two characters.

TVF: It was great to see another side of Shaw since we’ve only really seen her empathize with the dog. Will we see more the rest of the season, the peeling back of the layers of Shaw?

JN: Sarah Shahi is an incredible actress…it’s sometimes difficult for people to understand where she’s coming from but we think the episode ‘Razgovor’ (Person Of Interest Season 3 Episode 5) was a little bit of a glimpse behind that curtain in terms what makes her tick and we’d like to reveal more layers as we go along and begin to understand what’s going on inside of Shaw.

TVF: From the previews for next week, it looks like Root is going to get out of her cage and help the team. Is that going to prove to be as much of a mistake as Finch predicted it would be?

GP: I think one of the things that we’re interested in is really fucking with your perception of who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy and as we head into this weird, perilous, odd moment of information technology where it’s starting to guide us as much as we’re guiding it, Root stops looking quite so much like a villain and a little more like an unusual ally.

We love playing with that question but also playing with the ramifications of what would that mean. It’s one of the great things about the television medium is to really spend some time with these characters you get to view all of them as people as oppose to just tropes.

TVF: Lastly, is The Machine going to continue to be rogue or is our team going to get a handle on it again soon?

JN: No, I think The Machine is charting its own path but where that path takes us is as much as a mystery to Finch as it is to any of us.

Person of Interest Season 3 airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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I know this is not "politically correct", anyway it's the first time I saw a so huge distance between two (possible) lovers in a story.
carter was really very smart, very interesting, very almost everything... but also very very UGLY, in particular respect to Reese.
Oh... yes, the love is blind, but when really?! It's not real, because in the reality this huge discrepancy there is just when a beautiful woman marries a rich man (or vice versa).

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@ masugra

It's just what I thought of Booth and Brennan in "Bones", therefore I had already seen something similar, but I had forgotten it. Absolutely the same matter.
This is another opinion which is not "politically correct" because it is different respect to all the nice words of followers completely satisfied about the series.

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Not as good without Carter don't like her replacement much at all and it seems as though John also has been missing doing small part showings like he is busy with something else is he making a movie.

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I'm so glad I'm not the only one that feels this way. I've only just watched that episode today and I couldn't believe it. There's not much point of watching the show now, it was all about John and Jocelyn for me...Sure you can't always have good things in a crime drama, there has to be risks, etc. But I totally agree, killing off Carter was a bad idea. I began to watch a few minutes of the next episode but just gave up. It wasn't the same.

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I did so enjoy Person of Interest. It was sad, quirky sometimes funny but always interesting. Notice I said was. I have not watched the show since Carter was killed off. She was a strong female presence as well as a parent. She was smart and she was not afraid. I liked the character and Taraji did a good job portraying her. Who are these other two female characters? Root makes my flesh crawl. The other one just confuses me. They are tedious and boring characters. I can not even remember where they came from. OH WELL PERSON OF INTEREST "YOU NO LONGER INTEREST" !!!!!!!! It was a well written show except for the death of Carter. The acting by all was terrific. It was never boring. Your core actors were great together. Ratings will go down and so will the show. Too Bad.

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Killing of carter was a bad move @Nolan..no matter how you try to justify it. I agree it should have happened at some point but your timing in this case sucks! unfortunately in your bid to be entertaining…uve lost a chunk of the loyal viewers

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I so agree with the comments regarding the loss of Carter to the program.
From what I read, in an interview, the executive producer is way too confident in his abilities to realize what the general audiences want to see. Too bad a wonderful t v program is put in jeapordy by the vanities of a executive producer caught up in himself.

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I was shocked at carter's deth esp. when we were all lead to belileve it would be Fusco which I would also found to be sad. I just wonder how how the actress felt I missed her on Letterman Does she have another project lined up and was she sad to leave

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@ ronnie maggi

ronnie maggi,
I think most viewers (I don't include myself because I felt it for a little while, that she was leaving) thought it'd be Fusco as well, but I'm not shocked because other shows have done this as well, but it makes it that much harder to go forward with a character who meant so much to us. Yes, she does have other projects lined up, I just thought that '2 1/4 years' was way too soon for me. She said in a video chat that she knew it was coming, just not when.

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I was both shocked & angry when you killed off my favorite character;did she have some reason for want-
ing to leave the show?That would be the only thing
that would make her demise acceptable!If not,then
your decision to do so was a monumental mistake
which will result in a declining audience & lower
ratings! I'm only watching tonight to see her death
hopefully avenged but this will be the last time I watch(unless you figure out a way to bring Carter
back in a believable way)!

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@ dick schwaderer

dick schwaderer, she didn't want to leave but did say she wouldn't be willing to stay on for 7 years though. The Creator of the show came to her to let her know when her time was up (2 1/4 years??), and she took it from there as she was also told not to let any of the other cast members know what was going on, I guess the reason why they were so shocked and cried so hard??? Something tells me they're going to end up hooking up John with one of three women: His girl friend coming back from the dead, Shaw or Zoe, and if they do this I'll end my run with this show for good.

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I have a wonderful novel to read tonight instead of watching Person of Interest. Shooting Joss Carter down, like a dog in the street, is not forgivable. The writers have made a huge mistake and the damage control they have attempted has only made the situation worse. "Hell hath no fury......" Nolan and Plageman have scorned a lot of fans, and not all of them are women. Taraji gone = Game Over !

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Carter was the strong female lead that balanced the overabundance of male characters in this show. The other female characters in this show are background. I think you made a fatal mistake. You obviously did not know the importance of Carter to your viewing audience. I seriously don't know if I can watch the show again not just because Carter died but because you undervalued your female audience. We want can do women with our eye candy.

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