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 Follow him on Twitter.

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