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.


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.


I am very upset with the death of Carter
She was a very impotant part of the story line and it remains to be seen weather I will continue to watch.I think there has been a terrible mistake made in getting rid of her


I don't understand why people say they are going to stop watching a show after one of the best episodes! I am sad that Carter is dead and the fact that I am sad is a testament to good writing and character development. You don't drop a show you say you love because they actually give you an emotional payout. That is what drama is all about!

@ Kerry

You can drop a show any time you want to, for any reason you want to. A show is for entertainment. It's not an obligation. If the show no longer satisfies you, it's best to not watch it anymore.

@ Kerry

Kerry, while I do understand where you're coming from, I'm beginning to ask myself how much these plot lines were really thought out, and here's why I say this. A police officer who's being 'hunted down by a psycho killer decides to go without her protective vest, and the guy who's protecting her as well, you knew that John and Joss were getting closer (his off the cuff hidden sexual banter a tip off??), left in the episode where they finally kiss (NOT just out of fear because of what they were going through, especially when he all but told her she saved his life??), and he found the nerve to let her know how much she really meant to him', so you decide that this is where you end it all? Are you for real?? This is what they call excellent, one of a kind writing?? Not trying to be nasty or sound stupid, but I'm still scratching my head at all of this, and asking myself how are they going to clean up this mess???


I enjoyed watching Person of Interest until Carter's death. Sadly I'm going to stop watching as it will never be the same for me. Too bad. I loved this show.


I saw an interview with Taraji (Carter) after her death episode. She was aware from the inception of POI that her character would die......she just wasn't aware of when. She wants to pursue other interests and that's why she didn't sign a "forever" contract. She basically chose to "die" so she wouldn't be tied to television for an indeterminate period of time. The writers/producers didn't surprise her with it...she knew it was going to happen. At the interview, she expressed "relief" that it was finally over and she could move on to other pursuits. However, the show won't be the same without her, even though she will make appearances in "flashbacks" so we can get some of her backstory.

@ Audrey

Audrey, I saw the interview as well, but am trying to figure out how Taraji 'chose to die', when that 'decision' is ALWAYS left up to the Writers and Creators of these shows?? The actors/actresses have a little bit of input but NOT as much as you think they do. She also said 'they'd' told ALL of them NOT to go out and "buy a home", because their turn on the show wasn't going to be like that. Have never heard of a 'forever contract' myself. These days in Hollowood I say take what you can get because the 'dynamics' are drastically changing, and I'm seeing and hearing some actors (the well-known ones too) say they'd be glad for almost any kind of work to do now. I also say the show really will not be the same without her and she addressed the 'flashbacks' as well by saying, "she hoped so and that she was 95 % sure, but the decision is up to them". Lastly, if they can't find a way to explain why she and John went without their vests, and if they don't allow John to grieve for Joss then I really will stop watching for good and I'm not kidding either.


they need to miraculously bring her back to life.

@ Kecia

Kecia, I'd LOVE for them to bring her back to life, but knowing the Creator of the show and the Writers, I really don't think this will happen. I know how I'd do it though and it'd happen in a way that would shock the viewers beyond their senses, because I've already figured out my scenario on this subject.


I think it was a Huge Mistake! I'm not sure I will continue to watch. I wish Shaw had been killed instead or if it was going y be one of the original characters Fusco would have been a better choice.


What a lot of bull they feeding us now about why they killed Carter.....
I had never been a person who buys tv series box sets. Was going to spoil myself this xmas and buy POI but hell to the NO now. I guess i have to say thank you for killing Carter early now i don't have to waste my money buying the box sets.
Good bye POI


Im done with this show...arrogance on the writers part....thats enough for me.....not interested anylonger....playing us a ignorant....


Carter was indeed the heart of the show. She was emotionally the strongest. Emotion hooks the viewer. Emotion draws the viewer into the story. Emotion keeps the viewer invested. Emotion's the key, not great plots or thrilling action. I can't believe the writers and producers could be so ignorant not to realize this. I also can't believe the producers' egotism. They're admitting they don't care how viewers will react. Excuse me, but television is a business, and in business you d**n well better care about the consumer.

@ Diana

kept worrying about Carters son……

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