Person of Interest returned by jumping right back into the regular swing of things with Reese, Finch, Fusco, Carter, and now the newest member of the super group, Shaw, saving people and kneecapping bad guys. Yes, Bear returned too, but he was simply out for a late night walk.
Rather than focus heavily on the consequences of the last season finale, "God Mode," and the Machine's freedom, "Liberty," held back on an overload, yet tossed in a few digital tidbits for viewers to mull over. The intro changed its look with a lot more red, the square boxes around the core characters in surveillance video are yellow (although Root's is a combination of black and yellow), the Machine sends out numbers not just to Reese and Finch but also the police, and the Machine's communication and purpose behind Root as an asset is still a mystery.
That said, Amy Acker still plays psychotic scary Root wonderfully. Root may be "trapped" in the psych hospital, but she's as dangerous as ever, especially when talking to the Machine. At first she just seemed loopy, but her closing moments about an argument over whether to kill the psychiatrist were creepy. Doctor better let her have her phone call.
And maybe that's why the episode didn't start out with some big mythology-based ordeal: the Machine hasn't quite unleashed any massive plan or move yet, something that continues to trouble Finch about the future. Things are just getting started.
There's still definitely a sense of charm amongst the characters and the camaraderie flows effortlessly between the group. More one-liners and jokes are at the characters disposal, although only Fusco got to audition for the Lincoln sequel.
Reese continued to deliver some humorously dry lines from his first scene in the van, amused at the sailor bar brawl or simply "accidentally" walking in on the diamond standoff with an "I'm sorry. Are you guys closed?"
He still exudes that superhero quality in a well-tailored suit, but Shaw will definitely give him some competition this season. She's not a female Reese by any means, which is a good thing. Shaw feels like her own character with her own style and attitude, even if its a little more violent and guns blazing that Reese or Finch might like. And she wasn't overused in the episode or quickly forced into flirty banter with her tactical counterpart. I'm curious to see where the show takes her character, especially now that Sarah Shahi has been made a series regular for the season. She's a solid addition to the cast.
Carter looks like she could be headed towards some deep water, especially by keeping the fact that Elias is free and she's making deals with him from Reese and Finch. And despite Carter's demotion, she's still going up against HR. At least she got to wear some new outfits and flirt with a few sailors. I wonder if she will get swept up in a new Elias plot, especially with how the episode ended.
The Russians may have control now, but Elias surely can figure out a way to rise back up to the top. It really is great how certain characters come back, especially because it helps establish a more complete universe, even if the episodes can often feel self-enclosed.
As for the "number" of the week, I'm glad the crew was saving a good guy simply mixed up in a bad situation. Though the Spec ops team was a bit overdramatic and hard to take seriously, even if they did look like they could beat the crap out of anyone. Even the Russian standoff with guns pointed at each other and shouting to drop weapons felt like too much. There wasn't really any tension involved in the situation, but it was enjoyable to see Reese and Carter work together to stop the bad guys of the hour. Bet you never thought a popsicle wrapper could be so helpful.
This was a far quieter start than I had anticipated for Person of Interest Season 3, especially with more focus on the case of the week. However, the fun and entertaining element hasn't been deleted, the characters are continuing to grow, Shaw and Root add interesting new aspects to the core story and the teases of the Machine have me intrigued to know what's coming. The premiere may have started out simply enough, but I'm sure things will get more complicated and excitingly twisted as the season moves along. Guess it's time to have a boilermaker while we wait for next week.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.