Reese, Anton and co are all brought in for questioning by the police, and savvy detective Carter (Taraji P Henson) gets the measure of Reese pretty quickly - from his kung-fu moves, she guesses that he's ex-Special Forces, and that he's living on the streets to punish himself for past evils.
Taking his prints, Carter learns that Reese is a wanted man, with open warrants in four different countries. But before she can question him, Reese is spirited away by a pair of suited heavies. Said thugs work for Mr Finch (Michael Emerson) - an enigmatic billionaire who somehow knows all about Reese, including his mysterious past with the government. "Knowledge is not my problem," Finch tells his new ally. "Doing something with that knowledge, that's where you come in."
Finch takes Reese on a tour of the city and explains that a very special list has come into his possession - names of people who are "about to be involved in very bad situations". Finch indicates a woman nearby buying a coffee - she's Diane Hansen (Natalie Zea) and this week, she's top of the list.
Finch's info is limited - Hansen could be either the perpetrator or the victim of a crime. But Reese doesn't believe the billionaire's spiel and walks away, convincing that Finch is simply a bored, rich obsessive.
That night, Reese holes up in a motel and takes the opportunity to clean up his image - a quick shave and hair-cut transforms him from grubby tramp to handsome rogue. A TV news report also reveals that Reese is now considered a "person of interest" (zing!) by the police. Drinking himself into a stupor, Reese dreams of his lost beloved, the beautiful Jessica (Susan Misner).
The next morning, Reese finds himself tied to his bed and receives a phone call from Finch, who has decided to 'motivate' him. Hearing a woman's distressed cries, Reese cuts himself free and bursts into the next room, but finds only Finch and a recording made three years previous.
Finch assures Reese that he is not part of the government but simply a "concerned third-party" - he tells the former agent that he was too late to save the woman on the recording, just like he was too late to save Jessica. But it's not too late to save Diane Hansen...
Like all the best crime-fighting billionaires, Finch has a cool headquarters - he works out of an abandoned library, littered with old books. The centrepiece of the H.Q. is Finch's wall of wonder - a list of social security numbers, each one mapping out to a violent crime. Reese wants to know where the numbers come from, but Finch remains elusive.
The pair begin to investigate Diane Hansen - she's an assistant DA with an excellent conviction record. With time running out, Reese uses Finch's resources to learn everything he can about Hansen. After examining her e-mails and bank accounts, Reese hacks her cell-phone, using the GPS to track her movements and the microphone to listen in on her conversations. He even installs a wireless camera outside her apartment - but it's all in the name of good, so any moral objections can wait!
Using the info he has gathered, Reese narrows down the list of suspects who could be targeting Hansen to two men - her co-counsellor and spurned ex-lover Wheeler and Lawrence Pope, the man she's currently prosecuting. Pope is accused of turning on his drug-dealer pals, shooting them dead and stealing their cash, but his case hits a snag when the lead detective, Fusco (Kevin Chapman), appears to change his story.
Hansen arranges a meeting 'alone' with Pope, but Reese is secretly listening in. She thinks he's innocent and covering for his younger brother Michael, who saw the real killers. Pope is determined to remain silent - he's convinced that the killers will target him and his brother.
The developing plot takes a brief hiatus as we get to know Reese a little better, through the aid of flashback. In September 2001, Reese and Jessica enjoy a romantic weekend away and he reveals that he's quit his position in the government to be with her. But their happiness is soon interrupted by a news broadcast, reporting on the tragic events of 9/11.
Back in the present, Diane is trying to track down Michael Pope to ID the killers, but appears to be keeping Wheeler out of her investigation. Reese even spots Wheeler sneaking into his colleague's office to access her computer - could he be protecting the killers?
Luckily, Reese tracks down Michael Pope first, and though he is unwilling to help, Reese is able to slip his cell-phone into the young man's backpack, using GPS to track him. Meanwhile, realising that the time has come to arm himself against the killers, Reese interrupts his old buddy Anton's weapons deal. Bagging up a selection of the guns, Reese floors Anton's entire team in a flurry of bullets.
Finch picks up Michael Pope's signal, but he's already been kidnapped by the killers. With the aid of a new toy - a smoke-grenade launcher - Reese is able to rescue Michael but finds a familiar badge on one of the kidnappers - the killers are corrupt cops! Reese learns that the cops are working with Fusco, the detective who threw Pope's trial - the no-good scoundrels steals drugs and money from gangs, then frame guys like Lawrence Pope for the murders.
Reese is convinced that Diane Hansen is their next target, but won't proceed without more information from Finch. The billionaire relents and reveals that, post-9/11, the government began monitoring all e-mails, phone calls and other forms of communication to help track terrorists.
Finch built a machine that could divide potential crimes into two categories: relevant - potential incidents involving a substantial loss of lie, and irrelevant - 'small' crimes such as one-off murders. Finch has since lost track of the machine, but can still access the 'irrelevant' list through a backdoor in the system. In order for his actions to remain covert, he can retrieve a nine-digit social security number - but nothing more.
Reese learns that Lawrence Pope was stabbed to death in his cell - it appears that the corrupt cops are trying to cover their tracks, and Diane Hansen receives a call from head cop Stills (James Hanlon) - it looks like she's next! Reese follows Hansen to her meeting with the cops, but there's a twist in this tale - Hansen is behind the entire operation and arranged Pope's death. It's actually Wheeler who's investigating her and Hansen orders her thugs to 'deal with him'.
A stunned Reese tries to escape but is captured and knocked unconscious by the cops. He wakes up bound in the back of Fusco's car but seems unconcerned. And with good reason - he's smuggled a flash grenade inside the vehicle! Temporarily blinded, Fusco loses control of the vehicle and Reese is able to escape.
Reese rushes to Wheeler's home, where the corrupt cops already lie in wait. But Reese has the matter well in hand - once Wheeler and his young son are safely inside the building, he takes down Stills and his cop buddies with extreme prejudice.
Back at the court-house, the trial continues and Hansen tries to play back the defendant's 911 call, but Reese has switched the audio tape. The entire court-room hears a recording of Hansen ordering Wheeler's death - it looks like she's finished. Reese also confronts Fusco - who he plans to use from now on as his 'inside man' - and instructs him to drive his car to Oyster Bay, with the wounded Stills in the trunk.
His mission over, Reese reunites with Finch, but is warned that the numbers will never stop coming. Finch offers Reese a choice - he can disappear forever or stay and help to save more lives. Meanwhile, Detective Carter is busy rounding up Anton's men, determined to learn more about Reese, and completely unaware that the man himself is watching her from afar.
Accepting his new life, Reese suspiciously eyes a security camera, then disappears amongst the crowds of New York City.
• Person of Interest gets off to a strong start - the pilot is a little too dense, attempting to pack in character introductions, the show's central premise and a 'case of the week', but hopefully the series will settle down in the weeks to come.
• Hopefully Jonathan Nolan and his writing team can tone down the expository dialogue too - there's a few too many instances of Reese and Finch reciting the plot aloud to allow viewers to keep up.
• One problem with the show is that it does entirely skip over the moral ambiguity of Finch's operation - we're expected to simply accept that he and Reese are invading people's privacy for the greater good. It'd be interesting to see the characters reflect on their actions a little more in future episodes.
• That said, who needs moral debates when you have a central character as unrelentingly bad-ass as Reese? Our favourite Caviezel moment was Reese giving a lecture to Anton's thug about the the dangers of firing a gun sideways, moments before violence erupts.
• It's a good move to keep our heroes in the dark about whether the 'person of interest' is a perpetrator or a victim. As this episode proves, it paves the way for many a juicy plot twist!