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Episode Overview   Summary   POI   Cast and Characters   Crew    
  Person of InterestSeason 1 (Flashbacks in parentheses) Season 2 →
101Pilot” (Reese) 109Get Carter” (Carter) 117Baby Blue
102Ghosts” (Finch) 110Number Crunch118Identity Crisis
103Mission Creep” (Reese) 111Super” (Finch) 119Flesh and Blood” (Elias)
104Cura Te Ipsum112Legacy120Matsya Nyaya” (Reese)
105Judgment113Root Cause121Many Happy Returns” (Reese)
106The Fix114Wolf and Cub122No Good Deed” (Finch/Ingram)
107Witness115Blue Code” (Reese) 123Firewall
108Foe” (Reese) 116Risk
No Good Deed

NoGoodDeed

SeasonEpisode

122

Air dateMay 10, 2012

Running time43:59

Production code2J6222

Written byDavid Slack

Directed byStephen Williams

Viewers12.96M

Images (56)

Oh, my God, they actually built it.

— Henry Peck


"No Good Deed" is the 22nd episode of season 1, and the 22nd produced hour of Person of Interest. It originally aired on May 10, 2012.

Synopsis

The newest POI's curiosity could spell his doom when he finds himself embroiled in a dark government conspiracy - one that Finch is all too familiar with. Meanwhile, Reese uncovers something revealing about Finch's past.

Origin of the Title

The title comes from the proverb, "No good deed goes unpunished."Clare Boothe Luce, an American Dramatist and Diplomat, coined the phrase to mean that a good deed is an intervening act, as opposed to looking the other way, thereby, causing the doer of good to wreak the consequences from persons involved.

Main Plot Points

  • Reese who had previously accused Finch of being the fictional Machine, finds out that the numbers come from payphones.
  • The POI is an intelligence analyst for the NSA who won't let go of the idea that someone is changing his reports by adding names of relevant persons.
  • Reese's investigation of Finch officially ends.
  • Peck is targeted by the government because he is tenaciously inquiring into where the information is coming from.
  • Reese meets Grace Hendricks.
  • Special Counsel is introduced as protecting the Machine.
  • Alicia Corwin is seen to be investigating the Machine. She discovers Finch is the creator of the Machine.

Flashbacks

  • In 2009, Nathan and Finch contest each other's views regarding the irrelevant numbers. Nathan without Finch's knowledge implements the irrelevant number contingency plan.
  • Finch explains that a "back door" would allow someone to control the Machine with very bad consequences.
  • Nathan tells Alicia Corwin that the Machine will be moved by freight train.
  • Alicia is nervous because she is beginning to understand what lengths the government will go to protect from exposure of the Machine.

Episode Notes

  • The manner in which Finch gets Peck's number differs from how the Machine relays later numbers. In this episode, Finch gets a notice from his cellphone presumably directing him to pick up a nearby pay phone, as can be seen for his searching for the right phone. He then picks up the phone without it ringing, and receives the new number, whereas in all subsequent instances the Machine calls the pay phone nearest to Finch directly without any notice beforehand. The writers probably felt it would be inconsistent with the Machine's inability to communicate if it could send text messages regarding which phone to pick up.
  • Henry Peck might be considered both a relevant and an irrelevant number. Relevant because he came too close to discovering the Machine so a team of ISA hitmen were sent to silence him, which triggered the Machine to send his number to Finch. But Peck was probably not a relevant number, because the Machine understood that Peck's death was not necessary to the protection of national security. It is unlikely the Machine sent the ISA that "Peck" was a relevant number. The Machine was not responsible for the government taking it upon themselves to kill everyone who came in contact with the Machine. In this episode Finch points out that the government went too far In protecting the Machine. The Machine itself learned to value human life above its own interests.
  • In 2009, Alicia Corwin brings up the problem of dissemination. The intel cannot be traceable back to the Machine. Therefore, the government decides to integrate information into Peck's NSA reports. As all earlier and later episodes attest to the fact that the Machine was created to give only a social security number and not the names of terrorists in reports. The Machine gives the social security number to the government directly to the person named "Control" or the department named "Research." Then it is passed into Peck's reports.

Vocabulary

  • The term sibilance is used to describe a phoneme, such as an /s/ or /sh/, sounded with a hissing sound. This lends intensity to its sound, and can be used to draw attention, such as in the commonly used "shhhh!", conveying a desire for another to be quiet. According to Peck, Sibilance is an internal audit of the NSA intranet.
  • The Shannon Limit is a concept in information theory which states the maximum rate at which data can be transmitted without error.
Link analysis chart

Link Analysis Chart

  • Total Information Awareness (TIA) was a program founded by the Department of Defense in 2002 during the George W. Bush administration. TIA was a massive data mining progam that can "detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists" by analyzing commercial transactions and private communication, which means creating a "risk profile" using any conceivable record imaginable such as financial, educational, travel and medical records, as well as criminal and other governmental records which is subjected to said analysis. It was eventually disbanded due to privacy issues. However, in 2013, Edward Snowden showed "Person of Interest" was topical, was less fiction, and more fact-based, upon the disclosure of the existence of a real government program called PRISM.
SCIF

SCIF

  • A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) is a room proofed against many forms of eavesdropping or leakage of classified information. One main precaution often mentioned in the show is for hardening against radio communication, which in this case Finch defeats using a bugged coffee maker. A typical SCIF has privacy film and laser eavesdropping counter measures on the windows, walls fitted with soundproof steel plates and white-noise makers embedded in the ceiling. SCIFs are routinely swept for electronic devices several times a day. Additionally, these facilities are restocked from a central government warehouse clearing center, not the neighborhood Office Depot/Staples.
  • Several dialogues in the episode mention people or events prominent in the second season:
  • The episode also sheds some light on several mysteries that had not been tackled before:
    • How Finch receives numbers
    • Once the Machine identifies a relevant threat, the government slips names into NSA reports without leaving any indication to where the information originated
    • Finch's past relationship with Grace Hendricks
    • The contingency function which allows Finch to receive numbers.
    • It is revealed that officially seven people know about the Machine. The eighth is Finch.

Production Notes

Bloopers and Continuity Errors

  • As previously mentioned, it is a continuity error to have the Machine able to contact Finch by cellphone.
  • The pile of "The Boroughs" magazines in the Library turns 180 degrees when Reese flicks through it in a close up and the camera cuts to the next scene.
  • The note with the lot number of Finch's tea cup manufacturer on the shipping invoice Reese used to track down the coffee stand is slightly different from the note Reese wrote in the Library.
  • The color of Carrie's shirt changes after she goes back inside the office with Peck.
  • In the original timeline, Finch leaves right after he says "Because I built it." In the flashback at the end of the episode, Finch remains seated.
  • When talking to Peck in the original timeline, Finch says, "Go and live your life, find some secrets of your own, and if you really need a mystery, I recommend the human heart." He omits "and" in the flashback at the end of the episode.  For the following sentence, he also leans forwards briefly as he says, "Because I built it", but in the flashback he can be seen leaning forwards after speaking.
  • While installing his signal receiving device for the bugged coffee machine in the SCIF Finch he is quite careless with the mains voltage. While it may be unproblematic if he is sufficiently isolated from ground he might still get a little bite as his body acts as an capacitor. Anyway there is no reason not to use isolated crocodile clips or isolated pliers.

Music

  • "I'm Afraid of Americans" by David Bowie. During the taxi ambush/End of episode. The song is a reference to the video clip of the original song, which involves New York City taxi, the taxi being shot at, as well as paranoia and not being able to trust anyone. The reference to John is coincidental ("Johnny's in America").

Trivia

  • Peck, aside from Reese, is the first civilian who learns about the Machine's existence from Finch.
  • Henry Peck's box changes from white to yellow after Finch confirms the presence of the Machine and gives him the passport with his new identity.
  • In the interrogation room when Peck talks about the Machine, a disbelieving Fusco asks him if he wanted "a soda or something". When Reese comes to pick up Henry Peck from the interrogation room he can be seen holding a soda can.
  • Carrie Preston (Grace) is Michael Emerson's (Finch) wife.
  • Reese is seen perusing Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1866 novel "Crime and Punishment", which focuses on the moral dilemmas of a poor ex-student who kills a pawnbroker for cash and comes to believe that with the money he can do good deeds to remedy the crime he committed.
  • Any person who managed gain access to a SCIF or covert NSA office would have been highly documented and investigated.
  • Finch refers to "babies and mafia dons", the persons of interest from “Baby Blue” and “Flesh and Blood”, respectively.
  • Finch's sarky comment "I suppose we can count our blessings Detective Fusco isn't the inquisitive type." after Fusco just shrugs off Peck's concerns about a massive government surveillance program is an indirect wink at a dialog in “Flesh and Blood” where Simmons remarks that Fusco is asking too many questions [about HR's activities], and Fusco replies: "I got an inquisitive mind."

Quotes

  • "Secretive, solitary... He's just like you Finch." (Reese)
  • "So how do we spy on a spy?" (Reese to Finch)
  • "Mr. Reese, is everything...? [sounds of a struggle] Take that as a no." (Finch)
  • "I know who wants Peck dead and I know why. I know what he's been asking questions about. They want him dead because of me. Henry Peck doesn't know it but he's been asking about the Machine." (Finch)
  • "I think Mr. Peck's gonna break into the NSA." (Finch)
  • "I've never regretted building the machine. I didn't fully realize the personal cost. I'm good with computers. But people... well, people other than Grace, have always been a mystery to me." (Finch)
  • "If knowing about the machine is like a virus, that makes me patient zero." (Finch)
  • "I was lucky. I had four years of happiness. Some people only get four days." (Finch alluding to Reese's four days in Mexico with Jessica)
  • "If something ever happens, I have a ...contingency." (Finch)

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