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Episode 406: Pretenders
In a diner, Reese is wrapping up an investigation of a number named Wendell, when Finch calls to tell him of a new number: Walter Dang.
Shaw is assigned to be a temp in Dang's office at Witherton Insurance. As Harold calls her, the two comment that public phone networks are perfectly safe to use provided they avoid certain words.
Cloning Dang's phone, Shaw discovers that no-one has contacted Dang's phone in four days. She sees Dang talk to a co-worker, Elena Mindler, whose brother died recently of an apparent suicide. Dang says he'll look into it, then takes another phone out of his desk and leaves the office.
John starts tracking Dang, while Shaw is called to the Subway by Finch, who reveals a new wrinkle - his cover identity has been called to Hong Kong to deliver a paper, so Shaw will have to run the computer this time.
John follows Dang to a low-end hotel, where he and Shaw turn up the news of Abel Mindler's death.
In Hong Kong, Finch meets Beth Bridges, a mathematician running a start-up firm, who disagrees with everything that "Harold Whistler" has come here to talk about: holding back the development of human-level thinking machines on ethical grounds. The two argue, but respect each other's technical acumen.
Back in New York, Shaw has skimmed some police reports Fusco emailed her, and realises that the evidence supports homicide of Mindler. Shaw also mentions that Dang has Mindler's SIM card in his phone now.
Over the day, Reese tails Dang to an airport, which Shaw connects to Banks van Hess, Mindler's former supervisor. As Reese watches, Dang is discovered trying to get into van Hess' office... and introduces himself to the guard as Jack Forge, a detective with the Special Task Force.
Investigating the office, Dang discovers van Hess tied to a chair, and two criminals. Dang blusters, but is forced to run when the criminals open fire. Dang runs into Reese, and tries to punch him, but immediately goes down.
Calling Fusco - and, thanks to the criminals setting a fire in van Hess's office, the fire department - Reese decides he can get more use out of Dang if he indulges the "Jack Forge" ruse. Reese, Fusco and Dang talk at the Eighth Precinct, where they cobble out a possible motive based on their pooled evidence: Mindler was hired by a smuggling ring to move cargo, but he reneged on the deal. Now the criminals want that shipment and will kill to get it back. While Reese tries to talk Fusco out of revealing that Dang is not a cop, Dang uses the distraction to get out of the precinct house before someone catches him out.
Shaw phones Finch, to get advice on technical support and to ask for help getting Bear to eat. Finch is helpful on both counts, but has to hang up when his line begins to move. By chance, he encounters Beth Bridges, and the two bond over mathematics as they walk from the conference centre to the hotel. En route, Bridges is mugged, and Finch avoids violence by simply handing the mugger his bag as well.
In New York, Shaw discovers a message from Mindler that mentions high explosive rounds. Dang has gone back to his day job, when he starts recieving threatening phone calls on Abel Mindler's phone - and more worrying, on his office landline. Panicking, Dang leaves the office. He is kidnapped on the street, only to be immediately rescued by Reese and Shaw. After the fight, Dangs realises that Reese is not actually a policeman.
Reese takes Dang to a space with no cameras, where he meets Shaw and Fusco. Dang visibly geeks out about the group. They discuss the gun Reese took from the attackers, which is a sniper rifle that fires high-explosive rounds capable of trumping any body armour or vehicle armor in the city. They also discuss what Dang knows, since his assailants tried to kidnap him, not killhim. Dang insists he knows nothing. Fusco takes the gun, to be put ionto evidence; Shaw goes to race the calls that Dang got; and Reese takes Dang to the Eighth, and tells him not to leave a small room. Dang mentions owning a police scanner, and suddenly realises that "John Riley" is the vigilante known as The Man in the Suit.
In Hong Kong, Bridges wants to go to the police, but Finch tries to talk her out of it, wanting to avoid public scrutiny. He says he may have another way, explaining that the mugger fled on a bike with a placard for a nearby restaurant on it. The two set off to confront him.
In New York, Fusco hands the sniper into Evidence. Shaw finds a deleted text showing that 20 crates of the super-rifles were the shipment that went missing. Fusco realises that man behind the desk in Evidence is not a cop just as an interloper kidnaps Dang at gunpoint. Reese chases off the interloper, recognising him as "Scarface", one of Elias' men.
As the precinct recovers, Reese arranges to meet Elias. The two meet at an illegal gun showroom, where Elias explains that he dislikes gun-smuggling, but he needs to run it or someone else will, upsetting the balance of power in the city. These super-rifles are part of a shipment from Chicago by someone called the Armorer, who leveraged Banks van Hess to do the job. Mindler double-crossed them out of ethics and stashed the shipment somewhere, and now everyone wants it, either for sale, for use, or to keep it from their enemies.
In Hong Kong, Finch and Bridges are staking out the restaurant. With nothing else to occupy them, Bridges decides to continue their earlier argument: Finch does not agree that the ends justify the means. Finch's response is that ethics comes down to one important statement: "it all depends". He underlines this by clocking the erstwhile mugger with an umbrella, taking their two bags, and running off with Bridges.
In New York, Fusco takes Dang to a safehouse while Dang tries to pump Fusco for gossip about the Man in the Suit. Reese phones,having cracked it: Abel Mindler's phone's GPS will show where Mindler stashed the guns, and it is why the criminals want. At that moment the Armorer's guys catch them and run off with Dang, leaving Fusco & Reese in their dust.
At a disused lot, the criminals find the guns. The Armorer is about to shoot Dang when Reese & Fusco show up. A firefught develops between the criminals and the outmatched cop, but the arrival of Elias' men turns the tide. In the shooting, Dang throws himself in front of Reese, taking a bullet in the shoulder for him.
Elias confronts the Armorer, and offers a trade: the name of the Armorer's New York backer in exchange for a medical evac. The Armorer tries to shoot him, but is killed by Scarface.
At Dang's office later that day, Reese walks in with him, and publicly offers the thanks of the NYPD for his help in stopping a dangerous criminal, instantly impressing every other person in the office. Reese tries to ask him not to tell the whole story, but Dang shoots him down, saying no-one would believe him anyway. Dang's parting words are to say he followed the case of the Man in the Suit, and noticed that when he went away, the crime rate went up. Dang decided to do something about it, and created the Jack Forge persona to help. But he wasn't very good at it, and if the Man in the Suit is coming back, he should probably stop.
That night, Elias meets with Dominic to discuss the super-rifles. Elias explains that he has snipers guarding the meeting, then reveals his theory that Dominic was the backer for the Armorer. Dominic threatens Elias, saying he should have stayed underground. Elias cryptically responds that the Hudson river ices over in the winter and looks still, but in the spring, it surges back to life, drowning the unwary. Dominic shrugs his stories off, saying the Elias is not his king.
In Hong Kong, Beth Bridges offers to meet Finch in New York next month, since she will be in town to meet an investor. With a peck on the cheek, she walks away. Finch then walks down the back entrance, and meets the mugger, who he pays for his part in a plan to put malware on Bridges' laptop.
In her car, Bridges phones her investor, saying she has some new ideas for "phase one", which she will discuss when they meet in New York. Her respondant, once their conversation is over, goes to meet Greer, to give him an update on the businesses Samaritan is acquiring in Asia, including Beth Bridges' company, Geospatial Predictive Analytics LLC. This gives Greer pause, noting that Samaritan seems very interested in Bridges' proprietary algorithms. Samaritan is acquiring business interests around the world, and Greer does not know what its ends are.