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Episode 113: Root Cause
Finch is in the Library, drinking his morning tea, and calls Reese to see how he's doing. Reese is busy dealing with the husband of their current number, "convincing" him to give up his plan to kill his ex-wife. Once he knocks the husband out and takes his gun, Reese checks with Finch, who sends him an address for their new number.
A female computer hacker tells her male partner that they have the right man for the job.
Reese watches the new person of interest, Scott Powell, a project manager for the city. Scott has a wife and two children, and a seemingly happy life, and Reese is momentarily envious. However, he follows Scott to a park and discovers that he's calling for jobs because he's been out of work for the last eight months. Finch confirms that the city government let Scott go due to cutbacks and figure that he hasn't yet told his family. Next, Reese follows Scott to a pawnbroker and watches as the desperate man tries to sell his belongings. When the pawn broker turns him down, Scott momentarily snaps and threatens the man. Finch confirms that Scott has maxed out all of his credits cards except for the one he shares with his wife, and that one is at its limit. Finch calls Carter and asks her to do a background check on Scott, since Fusco is off on another assignment. When Finch volunteers to go on the stakeout with Reese, Reese warns him that it will be a long, boring night.
That evening, Finch and Reese sit in the car. Finch makes a Wi-Fi capture device out of a Pringles can and hacks Scott's computer. He confirms that Scott spends a lot of time blogging about Congressman Michael Delancey. Scott then gets a call with a blocked number from a temp agency, and the agency offers him a two-day staff position at a Delancey fundraiser. Meanwhile, Finch finds a large encrypted file on Scott's computer and starts hacking it.
The next day, Finch and Reese follow Scott to the fundraiser. Carter calls to tell Finch that he has a clean record but recently acquired a firearms license for a rifle. Finch assures her that they're dealing with Scott and she has nothing to worry about him. He finishes hacking the encrypted file and discovers that it contains death threat emails that Scott has been sending to Delancey, who was responsible for the cutbacks that cost him his job. The two men figure that Scott plans to assassinate Delancey and Reese goes inside.
Scott goes into an employee entrance and Reese is unable to follow because of security. He ditches his gun and goes through the metal detector with Finch, and then they split up. Finch keeps an eye on Delancey as he prepares to address the attendees, while Reese goes backstage to find Scott. While he watches the congressman, Finch confirms that someone copied the emails onto Scott's computer from a remote location.
Reese finally spots Scott up on the balcony, armed with what looks like a rifle. He tackles Scott, only to discover that the man has a confetti cannon. Another man on the balcony shoots Delancey and then runs before Reese can get a good look at him. Reese goes after him but the shooter efficiently makes his way out of the building and disappears into the crowd. Meanwhile, the spotlight picks out Scott and everyone figures he shot Delancey. The police easily capture him and take him away while Finch and Reese watch from outside.
Back at their library, the two men figure that someone went to a great deal of effort to set up Scott. Also, since the Machine gave them Scott's number, he must still be in danger. Reese figures that at least two people were involved in the set-up: the shooter, and a hacker to set up all the fake evidence against Scott. He then calls Carter, who is unhappy at Finch for his earlier comment that she didn't need to worry about Scott. She says that the FBI has taken Scott into custody and there's nothing she can do. However, Reese insists that Scott is innocent and appeals to Carter's conscience.
Carter watches through a one-way mirror as Special Agent Donnelly interrogates Scott. Scott has no evidence to back his claim that a worker took him up to the balcony, and Donnelly points out that the man doesn't show up on the security cameras. Also, the borrowed gloves that Scott were wearing prove positive for gunpowder residue, and there's no record of the temp agency that called Scott. Meanwhile, Carter and the other officers get word that Delancey died at the hospital. Scott gets his one call and makes it to Leslie. The FBI are searching their house and find a second computer that neither Scott nor Leslie know about. Scott tells his wife to take the kids next door and to cooperate with the FBI.
Reese figures that the killers will dispose of Scott and make it look like a suicide or accident to dispose of the loose end. Meanwhile, Finch determines that the opposing hacker sent an email with a Trojan virus to Scott and used it to access his computer. Finch activates the virus to trace the owner. Although he's unable to track the location, he can tell that they have brought up floor plans for the Federal courthouse. Carter calls to tell Reese that the FBI are transferring Scott to the courthouse for arraignment.
Reese has Finch confirm the direct route from the police station to the courthouse and then intercepts the prisoner transfer van. After disposing of the guards, he gets Scott away. Meanwhile, Finch tells his partner that he's spotted a vulnerability in the opposing hacker's firewall. However, he quickly realizes that it's a trap and his counterpart hacks Finch's system. He's forced to shut down all computers, electronics, and cell phones, and tells Reese to do the same before he cuts off and leaves the library
Once he's out on the streets, Finch buys a prepaid cell phone and then leaves his new phone number on a prearranged answering machine. Meanwhile, Reese takes Scott to a motel and gets Finch's number, and calls him at the New York library where he's taken refuge. Finch brings Reese up to speed and admits that he's called in someone that Reese knows to help them with the politics that Delancey was involved in. The woman arrives: Zoe Morgan, political fixer and a previous Person of Interest. They go to a private study room and Finch explains that he was the man on the phone that helped Reese with her problem. Now he wants her help to deal with someone else who is in trouble.
Donnelly brings in Leslie and explains that as far as they can determine, terrorists rescued her husband. He asks if her husband had any connections, and notes that Scott has been out of work for months. Leslie is surprised to discover her husband's secret life and the FBI agent warns her that she doesn't now Scott as well as she thinks.
Finch brings Zoe up to speed on what has happened, and Zoe suggests that the reason for the assassination is that Delancey's contracting company was under investigation by the DA for kickbacks and bribes. Since Delancey hadn't been involved in it while campaigning, his campaign manager and business partner, Pete Matheson, was the one responsible and killed his partner to let him take the blame. When Finch points out they have no evidence, Zoe suggests that they get some.
Scott is watching the news with the reports that he's an assassin. The killer arrives at their motel room and breaks in, but Reese knocks him over the second-story balcony and gets Scott out.
Zoe goes to see Matheson and suggests that she can find Scott for him, and says that she knows all about his crooked deals. Matheson denies everything and suggests that she leave, but is unaware that Finch is nearby recording his calls. He then calls the hacker that works for him and demand to know why Scott isn't dead. She tells him to back off or she'll spill his secrets to the world, and tells him that Scott will soon be dead. Once she hangs up on Matheson, the hacker calls her partner and tells him that he can find Scott in subway.
Reese and Scott take the subway and the former finds a hidden transmitter on the latter. Scott is angry that the killer broke into his house to plant it, but wonders if he has anything to go back to. Reese assures him that he's been in a similar situation and that there's always a way out. However, when Scott asks him to promise that he'll keep him alive, Reese admits that he can't do it. Scott insists on talking to his wife one last time before he dies so he can tell her he's not a killer. Reese says that he's also had a loved one who thought he was killer, but in that case it was true.
The two men leave the subway car at the next station. Reese calls Carter and convinces her to let Scott talk to his wife. Carter fakes a call from the neighbor to get Leslie away from the FBI and puts her on the phone. Leslie is angry that Scott lied to her about his unemployment, and Scott apologizes, saying that he'll make things right. Reese spots the killer coming and gets Scott away before he can finish the call. The killer is using his cell phone's GPS tracker to home in on the transmitter, and enters a women's bathroom. However, Reese has left the transmitter in a stall as bait. He takes out the killer after a brief struggle and leaves, taking the transmitter and the cell phone with him.
Later, Scott goes to the police station and surrenders to the authorities.
Reese meets Finch and the hacker calls her partner's cell phone. Finch tells her that it isn't over and she realizes that her partner has failed, and starts typing a suicide letter.
After getting a text from Finch, Carter opens her email to find he's sent her a copy of the recording he made of Matheson's conversation with the hacker. Both the police and FBI hear it and Scott is exonerated. Carter leads the police to Matheson's home only to find him dead on an apparent suicide with the note the hacker was writing visible on his computer.
Later, Scott goes home to his family while Reese watches him. Zoe arrives and Reese thanks her for her help. She says that Reese owes her and asks him to buy her a drink before making the reporters mobbing Scott back off. As she leaves, Finch calls Reese from the public library and tells him that he's set up a job for Scott at one of his companies. He warns his partner that he was able to trace the IP but it was a dead-end to an unused college dormitory. Finch tells Reese that their security is still compromised and he'll call him when he has a new number from the Machine.
As Finch cuts off, he gets an email from the hacker. She introduces herself as "Root", and says that Matheson was a casualty of his own weakness. Root admits that Finch was a worthy opponent, addresses him as "Harold," and says that they'll meet again.