“Person of Interest” Isn’t Interested in Interracial Love

The more things change the more they don’t.

I’m not opposed to interracial romances, but it sure seems like pop culture still is.

If you watch Person of Interest,  but missed the last few episodes, tread carefully because here there be SPOILERS.

Trapped in a tight situation with the possibility of escape dwindling,  John Reese (Jim Caviezel) took the time out to tell Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) that he had feelings…woah..ohh…feelings…for her.  Like “wanna date? ” type of feelings.

Where did this come from?   In nearly three seasons,  Reese and Carter hadn’t shared much more than a firm handshake, never mind a secret love.    A Reese/Carter romance would represent a complete reset of the expectations viewers had for the show.   Giving a silent, strong type like Reese an honest-to-goodness girlfriend (never mind a Black one) would possibly humanize him in unexpected ways.

So of course Carter had to die.   And so she took a bullet meant for Reese.   Whatta woman!

If anyone ever read the Vertigo comic, Y: The Last Man, an unspoken romance bloomed between the protagonist, Yorick and 355, the secret agent only known by her code number that took several years before they revealed it to each other.

And then…well, let’s just say there was no happy ending and it was remarkably similar to the way Joss Carter went out.

Call me cynical, but Reese’s confession to Carter how she had “saved” him from offing himself and the resultant kiss between them seemed a bit forced to me. I don’t recall any hints of romance between them in the last three seasons.   I haven’t seen every episode so it’s possible I missed the warning signs.    But since this big reveal came without any earlier warnings in the episodes I did see,  it seems like a stunt more than a natural progression for the two characters.

Damn, John.  Where were you when HER name came up?

Damn, John. Where were you when HER name came up?

So where did this come from and more importantly, why?  To make Carter’s death just a bit more tragic?   I always saw the mutual respect between them, but forbidden love?   You might as well say Reese and Finch have demonstrated more fond feelings between them and there’s more subtle sexual tension between Shaw and Root.

It still rings false to me, but this week’s episode was a nice coda on John’s rage over losing Joss and any opportunity to use Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” is not one to be passed over.

Some PoI fans were less skeptical than I was of Reese and Carter admitting they had the hots for each other and positively swooned that the show “went there” with the kiss between the hunky White hero and his sexy Black squeeze.

Went there?  When where?  Where William Shatner as James T. Kirk boldly went where no one on television had gone before 45 years ago when he planted a wet one on Nichelle NicholsLt. Uhura on Star Trek?

Haven’t these people seen Scandal?   Aren’t we moved past the point in pop culture where kissing someone outside of your race is a death sentence?    Carter’s fate on Person of Interest turns the clock back.

Leave a tender moment alone...

Leave a tender moment alone…

When Agent 355 and Yorick Brown, the titular last man on earth she had been charged with protecting learned that the true love of his life was the woman right by his side all along it was the characters learning what the readers had known along.

She confesses her love.  She kisses him passionately.  She dances with him.  She whispers her name into his ear.

Then Boom!  Head shot!

Black women and White men fall for each other all the time in real life.  Why does a sista have to catch a bullet in pop culture?

Every Thursday night when Scandal airs social media goes nuts over the latest dilemma in the life of Olivia Pope.  I’m not a fan of prime-time soap operas no matter how popular they are, but I’m encouraged that show runner Shondra Rhimes hasn’t killed Pope off for her White secret lover  who happens to be the President of the United States.

...because it won't last.

…there may not be any more.

What’s the message for Black women who cross the color line?   Enjoy it while it lasts but it shorten your life?   Beware of disapproving White killers?  If you’re going to get with a White guy, don’t settle for less than a president?

Henson knew her character was going to die, which is okay.  Carter wasn’t the type to die of old age anyway.   Yet the way PoI handled her departure was clumsy and contrived.     It was easy to kill off Detective Carter.   The bolder move would have been to let her live and see where this seemingly forbidden love might go.

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15 thoughts on ““Person of Interest” Isn’t Interested in Interracial Love

  1. I don’t know this show, but writes can only get away with writing (realistically) what they have some familiarity or agreement with (somewhere) in life. Otherwise it comes off contrived, cuz they don’t know how the dance should go. If they get on your nerves too bd, jump the The Blacklist. Great show. Nothing contrived there!

  2. I didn’t find it clumsy or contrived. It was simply very subtle, and if you blinked you missed it. There were quotes from previous episodes that gave hints:
    “She’s a good cop. Good person.Hell, you should try it sometime, Lionel…If anything happens to her, Lionel, I’m coming after you next.”–Reese to Fusco
    “We got into this to stop bad things from happening to good people. Carter’s been doing this her whole life. She’s not just another number, Finch. Some people the world just can’t afford to lose.”–Reese to Finch
    “Tell Elias he so much as touches Carter again, I’m putting him, you, everyone, into the ground.”–Reese to one of Elias’s men
    “Maybe this Cal is gonna be good for you. But if he hurts you, he’s gonna answer to me.” John to Joss
    “Whether you like me or not, Joss, you’re not alone.”–Reese to Carter
    The show is very complex, the storylines even more so. There’s simply not enough time to pursue these nuances in a 1 hour show. A lot of these episodes could have become a 2 hour movie easily with some character development between the action scenes. But it’s there. The actors pulled it off very well, a touch here, something unsaid but still understood there.

    • Amanda, I can see you’ve done your homework, but there’s still nothing that establishes anything more than mutual respect between Reese and Carter. While there might be a bit of sexual tension between the two, Reese’s profession of feelings for Carter came totally out of nowhere. It felt like little more than a clumsy moment cooked up to make Carter’s death more tragic. Aw, they were falling in love with each other and now she’s dead. That sucks!

      The A.V. Club reviewed “The Crossing” episode where Taraji P. Henson’s character bites it and the author had some of the same problems with The Big Reveal I did.

      Here’s a surprise: Reese has the hots for Carter. I did not see that coming, and I hope to never think about it again, though it should at least provide some subtext for next week’s episode. Just to be clear, Reese and Carter are both interesting and sympathetic characters, and Jim Caviezel and Taraji P. Henson are both attractive and likable performers. So when I say that seeing them kiss made me throw up in my mouth a little, I’m referring to the queasiness one may feel when a show seems to be pulling a major plot development out of its ass, one that has not been sufficiently prepared for and that does not ring true, just for the sake of an effect—say, to make it seem especially sad when, later, somebody dies, and to explain why somebody else is going to be especially broken up about it.

      Agreed. The supposed romance angle didn’t work. At least not for me. 😕

    • Amanda I’m here to let you Know that you and others who think like we do ARE right on the money, as John was “wooing” Carter for a long time but some folks just weren’t paying attention, and never really want to see it for themselves.
      John treated Carter very differently from ALL the other women in his life, and according to Jim Caviezel in a recent interview the character of Reese “had finally come to realize he was in LOVE with Carter but it was too late”. Well, tell me something I’d suspected from the very “beginning of the series”, but knew it wouldn’t pan out because very sadly MOST tv, movie, etc interracial relationships DON’T. So, thanks again Amanda, I really enjoyed your post.

  3. I hated that the writers killed Taraji’s character. To me, her demise was rushed, but not the romance. There was sexual tension between Reese and Carter from season one. I never got a sibling vibe from them–especially not with the way he flirted with her. The writers dialed that back some toward the beginning of season two.

    One of the show runners even remarked that the chemistry between Jim and Taraji is what pushed the characters of Reese and Carter to a particular place. So for me, the kiss was natural and organic to their relationship. Apparently it was to Jim as well, since the kiss as his idea.

    What bothered me most about Carter being killed off, was the way she was “dumbed down.” This intelligent detective plans and brings down a corrupt group of people and the Russian mob and yet somehow can’t be bothered to wear a bulletproof vest? I can suspend my belief over some things, but that’s just asking too much.

    Add to that, the fact that somehow Carter had time to also research and learn about the Machine Harold Finch built. She spent season one and two constantly asking where Reese and Finch obtained their info and yet, we were supposed to just acknowledge that she (somehow) finally knew about the Machine. Then, BAM, she was dead.

    Yep, that’s really steller writing right there.

    • Tammy, I want to thank you so very much for what you’ve posted here, because it was quite evident to me for a “long time” just what Carter really meant to John (and I’m NOT comparing how he feels about Zoe or Melissa, because from what I’d seen Carter was a totally separate issue altogether), and truth be told I’m still not sure he even realizes it himself to this very day. I’ve seen things posted like, “not realistic, John never made his feelings known, he flirted with Carter just like he did Zoe, and so on and so forth”.
      Any time a man keeps repeating, “a woman after my own heart” (which he’d said to and about Carter a few times), it usually has to do with a woman who’s become so very ‘special’ in his life, but then it was as if the Writers were sorta ‘back tracking’, because when Shaw called him on it he said they were just friends (but the the later scenes didn’t seem to ‘verify’ this, at least not to me they didn’t). When they did Carter’s last scenes, “cops detained me, they brought me to you, you changed my mind Joss, and changed me” (PLEASE LISTEN TO THE ‘TIMBER’ OF HIS VOICE, HOW IT SHAKES WHEN HE SAYS THIS? Personally, I think in some of those scenes they both sorta gave away what was coming, and got caught up in what they knew was going to be the end for Taraji’s character. At least that’s how it felt to me) Folks are saying, “it’s a heat of the moment” incident, but I don’t believe it especially with all that came before. When she told him, “guess we were all worried about you” (the lump in her throat was like a ‘signal’ to me as well), and he responded “If my number was up, I’m just glad I was with you”, I could have sworn I heard a literal ‘death knell’. It was as if she was getting two ‘messages’ at once, one for her ‘character’ and the other for ‘Taraji personally’.
      NO, I don’t call this particular episode any form of brilliant or thought provoking writing, mainly because one of the ‘hearts’ of the show is gone forever, and that hole just won’t be filled no matter what they do but I guess that’s how life is in hollowood, and TV Land too.

      P.S. At least she got one more ‘tribute’ with the last episode, so I guess they won’t mention her as much now and will move on to the other chapters. Now I can move on if those supposed flashbacks of Carter won’t be done like the Creator of the show said he would do. Was good while it lasted, glad seasons 1-3 with Carter are on dvd.

  4. Person of Interest writers can look forward to the demise of their show. Whatever they did not like or appreciate about Taraji P. Henson, and for whatever reason she was replaced by Sarah Shahi, millions of fans take issue with the decision to “fridge” her character and ratings will reflect such displeasure accordingly. In my opinion, the sexual desire Reese had for Carter was more than obvious, and Taraji probably always knew how Jim felt about her…….and he likely still does. It’s called “chemistry” and it is part of being human. I would hope she felt the same way…………

  5. Just watched this episode sequence and I agree 100% that the Joss-John romance was completely contrived. As soon as they had their kiss I said, “she’s going to die soon.” The when Joss suddenly has the Machine figured out in her conversation with Harole I said, “she’s going to die in the next scene.” Sure enough, that’s what happened.

    I’ve never given Person of Interest credit for tremendous or realistic writing, but it has always been a clever show that found fun plot twists and ways to keep it interesting. Season 3 has been by far the least interesting to me. I’ve been totally bored with the HR plot and Joss death could not have been more contrived. It’s been flat out lazy and amateur writing and I’m sad that I have to move on from a show that’s gone from guilty pleasure to chore.

    Thanks for the fun times POI, but we’ve grown apart and it’s no longer a good fit.

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