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Performers Of The Month - June Winner: Outstanding Actor - Jim Caviezel



For much of Person of Interest's run, Jim Caviezel’s performance as ex-CIA agent John Reese had been frequently one-note: An intense, brooding whisper that came with most of his dialogue. Indeed, on the odd occasion where he projected his voice at a normal level, I was taken slightly aback at the clarity of the words. Even his strongest outings - “The Devil’s Share”, “Terra Incognita” - were mostly an amplification of his episode-to-episode performance. The performance had its critics, and not entirely undeserved. Caviezel was good at what he did, but that didn’t necessarily mean it was anything outstanding.

The series finale, “return 0”, however, gave him the chance to provide a little something extra that really helped in making Person of Interest's final hour the masterpiece it was. In particular, his final moments were memorable ones as Caviezel put real weight behind an upbeat, if not depressing, last conversation with Harold Finch (Michael Emerson). As Finch prepared to sacrifice himself to destroy Samaritan, the rival AI with which Finch and co. had been battling for the better part of two seasons, he learnt that his now long-time friend had made a deal with Finch’s AI, the Machine, to keep Finch from dying if Reese could, conceivably, take his place.

“This is the wrong building,” a confused Finch says, with a hint of a question in his voice.

“The right building, Finch. For you,” Reese responds, appearing on the rooftop of the building opposite.

This was the beginning of the end, the moment Finch realised that he was about to lose his dear friend, but it was Caviezel’s next lines that were almost certainly the one that provoked a severe emotional reaction from me: “Told you. Pay you back all at once. That’s the way I like it,” he says, in reference to an earlier line where Reese says he’d repay Finch all at once for everything he’s done. There’s a sense of contentment in Reese’s voice, and a smile on his face. Not a grin or a pseudo-smile, but one of genuine pleasure. Reese knew he was destined to die, and he’s known it for a long time. Dying to save the man who prolonged his life years beyond its expiration date is an act of kindness he is more than happy to carry out, and Caviezel clearly displayed that.

Indeed, seeing Reese display any sort of positive emotion is a rarity, and Caviezel took great care to make it count. Mixing it with a hint of his trademark whisper, he continues, “At first, well, I had been trying to save the world for so long, saving one life at a time seemed a bit anticlimactic,” even breaking into something of a chuckle as he concluded the sentence. “Then I realised sometimes one life, if it’s the right life, that’s enough.” By then, Caviezel had gone from overt pleasure to pure sentiment and a feeling of restrained sadness, with the latter emerging from the end of their partnership. All of it concluded with a final shot of Reese as he observed Finch heading for safety, and broke from his default gun-toting expression to another meaningful smile (pictured top). This was such a simple moment for Caviezel, but it's one that still makes me misty-eyed nearly six weeks later. It’s something that 102 prior episodes had built to, developing the friendship between them, and there was pressure on Caviezel to deliver a final, heart-breaking moment. He did it wonderfully.

There was a time, even earlier in the episode, where that level of direct sentiment seemed unfathomable for Reese. As he parted ways with Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) for the final time, he told the detective, “Try not to die.” It was a humorous moment for viewers, and that crept into the line itself, but there was real depth and meaning behind it. In those four words, Caviezel managed to convey the camaraderie that has developed with the man who once took him out to Oyster Bay with the intention of killing him, providing some final, obvious advice. Even at the end, Reese couldn’t resist a sly dig at Lionel; cleverly, however, he used it to disguise the true substance: That he cares about Fusco and that, quite simply, he doesn’t want him to die. There was heft to the line, despite being hidden under the face value light-hearted expression, and Caviezel portrayed those connotations with a simple, upbeat delivery.

Caviezel’s final noteworthy scene in the finale came halfway through the hour, as he and Finch broke into a bank vault to destroy the final copy of Samaritan’s code. Once they failed, the Machine (voiced by Amy Acker) told Finch that the rival AI transmitted to a Russian satellite and will soon return to Earth’s computer systems to regain its power. During the phone call with the Machine, director Chris Fisher used four quick shots of Caviezel: The first three built his growing contemplation of what he’ll need to do as he hears Finch responding to the Machine’s words. The final one mixed his sense of realisation with a feeling of inevitability; Reese now knows what he must do, even if it’s been waiting for him all along. Each time the camera cuts back to him, it’s clear that the pieces are being put together in Reese’s mind as Finch learns it, almost as if he can hear the Machine’s words. (Their next interaction, discussed in the paragraph below, suggested that he could.) Wordless, Caviezel effortlessly provided that as he became resigned to knowing that this was the end of the line and that he’d have to sacrifice himself to save Finch.

“You won’t make it down from that rooftop alone,” Reese says as Finch locks him in the vault, Caviezel expressing his anguish at his dear friend offering himself up for death. Immediately after, he’s left shouting Harold’s name, almost pleading to let him help, and there’s a desperation in Caviezel’s tone that we don’t often see. Ultimately, it’s something of a ploy to convince Finch that he was going to complete his suicide mission as his friend is stuck, but there’s a helplessness to Caviezel’s outcry that, in the moment, would indicate events playing out as they appear to be, despite its fraudulent nature. Tone is everything in his entire performance throughout, and this alteration was crucial in protecting the lie.

There’s a subtle range to Caviezel’s acting in “return 0” that we’ve seen very little of over five seasons of story. Usually, we see intensity, more intensity, and even more intensity, only occasionally breaking the habit to deliver the odd buoyant retort. While there were hints of that characteristic here, frequent use would have been inappropriate for the mood of the hour, which was one of melancholy. It was the culmination of long-standing friendships and the life of John Reese, and it needed to be treated as such, using all of the previous development to the episode’s advantage. Caviezel achieved that remarkably well, handling each of his scenes with the respect and difference they deserved while remaining true to the character.

I’ve had my doubts about Caviezel at times during the series, but this was a marvellous, memorable performance, and one that I’ll look back upon fondly. When I stop crying over his final scene on the rooftop, that is.

Jim Caviezel was your fan pick as the most Outstanding Actor of June. Hit the comments below to tell others why you think he earned this title and what you most enjoyed about his June performances.

PLEASE READ: This is an article to recognize Jim’s work and to honour his performance in June on Person of Interest. Shipper-related bashing will not be tolerated in the comments, even from Jim’s fans. Honour the performer and his performance. Have fun and be kind to one another.

Note: This is a generic warning to avoid any issues in the comments section and to help keep this a fun and safe place to gush about the winners.


About the Author - Bradley Adams
17 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email bradley@spoilertv.com
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