The episode “Terra Incognita” saw the return of Detective Joss Carter, a fan-fav from the earlier seasons. For those who don’t remember, or are not familiar with the earlier seasons of the show, Carter was one of the Core Four as fans used to call Finch’s team then. She was a bad-ass female homicide detective who was motivated by exceptional integrity, morals, and ethics and had an unending love for humanity. She saved everyone, good and bad alike. Very much like Reese and just as independent. They developed a friendship based on mutual trust and respect.
Her honesty and fairness even earned her the respected of the wrongdoers she had contact with including Elias and Scarface who eventually avenged her death. That death, which the series used to add shock value to its mid-season three cliffhanger, has turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes the series has made. Besides upsetting fans, most feel it played a large part in the huge decrease in viewers this season.
As this is a drama series and not sci-fi, Carter’s return could only be in a flashback, or as they also used here, a hallucination for Reese as he worked this week’s case which just happened to be one of Carter’s cold cases. That is what spurred his memories of Carter we saw in the flashback and eventually her hallucination.
The cold case revolved around a massacre of a family of four. All the evidence pointed to a familial culprit, so Carter focused on the surviving son, Chase Patterson, also this week’s number, who could not be charged and eventually left the country. Reese felt he could handle a murderer on his own and freed Finch to investigate an issue involving the Brotherhood and Elias. Loved that Finch showed considerable concern and worry over Reese when all communication with Reese were lost. It was very touching to see Finch as troubled as he was. That was something we don’t get to see enough of.
As the case progress, Reese followed Carter’s leads and eventually drove to the Patterson’s cabin where he did find Chase. That cabin was outside the range of Finch’s communication system which I found to be a bit odd as the team has traveled into the upper part of NY State and all the way to DC and never had those kinds of issues before. And in all honesty the cabin didn’t seem that far away.
Regardless when Reese found the Chase, he also found the real murderer who took advantage of the situation and shot Reese from behind. Chase Patterson was a victim and not a murderer and now he was in as much danger as Reese was.
The murdered turned out to be a half-brother to Chase hence the familial evidence found at the scene. The father had an illegitimate son, which no one knew about. He wanted to join the current family and when the father rejected him for the second time, he retaliated and killed the entire family reasoning that if he couldn’t have a happy family, they wouldn’t either. Luckily Chase wasn’t home at the time so escaped the massacre but not the wrath of his half-brother. When Chase returned to the US, his half-brother planned on finishing the job. After shooting Reese, he forced Chase to take an overdose of pills giving him only hours to live.
The murderer dragged Reese out in the snow for burial and when he was distracted, Reese rallied enough to get his backup gun and killed him. Have I to say here after all the times Reese has been shot, and multiple time in some cases, he has still been able to save himself, and others, and I fully expected him to do that here. But that didn’t happen. His injury, coupled with the freezing cold, put him in serious condition making it difficult to focus. He was semi-conscious most of the time but still managed to reason how to optimize his survival chances with the help of his cater hallucination.
At this point the flashback we had seen earlier of a stakeout he and Carter had been on changed to a much needed hallucination of Carter which he used to focus himself, to rationalize the measures he needed to do to stay alive and to get the motivation to do them in his semi-conscious state. These took the form of him constantly turning up the heat in his car as we realized he was slowly freezing in the snow. Carter convincing him to drag himself to a car for protection which we saw was not the one he arrived in. His realization his keys were not where he had left them and his driver’s window now was broken. He found the strength to retrieving the keys from the dead body only to find the car wouldn’t start in the cold. Accepting his need to just hold on as long as he could, he asked his Carter hallucination to say with him for a while. It was a very interesting perception of a mind, bordering on death, yet forcing itself to survive using whatever means necessary.
Eventually help arrived in the form of his ever vigilant partner who was as concerned as Finch over the lack of communication from Reese. Reese had initially refused Fusco’s help but that didn’t stop Fusco. He followed the same leads Reese and Carter did and drove out to the cabin. Once Reese saw the headlights of the car, he knew he had been saved and Carter’s hallucination disappeared. His friend had helped him survive, if only in a dream. Even though Reese currently feels he is isolated and alone, in reality he is not. He has friends like Fusco and Finch and others who would die for him, and anyone with friends like that, is never alone. Maybe he will realize how lucky he is before its too late.
On a side note, I loved the visits by Finch and Fusco in the flashback. Finch was still complaining about the priceless books Bear had eaten and how he needed to leave the stakeout to feed, water and walk the dog Reese had brought home. And Fusco showing up later with a dinner for them of hot dogs was priceless. 🙂 Those little interactions bring back fond memories of what the series used to be.
While part of the story revolved around Reese’s memories of Carter and his situation during his semi-conscious state; the other part, the discussion between the two, is an exploration into Reese’s psyche. His conversation with the Carter hallucination depicts the internal conflict he currently has with his present position and his desire for a normal life which includes a relationship with iris. Does he get to live a normal life and have a love, children and retirement or does he give that up for his superhero status of protecting the innocent and saving humanity? He does enjoy saving people otherwise he wouldn’t have left Jessica to reenlist in the CIA. He has a deep commitment to humanity and is well aware that not many people can do what he does. Without him many more would have died and that factors into the superhero persona. But he does miss the normal life style, hence his resistance on ending the relationship with Iris.
The Carter hallucination seemed to be in favor of Reese opening up to people, asking for help and letting people ’in’ and I’m assuming they mean Iris here through he can just as easily talk to Zoe and Finch which is what the series did in the earlier seasons.
In contrast Reese’s common sense seemed less than convinced it was a good idea. Reese gave up Jessica, because he wasn’t sure he would survive his missions, a fact he reiterated here, and Finch gave up Grace to protect her from harm. I can’t see Reese and Iris being any more successful and unless Reese and Finch terminating their work on the numbers, I can’t see either having any ‘normal’ life. It just doesn’t go with the territory, not for people like Reese and Finch and not for any superhero from across time though the desire is always there. But it is a theme that is repeated time and again. I just see no reason to do it here or now.
We have already seen Zoe warn him twice of the dangers this relationship poses to Iris and himself and now this same conflict appears in his Carter hallucination. I’m not sure if the point was to show Reese was trying to convince himself that the dangers he knows exist won’t or don’t apply to him, if his subconscious mind is reminding him of the reasons why he needs to end it, or if he is just working up to ending his membership in Team Machine.
If you have followed Reese from the beginning you know Reese isn’t grieving over the loss of Jessica. He moved on from Jessica’s death a long time ago and Finch’s job is the reason why. That is a matter of cannon the show established many times in season one and two. If the writers want us to believe that all of a sudden Reese needs a relationship because he is overcome by grief for losing Jessica that doesn’t add up. Neither does the idea he is now suffering from PTSD. No question his job has shown him horrible sights he won’t ever forget and yes he is damaged to an extent, anyone would be in his profession. But that is not indicative of an inability to function as the term PTSD implies. He couldn’t do what we’ve seen him do for the last 4 yrs. if that were true. Those ships sailed a long time ago. Reese has experienced many losses in the past, some we might not even know about, but he isn’t incapacitated by them. He grieves for them and then moves on if for no other reason than to see those same events don’t occur again. If anything they have been influential in his desired to save others which is why he joined Finch in the first place.
It’s important to remember that Carter was not real. She was a hallucination Reese’s mind produced to keep him alive. It was not Reese talking to Carter, it was Reese working out the various sides of his current conflict and one he has a lot of confusion over. I hope his experience with the hallucination of Carter has convinced Reese to end the romance with Iris at least. His conflict over a normal verse a superhero life is much more complicated and may never have a satisfactory ending for him but there is no need to put someone else’s life at risk in the process. And as long as Samaritan is still in the picture, Iris’s life is in danger.
While the episode was very well written and I loved seeing Taraji Henson again, it had no real purpose. It didn’t move either of the main arcs along. There is always the possibility the producers wanted to appease the fans who were upset with her death, but if that was the reason, it didn’t work very well. Ratings for this episode were only one tenth better than their current series low which is very sad.