The number in this episode is kind of meh, but Zoe makes every episode she’s in 100x better. She also makes me gush about WOMEN which is WONDERFUL.
We also get some matchmaking-Machine shenanigans in flashbacks.
I have watched the whole show before, so SPOILERS MIGHT HAPPEN. Big spoilers will be blanked out but references and irrelevant spoilers are going to be out in the open.
[May 8, 2004] Nathan tells Harold about some marriage troubles he’s having, although he remains vague about them. Harold updates him on the progress he is making with the Machine. They sit at a park, with the Machine bringing up files for ‘outliers’ (whatever that means) around them. As Nathan jokes about Harold’s (and the Machine’s) ability to understand human nature, the Machine pulls out the receipts on Nathan’s cheating ass, by bringing up the profile of his mistress. I like the Machine’s data-based sass.
The Machine then brings out the profile of a woman sitting nearby: Grace Hendrix. What makes her an outlier? Nothing, it seems. Harold brushes it off as a bug, while Nathan jokes that it/she has good taste.
(Headcanon: The Machine is queer as fuck.)
The number this week, Graham
Wyler, lives in the suburbs! We haven’t had a number in the suburbs before! (Which begs the question that is mostly left unanswered until halfway through season 5, and even then it’s not really answered: It makes sense that Harold would only receive numbers in or near New York, since what the hell is he gonna do about a number in California, but then does that mean numbers everywhere else get deleted and tough shit for them?)
Because it’s in the suburbs, and people know each other (so it’s harder to follow someone and go unnoticed), Harold gets John a house across the street from Wyler, complete with wardrobe and car. Of course, if he is going to be a suburbs dude, he needs a wife (apparently? can’t you be single in the suburbs? I did not know that was a rule). I am okay with that rule though, because it means we get some time with Zoe my-sugar-mommy Morgan.
They both look so out of place in the suburbs, I love it. Honestly the story arc involving Wyler is very bland, but John and Zoe are brilliant and amazing and hilarious. At one point the doorbell rings, and John immediately pulls out a gun. Zoe reacts: “John, it’s a doorbell. Let’s try not to shoot any Girl Scouts on our first day, okay?” I adore them. Just as John was explaining this elaborate plan to establish contact and manipulate the number’s trust, Graham and his wife, Connie, bring them welcome food and invite them to a barbecue. They are so used to NYC they do not account at all for how the suburbs work. At the end of this exchange John looks so proud of all the work he didn’t have to do.
Now, some Zoe fangirling:
One of the reasons I like Zoe a lot is that she fits a lot of cliches of badly written “strong female characters” that are city business women who just act ‘like men’ in lots of ways but put down other women, or believe themselves to be better than them. But Zoe is a lot more than that, and better. And this episode is really good about showing us a bit of that.
While talking to John when they just arrive at their “new place”, Zoe jokingly lets John (and the audience) know that she dislikes the suburbs a lot. Later on though, they go out to mingle with the neighbors, and Zoe looks absolutely like a suburbs gal, despite the fact that she is all about the cocktail dresses and great hair and fancy makeup. She chats with Connie Wyler as an equal. And when Connie tells her she doesn’t know how to make a manhattan, Zoe just smiles and tells her she can show her. She doesn’t roll her eyes, or make it a thing in any way, or at all makes it sound like she thinks she is better than suburban housewives or whatever. When Connie is having a really hard stressful time later in the episode, Zoe drops everything, and genuinely tries to comfort her, too.
And now that I think about it, in any and every instance that Zoe jokes about John and the women he might be involved with in the entire series, she never takes jabs at the women, if anything she is protective of them, because she knows John’s lifestyle. I love her a lot.
At night, they wonder what suburbs people do at night, and some sexy music starts playing. No, it’s not smushing genitals together (although they may very well do that too), it’s poker!
Apparently that’s what they imagine suburban life is like: Scotch, poker and cigars. I have never lived in the suburbs so who knows, maybe they’re right.
And Zoe wins at poker, of course. In case you were wondering.
To be honest, I don’t really care enough to write about the number, because John and Zoe overshadow everything about it, but here is the gist: he used to crack safes for a living, then he fled and stole an identity before he could get caught, but his thief buddies went to jail for a long time and blame him for bailing, so now they are threatening him, and want him to do a last job for them, after which they’ll very likely kill him (remember the Machine points to people who are likely to kill or be killed, nothing less).
Connie tells Zoe about how she met Graham, while Zoe confides her she wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for John (which is, well, true). Harold listens in and looks like he is lost in nostalgic thoughts, which is the very very thin thread (and perhaps that both Connie and Grace are redheads and that’s what reminds him of her?) that connects the rest of the episode to the flashbacks within it:
 Harold is sitting at another park, playing who’s who with the Machine, finding connections between random strangers. The Machine points to Grace Hendrix again. But there is nothing anomalous, or secretive, or sketchy, about her at all.
So that’s why she is different from everyone there, apparently. The Machine was telling Harold to pay attention to her, in a *wink wink nudge nudge* sort of way and I am dying.
The Machine found the purest of cinnamon rolls and wants her to date her father, basically. That’s what’s happening.
Since the former thief friends threaten his family, Wyler gives in and goes on that last job with them. John decides to try to intervene by posing as one of the masked robbers. But first! Carter meets Zoe at last! And Zoe introduces herself as John’s wife, with no explanation! I am squealing in delight at Joss Carter’s amused but surprised but unsure if this is a joke or not and how-did-she-not-know. Absolutely incredible.
Zoe gets John inside the building by contacting a friend of his, and then John pulls some Jason Bourne-level bullshit by climbing down a building with a fucking rope. So anyway, one of the hostages pushes a panic button which means they have less time to open the safe, so things get ugly and messy. They get out in time in the end, but Graham decides to “stop running from his past” (such a cliche line, bleh) so he turns himself in. He gets only house arrest, while his buddies do go to jail again. Problem solved? I guess. I don’t care, to be honest.
Since Graham is safe, John and Zoe can move back to their regular programming. Zoe suggests they stay one more night, to finish the scotch and for John to try not to lose to Zoe again. And to bang. They don’t say that, but John’s face says it, and we all know it’s true. (And it is confirmed in season 3, that they’ve been sexy friends this whole time. In case you’re wondering if I’m making shit up or not.)
 Two years it’s been that the Machine winks and nudges at Harold about Grace whenever they’re in the same general area, and finally Harold says hi to her and buys her an ice cream. So now we know how they met: through some artificial intelligence matchmaking.
Hey, I want an AI to match me with a cute artsy lady too.