HOLY SHIT this one is great. Flashbacks and present time events introduce a new big bad while sending off an old one. Everything looks very big and very bad in this episode, and it is great to watch. And I get a lot of John x Harold feelings, which is great to witness, I hope. This one is long but I am pretty happy with it. Buckle up.
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.
Last seen on POI: After months of looking for The Man in the Suit (this nickname grows in its ridiculousness the more I type it out), Donnelly finally catches on and catches up with Carter and Reese. He is ready to bring them to jail and then Kara Stanton rams a literal goddamn truck into the plot (and my heart), shoots Donnelly, and sedates John.
The episode opens exactly the moment where we left off. Carter’s phone rings: it’s Finch. Carter tells him that she thinks the woman who took John used to be his CIA partner, and just as she says this, Finch enters the latest number he’s received from the Machine:
Kara Stanton’s. So what the hell is up? A fucking ride that awaits us in this episode and the mess that it triggers, which directly and indirectly carries on till the series’ end. It’s that big of a bad, friends.
John wakes up in a bus, next to Mark Snow (who we last saw warning Joss about a Big Thing “She” Has Planned), opposite to Kara, and he strapped to a bomb vest.
Kara: I know you don’t care about yourself, John, but you’ve got enough semtex strapped in you to spread a lot of misery around.
Gosh. Kara Stanton by Advertise” href=”#99075736″> makes me melt every time she opens her mouth. So cold, so evil, so calm and certain about the absolute havoc she can wreck.
John: So what’s this really about?
Kara: This is about three dead little spies in a brave new world. It’s about the afterlife, John, and us negotiating our places in it.
Well, that sounds like a good, wholesome time.
Carter is called to the crime scene where Donnelly was shot, where she was but isn’t telling. Fusco suspects something is up, but Joss can’t tell him squat.
I always feel a special appreciation for Fusco. He knows the least about what’s going on at all times, and he knows people hide shit from him, and yet he always helps. He has faith in the team, and I love him for it. They all set out to find out more about Kara and what she might be up to, which is difficult, what with her being declared dead a few years back and all.
On the first stop of their #assassin #throwback tour, John and Mark are supposed to pick up a hard drive, but the by Advertise” href=”#25159874″> sellers try to get smart about the payment, so Kara gives out a kill order. Both Mark and John hesitate, so Kara shoots the by Advertise” href=”#14050517″> sellers for them. Wait, she was in the room with them? No, no. From a rooftop, across the street, with a sniper rifle. She gives no shits whatsoever.
 We are taken back to a scene we’ve seen before, where Alicia Corwin and Mark Snow send Kara and John to Ordos to retrieve the laptop, and where Mark tells both Kara and John separately that their partner has been compromised and needs to be killed. We also get a repeat of the scene where John refuses to shoot Kara, Kara shoots John, and John connects the dots about them being set up. We again see John running away from the building just in time to escape the missiles sent to bump them both off, but then… we see Kara wounded, and being picked up by some sort of uniformed squad.
She wakes up in a hospital-looking place, and an Ominous British Man (not yet named) greets her. He tells her that he knows who she is and why she’s there and he doesn’t need her to talk, and that they’ll get along great. Not creepy at all.
John and Mark’s second stop is knocking out some ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) agents and impersonate them. In what? A fake bomb threat in an office building. Because Kara couldn’t resist the joke, apparently. I too love joking around while strapping explosives to my former coworkers. John sends a text to Finch indicating he is carrying explosives, and the text allows Finch to know where he was, and who the phone belonged to.
Once inside the building, Kara tells the bomb bros to go to a super secured floor that doesn’t exist in the building’s public records. We know this because Carter, Finch and Fusco are good at detective-ing. Because the episode was not stressful enough, Kara informs us that the signal might be bad inside whatever super secured secret place the boys are headed to, so she puts a timer on their bomb vests.
 We’re back in the hospital-looking place, but some time has passed (I hadn’t noticed the time stamp! This episode and plot point makes more sense to me now!).Ominous British Man babbles about the Titans – Kara’s bosses are the old gods, Kara is part of the new gods, the old gods wanted to eat her because they were afraid of her, or something – and Kara is done with his shit.
Kara: If I break your neck, can I go back to watching TV?
She may be tired and is probably being tortured, but she can still sass people out like a champ.
Ominous British Man clarifies that he doesn’t work for any government, and that money is not his business, information is. He offers Kara the name of the person he labels as responsible for the state she is currently in, the person who sold the laptop Kara and John were sent for. (How badly did they psychologically torture and manipulate Kara for that to make sense to her, that the person responsible for her misery is not who gave the kill order, but the person who sold a laptop that she knows nothing about?! Anyway.) In exchange for what, Kara (and we) ask?
Ominous British Man: Do you remember how the Titans were finally killed? Before they could eat their youngest child, Zeus, he wrapped a boulder in his swaddling clothes, then watched as his father choked on it.
What the hell is this Brit on? It’ll all become clear in time (or not, I had to think really hard and read some wikipedia shit to get it, but I’m not a greek mythology buff so maybe you know exactly what this means right now). He speaks in very obnoxious riddles. I wish Kara would have broken his neck to be honest.
Carter and Fusco are at the building where John and Mark are, but downstairs. John manages to quickly call Finch, and they both figure that since theyre basically in a DOD cyber weapons lab, Kara is probably trying to steal a virus that would shut down the entire internet, or specific networks, or something. She’s stealing something big, that’s for sure.
Unless John is the most predictable broody white knight in the world and Kara is a cold-hearted bitch who knows him too well. Kara knew John wouldn’t follow orders, would assume Kara wanted to steal something, and would erase all the drives with all the Very Bad Viruses.
Kara didn’t want any of the Very Bad Viruses, because she had a Very Very Bad one. Or at least, a very specific one that she needed to delete the others for.
I don’t know how any of that works, can you tell? In any case, she unleashes the virus into the world, sets the timer of the bomb vests to 5 minutes, and skedaddles. But not before John tries his usual emotional “you don’t have to do this, we can hold hands and make the world better together” shtick, and Kara stares dead in his eyes with zero emotional response. Yikes, John, your white knight moves are starting to rust or something.
Mark tries to make a run for his life, with less than 5 minutes to do whatever he can. And then, then All Of The Feelings happen:
As John is trying to head to the rooftop (cause his broody white knight redemption arc has to end in a fucking rooftop, right?) to try to hit as little civilians with his explosion as possible, Carter gets to his floor.
Carter: You don’t have to do this.
John: You know I do. ‘Cause you’d do the exact same thing.
I mean, I mock his broody self-sacrificing shtick a lot, but it is absolutely the thing to do when you know you’re in all likelihood gonna blow up. And I think it’s because John’s character rarely shows emotions in his face, on purpose, but when he does, it cuts through my misandrist soul and makes me want to hug him and then punch him for making me Feel Things. Between that, and the amazing score as per POI usual, and Taraji’s always amazing performance, I am More than a Lil’ Stressed™. John heads to the rooftop, ready to die. Show’s over folks. But then again…
Finch: So I see I’m not too late…
So, you see, when John warned Finch over the DOD phone to stay clear of the building, what Finch actually heard was, “get as close to me and the building and the fucking bomb as humanly possible”. John tries to stop Finch by… pointing a gun at him? Which, for one, is rude, and more importantly, ridiculously useless in this context.
John: This is my past catching up to me. This doesn’t concern you.
Harold: But this moment does. I’m not leaving you, John. So can we please stop wasting time?
Husbands that hang ’round bombs together, stay together.
Unless their remains are scattered by the explosion. Sorry. Finch has 3 attempts at one of five combinations. Yikes. And the first one fails.
John: … Sorry.
In the meantime, Kara is by Advertise” href=”#11062984″> making her way out of the building and calls Ominous British Man, who is still not given a name, a purpose, a boss, or a plan. Just a vague creepy Big Bad feel. He carries on speaking in riddles, making grand empty statements, and Kara cuts him off and asks for the goddamn name of the person who sold the laptop and indirectly sent her to Ordos, the name she went through all this trouble to get. Ominous British Man tells her a name is all he has, since this person apparently doesn’t exist in any known database. She jots down a name in a piece of paper. *INTRIIIIIGUE*
Back up in the rooftop, everyone is about to cry. Except me, I’m already crying.
John: I’m pretty sure I’d be dead already if you hadn’t found me.
Harold: It’s hard to say.
John: Not really.
This is a beautiful moment, except… why does Harold say it’s hard to say? It’s pretty straight forward to say, no? (Except… wait for it.) Harry looks like he is about to cry, which I guess one would if a bomb was about to blow up literally on the face. Goddamn, though, Michael Emerson is an acting champ. This is, on paper, a super contrived moment, but they make it work for me.
In a completely unrealistic cliche moment that is only made bearable because the alternative would have been Captain America and his sugar daddy dying, Finch deactivates the bomb on the third and final try, 7 seconds before it is set to detonate.
We’re taken back to Kara’s car, and something is beeping. Her backseat. That has Mark Snow in it. He decided to do something positive (in-universe, negative for all Kara fans like myself) with his life for once, and take Kara with him to the sweet sweet afterlife. Goodbye, you sexy Big Bad motherfucker.
John gets back to the library where Bear greats him happily, and John thanks Finch, all teary eyed. At the precinct, the FBI tells Carter that Mark Snow must have been the Man in the Suit, so they close that case.
All’s good and right and there are no mysteries left to solve here. Ta-dah!
What, you thought that was all? Sweet summer child. Did you forget Kara got the name of the guy who sold the laptop and started a whole trainwreck of events that brought us to this very episode, and in a way, brought this whole series into being? Maybe you don’t care. That’s fair. Who cares. Fuck The (Ominous British) Man.
Mother of HECK. The footage rewinds to when Kara is chatting on the phone with Ominous British Man, and she writes down the name of the man who doesn’t exist anywhere official. She gets in the car and seconds later it goes boom. But the camera zooms in to a piece of paper in the middle of the flames and the wreckage: Harold Finch. Yes, you read that right. Harold Finch! How? Why? When? What was that latop, then? (Sure, *now* you wanna know..!) WHAT THE FUCK?! *INTRIIIIIIGUE*
I know, I know. But the whole history of the laptop will not become clear until the second half of season 3, so you’d better get comfy with that unsettling feeling in your stomach.
Aaaaand the virus Kara activated is set to go off in five months and change. *INTRIIIIGUE*.
** A note on Kara’s time with Ominous British Man: BIG SPOILERS FOR SEASON 4 AND 5 AHEAD **
Why do I say she was in all likelihood tortured? And that the time stamps make this episode make sense to me?
Well, the first (and second) time I watched this episode< I wondered how come Kara turned so easily on her country – because remember, she always did her job, or said she did, for her country. Why would she do a job for a dubious mysterious man, a job that could endanger a lot of people? She asked zero questions for a man who was in no way her boss, or shouldn’t have been. I suspected some torturing or intense indoctrination might have taken place, but I didn’t think much of it other than “really? that easy?” But then season 5 happened. And we see how Shaw gets tortured and gaslighted and manipulated. On the one hand I’m glad we don’t get to see that, but on the other the blanks that aren’t filled make Kara seem like a godless spiteful easy traitor. Not because your bosses sending to kill you isn’t good reason to be vengeful, but it shouldn’t be for a trained, hardcore agent. Unless extreme measures were used, which they probably were.
Anyway, I love talking about Kara Stanton. I love Kara Stanton.