The number of this episode is not interesting at all, but it does tie into and pushes the HR plot forward in very stressful and exciting directions. In ‘The Perfect Mark’, Root and Harold have some more ominous, eerie conversations while she is locked up, Carter is closing in on who the head of HR is and how to bring them down, and everyone (except the number, who is another bland white boy) is kind of delightful in their own unique ways.
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.
Hayden Price, the number in ‘The Perfect Mark’, is a con man and an extremely bland character that I cannot give a single shit about. In trying to con this antique dealer, he accidentally got in the middle of HR’s business, so obviously they are trying to off him. And his girlfriend. Who turns out to be a con woman herself, in the sense that she pretended to love him just to receive the spoils of his cons. It was a weak twist (considering amazing twists this show can pull off), they are weak characters, it is all weak. And I mean, every line the con man has is gross and cheesy and I’m done with the white heterosexuals, to be honest. They’re too much.
I just summed up the entire plot basically, because while the slow reveals of exactly how HR was using the antique dealer to launder their money, and who was playing who, etc etc is entertaining enough, it’s not like, amazing. I’m not spoiling anything actually good.
I will, however, bring up a couple of plot-intensive things that happened with regards to HR, and Laskey, and Carter:
At some point Simmons (whose voice is such a cheesy evil villain voice, it’s hilarious to me) needs to have the antiques dealer killed, so he orders Laskey to do it. He doesn’t want to, and Carter is not going to have a fucking homicide happen if she can prevent it, so she enlists Lionel – we haven’t had enough Lionel goodness this season so far, and I love him so! – to help her fake the dealer’s assassination.
Fusco: So we’re faking crime scenes now? It’s a long way from your days back at the 8th.
Carter: You might wanna spread [the blood] out. Arterial spray is more erratic.
Fusco: Will you let me work? I’m going for a kind of hollow-point special kind of motif here.
I adore this scene. I adore Fusco.
Earlier in the episode, Carter meets up with Quinn for coffee, since Quinn is pretending to check in on her after Beecher’s death, but really he is getting a feel for whether or not HR needs to kill Joss. What a jerk. Do not dare touch my babe.
At some point Quinn does sass Simmons out for screwing up and it’s fantastic. He is so done with incompetence. Quinn is a legit villain in every way, because Clarke Peters is a fucking boss at acting.
Another fantastic HR-related moment is when John swings a wooden stool at Terney’s head. John pulling violent shit on mean guys is always very satisfying.
Elias is also back after a few episodes of not being around! I am so pleased. He has some wine with Joss and helps her solve whatever she was trying to solve. I love them both so I like when they chat! And have mutual interests! Such a beautiful friendship.
Another beautiful friendship/ gay crush is the one Shaw has on Carter. I love how Shaw seems to have a crush on Carter that manifests itself when talking to her about guns, and about punching men. Bless these two.
Throughout the episode, Harold visits Root in the Faraday cage he built for her. He condescendingly tells her how her imprisonment is for her own good, and she goads him that he is just jealous that The Machine won’t talk to him like it talks to her. Which is obviously not true, and I get that he is troubled by The Machine trusting the woman who kidnapped him not all that long ago, but I just wish Harry would trust her daughter a bit more. I get why he doesn’t, because in setting her free at the end of season 2, it is now an unpredictable, relatively loose entity that he not only cannot control (he has been unable to for a while), but cannot possibly predict at all.
So he’s being annoying, and Root continues to be a goading, ominous, cryptic delight.
Root: You can’t stop what’s coming and neither can I. But we have the opportunity to understand things when they finally change. The future is coming. You started it, and I’ll finish it.
There is so much to unpack in those few lines! First of all, I wonder how much The Machine tells her about what is or isn’t going on, how much Root asks her, how much she guesses based on cryptic messages or random errands The Machine sends her on.
Second of all, this is incredible foreshadowing, like, unbelievably good and subtle and creepy. They do have the opportunity to understand things when they finally change – although Root is of course better at it that Harry, who is afraid of change and therefore tries to pretend it’s not happening – , thanks to the fact that they start working together when they do (it’s coming, friends, don’t worry). They could have understood it better and maybe even prevented it if Harold had trusted the Machine before, but hey, who’s holding a grudge?
Answer: I am. It is also foreshadowing in the sense that, Harry built the Machine and thus started the mission of the show, and in a way, the future. And what Root does at the tail end of season 5, reshapes the mission, and all its repercussions for the imagined future after the show ends.
The episode is bland, but as always, the moments with Root lift everything up a little. But apart from that, this episode felt like a lot of small building blocks that would lead to something but don’t quite get anywhere. Until 41 minutes in, when we think it’s all done, time to wrap up, fall asleep if we haven’t already. Carter meets up with Laskey, who gives her some photos he took while shadowing Simmons for her. He seems to have turned to our side, realizing just how evil HR is.
And then Terney shows up, pointing a gun at them.
Laskey reaches for his but Terney whacks him first, so Carter shoots Terney in the chest. There’s a lot of shooting people, but they’re both people I don’t care about so, good job everyone. Carter boss ass bitch bitch bitch urges Terney to make his last seconds count, to be a decent human for once, and show her who the head of HR is, in the photos Laskey took.
And in a scene with heavy-handed symbolism and an intense heart-ripping score, he does.
Oh shit. OH SHIT. Now she knows who it is, just had coffee with the guy, and he is Beecher’s godfather. Shit just got real and personal and fucking intense.
So grab your tissues, your punching bags, your lovers, your jumbo Nutella jars, ’cause the next three episodes are going to fucking puree your heart and then piss on it.