Warrior-Monks, Celibacy, and PERSON OF INTEREST

Hilde and I have been watching the CBS drama PERSON OF INTEREST since it began.  Synopsis for those who haven't:  Following 9/11, the US government financed the building of an advanced computer system capable of hacking and coordinating data from, essentially, every security camera, audio pickup, internet communication, and database in the US, and then identifying potential terroists before they act.  Side-effect, largely irrelevant to the government, is that "The Machine" (secured in a hidden location) can also identify ordinary citizens who are at risk for (or about to commit) crime and danger.  HAROLD FINCH, the computer genius who built the Machine (but retained backdoor access to its findings) has gone underground for reasons still not fully disclosed.  He recruits JOHN REESE, a disillusioned former US covert-operations operative, to help save (or stop) these at-risk (or risky) individuals.  Two NYPD detectives, CARTER and FUSCO, also regularly assist in these missions.  Additional useful assistance is occasionally given by others.

What this reminded me of initially was THE SHADOW, the pulp hero that originated back in the 1930's.  Finch acts as the more cerebral "Lamont Cranston" aspect of the hero, whereas Reese is the physical "action-hero" aspect, skilled in martial arts and backed up by guns.  The Shadow also had a cadre of assistants he called on from time to time.

But what struck me most recently while watching was that all the major characters are celibate.  Not in a declared "Hey, we're celibate!" manner.  In Finch's and Reese's case, this seems to be a deliberate choice, because their current careers would put anyone close to them at high risk.  Reese has had clear opportunities offered to him, and it's fairly clear that he turned them down.

Carter and Fusco are also portrayed as celibate, though not always by choice.  Part of the recent story arc across multiple episodes featured a potential romantic partner for Carter... who was murdered before it could fully develop.  Fusco is divorced, with a young son, but he's also an overweight, middle-aged, dumpy-looking guy with an abrasive personality who probably has never had all that much luck romantically even in his best days. 

(One episode had two simultaneous notifications from the Machine, so while Finch and Reese took on the "big" mission, they let Fusco handle the "easy" case.  Throughout the rest of the episode, we saw brief glimpses of Fusco and the supermodel-gorgeous woman he was rescuing involved in high-speed chases, fierce firefights, and all the typical things that Reese usually gets into.   Fusco got to be John-Reese-For-A-Day.  And at episode's end, the supermodel-gorgeous woman gives Fusco a long, intense kiss... and then walks away.)

(I actually find Fusco the most interesting character on POI.  When we first met his character, he was one of a group of corrupt, bribe-taking cops.  After Reese (barely) spared Fusco's life when the corrupt cops tried to kill Reese, Fusco was essentially blackmailed into assisting Finch and Reese in their further operations.  Slowly, he's found a new sense of direction and self-respect.  Finch, Reese, and Carter are all essentially "good guys" from the beginning.  But Fusco is a bad guy who's struggling to escape his corrupt past and become a good man again.  Kudos to actor Kevin Chapman for his portrayal.)

Once I noticed the celibate aspects of the main characters, I started thinking "Hey, these guys are Warrior-Monks!"  Another item to support this is that, when possible, Reese avoids killing bad guys and shoots them in the knees instead.  (The busiest, and richest, doctors in New York City are orthopedic surgeons.)

Ther have been some pretty strong hints as the series progresses that The Machine is becoming more than a machine, that it's developing its own intelligence and consciousness.  Am I saying that Finch and Reese are "on a mission from God"?  It seems the series might be moving in that direction.  (It's a J.J. Abrams series, who's not unknown for inserting mystical or theological elements into other works.)

And, if nothing else makes you want to watch:  "Bear", Best Dog On Television:

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