I was really enjoying last night’s Person of Interest, “Blue Code,” until they had a bit of a “lazy cliché” moment.
(Spoilers below the fold)
So, in tonight’s episode, the person of interest turns out to be a NYPD cop who’s deep undercover in a gang of vicious smugglers — the kind who kill without hesitation. Our hero, “Mr. Reese,” has infiltrated the gang to be close to the PoI. We learn that, though our PoI’s “handler” says they have enough and the undercover cop should pull out, he refuses because he wants to nail the really big bad guy behind the scenes.
And here’s where the cliché comes. The Big Bad drug kingpin turns out to be a CIA operative. As Reese explains it, the CIA couldn’t win the war on drugs, so it turned to selling drugs to finance the War on Terror.
This is lazy bullshite on several levels. First, and as I averred in my Castle review, evil US government plots are a lazy cliché, whether done by the government or by rogue elements. I had my fill way back when The X-Files was still fresh.
But, they’re also almost the only politically correct bad guys left. Can’t use Islamic terrorists* or any of several more plausible antagonists. Nope. It’s got to be us because, well, the government is behind everything, isn’t it?
Second, the CIA dealing drugs is an old leftist hobby-horse dating from the 80s, when a conspiracy theory made the rounds that the CIA was dealing drugs in US ghettos, hooking African-Americans to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. This was largely debunked over 20 years ago, though naturally the conspiracy-minded have clung to it. Since the CIA is working night and day to prevent further acts of catastrophic terrorism, I’m a little offended that the show would casually dig up this old lie to besmirch them.
(Seriously. If you’re going to go with a cliché, why not simply “corrupt field officer is using his resources to smuggle drugs into the US to pad his Caymans bank account?” Perfectly serviceable without crapping on an entire agency.)
Finally, the reason Reese gives has no logic. The CIA needs to raise money to fund the war? Seriously? Even Obama isn’t cutting that portion of the national security budget; he likes Special Ops and clandestine strikes. Intelligence agencies get all the money they need.
Okay, I realize the show fosters a paranoid aesthetic reminiscent of X-Files “trust no one,” but, still, there had to be a better way to do this than “evil US government conspiracy.”
Overall an enjoyable episode (though how did Reese ever find Fusco at the end?) in which the hero was hs usual badass self, bullets flew, bad guys died, and even Detective Carter got to kick major butt. I am, I confess, carping on a single moment in the show.
But it still sticks in my craw.
*(Yeah, I know 24 did. But that was very much an exception to Hollywood’s usual reticence to deal honestly with jihadist terror.)