Person of Interest Wiki
Person of Interest Wiki
Episode Overview   Summary   POI   Cast and Characters   Crew    
← Season 1 Person of InterestSeason 2 (Flashbacks in parentheses) Season 3 →
201The Contingency” (Finch) 209C.O.D. 217Proteus
202Bad Code” (Root) 210Shadow Box 218All In
203Masquerade 2112πR 219Trojan Horse
204Triggerman 212Prisoner's Dilemma” (Reese) 220In Extremis” (Fusco)
205Bury the Lede 213Dead Reckoning” (Stanton) 221Zero Day” (Finch/Ingram)
206The High Road” (Finch) 214One Percent” (Finch/Ingram) 222God Mode” (Finch/Hersh)
207Critical 215Booked Solid
208Til Death” (Finch) 216Relevance
The Contingency

POI 201 Main.png



Air dateSeptember 27, 2012

Running time44:04

Production code2J7201

Written byDenise Thé
Jonathan Nolan

Directed byRichard J. Lewis


ID(s) from IntroNonstandard Intro

Images (63)

Come on, Finch. Help me find you.

— Reese

Season Premiere. "The Contingency" is the first episode of season 2, and the 24th produced hour of Person of Interest. It originally aired on September 27, 2012.


With Finch missing - kidnapped by his hacker nemesis, Root - Reese enlists Detectives Carter and Fusco to get his friend back. Meanwhile, The Machine never sleeps, disseminating a new number to Reese.

Origin of the Title

A contingency is an event or circumstance that is possible to anticipate but not predictable with certainty. In this case, Reese could not have anticipated Root kidnapping Finch. It is also the response to a contingency, usually prepared as a contingency plan.

Main Plot Points

  • Reese continues his search for Finch but gets frustrated when The Machine refuses to help. He eventually manages to negotiate with the Machine and invites Carter's assistance.
  • Root takes Finch hostage and takes him with her in a violent pursuit of information relating to the Machine.
  • Root's past, future plan, as well as, her reason for kidnapping Finch is explained.
  • The contingency plan is revealed to Reese, but he is unhappy with it.
  • Alicia Corwin's murder (“Firewall”) is investigated by more than one agency.
  • The method of transmission of social security numbers by the Machine is revealed.
  • The Machine tells Reese to find Leon Tao.
  • Denton Weeks's personal life is touched upon.
  • Leon Tao, Bear and Hersh are introduced.
  • Leon's money laundering activity is touched upon when he gets in trouble with the Aryan Brotherhood.
  • The Machine gives Reese the number of a missing 14-year-old girl from 1991.


  • January 1, 2002 is shown to be Day 1 or the birthday of the Machine.
  • Day 47 Harold tests the Machine.
  • Day 614 Finch goes to Atlantic City to test The Machines predictive ability and uses The Machine to cheat at Blackjack.
  • The events surrounding the implementation of the contingency plan are explained.
  • The Machine's relationship with Finch is further revealed.

Episode Notes

  • Bear, the dog adopted by Reese, is a Belgian Malinois. Highly intelligent and easily trained, the Malinois is a working breed used for detection, protection, and search and rescue by police and the American military, where they are trained to respond to Dutch commands. Its slighter build makes the dog more agile and easier to carry than a German Shepherd or comparable breed. Bear was given his name because he ate Tao's bearer bonds, but was originally called "Butcher" by Byron.  
  • Persons who pose threats are boxed in red-and-white, the first time this box is used.

Communicating the Numbers

  • The seemingly random words the Machine uses to communicate social security numbers correspond to the Dewey Decimal System (DDS) numbers on books in Finch's library. The Dewey Decimal System was developed in 1876 as a hierarchical system to classify and organize books in broad categories.
  • The words themselves are individual codes leading Finch and Reese to the correct books: the first word (Uncertainty) is the title keyword, and the second and third words (Alpha/Mike, from the NATO phonetic alphabet) correspond to the initials of the writer. With three books side-by-side, the DDS numbers form the social security number of the person of interest.
  • The first number given to Reese was: Uncertainty/Romeo/Kilo (006), Family/Alpha/Mike (013), Reflections/Juliet/Oscar (062). However, Leon Tao's social security number is 013-00-6062; the first two parts of the number were transposed by the Machine. Later, the machine generates Ayacucho/Golf/Papa (498), Deterministic/Hotel/Sierra (003), Camera/Sierra/Kilo (145), forming Hanna Frey's social security number. This time, the numbers are transmitted sequentially. Jonathan Nolan explained that the words for Leon's social sounded more mysterious when they were transposed. He also noted the production can only use cleared (non-existent) social security numbers.

Production Notes

  • The phone booth used by Reese while bargaining with the machine says "New York Telephone. A Nynex Company". If the timeline on the show is supposed to match with the one off-screen, then the phone booth should have the Verizon logo, since Nynex was consolidated along with a group of other phone companies and emerged as the aforementioned corporation in the year 2000. On the other hand, just like "life" off-screen, companies are sometimes slow replacing equipment.

Bloopers and Continuity Errors

  • The conversation that the Machine notes as Day 161 (June 10, 2002) occurs in 2007 as shown in “Ghosts”, although a different flashback in that episode showed a conversation that occurred on this day.
  • Root takes Finch to a diner in Wilmington Delaware, but the insignia on the police officer that enters is from New Jersey.

An antiquated phone booth: a pay phone surrounded by an enclosure on a pedestal

  • Leon's handcuffs were often missing during the scenes in the stairway and on the roof.
  • In the last hand that Finch plays at the blackjack table his hand is an 8 and 7 to which he hits a Jack. The computer shows his hand as a King and a 5 before the Jack. Both variations equal 25. However, Finch loses because he exceeds 25 before the dealer.
  • The scene in which the Machine finds Finch through a webcam at a coffee shop shows a man using Microsoft Word 2007, though the scene happens in 2002.


  • The episode misuses the word contingency. A contingency is an anticipated problematic event, preparation for which is a contingency plan. Used correctly, the contingency would be Finch's kidnapping. Reese's continuing to help the POI would be the contingency plan, much like Reese's ever present Plan B.
  • The Social Security Number Reese received for Leon Tao (013-00-6062) is the same as Finch had for Leila Smith in “Baby Blue”.
  • This is the first episode in which Finch and Reese don't see each other since they met in the pilot.
  • "The Contingency" contains several allusions to the 1988 film "Midnight Run"Leon Tao closely mirrors Charles Grodin's film character, a trouble-making accountant who embezzled millions from his Mob employers.  When Reese and Leon find themselves without transportation after Leon's car is towed, Reese announces, "Looks like we're walking." This mirrors the final line of Midnight Run where Robert DeNiro's character finds he is unable to get a ride from the airport and announces to no one in particular: "Looks like I'm walking".
  • There is a scene that Finch gave his remaining chip and left a casino in 2003. Actually, the scene appears twice; in the first time, the Machine identified the chip and it costs $100, but in the second time, the cost doesn't show up at the screen.
  • The Aryan Brotherhood is real and they are a dangerous gang. Good thing Reese and Fusco know about them because they would have killed Leon on the spot for double crossing them and because of his race.


Main article: The Contingency/Memorable quotes
  • "I gave you a job, Mr. Reese. I never said it would be easy." (Reese mimicking Finch)
  • "Look, you seem-- well, crazy, but highly capable." (Tao)
  • "We're just bad code." (Root)
  • "You don't look like a butcher." "He looks exactly like a butcher." (Tao about Bear)
  • "I'm not doing this anymore." (Reese to the Machine)
  • "I've never seen you almost lose." "I wasn't losing. I was just resting." (Reese)
  • He’s my friend. He saved my life. I won’t do this without him.” (Reese)

Episode Opening

The episode begins with a series of brief  flashbacks to key scenes from the first season which revisit what happened previously:

"You knew what we were building here. This thing looks for plotters, schemers. We built it to stop terrorists before they could act." (Finch) (“Ghosts”)
Alicia Corwin: "If Congress knew about this machine you're building, you would go to jail."
Nathan Ingram: "I don't suppose they'd let us be cell-mates." (“Super”)
"Knowledge is not my problem. Doing something with that knowledge, that's where you'd come in." (Finch) (“Pilot”)
"Sooner or later, both of us will probably wind up dead." (Finch) (“Pilot”)
"If something ever happens, I have a ...contingency." (Finch) (“No Good Deed”)
"We got a new number, Caroline Turing."  (Finch) (“Firewall”)
Zoe Morgan: "She put the hit on herself. She was trying to lure you out into the open."
Reese: "She wasn't looking for me. She was looking for him." (“Firewall”)
"So nice to finally meet you, Harold. You can call me Root." (Root) (“Firewall”)
"He's in danger now, because he was working for you, so you're gonna help me get him back." (Reese) (“Firewall”)



Person of Interest Season 2 Promo 1