Person of Interest’s Harold Finch: The Mystery Behind the Reclusive Hero (Michael Emerson)

Each episode of Person of Interest begins with Reese (Jim Caviezel) attempting to pry more personal information out of his reclusive employer, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson). Just like Reese, we viewers are quite curious about Finch’s past and try to put together the puzzle about this character we have grown to love. So, let’s play Detective for a while and see what we can piece together, given the limited facts we have thus far.

1) What exactly happened to Finch’s partner, Ingram, and why was he killed?

In episode two, “Ghosts”, we discover through a series of flashbacks that Finch had a business partner who, for the most part, ran the software company that Finch owned. We don’t know much about him, just that he is known as Ingram (Brett Cullen), but Finch and Ingram appear to be very close, probably very good friends. By the end of the episode (if we believe that the bust outside the company that Finch owns is Ingram), we know that Ingram died (presumably killed) in 2010. So, to unravel the mystery behind Finch’s past, a good starting place may be Ingram. What could have happened to get Ingram killed?

• Option 1 — Ingram was killed by the government or by the other people who had a stake in the Machine

I think this is very plausible. When Ingram discovers that the Machine can predict other murder plots (besides those involving terrorism) and Finch is doing nothing about it, it is clear he is very angry. Ingram questions, “How can we live with ourselves, knowing that these people need help?” It’s obvious he has a strong moral compass, and we recall that he began the project to build the Machine because as Finch pointed out to him “you wanted to make a difference, to give something back”. Given how emotional he is about the entire situation, it is highly likely that at some point Ingram decided to do something about it, possibly even threaten the government with exposure if they did nothing. To make sure he didn’t carry out his plans, he was killed and permanently silenced.

• Option 2 — Ingram was killed attempting to save one of the victims whose number came up

If you look closely at the computer screen right before Finch turns it off in “Ghosts”, the picture Ingram is looking at is Jessica (Susan Misner), Reese’s lover. We know that Jessica was, in fact, killed, but could it be that Ingram was killed trying to intervene or stop Jessica’s death? Initially, I found this theory interesting, and so, I took a closer look. The date on the flashback where Jessica’s number comes up is 2007. We know Ingram was killed in 2010. Because the two incidents are three years apart, it is doubtful that Jessica and Ingram’s deaths are related, aside from the fact that both of them may have been killed by agents of the government.

• Option 3 – Ingram was murdered by someone else, completely unrelated to the Machine

We really don’t have any evidence to support this yet, but because Ingram is the leader of a large software company, I believe it is possible. People who run very large companies usually piss off more than a handful of people over the course of time. In addition, because Finch is a billionaire and seems to have been partners with Ingram for a very long time, Ingram is likely to be wealthy as well. We only have to read the news to know that very rich people are often targets for murder.

So, between these two possibilities, I’d say the likely scenario is either #1 or #3.

2) How was Finch injured and why was he supposedly “killed”?

At the end of the Pilot, Reese asks Finch what they have in common, and Finch responds: “Well, for starters, everyone thinks both of us are dead”. From this, we know Finch is assumed dead. We also know from Episode 4 “Cura Te Ipsum” that Finch was injured approximately 2 years prior, which would put the timeframe about the same time Ingram was killed. Coincidence? Doubtful. But why was Finch targeted?

• Option 1 — After Ingram attempted to persuade the government to act on the “irrelevants”, they kill not only Ingram but Finch too

This is certainly possible. If the government deemed Ingram a threat and felt the need to shut him up, it stands to reason that they would see Finch as a threat too, given that they were partners.

• Option 2 — Finch is injured (actually presumably killed) trying to save Ingram

This certainly would explain a lot of things, especially Finch’s motivation and his passion for saving the irrelevants. As we see in “Ghosts”, at the time Finch truly believes he is doing nothing wrong by not acting to stop these “irrelevant” crimes. As he puts it, “We built the Machine NOT to save someone, but to save everyone”. We don’t know exactly when Finch started looking at the irrelevant list, but what if Finch saw Ingram’s number come up, tried to save him, but could not? Here is Ingram, quite possibly Finch’s best friend (and maybe even his only friend), killed, and it could have been prevented if only he had the resources needed to stop it. As the old saying goes, sometimes you can’t see something until it happens to you.

This would explain Finch’s passion, almost obsession, for helping these people whose number comes up. Not only does he know firsthand now how it feels to lose someone when it could have been prevented, but by choosing to help these people, it is a way to honor his friend.

Finally, it does explain Finch’s growing closeness and protectiveness towards Reese. This is especially evident in Episode 10 “Number Crunch” after Reese has been shot. As Finch is racing to get to his injured friend, you can see desperation on his face and in his voice, as if he is saying to himself, “I can NOT let Reese die, like Ingram did”. It’s almost as if Reese is becoming the new Ingram in Finch’s life.

So, while option 1 is by all means possible, my vote goes for option 2 on this one.

3) Last question: Does Finch have any family and/or a significant other that he left behind before going underground?

I left this question for last because I feel it is the most difficult one to answer, simply because we don’t have much to go on. However, we do have a few clues. First, we see that Finch has virtually no photographs in sight. Even if you have to completely erase yourself like Finch did, you would save photographs because you don’t want to forget the faces of the people you cared about in your former life. The only photograph that we see is in Episode 10 “Number Crunch”, which Reese finds stuffed in a book in Finch’s library. It appears to be a really old photograph of Finch and Ingram in the early days of their partnership. So far, it looks like the answer is “No”. But…

When Finch is talking to Theresa in “Ghosts”, he states, “I know what it’s like to lose someone…and to want to disappear. But, trust me, you don’t want to leave people behind”. Who is “someone” – Ingram perhaps? But, more importantly, whom did Finch leave behind? No matter who they are, whether family or friends, it sounds like Finch did have some people he cared about in his former life.

Source: The Voice of TV


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