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About What Happened On Last Night's Episode Of 'Person Of Interest'... Taraji P. Henson Talks

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
November 20, 2013 2:29 PM
28 Comments
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If you're a fan of the show, and you haven’t watched last night's episode of CBS's hit series Person of Interest, and you hate spoilers, I suggest you skip this post entirely. Although if you're on any of the popular social media websites, the episode has probably already been spoiled for you, given just how active conversation about the episode was on my own Twitter feed after it ended.

It's not a show that I watch (I tuned in for a few episodes during its first season, and was never really hooked unfortunately, so I moved on); but it's been one of TV's highest rated dramas since its fall 2011 debut, averaging in the neighborhood of 12-16 million viewers per episode!

So clearly, lots of you are watching; and, as I recall from my post 2 weeks ago on the most-watched primetime TV shows amongst black households, it was ranked high, in the top 4.

And I'd argue that one key reason for its popularity with black audiences is the presence of one of the show's 3 leads played by Taraji P. Henson.

Last night, "black Twitter" exploded with tweets about last night's episode, dominating my timeline - specifically, on how it ended. 

First, let me back up a little bit and say that I wasn't even on Twitter at the time, but I initially noticed a sudden huge spike in traffic to S&A, and when I checked for the reasons for the spike, I discovered that a significant percentage (about 40%) where all coming from Google searches for the search term "Taraji P. Henson, Person Of Interest."

I suppose maybe until last night (although I have no evidence of this), we've been one of a few sites that's written a lot about Taraji P. Henson's involvement in the series specifically, since the early 2012 kerfuffle over her exclusion from a TV Guide cover which featured the show's other 2 stars, James Caviezel and Michael Emerson - an *incident* which, as I remember, was heavily debated in the comment sections of the 2 or 3 posts we published on that specific matter. 

But after noticing last night's traffic spike, since I don't watch the show, I immediately took to Twitter to see if it would tell me anything, and, soon enough, I found out that Taraji's character, NYPD homicide detective Joss Carter, had taken a bullet, and died at the very end - essentially killing her character off the show, after 2 1/2 seasons.

A sample of some of the tweets I read as I scrolled down my feed:

"OMG!!!" 

"WTF???" 

"I CAN'T WITH THIS DAMN SHOW ANYMORE" 

"IF TARAJI'S GONE OFF THE SHOW, THEN THEY JUST LOST A VIEWER!" 

"THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT!"

Up until then, I didn't realize that there was such passion for the series, especially among black viewers, and I even started to feel like maybe I was missing out on something good, and should give it another chance; Maybe I'll check Netflix to see if the first season is streaming, and I can binge-watch and catch-up, I thought to myself.

I didn't, but I did watch last night's episode this morning, courtesy of Amazon's VOD service, so I could see exactly how it all went down. But since I don't have the emotional investment that long-time viewers have with the series, and Taraji's character especially, I wasn't anywhere as affected as they were (and still are). However, I just wanted to see it all unfold for myself; and yeah, she got shot alright. Took one right in the chest, and she seemed to have died right there on the sidewalk, in co-star James Caviezel's arms. 

But then I thought, well, maybe she's not dead, and this was a great cliffhanger to carry viewers into the next episode, where we might see her recovering. Maybe the episode begins with her in a hospital bed, unconscious, but alive. Maybe... maybe not. 

Maybe she really has been killed off and it's done! 

And if that's the case, it may hurt the show and CBS in the long run, if reactions from black audiences are any indication of what's to come, as many said that they'd no longer watch the show if Henson's character wasn't on it. Now whether or not they follow through on that promise is another thing entirely. 

But it's a risk that CBS is apparently willing to take, knowing that this is a show with a significant black audience - some who were attracted to it in the first place, and who are continuing to watch it, in part because of Henson's character. If she's really gone for good, then there's the possibility that the show could lose a chunk of its audience in the process. "Black Twitter's" outrage was very real folks! Believe me. I witnessed it firsthand!

Henson didn't really comment on it on Twitter, although she did announce that she will be on David Letterman's show tonight to discuss last night's episode. So all your questions just might be answered tonight, some time between 11:35pm and 12:35pm EST. This just might provide a ratings boost for Letterman's show.

But if you can't wait until then, Henson did give an interview to Entertainment Weekly, published earlier this morning, in which she talked about the episode, and, I must say folks, unless she's been instructed to stick to this specific story (so that you all can be surprised again next week, when you find her alive again), everything she says in the EW interview suggests that she's definitely off the show.

Here's a snip:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first learn that Carter would die?

TARAJI P. HENSON: I always knew that we would have a beginning, a middle and an end. You don’t tell the audience “Hey, she’s not gonna last!” because that’s the whole surprise element, but that’s what’s so innovative about the show and that’s why I joined. We always knew we would do two, maybe three seasons.

How did you feel when you finally had the script in hand?

It was sad. You portray a character for so long, you care about her and her life. But art imitates life—it comes to an end unexpectedly. It was bittersweet, because I enjoyed portraying Carter. What a strong, powerful woman on television.

Did you feel like, from a storytelling standpoint, it was time for Carter to go?

Absolutely. The audience will be shocked because you don’t see it coming. She said she was going to bring down HR, and she did.

What was it like filming your last scene?

The mood on set was bittersweet, even with the crew. We laugh and we joke, but at the end of the laughs, it was a sigh. I was trying to keep the spirits up, so all night I was cracking jokes and not hugging and getting too emotional with everyone.

Was it a challenge for you to keep the secret?

Yes! I felt like I was lying to my lover. It was hard because I’m Chatty Cathy, and I love to share and talk and I’m a horrible liar. I felt like people could see it on my face.

So, like I said, unless this is all planned, so that audiences continue to believe that she really is dead, only to be surprised next week, based on the above, I'd say she's a goner for sure!

Henson does add that, up next for her, she'll be doing a play. She doesn't say what play exactly, only that it's what she wants to do next, adding that it was where she was trained, and after she completes a high-profile screen project like Person Of Interest, she always loves to go back to do theater.

So fans should be expecting an announcement soon.

Read the full EW interview HERE if you'd like, and/or tune in to Letterman tonight for her interview with Dave.

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.

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28 Comments

  • don montie | May 14, 2014 5:59 PMReply

    Photo of cop who died on person of interest, last night.

  • M | January 12, 2014 12:15 PMReply

    If people were watching and keeping up with the show from the beginning they would have seen Henson's character evolve from not trusting or liking the 2 main characters to her helping them and caring for them at the season's end. I liked the kiss at the end between her and Caveziel's characters because you could tell there were special to each other. I had read a while back that Henson couldn't keep up with the show due to her movie schedule and that she knew she would be killed off the show and when you think about it, you know she's a regular movie actor. I knew myself that she would not be on for too long anyway because of this. You can't keep that type of schedule, being on a popular show AND do films. That's crazy! People are just not being realistic and just want to complain every time a black women get's killed off a show! Get real and grow up!!

  • Bea K | January 23, 2014 5:10 PM

    "People are just not being realistic and just want to complain every time a black women get's killed off a show! Get real and grow up!!", that's easy for you to say when there are hardly any black females on these shows, especially in this day and time. If Taraji wanted to leave that's her business but the fact that now there are NO blacks in even a semi position on the show is quite disappointing. If they already knew she was leaving then why not move one of the other black characters forward, oops I forgot they killed the other ones off (or some only had 'walk on' roles) my bad. While I watched the show for Taraji, Caviezel, and Emerson, she played the heck out of her character, and now there's a very deep hole and you can tell 'something' is still missing here. Oh, I didn't say they wouldn't try their best to fill it, but from what I've seen thus far, NOT so much.

  • Katie | December 24, 2013 10:30 AMReply

    I didn't even know this show was even on because I don't watch television that much. Now I'm hearing about this show only to learn Henson has been killed off. The bad part is I won't be supporting the show. The good part is this strengthens my want to create webseries with black woman protagonists. I already have six in mind. Four dramas, two fantasy.

  • lauren | November 26, 2013 12:10 AMReply

    If i was a 40 something actress on a hit show, I'd find a way to stick it out.... that's retirement money.

  • Bea K. | January 23, 2014 5:14 PM

    LAUREN, "that's retirement money", some of us viewers thought the very same thing, and should she decide to return to t.v., we just learned that it was in part because of her story lines and character that more viewers started tuning in to the show. How ironic is that??

  • Troy | November 23, 2013 12:51 PMReply

    Well Taraji wants the show to be successful and do good work. If she was either MJ y'all would basically be telling her to shit on her team. None of you seem interested in the revenge for her death plot. Regina King and Taraji never got the support Kerry Washington gets because she has love scenes. It's okay if you are not interested in action sequences. However Taraji now has the distinction of top black female action lead ever on broadcast. The storyline is that Taraji was the romantic hero that died protecting those she loved who were weaker than her. The flashbacks showed how she never backed down from her ex-Laz and inspired him to be a better man for their son. And Caviezel explained she did the same for him. It insight to the popular adage of why do I keep falling for damage lovers. We are all damaged. Only those willing to sacrifice for others deserve our admiration. Tatami should have your admiration and you should honor her by watching her murder get avenged.

  • Bea K. | January 23, 2014 5:31 PM

    TROY, "Well Taraji wants the show to be successful and do good work", so did us viewers. Who's 'MJ'?? "None of you seem interested in the revenge for her death plot", why, when there was NO reason for her to ultimately die in the first place? Also, 'justice' was NOT served in my opinion only, mainly because the guy who started ALL of this (Quinn) was NOT taken out the way Simmons was. The Creator and Writers knew they weren't going to visit this story line again, that's why they just had Quinn 'arrested' big deal when even he told Carter, they'd NEVER prosecute him and the viewers have NO evidence that they ever did. "Regina King and Taraji never got the support Kerry Washington gets because she has love scenes"??? NOT from what I've seen and read, MANY blacks (and some whites too) were behind both actresses, and just so you should know, in Taraji's case there were quite a few whites who expressed their disgust with Taraji's death as well and who've also decide not to watch any more. I don't know who Tatami is but folks did honor Taraji by seeing Simmons finally get his, but then moved on right after that episode finished out. Maybe it's a case of "doing your job a little bit too well"?? I wish her the best but that hole she left is still there, and I'm not sure it will ever be the same on the show again.

  • Mia | November 22, 2013 10:38 AMReply

    yet another reason why I stopped watching that show

  • furtgo | November 21, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Her character was underutilized at times, but I looked forward to her scenes. Caviezel and the guy from Lost are not compelling enough by themselves. She was the emotion. I too have no reason to watch anymore.

  • Bea K. | January 23, 2014 5:36 PM

    FURTGO, "underutilized", I've read about this, and they said they fixed it, only when someone else can forward and mentioned the fact that she wasn't being used enough. "She was the emotion", you bet she was (although, Finch did what he could to keep John and maybe the others on the straight and narrow, Carter did it from a totally different angle) and boy was she good at it. They're going to try their best to let Finch and whomever else take this part over now, but for me it just won't be the same ever again.

  • mt | November 21, 2013 12:53 AMReply

    That kiss wasn't in script. Jim went for it and Taraji responded. Knowing this made the moment so much more beautiful. Great actors.

  • Qstorm | November 20, 2013 11:40 PMReply

    Looking at the photo, I'm just glad to see John Leguizamo is working again...

  • RichardJohn786 | November 20, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    I caught #PersonofInterest last night for the first time. Was glad to see Taraji P. Henson on there. Then, to see her on screen character get "killed," I was like 'you got to be kidding me.' lol

    After seeing that short clip of next week's episode at the end, its clear she won't be in action. Most likely won't tune in for that. Good way to spark up interest on the show though.

  • Africameleon | November 20, 2013 3:44 PMReply

    OK I see... So basically she was replaced by Laz Alonso, who plays her ex-husband and father of her son. I should of known they wouldn't allow an on screen romance between two black leads in this show. That's got me feeling some kinda way. Damn.

  • Bea K. | January 23, 2014 5:50 PM

    AFRICAMELEON, NO, she wasn't replaced by Laz.

    TOM HAVERFORD, Sterling K. Brown was NOT on for most of the season, he was only in 3 maybe 4 episodes, then he was killed off by 'his uncle'.
    SANDBALANCE, "Joss' funeral will likely be the second and final time we see the Paul Carter character", you hit the nail on the head that was exactly correct (although, if they wanted to put things right, with the viewers who'd put in the time to watch while Taraji was on, they could bring Laz' character back but I don't honestly see that happening here.).
    PEGGY, Something tells me Shahi's character will be there for a little while as well. When you get guys on forums saying how 'sexy' she is, and the show's Creator calling her 'his Catwoman', you just know she isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Tom Haverford | November 21, 2013 2:40 PM

    Um...Carter had a black boyfriend in Season 2, Cal Beecher, played by Sterling K. Brown. He was on for most of the season.

  • sandbalance | November 21, 2013 2:00 AM

    I doubt that Laz Alonzo is replacing Taraji. Joss' funeral will likely be the second and final time we see the Paul Carter character.

  • Peggy | November 20, 2013 3:29 PMReply

    I watch it off and on. I knew something was up when the brought in TWO white women over the last few months and added them to the cast. I probably won't watch it now. The Sarah Shahi character is too unbelievable.

  • sandbalance | November 21, 2013 2:35 AM

    A, the second "white" female character is Shaw. Shaw might be (half) Persian like the actress who plays her.

    On another site it was mentioned that Taraji was the only black actress in a leading role on CBS. So now the entire network has ZERO leading characters who are black women. That could be why people are making it about race.

    For me, Taraji's presence was a deciding factor for whether or not to watch a show that I kinda sorta liked some weeks.

  • A | November 20, 2013 4:17 PM

    Which two white women? There was only root not another as a main cast member. Why do people make it about black/white they're actors stop making everything racist.

  • amanda | November 20, 2013 4:07 PM

    Hello!! I also was like what is up with them adding the two white female characters if there is already a chemistry between the 3 leads?

  • Josh | November 20, 2013 3:18 PMReply

    "You are being watched"

    Best show on one of the big networks IMO. I did NOT want a romantic subplot involving her and Reese. Nice rope-a-dope, was convinced Foscoe was going. HR is finally done, just so satisfying.

  • Bea K | December 26, 2013 1:46 AM

    JOSH, MARGARET, AND OTHERS WHO DIDN'T THINK THE "KISS" WAS NECESSARY. 'BLAME' THAT ONE ON 'JIM CAVIEZEL' WHO DECIDED TO GO THERE ON HIS OWN, IT WAS AN UNSCRIPTED KISS AND HE CALLED FOR IT BECAUSE HIS CHARACTER JOHN REESE, WAS FALLING IN LOVE WITH JOSS SO THAT'S PART OF THE REASON WHY IT WAS ADDED. If you followed the Series in its entirety (Seasons 1-3) you'd have seen for yourself the way Reese watched over Carter, much more than any other woman on the show, and how his 'admiration' for her was growing into something much much 'deeper' (as he told her before she died, "if he was going to die, he'd have wanted it to be with her"). I knew they weren't going to last any way because Most of the interracial couples on t.v. do NOT. Thank the Lord 'The Young and the Restless', Caine and Lily have proved them ALL wrong thus far. Lastly, I Don't see this as racial, but I really am shaking my head at the fact, that now there are NO more blacks any where in sight on the show. Then again, that's hollywood for you.

  • margaret | November 20, 2013 11:08 PM

    I have to agree. That kiss was so unnecessary. Pleassse!

  • beemooree | November 20, 2013 3:14 PMReply

    This was a shocker to me. I tried watching this show from season 1 but didn't get hooked. I gave it another try season 3 and liked it. Since tarahi is gone I will not continue. Shame on them for bringing in that new chick and killing carter just when she was heating things up with jim caviezel

  • Akimbo | November 22, 2013 12:29 AM

    Most of the characters portrayed by the names you mentioned have had black lovers, too.

  • goose | November 21, 2013 10:11 PM

    Sorry, but does EVERY young attractive black woman on television have to have a white lover? I really believe that is why some black women watch certain shows. Kerry Washington, Shanola Hampton, Rutina Wesley, Joy Bryant, Meagan Goode, and now Taraji? Really?

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