John Reese (Jim Caviezel) is a former CIA hit man who works for Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) in the hit crime series Person of Interest on CBS. When a government machine spits out a security number, Reese and Finch know someone is in danger and they set out to save them, victim or perpetrator. While Finch is the brilliant software engineer, Reese is the man capable of running after people and physically deterring criminals.
In Season One, John is homeless and effortlessly beats up a gang of thugs who take his bottle of alcohol on the New York subway. Arrested by the police, he is later released by an attorney and introduced to Finch. John is plagued by guilt about his past but agrees to work for Harold to help people in trouble. Throughout the series, John expresses his gratitude to Finch for giving him a second chance.
In flashbacks it is revealed that John was in the army and later CIA. He has several aliases because of various missions and trusts no one. Over time he learns to trust Finch who never lies to him.
Reese lives by a strong moral code. He does not kill children even if it enrages a mob boss. John uses only the amount of force he thinks is necessary to contain a situation, often shooting an attacker in the leg to immobilize them. He kills people when there is no alternative and even then he does not want them to suffer, even if the perpetrator has hurt others.
To get the person of interest, there are occasions when John needs help from someone in the NYPD. In time he approaches Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) to help avert crime. Slowly, John becomes romantically interested in Carter, partly because of her strong moral character — but also she is beautiful. At one point, Reese protects Carter’s son, returning the teenager safely to his mother. Now the attraction is mutual although professional.
In S3/E9, while holed up in the city morgue trying to evade a variety of criminals, John declares his love for Joss. The two kiss tenderly before being jarred back to reality and needing to escape. After the case is wrapped up, Joss and John are casually walking and laughing when they are both shot. A wounded Reese holds Carter, trying to reassure her. When she dies, John cradles her tight and sobs.
For Reese, this is the second woman he has loved who has died violently. While in hospital recovering from his injuries, John escapes, intent on avenging Carter’s death. Reese has an extremely high pain threshold and violently interrogates anyone who might be involved in the murder. He only stops his rampage when Finch appears and convinces him this is not what Joss would want. Bleeding badly, John collapses and is taken to hospital.
John Reese is an honorable man who wants to protect people. Victim or perpetrator, if your number comes up, he’s there to help.