The thing that
struck me as extremely odd in this episode was that Reese, who has stated and
demonstrated his aversion for killing people where unnecessary, went off the
reservation, orchestrating an intervention from hell with the sole purpose of terrorising Andrew
As we got to know Reese throughout the series we learned that actions such as
this were not the norm for him even under Kara Stanton’s emotional stranglehold
during his time in the CIA. We never saw him torture or taunt his targets, we
only saw him question the credibility of his superiors. Reese deliberately toying with a person
instead of killing him outright or surrendering him to the cops left undertones
of a much darker individual than it was portrayed in later episodes and it rang
a tiny bit wrong at least for me. The whole performance, the location, the gun
on the table and the speech required
with absolute certainity rational thought and cold calculation.
Then I watched Many Happy Returns and later Prisoner’s Dilemma and suddenly
Reese’s actions made perfect sense. Jessica, Reese’s lover and friend was a
victim of physical and emotional abuse. Reese himself was a victim of abuse,
sexual and emotional. Megan Tillman went through an almost identical experience
to Reese; she found herself unable to save a dear person from a heinous crime
and watched the perpetrator coolly walk away with not even a slap on the
In the end of Cura Te Ipsum Reese finds himself in the possession of a van and
an unconscious sexual predator who got away too many times. So he decides to
teach him a lesson in helplessness and fear, him having ample experience in
The setup is just perfect. Benton comes to, alive and seemingly unharmed and he
thinks he got away again then the next thing he knows he has to somehow justify
his existence in order to escape alive.
In his speech, Reese channels copious amounts of self hate and guilt (“not
like us; we break them”) to force Benton to see what the world looks like
from a victim’s perspective. He essentially equates himself with a sexual
predator in undesirability and that is heartbreaking.
I keep going back to the title of this episode (Latin for “Heal
Thyself”) and its relation to the plot. In my opinion it was about
catharsis, both Megan Tillman’s and John Reese’s. Megan was going to use her
medical knowledge to avenge her sister, effectively breaking the Hippocratic
Oath and commiting a crime. Reese has been already there having killed or
severely injured Jessica’s abuser and eventual killer in blind rage. Without disclosing much he shares his own personal experience with complete understanding of where she is coming from and in
the end helps her to heal herself by agreeing to hand over the keys . The responsibility of Benton’s punishment
passes to Reese who uses it as an opportunity to heal himself. In the end Reese’s elaborate lesson not only
served in placing Benton in the position of a victim but as an exercise in
Reese’s understanding of his purpose and his currently reconstructed morality.
The dialogue was never directed at Benton himself. Reese was simply figuring
out his course of action now that he has recovered his purpose and his values
out loud. I loved the way this was presented, starting as a questionable action on behalf of Reese at the start of the season then evolving into something deeper, darker and more complex regarding his struggle to regain his humanity.
As far as the acting is concerned Jim Caviezel was phenomenal. He kept changing
expressions and demeanor to become either a concerned, understanding fellow or
an angry executioner and he was terrifying with a capital T. He made the
character of Reese in 3 minutes and sold me on the show. Adam Rothenberg as Andrew Benton was excellent and sufficiently hateable from the moment his smug face appeared to the final moments where he babbled to save his life.
On a side note the
score for this scene is awesome. Minimal with a powerful buildup. Ramin Djawadi is a genius.