adam benton

4

Finally made the trek back to the city yesterday – on the list: Amelie & Great Comet!

My thoughts on Cura Te Ipsum

I wanted to write this forever. Ramble ahoy.

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 Benton.
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 wrist.
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 both.
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.