Kevin Chapman, Jim Caviezel
Person of Interest fans were stunned in November when the CBS drama killed off original cast member Taraji P. Henson's Detective Carter. But no one took it harder than her castmates.
"I really miss working with Taraji," Kevin Chapman, who plays Carter's partner Detective Lionel Fusco, tells TVGuide.com. "She was very gracious, and we just really connected. We had a lot of fun. We'd go to basketball games together and dinners. I really miss having her around."
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Though Chapman misses his former scene partner, he's well aware of how much meaty material Carter's death has given him to play. "I was very excited for the opportunity to show that the redemption and idealism remained possible in this world full of corruption for Fusco," Chapman says. "The writers have historically always given Fusco a couple of episode arcs each season. [But this] showed the world a little different side of Fusco and gave everyone the opportunity to see that there's a little more to the character than being the guy who answers the phone all pissed off."
Indeed, in the Post-Carter Era, it's safe to say that Detective Fusco might be having a moment. He not only finished Carter's work by bringing her killer to justice, but he also was tasked by Finch (Michael Emerson) to find an AWOL Reese (Jim Caviezel) in the midseason finale. "[Fusco's] definitely in a different phase right now," Chapman says. "The fact that Finch dispatched Fusco to bring Reese back, I think that said a lot. Fusco sitting down and telling Reese how much he helped him the same way Carter did, I think, speaks a lot as well. ... Fusco tried to have Reese killed a few times! But now, we both have this common loss in our life. [Fusco] was trying to say we need each other now more than we ever did."
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Of course, Fusco's words didn't sway a hardened, broken Reese. So, the two men decided to take matters outside. Was Fusco insane for taking on a killing machine like Reese? "Fusco knew at that point that Reese had a few cocktails in him," Chapman jokes. "But that really wasn't what it was about. It was about two brothers fighting in the rain. It didn't have malice behind it. Fusco knows [Reese is] filled with anger and frustration. Let's go outside and get rid of it the way you know how. Let's go out and just beat the snot out of each other. Let's get the frustration out of you and let's get back to helping people."
But that may prove difficult. In Tuesday's episode (10/9c, CBS), Reese and Fusco are locked up in Colorado after their barroom brawl. That's terrible news for Finch and Shaw (Sarah Shahi), who are trying to protect Finch's friend Arthur Claypool (Saul Rubinek) from an group of villains — including the recently unmasked Control (guest star Camryn Manheim) — looking for asecond machine Claypool helped build.
Despite the setback, Chapman remains somewhat confident that his character's trajectory will keep going up. "I don't think you're going to see Fusco calling the shots, but with the HR movement out of the [precinct], we have a lot of new officers in there," Chapman says. "They're all kind of looking to Fusco to kind of mentor and steer the ship the way Carter did. He's the senior member of the detective staff. I think that's becoming a bit overwhelming for him, but I think he also welcomes it. The man behind the mask is very happy that it's happened because it's a validation for him."
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But given the producers' willingness to bump off major characters, Fusco's new rise to power doesn't necessarily make Chapman feel that he has 100 percent job security. "You never know. Like [co-creator Jonathan Nolan] says, no one's safe but the Machine," Chapman says with a laugh. "I would imagine Fusco's story is going to end at some point in the show, whether it's this year or next year or four years from now. But at some point, it's probably going to run out of gas. Right now, Fusco is their only means of access to the police department, which I think they need at this point in time. But who knows where it's all going to end?"
Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)