'Person of Interest' Boss on Taraji P. Henson's "Bittersweet" Return, Finale's "Big-Ass Twist"

Jonah Nolan tells THR how Carter's re-emergence will change Reese and promises that the A.I. war will be "a giant mess."
Giovanni Rufino
A scene from Tuesday's 'Person of Interest'

Carter (Taraji P. Henson) is back on Person of Interest, which could mean trouble for Reese (Jim Caviezel). 

Henson returns to the CBS drama for Tuesday's episode, having not appeared since her character was killed off shortly after sharing a kiss with the former CIA operative in season three. Carter appears in flashbacks in this week's episode as Reese deals with an unwanted visitor from their pasts. 

Series creator and executive producer Jonah Nolan tells The Hollywood Reporter that it was "fantastic" to work with Henson again, and he points out that Carter brings out a more emotional side to Reese than viewers have gotten to see thus far in season four. 

Nolan also discussed how the increasingly volatile A.I. war will affect Team Machine, the season finale's shocking turn of events and whether Shaw (Sarah Shahi) may still return to the series.

What can fans expect from Carter's reappearance?

It's a bit of a flashback opportunity to revisit our old, great friend Carter and her friendship with Reese, an opportunity to see a bit of a moment from the second season. It's Reese following in the footsteps — he's basically taken over Carter's job at the precinct now, and one of her cold cases comes back to haunt him, in a sense. It's an opportunity to watch both of these characters interacting with one case and with each other in flashback. It's great fun.

How did Taraji P. Henson's return come about? Had you been planning that for a while?

We had said from the episode in season three in which her character is killed off, we had always said that one of the beautiful things about doing our show with the flashback structure is that everyone gets to live forever in flashbacks. We had been looking for an opportunity for Taraji's character to return to the show for some time. And I reached out to her last year, said we had a killer idea for an episode, and she was incredibly excited to come back. We were incredibly excited to have her back. 

What was it like to have her back on set?

It was fantastic. She is an unbelievably talented actor and an unbelievable collaborator. She's such a warm, professional and friendly person on our set. It was very bittersweet to have her back because we've all missed her a great deal, and it was great fun to get back in and play again. 

What kind of closure will Carter get in the episode?

It's an opportunity to revisit this relationship between her and Reese. We always described her as kind of the heart of the show. She was the person who could speak most directly to what was actually going on and what was going on with our characters. Reese and all the rest of our characters — Reese and Finch [Michael Emerson] and obviously Fusco [Kevin Chapman] — are very, very conflicted characters, and Carter was always the one who could clear through the brush and get in there and talk these things through. Her and Reese's characters have such similar backgrounds that, from the pilot, their very first scene together, she was always the one who kind of got him and understood. So we had a season here for his character of highlighting his emotional growth or lack thereof, and so [it was great] to see her feel engaged with him again and kind of call bullshit on some of his lies to himself, get him to confront the truth of it. 

Reese has been struggling with whether to stay in the spy game. How will that play out?

Point of fact, he's probably not going to stray too far from the occupation he's brought to this point. Even if coming out of this episode there's a little more emotional clarity for him, he's still living in a world in which two gods are now at war with one another, and whether he wants to hang up his hat or not may be irrelevant.

With the A.I. war continuing to heat up, where is that headed?

Nowhere good. We recommend the audience watches this episode from inside a car, so they can take advantage of the seatbelt and airbags. It's going to be a very bumpy ride. It's going to go badly for our guys, and it's going to be a giant mess, which is how we usually like to construct the end of every season. 

We've seen a lot of development in Root's (Amy Acker) character this season. How will she continue to evolve?

Root's a really complicated character. Amy Acker is one of our favorite people in the whole wide world, an amazing collaborator and actor, just devours everything we put in front of that character, so we've got a lot of twists and turns left for her. But the end of the season is kind of a challenge for all of our characters. 

Is there still any chance of Shaw returning, or have you thought about how that might happen?

We are very enthusiastic about getting Sarah back on the show. There's a lot that happens in the next couple episodes, and then in terms of next season, she is taking care of three beautiful kids and taking a little time off. We're very much looking forward to getting her back on the show at some point down the line. 

Is a cliffhanger in store for the end of the season?

Yes, absolutely. I don't think it would be the end of the season for us without having some kind of big-ass twist or surprise. That's kind of our hallmark thing, and we aim to please this year, as with every year. We're incredibly excited for the audience to take the ride with us for the last two episodes of the season. We've got some surprises in store, no question, so we're hoping they enjoy them all. 

Person of Interest airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS. Share your thoughts on the season in the comments!

Email: Ryan.Gajewski@THR.com
Twitter: @_Ryan.Gajewski