Here’s why Person of Interest season 1’s Elias was the show’s best villain, despite being less of a threat compared to later antagonists.
Elias was the best villain that Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) ever faced in Person of Interest. Played by Enrico Colantoni, Carl Elias was the big bad of season 1 and a key character who recurred throughout the show’s five-season run.
Introduced in Person of Interest season 1, episode 7, Carl Elias was the illegitimate son of top New York City mobster Gianni Moretti (Mark Margolis). Despite his connection to one of the city’s most powerful families, Elias was denied a place in his father’s empire. As a result, Elias started a crusade to attain power and successfully became the leader of the criminal underworld. Often aided by his most trusted ally, Scarface (David Valcin), Elias rose to the top and served as the show’s main antagonist during season 1. Following his defeat and subsequent arrest, Elias was able to stay in power (even though he was behind bars). Following his escape, Elias continued to operate as a mob boss and acted as an ally to the team until his death in season 5.
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Though bigger and more deadly villains followed Elias, no character was able to outdo him as a villain. Elias stands above all other Person of Interest villains, regardless of the fact that he was less of a threat when compared to characters like the Decima leader John Greer (John Nolan). That’s because despite being a villain of a different scale, Elias was still the team’s most memorable and most menacing foe.
A big part of that is due to the first impression Elias left on viewers. In his first episode, Elias was one of the numbers provided to Reese and Finch by the Machine, and a target for assassination. At the time, it was believed that Elias was an innocent schoolteacher that Reese needed to protect. Reese succeeded in saving Elias, not knowing until the end of the episode the true identity of their latest number. The big reveal and the double-cross that Elias pulled on Reese remains of the show’s most shocking twists. He also became the first character to really outsmart Reese and Finch, as neither had any idea that Elias was a crime boss.
There’s also the matter of Elias’ backstory, which was carefully crafted in season 1 to adequately explain who Elias really was, and why it was so important to him that he take control of the criminal underworld. Despite the fact that Elias was clearly a villain, Person of Interest gave him enough deeply human qualities to make him likeable, such as his quiet demeanor and the respect he held for the people who had helped him. He was a character who operated in morally grey areas and was never depicted as a pure evil villain like Greer. He was a flawed person to be sure, but he did have a moral compass and lines that he wouldn’t cross. Yet at the same time, Elias was ruthless and clever enough to be feared and respected by those around him.
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