taraji p henson poi return

*Before there was a Cookie Lyon, there was a Det. Joss Carter.

Taraji P. Henson returned to the latter Tuesday night for an appearance on her pre-“Empire” TV gig, “Person of Interest.” The character’s sudden death at the end of Season 3 had viewers shocked and angry.

She came back to life last night, thanks to a flashback…or so we thought.

The episode opened with Jim Caviezel’s Mr. Reese and Michael Emerson’s Mr. Finch on a stakeout, joined by Carter. But instead of the remaining hour focusing on the perpetrator or victim, this episode stayed with Carter and Reese in the car as the stakeout progressed through the night.

In a rare move, the stoic Reese actually opened up to Carter about his life before Finch tracked him down distressed and homeless. But shocker, nothing about the scene actually happened. Reese had been complaining to Carter that he was freezing…when actually, he was hallucinating his time with Carter while stuck in a real car in the middle of nowhere, on the verge of hypothermia.

The Wrap’s Jason Hughes wrote:

“This was Carter’s final message to Reese as he lay dying in that car. He was alone up there because he chose to be alone. He had people all around him and he never opened up to them. He told her that he cared deeply for her and he swore he’d opened up to her, but she insisted that he never had. Did he really believe he had?

Carter had such a strong impact on Reese during the time they knew one another that it was her voice and face he pulled out of his own fracturing psyche to motivate him and push him to stay alive. In the end, a car arrived in the nick of time, proving her words. He’s not alone.

Henson also appeared in flashbacks to one of her first-ever cases about a young man who came home to find his entire family had been murdered.

“Person of Interest” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.