This week on Blindspot, Jane and the team thwarted some terrorists with a graveyard shoot-out in Queens, ran afoul of the CIA, and also I rolled my eyes so many times that they got stuck that way.
Spoilers for Blindspot episode 5, “Split the Law,” which is an anagram for “Will the Past,” which might possibly make sense one day. Maybe.
Friends, fellow Blindspot watchers, I dunno. This episode felt like treading water in a shallow kiddie pool. I’ve tried to be on board with the ridiculous A-plots this show serves up, enjoying the occasional left-field twists that keep it watchable, but this week was a big, yawning “meh” split by occasional incredulous giggling at my screen. I wasn’t laughing with the show.
“If we stare at each other enough, they’ll say we have a smoldering chemistry. I’ve seen this on TV.”
This week, Blindspot played the “threat of organized international terrorism” card clumsily. Through a series of events and feints, we’re introduced to a terrorist ring that is supposedly unique in that it is multicultural(???) though they sure did feature a lot of actors who looked and sounded like the worst of Middle Eastern stereotypes. The group is called Dobrasan, or something like that, such a sloppy copy/paste of the real-life Khorasan group that I don’t know what to say. Way to rip from the headlines, Blindspot writers.
We arrive at the terrorists after wasting half the episode on a hostage standoff that turns out to be a cover. The men threatening the Municipal Workers Association (because they lost their jobs and pensions—also politically timely, Blindspot writers! I fully believe you have a read a newspaper) are really there to bust a bombmaker out of captivity. The MWA building is itself a cover for a CIA blacksite, you see. OK? OK.
Bomb Guy gets out in a scene that’s an exact replica of Silence of the Lamb’s masterful Hannibal Lecter escape scene, as performed by an sixth-grade school play. Jane, who maybe flashes back to having once seen Silence of the Lambs, is the only one who figures out from video footage that the injured man taken away by medics is the bad guy with his face covered in blood. Just like Hannibal, he attacks the ambulance personnel and double-escapes! Now he’s on the run. Unlike Hannibal, he is completely devoid of anything compelling or any reason why we should give a shit. I think he gets one line of dialogue. I silently wish for him to eat a member of the FBI team.
“Where is my royalty check, Clarice?”
If I sound mad, it’s because I am. It’s not that I expect logic and grounded plots from Blindspot; I get that it’s meant to be escapist TV. But I expect it to at least not to laugh-at-loud ridiculous and generally not racist. “Split the Law” felt like a failure on these accounts. Paper-thin Middle Eastern terrorists and as shallowly drawn agents of the law are shot without second thought, human lives felled as though we were in a video game. You are better than this, Blindspot. Not much. But remember last week’s episode? What I wouldn’t do for some rogue CDC directors right now.
We later learn that Bomb Guy has got his hands on nuclear material and is going to build a dirty bomb, because that’s what terrorists do, but because we watch this show, we know there’s never really a risk of the bomb going off. So instead we need to suffer through dumbed-down “science” scenes about radiation risks, geiger counters, and tracking down the terrorists via their radioactive isotopes. Bless you, Patterson, for being able to say all of the above with a straight face. You continue to be the only bright spot on this program.
Because, frankly, almost everyone else on this show is a sloppily cut-out cardboard character. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the weekly procedural, but if you look at some of the longest-running—say, NCIS or Law and Order: SVU or Criminal Minds—one of the things that brings viewers back week after week is a strong affinity for the characters, their relationships and brief moments of human levity amidst outlandish crimes.
We’re five episodes in and we don’t know a goddamned thing about anyone on Blindspot. Agents Reade and Zapata get a few seconds of forced flirting. Command Lady Mayfair doesn’t completely suck because her actress is amazing, but otherwise I don’t care. And this week, Jane and Weller’s doe-eyed staring at each other reached new heights of trying to force a ship on us. I think I wrote better unresolved sexual tension in my Mulder/Scully fanfiction when I was 14 years old.
“Next time I’m using Tinder.”
Weller tried to have Jane over for a weird dinner date with his doomed sister and mega-doomed adorable nephew to jog her memory, but when that happens and she starts to flash back, Jane freaks out and bolts. She has more flashbacks to being a little kid surrounded by other little kids in a creepy room. So maybe she wasn’t alone in her abduction. Are there others like her? Wake me up if one of them turns out later to be Mystery Beard (RIP).
By the time the agents are engaged in an automatic weapon firefight with the terrorists in a Queens cemetery, I thought I couldn’t roll my eyes harder, but I was wrong. Because A) Jane, of course, has to be the one to take on Bomb Guy in a hand-to-hand tussle, after she’s caught the dirty bomb urn in a preposterous catch that made me wonder if the channel had switched to Monday Night Football B) then we are subjected to an FBI vs. CIA showdown, where the laughably villainous executive CIA director Carter swans about and none of us watching actually believes for a second that the agents are all going to kill each other. Though to be fair, they did just shoot a bunch of “terrorists” in the graveyard without a second thought, so I guess, on this show, that anything stupid is possible.
“I got this. Duh.”
Next week, Weller’s dad is visiting and Weller’s not happy about it (recall, if you will, that his dad was accused of Taylor’s abduction). It seems like Zapata has crossed over to the CIA dark side in return for some cool hard cash to pay back her gambling debts. Will she betray her team?? Maybe I would care if I had any investment in her as a character other than “FBI lady good with computers, not Jane.” Jane doesn’t know about the isotope test that puts her identity as Taylor Shaw in doubt, but maybe she’ll find out.
Because I am psychic, I can confidently say next week’s episode will also contain at least 4.5 scenes of Jane and Weller staring awkwardly into each other’s eyes and not kissing. Someone will do something unexpected and the writers will pat themselves on the back for pulling a fast one. A blurry black-and-white flashback will tell us nothing really about Jane’s backstory. Jane will fight a villain in hand-to-hand combat. And a plot will be vaguely torn from the headlines, improbably tied to a tattoo, and total disaster foiled in the last few moments. Join me next week to see just how accurately I have gazed into the future.