On Blindspot, the Crimes Are Ridiculous But the Mystery is Compelling

Illustration for article titled On iBlindspot/i, the Crimes Are Ridiculous But the Mystery is Compelling

Blindspot premieres with an intriguing and absurd premise: a naked woman covered in coded tattoos is found in Times Square. The tattoos may hold the key to solving crimes that haven’t been committed yet! But who is Jane Doe, what can she do, and why is she here?

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Spoilers for Blindspot’s first episode ahead.

I’m here for Jaimie Alexander, the show’s star and Thor’s badass Asgardian warrior Lady Sif. There’s a lot to see of Alexander in Blindspot’s premiere, as her character Jane Doe is discovered naked in the middle of Manhattan in a duffel bag. It’s not a bomb, it’s a pretty lady with god-awful tattoos, and she’s freaked the hell out.

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After the bomb squad unpacks Jane, the authorities call in FBI Agent Kurt Weller, because his name is tattooed prominently across her back—though he’s never seen her before and she remembers nothing. We meet Weller in full hero mode in the wilds of Kentucky, taking out a ruthless bad guy with clever efficiency, so that we know he is Clever and Efficient and Good. Weller is played by the excellently named Sullivan Stapleton, and I like his stubble. He and Alexander have instant chemistry, which helps propel the pilot’s watchability, since the episode’s “pending crime” already seems like the least interesting part of the show.

Illustration for article titled On iBlindspot/i, the Crimes Are Ridiculous But the Mystery is Compelling

I have a feeling that the early episodes are going to run like this—the ‘A’ plot of the Big Bad of the Week will feel like passing time and putting implausible clues together at lightning speed while the stuff the audience cares about, like Jane’s mysterious past, and the identity of the mysterious bearded man from her past who may be a hero or a villain, will likely emerge at a snail’s pace.

Here’s what we come to know about Jane in the pilot: she doesn’t recall anything about who she was before the duffel, thanks to a memory-loss drug pumped into her system, and her prints and DNA aren’t in any known databases. After she translates one of her tattoos that’s in Chinese, it’s clear she’s gifted linguistically, and when she tries to stop a man from beating his wife, she fends off two vicious attackers with effortless fighting chops. The FBI team figures out that she has an original tattoo that’s been tattooed over (stay with me here) that seems to indicate she was once a Navy Seal. Her considerable gifts point to special forces/ops training.

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At the end of the episode Jane has a brief flashback memory of herself with long hair at a shooting course, being trained by the bearded man who we’ve seen following the FBI team throughout the episode. The pilot makes it seem like Mystery Beard is a bad guy—he tips off the Big Bad of the Week and then kills him at the end before he can be questioned—but in Jane’s flashback, they seem to be friendly, and he’s the one who administers the mind-wiping drug after she insists and says that it’s her “only chance.” So is Mystery Beard Jane’s Jedi Master, or is he a Sith Lord? If he’s behind the tattoos, does that make him the world’s most dedicated Memento fan?

Illustration for article titled On iBlindspot/i, the Crimes Are Ridiculous But the Mystery is Compelling
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Blindspot plays out like a typically cinematic procedural: attractive, stalwart agents on an elite team solving preposterous crimes with assists from scant evidence, fancy tech and big jumps in logic. Its twist is provided by Jane’s existence, and since our expectation for rationality is already blurred by tuning in to watch an amnesiac super-skilled lady with future-crime tattoos, we’ll give the show some time to prove itself.

I hope that the individual team members are developed more and given personalities beyond Command Lady, Doctor Dude, Back-Up Guy, Computer Girl, and Lab Wiz, and that the show won’t become all about Jane and Kurt making sad calf-eyes at each other while we wait for them to hook up in season 6 (granted, both have lovely, haunted gazes that hint at being Soulfully Wounded). The leads are strong and the cast is game; I hope the next few “A” plots don’t drag the way I’m dreading. The central mystery of uncovering Jane’s past through her tattoos that tell the future is just crazy enough to make me want to keep watching.

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Illustration for article titled On iBlindspot/i, the Crimes Are Ridiculous But the Mystery is Compelling

The “A” plot on the premiere is a throwaway mess, serving to let Jane start to discover her wide-ranging skillset and establishing the premise that she’s an asset to the team in the field. There are at least 3, perhaps 4 or 5 scenes that play like this:

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KURT WELLER: Jane, stay in the car.

JANE DOE: I’m gonna do the thing.

KURT WELLER: Jane, there’s no way in hell you can do this thing, it’s too dangerous, Goddammit.

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JANE DOE: You need me to do the thing.

COMMAND LADY: We need her to do the thing.

[JANE DOES THE THING]

The sub-“villain” of this episode is some guy bent on blowing up the Statue of Liberty because it makes a great backdrop for a closing fight scene. And because the U.S. didn’t allow his mother into the country so she died in a Chinese internment camp? There’s hints of unexpected politics in the show that are breezed through as the agents toss word salad clues back and forth and solve the crime in six seconds.

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But it’s OK, because we’re here right now for Jane, Kurt, and Mystery Beard. Who knows what will happen next? Well, Jane’s tattoos do. The rest of us will have to tune in next week.

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DISCUSSION

angriergeek
Angrier Geek

I checked out on this show the moment she had to translated the Chinese characters on her neck. Seriously!?! With all the FBI agents shown to be on this—-in New York freaking City—-no one had done this until she pointed it out!?! The guy delivering lunch could have done it. The only way it could be dumber if if it were in Spanish and she was the only one to do it. And it’s just lazy-ass writing. You get the same result if there’s an agent there translating it and she suddenly begins speaking to the agent in Chinese.

That the stick thin Jane was any kind of special ops (for Vogue maybe) was just the cherry on top of never coming back to it.

This show is for people who loved the utter stupidity of The Blacklist, but wanted it even blander without James Spader there to chew up the scenery.