Another week, another decrypted Jane Doe tattoo about a crazy pending crime. This time around, Jane and the FBI team—holy crap, is that a military-grade rogue drone overhead? RUN! RUN!!!
Whew, that was close. Allow me to use my sublimated field medicine skills to stanch your bleeding. In case you knocked your head and forgot about the premiere during that air-to-ground missile blast, catch up here.
Spoilers for Blindspot epsiode 2, “A Stray Howl,” as far as the eye can see.
This week, Blindspot’s central mystery deepens and becomes even more confusing. Layers upon layers, like weird encoded tattoos cruelly inked into Jaimie Alexander’s alabaster skin. We start by meeting FBI Agent Kurt Weller’s comely sister, Sarah, and her adorable kid, both of whom are 99% destined to be pawns in some maniac’s scheme and die tragically once we’ve come to like them. Kurt and Sarah discuss how awkward it is whenever their dad shows up at someone named Taylor’s yearly memorial. Keep this in mind for later and then turn off your brain, because it’s time for...the A-plot! *cue explosions*
Blindspot appears to be following the trajectory I predicted during the premiere: the “tattoo clue crime of the week” is mostly a series of over-the-top action movie montages of running, hand-to-hand fights, machine guns, car chases, and shit blowing up. The crime is eventually solved by TV-logic detective work, meaning implausible clues, impossible technology and rapid-fire nonsensical solutions. The main reason to watch right now is its badass actors; the whole cast is sparkly and edgy by equal measure. It’s a shame that their characters appear so one-dimensional.
“I don’t remember having any kind of personality whatsoever, but I can still kick your ass.”
Meanwhile, the part of the show that holds the most intrigue—who is Jane Doe, and how and why—gets only a few hints and flashbacks. When the FBI lab techs (led by the wonderful Ashley Johnson) explain that Jane’s tattoos are so complex it could take years to fully decipher them, you can see the show setting itself up for a multi-season run and also hear me curse all the way from Brooklyn.
Brooklyn happens to be where our bad guy o’the week lives! Following last week’s precedent, however, the bad guy isn’t maybe all bad. He has his reasons, dammit. Jane’s tattoo leads the team to a disgraced airman’s house; he promptly blows it up and escapes. While the Air Force first tells the team that Not So Bad Guy struggled with PTSD, they soon discover that he was part of a top-secret program to fly killer drones in America. We later learn that he tried to expose the program after killing foreign targets on American soil and becoming racked with guilt over American collateral damage. “Drones are messy,” we’re told. America, amiright???
The military is duplicitous and has resting bitch face.
I mentioned that Blindspot’s premiere had hints of unexpected politics, and the theme certainly carries through this week. We hear about PTSD-damaged soldiers, civilian casualties in America’s Middle Eastern wars, and an unscrupulous U.S. military carrying out domestic surveillance and clandestine drone strikes. These are all very hot-button issues for American audiences right now, and it’s interesting to see them woven through the plot.
However, Blindspot isn’t a show that packs a lot of geopolitical gravitas, and it’s hard to imagine that the episode was written to open eyes to the perils of the surveillance state and the creeping dangers of drone warfare. I imagine it was more like “Stealth drone missiles exploding shit in New York! Death from above! *makes drone noises* Also, write another scene where Jane strips down. The viewers expect her to be naked.”
Over in the land of the B-plot, where I would like to live, the mystery gets more mystery. Double mystery! Weller has a flashback of his own to climbing a tree with his childhood friend, Taylor Shaw. Then Taylor hurts herself—in the precise place on her neck where Jane has a scar. Say what?! Weller tells Command Lady that he’s now convinced Jane is actually his old pal Taylor, who vanished years ago and whose disappearance clearly led to his current career and haunted, smoldering gaze (holy shades of another FBI Agent, Fox Mulder).
“I obsessed over my missing abducted sister before it was cool.”
Weller thinks this is why Jane showed up with his name across her back in a terrible tattoo. Jane has “the same scar, the same eyes,” says Weller. “Someone sent her back to me.” OK, dude, but maybe not everything is about you? Beyond the trauma of losing his childhood friend, we find out that Weller is extra-invested in Jane being Taylor because his own father was suspected of kidnapping and murdering the girl. That’s why it’s awkward when his dad shows up at Taylor’s “memorial.” Remember that scene I told you to recall before turning off your brain? *cue music of impending familial angst* And his father is dying of lung cancer! *music soars in a crescendo*
None of it makes any sense (yet?), nor does Jane’s flashback o’the week, which sees her with long hair ruthlessly gunning down a nun in a church. Jane then frets the whole hour that she’s a Bad Person while Weller reassures her that her instincts are to help others, so she can’t be bad. Presently, Jane’s personality seems comprised of whatever another character tells her to think. At the end of the episode it’s revealed that the nun was actually a dude in camo and Jane took some kind of keycode USB stick from him. So she executed a person in a church, but not a nun. Weller was right! She is (maybe) a good person, like she was told.
“Thank God we’re so attractive, because this is hella implausible.”
We return to Dronetown, USA, aka NYC, where Not So Bad Guy is enacting fiery, silly vengeance on those who wronged him from his remote-control stealth drone that he stole from the military through nefarious means. That sentence exhausted me. Drone guy could strike anywhere! Anytime! Where is he?! Luckily, the team figures that part out pretty quickly, through the use of ridiculous tech assists, like the “air-gapped computer” they uncover and explain has never been connected to the Internet, it’s so secure—but it helpfully happens to contain a doc with the Not So Bad Guy’s targets and the initials of his fellow pilot in the top-secret program. The dude’s initials. You guys.
But we can’t forget the most important tech contrivance of the episode, which is that awesome Ashley “Patterson” Johnson has set up a program that will scan and cross-reference Jane’s tattoos with the Internet of All Things, thus letting the team know whenever there’s a hit and another A-plot. It’s “like a Google alert for her tattoos”! Sure, friends. I get it. This is how each episode is now likely to start, with Jane’s Google alert pinging in.
At least next week’s teaser intrigues because Jane comes face to face with Mystery Beard, the shadowy stalker from her past who might be good or bad or knowing this show, goodbadish for reasons. In the last few seconds of the episode, Mystery Beard surprises a barely clothed Jane, in her requisite stripped-down scene, and grabs her. Will our heroine survive? Yes, yes she will. Let’s hope she gets some answers before the Tattoo Alert goes off and everything starts blowing up again.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s an argument on my Facebook page about whether Jane is more of a River Tam or a Jason Bourne mentally unstable amnesiac with mad fighting skills who holds the keys to conspiratorial mysteries. Gotta jet.