On Blindspot, the plots were more ripped from the headlines than ever. We get America’s police brutality problems, Edward Snowden NSA leaks, and sexuality snafus all in one one-hour package. This is bigger than trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty!
Spoilers for Blindspot episode 8, “Persecute Envoys,” are now loading.
Okay, my Blindspot buddies, I have to get it out of the way and say that I thought this was a pretty solid episode. Maybe that’s because, like last week, the show seems to be departing more from the sluggish holding pattern of the first few episodes. It’s no longer all about Jane’s identity issues, or about Jane and Weller’s will-they/won’t-they lust-filled staring contests.
The Blindspot gods may have been listening (a little), and granted our wish to make the show more of an ensemble drama. This week we saw the success of that... or maybe I’m just deep in the throes of the Stockholm Syndrome and I’ll take whatever I can get.
“Yes, gaze upon me now while you still can, Jane. Weirdly, this episode isn’t entirely about us.”
There are a few plots a-brewin’ this week. The flashbacks featured are the fantastic Command Lady Mayfair’s, as we finally learn about the mysterious Project Daylight. Basically, it was a mandate to a select few government people to take all the personal data the NSA had collected on private citizens and use it to their advantage. Super-shady! Also possibly the most plausible element on this show to date.
Alongside the grumbly sort-of-bad-guy CIA deputy director Carson, Project Daylight also involved White House political director Sophia Varma. As Mayfair’s flashbacks progress, it’s revealed that she developed a romantic relationship with Varma, who at first persuades Mayfair to use the NSA info and later becomes increasingly burdened with guilt and the repercussions over what they’ve done.
After an Edward Snowden fictional stand-in leaks information on the NSA’s overreach and leaves the Daylighters endangered, Varma tries to get Mayfair to run away with her to China, then kills herself (though we never see that happen, so I think the door is firmly open on that character remaining alive and appearing again during, say, sweeps week).
“Please bring back my surprisingly well-scripted relationship.”
While Mayfair is remembering, the “A” plot of the week involves murdered police officers in Brooklyn, seemingly as revenge for their involvement in the shooting death of an unarmed black man. In the most “WE READ THE NEWS” moment of the night, we actually see a grainy video of a cop shooting the young man without provocation.
But as the team investigates, it emerges that the cops weren’t taken down by vigilantes but by their own. Crooked cops were running a blackmail ring based off of footage recorded on bodycams, which drives home another “abuse of the surveillance state” motif, only weirdly muddled now since it involves technology designed to rein in police abuse.
“So we’re cool with this scene in an episode about racial violence and persecuted sexuality, right? Right?”
Blindspot is trying to touch on many important problems plaguing America, mashed up into about 40 minutes. It’s exhausting and head-spinning and they’re not even done. A subplot to the “A” plot involves a pro football player blackmailed by a cop for being gay (and includes a shout-out to Deadspin. Yay?) but these crucial issues of our time are taken up and dropped again at breakneck speed, because this is Blindspot and we have to arrive at the inevitable shoot-out between the good guys and the crooked cops.
(But since we now know the Blindspot writers have heard of Deadspin, please include a reference to io9 next time, perhaps in an episode involving cosplayers taking justice into their own hands in Hell’s Kitchen. “It was a Daredevil tattoo all this time,” Jane will muse.)
In the midst of the usual bullets and explosions—this time Weller gets the full blast of a sound grenade, but is just fine—there are some moments of levity. Jane and Zapata have a fun sparring scene that seems to bond them throughout the rest of the episode as friends, and later on Jane has a girl’s drinking night out with Zapata and our fave lady Patterson.
More of the characters acting like actual human beings, please! This was so promising. Even Weller got the chance to behave like a real live person at the end, when he sits down to have a drink with his dying father instead of glowering at him.
“I glower. It was the only character note I received. To mix it up, sometimes I squint and glare.”
Next week, since we’re gearing up for the EPIC FALL FINALE, it looks like someone’s gonna die, Zapata will have to betray her team some more to CIA guy Carson (remember, he paid her gambling debts), and, as a commenter predicted long ago, the team has to get dressed up in black tie for some reason and run around in sexy fancy clothes. It’s probably not the crossover with Spectre I’m dreaming about, though.
And, yes, of course, Jane and Weller dance while all gussied up, and do a lot of staring. See you next time, when I’ll be writing this in a cocktail dress.