Does “Blindspot” get enough credit for giving its lead actresses an opportunity to outshine the male characters on the regular?
The show’s original marketing, a naked hot chick beggin’ for help and kickin’ some butts — and whose literal body and naked skin aren’t just the show’s MacGuffins, but its focal images; “the clues are all written on a beautiful woman’s body” is, any way you slice it, a particularly gruesome logline for a show in 2015 — got the message across… But left dubious, and lasting, impressions about who the show is “for.” A naked Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) was never going to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but it was a tossup whether she’d be any more interesting or complex for all that — a Manic Tattoo Gun Girl, let’s say.
Of course, the show’s greatest-ever reveal — that the whole setup was Jane’s own idea in the first place; that she acted as a sort of handler-for-her-future self — obviously rules out those concerns, and is completely gorgeous to boot. But since it’s such a major arc and twist in the series overall, it came late. (Episode 10, Season 1, to be exact: Two months and two days after the show’s premiere, halfway through the season, and clarifying things only for people who’d kept watching the show rather than dropping it out of hand.) Which is all ancient history, and as fans we’re wary of concern-trolling, but it does add to our excitement about this episode, after the hiatus, and it’s something we want to underscore as often as possible.
In “Evil Did I Dwell, Lewd I Did Live” (March 22), we get Nas (Archie Panjabi) escaping from a near-death ambush with some killer ninja moves, Jane (Jaimie Alexander) kickboxing Nas’s surprise mystery informant into submission (after propelling herself down a laundry chute!), and Patterson (Ashley Johnson) enduring a tooth extraction with no anesthesia.
On the emotional bad-*ssery front, Patterson’s “Marathon Man” torture sessions were mostly a welcome distraction from her broken-wide-open-again heart after a long-time-coming confrontation — while Zapata (Audrey Esparza) had to dig deep to do the right thing, and throw someone she adores under the bus… For his own good. They wear “nevertheless, she persisted” well, don’t they?
On the bigger picture, series-mythology front, two key figures from the past re-emerged: one as a temporary ally, while one remained an enemy (albeit a vaguely remorseful one) to the end.
Having escaped from a miraculously nonfatal date with that piano wire from the cliffhanger, Nas returned to headquarters and negotiated for information from her mystery Sandstorm informant as to where Borden (Ukweli Roach) and Shepherd (Michelle Hurd) would next turn up.
Of course, that kind of information doesn’t come cheap. After the money drop, Jane performs a Chuck Norris-style dance of pain (complete with some sweet impromptu “broom handles make excellent nunchucks in a pinch” moves) for the fleeing informant, who proves to be none other than… Cade (Tom Lipinski). Awkward!
Weller (Sullivan Stapleton)’s having a hard time forgetting Cade’s psychopathic efforts to, you know, kill Jane and everyone else on the team. Cade insists he’s learned the hard way that Shepherd only cares about Shepherd. Despite Weller’s reservations, Jane, Nas, and pretty much everyone else see the wisdom of treating the enemy of their enemy as their “friend” (or at least circumstantial ally).
Cade promises to lead them the fixer scheduled to get Shepherd out of the country, but when the team descends upon the location, the fixer is dead. Weller naturally concludes that Cade’s just being unreliable, as psychopaths are wont to do… And Cade throws back that maybe Weller’s team is responsible for the leak. It ought to be an improbable accusation — but when Patterson gets another one of her killer migraines, the penny drops soon after (as does Sandstorm’s hidden mic):
Patterson is the leak providing Shepherd with advanced knowledge of the team’s every move!
That is, inadvertently. Seems that when Shepherd was getting her torture on with Patterson, she also managed to implant a bug inside Patterson’s tooth after she was knocked out. Oh, and that scene in which Patterson relays this revelation to Weller and Jane via written words on her tablet while simultaneously faking a totally casual cover conversation? Pure awesome.
Naturally it was delicious to watch the team turn the tables, and engage in some clever conference room theater to feed false information to Sandstorm via Patterson’s mouth: What a fun spin on open mic night… And what a great reminder of how fun, and funny, this show can be when it lets itself.
The gang takes the show on the road to stage a bust-up in which Cade “shoots” Patterson and Reade (Rob Brown) before “escaping.” It’s the perfect opportunity for Borden and his thugs to silence Cade, or so Borden thinks. A little too perfect, sucker! His minions are quickly taken out by the gang (er, make that taken out by each other while surrounded by the gang). As for Borden, Patterson is hot on his heels… Despite Weller’s warnings to wait for backup. And yes, we were biting our nails over that sequence: Just because she’s the Kitty Pryde character we’re all supposed to love and identify with doesn’t mean that we don’t, come on.
But it’s looking like Patterson’s closure might be the more permanent kind, what with the bullets flying, the explosives, the grenade, and the emotional volatility of a face-off against the cad who broke her in about ten thousand different ways. For all the colorful and imaginative ways most of us might imagine enacting revenge upon an ex for far less ominous transgressions, here’s Patterson taking a deep breath, and the high road — even when her own life is on the line. Because she is great!
It’s a very powerful scene on many fronts, as Borden seems to be offer himself up to her for a well-deserved revenge killing, and one that could be made look pretty damn kosher, procedurally speaking. Of course, he couldn’t have known that well after all, or loved her in any deeply profound way (like for example we do), if he’d even consider dragging her down to his level. But hey, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Maybe he offered her the only thing his warped mind could conceive of as closure and compensation. He’s been through a lot, after all… Including a terrible final moment, when he pulls the pin on a grenade — possibly, just an iota of remorse in his finally — and Patterson just barely clears the blast radius.
Speaking of tragically fleeting glimpses, we barely got one of those when it came to our beloved Roman this go-around: Jane did have the brilliant idea to plant Cade in front of Roman on the off chance it would trigger more of Roman’s memories, but no dice. She later orders up some more comfortable furnishings for her brother’s spartan cell, because staring at him through that glass is taking its toll on both her heart and conscience. And we’re right there with her, still watching Roman with bated breath. Still waters run deep, no? We still can’t quite believe how easily he could have been the ultimate Scrappy Doo — we’ll never get over how well he’s integrated into the story. One thing TV show definitely study, moving forward.
In less praiseworthy news, the “Edgar Reade has a drug problem” subplot is still dragging on, and still feels untethered. Only if it’s a piece of a larger puzzle — even a red herring, at this point — will this be less than completely stupid. He’s getting hounded by HR for random drug tests, then somehow passes, and does the whole cliched “I don’t have a problem you have a problem” with Zapata, who is not exactly being well-served by this story either, but at least makes it count: Reade. Your bestie is another solid gold woman who isn’t about to stand idly by while you destroy yourself, and by episode’s end, ultimatum ignored, she takes Reade’s problem to Weller himself.
Oh, and then there’s that cliffhanger cruelly disguised as a romantic reprieve for Jane at the end. What’s a girl to do when her handsome man-friend apologizes and asks for a do-over? She rushes into Oliver’s arms, and mere seconds later, masked intruders are making their own eager entrance, trank darts in hand. Where’s a mop that can be broken into a shiv when a girl needs one?
Even Jane can’t bad-*ss her way through this one, we don’t think — but you gotta love her that much more for running straight at her attackers with a “I’m gonna get you, sucker!” glint in her eye at least. That’s our Jane!
“Blindspot” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.