Television

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 9 - "Authentic Flirt"

Anthony Merino

Despite an absurd premise, near-impossible coincidences, and lazy writing, Blindspot remains at least somewhat watchable.


Blindspot

Airtime: Monday, 10pm
Cast: Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton, Ennis Esmer, Audrey Esparza, Ashley Johnson
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 9 - "Authentic Flirt"
Network: NBC
Air date: 2015-11-16
Amazon

This week’s installment of Blindspot cobbled together a few tried and tested television clichés and some gratuitous sexualizing, with the series’ own obsession with excessive violence and fixations on absurd coincidence. There was a lot of awful packed into the hour, and very few good moments. Surprisingly, the final product was somewhat watchable.

The producers got the shows fixation with BDSM out of the way quickly. It opens with a shot of Barcelona followed by a shot of a man bound to a table with his head in a large wood vice, being tortured by two assassins to determine the whereabouts of the man’s brother. The victim doesn’t know where his brother is, and is shot.

Not only was the scene overly graphic, it was completely unnecessary. The episode’s plot revolved around a villain getting a hold of the Witness Security Program database and selling it off to various nefarious people. Our two leads, Jane Doe, (Jaimie Alexander) and FBI Agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), assume the identities of a couple trying to purchase a copy of the list. So if they were already planning to purchase the list, why would they kidnap, torture, and kill the brother of their target? I guess even crazed Bulgarian assassins need a back-up plan.

Shortly after the opening scene, quirky science geek Patterson (Ashley Johnson) tells us that she was able to find a number of embedded letters in Jane’s tattoos that have the same font. Combined, the fonts create an anagram. There are thousands of possible combinations, but there was a hit on one "Ashwell Creek Kennels", which leads to a website, which leads to an abandon house on Staten Island that the bad guys use as a drop site. So, why does an international super secret criminal cabal use a house within driving distance of the good guys? Because, it’s Blindspot! Sadly, this represents the most reasonable coincidence in the entire episode.

After that, we find that the assassins speak Bulgarian, which of course Jane speaks as well. The crew looks around the house and finds a shoe print in the dust on a table. Agent Weller climbs on the table and abracadabra: there are two tickets to a ball that same night, and a pin to wear. After discovering the identity of the victim, the FBI gets help from the US Marshall service. Lo and behold, not only is Weller’s ex -- Alison Knight (Trieste Kelly Dunn) -- a US Marshall, she’s the very US Marshall they send over! Finally, in the episode’s climatic firefight, FBI agents Edgar Reade (Rob Brown) and Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) show up to save the day. We’re told that the main baddie had properties all up and down the east coast, so it’s rather odd that Weller’s partners show up at the right time and exact place.

There was a scene where Patterson had a bit of dialogue reminiscent of Scotty (James Doohan) on the original Star Trek in which, immediately after explaining how impossible it is to track the location of the bad guy, she declares she was able to do it. Like the long string of coincidences, this was not the only moment where the writers dressed up exposition as dialogue.

There was one point where I didn’t know if I should laugh or be insulted. Doe and Weller are taken via helicopter to the bad guy’s island. As they are walking to the house Jane whispers, "I don’t know where we are. We got no guns, no back up, now how are we going to arrest this guy?" Part of me wants to be offended because she just restated everything I was just told or could assume. Are the writers so confident of my inability to connect dots or recognize the peril of the situation? The other part just wanted to giggle. I’ve never been, nor never likely will be, an undercover agent for the FBI, but I’m fairly confident that saying, "How are we going to arrest this guy?" when undercover is frowned upon.

Patterson also provided a brief moment of Charlie’s Angels-style titillation. She, Zapada, and Reade attend the same event as Weller and Doe; Patterson wears a dress with a plunging neckline more appropriate for a Lady Gaga back-up singer than an FBI agent for her first foray into the field. It ends up giving the impression that it was less about the episode’s plot and more that the show decided that Ashley Johnson had a decent figure and needed to shoehorn a way to get her into a sexy black dress.

This week’s episode did have one highlight: the baddie, Rich Dot Com (Ennis Esmer). He plays a marketer on the black web who legally changed his name to Rich Dot Com. The character was written with a nice combination of genius, pre-pubescent sexuality, and sociopathic violence, and is the first Blindspot character that appears to be intentionally campy.

As good as Esmer’s performance was, it clearly could not equal the piles of bad in this week’s episode. The end result was tantamount to a game of dress-up than an actual plot. That being said, it was a pretty good 60 minutes of mind candy: entertaining while experiencing it, forgotten when it’s over. Of course, there’s no telling what’ll happen if you overindulge.

6

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