Secret codes, shadowy organizations: is Blindspot piecing together the riddle wrapped in the mystery of the enigma that is Jane Doe?
BlindspotAirtime: Mondays, 9pm
Cast: Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton, Audrey Esparza, Rob Brown, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Ukweli Roach, Ashley Johnson
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 3 - "Eight Slim Grins"
Air date: 2015-10-05
In the first few minutes of “Eight Slim Grins”, a bearded man grabs Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) from behind. This character has shown up in several flashback scenes, as well as appearing to track Jane in the first two episodes. In short order, she elbows him and flips him onto a chair; he picks up a chair leg and knocks her tooth out. Spoiler alert: they fight some more. When he’s finally shot by a sniper, he falls to the floor, tells her not to trust anyone, and dies. In retrospect, his advice seems a little redundant for someone who’s had her memory wiped, received a full body tattoo, and been dropped in Times Square wrapped in a duffle bag.
It’s a startling development nonetheless; the first episodes of the series seemed to be setting the bearded guy up to be a major player. His death indicates that writer and creator Martin Gero won’t be averse to walking the viewer down a few blind alleys. Unfortunately, like many of the show’s elements, this twist doesn’t hold up to heavy contemplation. Then again, that might be one of the wonderful things about espionage soap thrillers: they’re always about a clandestine world where nothing is ever what it appears to be, therefore negating the need for viewers to use silly things like logic or their own experiences to understand the story.
One of the other great tropes of this genre is the huge high-level conspiracy encapsulated in a phrase or a single word. At the end of the episode, we are told that Jane Doe’s tattoos are linked to a top-secret project called “Daylight.” Team boss Bethany Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), meets up with CIA Deputy Director Tom Carter (Michael Gaston) to discuss the problem of Jane Doe; in particular, the link between Jane’s tattoos and the ominous “Operation Daylight.” Apparently, only four people in the world know about “Operation Daylight” and one of them is dead. Simple math dictates since two of the four are at the table, it must be the unmentioned, unseen individual that’s behind everything.
Another cryptic clue appears earlier in episode. The perfunctory episodic mystery involves a series of jewelry heists by a band of four men. One, Casey Robek (Michael Rogers) gets shot during the heist, and what do you know: he has the same Navy seal tattoo as Jane Doe. After he’s hospitalized, the rest of his gang undertake a daring rescue at the precise moment Jane Doe and Curt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) are in the patient’s room. Gun, fist, and knife fights ensue. In the end, Casey whispers a single word to Jane -- “Orion” – before he too dies.
This doubling is becoming a trademark of Blindspot. If something is worth doing once, it is worth doing twice. Come up with an ominously ironic code name, have a suspect killed while being treated in the hospital, or show a guy is evil by having him attack women; the same beats, over and over.
Still, the show is improving. There are still many elements that are riddled with plot holes and groan-worthy coincidences; the biggest is the idea that Jane Doe could go from being mistaken for a bomb in Times Square to being a functional member of a secret FBI task force after only a few weeks. That being said, it's clear Blindspot isn’t designed to be taken too seriously; it moves through fist, gun, and knife fights, plot revelations, and personal confrontations at such a dizzying speed, plot coherence and character development really don’t matter. We’re just here to enjoy the ride.