Most people know someone who’s more of an acquaintance than friend. They may be coworkers, go to the same gym, or patronize the same bar. Most of the time, they are tolerable but amicably annoying, with a few moments that offer a flash of genuine charm or humor. There are also times when they go too far and transgress good manners. Blindspot> is becoming the TV series equivalent of that acquaintance.
This week’s episode, “Persecute Envoys”, epitomized this dynamic. It included a couple of typically hard-to-accept moments, a seeming staple of the show; another gratuitous scene with a slight connection to BDSM kink, a moment of decent insight through dialogue, and a new annoyance that tests the audience’s tolerance.
Sadly, every week, Blindspot includes some insane piece of lazy writing dressed as coincidence. This quirk’s almost becoming the fun of watching the show, not unlike people who went to see Alfred Hitchcock’s movies only to try to catch his cameo. Back in episode three, within 20 feet of a dirty bomb, there is scaffolding set with a clear tarp and loads of duct tape. Two weeks ago, the final scene was predicated on the federal government transporting an arsenal of weapons in an unmarked truck, uncrated, with unarmed guards and without an escort vehicle. Last week, a helicopter just happened to be left in a clearing in the woods to facilitate our gang of good guys’ escape; they didn’t even have to wipe bird poop off of the windshield!
During this week’s episode, we see a 120-pound woman outrun and tackle a professional football player, and find out that, even though only four people on the planet know about “Operation Daylight” two of them, FBI Deputy Director Bethany Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and Deputy White House Political Director Sofia Varma (Sarita Choudhury), are lovers. (Neither of these last two coincidences, however, are as reality bending as those seen in past episodes.)
One of the more troubling aspects of Blindspot is how often it relies on women being captured, bound, or threatened. This week, a less victim-centric version of BDSM kink was cleaned up for network prime time television, and features a scene in which FBI agent, Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) and with Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) spar with each other. It ends with the two combatants lying on the floor laughing in glee.
There was one strong piece of writing in the episode. There was a brief moment, when Ricky Holt (Roy Jackson) was being interrogated, and it’s revealed he was being blackmailed, as this week’s bad guy a tape of Holt having sex with another man. Agent Edgar Reade (Ron Brown) points out that there are outed professional athletes, to which Holt replies: “Yeah, and look how their careers are going… I’ll lose my endorsements, no team will want me. I do my lap on the morning talk show circuit, then what?” The line rings true considering the recent Michael Sam saga.
About halfway through the episode, the audience learns that the working theory of the case was a red herring. Our gang of good guys, including Agent Reade, Agents Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza), and Patterson (Ashley Johnson) along with Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) talk out the theory of the crime. While these expositional moments can work, this scene feels rote, with each character tries to top the last in making the most obvious statement. It ends with Reade making a profoundly simple observation, committing the sin a show like Blindspot can’t afford to make: being condescending. Any show that requires the audience to restrain its logic and critical thought as much as Blindspot does can never afford to talk down to the audience.
The only real difference between Blindspot and annoying acquaintances is that Blindspot’s a lot easier to dump. Even if the proportion of exceptional to annoying moments stays the same, the novelty is wearing out its welcome.