‘Blindspot’ Season 1, Episode 10: All Your Idea

24 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Blindspot recap: ‘Evil Handmade Instrument’.

Game changer! In a world of endless options, broadcast networks have increasingly relied on the promotional push surrounding the midseason finale to build anticipation for the last episode in a long stretch of time. Because while playing an ass-kicking heroine sounds kind of awesome, it’s also not easy — at least according to the 31-year-old star of NBC’s Blindspot. The need to create big moments or tweetable twists that might help a show trend for a few hours—but probably not enough to sustain interest for a 10-week break—but it doesn’t necessarily produce good episodes of TV, which, you know, is the point of this entire endeavor. I suspect that people will ultimately enjoy Blindspot’s final episode until February (oh how I would have loved to see a holiday special, complete with a Rudolph-related tattoo!) because of what occurred in the final 10 minutes of the episode.

Among the significant moments in that stretch: Jane planting a big kiss on Weller, Zapata turning in her resignation, Carter kidnapping Jane and waterboarding her, and, the biggie, Jane’s former fiancé reappearing, killing Carter, and playing her an iPhone video describing who concocted this tattoo plan to begin with—Jane, of course. Bethany agrees to let her stay on the case for now, and the team starts to look into any clues they have as to who murdered David. (Sidenote: David apparently has a collection of Firefly DVD’s, further proving his coolness and making his death even more heartbreaking. #RIP) They find a print on David that matches a man named Roger Levkin, a Russian immigrant who gained citizenship by marrying his wife, Emily, 10 years prior.

Unless Jane has an identical twin, the video was of Jane herself, recorded at some point in the relatively distant past and addressed to future Jane. “I know that you want to find out who did this to you,” Cellphone Jane told Blank-Slate Jane. “The answer is: you. Since Jane first emerged naked from a duffel bag in the middle of Times Square on Sept. 21, the drama has become fall’s biggest freshman success story. From a pure story development perspective, those events range from notable to seemingly very important, giving “Evil Handmade Instrument” the air of midseason finale-ness that NBC promoted it as. That information combined with the books of code and secret messages from the historical society leads the team to believe that he may be a Russian spy using old-school messaging tactics.

The debut alone drew 10.6 million viewers, and subsequent episodes have averaged 12.7 million viewers, convincing NBC to make it the first new series to be renewed for a second season. Showrunner Martin Gero has already made the rounds with other outlets describing how this new information about Operation: Ink Master will recontextualize Jane’s experience with the FBI, her budding relationship with Weller, and so on. That’s almost certainly true, and Blindspot deserves praise for revealing that piece of information in the tenth episode, and for doing so in a relatively matter-of-fact fashion. He had been looking to build a procedural with a rich mythology and mystery when the idea popped into his head. “That image of a woman covered in tattoos just presented itself to me one morning as I was lying in bed,” he says. It’s the perfect tidbit to drop at this stage in the game, in that it suggested clarity and further positions Jane as a crusading hero against the sketchier forces within the federal government or intelligence community, but it also left miles of wiggle room to add other wrinkles later when it’s time to unveil a grand cabal conspiracy.

Weller takes him down and arrests him to take him in, but Roger tells his wife “sorry” and commits suicide using some sort of poison inside of his mouth. Add some insane stunt work to the mix — Jane recently piloted a helicopter (which Alexander did on her own) — to the central mystery of Jane’s identity, and the series ends up satisfying a massive audience. “It’s a television show for people who love television,” Gero explains. “There’s comedy, there’s crime, there’s mythology, there’s cases of the week, and there’s puzzles.” Oh, and there’s nonstop action. On a brisk November afternoon in New York City, where the show shoots, crews have set up half a dozen sleek motorcycles outside the Queens Museum to film a chase scene for the 10th episode. The pursuit of David’s murderer led to the discovery of three deep-cover Russian spies (someone ha s apparently been watching “The Americans”), who for some reason communicated using a ridiculously cumbersome coded-message system, with an even more ridiculously cumbersome flowerpot message system as backup.

In the sequence, Jane and her FBI-agent colleague Kurt Weller, played by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, must run all over the museum’s interior, dash out of the lobby, hop onto the bikes, and race to catch up with a silver sedan. Yet one 45-second TED Talk from Past Jane covered up for what was an otherwise middling episode of Blindspot, complete with an extended investigation that never came together as a transition to the kissing, the torturing, and the phoning home, and didn’t quite treat the fallout of last week’s episode as importantly as I might have guessed.

That’s the danger with midseason finales like this, and the tendency for shows with a larger “mythology” to employ this strategy at the finale or winter break disappoints more often than not. With each take, Furneaux’s ink on the back of her hands — which requires the same application process as Alexander’s — begins to rub off. “I’m rough on mine,” Furneaux observes after finishing the shot. “They get worn out with the sweating and the fighting. Unfortunately, Kate wasn’t much of a character as portrayed here, and instead slid into a slightly broader story about Russian sleeper cell agents building lives among the cultural and political elites in America. When a central component of your ripped-from-old-headlines Russian sleeper agent story involves a female spy cozying up to a New York Times profile writer, problems abound. Emily, Roger’s wife, is a professor who has testified in several congressional hearings in favor of sanctioning Russia for humans’ rights violation.

Johnson: She was now required to turn Patterson into the employee who refuses to take time off despite personal tragedy; the one who deals with her grief by working. But Gero makes sure that some of the other 200-plus designs also get flashed on the screen, giving eagle-eyed viewers — who tweet theories and fill Reddit boards with their guesses about what they saw — the chance to play at home.

Which is just what the producers had been hoping for. “People aren’t watching the show passively,” Gero says. “If anything, this show is just a giant proof of concept that crowdsourcing works. When you have 15 million people looking at something, someone’s going to get it.” (Fans don’t need to worry about running out of tattoos to solve. That was made even more apparent by the reappearance of Jane’s ex, who we now know as Oscar and who will surely provide numerous confusing feelings for Jane. Jane had an emotional moment with Patterson, and that apparently left her in need of an emotional moment with Weller, who found her waiting outside his place in the dark.

The show’s success may have begun with that memorable opening shot in Times Square, but its continued appeal is the deepening mystery of who Jane is. Speaking of faux big developments, Oscar eliminated Carter from the equation before introducing Jane to her former self via Vine, so that’s one gruff, mostly shapeless bureaucratic threat removed from the equation.

Again, I’ll give the show credit for crafting what was a sufficiently disturbing waterboarding sequence, complete with beautifully grimy green-tinted lighting, and for actively showing the audience the lengths that Carter was willing to go to protect Daylight (and presumably his own skin). While the show has hinted at a future romance between Jane and Kurt, Stapleton is quick to refute the theory. “We’re just teasing people,” he says, smiling. “They haven’t lined us up together.” He pauses. “Yet.” As for the long-term outcome of the show? “The plan from the beginning has been to make each of these seasons feel self-contained,” Gero says. “Who Jane is, is insanely complicated, and there’s a lot to do … [but] we know what the end goal is. Unfortunately, the scene also did the thing I hate the absolute most in shows like this—introducing another vague, generic conspiratorial operation that will just lead to six other operations of similar ilk.

We spent more time in the first weeks talking about the finale than talking about the first two episodes.” For now, Alexander’s not thinking about Jane’s future; she’s settling into her new life. If the references and flashbacks to Daylight weren’t enough for you, can I interest you in a random Jane flashback to her crossing paths with Carter while he was speaking of—cue the scary music—Orion? Predictably, Carter immediately clammed up at Jane’s reference to Orion, only to be killed seconds later, leaving Jane and all of us wondering how many levels of corruption and conspiracy this tattoo thing seeks to unveil. Kate has a needle pointing at Jane (assuming with the same poison Roger had), but Weller shows up just in time to turn it around on Kate and throw her in the ocean — it was a little dramatic, but Weller would go “overboard” to protect Jane. (Sorry, it was too easy.) Patterson arrives at the scene to look at the woman responsible for David’s death, but she seems even more depressed after seeing her dead body.

And she says she’s learned to enjoy the lengthy tattoo process, using the time to run her lines and listen to music while in the makeup chair. “We’ve gotten it down to a science,” Alexander says, pointing out that on some days, they have to apply tattoos only to her exposed skin. “I know a lot of people are like, ‘Man, how can you sit there that long?’ But the time flies.” She’s even gotten used to being spotted during her rare downtime on the streets of New York. “I get recognized pretty often,” she says of how life has changed since Blindspot. “I’ve had people tell me that Jane makes them cry, and they want to hug her.” She pauses and laughs. “I get a lot of people who want to hug me,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll take it. Back at the office, she confesses to Jane that she thought work and catching David’s killer would fill the massive void she’s suffering from, but she can’t stop feeling broken from what’s happened. She goes on about how she wishes she would have paid attention to how perfect she and David were for each other and not wasted any time they had together. Note to Blindspot, The Blacklist, and any other show that thinks dropping curious-sounding nouns into their plotlines to drum up tension: It doesn’t work.

His interrogations trigger a flashback, where she’s walking past Carter — who’s talking to someone else and doesn’t seem to notice her — and hears him say, “the program is called Orion.” She asks Carter what Orion is, and this infuriates him more. At first I thought maybe Carter would have a bulletproof vest on (surely he can’t die this early in the season!), but tree-tattoo guy wasn’t messing around; Carter is dead (assuming he doesn’t survive multiple bullets to the chest.) The mystery man looks longingly at Jane, who recognizes his face from her dreams/flashbacks.

— Given Mayfair’s frustration over Carter running roughshod over her operations, it’s at least somewhat likely that she had something to do with Oscar popping Carter, right? Orion seems to be the real government program that’s catapulted all of this — Daylight was just another part of government corruption Jane and whoever else was trying to expose (I think).

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