It’s the start of Fall in the US, so that means we get a bunch of first episodes of new shows to pull apart and speculate about. Blindspot is a new serial / procedural show from NBC that seems to be the lovechild of past shows John Doe and Prison Break (both starring Australian actor Dominic Purcell, for what it’s worth). Starring the awesome Jaimie Alexander (AKA Lady Sif), Australian journeyman actor Sullivan Stapleton (recently of Animal Kingdom fame), Ashley Johnson (the voice of Ellie from The Last of Us), and BAMF Marianne Jean-Baptiste (best known for Without a Trace), and with quite a diverse supporting cast, Blindspot seems to be trying it’s best to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Only time will tell whether the audience will become invested enough for this show to continue. My gut feel, based on this pilot episode, is a solid maybe.
The story follows an amnesiac woman who is referred to as Jane Doe, found naked in a bag in the middle of Time Square NYC. There are no records of her face, fingerprints or DNA in the FBI database, she has huge amounts of an amnesia inducing drug in her system, but the most striking feature (and the plot device that will initiate every episode) is that she is quite visibly covered from head to toe in tattoos. The largest tattoo in the middle of her back reads “Kurt Weller FBI”, so the FBI interrupt Mr Weller from showing us how awesome he is and fly him to NYC so he can be the lead on this case. After a few moments and some emotional turmoil, we discover (to no viewer’s surprise) that the tattoos contain a message, that not only are her tattoo’s a treasure map for finding out who she really is, but they also contain important information for taking down potential TERRORISTS! Our Jane Doe might not be able to remember anything about who she is or any facts about the world, but that doesn’t matter as she fluently speaks obscure ancient forgotten Chinese dialects and can kick ass with the best of them. Neato!
Okay, so I know I’ve been a little facetious in this review so far, but I did genuinely enjoy a number of moments in this pilot episode. Jaimie Alexander is clearly a standout actress, delivering ridiculous and clunky dialogue with more finesse than it deserves. The tattoos look fantastic, especially the honeycomb tattoo that covers her right forearm and hand. And the episode did have a really good pace from start to finish, never dragging out, never becoming boring, and managing to explain the premise of the show without getting too complex and without patronizing the audience. It has the makings of what could be a very good show, one that is able to continue beyond Season One in a plausible fashion once the tattoo’s have outlived their usefulness (don’t deny it, Prison Break had no plans for what it was going to do once the boys broke out).
So while I liked the pilot episode, there were some problems. One big problem I can’t really talk about without spoiling things, but basically what we learn about Jane Doe’s past and her super secret skillz in this episode induced eye-rolls from my wife that were so big I thought her retina’s may detach themselves and run away. The other big problem is the lack of attention to detail to the parts of the show that aren’t Jaimie Alexander’s tattoo covered body. I think the writers and producers are so worried about people poking holes in the tattoo conspiracy theory stuff that they missed the really stupid stuff, like why did the bomb disposal guy bring a gun? Where was he hiding that gun to pull it so quickly? Isn’t it unnecessarily risky to bring a gun to a bomb disposal? Why are you leaving an amnesiac in a safe house on her own with just two security guards outside? Shouldn’t she at least have a psychologist or someone stay with her to at least comfort her and not make her feel like shes 100% alone in world? When an amnesiac says she has no idea what food she might or might not like, why would you just offer her a bunch of menus? Why would you fire a shot inside a metallic room where the ricochet could go anywhere and hit anyone? Why does NBC continue to make shows about agencies that are inept except for this one little cell of people who demand to do things their own way and refuse to communicate with people would be able to offer help and make things easier for them? But enough about the little things.
This is not the most absurd premise for a TV show (did you watch Prison Break?) but it is a little silly and at the moment it seems a little predictable. Clearly, the goal for the rest of the season will be to decipher no more than one tattoo per week (so we can keep these weekly episodes going) that act to reveal some of Jane Doe’s past, reveal a new super secret super awesome skill that she didn’t know she had, and also lead to the take down of a terror plot (with a twist, of course). The end result will likely be the takedown of a super terror plot that only Jane Doe can prevent, and she can only prevent it by willingly giving herself amnesia so she can infiltrate the FBI and stop the mole from the inside. I dare you to suggest I’m wrong.