Blindspot: Nor I, Nigel, AKA Leg in Iron – It’s Complicated (Review)

 Blindspot - Season 2

After what seemed like an eternity, aka the mid-winter break, Blindspot came back with a vengeance.  Episode 10 “Nor I, Nigel, AKA Leg in Iron” started off by letting us know that Patterson was the loser in that fight for the gun. Wounded and unconscious she is taken by Borden to Shepherd for questioning.

Things become quite complicated while the puzzle solving agent was held captive and tortured by Shepherd.  Roman, who was ZIP-ed by Jane in the mid-season finale wakes up wounded and disoriented. This does not stop him from escaping from the stranger next to him who claims to be his sister.

Nas is fired from her job by the new man we love to hate, FBI Director Pellington.  (You have to hand it to creator Martin Gero. No sooner do Weller and his team get past one grade A arsehat than the show’s runner gives them another to deal with.) 

Pellington blames Nas for the trap set by Shepherd. The deaths of 12 FBI agents are on her head, according to him, and he takes her out of the equation.  Borden, whose real name is Nigel Thornton, really does care for Patterson and does not kill her as ordered.

Roman is finally hunted down by constantly ringing his cell phone until he picks up. Jane repeats that she is his sister and that she wants to help him. He gives her directions, somewhat cryptically, and the team head to a diner to pick him up.

Despite having his memory wiped, Roman proves to be a tough customer. Shepherd, who is monitoring the call, sends her men to collect Jane’s brother. He gets the waitress and her daughter to leave before attacking the men.

After a brief shoot out, Roman is collected by Weller and Jane. They take him to the FBI headquarters for protection and questioning.

Shepherd proves to be as nasty as ever when she knocks Patterson unconscious after the special agent predicts that all her followers will leave her, just like both her children have done.  

Borden spares Patterson just as Weller, Tash and Jane arrive to save the day. Their vehicle hits  a land mine and is blown onto its side. Borden runs for it and Weller follows. Tash and Jane rescue Patterson. Weller, who is at a bit of a disadvantage after just being blown up, is bested by the Sandstorm mole who escapes.

Kurt still does not know why Shepherd is so intent on having him involved. Meanwhile, Pellington is questioning Roman who remembers nothing. He turns him over to the CIA. Jane and Weller arrive before they can remove Roman.

Weller tells Pellington that if he gives Roman to the CIA he will walk. Kurt also demands that Nas be returned. Angrily, the FBI director agrees to let Jane’s brother stay and tells Weller that if Nas makes any mistake, Weller will pay for it.

Roman starts remembering things from his childhood after Jane brings him a warm meal and his coin.

Blindspot managed to crank up the tension by yet again threatening fan favorite Special Agent Patterson. This time it seemed that she might not make it out alive after being tortured by Shepherd. While Borden did cave in at the last moment, it is clear that deep down he would have killed his temporary girlfriend/lover had she not talked him down.

It is complicated this season, even more so than the first season with its tattoo a week puzzles and the double dealing by various players. Agent Zapata, for example, managed to switch hit for the other team twice.

As seen by her reaction to Reade’s kiss, the agent doth protest too much methinks, it is clear that Tash still has that guilty conscience to deal with. Sure Edgar is her “best friend” but as he himself says, this move makes sense.

The complications continue as Kurt still does not have a clue about why he is so crucial to the final solution that Shepherd and Sandstorm are planning.  Nor do we.

Gero is playing this one very close to the vest. We still do not know just who the NSA mole is in Sandstorm, although Patterson did gain access to the mole’s phone and discover that one of Jane’s tattoos had been removed.

Roman may well turn out to be less stable than his sister. He was clearly upset by the carnage that Pellington showed him under questioning. His dreams are also full of misery and a young boy’s fear. He may crack before he can remember anything of use to the team.

Blindspot  is still providing some kick-arse moments and this episode was a nail-biting exercise from start to finish. This is good stuff and this return of season two was gripping and full of suspense.

On a sidenote: (One we have mentioned before.) If Martin Gero is going to continue putting Patterson in peril (See what we did there?) can we get a Christian name please. It would be nice to learn it is not “Special Agent.”

The series airs Wednesdays on NBC. Tune in and get caught up in the mystery.

CAST:

Blindspot: Of Whose Uneasy Route – Hacked (Review)

 Blindspot - Season 1

‘Blindspot’ this week follows up the murder of Mayfair’s date and after Weitz clean out Bethany’s office for evidence the FBI office undergoes a lockdown. Weller’s group are split into twos. Zapata and Mayfair, Patterson and Jane, Weller and Dr. Borden, Reade and Sarah.

Mayfair is under suspicion for the murder of the woman in the hotel room and Patterson realizes that the lockdown situation is not an exercise, as everyone initially thought. After realizing she has no wifi signal Patterson tells Jane that the bureau is being hacked.

The doors in the entire facility lock and cannot be opened normally.  Reade and Sarah are trapped on on elevator with a civilian who has issues. Bethany and Tasha are stuck discussing why Zapata is helping Weitz while Kurt, Borden, Jane and Patterson head to  the tech’s office to figure out what is going on.

Two “cleaners” are downloading the identities of undercover FBI agents. Weller realizes that the hackers are trying to bring down the bureau. All the communications outlets have been shut down and Patterson has some old military radios that she gives Weller and Jane.

Once again, Patterson (Ashley Johnson) does a “MacGyver,” hacks some door locks and and pretty much saves the day, or at least sets things up to save the day. Weller and Jane move to where the hackers have access to the communications hub and start chopping wires to stop the duo copying files.

Blindspot - Season 1
Patterson saving the day from her desk.

As Weller and Jane get reinforcements, and guns, they head to where the couple are accessing the FBI files.  A shootout kills the woman but the man escapes and he continues to control the building’s functions via his tablet.

Threatening to drop all the elevators from the top floor unless they release his partner (his is not aware of her death) Reade and Sarah (and the overly medicated lady in the lift with them) must be rescued before the hacker can kill them.

After the smoke clears from the “take-over” Weitz (Abrams) goes to remove Mayfair. Weller insists she stay to face her accuser. He agrees and begins to lay out evidence that “proves” Bethany murdered the woman in the hotel room as well as Carter. As each damning bit of evidence is revealed, Jane realizes she was used by Oscar to set the FBI leader up.

The thumb drive, swapping Mayfair’s pen, all of the things she did at Oscar’s bidding were only to set up Bethany Mayfair.  Jane’s face is a mixture of regret and surprise.

It is all too easy to feel Jane Doe’s emotional angst here. At the start of the program she and Patterson are working out and it is obvious the two have passed colleague status and are now friends.  It is interesting to note that as Jane gets closer to the team, Zapata is distancing herself from her friends and colleagues.

Of even more interest is the reveal that Mayfair was not just set up by Jane. The “dead” Sofia, who Bethany gave her savings to ($48K and some change),  apparently helped as well since this exact same amount turns up as evidence of Donna (the dead woman in the motel room) blackmailing Mayfair.

How will Jane react now that she has learned that Oscar’s intentions were not as advertised? More importantly, will her contact attempt to explain his actions or will he do a quick  fade?

The twists and turns of ‘Blindspot’ keep getting sharper and more intense.  The entire FBI team have been put through the wringer, Patterson losing her boyfriend, Reade losing Sarah, Mayfair learning that Sofia was still alive and Weller’s father is dying. Now Jane has learned that Oscar apparently lied to her from day one.

Jaime Alexander has settled into her role of tattooed harbinger and Sullivan Stapleton keeps getting better as the childhood friend who believes Jane is Taylor Shaw. Marianne Jean-Baptiste was brilliant in this episode and her interaction with Audrey Esparza, and Aaron Abrams was spot on. 

 Blindspot - Season 1
Mayfair weary leader.

Mayfair is the weary leader and her single tear (Of anger? Disappointment? Betrayal?) during her exchange with Zapata was just brilliant.

Next week is the penultimate episode of season one. Jane may look for some explaining from Oscar and we can expect some major guilt from the tattooed one as well.

‘Blindspot’ airs Mondays on NBC.

Blindspot: Scientists Hollow Fortune – Swimming the River Styx (Review)

After the previous week’s rooftop conversation Blindspot: Scientists Hollow Fortune takes things further with Jane agreeing to swap pens with Mayfair.

Blindspot - Season 1

After the previous week’s rooftop conversation Blindspot: Scientists Hollow Fortune takes things further with Jane agreeing to swap pens with Mayfair. Meanwhile an Airborne solder is found wandering outside a base. When he is finally brought in, he claims to have swum the River Styx and escaped from Hell.

After the FBI capture the man, but not before he shoots  five men down, they learn he is full of “zip” the same chemical compound used to erase Jane’s memory.  The soldier turns out to be one Sergeant Charlie Napier who was declared KIA after stepping on an IED.  The Sergeant’s name is also tattooed on Jane’s body.

The “dead” soldier has a lot of  other chemicals in his body as well as the zip.  As a result, according to Patterson,  the combination keeps the G.I. in a constant state of fight or flight. After reuniting Napier with his mother, the soldier remembers more things about his escape.  One of which is that he “saw the face of God” and that He told Charlie to escape.

Patterson reveals that Napier’s name is not the only one on Jane’s body. Four other soldiers names and ranks are tattooed on her body as well. All five soldiers have been declared dead, from an IED explosion. After the she shares the information Mayfair expresses concern at Patterson’s well being but the tech states that work is what she needs.

After Charlie’s emotional reunion with his mother  the Army CID swoops in and takes him away. Jane challenges the act and Mayfair orders her to stand down. Patterson finds a pattern in the names on Jane’s body. All were declared dead by the same private military contractor.

Weller’s team start tracking down information for locations where the contractors may own property and which one Napier escaped from. Meanwhile, Napier’s military CID  escort is attacked and his guards are all killed. Charlie is taken by the attackers.

Following the clues, Weller, Jane, Zapata and Reade find the building where Napier escaped. Before then, Charlie is brought to the facility and he is the only one of the five soldiers to survive the tests. A doctor, Lindsay Sparacino (Jenna Stern) welcomes Napier back as technicians busily destroy evidence. 

By the time that Weller and the other arrive, the other four soldiers are dead, Napier is missing and Patterson finds a partial video file. The doctor appears to be going rogue to sell the chemical compound that Napier is on to the highest bidder.

The team track Napier down to a self-storage facility. After an intense shoot out, they rescue the soldier who runs. Jane tries to bring him in but  the two fight. Napier overpowers her and as he begins choking her Weller appears and shoots the drugged up soldier dead.

Throughout this episode Jane has more flashbacks, one of which shows her enduring military training while a drill instructor bullies her to quit.  Weller finally faces his father issues and has an emotional reconciliation with the man accused of killing “Jane” all those years ago.

Blindspot - Season 1
Ashley Johnson as Patterson

Patterson, once again, proves herself to be a crucial member of Weller’s team and despite the stress of her boyfriends death and the investigation into her conduct, the woman rules supreme in the lab and out.

Ultimately Jane swaps the pen although it looks like she may have “faked it.”  She asks her contact to tell her what Orion is. Thus far, viewers know that the dead CIA man Carter called it an operation and that he was prepared to kill to keep it a secret. Mayfair also  knew of Orion and when pressed, Jane’s contact tells her it was where she died.

As ominous as this sounds, it could mean something similar to Charlie’s story. Napier was declared dead and this could be what is meant by Jane’s death. Preview show the inspector who wanted to suspend Patterson is back on the warpath and it appears that no one is safe.

Blindspot continues to challenge itself and ascend past the tattoos as it solves little bits of the puzzles on Jane’s body. At the same time the Taylor Shaw connection is still hovering in the background, Well’s storyline with his father for instance, and the question still remains as to just how much Jane was really responsible for her condition.

One wonders if Jane had to swim the River Styx to escape from her own Hell and if this was why she agreed to have her memories erased and the tattoos put on her body. Only time will tell as more flashbacks appear in each new episode.

Kudos to the director and stunt coordinator for making the running shoot-out in the storage facility so impressive. Tight, intense and brilliantly paced,  this was a highlight of the episode and one of the best firefights of the series.

Blindspot airs Tuesdays  on NBC and provides some pretty clever writing and intense acting. This is addictive viewing that should not be missed.

Blindspot: Season 1 Episode 11 – Shoot Anybody That’s not Us (Review)

Blindspot manages to crank things up nicely with Cease Forcing Enemy after the show’s midseason break.

Blindspot - Season 1

Blindspot manages to crank things up nicely with Cease Forcing Enemy after the show’s midseason break. Episode 11 lets the viewer finally learn who Jane Doe really is, like no-one had actually  guessed already, and Sullivan Stapleton’s character (Weller) gets the best line ever with:

“Shoot anybody that’s not us.”

Jane was rescued by tree tattoo guy before the break and after he cuts her free, they spend a little time sparring until Doe gets the upper hand. Despite the video message from her “prior self” Jane does not trust the information passed on. Although she does comply with his request to get rid of the protective detail.

Later, back in New York,  Agent Patterson (Ashley Johnson) works out another tattoo’s meaning. This one sends the team to the Black Sea. Zapata started to turn in her letter of resignation but changed her mind when she learns of Carter’s possible demise.  After Weller and the rest head to Ankara, Turkey the New York Office director gets an unwanted visitor.

Jonas Fischer (John Hodgman) from the Office of Professional Responsibility arrives to investigate the death of Patterson’s boyfriend and clearly the man is a major douche who wants to use this investigation as his chance to push Assistant Director Bethany Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) out of her position. Overly long sentences aside, the animosity between these two character is intense and almost palpable.

Before Fischer shows up, the FBI team discover a long missing jet (PA 921) and  after boarding the deserted aircraft, the agents are surrounded and captured by terrorists. The same group who were trying to explode the dirty bomb earlier in the season.

This episode of Blindspot offered the perfect blend of parallel storylines for maximum entertainment and gave the viewer a chance to see just who Agent Patterson really is and what she can do. It also gave Weller’s team another in the field experience with a different setting  and a change  in action.  It also proved that Mayfair, despite her shady backstory with Carter, is really a “good guy.”

Patterson, we learn,  is not just a techno-geek, she has mad math skills and the ability to think on her feet. Not only does she save the day when Weller and Jane are attempting to stop the plane with its deadly cargo, but she can do long and complex math calculations in her head.

Patterson: “Yes, you can for sure maintain enough air speed. I did the math.”

Fischer: “How? Where?”

Patterson: “In my head, where math is done. Please, don’t interrupt.”

Show creator/executive producer Martin Gero, along with episode director Rob Seidenglanz, manage to run a two pronged suspense build in this segment where the “suspension” of Patterson via the uncomfortable Q & A by Fischer is just as tense as the escape attempt by Weller and his team.

By the end of Cease Forcing Enemy all the female characters prove to be very strong individuals. Patterson shows that a petty bureaucrat (Fischer) cannot bully her, Mayfair proves that she can and will push to save her people, Zapata can take a zapping and still hold her own and Jane Doe is still the New York Office’s ultimate bad a**.

Not only does Jane/Taylor land a “dead” jet, but she was the one who saved the day when Weller was strapped in a chair and about to be killed.  These separate storylines Patterson’s and Doe’s, intertwined beautifully when Patterson managed to save the day also, whilst in the middle of being suspended by Fischer.

Despite Doe (Jaimie Alexander) proving her skills in combat yet again, she also shows her “savior” that regardless of her “own”  message, Jane will only comply under her rules.

Bethany Mayfair now has more pressure on her and her position and while it has been revealed that Doe is Taylor Shaw, there is still enough doubt to make this “fact” somewhat ess than trustworthy.

Blindspot manages to keep things interesting and this midseason premiere has lifted the show from its “tattoo” a week premise. Sullivan and Alexander still have that splendid chemistry and Ashley Johnson proves that her acting chops are more than impressive.

This series airs Mondays on NBC. Tune in for the tattoos, by all means, but stay for the great writing, brilliant acting and excellent storylines.

Blindspot Mid-Season Finale: Turning Into Total Recall (Review)

After making his move last week, CIA baddie Carter finally gets his hands on Jane in Blindspot and the mid-season finale, after a number of twists and turns, suddenly turns into Total Recall.

Blindspot - Season 1

After making his move last week, CIA baddie Carter finally gets his hands on Jane in Blindspot and the mid-season finale, after a number of twists and turns, suddenly turns into Total Recall. Granted, the series could also be said to have turned into a modern version of Memento (2000) a film that also dealt with a  protagonist with memory problems who leaves messages for himself.

This episode, overall, was chock full of some great plot threads. Patterson (Ashley Johnson) personally going after the murderers of her former boyfriend David, the Russian sleeper angle, and Carter getting his mitts on Jane Doe and using torture to learn what she really knows. Added to these splendid storylines is the reveal that Jane has done all this to herself.

Cue the Total Recall moment.

Fans of the first “TR” (the Arnold Schwarzenegger film that was a bit more faithful to the Philip K. Dick source) will remember Wade (Arnold) watching a video of himself explaining who he really is. The opening moment of Wade’s video has Arnold saying, “Howdy, stranger! This is Hauser. If things have gone wrong, I’m talking to myself and you don’t have a wet towel around your head.”

In Blindspot, right after Carter is shot, the man with the tree tattooed on his forearm, shows Jane a smartphone video where Jane tells “herself” that:

“If you’re watching this, the mission is going as planned.”

Of course this opening, while evocative of the Total Recall scene, has a different punch line, unlike Wade, Jane is not someone else, but she is the one who did all this. The tattoos, the memory wipe, calling the FBI, everything was done by her, not some mysterious entity. The man with the tattoo is Oscar and Jane learns that he can A) be trusted and B) he is there to help.

Overall, Evil Handmade Instrument is a “Mary Poppins” episode, (practically perfect in every way) there are enough interwoven plot points to keep things interesting, the reveal at the end of the episode is surprising and Jaimie Alexander continues to do her fight scenes with a  staunch realism that impresses.

However…

There are a few issues.  The Russian sleeper cell uncovered by Patterson, who are responsible for David’s death, feels a bit too John le Carré,  in other words too cold war.  That said, with real world Russian leader Putin,  the cold war, as such, may become a new reality.

Another problem is the Patterson storyline where the forensic expert manages to perfectly bluff the Russian female agent into spilling her guts.  Part of the charm of Johnson’s character has been her awkward interaction with other people, for the character to suddenly be able to function coldly and cooly enough to trap the agent does beggar belief somewhat.

On the plus side, Michael Gaston proves that he can play real stinkers with an impressive aplomb.  Carter shows that nothing is beneath him when it comes to Jane Doe and it is obvious that the “black hole” he promises to send Doe to is, in fact,  a hole six feet deep.  The only complaint about the scene,  where he switches from waterboarding to a power drill to interrogate Jane in the deserted building, comes from the rather quiet gunshots that dispatch the CIA baddie with extreme prejudice.

In that enclosed area, the sound should have been deafening, not the little popping noises on offer.

Kudos to Heidi Germaine Schnappauf who, as  stunt performer, has followed the time honored tradition of switching to actor and acquitted herself quite well. Despite there being a minimal amount of dialogue for her character Heidi not only makes the fight sequence look very real, but she also rocks it as the redheaded Russian cell member.

In terms of series bad guy, mad props go  to Gaston as Carter. This actor knows how to be a proper villain.

Blindspot - Season 1
Carter having some last words with Mayfair…

Anther complaint has to do with Jane’s sneaking off to meet with Weller, and giving him  some serious after dark PDA while she is there. Granted, the storyline is about appreciating the one you have feelings for before losing them, but overall, it was one of those “too convenient” moments. Of course if she did not sneak away from her security detail Carter could not have caught her…

Patterson’s speech to Jane was tear inducing and much more believable than her sudden interrogation expertise.  Ashley Johnson is a brilliant actress and this scene proves it; chops to the Nth degree and a delivery that is flawless.

Blindspot ends on the note that Jane now “knows” that she has orchestrated the events leading to the present. It is a “mission” and it is going to plan.  Now all the remains is for the series to return in the new year and reveal what that plan is.

The sudden change of the series into Total Recall may be  trifle annoying, but hey, this is television with some great twists, turns, and sudden surprises. Show creator Marcos Siega has given us a series with a great storyline that challenges and keeps the viewer guessing.  For fans of  Blindspot, January 2016 cannot get here quick enough.