Blindspot: In the Comet of Us (Review)

Blindspot - Season 1

“Blindspot: In the Comet of Us” could be seen as the tattooed version of “Spotlight” (The 2015 Oscar winning film about sexual predator priests being protected by the church and the establishment.) In this episode it is Zapata who solves a tattoo and the result is a college under siege by two gunmen as Weller and his team attempt to save as many as possible.

The show follows separate events and each member of the team has moments that interact with others. For example, when Reade is trying to keep the rigged door from exploding, the mini-fridge that Weller throws through the window in his timeline lands outside. Reade notices it and asks what it is.

Each team member is shown prior to the active shooter scenario at the college. Jane (Jaimie Alexander) is show with Oscar who is attempting to put some distance between himself and Jane. She reacts badly to this news.

Zapata (Audrey Esparza) is at an addict support group meeting, for gambling, and it is the first time she admits to having a problem although she does not share in her first meeting. 

Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) is with his father who he has taken out of the hospital to be at home and Reade (Rob Brown) is getting a suit fitted.  His tailor offers advice on dating as well as fashion;  making the agent wear a bowtie. Tasha remarks on it at the beginning of their shift:

“What’s with the bowtie Bill Nye?”

Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) deals with the fact of Sonia being alive. 

Weller’s team learn about the tattoo’s relevance, it is on the hand inked on Jane’s lower abdomen, and  that the numbers point to the university football game scores, four of them.  The team  speak with Coach Jones and while they are there, the head of the college closes ranks against the team and someone starts shooting inside the buildings.

One of the shooters is Levi Hart (Charles Brice) the scholarship player who sparked off  the investigation because Zapata read the story of his being busted for drugs.  Reading the article allowed her to  make the initial connection between the scores and the tattoo.  They question the coach.


At the university there are two shooters and both men are armed with automatic weapons, wearing body armor and have rigged exits with explosives. 

It is revealed that Jones  was molesting young players and that the university was offering full scholarships as hush money so the boys would not talk.  Hart took the money but then flipped out when he saw the coach vetting new youngsters.

“Blindspot” manages to pile up quite a body count in this episode and somewhat annoyingly  Weller, and Reade, get blown up again.  Also annoying was the too vulnerable Jane Doe. While it does make a certain amount of sense that Doe cannot be a bada** all the time, it irks that she choses react to Oscar this way. Especially with the final scene in this week’s episode proving that her handler may not be trustworthy.

Oscar (François Arnaud) and another man unzip a bodybag. Inside is Carter (Michael Gaston) who Oscar killed rescuing Jane from the CIA agent’s waterboarding interrogation. 

A number of things are learned about the team, including the head of the organization, Bethany Mayfair.  Mayfair gives Sonia almost $50k and then tells her to get out. Tasha reveals a bit of backstory with a tragic domestic shout when she was a regular cop and Weller reconciles completely with his father.

The episode does not end well for the football player and it is an interesting storyline. It appears that the tattoos pointed directly to Coach Jones. This is puzzling as the ink thus far on Jane’s body has dealt with terrorism and not sexual abuse.

Blindspot - Season 1

The twist at the end of “Blindspot”  of Carter’s body  being unwrapped was surprising, as was the interaction with Oscar and his colleague. It sounds like this will affect Jane somehow.

The connection between Jane, Mayfair and Carter is Operation Daylight. With the conversation between Bethany and her former lover, in the back of her car, Jane is also connected to Mayfair’s Sonia. It appears that Daylight may be driving all this season and all that remains to be seen is whether Jane will be able to connect the dots on her own.

“Blindspot” airs Mondays on NBC.

Castle: Dead Again – Unbreakable (Review)

STANA KATIC, NATHAN FILLION

“Castle: Dead Again” is in essence a superhero episode, along the lines of M Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” rather than “Spiderman” or “Ironman.” The love interest is also named Gwen (played by Kate Cobb) in what may be  a nod to Spiderman’s Gwen Stacy.  (Or not.) While the episode was fun and moves toward a LokSat solution,  it is the first time in eight seasons where this reviewer guessed the baddie.

Whether this is a case of the series going on so long that originality has gone out the window, or just a sloppy plot, it was shocking to find that the first guess, which is always wrong when watching this show,  turned out to be the right one.

This episode was “Castle” in bare bones mode. No Alexis or Martha and very little Ryan and Javi. Haley Shipton ‘nee Vargus was also no where to be seen. Although Vikram Singh, played by Sunkrish Bala was there for the LokSat storyline. 

Lanie was present for a number of little scenes where she related the many deaths of Alan Masters and apparently became quite attached to guest star Jonathan Silverman who played  the repeatedly murdered Masters.

Kristoffer Polaha was back as Caleb Brown, the LokSat public defender,  and he tells Kate to back off or face the consequences.  Brown also appears to doom himself to be executed for passing on crucial information to Beckett. 

The main plot, Masters’ getting killed three times,  starts with the safety inspector being poisoned. In short order he is then  electrocuted and finally shot in the head at pointblank range. The comedy in the show is comprised of Rick initially being excited about Alan’s death as Alan could see the other side and then attempting to prove Masters is a superhero.

Other comic moments include Lanie (Tamala Jones) and Masters “doing a Caskett” and working out plot points in unison. There was also the blind owner of a triad herbal store gag.

JONATHAN SILVERMAN, TAMALA JONES
Silverman and Jones

An underlying “in-joke” had Silverman, who co-starred in the hysterically funny 1989 black comedy “Weekend at Bernie’s”  (along with Andrew McCarthy and Terry Kiser) as the “man who would not die;” safety inspector Alan Masters.

(“Weekend at Bernie’s” is about a man who actually dies but McCarthy and Silverman  play characters who keep  the dead man, Bernie,  “alive” throughout the long weekend.)

Caleb Brown turns up at Rick’s apartment with a cell phone he uses to speak with LokSat and the end of the episode finishes  on a grim note, with the couple getting closer to taking the anonymous villain down.

It was all too easy to read things into this “Rick heavy” episode after the announcement that Stana Katic and Tamala Jones will not be returning for a ninth season, if there is one. This reading in was unavoidable one feels the tension from the underused Katic.

That said, Beckett did get a few focused episodes earlier in the season although as  the end of season eight rapidly approaches, last night’s episode actually gave Lanie more screen time than Kate.

“Dead Again” was amusing but not overly clever.  (If the reader has not seen the episode yet stop reading now.) Literally moments into the episode I was able to surmise that the young lady that Alan had a “thing” for was the person trying to kill him.

Being a mystery fan, it is an understood that I will attempt to solve the crime before the detective, professional or armchair (as the series warrants) and with “Castle” each and every time time, I have been wrong. Until last night’s episode.

So while the gag of Silverman’s character being a sort of Unbreakable substitute (and to the writers of “Castle:” It was a great gag chaps.  Masters being boring, just like Bruce Willis’ character David was a touch of  genius) was brilliant. However  the main crime itself being solvable for the first time ever by this armchair detective before the end of the show was a major disappointment.

Perhaps it is time for Castle to shuffle off to that place reserved for series that have gone on too long.  When the show runner bails, which happened before this season began, that must surely mean the show’s “sell-by” date has been passed.

There are three more episodes left in this bittersweet season of “Castle.”  May the remaining installments not disappoint. The series airs Mondays on ABC.

Quantico: Fast – Doing Your Duty (Review)

 PRIYANKA CHOPRA, AUNJANUE ELLIS

In “Quantico: Fast”  the flashback theme is all about doing your duty, which equates to turning in your fellow NATs for failing to disclose a medical condition. This means that the nearly ejected Drew Perales (Lenny Platt) finally leaves the academy.  

Present day sees Shelby Wyatt turns back up but in the capacity of her company doing an upgrade for the bureau. 

Caleb is going through withdrawal and still playing a game of some kind, as he claims to have no contact with Wyatt (Johanna Braddy) yet attempts to keep Alex from going to the bureau where he knows Shelby will be. 

When Alex spies Wyatt she tells Miranda about the woman’s  parents still being alive and Shaw halts the upgrade.  In a closed room meeting, Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) and Shelby talk with the former agent reacting angrily to Alex while sending her a message via morse code.   

“I am on your side.”

Back at the academy, it is career day and all the soon-to-be agents speak to the various branches of the FBI to  see what offers they may receive. The twins are introduced to the only option open to them and meet their new handler Marshall Freed (Daniel Kash). It does not end well. 

Each flashback to Quantico features a look at Perales (who may now be a suspect presumably) as well as Caleb, Shelby and Clayton Haas (Mark Pellegrino) along with Sistemics and its leader Dan Berlin (Ari Cohen). There is plenty of misinformation to be found and different stories being told by different players. 

Caleb tells Shelby that he is infiltrating the organization and Clayton Haas lies to Wyatt saying his son is back in with Sistemics.

In the present, Wyatt reveals that her parents have now actually died while still sending Alex a message to meet her at the stairs. Miranda is not pleased with Parrish and says so.

JOHANNA BRADDY
Johanna Braddy as Shelby Wyatt

Shelby and Alex work together to  trap the terrorist after Wyatt reveals that  she was forced to drive the SUV and pick up Simon and Will. She also reveals that Caleb is working with her to catch the terrorist.

However it appears that Caleb is still working both sides against the middle.  It is looking more like Haas is either in league with Sistemics or he is working on a hidden agenda that is not on the up and up.

Haas has been the joker in the deck since the beginning, even more than Simon Asher (Tate Ellington) who has always been a “dark horse” and who was oddly absent from this episode. The third  “suspect” Will Olsen (Jay Armstrong Johnson) turns up dying at the church where Shelby and Alex go to catch the terrorist. 

The undercover operative that Caleb beat to a pulp last week (who was being held  by the CIA until Alex had to hand him back to the terrorist)  seems to have radiation poisoning after building a “nuke” with his “own hands.” With blood pouring from his nose and mouth Will collapses after telling Wyatt and Alex that they have to find the device.

“Quantico” with this week’s flashbacks  seems to indicate that Shelby can be trusted but nothing in the past or the present indicates that Caleb can.  Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin) takes action when Vasquez’s mother approaches him with the news that she has not heard from her daughter and cannot reach her.

Booth goes to Miranda who tells the special agent to get Alex.

The academy flashbacks end with Liam (Josh Hopkins) telling the NATs about Perales’ leaving and that the training center is not turning out heroes but FBI agents.  At the end of the episode it now appears the Parrish must  find a live nuclear device and convince Booth and Miranda of the threat. 

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, LENNY PLATT
Alex and Perales (PRIYANKA CHOPRA, LENNY PLATT)

Sidenote: The scene at the start where Caleb Haas is going through withdrawal seems to be a homage or at least  nod and a wink  to “Old Boy” (the original not the Lee remake) where Oh Dae-Su  sees ants crawling out of the skin on his forearms. It so, this was a splendid touch and could go toward showing that Caleb is, in fact, working alone despite apparently teaming up with both Shelby and Alex. (Oh Dae-Su hallucinates the ants out of loneliness.)

“Quantico” airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see where Alex goes next in this complex and slightly confusing storyline.

Fresh Off the Boat: Jessica Place – Pools and Parodies (Review)

IAN CHEN, CHELSEY CRISP, CONSTANCE WU

Fresh Off the Boat places the viewer right smack in  primetime ’90’s with Jessica Place. It turns out that suburban Orlando, or at least the Huang’s neighbors, all love Melrose Place and when it ends, Jessica is distraught.  Suddenly, #FOB turns into a parody of the drama (primetime soap opera) all because of a pool.

Once again, the writers of the show pull out all stops to deliver some brilliant comedy and clever plot lines, a’la Melrose Place.  While the episode presented all the twists, turns and backstabbing necessary for self respecting soap opera parody, the presence of Ray Wise, as Marvin,  providing commentary while eating various snacks was the icing on the cake.

A subplot dealt with Emery’s meltdown in the pool at Eddie’s cheating (a breath holding contest instigated by Louis who then ignores the proceedings when distracted by a neighbor wearing a striped vest). This involved “scream jars” and a promise from Louis to help the middle son (Forrest Wheeler)  deal with issues in a more “healthy way.”

The entire episode was filmed with references to the 1990s primetime soap.  Montages, music, framing of scenes and the multi-layered subplots and schemes were set up perfectly in sync with the original.

The self-awareness of Jessica (Constance Wu) – who is delighted to be living in a real-life Melrose Place (“Jessica Place” she says with wonder and delight) is joined by Wise’s character’s reference, “I love this show.” He is approached, at the end, by a Melrose Place Alumnus (Courtney Thorne-Smith). Both characters are aware that they are “watching Melrose” although Marvin has been in on it (the reference)  from the beginning.

One of the funnier gags of this Fresh Off the Boat parody was the unlikely alliance of Evan (Ian Chen) and Honey (Chelsey Crisp).  Evan as master-mind (“It was all about the moo-box all along,”  says Marvin.) who turns out to be manipulating the manipulator (Honey) was just brilliant.

RAY WISE, COURTNEY THORNE-SMITH
RAY WISE, COURTNEY THORNE-SMITH

The scream jars of Emery get a final reference when Louis (Randall Park) and two of the boys arrive to get in the pool to learn that the eye-sore has been removed. Jessica explains that it was tacky and had to go. Louis’s face squirms, holding back a plethora of bad feelings. Emery suggests the jars and Louis replies that he knows where they are as he rushes off.

All of the characters in the show this week had hidden grudges against other members of the HOA (homeowner association) that stemmed from resentment; Honey marrying Marvin, jealousy, perfect “fake” hair and aesthetics, the dislike of the “moo-box.”  Out of all the characters only Jessica, Marvin and Louis were “without” sin.

On a sidenote here, did anyone else note that Ian Chen has suddenly shot up in height?

There were many comic moments, although Marvin’s delighted commentary almost stole the entire thing, but Evan’s headlong flight down the cut-de-sac road was priceless especially after Jessica tells Honey:

“Let him go! He’s afraid to cross the street by himself.”

Once again, the Huang children played by Wheeler, Chen and Hudson Yang knocked it out of the park with their performances.   It was, however, Constance Wu who took her Jessica to heights of brilliance.

Although each member of the cast made this primetime soap parody work because of their deadpan, in most instances, delivery.  With the notable exception being Wise’s character.

Standout Moment:

The flashback of a distraught Deidre (Rachel Cannon) discovering that she has been played which was narrated by Jessica was comedy gold…”Meow.” 

Final Thoughts:

This Fresh Off the Boat “Melrose Place” parody felt spot on, in many ways rivaling the sort of clever and cultural parodies on The Simpsonsanother FOX program which Melrose was.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC.