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.
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.
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.