Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blindspot 1x19 Review: "In the Comet of Us" (Generally Annoyed) [Contributor: Jen]


"In the Comet of Us"
Original Airdate: April 25, 2016

"In the Comet of Us" left me feeling pretty cranky overall with Blindspot.

CASE OF THE WEEK


I was a junior in high school when the Columbine shooting occurred. The world changed that day — no different than the Kennedy assassination or September 11th. There is a distinct "before Columbine" and "after Columbine" delineation in my life. Seventeen years later, there are still school shootings and each seems more horrific than the next. I am always nervous when a television show approaches this sensitive subject. I don't want them to glamorize it.

Truthfully, I didn't love Blindspot's use of the school shooting. Zappata matches numbers tattooed on Jane to a university's winning football record. Coach Jones, the defensive coordinator, is a personal friend of Reade's, because he attended the coach's football camp as a kid. Coach Jones often drove him home from practice. He was a source of support for Reade. If any of this sounding familiar, it's because it should. School shootings aren't the only real-world cases Blindspot is dipping into.

The shooters are two ex-football players named Levi and Tim who were sexually abused by Coach Jones as kids. They are about to come forward when their credibility is destroyed because they are busted for drugs. Levi believes the drugs were planted by the coach. The university and donors covered up the coach's abuse for years, and the shooting is the victims' way of exacting revenge. Levi and Tim shoot the coach and the dean (who both survive), but kill several innocent students. Weller is forced to shoot Levi.

The case is a direct reference to Jerry Sandusky and Penn State. I don't have an issue with Blindspot pulling "straight from the headlines" storylines. Law and Order: SVU has done it successfully for years. However, I do not believe mixing these storylines is the right call. They turned sexual abuse victims into killers, which muddies moral waters that do not need to be muddied.

There wasn't any deeper story apart from Reade's disillusionment that his beloved coach is a pedophile. What's more, the only survivors of the massacre are the perpetrators of the corruption and abuse — the dean and the coach. Levi is dead and there's no follow-up on Tim, the only surviving shooter and abuse victim.

Why on earth would these two men shoot innocent bystanders if the goal is to kill the coach and dean? Levi's explanation of "they just got in the way" is weak at best and illogical at worst. How on earth did unarmed students get in the way of two men with semi-automatics? Why are they trying to kill students with explosives if the target is the coach? It brands Levi and Tim as unfeeling killers and leaves little sympathy for sexual abuse victims. Is that really what Blindspot was going for? I understand many criminals have a history of abuse, but using school shootings and sexual abuse simply to reveal high-level corruption, like every other Blindspot case does, seems a poor use of these sensitive subjects.

The tattoo could have easily led the team to the university and coach. With a little investigation they could have discovered the abuse without the school shooting. Blindspot constantly promises the "most explosive episode ever" in their promos. By the end of the episode, the school shooting and sexual abuse felt like a sweeps gimmick. Neither subject is handled with the care and detail each requires.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


Blindspot used the multi-perspective narrative to give "In the Comet of Us" a little twist. The audience saw each character's reaction to the same event. It is an effective way to build the tension and provide additional insight into each character.

The "start of day" scenes for each character is almost like a check-up on their personal lives. Zappata attends a gamblers anonymous meeting. At first, she doesn't want to share. But after the shooting, she opens up. Her partner's murder is what began her addiction and feeds it to this day. The randomness of his murder made Zappata feel adrift. She understood the rules of gambling and it gave her a sense of control. However, that feeling of control is long gone because the addiction has taken over her life. It's really a succinct explanation of Zappata's addiction and makes a lot of sense.

Reade is still struggling with his break-up with Sarah, mostly because he's madly in love with her and doesn't want to be broken up. His tailor decides a bow tie will fix everything. Okaaaay. Reade has the most devastating encounter during the shooting. He comes face-to face with Levi, and is held hostage. Reade pleads with him to put down the gun and let the FBI to help, but Levi feels he's too far gone. "I'm already dead," he says.

It gives a brief glimmer of insight into his pain.  Both Rob Brown and Charles Brice did an exceptional job playing the scene.

Mayfair is busy with her own mess in her personal life. Her back-from-the-dead girlfriend returned because she needs money. Isn't that romantic? Sophia is living abroad in hiding and someone, she wouldn't say who, discovered her. She believes anyone involved in Project Daylight is being targeted and urges Mayfair to run away with her. Mayfair hands Sophia a bag of money and then tells her where to stick it. Mayfair doesn't run. I cheered. Yes, Bethany loves Sophia, but she can never forgive her for faking her suicide. I cheered again.

(I am not a Sophia Varma fan.)

KURT AND JANE


Truth time: Jane is ticking me off. I find myself getting more and more irritated with her with every subsequent episode. Oscar decides that he shouldn't be Jane's handler anymore. He believes their sexual relationship is complicating things. OH, YA THINK? Jane is almost in a panic at the thought of Oscar leaving her, and she begs him to stay.

This is when I press pause on my television and start yelling about Jane to my husband. At what point did Oscar's threat to kill Weller no longer become a big deal to Jane? Didn't she start working with Oscar to protect Weller? It had little to do with "the mission." When did Jane suddenly become so invested in the mission that lying to Kurt about returning memories is okay with her? Or is she lying to Kurt because she's still trying to keep him safe? If so, then why is she sleeping with the man who threatened to kill him in the first place?

The reason I can't figure out Jane's motivations is because Blindspot isn't overly concerned with explaining her motivations. She desperately tells Oscar to stay because he makes Jane feel more like herself. How exactly? Oscar hasn't actually illuminated any REAL information about who Taylor Shaw is. He gave Jane her favorite food and tea. Suddenly he's a swell guy with deep insight into Jane's psyche? Um, no.

Yes, I'm a Jeller shipper. I understand that I am biased. But with that said, I wouldn't have an issue with Oscar and Jane being a "thing" if Jane's motivations are fully explained. I respect the fact Oscar makes her feel safe. So, let's dig into how Jane reconciles her personal safety with Oscar's threats against Weller. Is Jane invested in the mission, or in Oscar?

It feels like whichever man provides Jane with the most insight into who Taylor Shaw was, that's the man she throws in with. Yes, knowing who Taylor Shaw was is important; but what's more important is figuring out who Jane Doe IS. Neither Oscar nor Kurt can answer those questions for her. I'd prefer to see less focus on what these men tell Jane and more focus on what Jane thinks and believes. Without that, Jane isn't really likeable right now.

Quite frankly, Blindspot is in too big of a hurry to make a love triangle between Kurt, Jane, and Oscar. They should have pumped the brakes a bit more between Oscar and Jane. They need to show how and why Jane suddenly trusts Oscar — to give us something deeper than him presenting her with her favorite beverage. It feels like the reasons for Oscar and Jane are sleeping together is because Kurt is sleeping with Andie... and because it's sweeps week. Everybody is sleeping with everyone during sweeps! Sorry Blindspot. Those plot points do not hold in the grander scheme of things.

As for Kurt, his heart-to-heart discussion with his father also ticked me off. Kurt's father magnanimously forgives Kurt for believing he killed Taylor Shaw. He doesn't want Kurt blaming himself or feeling guilty for their nonexistent relationship.

Gee, Bill, that's real swell of you. Did he somehow forget he kept his whereabouts the night Taylor Shaw disappeared secret from Kurt for twenty five years? Bill's secret played a significant role in Kurt's doubt. Kurt's doubt wasn't abated when Taylor returned. It was when Bill was honest about his attempted suicide. It's a secret Bill could have shared many years ago. Would Kurt have believed him? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. The point is they'll never know. The intent of Bill's forgiveness may be good, but his presentation needs work. He parks too much blame at Kurt's door step in the giving of it.

Stray Thoughts
  • "Glad you came over to my side." Reade and Jane bonding is the cutest. More please.
  • "What's with the bow tie, Bill Nye?" Zappata is the queen of sass on Blindspot. May her reign be long and prosperous.
  • Oscar telling Jane he can't be her handler anymore AFTER he sleeps with her again did nothing to make me like him more.

5 comments:

  1. I agree with you.
    especially the part joscar

    ReplyDelete
  2. Once again, great piece. Couple of thoughts:

    - I feel like we've reached a peak in the Oscar and Jane relationship. I agree with everything you said about Jane's motivation being unclear but I think the *real* reason Jane and Oscar have got so intense so quickly is that the writers are setting Jane up for a big fall at the end of the season. It's no coincidence that in the same episode in which Jane puts all her trust in Oscar we see Oscar doing some shady stuff that is probably going to have a negative effect on their relationship. By the end of the season I think the love triangle will be in pieces, with Oscar gone (either dead or on the run) and Weller rejecting Jane because he discovers the truth.

    - Regarding Bill Weller: Am I the only one who has trouble understanding the logic behind his actions? I *totally* understand that he would feel ashamed and not want to tell anyone he was going to commit suicide, but it feels like he basically said to himself "Phew! Nobody knows I tried to kill myself, they just think I kidnapped a kid!". Like, is that really the *better* option? Would you *really* let your son think you abducted his friend instead of just telling him you were depressed? That logic seems weird to me.

    Anywho, great piece!

    ReplyDelete
  3. do you think Jane is using Oscar to get info about the ultimate goal of the "mission"?...he is being mighty stingy with info and threatening Kurt's life...she is not stupid!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not think writers like cliches

      Delete
  4. Amen to all of this! Seriously - ALL. OF. IT!

    ReplyDelete