Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Blindspot 1x20 Review: "Swift Hardhearted Stone" (Connection) [Contributor: Jen]

"Swift Hardhearted Stone"
Original Airdate: May 2, 2016

Blindspot is known for their winding plots, but they simplify things in "Swift Hardhearted Stone" to refocus on relationships. New connections spark to life while others are reexamined as the show circles back to its center: Kurt and Jane.


The case of the week in "Swift Hardhearted Stone" is Blindspot at its best. The connection to the tattoos isn't contrived, nor is the government corruption. The case of the week is the procedural part of Blindspot. They peel back the layers of Jane's tattoos and the overarching mystery in the show, but it can be tedious at times. When Blindspot elevates the emotional component — when they find the deeper connection to the characters — that's when the case of the week becomes something more. The show found that connection "Swift Hardhearted Stone." And they found it in Mya.

When the team finds a mute autistic girl carrying a sketchbook with a picture of one of Jane's tattoos, I was skeptical. It felt like Blindspot was about to take another leap into the ridiculous. The sketch and tattoo is of the Ahmadi family crest. The Ahmadi family is a well-known terrorist organization, and the girl is the daughter of their leader, Tahrek Ahmadi. The reasonably simple explanation is a nice change of pace for the usual plot gymnastics the show often performs to explain the tattoos.

Mya and her mother are shunned because of her autism, so her mother makes a deal with a U.S. journalist — if he guaranteed them safe passage to the States, then she would give him the story on the Ahmadi family. Again: a reasonable, simple, and completely plausible explanation for how Mya arrived in the United States.

The Ahmadi family, of course, follows Mya and her mother to the United States. They kill Mya's mother by cutting out her tongue and letting her bleed to tell the story. Please feel free to pause reading this review and shudder. I sure did. This is a slow and gruesome way to die. Mya escapes, which explains why she's wandering aimlessly in the street. Typically, I rewind Blindspot every five minutes to keep track of the "case of the week hoops," so the simpler story is a nice reprieve.

The simplicity lets the episode focus on the emotional components in the case. Mya is traumatized and scared, but her sketchbook could contain vital intel of an imminent attack. Dr. Borden is developing a bond with Mya, but he believes Jane could help facilitate further progress.

The scene between Mya and Jane is quiet, but exquisitely beautiful. Oona Laurence and Jaimie Alexander do an exceptional job of conveying an immediate bond with absolutely no dialogue on Laurence's side. Mya strips away all the noise of Blindspot, which allows them to refocus on the core of the story: Jane's isolation, confusion, and loneliness.

Jane often identifies with the characters in the case of the week, but no one more so than Mya. Jane sees herself in Mya, and she should. Mya symbolically represents Jane. In so many ways, Jane is like an innocent and lost child. The world is an unknown for her. She is searching for ways to make sense of it. One of the ways Jane does that is by drawing in her sketchbook. Jane offering Mya her sketchbook is her way of saying, "I know where you are because I'm there too." Jane not only tells Mya she's not alone, but she shows her as well. It puts the FBI in a context Mya can understand. Jane makes the world a little less scary for Mya — just like Kurt Weller did for her.

Forty two minutes isn't much time to develop a relationship, but "Swift Hardhearted Stone" did such an effective job with Mya's interactions with the whole team it made absolute sense when she saved Dr. Borden from Assistant Secretary of State, William Ragsdale. The men after Mya weren't Ahmadi. Ragsdale sent them to kill Mya because her sketchbook could reveal his association with the Ahmadi. The U.S. government funneled money to Ahamadis before they became terrorists, and Ragsdale wanted to cover that up. And there is our government connection and the reason why the tattoo is on Jane's body.  The connection from Mya, to the Ahmadi, to Ragsdale doesn't feel like the usual Blindspot "government corruption stretch." It feels plausible.

I am just as curious the rest of the audience as to what Jane's tattoos mean. The mystery is fun and even the puzzles Patterson solves (and the inevitable hoops that come with it) are entertaining. But I care about the tattoos because of Jane. When the show can connect Jane's pain to the case of the week, that's when the story truly resonates.


Dr. Borden offers to take Mya to his cabin so she's safe, and so their therapy sessions can continue. He believes it's important not to sever their developing bond since trusting people is so difficult for Mya. It's a fantastic way to bring Dr. Borden into the fold, other than sitting in a room with Patterson or Jane.

Speaking of Patterson, she decides to tag along with Dr. Borden, Jane, and Kurt because she wants to help Mya. She also making some serious heart eyes at Borden when he offers to care for the little girl. I can't blame her: British accent, psychiatrist, and good with kids? That's a seriously good list.

The two continue to flirt their way through "protecting Mya" with their playful teasing about One Direction and Oregon Trail. Yes, Borden made an Oregon Trail reference and Patterson understood the reference. THEY ARE MEANT TO BE. I am sold, Blindspot. Consider me on board. I'm ready to pop the champagne and christen the boat. What's the ship name?

Patterson turns into a regular hero when the cabin is attacked. She is taking down gunmen, jumping off rooftops, and blowing up cabins. It is amazing! Watch out Jane — there's a new sheriff in town! Borden even gets in on the action by killing a terrorist with a nail gun to save Patterson. It's obviously the first person he's ever killed, and I'm sure there will be residual "issues" that he'll need to work out (I volunteer Patterson to help him out). But I love when Blindspot mixes the board and lets new characters interact in new environments.

While Patterson's love life is looking up, things take a turn for the worst with Mayfield. She finally has a date with Alexandra, in her hotel room of all places. Mayfair steps outside to get some ice and when she returns, Alexandra is dead. WHOAH! I did not see that one coming. Then the phone rings and someone threatens Mayfair to stop looking into Carter's death or she'll be next.

So who is it? Is it the same people coming after Sophia Varma? Are those people the group Oscar, and by association Jane, is working with? The only thing we know for certain is this all circles back to Orion. It'd be lovely if Blindspot illuminated a bit more of it.

Zappata lets Reade know she's fed up with his secrets and with Mayfair's. It seems Weitz's words hit the mark: there are too many people connected to Mayfair who have died or disappeared. Zappata isn't going to let her personal feelings interfere with investigating Mayfair. This sudden burst of honesty with Reade would have been more believable if she'd told him the U.S. Attorney's office is forcing her to feed them information, but baby steps I guess. I think Mayfair is good people, but it is nice to see someone on the team putting two and two together and finally digging into someone other than Jane.


Oscar invites Jane to what I assume is his apartment. There is jazz playing and Jane recognizes the song. Oscar tells Jane that his jazz records were all he had left of his mother. Since music was important to him, it became important to Jane. Jane recognizes the song, but she's uncertain if Oscar is telling her the truth. At this point I scream at the television, "Then why are you sleeping with him?" but Jane doesn't answer me because she delights in driving me nuts.

After opening up just like Jane asked him to, Oscar instructs her to insert a zip drive into an FBI computer and copy files. Jane asks him why, and they do their usual song and dance where Oscar tells her absolutely nothing and Jane obeys anyway. Jane copies the files, but not before Blindspot flashes back to Oscar's threat to kill Weller if she doesn't cooperate.

At first, all I see is white because I'm blind with rage. Blindspot continues to muddy the waters of Jane's intentions. They want the benefit of the love triangle with Oscar without holding Jane accountable for her actions. I ask myself on a weekly basis if Jane is working with Oscar because she believes in the mission or because she is protecting Kurt. The answer seems to change on a weekly basis as well. This week, it's about protecting Kurt. The sincerity in her protection would be a lot more believable if she wasn't also sleeping with Oscar. I can't understand why Jane would begin a sexual relationship with someone who is not only threatening Kurt, but someone Jane isn't sure she trusts. Especially when Kurt has proven himself to be trustworthy.

But then Jane spies on Oscar not once, but twice. Yes, Jane is sleeping with Oscar because he's a connection to who she was, but it suddenly occurred to me that Jane could be working Oscar. Begging Oscar to remain her handler last week didn't quite support the emotional bond Blindspot is presenting between them. Then, the very next week, Jane starts spying on him? It doesn't make sense.

It could be a sign of another flip flop... or it could be that Jane isn't as confused emotionally as I thought. Jane needs her connection to Oscar to get answers. I cannot buy that Jane suddenly believes in the mission, simply because she doesn't know what the mission is. This has to be about protecting Kurt. The flashback in combination with the spying seems to strongly support that. If Jane finds answers, then she'll know what she's really up against and how best to protect her team... and Kurt. My sincerest hope is that Jane is playing this game one step ahead instead of being a pawn. The sexual relationship with Oscar may be part of Jane's long game, even though there are real feelings.

In the locker room, Jane teases Kurt about his game night with Sawyer, which he promptly invites her to. Kurt also tells Jane that despite his impending death, his father is holding on through sheer determination and stubbornness. Jane quickly quips back that it sounds exactly like someone else she knows. In the car ride back, Kurt tells Jane about the time Bill bought her rain boots. She loved them so much, she refused to take them off even at bed time. Kurt then also talks about how his father used to be his hero.

THIS is sharing. THIS is connecting. Kurt doesn't open up to Jane and expect anything in return, unlike Oscar. Kurt wants Jane to understand where he comes from and what made him into the man he is today. He shares memories with Jane to open the door to her past, not to cover it up. He shares memories with Jane to laugh with her. Kurt opens up to Jane because he wants Jane to know who he is. Kurt Weller refuses to be another mystery in Jane's life. She doesn't have to question if Kurt is trustworthy. Jane knows he is.

Oscar, meanwhile, treats Jane like Pavlov's dog. Memories are the yummy treats that Oscar tempts Jane with. When he rings the bell, she salivates, ready to do his bidding. There's always a catch with Oscar. There are always strings attached. Oscar doesn't open up to connect to Jane. He does it to control her.

Protecting a child opened the door to the "kids discussion" and miraculously Kurt and Jane walked right through it. Yup, that's right. Jeller talked babies. God is real. Kurt has given up on the idea of having a family and children like his dad. He fears his job wouldn't allow him to be the kind of father he wants to be. Jane confidently and lovingly tells Kurt he would be an amazing father. Commence heart eyes all around and choruses of "Oscar who?" There is so much endgame there that I cannot describe to you how much endgame these two are.

As Jane copies the files, essentially betraying Kurt, she's wearing the necklace he gave to her. We haven't seen the necklace for a while and certainly not in all of these Oscar-filled episodes.
Kurt: Nice necklace.
Jane: Thanks. Somebody special gave it to me.
Including the "Kurt Weller Special Feelings" necklace in the scene where Jane is actively betraying him is off-putting. Except... in the very moment Jane is once again severing her connection to Kurt, she is wearing the symbol of that connection. No matter what has happened with Oscar, Jane hasn't forgotten who Kurt Weller is and what he means to her.

Again, this could be another lob in the Kurt/Oscar tennis game, but maybe not. Do the ends justify the means? I don't know. Jane's lies will ultimately come back to bite her, but it seems Jane is finally determining who each man is. While her connection with both men is important and meaningful, I think ultimately for Jane, Oscar is the means and Kurt is the end.

Stray Thoughts:
  • Oregon Trail is the best computer game ever invented. If you ever played, I know exactly which side of the 18-34 age demographic you are on. Most of the time, I died of dysentery, but ONE TIME I did manage to kill enough buffalo to survive the winter. It was one of my finest days in first grade.
  • "Sorry I blew up your house." And thus the Borden/Patterson ship tagline is born.
  • Porden? Batterson? Seriously, I need a vote count on the ship name.
  • Oreos are a basic food group. Just ask my daughter.
  • "We can't feed her chocolate all the time." Jane is ready for motherhood. That's 90% of it right there. You got this girl. Go make Jeller babies.
  • Confession: I hate boy bands (yes, even NSYNC) but I secretly like One Direction.


  1. I do not understand how have people like Oscar.

  2. God you're killing me i know you're right you're always right and adore you but my problem and i also know that only me among the population of earth dearest has it is that kurt weller the character is NOT the reason i dislike jeller the actor simply cant do broody with feelings honestly no offence he doesn't have a Stephen amell in him to pull off the character it's not just the chemistry with him and jane that i don't see it's with ALL the characters on the show and it's driving me crazy that i'm the only one that feels like that jeller is logical on paper but on screen the actor is not delivering

  3. Yes to all this! I'm so ready to board the Porden/Batterson ship.

  4. I have been a huge olicity fan from day one but somehow cannot get on board the jane-weller ship. I like jane well enough but wellar seems like a robotic wrestler. Couldnt they find a better hero?

  5. ANONYMOUS ,NO ONE HAS A GUN TO YOUR HEAD!If you don't like the actor or is his acting DON'T WATCH BLINDSPOT and in addition DON'T POST YOUR NEGATIVE RANTINGS!THANK YOU!

    1. woah, woah woah, what is happening here? i'm the editor of this site and honestly i see nothing antagonistic about any of the comments before this one. please take your anger down a notch. everyone else is civil here. thanks.

  6. Stephen amell is a terrible actor, and olicity is very annoying and ridiculous kill a heroine to keep this boring couple, but I just do not watch.

    1. i... have no idea what this has to do with blindspot whatsoever. it's also antagonistic toward people who like this ship (namely, people on this site). if you have a problem with olicity, that's your prerogative. just realize the place and time for that. and that place and time isn't a blindspot review.