Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blindspot 3x10 Review: "Balance of Might" (Low Point) [Contributor: Jen]

"Balance of Might"
Original Airdate: January 19, 2018

I'm diverging from my usual Blindspot review format because it's become alarmingly clear we have a very serious problem, Blindspotters. And it's time to address it. A disclaimer: If you are happy with Blindspot... this is not the review for you.

If you are one of the 89% in my poll, then pull up a chair, my friends.

It's not necessary for me to recap the Case of the Week for "Balance of Might" because we saw it all last week! And the week before that. ... And the week before that. The tattoo is solved, the bad guy was discovered, New York City is threatened via nuclear bomb or regular bomb again (take your pick), and Team Blindspot stops it. Rinse, recycle, and repeat.

One of the reasons I don't watch procedurals is because of the repetitive element, but even Law and Order: Special Victims Unit can churn out a more variety filled case of the week — and they've been on the air for nineteen years! The tattoos have always been the least interesting part of Blindspot for me. I'll own that. But in seasons one and two, it felt like the writers were building toward a larger, mysterious storyline. This season? Not so much. We know Roman believes the government is corrupt, the cases are all going to point toward that corruption, and Blake's father is the man behind the curtain.

We're on episode ten and I'm not seeing much new or shocking. It's extremely similar to the first two seasons. Also, the writers are loosing steam on the cases of the week. You can't come up with something other than BOMBS from week to week?  Come on, guys; you are phoning it in. Do you want a renewal? Because it truly doesn't feel like you do.

I could tolerate the repetitive nature of the procedural element of the show if I felt we were making strides in the character growth area. Ohhhhhh, but we are not. That area is, shockingly, so much worse. Blindspot decided to Chernobyl Jeller.

(Hey, if they get to abuse nuclear bomb analogies then so do I!)

Everyone has a television storyline low point. By low point, I don't mean emotionally devastating. I mean when the writing is so dismally bad and wildly out of character you wonder if the writers have gone 'round the bend. The rage, confusion, and overwhelming disappointment leaves you reaching for large quantities of ice cream and cursing the television gods. Significant character damage is done creating an irreperable swerve.

My low point was May 16, 2013: The Vampire Diaries' season four finale. Elena chose Damon, after he shut off her emotions, which was bad enough (Stelena fan here). The real kicker was that Stefan was trapped in a safe at the bottom of a quarry, doomed to drown over and over again for all eternity, while the love of his life shacked up with his brother. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

So, that's my low point. The good news is Blindspot did not beat The Vampire Diaries.

The bad news is that they secured my number two spot: Jane cheated on Kurt.

Now, before you @ me over Kurt and the whole killing Jane's daughter thing (can we all just agree it's so much ridiculousness?), the cheating didn't happen post-breakup. It happened before! Jane leaves Kurt to "protect him," and makes it couple of weeks — maybe a few months  before she kisses another man. Jane decides she's lonely and Clem sings her the old "you deserve to be happy" tune. So Jane throws her arms around this guy in a passionate embrace. I WANT TO VOMIT ALL THE THINGS.

The second Clem showed up I knew Blindspot was embarking on another love triangle.  Clem was too good looking and he was way to flirty with Jane on the phone. And she was far too receptive to the flirting. This makes love triangle version 20,949 for Jeller. This is not a gross exaggeration. ... All right, maybe it is a little exaggerated. But here are the love triangle characters we've endured so far:

  1. Oscar
  2. Allison
  3. Nas
  4. Rando Environmental Dude
That's a lot, y'all! Every season there's been a love triangle — and we've only been on the air three years! I thought we could skip it all now that Kurt and Jane were married, but silly me! We end "Balance of Might" with Jane showing up at Clem's hotel and stepping inside the room. Are she and Kurt even legally separated? How long has it been? Three days? It reminds me of  Ross and Rachel's breakup on Friends:
Ross: I thought our relationship was dead. 
Rachel: Well, you sure had a hell of a time at the wake!
Are we going to start to go through the "we were on a break" phrase with Jeller, BlindspotI don't care if nothing happened between Clem and Jane in the hotel room because something already did. Yes, Jane stopped the kissing with a "I already have a great guy" speech, but really honey? You have a very funny way of showing it. The damage is done. It doesn't matter to me if Jane and Clem didn't sleep together. Kissing is cheating. An emotional affair is cheating. JANE DOE IS A CHEATER.

What is the point of this storyline other than to make Jane look like an awful person? This is habitual on Blindspot's part, too. They repeatedly make their lead character incredibly difficult to like. The audience constantly has to forgive Jane. It'd be fine if they were writing an anti-hero Breaking Bad style, but they aren't. Jane Doe is supposed to be loyal, compassionate, kind, and honorable. How can we believe in those qualities when she cannot show them to the man she supposedly loves most?

At least this time it was a change of pace and Kurt screwed up. However, Kurt couldn't simmer in his own disaster for an episode or two; they had to cook one up for Jane too. Congratulations, Blindspot. Jane looks just as bad, if not worse, as Kurt. The point is for their transgressions to cancel each other out. Jane cheats on Kurt, and Kurt believes he killed her daughter. So we'll call it even, right?

Both Jane and Kurt had to be abducted by pod people and act totally out of character for this dead daughter storyline to work, but that's just details. Furthermore, Kurt didn't really kill Jane's daughter, so this entire thing is moot. Basically we went through this farce so Kurt is forced to forgive Jane for cheating on him. Sigh. This is not compelling story telling. It's just... stupid.

Blindspot repeats the same cycle with Kurt and Jane. One (or both) lies, they break up, spend weeks rebuilding trust, and then get back together. Only for the same storyline to happen all over again. Yet the writers also continually expect us to forgive these characters and believe in their goodness. My patience is gone.

People are their choices. Characters can make mistakes, but when they never LEARN from those mistakes, then they are stagnate. Then the mistakes define who the character is because they willfully make the same choice every time.

If Kurt and Jane continually choose to lie, it means they are liars. If Jane continually chooses to run from Kurt every time the going gets tough, it means she is a quitter. If Jane cheats on Kurt, it means she's a cheater.  These are not characters I want to root for. Quite frankly, I don't think Kurt and Jane should get back together. It's clear neither one of them have any idea what a committed relationship looks like. It's clear neither of them has the emotional maturity to ever learn from past mistakes.

Before the Blindspot writers disregard this as some fangirl/shipper tantrum simply because I'm not getting my away, allow me to say this — I expect drama in relationships. My caveat is that it should be good drama. Someone mentioned to me on Twitter how the cheating trope is a soap opera standby. I recognize there is a nighttime soap element to any evening drama, but I think we could expect more from Blindspot than a storyline All My Children already did to death IN THE SIXTIES.

I don't expect happily ever after for Kurt and Jane simply because they are married, particularly in the third season. What I do expect is for Blindspot to explore the marriage beyond the "will they/won't they" breakup nonsense. There is a wealth of drama to be explored for two people who work for the FBI, fight on a daily basis to save the world, have a sociopath bent on revenge, and are trying to build a life together. As ridiculous as this "Kurt killed Jane's daughter" plotline is, Blindspot could have mined some interesting drama out of it if Jane simply stayed. If the two of them fought and clawed their way through it without any idea how. You know — like a real marriage. Instead, we get non-communicating-cold-shoulder Jane (we've seen her many times before) and cheating. Yuck. Hard pass.

I am so very tired of marriage being portrayed on television as something people skip out on whenever it gets rough. I'm so very tired of writers thinking marriage is the end of the story. It's not. It's the beginning of a much more interesting one. Someone also said to me on Twitter how they knew it was too soon for Kurt and Jane to get married. The implication being that this breakup was inevitable.

Why is it in inevitable? Why can't a couple get married in the third season? What was so wonderful about the storyline was Blindspot actively thumbing their nose at the Moonlighting Curse. Now, instead of leaning into that bravery, they are running screaming in the other direction. They doubled down on all the tired Moonlighting Curse tropes.

So many shows have explored marriage and all the drama it brings wonderfully — Grey's Anatomy, The Office, Castle, Bones, One Tree Hill, This Is Us, etc. If this list proves anything it's that your audience will stay with you even after your main couple gets married. Keeping them apart isn't the glue that holds a show together. THE MOONLIGHTING CURSE IS NOT REAL. Yet, shows continually allow themselves to be controlled by it. I acknowledge Blindspot married their "will they/won't they" couple early in the series. However, it gave them the opportunity to be DIFFERENT. Rather than seize the opportunity, they joined the ranks of the same old same old. It's deeply disappointing. Worse, it's boring television.

There were some assurances to Jeller fans from Martin Gero that all will be okay.

As a person who has supported this show from minute one, I say this with all sincerity: Mr. Gero, I don't care. The genie is out of the bottle. Regardless of whatever fix is coming, writing choices that make the characters unrecognizable have consequences. If Kurt and Jane never learn from their mistakes and continually repeat them, then it makes it difficult to believe in them at all. It makes it impossible to believe in the story.

This is the definitive low point in the show, but worse than that, I don't care if they climb their way out. I am reaching apathy — which is the death knell of any television viewer.

Stray Thoughts:
  • Blake and Roman were the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal episode. I'm down for a Roman spin-off. That cut away was rude though.


  1. Thank You! Thank You! Your eloquent words hit ALL the points of ALL the nail heads of the coffin Martin Gero and his merry band of writers have built for the death of the show! (Who knows? It could still have some semblance of life if things are fixed. Humm. Probably not.) Your review is a blunt honest no-nonsense outline of the reaction many, if not all, in the Fandom currently are feeling, but have not the gift of your precise words to express their feedback. I appreciate your directness in reviewing this episode. It would do Gero and his merry band of writers to take note and learn!!! Count me among your raving fans!

  2. Awesome review on all fronts. The repetitive cases and cheating debacle. Interesting to see that one week after this episode aired, the majority of fans have already forgiven Jane by justifying the behaviour. She was lonely, you see? That explains adultery. The only thing I want to see now is Kurt kicking Jane's lying, cheating, hypocritical ass out of their appartment. And this is coming from a jeller fan.

  3. ALL OF THESE THINGS!!!!!!!!

    I hated the stupid "she was your daughter because she looked sort of (but not really) like you so I didn't get a DNA test even though your brother is an evil mastermind" plotline of Ep 9, but I was willing to get past it until the utter BS of this ep.

    WTF, Gero?!

    The real Jane would never cheat on Kurt Weller. Period. I don't know who that woman was making out with another dude 3 seconds after leaving her husband (ostensibly to save his life - remember that, guys?) and BEFORE she ever learned (was reminded) that she had a kid in the first place, but that was NOT the Jane Doe of seasons 1 and 2. It couldn't have been because Jane Doe loves Kurt Weller and - allow me to repeat - SHE WAS TRYING TO SAVE HIS LIFE AND THEIR MARRIAGE AT THE TIME.

    Methinks she should have been too busy to cheat, "writers." (Yep, that's in quotes because I think every single person on Gero's staff phoned this piece of dreck in from their mid-winter vacations, where they were obviously drinking QUITE heavily.)

    I had a lot of hope going into this season. It started SO STRONG. And now I just hate the caricatures these characters have become. I don't think I can ever forgive them - though I wouldn't say no to a spinoff where Patterson and Rich (maybe Boston too) fight crime on the dark web.