Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Blindspot 4x09 Review: "Check Your Ed" (A Whole Person) [Contributor: Jen]

"Check Your Ed"
Original Airdate: January 11, 2019

Just when I think I'm done with Blindspot, they churn out one of their best episodes ever, if not the best episode. I'm permanently Michael Corleone in the Godfather III with this show.

I'm not going to split the review into sections this time because "Check Your Ed" is all about Jane Doe. We start where we left off in "Screech, Thwack, Pow" with Remi and Weller charging each other like they are vying for Ultimate Fighting Champion. The battle gets more interesting and far less cheesy once Kurt and Remi start throwing punches. It feels very Buffy versus Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (I should have known then that Angel would go evil.) Anyway, the fight ends with Weller tranquilizing Remi, which is something Elena always did to Stefan on The Vampire Diaries. I'm starting to notice a pattern with my fictional romance choices.

Weller brings unconscious Jane to Patterson's lab and hooks her up to a lot of brain-scanning equipment. Apparently Patterson and Rich have gone through all of Roman's data cache and found the only doctor in the world who can cure Jane. I feel like I missed a step. We arrived at the magical cure very abruptly, given how much Blindspot has dragged their feet with it. I probably should have paid more attention to the midseason finale.

Rich, Patterson, and Random Doctor go through all the science that will cure Jane, which isn't really science at all, but we don't care. The bottom line is this: we're going to do a psychedelic deep dive into Jane's brain until she wakes up with her memories intact. Cool? Cool.


Blindspot is not the first show to explore the light and dark in their main character. This is familiar story telling territory for me. I love when there is a split between two selves and the main character struggles with his/her internal dichotomy.

It's the good versus evil, or devil versus angel trope. The darker/evil side of the character rises and the light/good side of the character must fight back. Angel lost his soul and became Angelus. Stefan shut off his emotions and became The Ripper. Jane regained her memories and became Remi.

The female character is the one struggling with the light and dark on Blindspot and the male character is the romantic touchstone, which is fun because typically it's the other way around. Remi has wreaked some havoc and the writers have wrung all they can out of her cat and mouse game with Weller. So I feel it's high time for Jane to return; Remi was growing stale.

Of course, the procedure is dangerous and Weller starts to freak out with Patterson in the hallway over the prospect of losing Jane. Kurt, my sweet man kitten, there's no way they are killing your wife. She's the show. However, all the applause to Sullivan Stapleton for selling Weller's fear and making me feel all the things.

An unconscious Jane is slowly but surely rebuilding her own mind... with help from the fake and nonsensical science. Every memory is another building block, and another piece to the puzzle. She has to remember Jane to stop Remi, but remember Remi to be a complete Jane. Try saying that sentence ten times.

Jane cannot do it without help. So the first piece to this puzzle is obvious. Kurt Weller helped Jane find herself back when she had no memories. Jane formed her new identity largely based on the love she had for Kurt. Shepherd buried all the goodness in Remi, but the Zip brought it back to the surface. Jane's compassion, selflessness and heroism is what comes to her naturally. However, it was Kurt who helped Jane hold on to what came naturally.

We begin where we started in the pilot — Jane touching Kurt's face. I never grow tired of watching these two do this. Blindspot could only be a show of Jaimie Alexander touching Sullivan Staptelton's face and I would watch week after week, completely riveted. I recognize this is a little unrealistic.
Unfortunately touching Kurt's face isn't enough to trigger Jane's flood of memories. It didn't work in the pilot and it's not working now. We're not getting off that easy.

Patterson reminds Kurt Jane isn't the only one who needs to fight. Kurt has to be who he's always been to Jane — the man who believes in her. Kurt saw Jane's good heart from the beginning. His belief in Jane gave her a place to start. Kurt's belief is what helped Jane believe in herself.

Patterson tells Kurt to man up and do his thing. He goes back into the room, takes his wife's hand, and tells Jane she can do this. It's important to connect the physical and the mental. Jane needs one foot in reality and the other in the psychedelic mind trip. She hears Kurt's real voice and it triggers the connection. And then she jumps him. Hahaha. Just kidding. ... Kind of.

Jane kisses Kurt and thus, the Jeller memory flashback montage commences! We see all the kisses and feel all the feelings once again. Quite frankly, I am good with Jane remembering Kurt and only Kurt, but I suppose we can include the rest of the cast in this rebuild too. Jane rebuilds her identity the same way she did in the pilot: coffee or tea? The answer is coffee, but Reade appears because the tea is his. I did not know Reade was a tea drinker and I feel a whole other level of kinship with him now. Jane remembers Patterson next, and then Rich. A core memory triggers each team member's appearance: Jane's first puzzle with Patterson. Her first op with Rich (the painting). And the gunshot wound from the time Zapata shot Jane that we never talk about.

The memories are like dominoes. One kicks off the next until Jane is given the key to solving the puzzle. And I'm not talking figuratively. She opens the FBI box from season three with Kurt and literally finds a key.

The team refuses to follow Jane to the next step for a variety of reasons. Zapata's is the most hilarious: "I really don't want to." Kurt goes with because he's ride or die, but there's some kind of monster and a little girl direct from The Ring chasing after them. Jane is terrified, which is exactly what Remi wants. Kurt puts Jane's hand on his chest and reminds her to breathe just as he did in in "Split The Law." Another core Jeller memory locks into place!

The elevator is the only way to Remi, but it requires a coin slot. At this point I start jumping up and down because my boy is coming back. The "monster" chasing Jane is Roman. YEAH! If Jane is processing memories and extreme emotional baggage, she can't do it without dealing with her baby brother.


Seeing Roman triggers all Jane's memories of him, which is a decidedly less cheerful flashback than her memories of Kurt. Jane traps Roman in the interrogation room and demands he tell her how to get to Remi. Roman tells her: "You don't want to fight me. I always win." But Jane replies, "No. You don't."

The two begin to play their childhood game. Jane is confused about the choice of game because she only played it with Roman as Remi. Roman explains she'll never find Remi until she's finished with him. Jane isn't just searching for her memories. She's also searching for closure. Jane tells Roman all the things she never got the chance to say.
Jane: I'm sorry. 
Roman: For what? Not killing me yourself? 
Jane: For not protecting you. From our parents' death, from Crawford's orphanage, from Shepherd, from me.
What Jane wants is Roman's forgiveness. She always had the very best intentions when it came to her brother, but Jane understands injecting him with the Zip was a deep betrayal. Jane didn't know it was a death sentence at the time, but that's not the only thing she's sorry for. She took Roman's choices away when she injected the Zip.  It's not enough for Jane to remember the good. She has to make peace with the bad.

Jane rebuilding her brain is not merely a cognitive exercise. There's a spiritual element to it too. The last time Jane saw Roman, he was deeply sorry for all he had done and scared to die. He was sweet and gentle like the little boy she grew up with. He was the Roman before Shepherd, before Crawford, before Remi, and before Jane. That's the brother Jane sees now. I don't believe Roman is merely a memory or a compilation of synapses firing. This is Roman. He wants Jane to know he is at peace.

Guilt and shame are weights around our necks, and forgiveness is the only way we are freed from them. What's so beautiful is how freely Roman forgives Jane. He gives her his forgiveness without hesitation — just like Jane forgave him. What Jane really needs is to forgive herself. She needs to let Roman go. Jane says: "I miss you. You're the only one who really knows me. All of me." And then Roman replies, "No there's another."

This isn't a slam against Weller. Jane is not Taylor Shaw. She didn't grow up with Kurt. The only person who truly understands what she has gone through is Roman because he went through it all too. But he's right. There's one more person who knows all of Jane Doe.

The scene between Jane and Roman is probably one of the best in the episode. I was genuinely moved. Jaimie Alexander and Luke Mitchell knocked it out of the park. Jane and Roman had one of the most complex and layered relationships on Blindspot. This was an amazing final episode for Luke Mitchell and a proper goodbye to Roman.


Roman gives Jane their coin and she slips it into the elevator. But instead of going up to Remi, it goes down to Shepherd. Jane's adoptive mother symbolically representing a descent into hell is probably the most accurate character description Blindspot has ever done when it comes to Shepherd.

Shepherd straps Jane to a chair and forces her to remember every terrible thing she's ever done as. It's like a hellish episode of This Is Your Life. The pain stems not just from memories of Remi, but from Jane too. We get her greatest hits too — holding a gun to Kurt, fighting Kurt, lying to Kurt, abandoning Kurt. It was a lot of Kurt. Oh! Mayfair's murder. There. I found one not about Kurt.

Fear has a major hold on Jane these past four years. As much as Jane wanted to remember who she was, she was also terrified of the answers. Jane has been running from Remi for a long time. This flood of painful memories is almost too much for her. But then Jane hears Roman's voice: "There's a place in your mind no one can get to. A place that only belongs to you. No matter what they say, no matter what they do, no one can reach you there. Pain is a dream." This advice helped Jane survive being tortured at the CIA black site. Roman trained Remi how to deal with pain.

Jane realizes she has a choice. She can't keep the pain out, but it doesn't control her either. Slowly the painful memories change to joyful ones on the television screens before Jane. It's a beautifully elegant way of showing Jane getting her memories back. In case you are wondering, the joyful memories are a lot of Kurt too. Screen after screen of kissing. Glorious. There is no hiding from pain. We all experience it because it's part of being human. Our painful experiences are often our best teachers in life though. At the very least, they make us appreciate moments of happiness. One informs the other. Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin.

Jane is ready to face Remi now that she remembers, but Remi keeps devising scenarios where Jane must save Kurt. It happens again and again until Jane realizes it's all a ruse to keep her trapped. So she chooses to let Kurt die. It's a devastating decision for Jane and us (as all Jeller fans yelled collectively), but it's the right one.

Kurt's love can only take Jane so far. At some point, Jane must do this on her own. She must do this for herself. I reject the idea that a woman can only be strong if she's not in a relationship. Love is a powerful force in all our lives and doesn't need to be shamed as weakness just so a female character can be considered a hero.

That said, it's important for a female character to have an identity outside of her relationship. Blindspot perfectly balances the Jeller romantic anchor and Jane's independent heroism in "Check Your Ed." The door to Remi requires a handprint scan to open. Jane has one final puzzle to solve. Unfortunately, the team is not there to help her solve the hand tattoo, so she goes through the procedural elements of Blindspot to figure it out. It's not meant to be funny, but I was laughing so hard. Jane can recite word for word what each character says and does every week. This may help some of you understand why I yawn my way through the "Case of the Week" section in the reviews.

Of course Patterson's words — "We'll always be here when you need us" — are the cipher to crack the tattoo description: Alice Through the Looking Glass. Patterson is the master of all even in Jane's memory, so we know some of the synapses are firing right.

Taylor Shaw's doll — the one Kurt found when he unearthed her grave — appears next to Jane on the table. But Jane isn't Taylor Shaw; she was Alice Krueger. A photograph of Alice, before Remi or Jane, appears on the screen when she uses "Alice" as the password. The creepy girl from The Ring now looks exactly like the sweet, happy girl in the photo. A sweet and decidedly less scary Alice Kruger takes Taylor Shaw's doll and leads Jane to the door. Alice scans her hand. The door opens and Jane can finally face Remi.


We finally get our Jane versus Remi fight and it's AWESOME! Blindspot keeps the symbolism simple. Jane is in a white shirt while Remi is clothed in black. The stuntwork reminded me of the flawless fight between Elena and Katherine in the season four finale of The Vampire Diaries. Remi gets the upper hand quickly and tells Jane she's not a person, but a vessel, and she was here first.

But Remi was not here first. Alice Kruger was. Jane is not merging two personas, but three. Alice represents innocence, Remi represents darkness, and Jane represents light. However, we cannot categorize our humanity simply by good and evil terms. Humans are not that simple. We are nowhere near perfect enough to live in such black and white worlds. As Jane's memories have shown, Jane isn't entirely good and Remi isn't entirely evil. When Jane was Remi, she saved lives. She was unable to hurt or kill any members of the team. There was a lot more Jane in Remi than she wanted to admit. Kurt saw it too.

Ultimately, the blame lies with Shepherd. It was Shepherd who killed Alice Kruger — Remi and Jane's innocence. The real difference between Jane and Remi is Jane is not alone. She has people in her life who truly love her for who she is. If you didn't get choked up when Kurt, Roman, Reade, Patterson, Rich and Zapata each appeared on screen, their faces full of love and acceptance, then I can't help you.

But Roman is right. There is one more person who knows all of her: Remi.

Jane doesn't need to beat Remi or separate from her. This was never about choosing personas. It's about recognizing the dichotomy of her humanity. We are all two sides of the same coin. Jane needs to accept Remi and Remi must accept Jane. And the only way to acceptance is through forgiveness.

So Jane says," Whatever you did, whatever we did... I forgive you."

Jaimie Alexander gives a tour de force performance and I was legitimately crying during this scene. "Check Your Ed" is the culmination of everything Jane's been fighting for and against for the last four years. We've been waiting for Jane to merge her identities, forgive herself, and find self acceptance. The road has been bumpy, but it is finally here and Blindspot did not disappoint. This episode was worth the wait.

Jane and Remi literally merged bodies and I cackled with glee. Listen, I don't need my symbolism to be Maya Angelou-level all the time. Sometimes I want it delivered to me on a silver platter. Blindspot makes it easy and I appreciate that. And Jane says, "For the first time in my life I feel like a whole person."

Jane wakes up and tells everyone she's back and remembers everything. Jane momentarily freaks out when she remembers she broke her crazy mother out of a black site, but Kurt is nonplussed. There's more apologizing to Kurt for all the lies Jane told. Pfft. Girl, you actually have a legitimate medical reason you lied to him this time. This was nowhere near rock bottom for you two. They exchange "I love you's," smooch, and gaze at each other longingly. MY SHIP IS PERFECTION. Now go make me babies.

Patterson and Weller go the location Jane told them to find Shepherd, but she's not there. Patterson is momentarily concerned Jane is jerking them around, but Kurt is confident she's not. It's not that I'm questioning your unwavering belief in the Mrs. Kurt, but she was Remi for several months and you didn't figure it out, Kurt. Your track record is not great. However, I agree with you. We didn't do all that self-acceptance for nothing.

Kurt returns to the apartment expecting to see Jane, but instead is greeted by Shepherd. We all saw this coming a mile away. There must be a physical showdown to go with the mental showdown. Shepherd really kicks Kurt's butt though. It's a little embarrassing. Then Jane Doe — our Mrs. Kurt Weller — arrives and shoots Shepherd three times center mass. NICE. THAT'S MY GIRL! It takes an excruciatingly long time for Shepherd to die, given she has three bullet holes in her chest. It does give Jane the chance to get some closure and she tells Shepherd where to stick it. Shepherd says, "I love you in my own way," and blah blah blah I just wanted her to die already. You are the worst, lady. If God is a just and fair God, then Shepherd's death means the Sandstorm storyline is over for good.

Jane passes the barrage of medical and psychological tests and she's officially cleared for duty. I love that the FBI couldn't care less that Jane was momentarily a super secret double agent. What's that you say? Your brain was fried and you went all evil? No problem. Your turn to bring in bagels.

Kurt gives Jane her FBI ID back. It's a not so subtle way of saying Jane has finally found her identity — all of it. It's a moment of real peace and happiness for everyone. And then Reade walks in with Zapata in handcuffs. So much for one big, drama-free family!

"Check Your Ed" could serve is a series finale, which lends more evidence to my theory season four will be Blindspot's last. The writers are really putting all their cards on the table, so it's difficult to see where they can go next. The team needs Jane back so they can deal with super shady Zapata. Also, Jane is still dying apparently. This all feels like a ramp-up to a final ramp-down. I'm not holding my breath for a season five renewal. If we continue to get quality episodes like this week's, then I'll be completely fine with Blindspot ending. It's best for a show to go out on a high note.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Weller literally chucking Jane's entire body up in the air into a steel beam feels realistic. I think he has over 100 pounds on her.
  • Jane's dress, flowers, reception decor, and bridal party photos are all manifested in her brain because our girl will never forget her wedding day no matter how zipped her brain is. BIG MOOD.
  • Jane remembering Reade before she remembers Patterson? I think not.
  • The shot of Shepherd's reflection in Kurt and Jane's wedding photo is so cool and creepy
  • Kurt sends Rich in the ambulance with Jane, which tells us exactly how much Kurt loves and trusts Rich.
  • "I'm getting some very mixed signals from you lately." HAHAHA. Accurate, Shepherd.
  • When Jane is remembering all the people who love her and sees their faces on the television screen, there is a glitch when Zapata appears. I feel strongly this is Blindspot trying to fool us into thinking Zapata can't be saved, but I'm not buying it.


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