Monday, May 11, 2020

Blindspot 5x01 Review: "I Came to Sleigh" (Farewell, Edgar) [Contributor: Jen]


"I Came to Sleigh"
Original Airdate: May 7, 2020

Blindspot kicks off their final season with a literal bang and kills one of the core characters. Writing off one of the series regulars like this when there are only thirteen episodes left is a bit controversial, but it's a move I think will pay off.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


They've promoted "ONE WILL NOT SURVIVE" for weeks, so I am glad they answered who within the first ten minutes of the episode. We all know Jane made it out okay. I appreciate the writers not treating us like total idiots by trying to pretend they killed their lead. Jane meets up with the team in their hideout and the surviving characters are revealed. First: Kurt Weller. Come on. You know they weren't going to kill off Kurt.


Second: Patterson because Martin Gero would like the audience to watch the last thirteen episodes.


It's down to Tasha or Reade.



I predicted Reade in my "The Gang Gets Done" review and I'm proven correct as Tasha steps into the light. I like it when this happens.


However, we are left to wonder how Reade died for the majority of the episode.


So let's discuss the majority of the episode now. One thing I like about final seasons, particularly when the writers know it will be the final season, is the high octane, no-holds-barred storylines. The end is nigh. If the premiere is an indicator of what we can expect for the remaining twelve episodes of Blindspot, I think it should be a successful final run. The show seems to be drilling down on the core characters, focusing more on the emotional elements of the story, and toning the procedural element of the show way down. Color me thrilled since the "Case of the Week" format is my least favorite aspect of Blindspot.

That doesn't mean everything is perfect with this show ⁠— far from it. Let's get the obvious out of the way: If any of you have read my season four reviews then you know how I feel about Madeline Burke as the Big Bad. Of all the ludicrous plots on Blindspot, this one takes the cake.

It is absolute INSANITY that FBI would appoint a civilian who was arrested and investigated by the FBI on charges of corruption, terrorism, and murder TO RUN THE FBI. And how did Madeline get this job? She basically pointed the finger at Team Blindspot and said: "They did it. Not me." And everyone just believed her because... well the "because" in a storyline isn't exactly Blindspot's strong point so there's no reason to expect they'd excel at it now.

Sure, she has some inside players like Nash (Director of National Intelligence), which helped grease the wheels but this plot pretty much ignores any and all oversight from Congress and the Attorney General. Also, they just made up another title for Madeline and somehow it's totally cool she hired mercenaries to hunt down the team because... well there's that pesky word again. I don't know. Because there aren't any agents working for the FBI now that Team Blindspot is on the lamb? Lord, I need my migraine medication to watch this show.

So let's turn to the positive instead: Rich Dotcom is being held at an FBI black site and is being tortured by a guy with chemical burns all over his body. I honestly didn't feel like the chemical burns were necessary to make his character scarier. Trading Rich to the North Koreans was terrifying enough, but the writers rarely consult me.

Yes, I realize none of this sounds very positive but trust me, we're moving in the right direction. Team Blindspot finds out where Rich is being held and Jane is determined to break him out. Remember when Jane was held and tortured at an FBI black site after Kurt handed her over to Keaton once he discovered she wasn't Taylor Shaw? So does Jane. Honestly, it is a miracle Kurt and Jane got married.

This leads to an awkward confession by Tasha. She knew where Rich was for the past month (because she's ex-CIA or whatever). Kurt, Jane, and Patterson are pretty ticked she didn't say anything but Tasha swears she was just trying to figure out a way to rescue Rich without getting them all killed. I believe about 50% of that. The other 50% is Tasha being mad at the world and not giving a crap about anything at this point in time. More on that later.

This breakout scheme forces the team to work with Sho Ahktar. He has details on the location they need to make the mission a success. However, Sho wants the team to kill the chemical burn torturer  — Rafael Pierce — for him.  He's holding Jane hostage until Kurt comes back with proof of death.

Team Blindspot is operating in the grey, but they haven't gone full evil. Remember they are wrongly accused, so it really wouldn't help their case if they started murdering CIA agents. Also, even if Jane and Tasha were down to do it, Kurt Weller is still Kurt Weller. That's not to say Kurt doesn't have a plan for getting his wife back from a terrorist. Enter the machete and Kurt saying, "I have good news and I have bad news."

We're all good with Kurt chopping Pierce's hand off right? I'm really good with it. When you torture Rich Dotcom, you must pay.

Once Rich and team are back in their hideout (which looks a lot like the season one Arrow bunker which was also a Greg Berlanti show), Rich asks where Reade is and we are finally told what happened to him. Weitz was able to warn Team Blindspot about the incoming drone attack seconds before they happened. Patterson ordered everyone to go underground. Yes, there is an underground bunker in the safe house. Just go with it.

Jane came racing back and the entire structure had collapsed on Kurt, Patterson, Tasha, and Reade. There was an opening among the rubble that Jane could look through. The first person she saw was Kurt. He was the least buried and was able to free Patterson fairly quickly. Jane started moving debris and the next voice we hear is Reade's.

He is buried under a massive cinder block. This safe house was a shack. Where'd all the stones come from? As Jane moved the debris, more fell down around Reade and he tells her to stop. He needs all the room he can get because Tasha is pinned underneath him. She is suffocating; he is watching her die.

In a feat of what can only be described as superhuman strength, Reade lifts the debris up with his back and Kurt is able to slide Tasha out from underneath him. But the movement causes the rest of the shack to fall on Reade and he is pinned permanently. Kurt drags Tasha out of the collapsing rubble, but not until Reade says goodbye.
Reade: To the end right? 
Tasha: No. No... 
Reade: This is it, babe. 
Tasha: I'm not leaving you. 
Reade: You're not. You've got me. Always. And I've got you. I got... I got you.
I am okay with them killing off Edgar Reade, for reasons I'll explain in a minute, but I am not okay with them killing Edgar Reade IN THE MOST HEARTBREAKING WAY POSSIBLE. Good grief, Gero. I'm a nice person. I've been loyal! I don't deserve this crap.

This scene messed me up bad. Is everyone done hysterically crying yet? Ugh. "This is it, babe" ended me. Talk about a gut punch. Of course, I wanted Reade and Tasha to get married, have all the babies, and walk off into the sunset together. The one thing that really bothered me about Reade's death was the horribly rushed reconciliation and love scene he and Tasha had in the beginning of the episode.

One minute they're throwing terrible insults, accusations and condemnations at each other in the season four finale. Then the next minute Reade and Tasha are hiding out in a bathroom, agreeing to "go all in," and getting busy while Patterson and Kurt napped ten feet away. It gave me emotional whiplash.

Blindspot has a terrible pacing problem. There is absolutely no reason the writers had to dink around with Reade and Tasha's reconciliation for the whole of season four only to toss them together for thirty seconds in the premiere (in a FLASHBACK), so the romance they've been building for years was technically considered to have paid off. It was sloppy. It felt like they were only putting Reade and Tasha together because one of them was going to die and, quite frankly, their relationship deserved more than that.

I've been reading a lot of interviews post-premiere and Martin Gero has confirmed a lot of my suspicions. I did not think Blindspot would get renewed for season five, which is something I referenced quite frequently in my reviews, and it seems the renewal required a few necessary "business decisions." They needed to lose a series regular to decrease the budget. 

This was not an entirely creative decision, which is the nature of television, but I still think Gero chose the correct character to kill. I haven't been shy of my dislike for Edgar Reade over the years. He was never a big Jane fan; Reade didn't trust her. He didn't like how Kurt's blindspot for Jane compromised his integrity or the cases. Was he right? Yeah, in a lot of ways, Reade was — particularly in seasons one and two.

However, Jane clearly proved herself as part of Team Good Guy and Reade was the slowest to trust and forgive. He often held others to a moral standard that he didn't always hold himself to, and then we're in hypocrite territory which is never a good look for any character. If you're going to be the moral code bearer then you better be squeaky clean. And Edgar Reade was far from squeaky clean. I honestly think the writers made him act like a hypocritical jerk in the season four finale just so we wouldn't totally despise them for killing him off.

That said, Reade did toe the moral line more than most of the characters, but morality on Blindspot is kind of a relative thing. We're grading on a definite curve here. Sure, he had a drug problem. And yeah, Reade watched his pedophile/rapist coach die after his friend Freddy stabbed him. But no one is losing sleep over that monster.

But when it came to Tasha (the darker and twistier of the two), Reade was often the light pointing her way to truth and justice. Tasha always struggled with believing she was a good person. She was a police officer who lost her partner, which triggered a gambling and alcohol addiction. Then there was her whole storyline with the CIA and Madeline Burke which was far from the straight and narrow. Reade was always her moral compass. I think that's why he was always so angry with her when she to a walk on the dark side because Reade knew Tasha was better than that. He believed in her in a way she didn't believe in herself.

So for her, Reade's death is monumental. The writers have been toying with this idea of Tasha choosing a side and Reade's death makes any other choice than Team Blindspot impossible. She vows with the rest of the team to never stop fighting, which is all Reade ever wanted from her.

Could he have inspired Tasha the same way ALIVE and as her soulmate like Kurt and Jane? Yeah, but this is where we get into this wasn't an entirely creative decision. For me personally, I always found Tasha to be the more interesting character in the pairing. It didn't feel like the writers had much more story to tell with Reade. He was the boss everyone was keeping secrets from, which made him a very passive player.

If you're going to kill a character then let it be for a good reason. Reade's death lights a fire under Team Blindspot. Now they have someone to avenge. It also makes the stakes real. Nobody dying from a drone strike would be a difficult pill to swallow and pretty much erase any suspense for the rest of the season. It also brings Tasha's arc full circle. She's lost her partner again — someone she was in love with, but this time she won't succumb to alcoholism and gambling. Tasha will rise and be the hero Reade always knew she was.

As for his death scene, it couldn't have been any more heartbreaking or perfect. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much and the writers, Rob Brown and Audrey Esparza, BROUGHT IT. Reade made a conscious decision to save Tasha and sacrifice himself.

Tasha literally dragged a corpse across a living room for Reade; she's his person. Of course he would die for her and vice versa. It was perfect that Edgar's goodbye to Tasha didn't include saying: "I love you." Tasha and Reade's relationship was about partnership and having each other's back. The love between them changed over the years, but it never lessened. "I've got you" is their "I love you." It always has been.

There's a momentary dissent in the ranks where Tasha tries to blame Kurt for Reade's death. She wanted to cut and run. If they did as Tasha said, then Reade would still be alive. Jane is the one to remind her that fighting is what Reade wanted. It's not until she's with Rich that Tasha is finally able to express her pain beyond just the anger she's feeling.

Why is she able to talk to Rich? Well, he didn't have anything to do with Reade's death. He wasn't there when the drone hit. But more importantly, Rich has this wonderful way of putting people at ease. Primarily with his humor, but even more effectively when he's serious because he's almost never serious. There's a good warm heart under all that talk. It's because of Rich that Tasha is finally able to say everything she needs Reade to know.
Tasha: This is for Reade — for being in our lives and for saving mine. I won't run. I won't quit. I'll keep fighting. This won't be the last time we think about you or talk about you or say your name. I love you. I've got you. Always.
Reade knows. He's always known. The goodbye isn't really for him. It's for the team. And for us.

KURT AND JANE


If the writers don't give me a happy Jeller ending after napalming my other favorite ship, then I say we riot.

The team is operating outside the law now. No badges. There's no fancy FBI office. Patterson doesn't have all her computers. They've gone rogue and are fighting the very institution they've sworn to uphold. Team Blindspot has to take down the FBI. And who better to lead them than the person who zipped her memories to do that very same thing?

Kurt tells Jane that she is by far the darker and twistier half of Team Jeller. Ain't that the truth. Kurt isn't good at breaking the law and operating outside of the rules for the greater good. The machete was his big move; he's all tapped out. The team needs Jane to lead. They need their own version of Sandstorm. Not so anti-Remi now are you, big fella?

Jane is going to need all her memories — all her personalities — to take down Madeline Burke down. I love that it is going to take both Jane and Remi to save the team. This story was always about Jane finding out who she is and using her memories to become who she wants to be. Seeing that arc fulfilled in the finale season will hopefully be very fulfilling as a viewer.

Stray Thoughts:

  • That bird in Times Square looks exactly like the mockingjay from The Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor, Jane.
  • Someone is sending the team tattoo messages and I cannot begin to describe how over the tattoos I am.
  • Jane reading Chinese was a nice callback to the pilot.
  • I guess Weitz is a good guy now. I am still very unenthusiastic about him.
  • Fifteen minutes. GET CRACKING, KURT.
  • Patterson really needs to stop interrupting Jeller sex.
  • Kurt tasing Rich will never stop being funny.
  • Tasha was kicking butt and working out some real rage. I like it.
  • "Oh, is this how it's gonna be now? The two of you just sneaking off to do it all the time?" Salt in an open wound, Patterson.

3 comments:

  1. I feel like I've only stuck with "Blindspot" to this point so I can agree with everything you say in your reviews. (And for the Rich Dot Com. I didn't foresee the elevation of the character to series regular as the positive boost it turned out to be, but there you go.)

    Favorite part of this ep was Jane's translation about the "mouthy Turkish pervert" - "THAT'S RICH!" OMG - dead. I was DEAD.

    I do think we're going to see a better season because Gero has been forced to condense and I look forward to it - as well as your spot on reviews.

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  2. Thank you so much for sticking with the show to read my reviews!!

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