Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blindspot 1x01 "Pilot" (We Are Our Choices) [Contributor: Jen]

Original Airdate: September 21, 2015

Pilots are a tricky. A show can have an amazing pilot, but ultimately be an awful show. The reverse is true as well: a show can have a spectacularly bad pilot, and -- by some miracle -- get picked up to series, then go on to have a great run. It's rare for a show to accomplish both -- to be both a great pilot that turns into an equally great show. If a show does manage that -- you have a stellar hit. So where's does that leave NBC's newest series Blindspot?

The key to great pilot/great show double-hitter is for the writers to have a plan. A lot of times writers have no idea where to go with their series after the pilot. Other times, writers might have a plan for the first year arc of a show, but nothing beyond that. Personally, I think the shows that do the best are when the creators have a strong vision for their series long-term: when they can see five years down the road and when they can admit that while they might not know every turn, they at least know the map of where they are going.

Blindspot has a vision. We are exactly one episode in and I know they do.

The series is a one based on a woman covered in tattoos. She's found in a bag (yes, a bag) sitting in the middle of Times Square that reads: "Call the FBI." Okay, now,  just as an FYI, if you find a bag that says, "Call the FBI" that's probably exactly what you should do. Everybody agreed? Cool. Moving on.

Jane Doe suffers from chemically induced permanent amnesia. I didn't follow all of the medical jargon, but quite frankly I don't think that matters yet. anyway. The basic gist is this: somebody used a drug on Jane Doe. The drug is experimental. If used in sparse amounts, it can erase certain memories. The drug's intent is for PTSD patients. Jane's entire system is now coursing with this drug.

Huh. Okay, I guess I did follow a lot of the medical jargon after all. Go me!

So what does this medical jargon boil down to anyway? The best example that the show gave was the fact that Jane knows what music is, but doesn't remember The Beatles. (That's when it got real to me. Not remembering The Beatles? Highly unfortunate. Secondary to your name, but it's in the Top 10.) There was also an effective scene with a therapist in which Jane decides if she likes tea or coffee. Spoiler alert: coffee wins. Typical. But the therapist made an excellent point through this demonstration: we are our choices. Jane simply can't remember hers. That shouldn't prevent her from living and trying to figure out what she likes; moreover, it doesn't prevent her from making entirely new choices as well. She's not powerless. Also, kudos to the show for getting Jane a therapist right away. Because... seriously. Girl is gonna need a therapist. And maybe the therapist knew something nobody else did. He mentioned that Jane was not powerless -- that she had agency to be her own person -- and wow, was that the understatement of the century. Because Jane proves this later in the episode during a nasty confrontation with an abusive husband, which allows us (and her) to discover that she has fighting skills on par with that of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

In an interesting twist, a newer tattoo on Jane covered another older, important tattoo that revealed a piece of Jane's history and story. It, actually, revealed Jane is a Navy Seal. That is baffling to the rest of the team because there are no female Navy Seals. Or at least none they advertise. So they immediately put Jane in the "Ops" category. Essentially, the moral of the pilot: don't mess with Jane.

When a person has no memory of who they are, then they are working on sole instinct. Jane's instincts are to protect. It's innate. That's an excellent foundation for a hero's journey, in my opinion. She can't control her desire to defend. There was another clue to Jane's military background earlier in the episode when Jane asks if Weller is "detaining" her. That's an odd choice of words. Most would use "arrest." Detain definitely has underlying military connotations to it. Oh, and did I mention that Jane also speaks Chinese? A rare dialect of it. I didn't even know there was a rare dialect of the language, to be honest. All of these little hints and crumbs of information are ways to signal the audience -- to let us know that literally everything about Jane is a clue. The way she moves, the way she thinks, and the way she speaks. Analyze away. From my perspective, nothing could be more fun.

Lest we forget, there are other characters in the show besides Jane. The very first tattoo the show addresses reads: "Kurt Weller FBI." Kurt Weller is a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI and he's never seen Jane Doe before. Like Jane, he kicks butt and has no problem taking extraordinary risks. Any man who pulls out C4 to limit the impact of a bomb gets to proudly wear the label of "risk-taker" in my book. He's also the first person in the team to figure out that Jane's tattoos are a map. There's a fair amount of smolder too, with this character. And look, I'm just spit-balling here, but it would really be convenient if he and Jane end up a "thing," because she has his name tattooed on her back in some really big letters. Cart meet horse.

Ultimately, Jane's tattoo leads to her and Weller foiling an attack on the Statue of Liberty. Not only did they save thousands of lives they managed to not tick off France. Excellent.

The cast is filled with other characters that will get more time to shine as the series goes on, I presume. Characters with the makings of an excellent Scooby Gang to back up Jane, no less. Most interesting of them all was FBI head honcho Bethany Mayfair who immediately recognized one of Jane's tattoos. It related to a redacted file with her name on it. No, she did not share this information with anyone else and the file was mostly redacted but contained words like "embezzlement" and "murder." Gulp.

There's also a man pulling the strings over everything. He is the one who trained Jane and he's the man who administered the drug to her. I think it's fair to assume he played a hand in the tattoos as well at this point. Is he good? Is he bad? Well, that remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jane wasn't kidnapped. She willingly allowed her memories to be wiped.

Confession time: generally, I don't like procedurals. Why? Eventually they get boring and pretty cyclical (at least to me). You know, essentially different hamsters, same wheel. The procedurals I enjoy are the ones with a larger, over-arching and engaging story. Jane's tattoos are the procedural. The cases of the week. Who Jane is, however... THAT is the larger over-arching story. And with her as our foundation, I can see five years down the road with Blindspot's potential. I'm in. How about you?

Stray thoughts

  • If you're going to tattoo a woman's entire body and build a show around staring at it, Jamie Alexander is an excellent person to cast for that role.
  • That tattoos may point to catastrophes every week, but at least they are pretty.
  • FBI does an impressive job clearing Times Square in this show. I hope that's based in reality. If so, I find it quite reassuring. If not, don't tell me the truth. I like to remain oblivious.
  • The safe house was essentially a condemned building. Really Blindspot? Jane has to live in a hell hole while experiencing actual hell? You couldn't spring for a Holiday Inn?
  • Weller recognizes the building tattoo on the back of Jane's neck. There's a story there, obviously. Far too much smolder looking at the skyline at the end of the episode for there not to be. Oh, and by the way: Weller recognized the tattoo while hugging Jane. I would be lying if I didn't feel some shipper love sparking within me.
  • France gave us the Statue of Liberty. I don't know if you know that. You probably do, but we're just getting to know one another.
  • I like Buffy. Get ready for a lot of Buffy references in these reviews. It's my way. You've been warned.
What did you all think of Blindspot? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Even if I didn't watch the show, I would still read Jen's reviews because they are the absolute best! They have everything a good show should have as well; insight, humor, attention to detail, affection....did I mention humor?! As for this show; it looks promising.

  2. Thank you Anon!!! What a sweet comment. I am so appreciative!!!

  3. Why the name "Blindspot" ?

    1. A blindspot simply means your view is obstructed. Jane's memories are not gone. They are there. They are simply obstructed. So her entire mind, her entire self, is a blindspot.

      I also think it'll come to define the relationship between Jane and Weller. I think Jane will eventually become Weller's blindspot. Meaning...he won't be able to see clearly when it comes to her.

  4. I really enjoyed the pilot of Blindspot. I am hoping the show stays as good, and that it isn't cancelled after the first season. I hate getting invested in a new show just to have it end in season one.

  5. I had put Blindspot on the back burner until recently. Thanks to the NBC app, I was able to catch up. Now I'm ready to go back and read all your reviews. Can't wait!