Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blindspot 1x02 "A Stray Howl" (Good Can Come Out Of It) [Contributor: Maddie]

"A Stray Howl"
Original Airdate: September 28, 2015

So Jen, perfect human being and regular reviewer of Blindspot, had to add being sick to the multitude of things she juggles, so I’m going to review this episode to help pick up the slack for Her Loveliness. I did not watch the pilot, but I’m just going to dive right into episode two, “A Stray Howl” and see what happens. As a rule, I always give a show three episodes before determining if it is worth any emotional investment or DVR space. The second episode of a television series is incredibly important. The pilot gets a bigger budget and significantly more time to create a quality entertaining product, but it is the following episode that shows the audience what they are getting into if they stick around to see this story unfold. With “A Stray Howl,” Blindspot shows the audience that there is plenty of mystery to unfurl within this series and the journey will be compelling, action-packed, and filled with intrigue.

I was already a big fan of Jaime Alexander from the MCU, but she really is wonderful in this show. Aside from being insanely gorgeous, her face and eyes are so incredibly expressive. Even though Jane as a character doesn’t have a lot of dialogue at this point, the audience is able to see the vast array of nuanced emotions play across her face. Jane’s duality and internal conflict are apparent because of Jaime’s performance. And Jane herself maintains a compelling balance between fragility, fear, and confusion as well as stone-cold capable warrior queen.

Moreover, this episode allows the audience to further learn who Jane is as she does. Jane is a currently a blank slate with nothing but instincts defining her, so we get to examine who Jane is right at her core. Her internal struggle is palpable. Some of her memories are resurfacing and they don’t paint the best picture of who she is (i.e. shooting someone in the back of the head in a church in order to steal a mysterious flash drive). These flashbacks are haunting her, which is exacerbated as the chase for the tattoos’ answers brings about more casualties allowing Jane to have an identity crisis of who she is and whether she is good. And she gets multiple answers from different people. Borden, her therapist tells her that we are defined by our pasts, which troubles her. Agent Zapata insists that things are black and white: “Terrible people do terrible things, and good people stop them.” This only seems to add to her self-loathing spiral.

It isn’t until conveying her fears about her past with Kurt, that she receives any solace. To Kurt, the past is moot. Regardless of whatever memories are resurfacing, she currently is not who she was. He tells her:

“Your first instinct is to help people. You don’t hesitate. You act. You do the right thing.”

I’m still waffling between whether Kurt and Jane should be a romantic pairing or more familial and platonic, but this is the kind of exchange OTPs are made out of. Now that they have worked together and he’s seen her in action, he genuinely believes she is an inherently good person. He saw her help the battered wife from the pilot and give a tourniquet to Agent Reed after one of the drone strikes even though Reed doesn’t even like Jane. There may be a lot of mystery around Jane, but Kurt knows her goodness and he believes in her abilities, and that cements a strong partnership as we head deeper into this series. Throughout the episode, Kurt gives her the quiet assurances Jane needs. When he reassures Jane that none of what was happening was her fault, it was exactly what she needed to hear. He acknowledges the struggle she is going through in trying to piece together what happened to her and who she is, but he also recognizes that while what happened was horrible, good can still come out of it. When they are able to reunite the kidnapped girl with her father, Jane congratulates him letting him know that he did it -- he brought her home. However, Kurt corrects her statement declaring they both got the job done. In their short partnership, they've become an effective team, and Kurt knows that. They are bonding and becoming partners, and I look forward to seeing that partnership grow.

Backstory time! The details are vague but when Kurt was around ten years old, he had a friend who disappeared and he blames himself for it. Cue manly brooding. This is also why he is brooding even more than usual since the case-of-the-week involves a missing girl. His dad was accused of kidnapping and killing her, which caused his mom to leave their family. Okay, the brooding is a bit earned. Here we got the twist: that girl, Taylor Shaw, has the same scar on her neck and same eyes as Jane. Kurt has come to the conclusion that Jane is Taylor Shaw and she was sent back to him. Is Jane Doe actually Taylor Shaw? Who was Taylor to Kurt? We shall see. It’s an interesting mystery, and it gives more depth to Kurt than just “broody rough-around-the-edges leading man.” Knowing this lets the audience get to know Kurt better, and gives more emotional payoff during scenes like when Kurt’s both protective and gentle as he helps Jane out of the car wreck.

In other intrigues, the man who trained Jane as a Navy Seal, whom I have dubbed Mysterious Flashback Man (or MFM), showed up at one of the crime scenes but then disappeared. We later see him in Jane’s apartment at the end of the episode as he sneaks from behind, grabs her, his hand over her mouth, and quietly threatens her before the episode faded to black. What does MFM want with Jane? I guess we will have to see next week. Overall, this was very promising for a second episode of the series. Jane and Kurt are interesting characters and I’m curious about the greater mysteries beyond the procedural formula. Consider me in.

 Stray thoughts:
  • The opening shot of this episode is GORGEOUS!
  • I love Patterson, the blonde computer analyst. I guess I just have a thing for adorable nerds. She brought a bit of spunk and levity to the show while still remaining super-competent and generally great. (Sound familiar, folks?) Seriously, her bits of dialogue were great. I especially loved the lace of huffiness in her voice when Weller asked if she was able to find a suspect’s address. I want more of her onscreen. She works. Also, the actress looked familiar and it started to bug me, so I went down the IMDb rabbit hole for y’all. Patterson, played by Ashley Johnson, was the waitress Captain America saved in The Avengers and the teenage daughter from What Women Want. 
  • This exchange is great -- Jane: “Couldn’t I just kick the door down? It didn’t look that heavy. Kurt: “No, you can’t, Jane. That’s not how it works.”
  • There’s occasionally really stereotypical moments that just scream “FBI procedural” but I get that is kind of par for the course.
  • I’m already over the agent who doesn’t like Jane. 
What did you all think of this week's episode of Blindspot? Are you going to stick with the series? Let us know in the comments below!


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