Saturday, October 28, 2017

Blindspot 3x01 Review: "Back to the Grind" (United) [Contributer: Jen]

"Back to the Grind"
Original Airdate: October 27, 2017

Welcome back Blindspotters! I apologize for the delay in my review. I was out of town when it aired. But wow, what a premiere! "Back to the Grind" eliminates nearly all of Blindspot's season two hiccups by focusing in on what we love — action, Team Blindspot, and Jeller. It also adds in something that's been missing from the last two seasons: a Big Bad we care about.


Don't worry: I'm not getting rid of the "Case of the Week" section. Thanks to everyone who voted in my Twitter poll. However, Team Blindspot is the Case of the Week in "Back to the Grind."

Reade, Zappata, and Patterson are all kidnapped and the box that unlocked all of Jane's tattoo was left in Reade's apartment. Added bonus? It includes Jane's location. Go get her, Kurt! Oh Blindspot, I love it when you make things easy for me.

The team has been separated for 18 months. Kurt and Jane married (YESSSSS), left the NYO and moved to Colorado to be close to his daughter Bethany (awww, I like the name). Unfortunately, a hit was put out on Jane by a former Sandstorm loyalist and she went into hiding. Kurt has been searching for her ever since. Reade took Kurt's position and is running the NYO. Zappata left for the CIA and Patterson is in Silicon Valley developing an app.

We have new additions to Team Blindspot this season — Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer has been promoted to series regular). He's paroled, living in Jane's old safe house, and funnier than ever. Welcome aboard, Rich. Also, Mary Stuart Masterson's Eleanor Hirst is sticking around and running the NYO, so I'm high-fiving a million angels.

Roman kidnaps Reade, Zappata, and Patterson to draw Jane out of hiding. Roman needs a mouse for his little game to work. He is determined to make his sister pay for what she did to him. Roman wants to snatch away Jane's happily ever after with Kurt and her friends. He wants to ruin her life just like she ruined his. The new tattoos are penance — they are Jane's prison.

The reason Roman is such an effective Big Bad is because we care about him. Despite all that went wrong in season two, the writers did build the relationship between Jane and Roman effectively. We want to see Roman sitting down at the kitchen table with Kurt and Jane, laughing and drinking wine. We even understand and sympathize with his motivations. Jane zipping his memories was a pretty cold move, even if she had the best of intentions. However, the darkness in Roman is terrifying. He's  a sociopath. Roman has willfully chosen evil despite being given every chance to choose good. This makes him the perfect foil to Jane Doe.

The first tattoo leads Kurt and Jane to Venice where Kurt proposed. Roman has orchestrated a meet with the man who put the hit out on Jane. Essentially, she has to take a drug which will fake death. Kurt delivers the dead body and collects the bounty — ending the $10 million hit on Jane. It's an elaborate way of putting Jane Doe back in the duffel bag from the pilot. Only this time Jane emerges like the Amazon Queen she is. IT. IS. AWESOME. Kurt and Jane kick serious butt, complete with a boat stunt sequence straight out of Miami Vice.

Roman has sold Reade, Zappata, and Patterson to the highest bidder — a.k.a. the Venezuelan government. They are being held at a military compound. Kurt and Jane have to go in solo because our relationship with Venezuela isn't the best. Kind of figured that out, Blindspot. Venezuela just bought three high-ranking U.S. law enforcement officials. If this is their definition of a good relationship then I'd hate to see what a bad one looks like.

Again, the "going it alone" thing is an elaborate way of getting Kurt and Jane into a tank. Yes, I said that correctly. They rescue Reade, Zappata, and Patterson in an armored tank. I'm cackling because this is too much fun. Reade, Zappata, and Patterson aren't going to be outdone. Their captors want Patterson to hack a computer. They kidnapped Reade and Zappata to use as collateral against Patterson if she refuses to do it. Not cool, Venezuela!

Patterson uses their disgusting lunch of Mexican-style chicken stew to make a bomb. Yes, apparently military TV dinners can be made into bombs, folks. Every meal contains a packet of magnesium heater powder. Just add water and you get a hot meal just like from home. Well, not really, but it's hot.

Apparently the main component of flash bangs is also magnesium powder. Patterson combines the heater packet with the computer and BOOM. They get the world's largest flash bang. It gives Reade, Zappata and Patterson the chance to overpower the guards and escape. Blindspot science is nifty.

Once home, Reade proposes a joint task force between the CIA and FBI to work Jane's tattoos. We have gone global with the new tattoos and this conveniently puts Zappata on the case. Well played, Reade. The gang is back together! Unfortunately, each team member is carrying secrets:
  • Jane hides passports and a pile of money in an air vent.
  • There is a tattoo on Jane's body that Zappata knows something about (re: CIA) and doesn't want the team to find out.
  • Patterson and Rich Dotcom have been in contact, and have some kind of personal relationship, despite pretending otherwise.
  • Roman approaches Weller on the street. He gives Kurt an ultimatum. Either help Roman with the tattoos or he's going to tell Jane what happened in Berlin.
Dun, dun, DUN! Team Blindspot is united again, but as always with this show there are secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Goody. Let's have some fun.


Finally! We made it to Kurt and Jane. Are you dying from all the feels because I sure am? That opening sequence is something straight out of fanfiction! Kurt and Jane get married. Patterson officiates, Zappata is maid of honor, Reade is best man, ALL THE PRETTY DRESSES, Kurt and Jane are heart eyes galore, there's cake and dancing. Sigh. I'm in heaven.

It doesn't stop there! Kurt and Jane hop in their moving van complete with a "Colorado or Bust" sign on the back while Reade, Zappata and Patterson wave goodbye. Zappata is particularly a weeping mess, so I feel like she speaks for us all. Kurt and Jane purchase a rundown little love nest. He carries Jane over the threshold (SWOON) and we get a montage of them fixing the place up. It's like they are are Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper! There's running with baby Bethany in a stroller, because while our Jeller is living in marital paradise, physical fitness is still very important to them. I am convinced Martin Gero is Santa.

I told him so.

He agrees.

Kurt puts baby Bethany to bed and they cute talk about how much they love having her there while Allie works nights. Kurt falls asleep with Bethany because, "it's like snuggling with the cutest little hot water bottle." (This is a factually accurate statement about babies). Jane loves waking up to her fat little face in the morning. Kurt happily munches on the veggies Jane just cooked for dinner and asks, "You ever thought about having one of our own?" and gives her the cutest eyebrow raise in the history of the world. Yes, that's right. We are five minutes in and Jeller is already talking about babies. IS THIS HAPPENING ON MY TV SCREEN RIGHT NOW? BLINDSPOT, IS THAT YOU?

Then masked gunmen break in and try to kill Kurt and Jane. Never mind, it really is you, Blindspot. The fight sequence is fairly fantastic as we watch Jeller use domesticated culinary tools as weapons. The cutting board and the kitchen knife are the real highlights.

Their newly refurbished home gets pretty messed up in the process though. Do you have any idea how much a kitchen renovation costs? Jeller put those cupboards in themselves. Those are hardwood floors, man! THE ASSASSINS MUST DIE. Decorating destruction that hurts my eyes isn't the only horror inducing moment — the cutest little hot water bottle with the fat cheeks is sleeping in her room while gunfire is being sprayed everywhere. Jeller's walls look like a Jackson Pollock painting. Don't worry: the baby is fine. Blindspot hasn't gone that dark.

However, Bethany is the impetus for Jane leaving. Keating (CIA) offers to help Jane get out of town. The Sandstorm operative who set up the hit committed suicide, but not before setting up the bounty on Jane's life with a dark web fixer. The CIA is unable to find the fixer (we needed supervillain Roman to figure that out) and the best assassins in the world are coming after Jane. Meaning that Kurt and baby Bethany are going to be in danger constantly.

Kurt offers to go with Jane in another swoon-inducing moment: "You're my wife. So whatever we face, we face together." Jane seemingly agrees, but slips out in the middle of the night while Kurt is sleeping — leaving her wedding ring on the dresser. Jane is a broken, sobbing mess as she leaves and quite frankly so am I. Why can't we have nice things? When Kurt wakes up in the morning, his 18-month search for Jane begins.

Jane often makes impulsive decisions that are significant head-scratchers, but I'm Team Jane on this one. Her motivations are absolutely pure. She loves Kurt and Bethany desperately. She knows Kurt would follow her to the ends of the earth. Can you imagine a world in which Kurt agrees to let Jane go alone? I sure can't. Jane doesn't want Kurt to sacrifice his life with his daughter. Bethany is the reason they are in Colorado in the first place. If she tells Kurt where she's going, then that puts him at risk. So as tragic as it is, slipping away in secret does feel like Jane's best option at the moment.

We see how well Jane knows Kurt because he does follow her to the ends of the earth in searching for her. So much for trying to maintain his custodial arrangement with Bethany and Allie. You get bonus points for trying Jane, but this man is stupid in love with you. I am Team Kurt on his decision to look for his wife. Jane is Kurt's family — his life. Of course, he's going to go after her. What I love about this separation plot is that both characters operated exactly in character. Their motivations were driven by their love for one another, not secrets, which is why it works.

"I'm sorry. I knew that you loved me so much that you would walk away from your whole life. But I loved you too much to let that happen."

It's the reason Blindspot is able to put the pieces back together rather quickly. Kurt and Jane reconcile instead of starting divorce proceedings. Kurt is hurt, but he's not angry. He's hoping things can just go back to the way they were. Jane wants to go back to Kurt, but she doesn't want things to be the same. While Jane loved her life with Kurt, there was something missing: "There were some parts of me that woke up again. Parts I didn't even realize I was missing. Life in Colorado was amazing. I had you, I had peace. I just... I didn't have a purpose."

As much as Jane craved the simple life with Kurt, she's realizing that perhaps she's not built entirely for it. Jane wants to use her skills to make the world a better place and make yummy dinners for her husband in their love nest. She wants a balance. Jane needs something outside of Kurt and their relationship to define herself by.

This isn't a bad thing. Jane has evolved to a very healthy place and this is a natural byproduct of that. Jane is a hero at her core. The need to make the world better is what drove her to join Sandstorm with her mother. However, the means she used to achieve that goal were terribly askew and wrong. The memory zip and her relationship with Kurt taught Jane the right way to go about it. We cannot remove what is innate in this woman though. Jane may have desperately wanted out of this life, but she also needs it. It fulfills her the same way her love for Kurt does. It's also one of the reasons Kurt Weller loves her so much.

Kurt and Jane kick butt and save the day in "Back to the Grind," but they do it together. They are a united front. We end the episode with Kurt giving Jane her wedding ring back. He's carried it with him every day since she's been gone. Jane falls into his arms and we can breathe a sigh of relief. Things aren't perfect, but they are together.

Jane's tattoos are the unifying plot point in Blindspot's story. It's the reason why the characters are brought together. What's wonderful about this new set of tattoos is both Kurt and Jane are needed to unlock them. The two of them together is the key.

Blindspot is essentially acknowledging what is required for this show to work. We need Kurt and Jane together working as a united front. It's what we had in season one when we were first drawn to the show and what we lost for much of season two. The time apart has created a distance between them, and both Kurt and Jane are carrying secrets (the money and Berlin). However, there seems to be a commitment from Blindspot that rather than separating the element that grounds the show, Kurt and Jane will fight their way through together.

Call it the "Moonlighting Curse" or whatever, but so often television shows are afraid to put their main couple together. Not until years and years of "will they/won't they" has exhausted itself. Blindspot attempted the same in season two to nearly disastrous results, so it is a breath of fresh air to see a show acknowledging drama can still be found in a couple being together. Perhaps even more drama than with the couple separated.

Jeller and Blindspot took the plunge. They are married now. The stakes are higher because their lives are entwined. They are one. Their choices impact one another on an entirely new and much deeper level. Staying together is often a much bigger challenge than getting together. Finding your way through that is all part of the joy and sorrow of "in good times and bad." Marriage isn't the end of the story. It's the beginning of one.

Stray Thoughts:

  • No, Blindspot. I will not be walking down the "Kurt cheated on Jane in Berlin" path. He's hiding something, but it sure isn't that.
  • Jane was in an accident that left her unconscious for days. Just enough time for Roman to put the new tattoos on her body without her knowledge. We like to call this a convenient plotline.
  • Patterson's reaction to the new lab setup was gold.
  • We don't get to see the proposal in Venice? COME ON! That has montage written all over it.
  • "Well dammit, we've got time. This tank is slow as hell." Reade wins everything for this LOL line.
  • That was some mighty close dancing at Kurt and Jane's wedding, Reade and Zappata. Things that make you go: "Hmmmm."


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