Saturday, March 24, 2018

Blindspot 3x16 Review: "Artful Dodge" (Fallout) [Contributer: Jen)

"Artful Dodge"
Original Airdate: March 23, 2018

We finally find out what this dragonfly case is all about and why Zapata is hiding it from the team in "Artful Dodge." Blindspot has been hit and miss with their shockers this season, but this one legitimately surprised me.


The dragonfly tattoo led Rich Dotcom to an empty message board between Dragonfly164 and Atlantic17. The board has suddenly lit up again with messages. Dragonfly164 is planning an attack and is communicating important details to Atlantic17. Rich and Patterson start getting excited because they believe they can track down the identities of these two people.

This is when Tasha fesses up. Borden is Dragonfly164 and she is Atlantic17.

The director of this episode was sure to leave time for close-ups and a minute of deafening silence for this bomb drop. Understandably, Patterson is somewhere between shock and horror Reade is calm, stern, and wants details. Weller asks Zapata why she didn't tell the team. Really, Kurt? Killed anybody's kid and lied about it lately? Jane "I Had an Affair" Doe wisely zips it.

Tasha rattles off the details quickly — mostly because I think she was trying to keep Patterson from crying. Borden survived the explosion, but half of his body was badly burned. I suppose I should have more sympathy for Borden being lit up like a torch, but he tortured Patterson. So I'm okay with Borden peeling burnt flesh from a third of his body over a 46-hour period. Karma can be a vengeful judge.

The CIA gets word that Borden is alive a year later. Tasha wants to hand him over to the FBI for prosecution, but Keaton has other plans for him. Keaton wants to cut Borden a deal. Goran Gorovich  committed one the worst genocides in human history and now he's planning an attack on the U.S. Keaton wants Borden to infiltrate one of Gorovich's cells and determine the location of the attack. The CIA offers him immunity if he agrees.

Initially, Borden refuses. He basically wants to die, he's in so much pain and doesn't give a crap about anyone other than himself. Zapata, however, uses the memory of his dead wife to convince Borden to agree to the deal. Whether you like her methods or not, Tasha is extremely good at turning criminals into CIA assets.

When he joined the task force, Borden was given a new handler. Unfortunately, he shows up dead. Team Blindspot initially believes Borden killed his handler and is now working for Gorovich. But that's not exactly what happened. The CIA handler was the man being tortured by electrocution at the beginning of the episode. One of Borden's jobs was to keep prisoners alive while they were being tortured. Borden put his handler out of his misery. He tried to play it off like a mistake, but showing mercy gave him away. Gorovich's men were after him now.

Team Blindspot captures both Borden and Gorovich's men after a meet with Zapata goes wrong. Kurt takes a great deal of pleasure in slapping hand cuffs on Borden: "Something I should have done the day you walked into the FBI. Nigel Thorton, you are under arrest."

I love that Kurt refuses to call him Robert Borden. Every time Kurt says his real name, he is throwing Borden's lie back in his face. It's fantastic. I also love that Patterson figures out Gorovich's plan without any help from Borden. You know what the plan is because it's always the plan on this show. Say it all together now: BOMBS!

Weller and Reade take out Gorovich, while Jane and Zapata disarm Gorovich's dead man's switch bomb. The moment is supposed to be a nail biter, but they aren't going to blow up 90% of the cast. Although a show of just Patterson and Roman sounds like a real winner to me.


The emotional fallout in "Artful Dodge" is of course Patterson and Zapata. Tasha desperately tries to explain to Patterson how difficult this secret was to keep, and that she was only doing her job. Patterson refuses to accept Tasha's explanation. What she wanted more than anything was to put Borden in prison. Tasha stole Patterson's second chance.

Patterson tells her: "You're my best friend. Whatever it cost you to say no, you should have cared about me more."

I'm fairly split on this. I understand Tasha was in between a rock and a hard place. Her intentions were good — she wanted to protect Patterson. Borden's intel did help avoid another attack, but it was the FBI who stopped Gorovich, not the CIA. Also, the tattoo was going to lead the team directly to Borden and Zapata anyway. Tasha knew that, so keeping the FBI out of the loop seemed pointless. Should Tasha have refused to be Borden's handler? Yes. It's a clear conflict of interest. Should Tasha have told Patterson Borden was alive? Yes, and then let Reade fight the bureaucratic war with Keaton. If Tasha had chosen to do any of this, it would have mitigated a lot of the damage to her friendship with Patterson.

And the friendship is damaged. Patterson can only have a professional relationship with Tasha now.  Interestingly enough, Patterson doesn't believe Zapata made a mistake. "I think you're just someone who can see things objectively without friendships or emotions getting in the way. The CIA is lucky to have you."

Tasha is very good at her job, but that means she not particularly good at friendship as a result. There is a cost to Tasha walking the darker side of justice and this is it. Patterson has a right to feel betrayed and angry, but I believe she will eventually forgive Tasha. Will their friendship ever be the same? Not if Tasha stays at the CIA.

I absolutely love how Patterson refuses to see Borden no matter how many times he demands it. The guilt over Patterson is weighing on Borden and he wants to make amends. But this is a classic tactic by abusers. Even the apology is all about the abuser and is another way to control. Jane believes Patterson could find some closure talking to Borden, but she doesn't agree. Patterson doesn't believe there's a need for closure. Jane is constantly in search of why, but for Patterson there is no why. It just happened. There is nothing Borden can offer her future. He is just an awful part of her past and she's ready to move on. She doesn't need to find any deeper meaning, because she won't let Borden have that much power over her life anymore. We all could learn something from Patterson — including Jane. Sometimes there is no why. Sometimes there are no answers for us in this life. Accepting that is part of letting go and moving on.

Zapata is off drowning her sorrows at a bar where Reade finds her. Patterson's burn over Tasha's ability to be objective without friendships or emotions getting in the way has driven her right to the shot glass. Tasha fears she's cold, unfeeling, and detached. She's afraid doing her job well means being incapable of having real relationships. Tasha is drawn to the darker side of the law, but it could cost her everything else that matters.

Reade is being his usual supportive self. He believes Zapata was protecting Patterson the only way she knew how and chose to be Borden's handler to keep her eye on him. I don't disagree with any of this at all. However, Tasha could have done all of this and still have been honest with Patterson.

Reade tells her: "You still got me. Everything's gonna be okay."

Tasha doubles down on blowing up her relationships and decides now is the time to tell Reade she's in love with him. It goes about as well as we expected — which is to say not well at all. They rehash the kiss two years ago and Zapata shooting Reade down. Tasha reminds Reade that he said the kiss was the painkillers and oh good grief, this is like watching two junior-high kids. News alert Zapata: Reade meant the kiss two years ago, and you know it. You were in love with him then, but too afraid of a relationship. News alert Reade: You are in love with Zapata, which is why her confession angers you so much — because now you have to dump your very nice fiance.

Moving on: Does it feel like Roman is on his own show to anyone else? I'm so in favor of a spin-off. Back on Roman's World, he's being drugged by Crawford. I don't have any actual proof Crawford drugged Roman, but we all know he did. Crawford steals Roman's phone, which conveniently contains a super-encrypted invitation for Jane to some big Crawford takedown gala.

The manipulation game changed direction on Roman this week. Crawford was manipulating Roman instead of the other way around. The two share a nice heart-to-heart after Roman regains consciousness and Crawford has a battery of tests run on him. Gulp. Of course the nurse finds traces of Zip in Roman's system. I guess Zip is a commonly known drug now? When did that happen? Roman make up a quick and effective lie about his therapist giving him Zip to help treat his PTSD. Crawford astutely points out that Roman's anger dates back before the war. Roman acknowledges that and tells Crawford he was raised in a family who valued loyalty above everything. In the end, Roman was the only one who was loyal.

Crawford talks about his abusive step-father too. He encourages Roman to let go of the anger and start over, because that's what Crawford has done. He wants Roman to be part of the new world order he envisions: a peacekeeping force that's greater than all the world's military and their one objective is to stop violence. Crawford is convinced it would be the end of war and... he seems to be convincing Roman too. "Anger makes terrible fuel. It can't build anything. It can only help you destroy."

Roman is still that lost orphaned child at heart. There is a part of him that is drawn to Crawford's father-like image. There is a part of him that wants to be accepted by Crawford. Yet, there is another part of Roman that wants to burn everything and everyone to the ground. Roman needs to focus his need to connect on the right people. That's not Crawford. It's Blake and Jane.


Is it me, or have Kurt and Jane become the least interesting part of their own show? Any time Blindspot wants to circle back to how their marriage is healing from the nonsense drama of season three would be fine with me. I guess were just supposed to accept that everything is fine without Blindspot putting any real time or energy into rebuilding Jeller's relationship. Awesome. I love when this show glazes over problematic storylines with quick fixes or pretending they never happened.

Stray Thoughts:

  • It was nice how the team wrote letters of support so Rich Dotcom could stay. He's the best addition to the show! We have to keep him.
  • Reade is under review next. Yikes. Methinks his drug abuse is going to bite him in the butt.
  • "It is not her responsibility to help you sleep at night." I really wanted Kurt to tear off Borden's head with his bare hands.
  • "You are quoting JFK to me? He was sluttier than I am!" HAHAHA TRUE, RICH.
  • At least Zapata killed Borden's deal and he's going to rot in prison for the rest of his life.


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