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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blindspot 5x11 Review: "Iunne Ennui" (Ambiguity) [Contributor: Jen]


"Iunne Ennui"
Original Airdate: July 23, 2020

Blindspot's
series finale "Iunne Ennui" delivers a predictable but nostalgic walk down memory lane (pun intended). At least until the very end. Jane's story concludes with a shocking, yet frustrating, curveball which sours the last episode for this viewer.  Get comfortable because we have a lot to discuss.

WHAT I LOVED


I am changing up the format, since there is a clear delineation between good and bad for me. Let's begin with the things I enjoyed since I am a glass half full kind of girl.

Jane awakes from her zipping and surprise, surprise: her memory is intact. Patterson administered the antidote she keeps on hand. However, Jane has developed a tolerance for the cure because she's been zipped so much. I appreciate the wink and nod moment from the writers. Even they know this particular plotline has been overused.

That said, Zip is the perfect way to conclude the series because: a) it was the reason Jane lost all her memories, and b) it allows the writers to bring back a slew of guest stars. The series already established hallucinations are a symptom of Zip poisoning. Since Patterson's cure is not working, Jane hallucinates a full cast of characters from past episodes as she struggles to figure out where Ivy has placed the final Zip bombs.

Oh yeah, there are some Zip bombs the team has missed. Oops! However, they are not FBI agents anymore. The new director offers them full immunity but they can never work for a government agency again. This is an incredibly fair deal. Let's not forget that Team Blindspot has committed an innumerable amount of shady deeds. Some were flat-out criminal. So the loss of employment at the FBI is their comeuppance.


Their freedom is their reward for always putting the country first. Team Blindspot are heroes. They've done far more good than bad. Is it honestly so terrible they can no longer work for the government? Pfft. No. Their jobs destroyed their lives many times. Now they can be whatever they want without the pressure of saving New York City every week. I say it's time for the Bahamas!


Jane says: "Well, Allie and Bethany are finally back in Colorado. We could go there and work on growing our little family," to which Kurt replies: "That doesn't sound like work to me."

YES, KURT AND JANE. LIVE IN COLORADO AND GIVE ME ALL THE BABIES.


They aren't the only ones dreaming of their futures either. Rich asks Patterson to join him in a treasure hunt to find a hidden/missing device that turns lead into gold. Rich Dotcom and Patterson traveling the world solving puzzles? Yes, please give me this show.

Unfortunately, they have to stop Ivy first. Kurt insists they are the only team who has the knowledge to stop her and insists the new director put them back in the field one last time. Sigh. Kurt Weller, why do you have to be so Kurt Weller all the time? The bags were packed. Tickets were purchased. The champagne was ready. The beach awaited. Then a life in Colorado. You frustrate me, sir.

In an interesting twist, Jane's hallucinations seem to be guiding her to where Ivy has hid the bomb. I love that it is primarily all the villains Jane has stopped over the years who are helping her stop Blindspot's final villain.
Roman: Your new boss, your team... they don't know what it's like to be zipped. We do. We need to fix this. Since when do you sit on the sidelines waiting for permission? You're Alice Kruger, Remi Briggs, Jane Doe. You're the only one who can stop them. You're always the only one.
I won't go through every return guest star, but my favorite was Roman.


I've made no secret about loving his character over the years. Luke Mitchell is a gift to acting and he made innumerable contributions to Blindspot bringing Roman Briggs to life. Frankly, I'd be anxiously waiting for a spin-off if they hadn't killed him.
Reade: No matter what those other guys say, me dying wasn't your fault.
Reade and Jane were never the best of friends and he's a lot nicer to her in this hallucination than he was for most of the show. However, a lot of what Jane is stressing about these final episodes is being a force of destruction in people's lives no matter who she is. The missing piece of the Blindspot family puzzle returns to give Jane much needed reassurance.

The appearance of Reade is extremely important because up until this point Jane has only been hallucinating bad guys. It's pretty tough to trust a hallucination and homicidal maniacs. Jane's hesitation is understandable, but Reade tells her to trust her instincts.

The hallucinations aren't all doom and gloom either. The Blindspot writers have some fun with it as Jane sees four couples getting married.




Roman/Blake, Patterson/David, and Reade/Zapata fulfill my wistful desire for happier endings for these couples. (Also, hello Martin Gero! He's officiating Patterson and David's wedding.) But what the heck? Tasha and Patterson? Did I miss a ship all these years? You guys gotta tell me this stuff. 

The Zip is poisoning Jane and it will kill her if she doesn't get a higher dose of Patterson's antidote. It is when she hallucinates Borden that Jane makes a critical, and potentially deadly, decision. She needs the hallucinations to find Ivy's bomb location, so she stops taking the antidote.

Jane's hallucination with Borden dives into the philosophical questions Blindspot has examined the past five years. This is an aspect of the show I've always enjoyed. What is the essence of morality? What makes someone good or bad? Borden debates with Jane over who the real terrorist is — the United States or Sandstorm.
Borden: The U.S. government almost killed you in an unlawful drone attack. I saved you — a decision which ended up getting my wife killed. We both agreed something drastic needed to be done, that real change needed to be made.
Jane: You mean vengeance carried out.

Borden: That was never the central tenet. People got hurt, yes. But that was merely a byproduct. Our methods were severe, but our goals were just.
Uhh... hold up. I reject the notion that real change can only be brought about by violence. I also believe Borden is rewriting history here. Sandstorm's violence was not merely a byproduct. Sandstorm made the violence, death, and destruction happen. You cannot argue that violence is the only method for real change and then pretend the violent consequences just happen. Roman said: "There are no bad guys, no good guys. Just different perspectives."

Were there corrupt people at the FBI and other government agencies? You bet. Did a bunch of people have to die so the corrupt would lose their jobs? No. There are plenty of other ways to fix that problem that doesn't require violence. Sandstorm doesn't get to subvert the rule of the people by blowing up the democratically elected administration with a rocket and replace it with people Shepherd hand picked. So how about we don't rationalize terrorism, Borden? Cool? Cool.
Crawford: How many people have you killed in the name of justice? A badge doesn't make your actions moral. It just makes them legal.
All right, I concede that's a really good line. And Hank Crawford is right: wearing a badge doesn't magically make someone a moral person. These government agencies hold a great deal of power and require rigorous oversight. We should always question those in power because people are imperfect. They make mistakes. Even worse — evil finds its way into jobs with authority all the time and those people use their authority to do evil things to others.

Borden said: "We need to stop demonizing our adversaries. If we listen to them perhaps we can learn from them." However, we don't have to do bad things to stop bad people. This is where Borden and I agree. The demonization needs to stop. Talking and, in particular listening, is one of the best ways to enact change. Sandstorm had a valid point. There was corruption in the government. They simply went about solving it the wrong way. People often choose violence when they feel unheard. It doesn't make the violence okay, but the path is clear for how to avoid it. We need to hear people even if we disagree with them.

We can also achieve justice by toeing a moral line and following the laws and ideals of this country. Simply because so many in the United States fail to uphold our laws and ideals doesn't mean they are without merit and we should stop pursuing them. In fact, those beliefs are the best way to fight the very evil that tries to destroy them.

This is essentially the argument characters like Team Blindspot make. They are all great examples of human imperfection. They've made mistakes. They've lied and done shady (and sometimes criminal things). However, they hold themselves to a higher standard and strive to be better. They try to make amends. They fight to be worthy of the badge they carry. Team Blindspot helped more people than they hurt. They want to save lives. Simply because people are inherently flawed doesn't mean we have to  to the lowest common denominator of morality.

Team Blindspot is a stark contrast to the villains Blindspot has portrayed for a reason. Neither side is entirely good or bad. This show lives in a moral grey, but intent matters. Actions matter. Accountability matters. The rest is for God to decide.

Maybe the writers agree with my argument. Maybe they don't. Blindspot has always left plenty of room for viewer interpretation when it came to the philosophical questions. Will there be people who disagree with me? Yes and that's fine, but I'm good with where I line up.

Blindspot finishes where it began. Jane and company track down the Zip bomb in Times Square. Jane and Weller share a perfect kiss before diffusing the bomb. Come on, they always diffuse the bomb. You knew that was gonna happen. The kiss was a nice touch though. Jeller would totally blow 15 seconds of time to make out. They like to live on the edge.

Source: annciabvl

I really appreciated Grigoryan and the rest of the FBI agents taking the time to say goodbye and thank Team Blindspot for their service. These guys sacrificed a lot for their country and put their lives on the line every week. A thank you was the minimum of what they deserved.
Patterson: I would'nt have survived if it wasn't for you two.

Tasha: Same.

Rich: I would've been okay.
I'm gonna miss you, Rich Dotcom. We arrive at the place where the cast starts to lose it. Every finale there is a moment where acting crosses the line into reality. Patterson, Zapata, and Rich tell each other how much they love one another. But it really feels like Ashley, Audrey, and Ennis are the ones saying goodbye.


Kurt said: "In Times Square, you said to me, the last time you tried to lead a quiet life. Our life can be whatever we want. It's time to go make some new memories. Some happier ones." Kurt finds Jane where they first met, where their love story began — the interrogation room. Kurt Weller was the first place Jane looked for her memory.


What she didn't know at the time was there were no memories to find. Kurt Weller wasn't Jane's past.


Kurt was Jane's future. A future he promises they will fill with many new wonderful and happy memories. A promise he seals with one last kiss. This is the full circle arc I live to see. Kurt and Jane's relationship was far from perfect, but they were always perfect for each other. Their love story was the central piece holding the Blindspot puzzle together. I will always love them.


We cut to Jane and Kurt's house in Colorado. Everyone they love is there celebrating. And boy is there a bevy of guest stars.


Patterson's dad, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Allie, Bethany, Boston, Avery, Sarah and Sawyer. (Hey! Remember Jane had a daughter and Kurt had a sister and nephew? The writers forgot about them until now, so I understand if you did too.)

Kurt and Jane are also apparently fostering a bunch of kids and I DIED. I love it so much. Patterson and Rich are treasure hunting as promised. They also may be in a polyamorous marriage with Boston and to that I say bravo. Zapata is a private detective and a mommy. She had a baby girl. We don't get to know the name, which I am high-key annoyed about.

Kurt and Jane drink the scene in and marvel at how lucky they are. I've invested a lot of time and love into these characters. This is the ending I always hoped they would have.


WHAT I HATED


... OR IS IT? Martin Gero is not satisfied leaving us with a perfect happily ever after. If you adored the finale then this is probably the time to stop reading this review. I'm pretty ticked off.


Kurt said: "One wrong turn, cutting one wrong wire. Could've gone bad. So many ways. So many times. There's some world somewhere where this diner never happened."

What the frack are you rambling about? Well, we find out in two seconds as Jane flashes back to the bomb and Times Square. Kurt and Jane diffuse it, like always, but this time they are too late to stop the Zip poisoning. Jane has gone too long without the antidote and she dies. Kurt and Zapata are beside themselves with grief. The final image is of Jane being zipped into a black body bag.


Then we flash back to the dinner scene.
Kurt: Jane? You okay?

Jane: Yeah... I'm good.
Jane has this weird, faraway, wistful, slightly crazed, happy/sad smile on her face and that's it. Show over.


We don't know which ending is real. 

If you are confused, then here are the possible scenarios:

1. Jane dies in Time Square. The dinner scene with all her loved ones is either some final hallucination moments before her death or Jane is in the afterlife realizing she's dead.

2. Jane survived, is living happily with all her loved ones, and the death scene in Times Square is an alternate universe or Jane imagining how it all could have gone wrong, like Kurt said.

Guess what, guys? You get to pick which one!


Martin Gero has given multiple interviews and stated Blindspot's ending is up to the viewer's interpretation. I HATE IT. I haaaaaaaaaaaaate it SO MUCH. Of all the things a writer can do for their final episode, ambiguous endings are by far the trope/gimmick I despise most of all.

I was thinking back to the series finale I truly hated — How I Met Your Mother. I won't get into all the reasons I despised it, but suffice it to say I felt the finale made sense if it aired immediately after the pilot. The finale doesn't make any sense when there's nine years of show in between.

I hated the decisions Craig Thomas and Carter Bays made, but at least they picked an ending and stuck with it. They had a vision and saw it through. I respect them for that.

I can't respect Martin Gero for this. This is chicken writing. He's straddling two lines of polar opposite endings and refuses to choose. It's like Kelly choosing herself instead of Brandon or Dylan on Beverly Hills 90210. Total cop out. It gets worse when I read his remarks.
Interviewer: Is there a finite answer though?

Gero: Yes. And, not that this is the type of show that merits it, there are hints in the text of the throughout the season that make it pretty clear. Even in this episode [there are things] that make it pretty clear what's going on. But both interpretations are totally valid and are intended to be totally valid.
So there is a finite — AND CORRECT — answer. But both interpretations are valid. Talk about your nonsequitur. Martin Gero's ending is one of these two options but he's simply NOT GOING TO TELL US.


Seemingly because Blindspot is not the type of show that requires a definitive answer, even though one exists.


I'm sure many are wondering, "Hey Jen. You just spent five whole paragraphs interpreting morality and whatnot. So why can't you just interpret the ending?" And sure, I could approach this as Blindspot's final puzzle. I am sure there are plenty who LOVE this ending because they enjoyed the mystery aspect of the show.

I always hated it. You guys know "Case of the Week" is my least favorite aspect of the show. I drop it like a hot potato in the reviews any chance I get. I don't enjoy puzzling out the tattoos and cases. I enjoy examining symbolism and debating moral philosophies. But this isn't I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings or Snow Falling On Cedars or The Things They Carried (All excellent stories ripe with beautiful and meaningful symbolism for a reader to interpret. Enjoy.)

This is Blindspot. The episode titles have answers. The tattoos have answers. There's literally a bird singing in a cage when it comes to this show. The puzzle is always solved in the end. This isn't a philosophical debate over Jane's actions: this is a concrete choice between two endings. It's either/or. There is an answer. The writers are copping out of answering Blindspot's biggest puzzle at the last minute. It's maddening.


This show is not The X-Files, Fringe, or 12 Monkeys. I expect those shows to end ambiguously because they've always been pretty freaking ambiguous. Maybe that's the kind of show Martin Gero wants Blindspot to be like, but I don't think it is. So let's be honest about what kind of show Blindspot is. It is a cop procedural.  The tattoos are clues Jane and friends use to stop attacks on New York City every week and every week that attack is a bomb. With some occasional plot variation.


One plus one always equals two on Blindsopt and just to be sure you arrive at the correct answer, the writers do the math for you by calculating it and then filling in the answer. They hold our hand through the whole thing and connect all the dots. We are the horse, the show is the trough, and the writers lead us to the water every single week. Blindspot doesn't trust their audience to remember what happened one episode prior, or even five minutes prior, without shoving a flashback in our face. They did it in the finale. They showed flashback scenes of what happened in 5x10 while the characters were narrating what happened in 5x10! This show is a neon sign blinking "THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED" at all times.

Now Gero has confidence in his audience all of sudden? There's implicit trust and we can chart our own course? We get to decide what happens?


Why is Kurt even talking about other worlds? They've never introduced alternate universes, but Gero expects us to pretend there's an Earth-2 with Jane and Kurt doppelgangers. We are supposed to pretend this is the Arrowverse or something from a throwaway line inserted so creator doesn't have to pick an ending.


No, I won't. Absolutely not. I've put up with a lot of ridiculousness on this show but this takes cake. This is far beyond my tolerance level. I don't even really care at this point what the ending is. Just pick one. If Martin Gero thought the team living happily ever after was too perfect and not edgy enough, then kill Jane. If he thought killing Jane would upset too many viewers and didn't have the guts to take the heat, then give Jane a happy ending.

The point is to conclude the story he started. We tune in every week to his vision. This isn't a Choose Your Own Adventure book. We deserve to know the ending Martin Gero chose for his show. He doesn't get to avoid this responsibility and the audience reaction to it (either positive or negative) and call it some altruistic endeavor for audience interpretation. 


I'll even concede that ambiguity is a choice. No ending is an ending. Two endings are an ending, I guess. But it feels lazy. I think we deserve more.

I am tired, y'all. Every week I log into Twitter waiting to see an Armageddon tweet about our world. I'm seriously questioning whether I'll ever set foot on a plane again. Do I send my kid to school or keep her home? Is the economy going to tank back to the Dark Ages? These are all the thoughts I think. I am also fairly preoccupied with avoiding a deadly virus that has killed thousands in this country. As are the rest of you, I'm sure.

Is it too much to ask for the show to give a concrete answer? Just tell me if Jane lives or dies, Martin.  I have a whole list of things I'm waiting to sit down and talk with Jesus about, so he can explain what in the he was thinking. (I'm also Catholic. My entire religious belief system is based on the Trinity and no one can really explain how one God in three divine persons actually works. I live in ambiguity and I am mostly okay with this.) But when I turn on NBC, to watch a show that has done the math for me 99 episodes prior, I expect them to finish the equation in the final episode.


Even if I choose an ending based on my interpretation, I will always be left with the nagging doubt the other ending was real. This leaves both options wildly unsatisfying, which is actually more maddening than if the writers just flat-out killed Jane. To some this may sound crazy, but for me a real answer is better than no answer or "both interpretations are equally valid."

MY INTERPRETATION


There's a very big part of me that refuses to interpret jack. If the creator and writers feel they don't they owe me an answer then I don't owe them any kind of interpretation.


However, I realize there are many who have read these reviews over the years and will be curious to know what I think. To those people - thank you. I appreciate you sharing your precious free time with me.

The shipper in me, sunshine and rainbows Jen, very much wants to discard the death scene and believe Jane was merely imagining this potentially horrific outcome. Sort of like a really depressing game of "What If?" After all, they don't end on Times Square. It switches back to the dinner. We end the show with Jane surrounded by all the people she loves. So, clearly the Times Square scene is the one that is not real.

My instinct however, my gut reaction, is Jane is dead.


Martin Gero mentioned in an interview he had an ending in mind when he pitched the show: Jane coming out of a body bag in the premiere and going into a body bag in the finale is just the kind of pitch an executive producer would make to a network. It's beautiful symmetry, almost poetic in a way, and I could see how that vision is the one that remained unchanged as the years went on. It's a pretty bold and tragic end to Jane's story. It could explain why Gero is hiding behind the ambivalence of two scenes as way to avoid viewers' heartbroken reactions.

But telling people it's fine to believe she lives because the world is a garbage pile right now is not the same as Jane actually being alive. In fact, we could argue Gero is avoiding the truth because he didn't want to pile on. If it's a happy ending then why wouldn't he just say so? You'll find very few Blindspot fans who would be displeased with happily ever after.

Let's ignore the interviews and look at the show. One common theme this season is the shady characters achieving redemption through death. I personally think this is a tired trope and not an entirely healthy message to send to people. You do bad things and therefore the only way to prove you're a good person and make up for it is to die? Eh, it's troubling. That said, television and movie writers love this trope. They can't get enough of it.

Weitz died. Keaton died. Reade, who is the most moral character of this season's dearly departed, died. Roman died. Borden died. All the villains are dead or at a CIA blacksite. As Shepherd said, the Zip was all Remi's idea. She erased her own memories. The infiltration of the FBI was Remi's plan. And anyone who had anything to do with Sandstorm is dead.

I'm not saying Jane deserves to die or this is the ending I want — quite the opposite. She has more than earned her happy life with Kurt in Colorado. She doesn't need to die in order to be redeemed. She already is redeemed. However, nothing says that Jane is a hero more than sacrificing her happiness to save the very city she was intent on attacking as Remi Briggs.

There is a key scene in the episode that potentially supports the "Jane is dead" theory.
Borden: There are more things in heaven and earth, Jane than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
This line is from Hamlet. I groaned when I heard it. Writers love Hamlet and draw from it all the time, but it's not a story of hope and love. Hamlet is the classic tragic hero and when writers use Shakespeare's play in their own work, it is seldom a harbinger of good news.

Here's a brief summary of Hamlet. Hamlet is haunted by his dead father's ghost, who asks his son to  avenge his death by killing the new king, Hamlet's uncle. The uncle fears for his life and plots a plan to kill Hamlet. Hamlet pretends to go crazy with revenge, but then really does go crazy. The play ends in a duel. The King, Queen, Laertes and Hamlet are all killed.

Basically everybody dies.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet is explaining to Horatio that human knowledge is limited. We cannot explain everything because we don't know everything. Science does not hold all the answers. Just because an experience exists outside your conscious awareness or your perceived reality doesn't mean the experience is not real. Particularly when we are dealing with the spiritual world.

Borden is telling Jane just because her hallucinations aren't the norm doesn't mean they aren't real. Essentially, these hallucinations are outside of Jane's limited knowledge. Borden is rationalizing Jane's hallucinations the same way Hamlet rationalized his ghost.

In the play, the dead king was a harbinger of Hamlet's death. Perhaps Jane's ghosts mean the same. Maybe they aren't hallucinations. They could be ghosts leading her toward the afterlife. Technically, she is slowly dying from Zip the entire episode. These ghosts challenge her conceptions of right and wrong and who she is until she makes the ultimate sacrifice. Jane is reunited with her loved ones in heaven and realizes she's dead, but at peace.

That's my detailed explanation. The simple one is Hamlet = Jane. Tragic hero meets tragic hero. Hamlet is dead, so Jane is dead.

There's also the title of the episode "Innue Ennui." Yes, I am going to solve a Blindspot puzzle for the first time ever. Iunne Ennui is a perfect palindrome, as I am sure many have noticed. It's so obvious even I could figure it out. The meaning? The beginning is the same as the ending.

We start in Times Square in a bag.


We end in Times Square in a bag.


Here's the sliver of hope for those incredibly depressed by this ending: in the pilot, Kurt promised Jane she would be okay, but she didn't know what "okay" felt like. In the finale, Kurt asks Jane if she's okay and she answers, "Yeah. I'm good."

The ending is technically the same no matter which one you choose. Jane is okay. She's more than okay. She's good. Even better she learned what "okay" feels like because of her relationships with Kurt and the team. So even if you believe Jane is dead, therein lies sunshine and rainbows. Wherever she is, Jane is good and we can let her go.


Could I be wrong? Is Jane is alive? Sure, she could be. Do I hope I am wrong? You bet. What stinks is we'll never know for sure, which makes for a frustrating end.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who has read these reviews! Thank you especially to Jenn for giving my Blindspot thoughts a home these past five years. It was a wild ride and I had lots of fun!