One of the new shows in this fall’s TV premiere season that I was looking forward to was Blindspot from NBC. Staring Jaimie Alexander who I recognize from the Thor movies and several guest appearances in Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The premise is that in the middle of Times Square New York a bag is found with a tag to call the FBI. Typical security scare results and they begin to investigate with the bomb squad, but upon investigation there is a naked woman covered in tattoos crawling out of the duffel bag. During interrogation and investigation it is clear the woman has no memory, now named Jane Doe. But since there is a bold tattoo of an FBI agent named Kurt Weller ,introduced by saving multiple female captives from a redneck hillbilly, they must involve him in the question of who this Jane Doe is . (Heavily reminiscent of “The Blacklist” pilot)
The technical explanation is that there is an experimental/new drug that can be used in limited doses to remove selective memories for PTSD treatment, but Jane Doe has been treated with a massive dose. Additionally all of her tattoos are freshly inked begging the question of whether she lost her memory before or after.
Comical titillation notes:
- The first full pan out of the Jane Doe tattoos in Times Square was interesting that her breasts were fully tattooed to ease the censor issues.
- Facial tattoos are avoided both for better publicity of Jaime Alexander and quality of life for makeup.
- During the FBI imaging of her tattoos there is a strategically placed pole to hide her butt crack as they do the photos.
The rest of the pilot is her recalling procedural memory (languages, skills, etc) that show her tattoos are important to national security, safety, etc. They stop a bombing of the Statue of Liberty and Jane contributes by magically reading aloud the Chinese tattoo beneath her left ear and proving she is a bad ass by saving a battered wife while instructed to stay put while they investigate a suspect’s apartment. These are just lazy writing in my opinion, but I am willing to acknowledge they might be victims of the 1 hour TV format.
Plot wise Jane Doe has a memory surface while saving FBI agent Kurt Weller that she trained for pistol marksmanship with an unnamed male seen monitoring Jane during the episode and killing the bomber and showing he instigated the action. The final teaser is that she willingly underwent the memory loss with the unnamed killer’s assistance.
Characterization wise you have Jaime Alexander as Jane Doe doing a convincing job of the deer in the headlights look being confused, struggling with memories, and the situation in general. I just hope they avoid the lazy convenient writing that might predicate entirely too easy to have the right memory trigger at the right times for Deus Ex Machina.
Sullivan Stapleton as Kurt Weller feels written decently with skepticism about Jane and her tagging along for their adventures. I just hope this continues and isn’t just immediately passed over since Jane might be a Navy Seal based on a covered up tattoo and her exhibited bad ass skills. Acting wise Sullivan is doing nothing for me in bringing that character to life. Not saying it wrong for the character, but it will feel boring if he continues as the pilot. That burden is on the directors to let him grow.
So while the pilot was largely average and some interesting concepts that interest in my mind is where does it go from here?
It came to no surprise that Jane Doe was involved in the her own memory loss drugging, but the motives are the mystery. Whether she was a Navy Seal or not should be a quick resolution in all practicality. Even if covert the FBI should be able to get that information from the Navy. The question of a tattoo leading to a redacted case file mentioning the name of the FBI task force lead Bethany Mayfair should not be used excuse to let this issue linger. Was this case file something Bethany knows about because she is dirty or new to her in which case the mention of her name should have been redacted as well.
The bomber of the pilot was a setup from her mystery partner to get her in with the FBI and I would hope not to expose Bethany and the redacted case file. The more compelling scenario is that the mystery partner is bad guy and Jane Doe was legitimately her partner in crime (undercover or not). There is a good scene where she is panicked about her loss of memory and the doctor brings her two drinks, coffee and tea, and asks her to try both and decide which she likes. Either she remembers a small thing or she makes new choices and that is how she cares on whether she recovers her memory or not.
I think the captivating scenario will be if she truly was a criminal and instigator of this whole situation up until the memory loss drugging. Instead of carrying out a nefarious plan due to her tattoos she instead stops her own plan because in the absence of her memory she now makes different choices. Begging the question of Nature versus Nurture personalities. Given a clean slate will Jane Doe become the same person with the same motives or will she make new choices. This gives the show somewhere to go as a character.
Set the foundation and eventually Jane discovers that the mastermind behind all of the bad things she is trying to stop is herself. The internal struggle to rationalize who she is now with who she was then and the breaking of the trust she grows with her FBI colleagues. It is a revelation that needs to have impact.
But then following this is the exploration of whether the knowledge of her past will impact her future since the blank slate is gone. Will she revert back to her pre wipe past personality or will she hold to her post wipe savior?
The longevity is questionable, but I dearly hope the formula is not procedural with a tattoo/case each week but I suspect this will be the case. It has potential, but it might instead be relegated to Netflix binge watching once a season finishes instead of weekly following and that runs the risk of cancellation due to lack of interest.