Monday, September 21, 2015

REVIEW: 'Blindspot' - The FBI Follows the Clues on Jane Doe's Body and Uncover a Terrorist Plot in 'Pilot'

NBC's Blindspot - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

A beautiful, naked amnesiac is found in Times Square covered in mysterious tattoos, including one bearing the name of FBI Agent Kurt Weller. Weller and his team must decode the map of clues on Jane Doe's body in order to thwart a deadly a terrorist attack. Who is Jane Doe - is she an asset or enemy? Who wiped her memory? And who is behind the tattoos?

Blindspot wastes no time getting to its central mystery. The premiere opens in Times Square with a beat cop discovering an unattended duffle bag with a tag saying to call the FBI. Soon thereafter, the entire block is cleared with an agent in a special suit getting a closer examination of the bag. It starts moving and a naked woman emerges. She's shivering in the cold and covered in tattoos. It kickstarts the mystery of who this woman is and why this whole experience has happened. It's certainly a story that creates some memorable imagery - especially when Jaimie Alexander gets network naked. Lights, shadows and camera position make her appear naked while still covering up all of the sensitive body parts. Whatever the show does after that, it at least looks polished and well thought out.

This Jane Doe is essentially a blank canvas. Her memory has been completely wiped. The doctor knows she can remember how to function - i.e. talk and walk - but can't recall specific memories about herself. She's a person who's not really a person. That's a tricky balance to pull off in a way that makes her a captivating lead character. As she is poked and prodded, the pain and emotion of the experience is apparent. This is an alienating experience for her. She has no idea what is going on. Everyone is just as clueless as she is. Everyone desperately wants to know answers. Over the course of this premiere, they get some insight into who Jane used to be - a former Navy Seal with several skills that can be used in the field. But other than that, this premiere sets up a mystery that may not be so simple to solve.

All of the FBI agents wonder why someone went through the trouble of wiping Jane Doe's memory and tattooing all these clues over her body. If they knew all of these things, why didn't they just leave an anonymous tip to the agency? That answer may never be adequately explained. The structure of a tattoo leading to a crime is enough to give these characters urgency in the immediate aftermath of Jane's discovery. Quickly after Jane and Agent Kurt Weller meet, they are thrown into their first case together. A case that's simple while still requiring immediate action. The time is clicking for the FBI to stop this man from blowing up the Statue of Liberty.

The action of the show really is nifty. The fight sequences are well choreographed. The fight between Jane and the two Chinese men probably went on a little too long. But it also showcased Jane realizing she can do all of this. She just needed to be stopped before she did something she would immediately regret. That teases that there is an immense darkness happening within her as well. As much as she wants to save innocent lives throughout this investigation, she was just as capable choking someone out simply because his friend was beating up his wife.

The opening hour also has the requisite scene early on that shows Weller and his team actually being smart and crafty on the job. Their raid in rural Kentucky is very over-the-top and weird with almost no explanation. It happened just to show that the team has the smarts and technology to stop a man without harming innocent women and children. It's not long after that they are called to New York City to lead the unit regarding Jane Doe. Weller is the male lead of the show. He personifies every serious beat the narrative is trying to do. He is so serious. He is able to comfort Jane when she needs it. But there are other times as well where he tries handling her like anyone else in protective custody. She's a resource to the bureau. They may not know the extent or the reason why but she is capable of assisting the team when they need it the most. That point is especially brought home with the fact that Jane has to be the one to save Weller when the Chinese target has him at knife point.

Jane does regain her first memory by the time the premiere is over. She tried so hard throughout the hour to remember something. An action brought about that memory. But it was all information that the audience already knew. Her skills in combat were showcased to the point where Weller and the audience were sure that she could make that shot in the end. It thrusted this memory of running a shooting obstacle course. But it also showed that Jane was very friendly with the man who is suspiciously stalking the unit when they are out in the field. He is the one who has answers. He's the one with the master plan regarding Jane. He will continue manipulating events around the FBI's cases. How soon will the unit find him and learn the reasons why all of this is happening? Probably not anytime soon. But it is important that the premiere does give the audience one solid answer. Jane willingly chose to do this to herself. She says it's her only choice left. Whatever that means.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Pilot" was written by Martin Gero and directed by Mark Pellington.
  • Sullivan Stapleton is going to need to fix that wandering accent by Episode 2. I have no clue what he's even trying to go for - which is a major problem.
  • The bomb scare on the train was another exciting action set pice. And yet, it only really happened to give that part of the episode some action for the main characters. They had to think quickly in order to handle the situation. But there weren't any consequences to it either.
  • There doesn't seem to be a whole lot there with the supporting cast. The other two members of Weller's team get to make one or two jokes but they largely exist as backup for him. The doctor and analyst back at the base largely just deliver exposition.
  • However, it seems Bethany Mayfair - the director of the FBI - may be connected to one of the tattoos on Jane's body. It's a very cryptic tease. One that includes murder and embezzlement. But it's still enough to be wary of that character in the future.
  • Any guesses as to why this is happening to Jane? I'll say she needs to be in protective custody because people out there want to hurt her and her memory was wiped so she wouldn't reveal any secrets about herself or the mystery man to the wrong people. It's all a little too complicated.