Monday, September 21, 2015

Blindspot 1.01: "Pilot"

“What if I’m not just the messenger? What if there’s something I’m supposed to hear or see?”
- Jane Doe

I have to admit, this is the new show I was looking forward to the most this season. The premise excites me and the casting is superb. It probably doesn’t hurt that the promos dominated the network this summer (and several other networks besides NBC). But anyway, without wasting any more time, let’s get to the good stuff. We open up with a rather amazing shot of a duffle bag in the middle of Times Square. A police officer finds it and before long he’s called in the bomb squad. The bomb tech is a little skittish when the bag moves and out comes a naked woman covered in tattoos. I have to admit, I’d heard from the stars how well-shot the opening scene was and I have to agree it was done artfully. You get glimpses of her tattoos but ever enough to be too revealing. You know she’s naked but the lighting is such that it covers the private parts well.

Down in rural Kentucky we meet our male lead, FBI Agent Kurt Weller. He’s on a raid to take down a guy who has several women hostage. He gets creative when one of his team points out using the stairs might give them away. He uses door explosives and tacks them to the floorboards to bring the guy down without harming the hostages. Weller doesn’t have time to revel in the take down though. A chopper arrive whisking him to New York. He’s being put on the case of Jane Doe (the woman from the bag) because his name is tattooed on her back. Through a series of medical and other tests, we learn that Jane’s tattoos were all applied within the last several weeks (I have three tattoos and imagining getting them all done at once sounds so painful!) and she’s got an experimental drug in her system rendering her a permanent amnesiac. She doesn’t have any memories although she can understand things and speak. When Jane first meets Weller she is desperate to find some kind of connection with him. But he’s never met her before. They share a moment where she feels his face in the hopes of triggering a memory (or a sense memory) but comes up empty. The disappointment in her eyes is palpable. You feel so bad for her. And when he leaves her alone at the safe house, it just broke my heart. She needs human connection and he’s running away.

The next morning, Jane learns that she likes coffee (and apparently remembers what grass clippings taste like). In HQ Weller and his supervisor are reviewing Jane’s tattoos and are keying in on a big square that they think is covering something else that might help ID her. Jane’s brought in because they think it might help and she sees a tattoo that’s on her neck behind her ear. It’s in Chinese and it’s a date and an address. After a little arguing, Jane convinces Weller to take her with him but he makes her stay in the car. That doesn’t last long because they find a young guy who is Chinese and doesn’t speak English. Since she knows Chinese, she gets to translate. Weller thinks her job is done when the kid reveals the person who owns the apartment hasn’t been seen since the day before and sends her out into the hall while the team breaks down some doors. He really should have kept a better eye on her. Just about the time the team back at HQ finds out she’s got a Navy Seal tattoo under that square, she starts taking down some guys (one of whom was beating on his wife). She’s understandably freaked out when Weller intervenes. I’m quite proud of the fact that Jaimie Alexander does her own stunts. This looks pretty intense! She needs a little time to calm down and apparently that means translating a terrorist message. Now they have to find the guy and stop him before he commits whatever act of insanity he’s planning. I also like how well Jaimie transitions from having the skillset to being the blank slate.

The case takes a slight detour as the FBI tries to read the guy’s emails. It’s in a rare dialect (which of course Jane speaks). They manage to track the terrorist to the subway and nearly get blown up for their troubles. If Weller had maybe let Jane read the emails a little more deeply they might have figured out that the politician they thought was the target was wrong. The real target was the Statue of Liberty. Weller, Jane and his back up head to the national tourist attraction and Jane insists on joining them. It turns out to be a good thing. Sure she gets shot by the terrorist but she gets the drop on him later (after he and Weller get into a fight that ends with Weller with a knife to his throat). Jane doesn’t think she can actually shoot the guy but she manages it (she even manages not to make it a fatal shot). And as she collapses to her knees, she gets her first memory. She’s shooting targets in the woods (with much longer hair). A man with a beard (who we saw watching as the gang headed away from the terrorist’s apartment) tells her she missed two and needs to do it again. Weller, gun trained on the would-be terrorist, is there to support her as she crumbles.

Back at HQ, Weller and the team debrief before the chief sends them home for the night. There are definitely more questions than answers to be had as this first hour comes to a close. We see one of the other tattoos was a file number and it looks like it references the chief herself (with a heavily redacted file). Intriguing. And as Jane and Weller turn in for the night, we get the feeling they both have secrets to hide. Jane may have found another memory as she examines herself in the mirror. The bearded man explains that the drug will erase her memory and Jane says that the drug is her only option.

I really enjoyed this premiere. It was very thrilling and I found myself very engaged. If the rest of the season is like this, I’m going to be very pleased. I’m hopeful the ratings hold up and we get an early back 9 order on this soon.

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