May 23, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Blindspot”


BLINDSPOT has, in a sense, been coasting on the first five minutes of its pilot for an entire season.  That sequence was the most heavily hyped of summer 2015:  a bag dumped into the middle of Times Square turned out, when cautiously opened, to contain a gorgeous, naked amnesiac woman who would be known as Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander), her body–very carefully photographed for network TV–covered from head to foot with tattoos.  It was an attention-provoking few minutes, but the show that’s followed has been a cross between tattoo-of-the-week (since each one was a puzzle that connected esoterically to some crime that needed to be solved or exposed), with Jane at the center of those stories since it developed that she had a super-soldier’s sense memory, and stalling tactic.  Since NBC, Warners TV, series creator Martin Gero, lead non-writing producer Greg Berlanti and all those associated with the show want it to stay on the air for years, the bulk of each episode was spent on the week’s tattoo, while information on the surrounding storyline was parsed out in tiny and sometimes misleading bits.

Around midseason, we were given two seemingly significant pieces of knowledge:  that for reasons that are still unclear, Jane herself had masterminded the whole scheme of having her memory wiped out and being covered with intricately tricky markings–which, however hard to believe, is still apparently true–and that before her brainwashing, she was Taylor Shaw, the girl who had grown up with Jane’s will-they-or-won’t-they FBI agent partner Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) before vanishing, which led to Weller’s father being put in jail for her murder.  (A plotline so popular this season that it also showed up in The Family.)  In tonight’s season finale, written by Gero and directed by Rob Seidenglanz, we found out that barring double- and triple-reversals, this was a lie.  Weller’s father had in fact killed Taylor, which he confessed on his deathbed in last week’s episode, and part of Jane’s elaborate cover story was the replacement of Taylor’s DNA with her own.

This had the frustrating effect of seeming to advance the show’s ball while not actually moving it anywhere, since if Jane isn’t Taylor, we’re back to not knowing who she is.  Nor will her pre-brainwashing lover, post-brainwashing handler Oscar (Francois Arnaud) he able to help, since Jane more or less accidentally killed him with an axe before he could brainwash her again.  All we (think we) know at present is that Jane was out to bring down the FBI by undermining NY bureau head Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), recently dead at Oscar’s hand, and exposing its failings, and to replace Mayfair with Weller.  The season-ending plot twist that had Weller putting Jane under arrest is the kind of finale move that exists to be reversed in next season’s premiere.

In its one step forward, two steps back rhythm, Blindspot resembles The Blacklist, but while Alexander and Stapleton are charismatic action leads who are able to inject some emotion into the mechanics, they’re not James Spader.  (Both shows utilize mostly anonymous supporting casts, although Blindspot‘s Ashley Johnson as the team’s computer whiz has made the most of her B stories.)   The tattoo-of-the-week plots are mostly unexciting, and any linkage between them is so vague that the larger idea that they’ve all been deliberately grouped together makes less sense with each episode.  Gero, whose previous show The LA Complex was a low-budget Canadian soap with some charm, is so in the weeds with the clockworks of the storylines here that he barely has a chance to do anything with the characters.  While individual hours are sometimes diverting, there’s little forward momentum.

Blindspot has done all right this season in the protective shadow of lead-in The Voice, but in the fall it moves to Wednesdays at 8PM, a much tougher slot where it will face Survivor, The Goldbergs, Arrow and the new Lethal Weapon.  That would be a challenge for a much stronger show, and the only thing Blindspot will have going for it is that it replaces The Mysteries of Laura after two years of that show’s low ratings.  Unless Blindspot steps up its game, it seems likely to run out of time while Jane Doe still has tattoos to read.  The ink on its renewal may quickly turn into the invisible kind.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."