I had every intention of blogging about this right after watching it during preview night at San Diego Comic-Con. But then there was this whole con, you see, and parties and panels and the need for sleep. So if you’re interested in Blindspot, coming to NBC this fall, you’re probably already read or seen something about it. So I won’t recap the plot but rather just give some of my own impressions.
I went into the screening labeling it in my head “John Doe with a female lead.” I wish I could tell you that I was way off base. Not that John Doe was a bad show, it just doesn’t feel that original as a premise. Blindspot doesn’t hold back as much information in its pilot as the other, which makes it even less interesting but possibly more network-friendly.
When Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) is discovered in a duffel bag in Times Square, as you can see in the trailer, law enforcement is understandably vigilant. Despite the fact that she’s not wearing a stitch of clothing, they train their guns on her and order her to her knees. However, it’s pretty clear once she’s in custody that she honestly has no idea what’s going on. So I got tired, right away, of seeing her treated like a criminal rather than a victim. Why don’t they administer a lie detector test? Then, why don’t they check her into a hospital? They keep grilling this poor woman for what is apparently an entire day, finally putting her up in a halfway house the following night.
I’d like to have been in Jane’s shoes a bit more, to experience her fear, but that’s not the angle the pilot takes. Instead, much of it is shown through the eyes of the FBI agent (Sullivan Stapleton) whose name is tattooed on her back. As he begins to believe her, it seems like he’s going to treat her with more respect than the others, yet even once they’re out in the field, he’s leading her around by the arm like she’s a misbehaving toddler.
When clues about Jane’s identity start coming to light, we discover them through the eyes of the FBI Assistant Director (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who is fantastic in this role but alarmingly absent from the show’s IMDB page). We only get a taste of Jane’s experience when she’s alone for the night at the halfway house. Suspense builds based on the other characters’ knowledge of her that she doesn’t share… and this tension results in the episode’s climactic moment. So it works, but I’m hoping that we get more of Jane’s perspective going forward.
(For more point of view pet peeves, you can check out my post on The Last Ship.)
It’s not only hard to empathize with a character who’s a blank slate (think Dollhouse) but, once she and Agent Weller get down to some crime solving, it begins to seem that she’s more interested in discovering her identity than in saving lives, which is perhaps understandable but not exactly heroic given the stakes.
The show’s saving grace is that perhaps each case of the week will not be an end in itself, but instead a piece to a larger puzzle, delivered to the audience in a carefully planned order. It could be really interesting if it’s handled well, but this is the network that brought us disasters like Revolution, The Event, and Surface.