Blindspot Review: "Pilot"

(Episode 1.01)

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<i>Blindspot</i> Review: "Pilot"

Think you’ve had a bad day? Try finding out your name is tattooed on a strange woman’s back, or even worse—try being the woman who comes out of a bag in Times Square naked, afraid and holding no recollection of anything —oh yeah, and you’re completely covered in mysterious tattoos from the neck down. NBC’s newest crime drama, Blindspot, delivers a unique premise, but so far only holds on to the promise of its initial hook for more excitement in the future, without giving much away in the pilot. While it’s good that Blindspot doesn’t want to show its full hand on the first round, it’s possible that the show is trying to draw in viewers based only on its premise, without any plans to give anything satisfying in return. But, if we are to take Blindspot at face value, this show should become more and more of a mysterious thrill ride.

The pilot wastes no time jumping straight into the action, as a cop finds an unaccompanied bag in Times Square. The area is evacuated and the bomb squad is called in. As a bomb squad member is about to open the bag—surprise! The aforementioned naked woman covered in tattoos slowly climbs out. Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Kurt Weller is leading a hostage rescue in rural Kentucky. As soon as he’s finished with the rescue, he’s put on a helicopter and sent to New York. He arrives and finds out that this mysterious woman, a.k.a. Jane Doe, has a tattoo with his name on her upper back. She has permanent amnesia with no recollection of who she is or of anything else for that matter—she can’t name the current president, and doesn’t know who the Beatles are. They soon discover that her tattoos are all Memento-like clues, pieces to a puzzle. They then find a tattoo behind Jane’s ear that’s in Mandarin, giving them an address and a date, and off they go on their first mission together to stop a terrorist attack.

While the idea behind Blindspot is fascinating, the execution of the pilot moves very fast and gives us little time to really get to know anyone or really even focus on the fact that there’s a woman whose life is now ruined and a man who has no idea how he’s connected to her. The pilot is too concerned with making sure that we move from one plot point to the next, without allowing ample time to actually enjoy the journey. Unfortunately, the plot twists that were not seen in the trailers are not emphasized enough, and therefore not very memorable. It’s likely that these twists will play bigger parts in the future, but they don’t have too much of a “wow” factor going for them at the moment.

Jaime Alexander, however, is without a doubt the saving grace of this show. We get little moments with Jane Doe offering subtle yet significant character development. For example, there’s one moment when she stands alone naked in front of a mirror, observing herself and these unfamiliar markings, and cries as she collapses to the floor. It’s a small moment, but Alexander does a tremendous job of reaching out to the audience and conveying the character’s pain. There are other little moments like these where it’s exciting for viewers to see the character of Jane Doe slowly discovering who she is as the audience is doing the same, tagging along for the ride.

Sullivan Stapleton’s character, Kurt Weller, doesn’t offer nearly the same level of intrigue. In this episode, he merely acts as a catalyst to get the tattoo mystery going. By the end of the episode, we still know almost nothing about him—and that’s not because he’s kept purposely mysterious. He’s simply written out as someone who’s one of the best field agents and has got a bit of a gruff and tough personality. Weller is a character we’ve seen plenty of times before. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it is kind of interesting to see Stapleton’s stereotypical broadcast procedural cop suddenly thrown for a loop by the appearance of Alexander’s complex Jane Doe. It could be a problem though if his character is not fleshed out more in future episodes.

The pilot ends with a few mysteries left hanging in the air, which the characters will no doubt spend the rest of the season (and beyond) trying to answer, but the big question of whether or not these mysteries will keep audiences invested week after week is yet to be answered. Blindspot doesn’t quite deliver during its first impression at nearly the same level as other edgy dramas NBC has hosted, like The Blacklist or (the now departed) Hannibal. Blindspot is still an entertaining show with the potential for a great season and definitely invites viewers to return next week, but the pilot doesn’t end with the same kind of cliffhanger that The Blacklist’s pilot did, when Liz approached Red in his cell and he exclaims she’s discovered something curious about her husband. Cue Hugo’s cover of “99 Problems” and BAM! Cut to credits. While Blindspot is trying to go for a similar style as The Blacklist, it doesn’t quite have that same panache that gets viewers hyped up for next week.