IT’S FALL! IT’S FINALLY HERE! ALL NEW SHOWS AND SO MANY ARE STARTING THIS WEEK! I’M SO EXCITED! I’M SO EXCITED! I’M SO… SCARED!
Yes, that was an incredibly corny television joke that has been going on for about twenty-plus years now but it is kind of true! I love to analyze new programming every fall, while reading the trades to see what people are buying but for the impending pilot season. It’s so thrilling! On the flip side though there is no such thing as a good pilot (most of the time, Aaron Sorkin’s pretty great at them) and even worse, there are always some terrible series that tempt us only to waste an hour of our lives. The good shows make it all worthwhile though, so ultimately fall is my Christmas/Easter/St. Patrick’s Day/Dog’s Birthday all rolled into one! So for this week’s script breakdown we’re going to take a look at NBC’s new pilot that premiered just last night: BLINDSPOT. Here we go!
OVERVIEW and STORYLINES
BLINDSPOT is a one hour drama that premiered yesterday (September 21st 2015) on NBC starring Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton. The series focuses on a mysterious tattooed woman (Alexander) who has lost her memory and does not know her identity. The FBI discovers that each tattoo contains a clue to a crime they will have to solve in the episode.
The series was created by Martin Gero, who has written for many series as well as acting as a Co-Executive Producer on STARGATE ATLANTIS.
While the series has two protagonists (Doe and Weller), the show is a crime procedural with cookie crumbs to build the overarching story of Jane’s past. So as I list the major beats of the series, I will not be separating them into two storylines, as Doe and Weller’s goals are completely tied together.
Jane Doe, mysterious tattooed woman with no idea who she is
Agent Kurt Weller, Head of the FBI Critical Incident Response Group
Tasha Zapata and Edgar Reade, members of Weller’s team
Bethany Mayfair, Assistant Director of the FBI
Dr. Borden, doctor working with the FBI
Patterson, Head of FBI Forensic Science Unit
Mysterious Johnny Whitworth, name currently unknown in the series but he’s moody and brooding and nothing like his character in EMPIRE RECORDS (played a similarly maniacal but more blunt role in THE 100, which by now you are hopefully watching)
A cop sees a large duffle bag in the middle of Times Square with a note that reads: CALL THE FBI. A bomb squad arrives to check the bag, only for the bag to open and reveal a completely naked woman covered in tattoos. This is JANE DOE.
In Rural Kentucky, AGENT KURT WELLER leads his team into a house with three female hostages, one pregnant, and a screaming infant, held captive by a weird man. The team blow out the floor beneath the man and arrest him, saving the women. Clearly this is an incredibly smart and creative team that works well together.
Weller gets a call to come to NYC. He flies in and sees Jane Doe. He has no idea who she is but she has his name boldly printed on her back among many other tattoos.
Forensic Specialist, Patterson, takes digital images of all of Jane’s tattoos as the FBI works to figure out what they all mean.
Weller tracks the cameras in Times Square to find the truck that dropped the bag off. They are unable to see the plates though.
Jane becomes frustrated when questioned on a polygraph and demands to speak with someone in charge. They bring her Kurt, and they try to job her memory. He bristles at her touch.
Kurt puts Jane in a safe house. While he goes home and studies the information, Jane sobs at the sight of her naked body and inability to remember anything.
Dr. Borden gives Jane hope when she’s able to make a simple reference while drinking coffee.
Jane sees images of her tattoos and it sparks something: She can read/speak an unknown Asian dialect and sees an address and a date. Today’s date. The team head out and Jane insists on going.
Weller heads into a house in Chinatown, leaving Jane in the car. The tenant speaks the same language as Jane so they are forced to bring her.
Jane translates that the man they are looking for, CHAO, is missing. She doesn’t recognize anything as she looks around but is clearly shaken.
The team find Chao’s room is filled with the remnants of plastic explosives he was building. Jane is distracted by the sound of a woman screaming and goes to investigate.
Meanwhile back at the FBI, Patterson discovers a tattoo beneath a giant blacked out spot from Jane’s back. The revealed tattoo is the Navy Seal symbol. She tells Assistant Director Bethany Mayfair, and they believe that Jane was a Special Ops Navy Seal which is why they cannot find her face or fingerprints on record anywhere.
Jane helps the woman who has being attacked by her husband, getting into a fist fight with the guy.
Agent Zapata hacks into Chao’s computer, locating a video file that will upload in three and a half hours. Whatever he is planning to blow up now has a timeline the team knows about.
Chao referred to a “Mother of Exiles” in the video, leading the team to believe that Chao is going to attack a politician.
They locate Chao in Flatbush and Weller follows him into the subway with Agent Reade.
Chao receives a text that he is being followed. He ducks into a subway car, followed by Weller and Reade, and separates the train cars, attaching a bomb on Weller’s car as his car continues on its way.
Reade moves the passengers to the back of the stagnant car while Weller runs off with the bomb so it can explode safely away from everyone.
Jane works with Zapata, reading Chao’s emails and discovers that the target is not the politician they thought, but the Statue of Liberty.
Jane insists on continuing with the team since Chao may know something about her past.
Weller spots Chao running up the stairs in the statue and a fight ensues. Jane arrives just in time to save Weller with a pin point shot to Chao’s shoulder.
Firing the shot throws Jane into a flashback to her shooting in the woods with a Mysterious Johnny Whitworth (Have we seen him watching her through the episode?)
The team recaps their successes and continue confusion.
Bethany sits alone in her office looking over a file with her name on it that has been greatly redacted but words such as “murder” and “embellement” are visible. The number on the file is the same as one of the tattoos on Jane.
Weller visits Jane. He spots another tattoo and goes to a spot where he can view the NYC skyline where it clearly aligns with the tattoo.
Mysterious Johnny Whitworth arrives in Chao’s hospital room. He says that Chao was supposed to die and kills the injured man himself.
We see a flashback of Jane with Mysterious Johnny Whiteworth, where she consents to receiving the drugs where she loses all of her memories.
This episode has a lot of information to get out about Jane in the beginning while continuing to reveal more throughout the episode. They managed to do so smoothly while still establishing the crime-of-the-week structure. They also introduce enough mystery to give some serial elements and drive you to continue watching. The structure is very clearly though a little slow-paced. The Teaser gives us the Inciting Incident with the arrival of Jane. The Decision comes when they discover the date on Jane’s body. The Midpoint is finding out that there is a bomb and they only have three and a half hours to deal with it. The Climax is the shoot out in the Statue of Liberty. There isn’t a strong False Climax/Low Point moment, and the final act is mostly a series of beats to Tag some mystery onto the show, which somewhat takes away time that could have been used to fill out the story, but is understandable why they felt it was needed to make people want to keep watching.
This is by no means a perfect pilot. Kurt Weller is incredibly boring and the show seemingly centers on how Jane effects him and his life rather than Jane. Jane on the other hand is very interesting as we get to know her, and (as per usual on television) she is not playing the victim card which would be very easy to do here, but while it is understandable that she is going through a lot, it slows down the story to have her constantly justifying her actions. We get it, she wants answers. She is going to want to be involved in everything that happens, let’s accept it and move on. Hopefully, that will not come up again more than once in any other episodes.
Now, this show has lots of interesting women and has clearly made a point of being diverse. This is great, unfortunately your lead is still a middle-aged white dude with no personality. I would like to see them build more on the ensemble aspect since they’ve built a great team where everyone gets a moment to show their skills each episode. Now they just need to make them all more even-handed which can come with time. All-in-all a great start to the heart of pilot season. So excited to see what else the season has in store!