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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tattoos are permanent; TV Shows are not #Blindspot #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek

Tattoos are permanent; TV Shows are not #Blindspot #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek

All pictures courtesy of NBC 

Is my opening line indicative of how much I hate this show? Whoa, reader, not so fast. Who said I hate the show? Quite to the contrary. It has its flaws but my grade is--wait. Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't want to move too fast, so much so that I leave your head spinning about what's really happening and then I somehow end up repeating myself by doing or saying the same thing over and over and over again. Let's start at the beginning like we usually do.

As with all three-week roundup posts, I will remind you that if you want my unmolested thoughts on why I looked forward to this show in the first place, I suggest you click on the #Premiere Week link up top and scroll down to the NBC section until you see the picture. As a little recap, I'll say that I find it an intriguing concept made even more intriguing by the inclusion of Lady Sif herself Jaimie Alexander. We once went out on a date. It was in a dream I had but still, it counts... sorta.

If you don't know, NBC's Blindspot (#Blindspot) is about an excessively tattooed young woman winding up naked in a duffelbag in the middle of Times Square. Originally thought to be a bomb, the entire square is cleared as the bag is unzipped and she groggily fumbles out with fear and innocence seeping from her pores in equal measure. What's even stranger is that one of the biggest, most easily decipherable tattoos on her body is a large print of an FBI agent's name that happens to work in the field office just a few blocks over. And that is where the mystery begins.

As the FBI take her into custody, get her cleaned up, examined, questioned, fed, clothed and etc., they discover that she doesn't have many other identifiable markers about her outside of the tattoos. Just like her counter-part Jason Bourne, she doesn't even know her name, let alone how she got into the bag, why she was placed in Time Square and why she has an FBI agent's name tattooed on her back. The biggest mystery lies with who actually did this? The tattoos look fresh (as in just a few weeks old) and also seem to have been done all at the same time (ouch!), yet she has no memory of anything before crawling out of the bag. Now, the FBI agent, Agent Kurt Weller, and his team have to figure out who she is and what their connection is before releasing her back into normal life. That is the thrust of the show.

But wait, there's more. The team discovers the tattoos aren't just random etchings on a skin canvass but clues to other possible crimes or criminal organizations. In discovering that she has a date tatted just behind her ear, they are able to track down a man who was set to detonate a bomb at the Statue of Liberty. Their original plan was to chase after this man simply to ask if he knew Jane Doe's identity, was involved with the tattooing or if he knew why someone would do this to her. What they ended up discovering was that the man planned the terrorist attack because of his mother and the immigration laws between this country and China (I believe it was China. My memory isn't as sharp on that detail). His family member was sent back to China where she was then killed and he has a grudge against the US. What better way to enact revenge than to take out the biggest symbol of immigration in the country.

While chasing after him, it's also revealed that Jane Doe has phenomenal fighting and tactical weapons skills. There are a plethora of flashbacks which reveal that some bearded guy helped to train her in a forest somewhere where she honed her close-quarters combat techniques as well as her shooting prowess. Digital scanning and cataloging her tattoos in the FBI database back at headquarters, they also discover that she has one large block of black ink where a previous tattoo already existed. The tattoo of an Eagle carrying a trident--Navy SEAL sign--was covered supposedly so it wouldn't be confused with the rest of the new tattoos that actually mean something. This, however, is called into question for me on the third episode which I will get to further down. Just remember she has the navy seal tattoo--an interesting fact in itself as she is believed to be special or black ops and no woman on record has ever been a SEAL.

Well, being an inquisitive and petulant crime victim, she disobeys Weller's orders nearly every time he gives them and winds up saving his life on multiple occasions, including at the end of the first case when they catch the irate immigrant. A dead-eye, she shoots him precisely where she needs to in order to get him off of Weller's back and free the FBI hostage. After that heroism, she's congratulated with a safe house and a few large guards to stand outside at all hours of the day. Weller comes to thank her and tell her that she'll be working with the FBI now as they figure out her mystery. While there, he sees a scar on the back of her neck and is reminded of a young girl he used to know when little.

Hold on to your seats because this next fact is key but it's going to blow your mind. When Weller was young--we're talkin' ten years old here--he and a female friend were climbing a tree to play. An accident, he caused her to fall and cut the back of her neck, leaving a nasty scar. Shortly after that, she disappeared. It was believed that his father killed the girl which is why the man is in jail at the moment and Weller hasn't forgiven him for that. Again, that was at least 20 years ago. Suddenly a woman with the same kind of scar, same eyes, and similar look to that young girl appears and Weller thinks it is the girl probably because of a guilty conscience more than anything. But guess what? It is her as revealed by a DNA test on the third episode! What? So you mean to tell me some powerful group not only knows people who are about to commit crimes on the date and time they're going to commit them, but they also knew that this young boy would grow up to become an FBI special agent as opposed to some desk jockey, and would be in the perfect position to stop these crimes? Stop. It. N. B. C.

You heard right--or, I mean read right in that last paragraph. Each tattoo is linked to a future crime which makes this into a procedural crime-solving show with a twist: every crime is linked to the female protagonist. The FBI has to figure out which tattoo means what and connects to a strand of events that will take place that episode. You losin' your crap yet? Yes, I know. The very concept that these skin inks are linked to a crime or criminal who is ready to perpetrate such an act around the exact time the analysts decipher what the tattoo means has a huge amount of flaws to it. Don't wanna get all science-y on you, but there's things like predictive analytics, behavioral sciences, probability algorithms and etc. that the person or persons behind the tattooing would have to take into account and master (are Dash and his siblings from Minority Report behind this?). Not to mention, every clue she gets while tagging along in the field must align so perfectly with what's going on concerning the tattoos, that even if one thing is out of place and they get a date or time or reference wrong, seemingly the entire Jenga tower comes tumbling down. Still with me.

The second case shown in episode two helped to stop a drone bombing on US soil from a disgruntled drone pilot who got fed up with his duties involving surveying US citizens. He, like the man before, was ready to carry out his attack but only did so after Weller and Jane Doe AKA Taylor Shaw came knocking on his door to ask him if he knew her. That then led me to believe that Jane's appearance at these places or to these people is what actually prompted their attacks, however, the third episode dispels this theory and also calls into question the meaning of the covered Navy SEAL tattoo. In it, a group of International jewelry thieves botch a smash and grab at a high-end store, leaving one of their men behind suffering through gunshot wounds. He would survive long enough to breathe his last few breaths to Jane Doe in a hospital but what's important is how they found him. He had the exact same SEAL tattoo, something they wouldn't have known were it not for him being shot. This hints at them belonging or receiving training from the same group. Then again, maybe whoever tattooed them was behind the robberies in the first place. As an aside, I'd like to note how ridiculous it felt to me to have an internationally known, never caught jewelry heist group do a simple smash and grab with a van. I generally expect something closer to Ocean's Eleven, but got something closer to Hank and Seamus knocking over the 7/11 on the corner.

Then there was the mysterious bearded guy from Taylor's flashbacks. In the first episode he killed the Asian guy after inferring that the man had failed at some task presumably given to him by the tattooing group. He just appears in the second episode to stare from afar with the longing eyes of Romeo. Come the opening minutes of the third episode he is shot dead after she kicks his butt. He tries telling her something but dies before he can say it. As another aside, how in the hell did this show think they could get away with two men whispering dying words about the truth to Jane Doe? That was one dramatic deathbed confession scene too many and you know it Blindspot. Talk about repetition and repeating yourself--you know, when you do the same thing over and over again.

And as if all that mystery isn't enough, they throw one more at you with a mystery concerning Weller's boss. One of the tattoos is of a case file number that she worked on some time ago. While the file has mostly been redacted, it contained something very dubious as she meets with some guy at the end of the third episode who asks if Jane Doe knows what the tattoo means, and if she does why she isn't already dead.

What's my grade of the series so far? I give it a solid B. While I enjoy this show quite a bit, the flaws I mentioned in logic may become distracting as time goes on but for now they play well. But just the fact that whoever put these tattoos on her has power akin to God (maybe God did this to her. What if God was one of us a tattoo artist) is mind-blowing in itself. They remind me of the Provocateurs but I digress. The fact that there is so much mystery going on is also cause for future concern as I still haven't a clue as to where to start for possible suspects. The only suspect I really had was the bearded guy and he is dead now, plus I never thought he was the boss behind it all, but another pawn or rook. Also, the fact that these events happen the way they do in a sequential order of most easily deciphered to least (some are in completely different languages, though Jane Doe seems to know said languages) calls into question the validity of the tension in the show. What if they figure out the wrong clue at the wrong time? Will that ever happen?

And then there are the characters. While I like the character played by Ms. Alexander, I can see some viewers growing weary of her constant eyebrow-raised look of doe-ish befuddlement on why this is happening to her. If not wearing that look, she's got on a bad ass scowl as she's kicking butt. Weller, played by Sullivan Stapleton is no better as he has only one setting which is also a bad ass, mad at the world scowl. Thank goodness they're single, old friends and have a palpable tension building between them because they clearly each need to get, uh... you know. They need a little stress relief in their lives.

Should you be watching? I'm going to venture out on a limb and say yes. While the coughs and leaps in logic might make you cringe, and there aren't any visible suspects to the overall mystery as of yet, there is a hypnotic draw to this show. The crimes are more complex than the ones you'll see on Minority Report and you do feel the confusion of the characters. For a Monday show on NBC at 10pm, it might be precisely what you need after a long work day when your mind wants to slow down before you drift off to sleep. It also has good enough pacing to make every episode feel like a heart-stopping thriller similar to 24. And while all the tattoos connect to her, you can skip an episode or two and not miss much which makes it perfect for those times when you forget to set your DVR or get busy with something else.

What do you think? Have you been watching Blindspot and think it's insanely intelligent and involved? Do you have a theory about who tattooed Jane/Taylor? How do you see the relationship between Jane and Weller evolving? And do you think this series has lasting potential past the first season? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button to comment).

As always, check out my books on Amazon (if you’re looking for Halloween scares check  #AFuriousWind,  #DARKER#BrandNewHome or #ThePowerOfTen). For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The final episode of season one of The Writer is OUT NOW. Ahh! That’s right, all 15 episodes are out now available exclusively on Amazon. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right side.

Until next time, “It's nice. It's a little hard to find but ya think I could rent a scooter?”

P.S. OK, don't freak when I say this but I actually could never get into Jason Bourne. I know, that sounds terrible especially with this show being so similar in tone. I did watch the Dominic Purcell show but that quickly got canceled so Blindspot has quite a bit working against it. We'll see if it lasts.

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