The last episode closed on Jane (Jaimie Alexander) in Handsome Bearded Man's chokehold, which is where "Eight Slim Grins" picks up this week. As the menacing figure lurking in Jane's flashbacks, Beardo is sure to hold the key to her past. But, after a short fight scene (in which Jane loses a tooth) and before much can be said, a stream of gunfire rips through the safe house, killing Beardo.
In what is, perhaps, the best setup of the season, Beardo — before perishing — tells Jane not to trust "them," seeming to point to the FBI. She has a flashback to target practice in the woods, where, instead of cowering from Beardo's sharp orders, she lovingly wraps his injured arm with a bandage.
Of course the FBI is at a loss for who Beardo is and who might have killed him.
Cut to a van full of guys in colorful ski masks with machine guns. Into an expensive jewelry store they file, efficiently ripping through cases, pocketing jewels, and filing back out again, except for one who is shot and left behind by his crew.
From here, the episode devolves into Kurt Weller's (Sullivan Stapleton) team lackadaisically trailing the infamous group of jewelry thieves. Sparky little Patterson, the FBI's resident Q (whose bubbly knowledge strings this episode together), identifies the fallen thief as a former Navy SEAL. His tattoo, naturally, matches Jane's blacked-out SEAL trident. After a dramatic massacre that neatly takes out the thieves, the former SEAL recognizes Jane, croaks out the word "Orion," and promptly croaks himself.
All the while, the question hangs in the air: Is Jane really Weller's long-lost neighbor girl, Taylor Shaw? Obsessed with the possibility, he struggles between impartially leading his team, keeping Jane at arm's length, and allowing her room to breathe. Still, while dark thoughts should be flickering beneath the surface, Stapleton is unconvincing as the misanthrope, drably growling his lines, rarely lifting an eyebrow. Where he should be conflicted, his performance is a flat line.
In the end, Jane is, indeed, Shaw (even with this revelation, there is still no making out), and Shaw is validated by Mayfair's approval to carry a gun, which is actually Mayfair's underhanded way of deflecting scrutiny. Again, sharp-eyed Patterson has unlocked the FBI case file that Mayfair anxiously studied at the end of episode one. It turns out Mayfair is involved with a dark, dangerous case called Daylight. An unattractive colleague orders her to make the Jane Doe situation dissipate.
Finally, Blindpsot has begun to hit its stride, revealing information more fluidly without so many jumpy flashbacks and silly, audience-leading devices. The dialogue is still pretty clunky, but Alexander has begun to display a level of self-possession that is building toward the badass lead we were promised. If she can continue to evolve the complexities of her identity — which is now three-pronged: Taylor Shaw, Navy SEAL, Jane Doe — she'll steal the show with more than her blinding beauty and martial-arts game.
In fact, the strongest characters in the show are proving to be the women. Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is always composed and bold, and the breezy Patterson (Ashley Johnson) provides a much-needed upbeat foil with the right amount of subtle comic relief. Fingers crossed that Stapleton can pull it together now that his character has the knowledge he needs to work through a couple decades of stifled tension for Taylor.
- Jane's Navy SEAL tattoo twin is discovered and immediately eliminated from the equation after recognizing her and leaving behind the clue "Orion."
- Patterson matches another tattoo to a heavily redacted FBI case file that has something to do with Mayfair and an operation called Daylight.
- Though the high-action A-stories — Chinese terrorists to jewelry thieves — may keep the show moving along, they're a bit diversionary and thinly connected. As this episode has begun to show, perhaps they're simply an introduction point for the writers to weave Taylor's story together more tightly as the season progresses.
- Is Taylor going to have a tooth replacement?
- I miss Beardo.