After finding a comfortable pace last week, Blindspot is an increasingly pleasurable show to watch. Pleasurable like playing a game of Scrabble with someone who has trouble spelling. Certainly, it’s entertaining, but also a bit of work to suspend disbelief and follow the stilted, intertwining plotlines.
“Bones May Rot” opens on a lab at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention two years earlier. (Like all crime dramas, flipping through time is one of Blindspot’s favorite devices.) A scientist in a hazmat suit collapses, blood leaking from his mouth and eyes. And then, happily, we are back in the present day, in Patterson’s (Ashley Johnson) apartment. The bubbly FBI science nerd is pouring coffee from a French press, bedroom-tousled in a man’s button-down shirt. Her sweet bespectacled boyfriend is flipping through photos of Jane Doe’s tattoos, and though Patterson protests, he presses on and decodes an overlapping leaf design.
Suddenly, we’ve been plunged into the personal space of a peripheral character — milky legs, coffee habits and all — who has won greater screen time with each passing episode. I pray that NBC focus-groups Patterson, finds audiences wanting more, and lets the writers’ room go nuts. I want to know what Patterson does on the weekends, how she met her bookish muffin of a boyfriend, and if she wants to grab drinks with me tomorrow night.
Back at the FBI, Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and Jane Doe, a.k.a. Taylor Shaw (Jaimie Alexander), are deep into a session with their British FBI therapist Dr. Borden (Ukweli Roach). Behind Weller’s thick eyebrows and deep forehead welt, there’s something minor bubbling when he tells Jane/Taylor that she was raised by a single mother who eventually passed away. And then he’s back to gruff, unfeeling FBI agent.
Having fully unlocked the leaf tattoo — an intersecting oak and maple leaf, which forms the shape of the CDC’s logo — Patterson sends her team on their next adventure. And miraculously, while being decontaminated beneath an ultraviolet light, Doe’s cheeks and forehead begin to glow with ultraviolet numbered tattoos. Each line of numbers, it turns out, is a sequence that corresponds to an incurable infectious disease — Ebola, SARS, MERS, typhoid. And, of course, each of the vials corresponding to those infectious diseases is missing from the CDC’s top-secret lab.
Cue chase of the crazy nutbag scientists who have decided to “save the world” from itself (re: overpopulation) by setting off outbreaks all over the world to kill off tens of thousands of people. The final outbreak is set to go off at Manhattan’s port terminal that afternoon. With Patterson’s help (because she is now the most indispensible character) and some handy janitorial supplies, Weller’s team MacGyver a containment tent and then stand around waiting for the deadly hemorrhagic fever to explode, which stressed me out to the point of yelling incendiary things at Weller for not clearing the damn area. At some point several minutes later, Weller ends up tussling with one of the pro-population containment scientists, and Jane/Taylor slow-motion-leaps into the scene to save the bumbling blockhead. (For such a BFD agent, why can’t Weller go hand to hand with a doughy, disillusioned scientist, or anyone, for that matter?) Jane subdues the bioterrorist with a swift kick of her combat boot to his head.
Between rushing around the city for this week’s episode of impending world destruction, several other plotlines have developed, the first of which draws Patterson more deeply (fingers crossed, more permanently) into Mayfair’s trouble with Daylight. As sweet baby Patterson pushes Mayfair to examine the redacted case file she discovered in connection to one of Jane’s tattoos, Mayfair gets edgier and sharper. Knowing Patterson didn’t solve the leaf tattoo on her own, Mayfair loosely infers she stay out of the way lest it be revealed she’s had a code tutor. And before the episode closes, creepy bald guy who ordered Mayfair to handle the situation (i.e., get rid of Jane), shows up and makes his point again, also revealing he’s from the CIA.
As if there weren’t enough subplots, agents Zapata and Ramirez (who for some reason is also called Reade?) banter a bit about dating, and Zapata deflects a spot of trouble she seems to have with a gambling ring. No more than 40 seconds of the story line, Zapata’s personal life is a weird departure from the episode, but will perhaps get tied back into the larger picture later this season.
And finally, another layer of complication blankets the pulseless connection between Weller and Jane/Taylor. After another heart-to-heart car talk in which Jane presses Weller about his feelings and he demurs, Patterson tests Jane’s tooth (the one that got knocked out when she fought Beardo [RIP]), and discovers JANE WAS BORN IN AFRICA. Though Jane’s DNA matched Taylor’s, her tooth does not, and only one test can be correct. Once again, Jane’s identity and Weller’s feelings — if he has any — are thrown into jeopardy.
- The intersection of an interlocking oak and maple leaf reveal a bird pattern that corresponds to the CDC’s logo. The CDC building resides at the intersection of Oak and Maple streets. Clever, clever.
- Beneath Jane’s high cheekbones and porcelain forehead are a set of ultraviolet tattoos that reflect the CDC’s codes for infectious diseases. Side note: Googling “ultraviolet tattoos” yields some terrifying results reminiscent of things you might find at the Gathering of the Juggalos.
- Jane looks great in a fluorescent hazmat suit.
- When Jane presses Weller for information about her/Taylor’s disappearance, Weller reveals he was there the night she was taken, prompting Jane to flash back to a man leading her out of her childhood bedroom. If she isn’t Taylor Shaw, where are these flashbacks coming from? Is an African tooth implant possible? Frankly, it sounds ridiculous, but not implausible considering Blindspot’s consistently perfect timing for discovering terror plots just before they destroy civilization.
- Of anyone on the show, including the severely traumatized characters, Patterson seems to have the greatest aptitude for emotional depth. Buoyant one moment, nervous and stressed the next, she’s a lucid, bright thread I want more of. More Patterson! More Patterson’s boyfriend!
- The dialogue between Weller and Jane continues to be painful, artificial, and disconnected. Whether they have personal history or not, their chemistry is bizarre.
- The seemingly nonsensical episode titles are anagrams. Below are the first four, unscrambled.
Woe Has Joined = Who Is Jane Doe?
A Stray Howl = Taylor Shaw
Three Slim Grins = The Missing Girl
Bones May Rot = Or Maybe Not