With each passing episode, it becomes increasingly clear that Blindspot’s plotlines and the characters entangled within them were all sent to do one thing: bait and switch.
“Split the Law” opens on a Pakistani man getting gassed in a cab. “Just relax, Dodi,” says the driver as his victim struggles to breathe. And then — switch — we’re in Weller’s (Sullivan Stapleton) apartment, and Jane (Jaimie Alexander) is meeting his sister and nephew. But the hugs, hellos, and reminiscences don’t last long. Jane (or is it Taylor?) flashes back to the fuzzy childhood memory of a man leading her down the stairs and through a door. Thus far, we have been led to believe that this memory is connected to the night she — young Taylor Shaw — was taken from her bedroom. In a flood of conflicting emotions, Jane rushes from Weller’s house.
Cut to the Municipal Worker Association in Queens. A few shady Middle Eastern men shuffle around the lobby until the moment is right, pull out their guns, and take the room hostage in the name of being denied their pensions. The FBI is notified and, of course, our sweet, brainy Patterson (Ashley Johnson) connects the MWA’s address to a tattoo on Jane’s upper thigh. Cue Weller’s team rushing to the site.
Weller attempts to negotiate with the hostage-takers, who — switch — were not actually denied their pensions, but are part of a terrorist organization that has penetrated the United States. A shoot-out ensues, the FBI storms the building and discovers that, deep beneath the MWA, the CIA is keeping a “black site,” or a hidden location where it can operate unseen on U.S. soil. Out from the shadows steps the creepy bald man — Tom Carter, deputy director of the CIA — who’s been pressuring Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) to dispose of Jane. (Recall that Patterson discovered that the number of a heavily redacted case file on which Mayfair was the case officer corresponds to one of Jane’s tattoos. That case file, “Daylight,” is linked to some sort of rotten FBI-CIA operation, which Carter desperately wants to remain buried.) It becomes clear that Dodi Khalil — the man from the opening scene — a CIA asset turned terrorist, was smuggled out during the hostage situation and is now at large.
Suddenly, the episode has pivoted from the FBI versus the bad guys to the FBI versus the CIA, both of which are the U.S. versus terrorists. It’s a familiar-feeling familial battle.
Amid the interagency squabbling, the FBI tracks Dodi — who has made a dirty bomb — to a cemetery. Once Dodi is apprehended, Creepy Carter appears from behind a headstone with Jane square between the crosshairs of his gun. But sly Mayfair has crept up behind him and dampens his hit-man vibes. In another ridiculous, frantic switch, an entire CIA team appears, and they and the FBI draw their weapons on one another in a stare-down. Carter barters for Jane in return for Dodi. Mayfair declines, Jane thanks her, Mayfair seems annoyed. It’s difficult to tell if Mayfair is trying to cover her own ass or is preserving Jane as bartering pawn if the stakes get higher. (Jean-Baptiste is the most convincing actor in the entire series.)
As usual, beneath the diversionary A-story, Jane continues to flash back. Progressing deeper into the memory, she follows a man down the stairs and emerges into a room full of skinny, dirty children sleeping on cots and mats in what appears to be an orphan prison. (Did the Navy SEALs steal kids for future trainees?) Amid her flashbacks, Weller attempts awkward, straight-faced comfort, clearly stressing Jane out as she grapples with reconciling her current identity to that of Weller’s long lost Taylor. (She has not been clued into the fact that the DNA test confirming her identity as Taylor Shaw is at odds with her isotope test, which claims she was born/spent her early childhood in sub-Saharan Africa.)
Weller is served his own bundle of stress upon returning home to find that his sister has invited their dad over. Weller has been estranged from his father owing to the longtime suspicions that he was Taylor’s kidnapper. (Is Weller’s dad, like Jane, a secret Navy SEAL?)
With everyone’s identity and loyalties in question, we — as bygone Beardo once said — can trust no one.
- Just a single little line of numbers links to the address of the MWA in Queens. Yawn.
- When is her neck tattoo (is that a swallow?) going to come into play?
- This week’s episode title, “Split the Law,” is an anagram of “Will the past.” It corresponds to next week’s episode title, “Cede Your Soul,” which translates to “Cloud our eyes.”
- In an annoying subplot, Carter talks shit about Jane to Reade, attempting to sway him to his side. When she observes his machismo-fueled wooing, Zapata bares her teeth. But, in another switch, Zapata is actually in cahoots with the creep who hands her an envelope of cash, presumably to assist her gambling issue that surfaced last episode.
- Blindspot’s weakest points appear during the Weller-Jane one-on-ones that thread through each episode. Their asides come off as middle-school hallway secret-swapping, rife with blocky dialogue that Stapleton seems to be reading off a TelePrompTer for the first time. What may be an attempt at fraught tension comes off as nonexistent chemistry.
- Personally, I think the tooth from which the isotope test was run was planted in Jane’s mouth, but Reddit has a whole list of theories for your consideration.