When Blindspot aired a few weeks ago, it only took moments for me to fall in love with it. And to wish we had more shows like this one.
In a nutshell, Blindspot begins with a woman waking up naked inside a duffel bag in the middle of Times Square. She’s covered in tattoos and has no idea who she is or where she came from. Luckily, she has a message tattooed on her back that leads the authorities to their first clue: FBI agent Kurt Weller.
Weller initially has no idea who this woman is or why his name is inked onto her skin. But as they question her and document each one of her tattoos, more clues begin to surface. A message tattooed behind her ear sends them after a new lead and unlocks a second tattoo.
Sounds intriguing, right? The premise is great, but the execution is even better.
Badass Lady Sif actress Jaimie Alexander plays Jane Doe, and we couldn’t ask for a better heroine. She’s tough, and we didn’t even need the tattoos to show us that. But she’s also vulnerable, scared, and lonely. Can you imagine waking up, not knowing who you are or where you’ve been, and also being thrown into the middle of FBI headquarters because the ink on your skin can help them solve crimes?
But Jane deals with it. Despite not remembering her past, she still has muscle memory. She knows how to fight — and she knows how to do it well. In fact, the first episode reveals she’s a Navy Seal, the only female Seal to ever exist. It’s not like she got there by accident or developed superpowers. She got there through hard work and discipline.
There is no shortage of action movies or television shows starring a bulked up man who kicks ass every week. But it would be nice to see a lady do the same thing more than just occasionally. And Jane’s style is more brute force a la Peggy Carter than the lithe style of infamous assassin Black Widow. This is a stereotypical man’s role, but Alexander carries it with the ease of someone who doesn’t need to prove herself. The proof is in the punch, as it were.
While Blindspot certainly delivers on the action, it’s also an intelligent show. With hundreds of tattoos on her body, the mystery of Jane Doe only increases as more and more fragments of her life become clear. The tattoos are meant to help people, but Jane’s memories show us she might not be a good person. Are her natural instincts reflective of the real Jane? Should she be held accountable for her previous actions despite potentially being a different person now?
The deep moral issues of the show lead us further down a gray path. This isn’t a straightforward problem, and Jane isn’t a simple question Agent Weller can quickly answer. But in addition to Jane’s complexity, we have these tattoos covering her body. They’re not just names and numbers and pictures with helpful little X’s marking the spot where buried treasure can be found. They’re in different languages. They’re made up of cryptic symbols. They’re written in code. And they’re not going to be easy to solve.
And here we come to the crux of the show: Blindspot is about Jane Doe. But it is also about the criminals her tattoos will help the FBI capture. This show seems like a procedural on the surface. So far, each week, we’ve gotten a new bad guy, a new crime, and a new deadline. By the end, the villain has been stopped, one way or another, and the day has been saved.
But Blindspot has also lain enough clues that it’s obvious there is an overall arc here, something much bigger than the lowly criminals the agency has stopped so far. On shows like Law & Order, we see the slow progression of the main characters’ lives, but these feel secondary to the investigations of the show. The opposite is the case with Blindspot. Jane’s life is why we’re watching the show, and each week’s crime lays the groundwork for one more piece of the puzzle of her life to be put into place.
Blindspot has a lot to follow through on, of course. It needs to keep up the pace and the mystery, though I have a feeling we won’t see a problem with that this season. If it does get a second season, we can only hope the tattoos continue to intrigue us and that there is more to learn about Jane Doe.
Blindspot airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.