Blindspot's decision to reveal a bunch of critical information in last week's strong season premiere continues to pay dividends. "Heave Fiery Knot," the show's first episode in its new 8 p.m. Wednesday time slot, didn't offer up as many "big" answers as last week, but instead deftly portrayed the lingering distrust and confusion among every character. Turns out when you've been caught in the middle of an intricately plotted global conspiracy involving terrorist events, mind wipes, and geopolitical trauma, it's not exactly easy to go back to work--even when you finally know your real first name.
You know when you go on vacation for week and then that first day back at work is absolutely horrible and kind of weird? That's what Jane (Jaimie Alexander) experienced in this episode, only instead of having to annoyingly share their beach photos with creepy Kyle in the office, they had to prevent cartel members from firing missiles in the middle of the city. While the team was ultimately successful in preventing another disaster in NYC, the ride getting there was bumpy.
There's an argument that Season 2's intel download regarding Orion, Jane's true identity, and Roman and Shepherd retroactively makes a lot of the Taylor Shaw stuff irrelevant, and essentially a waste of time. However, this episode demonstrated that though it ultimately didn't shape the core mystery engine of the show, it had--and continues to have--a significant impact on the characters, their relationships, and their effectiveness in the workplace. Jane feels horrible about going along with the Taylor charade, Kurt (Sullivan Stapleton) feels even worse for believing it (and letting his dad back into his life), and now they're left trying to re-establish any kind of common ground. That slow process began in this episode.
Jane has agreed to work with Kurt and Nas (Archie Panjabi) to funnel information from Shepherd and Sandstorm, but that doesn't mean there's a trust there. Early in this episode, Jane unveiled a new memory--triggered by her mom and brother--to Kurt and Nas about an operation gone wrong in Afghanistan, but it was less a conversation and more of an interrogation. Kurt wasn't aggressive toward Jane, but the way he peppered her with questions (and the way the sequence was shot and edited) signaled a noticeable shift in their relationship.
It doesn't help that outside forces keep trying to shove Jane and Kurt back together (in whatever form). They've agreed to this uneasy alliance to stop Sandstorm, but Nas' presence automatically raises the level of tension. The confusing boundaries between these black op groups, the FBI, and the CIA are confusing enough for normal super spies; it's a little worse when you're Jane or Kurt and can't begin to trust anyone for any reason.
Meanwhile, Borden's (Ukweli Roach) sessions with both characters urged them to mend fences, playing up their previous connection and their lack of other options, and Reade (Rob Brown) and Zapata (Audrey Esparza) continued to express skepticism over Jane and her new "play both sides" strategy. (Sidenote: Borden is the mole Shepherd (Michelle Hurd) and Roman (Luke Mitchell) talked about last week, right? Of course Sheperd would want Jane and Kurt to fix their problems, and now Borden is trying to date the smartest person in the unit, Patterson [Ashley Johnson]. That's shifty.)
Sometimes, shows overplay the angst with their central romantic relationship/partnership. Here though, it mostly worked. Blindspot laid enough groundwork last season to get to this point, where two broken people don't want to be around one another but can't exactly help themselves either. Likewise, it's equally as believable that Reade and Zapata would hold conflicting feelings about Jane too. Last week, they expressed a desire to work exciting, tattoo-driven cases, but they can't exactly appreciate all the challenges that come along with those cases.
Is it a little frivolous for the show to harp on how this team is like a broken family trying to pull itself back together? Sure. Too many shows play that card. But as "Heave Fiery Knot" unspooled, Blindspot indicated that it is serious about exploring the tumultuous aftermath of all the crazy things that have happened to these people over the last three months.
In doing so, it showed how any kind of healing can be inconsistent. Here, things were pretty icy between Jane and the rest of the group--until they weren't. Some heated conversations gave way to patented Tattoo Unit teamwork. Preventing a missile attack in the most populated city in the country tends to bring people together; it's just science.
This mode works for the show's lead performers as well. Everyone's mileage may vary, but for me, Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton are more interesting as a unit when their characters aren't exactly on the same page. Similarly, Archie Panjabi's Nas isn't much of a real character yet, but she's great at playing cagey, smart women.
And the heroes weren't the only ones trying to find a new normal. Roman and Shepherd squabbled over the proper ways to reach out to Jane, with the former hopeful to bring her in permanently and the latter advocating to keep using Jane as part of their "hard reset" of the country plan. Predictably, Roman's interest (maybe too creepy of an interest?) in his sister already produced some real tension between the show's newest quasi-antagonists. It's good to see Blindspot using those kinds of characters more, creating a fuller picture of the show's universe.
Blindspot won't be able to do thrilling, answer-heavy episodes every week; that's just an unfortunate byproduct of the broadcast season. But if it can keep the spotlight on how some of the big answers influence the characters in real ways, it might have something really compelling in the second season. There's clearly enough material to mine right now--and even more came to the fore in this episode, as Kurt learned he's going to be a dad--and the focus should stay on these new complicated situations, not the tattoos or their associated case of the week.
Blindspot airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.