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Blindspot: A Dash of Rich Dot Com Always Makes Things Better

Plus: Zapata learns the truth about Reade

Cory Barker

For shows that operate on the normal broadcast seasonal schedule, late October is a tricky period. When you debut in late September, there's typically a string of big episodes to get fans excited for the months to come. And though a little less important than in decades past, November brings those sweeps periods that usually inspire producers and shows to go even bigger leading into midseason finales.

That puts late October right in the middle of those two hot zones, where it's safe to turn in a solid, if moderately forgettable, episode. Blindspotdid that this week with "Resolves Eleven Myths," a mostly standalone affair with some solid character beats that definitely turned in the show's highest joke-per-second rate. I'm not sure that riffs on Joss Whedon's punch-up contributions to the Speed script are exactly what I tune into Blindspot for, but as they say -- when in late October, right? (No one says that, but they could.)


Ashley Johnson and Sullivan Stapleton, Blindspot (Credit: NBC)

The aforementioned jokes came almost exclusively from the (anticipated?) return of one Rich Dot Com (Ennis Esmer), who was one of the singular bright spots in an otherwise mostly drab first season. Mr. Dot Com made quite the impact yet again, hacking the FBI's computer system, threatening to attack a specific set of coordinates, and then quickly revealing that was all a psych-out to get the attention of Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and company. Turns out, Rich's illegal behaviors made him a target of the Arcadian, the world's most proficient and successful assassin, which forced him to concoct a scheme to get the FBI's attention in order to piggyback on their protection.

There was a lot to like with this story. Ennis Esmer's energy as Rich Dot Com is sorely needed on a show that is, generally, oppressively serious. In fact, Rich's quippy nature and playful mind games were almost too jarring for Blindspot, especially given the weekly talk of national destruction and extensive surveillance programs. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch everyone on the team squirm in response to Dot Com's duplicitous prodding; Weller and Jane (Jaimie Alexander) were especially annoyed with his fan-like questions about their extremely dysfunctional relationship. Fun! On Blindspot!

The plot surrounding Dot Com's reappearance was equally solid, thanks to a good core idea executed fairly well, with one caveat. Recurring characters like Dot Com make shows like this so much better. Blindspot has a global focus, but it can feel pretty insular at times. And in the same episode it demonstrated the value of recurring players, it too quickly burned through another potentially cool avenue with the Arcadian.

Blindspot: Jane and Roman get close, Nas and Weller get much, much closer

Elite assassins don't always make for great long-term storytelling, but for individual hours? Heck yeah. This episode was nicely structured around the Arcadian's seemingly unstoppable skills, which helped the killer maneuver his way through the FBI headquarters, slowly trapping the team within the confines of their own home base with innovative techniques like planting a deadly toxin in the back of the office watercooler.

The combined forces of Dot Com and the Arcadian rightfully put the characters on full tilt, producing the kind of small-but-meaningful character moments throughout the turmoil. Jane, freshly spooked from a gnarly dream in which she and Kurt lovingly made dinner for Roman (Luke Mitchell), and Kurt, generally grumpy, didn't take too kindly to Dot Com's jokes. Growing distrust among the two of them and the still-sketchy Nas (Archie Panjabi) similarly made Dot Com's questioning and the danger within the office seem even more dramatic. And Reade (Rob Brown) and Zapata (Audrey Esparza) were still so distracted by the latter's ongoing attempts to cover up for the former's involvement in a murder that they nearly botched the entire operation.

Those little moments are where Blindspot has demonstrated the most improvement this year. Sure it was fun to watch the Arcadian toy with everyone, but it was even better to see how his scheming made already tenuous relationships a bit worse. It was a cat-and-mouse game with moderate stakes; for an episode at this point in the season, that's about as much as I'd ask from Blindspot.

Blindspot: How far will Tasha go to protect Reade?

Yet, the episode's placement, positioned between bigger and more important stories, meant that "Resolves Eleven Myths" had to resolve things quicker than it probably should have. It's always frustrating when shows introduce supposedly fascinating (or in this case, devastatingly effective) characters, only to ditch them by the end of an episode. The Arcadian was a faceless villain, but there was a lot of potential to turn him into a recurring figure, not unlike Rich Dot Com. Instead, all the bluster about the Arcadian was used to further illustrate how awesome our heroes are, with Jane and Weller teaming up to eliminate him -- in frankly too easy fashion.

Similar things could be said about some of the ongoing storylines that screeched to a halt here. Jane's lingering interest in dating like a normal person went so poorly so quickly, which is probably just a minuscule missed opportunity and a quick speed bump in the ultimate reconciliation between her and Kurt but nonetheless now feels a like wasted time. Meanwhile, Zapata's discovery that Reade was indeed telling the truth about his involvement in Coach Jones' murder -- a detail she gleaned after finding Freddy's knife in evidence as the murder weapon -- put a button on a story that only sort of went anywhere compelling, at least when you consider how much time was spent on it in recent weeks.

These are moderate dings on an otherwise watchable hour of TV. Rich Dot Com is a keeper, and he should show up at least two times a season. It's productive that the uneasy alliances between so many of the characters were further jostled throughout the hour. But that the Arcadian was quickly dispatched and that a few key storylines seemed to stall out only further proves the basic entertainment purpose of a late October episode like this one. Blindspot has bolder, better stuff coming around the bend, and this was probably enough to tide you over until then.

Blindspot airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on NBC.