Season finales are supposed to be momentous. Shows should do enough to justify spending months (or years) on a particular storyline, but also tease future storylines. Of course, that's simple in theory and difficult in execution — as evidenced by the final episode of Blindspot's second season.
"Lepers Repel" brought the season-long Sandstorm plot to a head, complete with the needed showdowns between Kurt (Sullivan Stapleton) and Shepherd (Michelle Hurd) and Jane (Jaimie Alexander) and Roman (Luke Mitchell). It also offered some brief moments of reflection and synthesis among the characters, with Kurt and Jane finally confirming their love for one another and the other members of the team playing up their Fast and Furious-esque makeshift family. In those moments, Blindspot successfully capped off the best parts of an improved second season.
Yet, amid those high points, this finale turned in some of the messiest, try-hard finale-iest stuff you'll see all May.
The ongoing crusade to stop Shepherd and Sandstorm already had pretty clear stakes — like end of the free republic stakes. "Lepers Repel" picked up right where last week's penultimate affair ended, with Kurt stuck in an underground bunker with the other COGS hoping to enact the Truman Protocol and restart the federal government once Shepherd destroyed it. Once Kurt and the returning Keaton (Chad Donella) broke out of the bunker and returned to the team, the hunt for the most dangerous terrorist was on.
In crafting the hunt for Shepherd, creator Martin Gero and company demonstrated a great sense of continuity, pulling the random threads of the season and Shepherd's plan — the satellite, the rocket fuel, the microchip Jane and Roman stole, the recent procurement of toxic material, etc. — together to actually illustrate that Shepherd was as smart as she pretended to be. Those are the kinds of things that reward close viewing, but also show that writers rooms can craft long stories about world domination.
However, for some reason, the episode also featured an extra angle that was simply not needed. Apropos of nothing, the new FBI director kindly informed Jane that she wouldn't have to stay in New York, or with the unit, once Sandstorm had been defeated. Suddenly, everyone on the team was having conversations about whether or not they wanted to remain together, professionally or personally. Patterson (Ashley Johnson) expressed a desire to move on and urged Jane and Weller to do the same. Keaton randomly offered Zapata (Audrey Esparza) a job with CIA. Reade (Rob Brown) affirmed his potential move to Quantico.
This was intended to give the hunt for Shepherd an additional spark of interpersonal drama. Will Jane and Weller ever admit their feelings for one another? Has Patterson finally broken down after holding everyone together for two years? Is Zapata fed up with the FBI's half measures?
Laid out like that, with consideration of Blindspot Season 2 in totality, this drama and these questions track pretty well. The show has committed to telling those stories — in spurts, but they've still been there — and therefore it was worthwhile to attempt to make some bigger pay-off with them. But it was handled so awkwardly, with the unnecessary external pressure of different job offers or life opportunities, that it fell flat.
And that was before the episode answered those lingering questions with a rousing shrug. Jane and Weller did finally hook up, but nobody left the unit. They cried it out, laughed it out and drank it out.
That the show thought a finale about the possible end of the U.S. government needed this extra nonsense and then did very little with that nonsense is just disappointing. That it in some ways distracted from the otherwise good Sandstorm stuff — shortening the pursuit for Shepherd to a pretty generic shootout, solid fisticuffs and a whole lot of Patterson barking out orders while looking at a screen — is even more disappointing.
Shepherd, the one good villain this show has ever had, ultimately went out like a chump. As much as the opening minutes built her up as a real threat, the remainder of the hour made her look as ill-equipped as any goon-of-the-week. Even her monologue to Weller about his commitment to doing the right thing and fixing America rang hollow, despite Michelle Hurd's best attempts.
Meanwhile, Roman somehow came out of this all looking even worse. He didn't exactly turn against his mother again, nor did he really commit to being fully evil. While those shades of gray work well for a show like this, him simply jogging away while Jane froze, gun in hand, felt pretty anticlimactic.
Of course, that both Shepherd and Roman got the short shrift and yet still remain alive is surely connected to the episode's final moments. Two years in the future, Jane has left the team — and the modern world — to climb mountains and hang out with monks.
Little of her self-exile was shown, however, because Weller quickly re-emerged, bearing a literal mystery box addressed to Jane and featuring some kind of disc that "activated" Jane's tattoos into... doing something. They lit up like a Christmas tree. MYSTERY ABOUNDS.
There's no reason to speculate what this all means. That's what the (somewhat surprisingly greenlit) Season 3 is for. But Blindspot did a rock-solid job of moving beyond clunky tattoo-related mysteries this season, and became a better show for it. A return to that might have been enough to convince NBC to order a third season, but it doesn't seem particularly exciting to me.
Ultimately, "Lepers Repel" played like a season finale from a show that knew it could be cancelled. It worked supremely hard to create the illusion of potential change, only to return things to the status quo and only then to jump ahead in time to suggest the kind of change that characters didn't actually choose. Along the way, it kneecapped a couple of solid characters that could very well return but likely won't be as compelling the next time around.
Now that Season 3 is confirmed, hopefully Blindspot moves on from the messiness of this episode and remembers what made it semi-regularly improved in this run.
Blindspot returns in the fall and moves to Friday nights on NBC.