With ninth episode “Authentic Flirt,” Blindspot was giving a little service to its fans who have been pulling for a romantic relationship between Jane Doe and Kurt Weller. But at the same time, it pushed the hit drama toward its fall finale by dropping a few not entirely unexpected reveals that will give the series plenty to play with as it heads into the back half of its first-season order.
While there’s some poor dude getting tortured then shot in the head in Barcelona, Patterson is finding little messages from now ex-boyfriend David (Joe Dinicol) on the side of coffee trucks and still trying to dissuade him from her, and Zapata is having an involuntary meeting with CIA director Tom Carter (Michael Gaston). He wants Tasha to bug Jane’s safehouse within the next day or else. Jane has no idea about this, because Patterson is piecing together small letters found across several of her tattoos to put together a phrase: “Ashwell Creek Kennels.” It’s the most random clue yet.
Reade suggests that the forum is just a front for criminal activity, though, and so the CIRG team digs through seemingly inane messages to uncover a Staten Island meeting place and time. The “open house” vastly resembles the one from The Bourne Legacy, and gets them into a shootout with the two torturers from Barcelona. Weller kills one while Reade wounds the other, leaving everybody else standing there looking vastly confused about what any of this means.
The team searches the house for clues, with Weller uncovering two tickets to a pricey gala and a pin hidden above one of the windows, and Patterson telling the audience that a duffel bag with a bunch of fake passports was later located upstairs. She explains that Perry Byrne was the guy being tortured because he’s related to Robert Byrne, a high-powered attorney who’s caused problems for the mob. The message board was the front through which assassins were being hired to find Robert, who’s holed up in witness protection.
Cue the calling of an old friend of Weller’s, Allison Knight (former Banshee star Trieste Kelly Dunn), who happens to be a US Marshal now and who unintentionally makes things super-awkward for Jane. Knight explains that WITSEC had a data breach and there could be tons of other witnesses at risk if a stolen list of names is handed off.
With the assassins now deceased, the team has no choice but to send Weller and Jane in their place, since Jane is the only one in the home team that speaks Bulgarian. This has “bad idea” written all over it, but not as much as David hanging out in the library, watching a woman check out the code book he and Patterson uncovered before, or Allison hitting on Weller and referring to a bad date they went on before. At least she gets out of the way when she sees Jane, who feels ridiculous but looks anything but.
This creates a moment of super-awkward tension between our dynamic duo, but they put it aside to get on with the mission in true style. Once they arrive at the gala, they’re escorted away from the rest of the crew and into a waiting car, in which a random man asks them for their cell phones on behalf of his “employer.” He escorts them to a helicopter, and the rest of the CIRG squad rolls up in their latest new SUV just in time to see it take off.
The helicopter lands at an impressive estate, where Weller does not take kindly to the security guy getting a little handsy with Jane, to the point of shoving the dude for good measure. While the two of them wonder what to do, Mayfair has to deal with a smug Carter, who wants to discuss Saul Guerrero’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) future. Mayfair says she’s having Guerrero sign a backdated document verifying their cover story; Carter being Carter, he’d rather see him dead. “What if he doesn’t cooperate?” he points out, because a drug dealer always plays ball.
Whoever Carl is, he’s having the weirdest 70th birthday party ever. While the two of them awkwardly share a dance to blend in (and make the fans squeal), Weller admits to Jane that he and Allison dated for about a year before they had a communication breakdown. She decides that means it’s only fair to tell her about her recent dreams, but before he can press her for details, they get dragged into their secret meeting with the party host, Gord Enver, an eccentric billonaire who changed his name to Rich Dotcom and is doing a bunch of shady stuff like having people roughed up while rambling uncontrollably.
Gord/Rich hands Weller a tablet that contains the WITSEC list and tells the duo not to leave the party, especially since he’s got another buyer. “You paid for access, not exclusivity,” he tells a concerned Jane, who realizes their problem is not going to be able to be contained unless they find the second copy as well. To do that, Weller suggests hacking the venue’s security system, and to make that happen he steals Gord’s keycard while pretending to be indignant that the guy hit on his fake wife. Touche, Agent Weller.
Our heroes make their way back upstairs and identify the other buyer, while Zapata and Reade have been searching Gord’s owned properties to find their teammates. Mayfair lets them borrow a helicopter (which let’s hope they treat it better than the SUVs) to continue their search, not knowing that Weller and Jane are making their move. They try to turn the other buyer against Gord by claiming that they only got half the list and he’s been duped as well. When they bring him downstairs, a two-on-one fight breaks out that shouldn’t be this difficult.
Weller eventually chokes the guy out, but all the noise has drawn Gord’s attention and his ire. Weller decides to flip the script by suggesting that the other dude was the federal agent, not them, and he’s helped by the fact that he was able to plant Gord’s keycard on the body. After Gord shoots both the second buyer and his security guard, he seems to be placated and offers Jane and Weller a not really celebratory drink. He wants to interrogate them on their history again just to make sure they’re the assassins he’s doing business with.
Weller doesn’t appreciate this and decides to break the glassware before both he and Jane hold Gord at double gunpoint. They reclaim the USB drives and take him into custody, although our hero would be happy to just kill the creep and get it over with. But they still have to get another helicopter. Wait, we think we know where they can find one…
Reade and Zapata fly onto the scene just as Weller and Jane are going to need more bullets to fend off Gord’s seemingly endless stream of bodyguards. Weller’s a little bit smug here, and nobody can blame him for that, or for getting the hell out of that tuxedo as soon as possible. He rebuffs Allison one more time by telling her he’s going to Jane’s housewarming party, so Allison tells Jane “you won’t find a better man” before she walks off into the sunset. Jane – still having flashbacks to breaking up with her mystery boyfriend, who was apparently her mystery fiancee – is going to need a minute. Especially since the bird tattooed on her neck was one that apparently he drew.
Cue the episode-ending needle drop, during which everyone seems to be enjoying themselves at the aforementioned house party with their pizza and beer, except for Zapata as she destroys Carter’s surveillance bug and Guerrero, who gets himself knifed in prison by someone sent by Carter. Mayfair finds his body, while David – who’s spent the episode tracking the mystery woman from the library – also winds up injured on the street. Patterson is promptly called and spoils the housewarming by dragging the whole team to the hospital, where she’s told that he didn’t make it.
If audiences weren’t sure that Blindspot was teasing the shippers among us after “Cede Your Soul,” “Authentic Flirt” should leave no doubt. The general premise of this episode is completely constructed to play into that idea; there’s no logical reason why the two cover identities have to be a married couple, and the reason for it having to be Jane and Weller – that Jane speaks Bulgarian – is the most thin of concepts. Furthermore, having the US Marshal on the scene just happening to be Weller’s ex is another obvious plot device, and if you saw the teaser for episode ten, it’s clearly also edited to put the idea of a potential romance in the viewer’s head.
At this point, it’s clear that the writers have an idea of the buzz that’s out there amongst their fans, and are at least willing to use that to their dramatic advantage if they’re not outright planning to move in that direction. Whether or not you personally agree with that, the fact is that it’s in play, especially with the show revealing that Jane eventually dumped her tattooed love interest. The good news for Blindspot fans, as opposed to the fans of many other shows, is that the overall writing on this series is strong enough that it doesn’t seem in danger of becoming dominated by a Weller/Jane romance.
Namely, it’s taking steps to resolve the Operation Daylight subplot by having Carter kill off Guerrero. Given how Carter’s go-to was threatening homicide, it was a given that he was going to murder somebody. It’s kind of surprising that Lou Diamond Phillips was brought on for what amounted to one episode and then a non-speaking cameo, but so be it. Having him die makes more sense than having him inexplicably broken out of prison, and then it creates a smoking gun that Mayfair or someone else can hold over Carter’s head when the CIA assistant director inevitably gets his.
NBC threw audiences a curveball at the end of last week, wanting viewers to think that a main character would die when in fact it was Patterson’s ex David who got the axe. David was a dead man walking once he started to poke into Jane Doe’s tattoos, since that made him a loose end that had no real connection to anyone other than Patterson. Especially when he refused to stop looking, he was the perfect example of that TV character who’s just not that bright and gets in over their head. His death now gives the CIRG team a personal stake, although a relatively minor one, in next week’s fall finale.
As we look forward to that episode, it’s important to remember where it sits in the general running order. This is not even the midpoint of the first season – there will be 13 more episodes to go in January – and there’s a second season on the way. Blindspot will probably deliver something big to keep audiences guessing over the hiatus, but it’s by no means obligated to give tons of answers and it’d honestly be wise if it held quite a few things back to create story for the rest of the installments between now and next spring. “Authentic Flirt” might have been just as obvious as “Cede Your Soul,” but at least it wasn’t filler.
So where does the show go from here? There are a couple of big issues that need to be addressed, and a few might make great reveals for the next episode. The team, or at least Weller, need to be told about Guerrero’s death by Mayfair and realize that Daylight/Carter is still a problem. While Zapata has chosen not to be the CIA’s mole, she still did take Carter’s money, and Weller is smart enough that he needs to find out about her betrayal and hold her responsible for it. And the show should at a minimum identify the redheaded woman who got David killed – there are enough mysterious people running around this series already.
When compared to the whole of season one, “Authentic Flirt” will not rank as one of the best episodes, but it does its job in setting up what should be a good installment. If the fall finale can deliver both on the suspense and character development fronts, without forcing anything else in there for the sake of additional drama, Blindspot will end the first half of its season where it began and deserves to stay – on top.
For more Blindspot, don’t miss our interview with Sullivan Stapleton about the evolution of Kurt Weller over the first part of season one.
The Blindspot midseason finale airs Monday, Nov. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.