The midseason finale of Blindspot, “Evil Handmade Instrument,” did everything we were expecting it to do. It drove a big, fat nail (or several of them) into the Operation Daylight conspiracy and sent the relationship between Jane and Weller in the direction that the show has been nudging toward for awhile now. Was hitting all the expected notes enough to go out with a bang? Hey, this show was just getting started.
Patterson is reviewing the autopsy report on her recently deceased ex-boyfriend David, much to the annoyance of Dr. Borden, who thinks she needs to do less fact-checking and more coping. “I can handle this,” she insists, because that’s what everyone says. Borden gives her one day to try and help with the investigation, while Jane continues to add material to the Life-esque wall she’s set up for herself in the safehouse. Seriously, Charlie Crews would be proud.
Meanwhile, Mayfair confronts Carter (Michael Gaston) about his “sloppy cleanup job” in murdering Saul Guerrero. Carter dismisses her pretty quickly, mostly because he knows Zapata didn’t bug Jane’s safehouse and he’s sent her another one to finish the job – or else. While she stares at it, Weller finds Jane downstairs in the FBI office, staring at the duffel bag she emerged from. He encourages her not to blame herself for David’s death, but she won’t hear him. “How’s [Patterson] going to move on from this?” she asks him. “I’ve never lost anyone before. At least not anyone I can remember.”
Upstairs, the team starts trying to piece everything together. We learn that the guy who found David’s body was an agent stationed to monitor the code book by Mayfair, and that a partial fingerprint was recovered that belongs to an architect named Roger Levkin. Zapata mentions that Levkin was born in Russia, and everyone makes the leap forward to “Russian sleeper spy.” It’s like The Americans, only less cooler.
While they go looking for Roger, Patterson sets to trying to sort out the decoding process and comes up with a report: “Status nominal. Will continue to monitor. No further updates.” Doesn’t sound too serious, does it?
But Roger’s house has been trashed by the time the CIRG team rolls up on it, and when he goes around the back, Weller sees Roger’s wife tied to a chair – by her husband. Our hero forces entry and shoots him, but he eats a cyanide pill and dies a few moments later. The good news is that his wife identifies David’s possible killer as Kate Williams, a fifth-grade teacher…who was born in Russia. Time to call in the Counter-Espionage Division!
A theory is quickly formulated: Kate suspected that David was a federal agent and killed him, and his death might have activated their mission, which is a serious of assassinations. There’s one name in common between all the people involved: a woman named Olivia who’s married to a New York Times editor. But when Weller and Jane arrive at the museum where she works, she takes off running and is able to get to her car before they can stop her. Refusing to give up, our heroes commandeer a pair of nearby motorcycles and resume chase, shooting out one of the vehicle’s tires. Now that’s resourcefulness.
As Weller and Reade attempt to interrogate their newest charge, Kate takes a phone call, telling her that Olivia has been captured and to “take out her target and yours immediately” with a recently delivered package. Then Patterson decides to crash the interrogation with the code book, and at least she doesn’t beat the other woman upside the head with it.
She instead delivers the ultimate bluff, and Weller and Reade pick up on it and turn up the heat. Olivia cracks, telling them how she was recruited as a teenager and told to marry an American target who had access to the right kind of information. As she continues into her sob story, Jane has more flashbacks to all those other kids we saw earlier in the season. She then persuades her way into the interrogation room, where she tries to find common ground with Olivia – who gives up the name of her target, Russian defector Boris Ivanovich.
The team arrives to where Boris was meeting a source to find him already dead. If you’re keeping score, that means we have one more target left and one more spy still on the loose.
So how do we find Kate? Well, for that we once again turn to Patterson, who has found a website all the sleeper spies have been visiting, which points them toward an area flower shop where the display is another communication system. Weller pressures Olivia to reveal that the display is telling the spies the names of their targets, but before he can get there, the place is already on fire. But there’s enough left for Patterson to deduce that Kate is headed to a military expo to take out a Senator.
Our heroes hit the ground, with Reade holding Kate at gunpoint until another man draws down on him, forcing Weller to shoot the other man and give Kate room to run. Weller takes off in pursuit, but you know what’s coming next. Jane has caught up and gets to the Russian first, prompting a brawl between the two women. Kate nearly stabs Jane with her lethal syringe, but Weller comes up behind her, pries her off and she ends up going overboard. Someone’s going to need to fish her body out.
In the aftermath, Patterson gets to take a good, long look at the corpse of David’s murderer before Weller pulls her away. Then back at the office, she thanks Jane for stopping Kate before admitting that finding his killer hasn’t made her feel any better. “Solving this didn’t change anything,” she admits. “Is that what it’s like for you? With the tattoos?” Everyone emotes, with Patterson talking about how “he was right in front of me and I should have just held onto him.” Does that sound like anyone else you know?
Cue Jane waiting outside Weller’s building for him to arrive. “I just needed to see you,” she tells him, and then plants the kiss on him that we’ve known was coming for episodes now. He’s not entirely sure what just happened, but that doesn’t stop him from kissing her again. And then his nephew interrupts the whole romantic moment, so she walks off alone – and then gets grabbed by more people with another van.
They’re bringing her to Carter, so he can waterboard her. This prompts another flashback where Jane, in her Naval uniform, walks by Carter as he’s mentioning another operation called Orion. When she asks him what that was, he wants to start on the power drillng, but he’s stopped by several bullets. Where did those come from? Well, it’s Jane’s mysterious ex-fiancee (Francois Arnaud). While he rescues her, Weller calls Jane’s house and gets no answer, while Tasha is signing her resignation letter.
The ex-fiancee shows Jane a video of…herself, in which she explains that his name is Oscar and he’s there to help her. Oh, and she informs her who started all this. “This was all your idea,” video-Jane says. “You did this to yourself.” Which the audience already knew, but her brain’s probably exploding about now.
Let’s get the few criticisms out of the way first. “Evil Handmade Instrument” has a couple of moments that one can only file under ‘saw that coming.’ As soon as Jane mentions to Weller that she’s out without her security detail, even though we know she’s done that before, it’s obvious that she’s going to be abducted. (It’s also unintentionally funny that it’s in another white panel van, since that’s exactly how she entered this show. This show is like an anti-PSA for vans.)
The kiss is telegraphed, too; the show started the romance subplot with “Cede Your Soul” and made it really obvious by “Authentic Flirt.” The one potential issue with this is that it takes Blindspot down the same road so many other shows have walked where the main characters couple up (including its direct competition, ABC’s Castle). For a show that’s done things so differently, it’s surprising that it now walked down the most common subplot line, but we’ll have to trust that the writers can make this idea stand out from all the other romances on TV.
Then there’s Orion. The show spent so long pulling us into Operation Daylight, which was legitimately interesting and served a purpose as far as giving us backstory for Mayfair and also someone to root against in Carter (and by the way, someone please give Michael Gaston a cookie for being probably the most love-to-hate-him bad guy all season). But as soon as that gets wrapped up, the show goes right back to the same general idea with a second mysterious codename? Again, this better show us something different than Daylight, or we’re going to feel like we’re running in circles.
Having said that, for a midseason finale this ends on a pretty strong note. The case of the week itself isn’t perhaps the most shocking – if you’ve watched The Americans, you’re probably feeling a little deja vu – but it serves its purpose of allowing us to catch David’s killer and enjoy a few interesting action sequences. And hey, Weller rescued Jane for once instead of the other way around!
But as has been the case with many episodes of Blindspot, the investigation is actually secondary to what’s going on amongst the characters. This is the episode that finally sheds some more light on Patterson, and gives Ashley Johnson her biggest amount of screen time to date. It’s so nice to see the character doing something else than being in the lab or reciting exposition, and actually getting to relate to her on a human level. Though David was so clearly doomed, at least his death allowed for some more advancement for Patterson’s character.
There’s not enough Reade here, yet we do get Zapata tendering her resignation rather than further betraying her team, which is a gold star for her. We still think she needs to face some sort of music for having given a copy of Jane’s file to Carter in the first place, if only for how Weller would handle it (badly) and that would likewise give more screen time to Audrey Esparza. There will, after all, be some reason why she sticks around the CIRG team, since Esparza hasn’t been announced as leaving the show.
Then we get to Weller and Jane. Weller’s got some thinking to do, because there’s no further denying that he’s got a torch for Jane and vice versa, though that goes beyond not being objective and into unprofessional. Given how closely Weller plays by the rules, he’s got to have some sort of conflict about pursuing a romantic relationship with someone whose case he’s handling. It would be out of character for him to chuck that aside, even for Jane.
Once he sorts himself out there will then have to be the obvious drama of someone else noticing and trying to pull/temporarily pulling him off Jane’s case – and people will notice, given how they’ve all picked up on this so far. Seriously, there should have been a drinking game for every time someone told Weller and/or Jane they were too close. (And somewhere, Dr. Borden is calmly saying “I told you so.”)
And then poor Jane. Jane, who’s probably having an emotional meltdown at the moment finding out what the audience has been privy to since the pilot. There’s probably a few folks out there who are asking, “Why didn’t Oscar just go right to her and show her this video right away?” and we can’t blame you on that count. The best guess is that they were trying to give her time to settle into her new life and her new relationships with the FBI before they blew it all up. But maybe we’ll get an explanation for that, as well as more backstory on this guy who’s turning out to be interesting in his own right.
Plus, there are a lot of things in her world we haven’t gotten an explanation for. That callback to the room full of kids makes us remember that we still don’t know who really took Taylor, or what they were planning to do with her and the rest of the kids in that room. The show also hasn’t done anything with the issue of the isotope test since Patterson first brought it up weeks ago – it needs to answer that question and sooner rather than later. Just because it’s moved on to other things doesn’t mean it can overlook that it planted that doubt in the audience’s minds.
Blindspot‘s midseason finale did everything it needed to do from a functional standpoint, which is wrap up some but not all of the key plot points and set each of its main characters on a new course for the second half of the season. Viewers can feel like they got some answers, but there’s still suspense, and we have an idea of what might be in store for everybody. Fans will certainly be happy with a number of happenings, like Carter’s well-deserved death and that last moment between Weller and Jane. This series started out as one of the best on television and it’s continuing on that track, with no signs of slowing down.
Blindspot returns on Feb. 29, 2016. For more on the first half of the season, use the suggested links below to check out our cast and crew interviews.