In an eerily deserted Times Square, a shivering young woman crawls out of a discarded duffle bag, her naked body swathed in tattoos, as NYPD’s heavily-armoured bomb squad swoops in to take her down.
As arresting opening sequences go, Blindspot’s certainly gets the high score for ambition and intrigue. But while this action-packed conspiracy drama has a great idea, it rapidly runs out of steam as soon as the action moves beyond its smart premise.
In a slick-paced opening episode, the show’s creator Martin Gero wastes no time piling on the mysteries. Suffering from a “chemically-induced state of amnesia”, our unexpected arrival has no idea who she is or what has happened to her.
What she does have is the name of FBI Agent Kurt Weller inked across her back. But then, he doesn’t know who she is either. And the FBI become yet more perplexed when they take their Jane Doe out into the field and discover she has a very unusual set of skills. Who is this woman?
It’s indicative of a series that’s seemingly determined to rattle along relentlessly without pausing to think about where it’s going. Director Mark Pellington overloads the screen with flashy graphics and shifty camerawork as he zips through an endless stream of well-executed set-pieces in the hope we won’t have time to find holes in the show’s creaky premise.
That plan doesn’t quite come off as, for all its early intrigue, the plot quickly slips into a predictable procedural formula. Discovering Jane’s tattoos form an implausible treasure map of clues to major crimes, Agent Weller and his team stumble upon the trail of Chao, a Chinese expat planning a terrorist attack on New York City.
Much like Prison Break – which also combined a puzzle-of-the-week format with the gradual unpicking of an overarching mystery – this reliance on such a generic structure points to a lack of ideas about how to expand on its high concept. Unless its writers can think up some inventive twists on the genre, it seems likely Blindspot will suffer a similarly short life-span as Fox’s one season wonder.
On the plus side, the central performances are excellent. Thor’s Jaimie Alexander is utterly compelling as a helpless and dazed Jane. There’s a touch of Orphan Black’s Sarah Manning about the character – an unravelling enigma who’s frightened of a world she doesn’t understand and yet is bravely determined to rediscover where she came from – and Alexander completely sells this complex personality.
Sullivan Stapleton, meanwhile, offers something slightly different to the gruff-senior-cop you’d expect Alexander’s naïve newbie to be paired with. While Agent Weller certainly isn’t beyond barking orders, he’s actually a more gentle team-player than is first apparent, doing his best to show compassion towards his overwhelmed new partner.
The only disappointment here is the rest of Weller’s squad are a bunch of thinly-sketched archetypes, from Marianne Jean-Baptiste’s tough-talking Assistant Director to Rob Brown’s wise-cracking Agent Reade.
Though it remains to be seen if Blindspot can find enough invention to become a lasting success, with it’s action-packed script and enticing central characters, there’s plenty of fun to be had while we wait to find out. Just don’t think too hard about what’s actually going on.
Click here to watch the trailer for Blindspot