by Aprille Hanson
For the chance of a new crime-based T.V. show to survive rather than disappearing into the blood red abyss of all the rest -- “Blue Bloods,” “Person of Interest,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Castle,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “NCIS” and all its spin-offs … I could go on and on -- there has to be an intriguing hook.
NBC stumbled onto a goldmine with their 2013 smash hit “The Blacklist,” starring the sarcastic charm that is Emmy-winner James Spader and Megan Boone, partly because it was so different. You’ve got Red (Spader), a master manipulator criminal who decides to help the FBI catch the strangest, most heinous villains -- from those who keep people in cages for years to the ones who can make every inch of a body disappear without a trace -- in order to get close to agent Elizabeth Keen, for reasons that are still not entirely revealed.
It stood out because it wasn’t just another local precinct-type serial crime show. It’s the same sort of appeal that drew fans to CBS’s “Person of Interest.” A unique, but intriguing crime show with a hook will keep viewers.
So, NBC’s new hook is a tattooed woman. The network’s newest crime series “Blindspot” premiered this fall with a pilot too intriguing not to keep people watching.
When a large duffel bag is left in the middle of Time Square, the bustling New York City icon is cleared and the bomb squad is called, anticipating the worst. In a dramatic scene after nightfall, with law enforcement officials everywhere, the bag begins to move.
No, it’s not a bomb, but a woman, played by actress Jamie Alexander, known for her role as Lady Sif in the “Thor” movies. She is completely naked except for the tattoos someone drew on her entire body. Jane Doe, as she’s been called so far, is understandably terrified as she has no idea who she is and has no memories of anything from before she emerged from that bag.
The FBI is called in, particularly Agent Kurt Weller, played by Sullivan Stapleton, known most for the 2014 movie “300: Rise of an Empire.” Agent Weller was an obvious choice, because his name is tattooed in large print on half of her upper back. As Weller and his fellow agents, Edgar Reade (Rob Brown) and Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) try to crack the puzzle on her body, clues start to emerge from the tattoos and in each dangerous encounter they lead to seems to reveal more about Jane’s former life. At one point, when she’s attacked out in the field, she instinctively starts pulling out intense defense moves that no normal civilian would know. It turns out, Jane was trained as a Navy Seal and flashbacks to her life seem to reveal that she is part of a bigger plan and that tattoos may lead to a bigger conspiracy.
It’s truths like that that make it unsettling for many involved, including FBI leader Bethany Mayfair (played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste) who does not want details of a past deeply classified project with CIA leader Thomas Carter (Michael Gaston) revealed. Weller also must come face to face with his past with Jane because of a scar on the upper back of her neck. A young neighbor friend named Taylor he was responsible for as a child went missing and was never found. She and Jane have the exact same scar. His father was the primary suspect, despite no physical evidence, which tore apart the family. A simple DNA test reveals that Jane Doe is a match, but further digging in later episodes shows that her genetic footprint extracted from her tooth reveals she was born in Africa, not in the U.S.
It’s the constant twists and turns and mysteries surrounding her tattoos that make this show perfect for keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. With the sheer amount of tattoos and the multitude of ways to take this conspiracy to the next level, it’s a mystery that the writers should have their hands full with for several seasons.
Despite the show being a bit far-fetched at times -- chances are there are not going to be two executives at the Centers for Disease Control that actually work to kill people globally with the most deadly of disease outbreaks -- fans can suspend their disbelief because the acting, particularly by Alexander and Stapleton, is so convincing. No matter how crazy the premise seems, watching Alexander navigate these tricky waters of this character that will no doubt go through major changes as the show progresses, has already been compelling to watch.
NBC wanted another ‘Blacklist’ caliber hit and have almost completely nailed it. It is in no way the average crime show and it’s worth making room in your T.V. show line-up to watch it.