BLINDSPOT has one of the more unusual opening scenes on TV.
A bag is left in Times Square, New York. A note attached says: Call FBI. Police evacuate the area and call in the bomb squad.
But wait – the bag is moving. It’s opening.
A young woman (Jaimie Alexander) emerges. She’s naked, or nearly naked (the shot is deliberately blurred), clearly terrified, bewildered and strange, recent tattoos cover her body.
She has no recollection of who she is or what happened to her; apparently because of a massive dose of some experimental drug.
But tattooed on her back is a name: Kurt Weller. FBI.
We meet Weller (Aussie Sullivan Stapleton) leading a team about to storm a farmhouse in Kentucky where some creep is holding young women.
Weller shoots the floor out from under the creep; the creep falls through, is arrested and the women saved. Gee, we like Weller’s style already.
A helicopter arrives. You’re needed, Weller is told. There’s this amnesiac woman with your name tattooed on her back.
Weller doesn’t know Jane Doe. She doesn’t know him. So what’s going on?
Welcome to Blindspot. We’re only minutes in and so far it’s been a dazzlingly fast ride.
And the pace and tension doesn’t let up.
Turns out the tattoos are all part of a puzzle. The FBI finds one behind Jane Doe’s ear in Mandarin, a language that Jane Doe speaks though she has no idea why.
She interprets a date and an address, leading to a Chinese national with a bomb. Pretty soon we’re racing to save lives and the Statue of Liberty, all culminating in a dramatic fight inside the statue where Jane Doe finds out she knows how to fight and shoot.
But wait: there’s more.
A mysterious man appears and kills our Chinese national while he’s recovering in hospital.
And there’s more still. A flashback at the end of the episode shows this mysterious man with our Jane Doe, injecting her with the drug that will wipe her memory – and all apparently at her insistence. “What choice do I have?” she says.
So there’s already a twist to our mystery and we’re only 42 minutes in.
Jaimie Alexander (Thor, Agents of Shield) is absolutely sympathetic as Jane Doe. In one scene she stands in front of the mirror, staring at her alien body. We feel her despair, her confusion as she falls to the floor, sobbing.
As more of who she might be is revealed, it’s as fascinating for us as it is for her. We’re with her on this journey.
Surprisingly, it’s Stapleton’s character Weller, though, who remains the mystery man.
We’re told he’s one of the top field agents but we know nearly nothing about him except what is revealed by his quick thinking and decisive action.
There has to be more to him, otherwise why is his name on Jane’s back?
Stapleton showed us in Strike Back that he’s an amazing action hero; a tough guy with a sensitive streak somewhere; so his casting as Weller is a big plus for the series.
Blindspot is off to a fun start, at least. And with Alexander and Stapleton already displaying chemistry, the casting looks strong.
And it has that fantastic, unusual premise.
Presumably each week, a part of the puzzle – from Jane’s tattoos – will lead our team to solve another case. In this sense, it’s a bit like The Blacklist, though it will have to work hard to live up to that series.
Whether what has started as an intriguing mystery delivers will depend, I think, on how those cases all link up and what underlying mythology is slowly revealed.
A bit like Wayward Pines; if the denouncement isn’t top notch, then it will cheapen the rest.
Fortunately Wayward Pines delivered; let’s hope Blindspot does too.
Blindspot opened big in the US as NBC’s highest rated series premiere in two years, outperforming established series NCIS: Los Angeles and Castle.
BLINDSPOT BEGINS THIS WEEK ON SEVEN.