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'Blindspot' recap: 'If Beth'

Posted on

Giovanni Ruffino/NBC

Blindspot

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
2
run date:
09/21/15
performer:
Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton
broadcaster:
NBC
genre:
Drama, Mystery, Thriller

The second season of Blindspot has been putting the pedal to the metal since the premiere. After Jane was captured and tortured by the CIA at the end of last season, the show has spent the beginning of this season pumping out intense episodes that are meant to get us back on track. “Back on track” in the world of Blindspot means getting back to not knowing who to trust and having the characters operate in a moral gray area. “If Beth” isn’t as high octane as the episodes before it, but it does do a great job of deepening the mystery of Sandstorm and challenging Jane’s allegiances.

A lot of “If Beth,” despite being largely focused on another tattoo crime, is about Jane’s confused allegiances to both Sandstorm and the FBI. So, when the episode opens, after we see a security guard choked out, we’re taken to a quiet lakefront. Roman has taken Jane there in order to stir up her memories, to, as he puts it, “get her angry again.” This lake is Lake Aurora, where a company knowingly dumped toxins years ago. It’s meant to be a symbol of what Sandstorm is fighting against, but the question is, is it enough to get Jane truly behind their cause?

That’s a question to be answered later though, as the FBI gang meets at the headquarters to get the lowdown on one of Jane’s tattoos. As Patterson has discovered, Jane’s honeycomb tattoo has two distinct shades to it. For one nerdy reason or another, she decides to translate the paths of the two shades into 1s and 0s, resulting in a corresponding code that in turn corresponds to the ID number for a Homeland Security employee named Bo Kaier. Oh Blindspot, never change your convoluted, ridiculous ways.

The second code coming from the other shaded line ends up spelling out SHDWCAT, the handle for a notorious dark net hacker who’s managed to get into all sorts of higher-up government agency systems. So, naturally, the FBI wants to question him. I love that circumstantial evidence like tattoos with vague, secret codes is a legitimate lead for the FBI in Blindspot. You can never fault this show for going all in on its premise.

Anyway, the team manages to catch Kaier before he fully destroys all his hard drives, but the moment is more about Reade and his mental health. When Kaier confronts him with a gun, Reade manages to take him down. But then he proceeds to keep beating the hell out of him until Weller has to step in and pull him off. Reade’s blurry memories of his past — the show’s theme, people! — are starting to effect his day-to-day operations, and the result is bouts of violence. Nas takes note and confronts Weller with her observation, but for now he’s reluctant to take Reade out of the field.

Back at the headquarters, Patterson goes through the hard drives and finds that Kaier has been building and selling what amounts to videogames that allow thieves to scope out buildings in significant detail and plan their robberies. Based on the dates and some other information, Patterson assumes the AEBLY Museum of Art is going to be hit next, which means it’s time for the team to put on their best formal wear and blend in to the fundraising gala.

At the fundraiser for some sort of clean water initiative, things get a little crazy. Patterson gets attacked in a basement after an assailant rises from an ancient tomb, and that sends Weller chasing after the culprit, who he identifies as a black female with short hair. Weller gets lost in the gallery though, as the woman escapes to the top floor through a dumbwaiter. But Jane finds her, and oh man does Blindspot decide to have some fun. The two get into a fist and sword fight (I know!), but the suspect gets away.

NEXT: From fighting to understanding[pagebreak]

Eventually, the team figures out that the suspect is Elizabeth Gubara, a Sudanese national with ties to a terrorist cell. After determining that the two victims from the museum had ties to East Africa, the team figures that Gubara is set to go after Charles Kessler, another man from the gala with similar ties. They use that info to get to Kessler’s home where they wait for Gubara to arrive. Sure enough, she does, but there’s a twist: She tells them that she’s CIA!

Wait, how does that work? Well, as Gubara explains, the two victims from the gala weren’t great ambassadors of clean water, but rather go-betweens for the CIA and the terrorist cell, using the intel Gubara was gathering to turn a profit. When Gubara was made during her undercover operation, she was thrown under the bus, her records at the CIA wiped. Suddenly rather than being undercover with the terrorist cell, she was labeled as a member of it, and as a result her family was murdered.

The scene where Gubara reveals all of this is used as a way to deepen Jane’s complex feelings toward the FBI and Sandstorm. Gubara’s story is all about not knowing who you can trust, and how those who you think are closest to you will turn on you if need be. That’s Jane’s story, too, and with Roman and Shepherd doing everything they can to lure Jane back into their cause — Shepherd opens up to her later, telling her about how her family died from the poisoning of Lake Aurora — it might only be a matter of time before she turns her back on her “friends” at the FBI.

For now though, she’s on Gubara’s side. She’s heard the story: They killed her family, erased her record, made her into an enemy. So, the FBI digs deeper and they find that the two “victims” that Gubara killed, who were, along with Kessler, responsible for the murder of her husband and daughter, were in fact working for companies that siphon funds from government projects. Essentially, they were spies. What’s more though is that Zapata, who was working on getting into Kessler’s computer files, finds a picture of him with a young woman, and yet his record shows that he doesn’t have a daughter. Zapata shows the photo to Gubara and, sure enough, it’s her daughter. And, well, it’s his too. She had an affair with Kessler during one of her first missions, so it makes sense that her daughter would trust him; they’d been friends for some time. Now though, she just wants her daughter back.

As is often the case with Blindspot, there’s a speedy resolution to this week’s case. After a shootout at the airport with Kessler, Jane manages to talk Garuba’s daughter into coming back to the headquarters. Mother and daughter are reunited, for a brief moment, before Garuba is sent to prison. Not the most rewarding or entertaining tattoo case, but you can’t win them all.

As much as the show continues to resolve its weekly mysteries rather hurriedly at the end of each episode, there’s also balance in the way it spends time deepening the struggle of the main characters. There’s Reade, who lets Freddie stay with him until a concerned Zapata shows up at his apartment, sees Freddie doing drugs, and asks him to leave for Reade’s sake. Reade is close to going off the deep end, as we see him staking out Coach Jones’ house.

Then, there’s Zapata, who clearly cares for Reade and is interested in keeping him safe and getting to the bottom of the Coach Jones case. Is that why she goes to the hospital to visit and presumably hire SHDWCAT at the end of the episode? Does it have to do with Reade, or something else that she wants to keep off the books?

Either way, “If Beth” ends with two big mysteries: Why is Zapata approaching SHDWCAT, and, as Nas’ archival footage reveals, why has Sandstorm been watching Kurt Weller for 20 years? What part does he play in their plan?

Curiouser and curiouser.

Episode Grade: C+

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