Blindspot is the type of show that benefits from leaning into its craziness while balancing out the action with more subtle character moments. There are times when the complexity and insanity of the subplots becomes too much, resulting in an episode like last week’s that feels completely overstuffed and unnecessarily complicated. There was no balance. This week, with “Condone Untidiest Thefts,” the show finds its balance again, presenting a more streamlined case-of-the-week while the season’s various subplots serve to flesh out the story.
It helps that “Condone Untidiest Thefts” boasts quite the cold open. We watch as a man working in a dimly lit workshop loads a handgun. Then, he places that handgun inside the body of a camera, one of those big TV news ones, before screwing on the lens around the barrel. He raises the camera to his eye and shoots the head off of a dummy in the distance. It’s quite the disguise for a hit, and Blindspot does a great job of letting us know exactly what’s going to happen, but refusing to give us the payoff until later on.
What I mean is that it takes awhile for the episode to get to the inciting incident. After we see the camera-gun assembled, the episode jumps to the FBI headquarters, leaving us waiting for that inevitable attack to happen. While Nas and Weller seem to be growing closer, finding some common respect for each other while also trying to figure out why Sandstorm has been watching Weller for so long, Zapata informs them that she’s figured out the secret behind the Black Hole picture from Mayfair’s USB drive.
Well, she hasn’t exactly figured it out. Rather, her visit with SHDWCAT at the end of last week’s episode was about getting him to decode it. Zapata presents his theory: The swirl in the picture is a laminar flow, meaning that if it can be “unwound,” in a sense, whatever it’s hiding will become clear. Nas compliments Zapata on her work, but also reprimands her for showing evidence to a convicted criminal. You win some, you lose some. Later, Patterson decodes the image, but that doesn’t mean anything is any clearer. All we know is that Mayfair was working with Douglas Winter, Blindspot‘s Edward Snowden-like whistleblower character.
Anyway, while we continue to wait for some horrible shooting to happen, and while Borden and Patterson test the waters by arriving to work together after spending the night with each other, Patterson uncovers more tattoo clues. She says this is one of the first tattoos she decoded, but it’s only become relevant recently. Essentially, some numbers on Janes’ body match up with an IP address for an app called Snapitz — it’s basically Snapchat, as the show’s exposition lays out. Some other numbers match up with five Snapitz accounts that belong to known members of the reigning Irish mob, the O’Malleys.
Those accounts recently posted new photos of chess boards, and while it took Patterson’s team awhile to figure out the pattern, there’s a message in the photos. The decoded message lists a time and place: “Adams Park Wednesday Noon.” Because Nas always seems to know what’s happening in and around the city, she tells the team there’s an immigration reform rally being held at Adams Park in one hour. What fortuitous (or terrible, depending on how you look at it) timing!
The team makes it to the rally on time, but they can’t stop the shooter because they can’t see him. With his camera, he blends into the crowd and he shoots a senator and two bystanders before fleeing. “Condone Untidiest Thefts” is off and running.
NEXT: Focus on the future[pagebreak]
Luckily, Jane and Weller manage to take the shooter down. Back at the FBI headquarters, he’s identified as Michael Herskope, a known associate of the O’Malleys. His target? Senator Quinn Donahue, perhaps better known as the cousin of Irish mob leader Patrick O’Malley. See, Quinn rose to the top in politics by locking up members of his family, so it makes sense that the hit would be out. But when the FBI tracks the gun back to Patrick O’Malley, that raises questions about how the mafia could get so sloppy.
So, they bring Patrick in for questioning, but he only agrees to talk to one cop: Allie Knight, Weller’s ex who’s also currently pregnant. Weller isn’t thrilled about Allie being involved with all this dangerous cop business, but he has no choice but to let her take the lead. She and Patrick go way back because she’s friends with someone in the family; one of the non-criminals mind you.
While Patrick and Weller have an alpha-male showdown — “This might be my favorite interrogation ever,” says Zapata — Allie gets Patrick to open up. He says he has cancer and only six months to live, and that the diagnosis was a wake-up call for him. He’s out of the family business now. So why was the gun tracked back to him, and who was targeting Senator Donahue? Patrick has the answers: He believes Donahue, who’s running for Governor, ordered the hit himself, because — surprise, surprise — he’s actually the head of the Irish mafia.
After Jane convinces Patrick that he’s being used and discarded by the O’Malleys, the team heads to his lawyer’s office to retrieve tapes as evidence against the mafia. That’s when “Condone Untidiest Thefts” really kicks into high gear. Before the team can get into the safe, Donahue’s men ambush the office, and Blindspot spends the rest of the episode staging a thrilling, elaborate shootout and escape. For once the action is made clear, perhaps because of the single location setting, and that makes it all the more exciting.
While Patrick, Jane, Nas, and Weller are dealing with a building full of armed gunman, Zapata is off trying to track down Reade. Earlier in the episode he decides to take a personal day, which is basically an excuse for him to confront Coach Jones outside a storefront, and then later he break into his home when he’s not there. What Reade finds is damning, and could be a devastating moment for the character: a hidden closet filled with videotapes, all of them boasting names and years for all of Jones’ victims. Reade finds a tape with his name on it. He hesitates, but eventually puts it into the VCR. But before we get to see what’s on the tape, the episode jumps back to the shootout.
After getting into the vault with the remote help of Patterson — it’s kind of her thing — and snagging the tapes, Jane, Allie, Patrick, and his lawyer get separated from Weller and Nas. What follows is a string of intense scenes that manage to elevate not only our heart rates, but also the quality of the episode in general. A lot happens in quick succession, and after a frantic stairwell shootout, Allie gets hit in the leg and begins bleeding out. That forces the team to retreat, but they only have so much time before Donahue’s men find them.
Hearing that Allie has been shot nearly sends Weller into a blind rage, but Nas manages to keep him steady. She makes a Molotov cocktail out of bleach and the two use it to escape, and they make their way to the room where Allie and Jane are. They’re safe, all because Patrick, in a final moment of moral clarity, sacrifices himself to keep them safe and the evidence in the hands of the FBI.
With Senator Donahue arrested, and Weller giving his thanks to Jane for saving Allie and therefore continuing their complicated love/hate/save-my-life relationship, all that’s left to dissect from this episode is Sandstorm.
Seriously, what are they up to? While the beginning of the episode suggests that Shepherd is getting more comfortable with Jane, the end of the episode proves that not everything is as it seems. In fact, Shepherd is worried that Jane is remembering too much. More specifically, she and Roman seem worried about her memory of being rescued after the Orion attack in Afghanistan. What don’t we know about that attack, and about how Jane found her way back to Sandstorm?
Did I say that was all that’s left to dissect? I lied, because “Condone Untidiest Thefts” ends on a gigantic cliffhanger. Zapata manages to finally find Reade by using a GPS signal to track him to Jones’ home. When she walks in, she finds Reade standing over Jones’ dead body, blood still pooling on the floor. Then, the credits roll. That leaves quite a few questions for next week, but there’s no way Reade killed Jones. Right?