'Jane's own allegiances are in play,' EP Martin Gero says

By Natalie Abrams
September 13, 2016 at 05:31 PM EDT
NBC
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If you thought being covered in tattoos and left in a bag in Times Square was bad, try being tortured for three months at a CIA black site. That’s where we find Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) when Blindspot returns for season 2.

To secure her freedom, Jane is forced to rejoin the FBI and act as a double agent within the mysterious organization that inked her. “Jane’s own allegiances are in play,” executive producer Martin Gero tells EW of the darker and emotionally heavy second season.

But not everyone is happy about working with Jane again, as Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and the team grapple with feelings of betrayal — made all the more complicated by the introduction of Nas Kamal (Archie Panjabi), the head of a secret division of the NSA that has been tracking the Jane Doe case from afar.

Can Jane trust the FBI? Or will going undercover push her back toward the organization — and unpredictable sociopath Roman (Luke Mitchell) — as they provide her with more info on her past with an eye toward achieving their terrifying plan. EW caught up with Gero for an in-depth look at season 2:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where does season 2 pick up?

MARTIN GERO: We’re picking up three months later. Jane’s been in a CIA black site and tortured for three months, so she’s not in a great headspace. Then likewise, Weller and the team, they’ve moved on. They’re back to just doing their regular cases of the week. They’re not pursuing the tattoos. We find out very quickly that they didn’t know that Jane was in a black site. The CIA swooped in and took custody. Certainly, that’s not what they wanted. As much as they were angry at her, no one wants anyone to be tortured. What it did for us is it allowed us to start the season on a somewhat equal ground. It’s not Jane apologizing for the first half of the season. She definitely has things to apologize about, but so do they. She’s been treated very poorly by the government. It just allows them to be a little more on equal footing.

How do you get back into the Jane Doe business? I can’t imagine that they’re going to trust her.

Well, they’re not. Jane’s own allegiances are in play basically for the first part of the season. If the first season was about Jane Doe being a Trojan horse inside the FBI, the second season is about her being a double agent inside of her own organization. She’s less happy with them than she is with us. She goes undercover, but then of course the people she meets there really draws into question her ability to think clearly about anything.

What can you tell us about the organization?

They feel like America is totally broken. They feel like it’s not a government for the people of the people anymore. They echo a lot of the sentiments that I think a lot of people are feeling right now about the country. The only thing is, they’re homicidal maniacs. The ways that they want to fix that are pretty scary and brutal. Where we’re just like, “Get out and vote!” and they’re not about getting out to vote. They have bigger plans in mind.

If Jane did this to herself, what kind of relationship does she have with the mysterious Shepherd?

Shepherd is the leader of this group that Jane’s going undercover with and Jane was obviously a very favored member of that organization. So they’re very close.

Oscar would manipulate Jane by calling her Taylor. Now that that card has been played, how can this group control her?

First and foremost, they are going to try to reengage her and remind her what they have that Oscar was unwilling to give her for a lot of reasons because of the Taylor Shaw of it all. But, secondly, when you start realizing, “I know I’m not Taylor Shaw. Who am I?” they’re able to be like, “This is your story. This is who you are and this is why you did this very extreme thing. This is what our plan is.” Obviously, they’re not going to give it to her right away and they don’t trust her right away. They’re worried about her right away, but they’re going to give her huge pieces of the puzzle that make her feel like, “I don’t agree with their methods but they have a point. Things are pretty f—ed up.”

It’s been mentioned that Shepherd brought Jane back to life and that the government betrayed Jane. What more can you tease about that? Will you show exactly how they betrayed her?

Oh, yeah. Episode 2.

Let’s get into the Roman of it all. What can you tease of his dynamic with Jane? He’s known her since they were kids, but she doesn’t have any idea who he is.

They’ve known each other for a very long time. They’re very similar. In a lot of ways, Roman is the closest thing to what Jane was like before the memory wipe. So it’s in certain plays inspiring, in certain plays terrifying, and it brings her in touch with who she was, if that makes any sense.

I hear Roman doesn’t have much restraint.

Well, Jane doesn’t have much restraint either. I mean Jane has a morality to her that makes her stop from doing bad things, but they are both very instinctual fighters. They’re happy to get into it at the drop of a hat.

You’ve already revealed that we’ll learn Jane’s name and more about her motivations of why she joined this organization right at the top of the season. What’s driving the mystery after that?

Every answer sparks 11 new questions, so, for us, I don’t want to get too specific about thematically what the year is about, because obviously it’ll give things away that I think we want to keep at least for the first couple episodes. But certainly there’s a ticking clock to this season as you feel like this organization that she belonged to is on the verge of being able to execute this terrifying plan. So it’s trying to find out what is this plan, what are they doing, how do they plan to do it, and how can we stop them? Also, why Weller? Was it just Taylor Shaw? Was it more than that? A lot of questions come up. It’s kind of liberating, too, for Jane to be able to talk to the team openly about what’s going on in her life. We haven’t had that since episode 9. There’s certainly additional mysteries that are going on, but we have them be at an all-time high communication-wise, even though the trust might not be there.

In the finale, Oscar said having Mayfair arrested was Phase 1 of their plan, though at Comic-Con you said Phase 2 was the final phase. Can you talk about the facets of Phase 2 and how it ups the stakes in season 2?

You want to be slightly ahead of where people expect you to be. People would expect a show in its second season to not be like, “The end game is this season!” They’re trying to do their end game plan this season. For me, every season of the show should feel like a separate novel in a series of books you like. What that allows us to do is have really satisfying endings without the show ending. Where the show goes after season 2, we’re very, very excited about. We have a very good idea for season 3. I think you have to continually reinvent these things.

Cable shows are burning through story [in] 10, 12, 13 episodes, sometimes eight episodes a year. So when we’re doing 22, that’s the pace that people are used to when they’re watching storytelling now. For us to sit back and give them the same amount of story over 22 episodes, the show would just feel not relevant anymore. For as fast as story goes now, it’s almost like four seasons of television that you have to break into these two seasons. That’s something we’re very cognizant of, as TV lovers and TV viewers, and we just want to keep with the pace.

In the first season, much like Jane, the audience didn’t really know what was going on. As you start revealing a lot of these mysteries, is the audience going to get ahead of her?

I don’t think you’ll get ahead of Jane or Weller. What’s so great about those characters is you subjectively are in their point of view. Even though she’s finding out all this information about herself, you’re finding out about it at the same time. You’ll never know something Jane doesn’t know. We are cutting to the bad guys a little more this year, because we have such compelling bad guys that can carry the screen on their own. They’ll give you little slivers of what’s going on behind the scenes, but never in a way where you’re going to be like, “Why doesn’t Jane know this?” It’s a delicate balance, because if the audience knows more than the main characters — even if they realize there’s no way for those characters to know that — you can’t help but feel like these guys are stupid. “I know that. How do they not know that?” It’s a delicate tight rope you have to walk.

Now that the team has Mayfair’s files, is everybody in the know now?

They’re all in it together. The other thing, too, is they’re trying to share information. They’re not keeping things from Jane and Jane’s not keeping things from them, so they at least have all of the pieces of the pie.

As for those files, you said we’re going to learn about Orion, and we know what Daylight is for the most part. 

No, you do.

But then there’s that other random file.

M7G677. That’ll play out the beginning part of the season. It’s a file folder with something inside of it. It’s a bit of a black hole and I’ll leave it at that.

How does the team feel about working with Jane again?

If we’re grading on a curve, it probably goes, oddly enough, Weller, Reade, Patterson, Zapata. Weller doesn’t trust her, but he trusts her the most. Zapata is the least, at least when we start the season.

What’s going on for the team personally this season? Let’s start with Patterson.

Certainly it’s about her trying to find a little work-life balance, which is difficult on a show like ours that has a lot of stuff going on. She will continue her flirtation with Borden a little bit and we’ll see where that goes. They have some nice chemistry those two. Also, her and Archie’s character lock horns a little bit, because Nas is from the NSA. They have an enormous amount of computing power behind them that Patterson would love to have access to and is frustrated by how much they know and aren’t sharing with the rest of the intelligence community. They have a great little arc about becoming allies and friends.

What can you tease about Nas?

What’s so great about her is she just brings such a different energy. For me, it’s not about reinventing the show. Anything we’re doing is about augmenting and not transforming. Bringing someone like that in, who does not have baggage with either Weller or Jane, who knows a lot about the situation already and doesn’t need to be brought up to speed on everything, she’s almost like Switzerland a little bit. She’s able to be neutral in situations, but then what’s surprising about her is she’s very on a mission. She really wants to take down this organization and is willing to do just about anything. In a way, that surprises Weller and surprises Jane. She realizes more than any of them that, whether America knows it or not, they’re at war with this organization.

The NSA has known what’s been happening this whole time, but didn’t step in. Are you going to get into the reason why they stayed back?

Her organization doesn’t exist, so it’s not something where they can be like, “Just so you know.” The NSA’s whole hit is they don’t like to get in the fray. They like to watch from the side. The only reason they’ve come forward is they really feel like they have an opportunity here that they can’t pass up.

To read more from our Fall TV Preview, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here – and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

What’s going on with Zapata this year?

Zapata doesn’t trust Jane. She’s angry that they have to work with her. It takes her a lot to get there and slowly they all see that this is for the greater good. Then, her and Reade, it’s tough because they have a great arc together this season. Audrey and Rob are not like their characters, but they’re very, very close and very protective of each other. They have a very sibling-ish relationship off camera that I think we really capture on camera for the first time. We have a great story for Rob and Audrey this year that I can’t get into too much, but it’s very emotional and it’s a mystery within a mystery show. There’s a lot of stuff going on between them.

How does Reade feel about Jane?

Reade says early on when Zapata is kind of being odd about it, he realizes that Jane is a pawn. She was a pawn for this organization and now, in many ways, she’s a pawn for the FBI and pawns typically get sacrificed. So he almost feels bad for her.

Weller is the new head of the NYO. What’s that balance like for him when it comes to Jane?

He’s got a very complicated relationship with Jane. It was someone that he felt very deeply for when he thought she was Taylor, but beyond that they had a romantic connection that was pretty serious for both of them. They’re both pretty broken people, so any light in their lives means that much more. It’s difficult for him. He’s really angry at her, but they can’t help but share this connection. There’s something between them that is hard to deny, regardless of how furious they are at each other. Those scenes, especially in the first three or four episodes, are so charged. It’s really satisfying to watch these two be with each other.

What kind of guilt is Jane feeling, especially in the wake of Mayfair’s death?

She feels terrible. She was doing this because they threatened her, they threatened the team. She was promised no one would get hurt. She thought the mission seemed inconsequential, and then when it all came together, she was totally horrified. To have Mayfair be slain in front of her, one of the reasons that that was so important to do was, for Jane, there’s no going back in; she can never trust this organization again. The brutality of that was she chose sides that day in a pretty definite way. Now, she’s been tortured for three months by the same government she was about to side with. There is definitely some residual anger there.

Jane made it look like Cade was to blame for Oscar’s death. Will we see Cade again this season?

That’s a legit iffy. Tom [Lipinski]’s an amazing actor and just a great on set presence. We’d love to have him back. It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the story. We honestly don’t have that solid yet. Cade plays a huge part in the show off camera. He’s a very important character to the show still. It’s just a question of whether we, as storytellers, need him to actually physically show up.

The first season tattoo cases-of-the-week were to basically give Weller a ton of wins. How does that change in the second season as to what they’re actually solving?

She’s going undercover so it has to look like everything is normal, so they’ll continue to do the tattoo cases. Also, they realize that if you start looking at the tattoo cases from a macro level, there’s actually intelligence to be gleaned from there as to where this organization got that information, and potentially could lead to a hint as to who is involved.

Could there be somebody within the FBI involved? The organization was able to break in and change Jane’s DNA, so could there be another mole?

There could definitely be another mole. I think it’s a very exciting season this year.

Will we see more of Jane’s memories coming back as well?

A ton more. Yeah. Not just childhood, all sorts of memories. We’re doing something this year where she’s being told something, and even if she doesn’t remember it, we are going to show it. It won’t be a black-and-white Jane memory flashback, but we’re able to do some things this year that you’ll be getting huge pieces of her story this season.

Blindspot’s second season kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. ET, before moving to its regular timeslot on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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