“Droll Autumn, Unmutual Lord” begins with a familiar feeling. Roman is laying on his side, clearly in anguish, his mind continually running through a single memory. He’s in the orphanage, locked in a room, and unable to free himself unless he’s willing to kill his rabbit. It’s not only a familiar scene — we’ve seen part of it from Jane’s perspective before — we’ve also been through these narrative beats with her. Early on this season, it looked like the whole mind-wiping thing was pretty firmly in the past, as Jane came to (mostly) understand who she is. Now the show’s doing it again with Roman, and I’m not yet convinced that’s a particularly exciting direction.
In fact, after last week’s blistering return to the TV schedule, this week’s Blindspot feels rather dull by comparison. Yes, I know “dull” is a strange way to describe an episode that’s built around a terrorist attack involving explosive basketballs, but stay with me here. What’s dull about the episode is it feels so removed from the overarching story of the season — how the team will stop Sandstorm and how Phase 2 might play out if they can’t. There’s genuine intrigue in that, so the case-of-the-week episodes often end up feeling flat.
Things get off to a good start when we see a few criminals — they’re wearing wool toques so you know they’re European criminals — arrive at a dock in Red Hook inside a shipping container. It’s unclear who these people are and what they want, which is exactly how you want to start your show. It builds some mystery right off the bat. So, after Nas again fails to meet with her potentially burned source and Weller misses the first of probably many important baby-related appointments, everybody is back at the headquarters trying to figure out what to do about Roman when Patterson makes a connection between two of Jane’s tattoos and the shipping container.
After unscrambling some security cameras like a total boss, Patterson runs a face scan and determines one of the men in the shipping container is Anton Stepulov, a member of a terrorist organization the team has encountered in the past. As for the much younger man, who looks roughly like a teenager, the team still has no idea who he is. What do they know? Well, after some digging, they find traces of nitroglycerin in the shipping container and learn a woman named Arlene Turner recently received a $250,000 transfer from Stepulov. Thus, the team assumes she’s been paid to perhaps plant a bomb somewhere in the city.
When they bring Arlene in for questioning, it’s immediately clear she’s no threat. Rather, the terrorists have duped her using her brother Paul, who was in a hospital on his death bed, as a means of giving her money in the form of “life insurance.” The problem? Arlene never saw a body, leaving Weller to believe the terrorists will be using Paul as a suicide bomber.
After Patterson manages to track down the car carrying Stepulov and, presumably, Paul — seriously, what can’t this woman do? And only days after getting shot by her boyfriend, who was secretly a Sandstorm mole! — the team ambushes the vehicle before it can hit the BQE. What seems like an easy capture gets a lot more complicated when Keaton, the CIA officer who tortured Jane, gets out of the van with Stepulov. He tells the FBI Stepulov is a guest of the CIA, that he’s brought his son here for a complex heart transplant in exchange for valuable information on potential terrorist attacks … including the one that’s happening that evening. Keaton may be a heartless prick, but he’s telling the truth.
NEXT: This city will feel my pain