Blindspot recap: 'Draw O Caesar, Erase a Coward'
The team splits up to investigate a mysterious shipment from a dark web courier
After weeks of Blindspot stringing together one solid episode after another, “Draw O Caesar, Erase a Coward” is a huge stumbling block. The episode, which does little to forward the Sandstorm story as the season gets closer to its end, is almost entirely self contained, and while Blindspot has pulled off plenty of case-of-the-week stories in the past, this one mostly falls flat. Why? Let’s recap.
The episode starts off well enough, with Roman and Weller sparring with each other in the hopes that the same training regimen Jane used will work to dislodge some memories for Roman. Apparently he’s a tough nut to crack, though, and he still doesn’t remember anything outside of killing Taylor Shaw’s mother, which Weller still doesn’t know about. That’s a Chekhov’s gun for later.
After Weller tells Jane to be careful while getting close to Oliver because, as Borden proved, you never know who someone really is, the team comes together for another tattoo case. “The team,” this time, doesn’t include Reade, who’s still sleeping off his new habit of late nights filled with coke and one-night stands.
Anyway, Patterson, with the help of Rich Dotcom, has cracked another tattoo: the outline of a Continental coin, minted in 1776. Rich recognizes it as a symbol used by a dark web courier going by the name of Lelantos, which leads Patterson to do some digging and draw a connection between Lelantos in Greek mythology and the goddess Aura, also tattooed on Jane’s body.
Long story short — or, as Weller says, “let’s skip to the end” — the tattoos point to three separate mysteries. There’s a prisoner named Marc Gelman (played by Broadway’s own Hamilton, Javier Muñoz), a place called the Inner Care Medi Spa, and a final puzzle on Jane’s body. Patterson isn’t sure how these three things connect — “It’s all Greek to me!” she says, making my heart grow three sizes — so Weller decides to split up the team and see what they can come up with. Meanwhile, Nas is waiting on details for a meet after her Sandstorm contact gives her a call.
In a highly controversial move, Weller decides it’s time to bring Roman into the field. His justification is that all of Jane’s breakthroughs came in the field, and the team is running out of time to catch Shepherd and put her away for good. While Weller prepares Roman for the mission — Weller will be posing as a patient at the spa, with Roman as his personal security — Jane and Zapata question Gelman about his ties to Lelantos.
This is where things get messy. “Draw O Caesar, Erase a Coward” attempts to bring something different to the table by employing a unique storytelling structure: Every scene overlaps with another as the episode attempts to interweave the three separate investigations by jumping back and forth in time. Unfortunately, the effect is more disorienting than illuminating. There’s nothing wrong with a procedural taking a chance and trying to tell a story in a new way, but this week’s approach feels more like unnecessary showmanship that doesn’t enhance the story.
NEXT: Out of line, but nice work
After Gelman pleads ignorance despite millions being found in offshore accounts, Jane and Zapata head out to investigate an auction house that they believe is connected to whatever Lelantos is moving through the dark web. They barely get inside the auction house and talk to the owner, Marjory Ellis, before engaging in a shoot-out. Clearly something is fishy here, as Marjory escapes.
Eventually, Patterson cracks the connection between the tattoos and determines that whatever Lelantos is shipping, it has ties to the Estevez Cartel. So she teams up with the late-to-work Reade — the two make quite the broken pair — to track down Pablo Gomez, a member of the cartel. The confrontation doesn’t go exactly as planned: Gomez nearly kills Reade before Patterson saves him.
The idea here, evident in the structure of the episode, is to draw connections and parallels between these pairs while also slowly revealing more about the tattoo case. Reade and Patterson are mirrored in their dealings with trauma; Jane and Zapata are mirrored in their worries about crafting a life outside of the FBI; and Weller and Roman are mirrored in their approach to the job, while the show also plays on the audience’s knowledge about Taylor Shaw’s mother. But this is too much to juggle in a single episode and far too much to pair with such a complex tattoo case. The chopped-and-screwed structure of the episode is meant to provide some clarity and sense of momentum, but it only exacerbates the episode’s problems. There are too many plot points, and too many seemingly relevant character moments, for anything to really stand out.
Things really go off the rails when Weller and Roman get into the Inner Care Medi Spa and discover that Lelantos is moving people around for black market organ transplants only moments before they’re ambushed by Marjory. Blindspot hurtles through its last few scenes. The whole team converges at a truck depot: Reade shoots Marjory and saves Zapata, the rest of the team rescues Weller and Roman, and everything seems to turn out just fine. The shipment of bodies is stopped, and everyone can go home happy. It’s an anti-climactic finish to a convoluted episode — one that, without the presence of Sandstorm, feels rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Of course, there are still the usual end-of-episode shenanigans. There’s some intrigue in the idea that Oliver changed his name 12 years ago — what might that mean for his relationship with Jane? — and Nas getting choked out in her car after a drop from her contact is a big cliffhanger. But it’s too little, too late. “Draw O Caesar, Erase a Coward” is a middle-of-the-road episode with a flashy storytelling structure that only serves to distract from an already convoluted case. Here’s hoping that the next episode gets the show back on track as the season gets closer to its conclusion.