Fresh off a renewal for a fourth season, Blindspot‘s penultimate season three episode begins with a flashback, reminding us that there’s always a backstory to fill in, or other storytelling options to explore. The show’s come a long way from being a procedural based around Jane’s memories, growing into a true ensemble crime drama, complete with dashed romantic hopes, secret kids, hackers with hearts of gold, and more! At the outset of “Defection,” we see Roman and Jane as children, playing a game at their kitchen table while their adoptive mother/future terrorist Shepherd watches.
It isn’t long before the scene of domestic playfulness descends into something darker. Shepherd is a lot of things, but a caring mother isn’t one of them. She’s pitted Roman and Jane against each other; whoever loses each round of the game gets another chore added to their list. Roman can’t compete with Jane, so she throws one game to try to even things out and boost his confidence. It works, and Roman can barely contain his pride, but Shepherd is having none of it. She gives all the chores to Jane and chastises her for being soft.
That flashback informs the present day, as Roman and Jane are caught in a war that, at least at the beginning of this episode, has no end in sight. There was once hope for the two, as Jane took her brother under her wing and tried to guide him down a path that would allow him to be free of their toxic upbringing. He’s fully committed himself to the other side though, and Jane knows that. This only ends with his death, a final act of disconnection between a brother and sister who have been at odds for a long time.
For now, the FBI team needs to focus not on Roman, but on the security codes that Lynette, Avery’s godmother, gave to Crawford. The team believes those security codes will be used to make an important target vulnerable, and Patterson’s digging confirms that the company, Franklin Dorfman Security, boasts a lot of clients in the city. There’s no way to know where Crawford might be attacking though. All they know is that the codes need to be used in the next 24 hours.
Eventually, after Reade forgives Zapata for her emotional intrusion in his relationship with Meg, setting the stage for the hot and steamy reconciliation we’ve all been waiting for — don’t lie, you have been! — Patterson and Rich determine that one of the buildings the security company handles has been broken into. It’s a warehouse that manufactures cleaning supplies for farms, which really sounds like a place you’d rob if you were doing some shady bomb-making stuff.
Based on the chemical that was stolen, nerd twins Patterson and Rich figure out that Crawford is likely planning to take two rather innocuous chemicals and mix them together to create a massive bomb. With one chemical is stolen, all that’s left is to snag the other, which has a super long, science-y name that we’ll just shorten to MMH. The problem is, there’s no way to know where Roman or his team might be going to secure the MMH. Jane remembers that this was part of a plan Roman designed years ago for a separate operation, but she can’t recall the details.
There’s only one person who would remember: Shepherd. So, the FBI organizes with Keaton and the CIA to have her transferred to their interrogation room, and Weller starts to question her. He doesn’t get far though; she says she’ll reveal Roman’s intended location, but will only do so to Jane. It’s not exactly the family reunion Jane wants, and the whole team is hesitant about letting her into that room with her manipulative mother, but there’s no other choice.
What follows is one of the more important scenes of the season, and one that has implications beyond season three. It’s a scene that finally gives Jane the closure that she needs when it comes to Shepherd. She watches as her mother stumbles through an apology, complete with crocodile tears, before affirming that she’s not Remi anymore, and that her connection with her mother and brother is a thing of the past. Jane is a new person, and she has a new life and new family, and she’s going to protect that no matter what.
Shepherd gives up the location where Roman could be stealing MMH, a place called Little Sky Storage that mostly stores harmful materials for the military. It’s the information they needed, but it’s too late. They were already robbed, a few security guards ended up dead, and now the chemicals are en route to whatever the target is. By tracking an office supplies truck in the area that a witness spotted, the team determines the target: the United Nations. At the same time, Roman and Blake are scouting out a hotel across the street, one meant for a ball that Blake is throwing, but that will also serve Roman’s nefarious purposes.
The FBI heads to the United Nations and immediately starts evacuating the building. While Rich and Patterson dig up that Lynette’s wife once worked for Franklin Dorfman Security, the team on the ground tries to find the bomb, learning that the office supplies truck already made its delivery. Reade and Zapata find the bomb in the basement, the chemicals hidden inside a copier. They extract the chemicals and the bomb is officially disarmed.
It’s a win for the team, but Patterson doesn’t feel right about it. She says it was way too easy, especially considering how much Roman loves to deliver threats in complex puzzles. She goes back to Lynette with the leverage of charges against her wife, which forces Lynette to reveal that Crawford has some sort of plan relating to a pipeline. Patterson and Rich look into the land that Crawford purchased, and determine that he’s planning on assassinating the leaders of two African countries — both are fictional, but the name of one, Kambezi, was often used in episode’s of MacGyver, so there’s your fun fact for the day — forcing the pipeline company to reroute through his land. That means big money for Crawford.
It also means that the U.N. wasn’t the target, and that the bomb was used to get the two leaders out of the building. Jane and Weller find them and take them to a U.N. safe house, but that’s exactly what Roman wants. Moments later he’s storming the hotel with his men, all dressed like Secret Service agents, making it impossible to tell who’s on the FBI’s side and who’s trying to kill them.
Jane wins this round though, just like she did when she and Roman were kids. Her and Weller, and the two leaders, escape through a construction chute and get back to the FBI headquarters with enough information to finally arrest Crawford.
If they can find him, that is. They don’t really have a lead, and the end of the episode is all about setting the stage for next week’s finale. Zapata is fired after taking the phone of one of the leaders, as the CIA and Keaton throw her under the bus despite the theft being their directive. The whole team begs her to come back to the FBI, but she isn’t sure.
The promise of losing Zapata sends Reade to her locker, and he finally kisses her. It’s all too much at once for her though, and she leaves the locker room, only to show up at Reade’s apartment later that night, agreeing to not think about this for once and just do what feels right. While the two of them, um, “reconcile,” Patterson, Jane, and Weller notice that the tattoo database is suddenly back to normal, Roman’s false hits no longer there. All that’s left is a video, with Roman telling Jane that he’s ready to play one more game, like the Saw-inspired villain he is. It’s all come down to Roman and Jane, the way it was destined to ever since they were kids.