Blindspot recap: 'Fix My Present Havoc'
Blindspot‘s third season got off to a great start, a shift in the timeline moved the characters in new directions, giving this season a fresh look while not exactly hitting the reset button. There was great promise in Jane boasting new tattoos and the reveal that Roman had a plan for them, plus Stuart’s murder added a compelling “it’s coming from inside the house” style of mystery on top.
For the last few episodes though, the show’s been struggling. It’s certainly been fitfully entertaining, but each case-of-the-week episode felt like a missed opportunity; everything that had been set up in the premiere was put on the backburner, only explored in bits and pieces within each episode. “Fix My Present Havoc” is the episode that changes that. It’s a thrilling, complex hour that finally gives the season’s biggest stories room to play out, and the result is the best episode of the season so far.
“Fix My Present Havoc” begins with one of the most heartbreaking and violent scenes in the show’s entire run. The episode takes us back to Stuart’s final days. He’s rocking his headphones in the lab and working on solving the molecule tattoo that eventually gets him killed. We’ve long known why he was killed, but the “who” has remained a mystery. Not any more. When he decodes part of the tattoo — the names of people who have owned van Gogh’s “Self Portrait” — Stuart remembers running into Hirst with a man nicknamed “van Gogh” because of his missing ear.
So, he texts her to give her a heads up, and she shows up at his apartment to see what he’s found. But she’s not there to secure the evidence. Instead, she pulls out a knife and slits Stuart’s throat. We know it’s coming, but it’s still incredibly shocking to see Hirst be so brutally violent. But now we know that she killed Stuart, and that makes the events in this episode, with the team desperately looking for evidence without tipping off their superior, all the more exciting.
Blindspot cuts from that scene to one of domestic bliss. Jane, Weller, and Allie sit around a Christmas tree while Allie and Weller’s daughter, Bethany, opens presents. It’s an early Christmas for Weller’s kid, since the visits from Colorado are so difficult to coordinate. This season has a spent a lot of time musing on the idea of parental responsibility when it comes to Jane and the daughter she only just found out about, so it’s nice to finally get another peek into Weller’s own adjustments as a father.
While the early Christmas is a nice moment of calm, it can’t last. Weller figures the team really only has the weekend to investigate Hirst; they can only strike the balance of investigating their boss and still going to work for so long. As always, another clue from Roman pops up at just the right moment, this time in the form of a gift sitting under the Christmas tree.
Inside the box are a few alphabet blocks. Patterson notes the specific letters, and since Roman’s clues always show up when the team needs a push in the right direction, she assumes they’re linked to the molecule tattoo and Stuart’s murder. Sure enough, the letters help her label the molecule itself, which is being used in a clinical trial to treat cancer patients. The trial is only taking place at one clinic, so that gives them a location. What’s strange though is that two lab workers involved in the trial have died in the last few months; one committed suicide and the other died in a car accident.
Knowing that they can’t go into the clinic and ask questions as FBI agents, Jane and Weller pose as auditors for the trial. When they question the lead physician, Dr. Palmeri, she denies knowing the girl who committed suicide despite the team being so small. When Weller and Jane leave, knowing that she’s hiding something, Palmeri calls someone named “Park” and says that somebody is on to them. But what exactly are their plans?
After getting another clue from Roman, Zapata and Reade break into the clinic’s server room and steal some data that should give them what they need. At the same time, Hirst calls Reade and schedules a weekend brunch date with him and Zapata.
Is she on to them? Does she just really like bagels and lox? (Recap continues on next page)
With the data from the server decrypted, the team determines that Palmeri has been moving patients around in the trial, putting some on the placebo and other on the drug despite the randomly generated positions. Patterson figures that Palmeri is accepting bribes, probably because she poured all of her money into a cure for the KTL virus, which she assumed would be the next global outbreak. It ended up affecting a whopping 19 people, strapping Palmeri with millions of dollars of debt.
Oh, but the twists and turns aren’t done there. When Weller and Jane go to question one of the patients from the trial, who’s seemingly healthy as can be after two years, the man’s husband comes into the room, and it’s our “van Gogh” from an earlier episode. They chase him, capture him, and bring him back to Weller and Jane’s apartment. The man is Eric Vance, formerly of the military, and he’s not giving up any information about his involvement in all of this. Weller knows he won’t give them anything because they’re not operating as FBI agents, but rather outside Hirst’s purview, which means they need to get him to cooperate as a witness against her instead.
This is where Allie comes back into play, and it’s nice to see her get an active role rather than just “Weller’s ex.” She brings the team the file on Vance, and it turns out that he spent a year working security detail for Hirst before she came to the FBI. Vance’s husband is still under the impression that he’s working for the military, meaning that Vance has been lying for some time, and likely doing Hirst’s bidding.
When the team questions him, he gives them some answers. He says that Hirst has leverage on Palmeri, and that he got Vance’s husband the drug as a way to gain leverage on him as well. So, when his husband started getting healthy, he had no choice but to comply with her demands. He refuses to tell them more though, scared that Hirst will come after him or kick his husband off the trial. Knowing what we know about Hirst from the opening scene, he’s not wrong.
With no substantial on-the-record evidence against Hirst, the team necessarily shifts their focus to Palmeri. They determine that Palmeri and her partner Park, another physician, are attempting to release the KTL virus, the one that never spread the way Palmeri assumed it would, in order to make money off the cure she could never sell. They track Palmeri’s money to the purchase of a warehouse, and find her secret lab their. The virus is gone though, meaning that Palmeri and Park are set to release it at any moment.
While Zapata and Reade brunch with Hirst, and she tells Reade that he needs to remove Zapata from the team, Weller, Jane, and Allie hurry to the Boulder Lake Treatment Plant to stop Palmeri and Park from spreading the virus via the water system that feeds into Manhattan. It’s a tense scene, with Weller going after Palmeri while Allie and Jane get Patterson to help them reactivate a failsafe that will stop the infected water from flowing. Of course, the attack is stopped, and the episode can shift its focus back to the more rewarding story of trying to get evidence on Hirst.
For a while, it looks like the team is going to be able to do it. When the team arrests Palmeri, therefore removing her from the trial, Vance has no reason to hide anything. He tells the team all about Hirst’s assignments. He says they started out as simple blackmail, but quickly escalated into beating people up, intimidating them, and then eventually needing him to cover up Stuart’s murder. The team finally learns the truth: that their boss killed Stuart, all on her own.
Allie organizes a safe house for Vance, and it looks like a win for the good guys. But that win is tinged with sadness. Vance loses his husband, who’s angry about what he did to assure he stayed on the trial. Weller asks him if he’d change what he did, lying about Hirst and everything else. He says he wouldn’t, that after everything his husband had been through he didn’t need to carry more pain and anguish.
Weller muses on those words, and the ones from Allie. She says that “shielding someone from the truth isn’t heroic, it’s just dishonest.” Conflicting ideas about one’s responsibility to the people they love, which means Weller is no closer to knowing whether to tell Jane about Berlin and her daughter. Jane could find out on her own though, as she’s seen putting in a call to a former colleague, asking for information about her daughter.
Perhaps that secret is the least of their worries though, because just as it looks like the team has everything they need to nail Hirst, everything goes wrong. A sniper shoots Vance through the window of his safe house. Weller calls everyone on the team and tells them the news. More importantly, he says that Hirst likely knows everything. In the episode’s final shot, Hirst walks into Reade’s office just as he gets off the phone.
Finally, Blindspot‘s cat-and-mouse game is in full swing.