Blindspot recap: 'Hot Burning Flames'
Blindspot only took a few weeks off over the holidays, and we probably all need to thank the show for that. None of us could have handled a month or two of sitting with the words Weller spoke to Jane at the end of the midseason finale: “You won’t find her, Jane, because I killed your daughter.” Yeah, that was a big one. Blindspot knows it too, and uses our hunger for answers against us, refusing to check in with the aftermath of that reveal until a solid 15 minutes into the episode. That’s just plain cruel, but also wonderfully manipulative.
Instead, we begin with one of Blindspot‘s signature cold opens. A masked man records himself breaking into some sort of warehouse. He talks as if he’s an activist of some kind, spray-painting a symbol on the warehouse door and excitedly going on about how that will “show them,” though the “them” is a mystery at this point. Then, when the masked man is finally in the warehouse, his partner knocks him out and the live stream ends. The midseason finale ended with a betrayal, and “Hot Burning Flames” begins with one.
Back at the FBI headquarters, Patterson has found a connection between all the tattoo cases: Hank Crawford, a.k.a. Blake’s father and, as we know, the man who was ordering Hirst to do everything she did. He has ties to a number of the tattoo cases, but the evidence is tenuous at best. Still, it’s something for Reade and everyone else to go on, though later they’ll disagree on how best to go after Crawford.
Meanwhile, Roman is in Marrakesh auditioning for his own job with Crawford. He meets a man named Victor, who seems close to Crawford, who immediately tells him to go back home, that he’s not needed for this job. Roman improvises though, quickly using his powers of observation to convince Victor that he’ll be useful, no matter what the job is. It turns out to be a simple buy, but of course it all goes wrong and Roman is put through more than he bargained for. It’s a subplot that doesn’t have much bearing on this week’s episode, but it does get Roman closer to Crawford, and therefore closer to whatever his endgame might be.
As usual, we learn a lot more about that mysterious robbery from the cold open when Patterson uses some fancy technology to shift around the spray painted symbol and discovers it’s the calling card for an activist group named Blue Dawn. Patterson is visibly upset that Reade realizes it’s a slide puzzle before she does — which ends up giving them numbers for a URL. Patterson tracks where the video was uploaded from, and Reade and Zapata go check it out. Another government agency is already there, but it’s clear they’re completely incompetent. It turns out that this is a warehouse where the Department of Energy stores some nuclear warheads. The agency says that all the inventory is there, and yet Reade notices a few locks have been changed. That’s right, nobody actually looked inside the boxes to see what might be missing.
So yeah, two nukes are gone, and that’s really not a good thing. What’s worse is that nobody can get a hold of Jane and Weller, the FBI’s go-to people in a crisis.
Flashback to nine hours earlier, and we finally get to watch the wrenching aftermath of Weller telling Jane that he killed her daughter. Jane is confused at first, and then she demands to know everything. Weller says it was an accident, that he met Avery in Berlin, where they quickly got a lead on Jane meeting with a man named Max, who Jane confirms is a German gangster who helped her obtain some passports to get out of the country covertly. When Weller went to confront Max, his people were seemingly waiting for him. Weller fought back and a shootout ensued. That’s when Avery, despite Weller’s instructions, walked into the building and Weller pulled the trigger, not knowing that the silhouette behind the plastic curtain was Avery and not a German gangster.
With Avery (seemingly) dead and the Germans coming for him, he had to leave. It’s a choice that Jane can’t live with. She’s devastated, and you can see their relationship falling apart in this moment. I’m still not sure how I feel about the show using a secret daughter to suddenly drive a wedge between Weller and Jane — it feels a little too hasty — but there’s no denying that Sullivan Stapleton and Jaimie Alexander sell the hell out of the calamitous emotions that define this scene. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch unfold. (Recap continues on next page)
It doesn’t take long for the team to find a lead on the nukes. They figure out who’s behind the live stream: someone named Adam Taylor who works for the DOE. They take him into custody but he immediately lays out the truth: He was only doing what he was told by some woman who kidnapped his kid and threatened to kill him if he didn’t comply.
When Keaton shows up at the FBI, and clashes with Reade about how best to approach the Crawford situation — Reade wants to take him down immediately for something small, whereas Keaton wants to play the long game — he helps out with the nuke case. He recognizes the unique piercings on the neck of the woman from the live stream. Her name is Lana, and she’s the sister of Anton, former leader of the Dabbur Zann terrorist group that, in a previous episode, tried to blow up the city. It would seem Lana is trying to take his place.
Tracking Lana won’t be easy, because the only way to do so is to get her to arm the nukes. They’re only traceable when they’re armed. So they have Adam call Lana in an attempt to both track her call and get the nukes armed. It’s a dangerous plan, but seemingly the only option. When they get the location, the team splits up. Jane goes with Zapata and Weller heads out with Reade. This gives the feuding couple an opportunity to open up about what’s going on. Reade and Zapata are understandably speechless. It’s hard to come up with a response to the soap opera-like reveal of Weller killing Jane’s daughter. *Cue Days of Our Lives music*
Anyway, when the team gets to the compound where Adam’s son is being held, Jane makes an impulsive decision, storming the room without backup. She gets shot in the back, and the rest of the team has to come to her rescue. Jane saw a child in peril and she let her emotions get the best of her, and the team continues to crack. The good news is that they save Adam’s son, but the nukes aren’t there, and probably never were. In fact, Lana is watching everything unfold from a surveillance camera, preparing to execute her plan.
Lana calls Reade when he’s back at the FBI headquarters. She has demands: She wants American troops pulled out of Turkey, and she wants her brother Anton released. When the call is over, Reade proposes making a big show of releasing Anton and putting him on a plane as a way to lure Lana out, but Keaton sees one problem with that: Anton is dead. His heart apparently failed during an “interrogation” in a secret CIA prison.
They decide to fake it anyway, but Lana is one step ahead of them. When they tell her they’ll let her brother go, she calls their bluff. She knows Anton is dead, and now she’s going to punish the team for lying. She fires a nuke and blows up an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. It’s a warning shot, and she says the next one will level New York.
While Roman makes his mark on Crawford’s mysterious business by retrieving a valuable coin for him, the FBI team searches for cargo planes that Lana could be using to get outside the blast radius of her planned nuclear strike. They find a particular hangar that Patterson is 91 percent sure is the one Lana will use and quickly raid the premises. What follows is a scene that has to be included in the Top Five Most Insane Scenes the show has ever pulled off.
Why? Because when Lana arms the nuke, Weller shoots her and she falls out of the plane. The only way to disarm the nuke is by putting a code into the remote attached to her vest, which means Weller has to jump out of the plane and catch up to her plummeting body. It’s bonkers, but it works so well. It’s the kind of ludicrous scene that Blindspot executes with ease. Sure enough, Weller saves the day, and millions of lives.
Of course, there’s one thing he can’t save: his relationship with Jane. She leaves him as the episode ends, unable to look at him without thinking of the daughter she never met, and will never get to meet.
Or so she thinks. In typical Blindspot fashion, it’s revealed that Avery isn’t dead at all. In fact, she’s being held prisoner in Germany, presumably by that Max guy Jane mentioned. It looks like Jane and Weller will need each other again, and sooner rather than later.