Blindspot premiere recap: 'Back to the Grind'
The team reunites to solve a whole new set of tattoo clues
In Entertainment Weekly‘s own interview with Martin Gero, the Blindspot producer said that season 3 would represent a “soft reset” for the show. That makes a lot of sense when you consider how last season ended. Sandstorm had been stopped, the FBI was in a good place, and for the most part life was normal for our main characters. Some sort of reset was bound to happen; you have to create new conflict somehow.
That “soft reset” began in the final moments of the finale. We watched as Jane scaled a cliff in an unknown location. She then sat alone in a tent, only to be visited by Weller. They embraced as if they haven’t seen each other in ages. That tenderness could only last so long though, as Weller arrived with a purpose. The two unlocked a biometric lock box and used the key inside to illuminate a new set of tattoos on Jane’s body. Where did the tattoos come from? Who put them there? Why were Jane and Weller apart? And what’s all this about the rest of the team being kidnapped?
Those are the questions the finale left us with, and the first portion of the season premiere focuses on filling in all the details. The episode opens with an atypical montage that comes across like a rom-com. The sun is shining and flowers are blooming on the day Jane and Weller are getting married. We watch them say their vows. We watch as they dance the night away with Zapata, Reed, and Patterson. Everybody is happy.
Then, Jane and Weller pack up and leave for Colorado so that Weller can be close to his daughter. Everybody is still happy, but clearly things are changing. It’s jarring to see this non-FBI life unfolding. Nonetheless, Jane and Weller are content. Their home is coming together, and the two get to take care of Bethany often. Domestic bliss. That is, until their phones ring. Keaton warns them they’re about to get attacked, and then they’re, you know, attacked!
They might be out of practice, but the two take down quite a few men with guns and knives trying to kill them. The episode moves swiftly from that attack to the explanation. The FBI and Keaton show up the next morning. Keaton explains that Bertrand Keele, a Sandstorm loyalist who was pretty mad about the FBI stopping the terrorist organization, put a $10 million bounty on Jane’s head. Keele is dead now, but the bounty remains live, held in escrow by a Dark Web fixer who the CIA hasn’t been able to identify for years.
That means it’s time for some passports and a new life for Jane and Weller. Rather than leave together though, Jane takes off in the middle of the night on her own. She knows she can’t uproot Weller’s life again, so she sacrifices herself.
Flash forward to 18 months later and FBI Director Hurst is in Weller’s apartment, now on the verge of being sold so that he can continue to fund his search for Jane; globetrotting ain’t cheap. Hurst puts a stop to it though because there’s been a development, or rather two. 1) Reed, Zapata, and Patterson have been kidnapped, and 2) The FBI has been given a biometric box with Jane’s name on it, as well as a set of coordinates.
And now we’re back to that final scene from last season. Weller is in Jane’s tent, reunited, and suddenly everything makes more sense, to a certain extent. We still don’t know why the others were kidnapped, but it’s clear that somebody has plans for Jane and Weller. Jane determines that the new tattoos must have been put on her while she was unconscious after an accident a few days ago, meaning that somebody wants her alive and searching for clues. The first clue, from Dante’s Inferno, brings them to St. Mark’s Square in Italy, the place where Weller proposed.
More importantly though, it brings them to the person orchestrating all of this. As Jane and Weller dial a phone they find in a briefcase stashed on top of a clock tower, a familiar voice answers on the other end: Roman. He’s back for revenge, though his true motivations remain vague. Jane chases him through the streets, and Weller does his best to stay with him once Roman hops in a speedboat to get away, but he manages to escape. A new set of tattoos, a familiar foe, and suddenly season 3 is off and running. (Recap continues on next page)
Armed with a better sense of what they’re dealing with, Jane and Weller get to work. First things first, they need to get the bounty lifted. In the episode’s first cruel twist, they have to use Roman’s crazy plan in order to get it done. That plan? Injecting Jane with a chemical that will slow down her heart rate to make it look like she’s dead, then have Weller deliver her body to the drop-off location, snag the money, get the bounty lifted, and then inject Jane with the antidote. No problem!
In fact, Jane and Weller execute the plan without a hitch. In a fun action sequence, Jane rises from the (fake) dead to come out of her bag and help Weller beat down all the bad guys before emerging from the church doors while smoke billows behind them. They share a smile, knowing that what they just did was pretty bad-ass. I’m inclined to agree, and “Back to the Grind” is filled with these sorts of beautifully shot, wonderfully brutal fight scenes.
The next great fight scene comes when the episode flashes to wherever Zapata, Reed, and Patterson are being held. They’ve been given water and some vacuum-sealed meals usually reserved for troops, but no clue where they are or why they’re being held. Reed and Zapata set about blaming each other for their current situation — Zapata is mad they haven’t spoken for a year, and Reed is mad that she’s working for the CIA now — but Patterson quickly jumps in and, like the good parental figure she is, tells them that they’re just lashing out because they missed each other.
Then, an angry-looking army dude walks into their cage, wheeling a gigantic safe behind him. He tells them they need to break into it otherwise he’ll kill them. That’s easy enough for Patterson, so she gets it done. But then, when they find a CIA computer inside, things get complicated. Now the man wants Patterson to hack the computer, and despite her protests that she couldn’t do it even if given months, he gives her six hours. “Otherwise I kill your friends,” he says. Yeah, the season premiere wastes no time getting back to the high-stakes action.
Because she can’t hack the computer, Patterson comes up with another plan: to use the magnesium powder in the quick-heat meals to create a makeshift flashbang. The idea works, as the guards are blinded by the light while Zapata, Reed, and Patterson take them down and secure their weapons, all while the camera spins around the enclosure in slow motion. It’s another inspired sequence that keeps the breakneck pace going. As the three of them attempt to escape, Weller and Jane show up just in time to lend a hand. After learning from Keaton and Hurst that their friends are being held on a Venezuelan military base, they storm the compound. The best moment comes when Zapata, Reed, and Patterson are trapped between armed soldiers and a tank. They raise their hands, presuming they’re caught. Then the tank fires, killing the soldiers, and out pops Weller. “I’ll explain later,” he says as everyone hops in the tank and makes an escape, reunited at last.
All of this action is really just the start of the craziness in this premiere. There are plenty of jokes about how things have changed — Rich Dot Com is working with the FBI, Reed is heading the team, and Patterson, before the kidnapping, was working in California on some sort of app — but there are also plenty of twists. Just as it looks like “Back to the Grind” is going to simply be an action-packed episode that’s largely an excuse to get the team back together, Blindspot pulls the rug out from under us in the final scene.
When Reed decides that the CIA and FBI will form a joint task force to work the case of the new tattoos, Hurst reminds him that things have changed, and so he should be wary of his friends. The trust may not be there anymore. Her statement is a precursor to everything that’s laid out in the closing montage.
In essence, nothing is as it seems. Secrets are everywhere. Zapata shows Keaton a dragonfly tattoo scanned from Jane’s body, but says it won’t be a problem as long as the team doesn’t find out. What could that possibly mean? It turns out that Patterson and Rich Dot Com have been in contact these past 18 months. Why the secrecy, and what could be the reason for their contact? On top of all that, when Weller leaves to get some food for him and Jane, who are starting to rekindle their romance, Jane hides money and passports in the vents. And as if that wasn’t enough, Roman shows up as Weller leaves, points a gun at him in the street, and says that Weller’s going to help him or else he’ll tell Jane about “what happened in Berlin.”
The Blindspot season premiere may have started out by providing necessary answers, but it ends with a flurry of questions. Welcome back you ludicrous, ridiculously fun show.