Last week’s episode of Blindspot is one of the best in the entire series’ run. It was fun and action-packed and super smart when it comes to storytelling. It was everything this show can be: a great ensemble drama, a captivating procedural, and a high-stakes action thriller. In some ways, “Sous-Vide” looks to replicate the feel and success of that episode. It’s also fairly self-contained, with last week’s subway attack traded out for a chemical attack on the FBI. It also features Rich and Patterson is significant roles. So it’s with absolutely no pleasure that I have to say this week’s episode is not only nowhere near the quality of “The Quantico Affair,” it’s a downright annoying and ridiculous episode.
Things begin in Amsterdam, where Zapata is sprinting down the street while a man chases her. She steps into an alley and manages to evade him. Later, we learn this was all part of an operation gone wrong. She was supposed to steal some files for Madeline Burke, but “complications” arose. Burke’s apparently sick of Zapata’s ineffectiveness—wasn’t she just over the moon with her performance?—because she brings in somebody else to do the hard work. Burke puts Zapata on the sidelines and promotes newbie Claudia, who immediately gets to their next task: getting information about Reade so they can torture him and get him to give up FBI information.
That’s a subplot that’s really only a small part of this week’s episode. Zapata eventually convinces Burke to instead break into Reade’s apartment, where he has a direct line into the FBI network. Claudia has no choice but to go along with the plan, though she’s clearly upset that she doesn’t get to torture anybody. At least not yet. When Zapata and Claudia break into Reade’s apartment, they can’t get into his laptop because of a lockdown security protocol that prevents all digital and physical access to the FBI files. That means Claudia’s “enhanced interrogation” plan is back in play, so they lie in wait.
The reason Reade’s computer is bricked is because the FBI is in full lockdown mode. It all starts when Rich solves another one of the clues from the Tokyo cache. The clues leads him to a recipe, which then leads him to discover a Caesar Shift, which is basically a method of encryption. From that cipher he gets an address for an abandoned psychiatric hospital—”how bad does an asylum have to be to get shut down in the fifties?” asks Rich—and Jane, Weller, and Reade put on their gear and go exploring. “Don’t split up, or dare each other to spend the night!” quips Rich, who might legitimately be worried that the place is haunted.
When they arrive, they find a new door installed in a wall covered in old graffiti, then somebody from the inside who’s watching them on a security camera starts firing through the walls. The team fires back, killing the man inside. They unlock the door and step inside, and nobody is prepared for what they find: a bunch of creepy horror movie-type dolls. Their beady black eyes stare soullessly at Weller, Jane, and Reade. “What did we just find?” asks Weller.
Look, this is a really fun setup for an episode. Blindspot is pretty damn good at handling its more outlandish, goofy crimes, and the idea that these dolls might be hiding something sinister is one that makes a lot of sense. But things go off the rails pretty quickly, and the lunacy gets turned up a few notches too many. Things start to go downhill when Laurel, who works for the DEA, shows up to help with the case and determine what the dolls are made of (Rich guesses cocaine, and kind of hopes it’s cocaine). Laurel is, to put it lightly, a bit much. She’s so over the top with her weirdness that it destroys any potential tension in the story. When one of the dolls releases a cloud of dust that sends the FBI into lockdown, that real threat is undercut by the episode’s insistence on being overly silly.
Laurel does serve some necessary function, though. When she’s stuck in quarantine inside the lab, Rich hangs out with her, cracking jokes and filling her in on the plot points of Friends; “you know, the one with the beautiful twentysomethings who have huge apartments and don’t know any people of color.” Reade takes notice of Rich’s above-and-beyond care, and asks him who he spent some time with in a hospital. A friend? A family member? Rich shuts down and doesn’t answer the question, but he’s not harsh about it. Like he says, he’s used to pulling uncomfortable truths out of people, not the other way around.
Rich is maybe the only true highlight of this otherwise frustrating episode. As the lockdown unfolds, and it’s revealed that the culprit behind the chemical attack is, in fact, the General sent in to handle the situation, the tone gets more and more off base. The worst offender here is Jane/Remi. She needs to get a special ethernet cable, which she tricked Rob into giving her, attached to the FBI’s server so that she can get the location of CIA black sites and Shepherd. In order to do that she needs to be alone, so she spends the majority of the episode playing on the paranoia of everyone locked in the room, eventually getting them to panic and break out. It’s all just so over the top, from Jaimie Alexander’s acting to the fact that her co-workers don’t seem to mind her being very blunt about how they’re all going to die. It takes the whole Fake Jane thing too far.
Anyway, the threat is eventually thwarted, Weller convinces his ex Alli that Jane is up to something shady, and we can all forget that any of this ever happened. At least the final scene offers up something promising, with Reade coming home, getting jumped by Claudia, and then turning around to see Zapata pointing a gun in his face. She’s finally back in the mix, and that should be way more interesting than watching her traipse around the globe doing bad things for Madeline Burke.
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