Executive producer Martin Gero teases the 'soft reset' of the NBC thriller
After closing the book on Sandstorm, NBC’s mystery thriller Blindspot has jumped ahead nearly two years, kicking off what executive producer Martin Gero calls a “soft reset” of the show.
An isolated and world-weary Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) finds her past catching up with her as her brother Roman (Luke Mitchell) aims to systematically tear apart her life in revenge. But where Jane’s first layer of tattoos provided clues to take down various criminals, her new bio-luminescent ink serves as a type of punishment. “Roman wants her back at the FBI,” Gero teases. “This year, we’ll slowly realize the tattoos are also pointing at the entire team and what they’ve been up to in the past two years.”
These new clues will also send the show international as production has filmed in Italy, Australia, and Barcelona so far. “We really are going to crisscross the globe and we’re going to show it off in a way that’s pretty extraordinary,” Gero adds. As long as one tattoo points the way to a Mai Tai, we’re in!
Read our full interview with Gero below and check out a sneak peek at season 3.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: If the old tattoo cases led to Phase 2, what would you say the show is about now?
MARTIN GERO: Well, the fun thing is, season 3 is a soft reset of the show. There’s a new set of tattoos and part of the fun of this season is uncovering what they’re pointing at and why Roman did this to her. I don’t think it’s any secret that Roman is behind these new sets of tattoos. Part of it is emotional. I think they’re punitive in a way, like he wants her back at the FBI. What I think is really exciting is, he’s going to show her through these tattoos, who the people are that she’s working with. So whereas, in the first season, the tattoos were personal for Kurt and Jane, this year, the tattoos we’ll slowly realize are also pointing at the entire team and what they’ve been up to in the past two years that have been away from the camera’s view and Jane’s. So that’s one aspect of it and then of course, there is some mythology stuff that it’s difficult to talk about at this point that he has an endgame for those tattoos as well.
To be clear, it’s not like this was always the plan, that Jane would have a second set of tattoos?
This is a brand new thing. The major mythology that was started off in the pilot has been resolved and so this is a continuation from that.
But are there still memories that Jane doesn’t quite remember?
Oh, yes. The biggest ones yet, I think.
How would you say these cases are different?
It’s kind of a return to the storytelling we were doing in season 1, where there really is a major tattoo case every episode, whereas in season 2, it was maybe every other episode we did a tattoo case. The procedural engine of the show has been reinvigorated in a way that’s really exciting, but again, like I mentioned, what’s really fun is that, although there are cases about the outside world, we’re familiar with corruption and bad guys doing bad things that we try to stop; they veer dangerously close to the lives of all of our main characters and their own personal secrets.
So Roman is seemingly your big bad this year. Can you talk about what is motivating him? Is it purely because of Jane’s betrayal or is there more yet we’ll come to find?
No. It’s not purely because of Jane’s betrayal. In the two years that Roman’s been out in the world, he’s pretty angry about some things and wants them taken care of. Again, it’s really hard to talk about, but he has some personal reasons as well for going after who the tattoos go after. It’s pointed at a very specific target, but they’ll slowly become aware of that in this season. But interestingly, Roman is the big bad because he’s done this to Jane and has put these tattoos on her body and is kind of like Shepherd. But they are taking down bad people, so he’s kind of mixed. He’s a big bad, but there might be an even bigger bad out there that he’s trying to take down with these tattoos.
Is this all leading to a new version of Phase 2?
It is. It’s not as — just yes, and again, he has his own endgame in mind.
Roman used to be very quick to violence. What has he learned in the last two years? Is he still that way or did his time without memories change him at all?
Well, what’s interesting is, he’s a bit unbridled, so it makes him even more unpredictable because he’s not working for or under Shepherd anymore or trying to save and please Jane. He’s his own person for the first time ever and so part of his emotional arc that we’ll see this season is him trying to like figure out who the real Roman is and what he really wants. He’s had this terrible upbringing and is essentially built to kill, but is he more than that? We’ll be able to explore that in really fun and interesting ways.
Do you think Jane and Roman’s relationship can ever be repaired?
I would like to hope so. What’s really neat is there’s a number of phone calls between them this year, because I think he is lonely. He’s doing it to turn the knife a little bit in her and reveling his plan and how they can’t figure it out, but also she says very early like, “I think you miss me,” and so the relationship between them is obviously extraordinarily complicated on a number of levels, but she’s still the closest person in the world to him.
You’re picking up 18 months later, but will we see flashbacks? What’s Jane’s mindset when we pick back up with her?
You’ll see flashbacks, and we hope to fill in a lot of it right away, in the first two or three minutes of the show. No fan of the show will want to miss the opening of this season. That will endeavor to fill in a lot of what the hell’s going on and why did she run away and how they’re married. All of those questions will be answered in the first few minutes. Then, for her, she’s been out there for almost 18 months on her own out in the world and has lived another life, and so when she gets folded back into the team, she’s not the same old Jane, like she’s not used to waiting for orders and operating with partners, so she’s a little more hard-headed this year and her own person. She’s done a lot of growing and so she’s a lot more assertive, if you could imagine that even.
Obviously something did happen between Jane and Weller, so how will that color their working dynamic this season?
The thing that is so fun about this season is it’s all the characters that we love in a completely unique dynamic now that we have not seen them. Suffice it to say, I think Jeller fans will be very, very happy. They’re closer than they’ve ever been at the beginning of this season and continue to get closer. It’s fascinating seeing them be so healthy, really, at the beginning of the season.
It’s so fascinating that you describe them as healthy since he found her in a cave during that finale flash forward.
Yeah. Well, the first episode back is about getting the band back together. Reade, Zapata, and Patterson are missing. Jane and Weller haven’t seen each other in a long time, very long time, 18 months. It’s about getting everybody back into position in a way that is semi-recognizable. The team is so great together, so part of the fun is trying to figure out how to get them all back into one place. The opening, filling in why Jane ran and why they haven’t seen each other in so long, it really explains a lot and I can’t wait for you to see it.
Jane has always been a woman of means who can get stuff done on her own. Should we be worried about what she’s been doing, or mainly who she’s had contact with, over the last 18 months?
Yeah, Jane has had to go make a living and she’s got a very, very unique skill set, so yeah. She’s crossed paths with a lot of unsavory characters and that will come back and those are some of the people we will meet this season as well.
How does Weller feel about what his wife has been doing for 18 months?
It’s a real hard pill for him to swallow about a lot of it, but the reality is he’s got to trust her, you know? When she tells him what she was doing, they’re trying very hard to not keep secrets between each other and she is very, very honest with him at the beginning of the season and I think that’s a way for him to get comfortable with all of it.
How does it feel once the team is reunited, because everybody has had a very different 18 months, so do they work together a little bit differently now?
Very much so. The new dynamic of who’s in charge and stuff, it’s really fun to watch. It’s like, how do we make the show seem familiar and not change it so much the fans are like, “Wait a second, this isn’t the show I love,” but still add unique situations and circumstances that will give the show a vitality and a newness. I think the power dynamic this year is completely turned on its head and it makes for some great character scenes in the early episodes as they themselves are trying to navigate that.
So who is in charge?
In the intervening time, Reade has become the assistant director of the NYO. It’s tough for Zapata initially because they were used to being on very similar ground. They were foot shoulders together and now he’s in command, so that dynamic has to be rewired a little bit. They both are struggling with how to do that and then, most notably, Weller really struggles with not being totally in control. I don’t think he misses the bureaucracy of running the NYO, but when it comes to deciding what to do next and who runs the field and stuff like that, it’s certainly an adjustment. A big part of the second episode is them trying to find how to work together in this new dynamic.
The CIA was courting Zapata, so presumably she’s gone there. What do her new skills bring to the team?
Yeah. I think it’s okay to say. I mean, it’s all stuff that we’ll give away right away. Zapata has been increasingly frustrated with how the FBI did business in the back half of the second season and so it made a lot of sense for her to just try something new. She went over and started working with the CIA and this year, the FBI and the CIA will work together much closer. It’s not going to be as contentious as a relationship as it was in the first two seasons. They will be working in consort with each other.
What’s Patterson been up to?
Let’s just say Patterson has gone Californian a little bit and has been testing the waters out trying to build some apps and has been pretty successful.
And Rich DotCom is inexplicably working for the FBI?!
Rich has been the center of some of our favorite episodes, really, over the past two seasons. To say he’s a fan favorite, I think does him even a disservice. They just go so crazy for the Rich Dotcom episodes. Part of the thing we’re trying to do this year is have a bit of a lighter tone. The show can get very serious and very dark and in our current climate, we’re trying to be a little more escapist and fun and it’s something that is natural into the DNA of the show. We’ve always had our fun episodes and I think they work surprisingly well for a show that can get as dark as it does. It’s not that we’re losing the darkness, but we want to balance it a little bit more. We had talked kind of right away, after the first season, about how do we have Rich join the team and it just seemed like it’s impossible to do it organically. But what the two-year time jump gives us is that he’s been working there already for a year, we just haven’t seen it. So Reade trusts him, Hirst trusts him, the FBI has decided they trust Rich Dotcom. So while that may be foreign to Jane as she’s returning, we explain in backstory that he’s helped them out a lot and is trying to turn a new leaf. That sets the table for us to have Rich in almost half the episodes this year. It’s just been such a delight. It’s so, so fun and the interplay he has with the rest of the team, especially Patterson, is spectacular.
You guys actually filmed the season premiere in Venice.
One of the things that’s really incredible about what we’re doing this year is we’re shooting all over the world for real. We shot a massive part, like a third of the season opener, in Venice, Italy. The second episode we’re shooting in Australia. We’re shooting in Barcelona. I can’t announce the next few places because they’re not confirmed, but the show will have a Bond level scope this year. We really are going to crisscross the globe and we’re going to show it off in a way that’s pretty extraordinary. That’s not something really that I think any show on network television has been able to do and do consistently. We’re really going to be able to really take our viewers all across the globe in the most extraordinary way.
Were you testing the water of doing this last season when you went to Thailand?
Yeah, that’s exactly right. This is what we’d always wanted to do, and then when we shot in Thailand last year, it was just getting our toe wet and seeing if that was a thing we could do, and then that was incredibly successful. I can’t wait for you to see this Venice sequence that we shot with everybody, with Jaimie and Sully. It’s maybe one of the crazier things we’ve ever pulled off on the show and it’s pretty amazing, but we just didn’t want that to just be a season premiere thing, so we really have found a way to keep the story feeling international by actually going international the whole year.
What’s your main theme of the season?
I feel like that’s a spoiler. Because I can say it, but then as I was about to say it, I was like, “No!” I can’t really get into it.
Though this show doesn’t necessarily pull from the world, will this season speak to our current administration at all?
No. We didn’t really reference the last administration, so we don’t have any intention to reference this administration. The show has a basic mistrust of government built into its DNA, and that will continue in this climate or the previous one. This show, as a whole, [delves into how] power corrupts and these tattoos have been combating that corruption. We’ve been doing that since 2015 and we will continue to do that.
Blindspot returns Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.