Blindspot: 1.8 Persecute Envoys Review

It’s the gayest episode of Blindspot ever! Fans who’d crossed their fingers for a bisexual Jane might find themselves disappointed (at least for now). But this week’s episode gave...

It’s the gayest episode of Blindspot ever! Fans who’d crossed their fingers for a bisexual Jane might find themselves disappointed (at least for now). But this week’s episode gave us a taste of Mayfair’s past, and it’s full of tragic same-sex love. Add in a closeted NFL player, whose down-low activities become both a plot point and a note of sympathy, and I’m starting to feel like this show’s target audience.

Regardless of the queer content, “Persecute Envoys” is the most tightly constructed episode of Blindspot so far. It advances several of the ongoing plot arcs, builds character development for most of the main cast, and features a mystery-of-the-week full of unexpected twists. It even tidies up its plot holes. For once, when Jane asks how her tattoos could have predicted an event, we get a plausible answer twenty minutes later. That answer sheds some light on the nature and purpose of the tattoos, too: the tattoos all seem to lead to festering corruption.

This week, a shocking crime draws attention to clues in Jane’s tattoos, and the clues help the team uncover the real reasons behind the murders of two New York police officers. Those cops were involved in the shooting death of an unarmed black man a year earlier, and, in one of the episode’s many small but revealing character moments, Reade expresses solidarity with that victim and distrust of the police. A few scenes later, we learn that Zapata is a former NYPD officer. It’s a clever, intriguing series of hints that Reade and Zapata’s pattern of amicable disagreement extends far back into their pasts.

Blindspot takes the high road in its exploration of police brutality and institutional racism. When the murders start to look like a revenge killing, the suspect – a physically imposing black professional football player – has never committed a crime. Instead, he’s paranoid and defensive because the police are blackmailing him with photos of a sexual encounter with another man. As his bravado melts into fear, it becomes clear that graffiti at the crime scene was intended to deflect attention away from an internal cover-up. Devastatingly, a third cop – this time, a young black woman whom the team had just interviewed – is murdered while the team travels down the wrong track.

The corruption plotline creates a slightly forced but mostly effective bridge with flashback scenes to Mayfair’s past. It turns out that Saul Guerrero was a pawn in a White House-mandated conspiracy to circumvent due process, and that in another way, Mayfair was a pawn, too. Five years ago, she, Carter (the slippery CIA agent who’s popped up throughout the season) and a member of the White House staff were more or less ordered to maintain the conspiracy. As things progress, Mayfair’s sense of her own integrity disintegrated.

She also fell in love with the White House staffer, played luminously by Sarita Choudhury. The relationship plays out with subtlety, as a bright spot in a dark period of Mayfair’s life, and it comes to a heart-wrenching end. I’m sure some fans will complain about another show setting up queer characters only to kill them off, but Mayfair is very much alive. May she find another beautiful and fascinating love interest soon.

Meanwhile, we spend most of the episode learning to love Zapata – it turns out she’s still reeling from the death of her police partner – only to discover in the final minutes that she’s exactly as cynical and dishonest as she seems. I’m not sure if Blindspot will have the courage to fully commit to a villainous character arc for her, but I’ll be riveted if it does.

Jane and Weller get to play comic relief this week, and both actors seem to relish their characters’ lighter sides. A girls’ night out toward the end of the episode is adorable, with Patterson on a mission to find Jane’s favorite drink and Jane begging for her to lay off the puzzle solving. Even better is a sweet moment between Jane and Weller after a tense shootout scene. She asks if his hearing is okay, and he messes with her for a minute, letting his guard down for the first time since the show has begun. It’s lovely to see him smile, and that happy moment creates more depth than two months of brooding.

Image courtesy of NBC

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Television

Sarah Rasher is, among other things, a freelance writer based in Chicago. You can read her writing at the Friendly Atheist and Graphic Policy as well as on her own blog, Sarah Explains the Finer Sports.

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