“Cede Your Soul” is the first episode of Blindspot that comes together perfectly as mindless popcorn fare, which is all the show ever really needs to be. Dumb fun is only gratifying if both adjectives apply, and in its first five episodes, Blindspot was much dumber than it was fun. “Cede Your Soul” is well-calibrated, nicely structured, and engrossing enough that I never stopped to say “Why again is this a show about a woman with crime-fighting tattoos?” The episode also earns some genuinely affecting emotional moments and deepens Blindspot’s mythology without overplaying its hand.
Interestingly, the best episode of Blindspot thus far is the one that relies least on the macro-mysteries behind the source of Jane Doe’s prophetic tattoos or her true identity. With the groundwork laid for those stories, the show is able to pull back on the elements that require the most patience and the most generous suspension of disbelief. There’s still some advancement with each serialized story. Weller has his suspicions raised about Mayfair after he learns she’s stonewalling Patterson on the tattoo that points to the Guerrero case file. His father learns that the girl he was accused of kidnapping has turned back up, albeit considerably worse for the wear. A new tattoo is revealed on Jane’s body towards the end of the episode, the first time two of the tattoos have been explored in the same episode. And a new mystery man, about whom Jane is suddenly having sex dreams, emerges from the shadows.
But those beats are happening on the fringes of “Cede Your Soul,” allowing the episode to put all its focus on the case of the week, and the difference is noticeable. Weller and the gang are trying to track down and neutralize Trakzer, an app that does for terrorists who want to kill government employees what Grindr did for horny gay guys, and has a logo that matches one of Jane’s tatts. The trail leads to Ana Montes (Aimee Carrero), a 17-year-old hacking phenom who has lost her entire family and uses her white-hat skills to do what she believes to be highly classified government work. The team tracks her buyer to a fortified warehouse, and they fail to flush him out, but they do manage to rush in and take his servers offline, thereby disabling Trakzer.
“Cede Your Soul” follows the structure of so many summer blockbusters in which the biggest crisis appears to be quickly defused, which is exactly why the audience knows it isn’t yet. Without access to Trakzer, a group of Russian goons find Ana and force her to use her skills to help them track a cache of weapons in transit. Jane, who has really come along as an agent, runs into the line of fire to rescue Ana, with whom she makes an emotional connection after learning that Ana is as alone in the world as she is. Blindspot trades in massive shootouts, and it does them so frequently as to numb the effect, but the final confrontation is well-executed by director Rob Hardy, and with two enormous explosions, it looks more expensive than the show usually does, which is saying something. The case of the week moves at a speedy clip and works like clockwork without feeling like clockwork.
The episode’s secret weapon is Carrero, whose work I wasn’t familiar with. She sells her character from the moment she appears on screen, and makes a more interesting scene partner than Sullivan Stapleton ever has. There’s a marked difference between Jaimie Alexander’s scenes opposite Carrero than her scenes opposite Stapleton. When the two women performed together, I believed both of them in a way I never believe Jane and Weller’s scenes together. And that’s too bad because Blindspot is figuring out its emotional beats, which I didn’t expect would happen in the show about The Girl With The Horned Owl Tattoo. “Cede Your Soul” digs into how Jane feels about her awful predicament, to be unable to socialize with her colleagues knowing they’ve spent the day looking at photos of her nude body, and to be unable to connect with Weller and his sister because they are expecting her to fill a void she doesn’t know how to conform to. With an uneven cast, Blindspot may never totally jell, but “Cede Your Soul” makes the second consecutive episode that makes the show seem like it deserves at least some of the attention it’s getting.
- I can’t even describe how much I hate the story of Tasha’s gambling debts. It’s such a cop show cliche.
- Patterson’s boyfriend is definitely getting murdered soon, no?
- I want there to be a Halloween episode where the team goes to investigate a crime at a haunted house, and a black light reveals Jane’s invisible face tattoos. “Oh, the strings of numbers on my face? That was…okay, so…y’know, it’s kind of a whole story so let’s table it for now.”