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What’s going wrong with ‘Blindspot’ – and how can we fix it?

image: NBC

NBC’s Blindspot was one of the best new shows of the fall and has one of the most outstanding casts on TV, but since coming back from midseason hiatus, it hasn’t seemed like itself. What’s going wrong with this show – and how can it be fixed so that the series can be the awesome program it has been before?

Too much of Blindspot‘s focus has shifted to its now love rectangle: Oscar (Francois Arnaud) wants to get back with ex-fiancee Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander), who was interested in Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), who’s hooked up again with his ex-girlfriend Allison Knight (Trieste Kelly Dunn). The tattoo mystery of the week now seems secondary to everyone’s personal problems.

We can place the blame for that squarely on the show’s wanting to push Jane and Weller together in the first place. Now that the series has given in to the desire for them to couple up, it has to come up with roadblocks to keep them apart. Enter the exes.

It was obvious as soon as Allison was introduced as Weller’s ex that she was there just to be a tool in the Jane/Weller relationship subplot. Her first appearance in “Authentic Flirt” was basically her just dropping hints to Jane. There’s been no indication of why Weller would develop feelings for her again, except for that they seem to be having a lot of sex.

At least Oscar serves a professional function, being that he’s also Jane’s handler. And it’s plausible that he would still have feelings for given their long and complicated history. But here’s the problem: Blindspot hasn’t earned either of these new relationships yet.

If you throw out the flashbacks, the one good thing Oscar has done for Jane is save her from Tom Carter (Michael Gaston). He hasn’t grown closer to her. He’s hardly answered any of her questions. In fact he’s not even all that nice to her. She’s already said she was done with him once. So we’re supposed to believe that she’d now suddenly sleep with him?

Neither of these pairings make sense and they have almost no chemistry. They have no reason to exist except for that the writers want them to.

If the dilemma was how to keep Jane and Weller from going all Lois and Clark, the answer was already there. There’s tons of emotional baggage for them both to work through – besides how incredibly unprofessional it would be for Weller to be dating someone who’s technically the subject of his investigation. There could have been a great slow burn here with them getting to really re-learn one another and then taking their relationship to the next level.

And if Oscar had to factor into the equation (which he does, because he’s right – it’s weird watching your ex-fiancee get close to another guy), that again would’ve been a wonderful slow-play. He was in love with Taylor, not Jane. She is a totally different person now. What if she slowly grew to trust him and then became conflicted about who she should be with? Or he took the time to appreciate Jane and not just the woman that she used to be? There’s a ton of steps that got skipped here.

But that’s the sort of myopic view of television in general, not just this one show. Just because Jane and Weller kissed, the expectation is why aren’t they immediately jumping into bed together? And if they’re not, what can we invent to keep them apart? But there’s more to relationships than kissing and sex, and there’s more to Blindspot‘s characters than who they are or aren’t sleeping with.

While all this is going on the remainder of the characters on the show have suffered. Even Reade’s (Rob Brown) biggest plot point is his relationship with Weller’s sister Sarah (Jordana Spiro), which while adorable – and I’m totally rooting for them – is more romantic drama. Zapata (Audrey Esparza) got one great episode, and now she’s back to gambling for reasons that were never made clear. Patterson (Ashley Johnson) is finally being out of the lab, but just to be put in peril like Zapata was two weeks ago.

The supporting characters on this show are just as intriguing as Jane and Weller, but they’re all going stagnant. There’s not enough time being spent on giving them things to do and ways to grow. Poor Dr. Borden (Ukweli Roach) is in one scene every episode giving someone advice. And it seems like Blindspot is having a hard time even getting that one scene to fit in.

So how do we fix this? The answer is simple: end the love rectangle, and end it now. The teaser for this week’s episode “Mans Telepathic Loyal Lookouts” implies that Oscar wants Jane to break up Weller’s relationship with Allison. Allison can leave, and then Jane can get angry with Oscar for such a dumb idea and/or realize that their one night stand was a mistake, and then we’re back to the status quo.

Then we can refocus the series on the big questions that are still out there. Maybe Weller finds out why Reade really broke up with Sarah, and then decides to find out what actually happened to Carter? Is Zapata going to have to deal with the U.S. Attorney wanting her to inform for them, or has that plot thread just been dropped? Oh, and there’s still Oscar’s homicidal friend Cade out there running around, after he somehow survived being shot twice and falling off a boat.

There should be so much going on with Blindspot right now. There are so many possible plot variations and so much left unprobed with these characters, and with just a handful of episodes left in the season this is when the show should be putting its foot on the gas. Not spending time on romantic drama that a half-dozen other series offer up each week. Let’s get back to what has made this show unique and smart and addictive – because it deserves to be one of TV’s best.

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Brittany Frederick

Brittany Frederick is an award-winning entertainment and sports journalist, screenwriter, and novelist. She was named an honorary analyst for Section 20 (#StrikeBack), and when she's not working with TV heroes, you can find her trying to be one in real life on the Verizon IndyCar Series. You can reach her at her official website (brittany-frederick.com) and on Twitter @tvbrittanyf.

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