The discovery of a heist simulator leads the FBI to a corrupt CIA operation. Meanwhile, Shepherd reveals the past event that led her to fight for justice. Here is a recap, followed by a review of the Blindspot episode “If Beth.”
To reignite Jane’s rage, Roman shows her Lake Aurora, the site of a chemical spill back in the ‘60s that’s still a danger to nearby residents. The government has done nothing to amend this injustice. Speaking with an equally freaked out Allie, Weller says he hasn’t been handling his impending fatherhood very well, but he’ll be there for the kiddo. Freddie shows up at Reade’s place hoping to crash there for a couple days. Reade agrees.
Patterson cracks the honeycomb tattoo, which identifies a Homeland Security agent as Shdwct, a dark web hacker. While raiding his house, Reade catches Shdwct and beats him until Weller pulls Reade off. Shdwct’s hard drives contain video games used to train robbers for large heists. The next heist will occur during a gala at the museum of art, so the team puts on their formal wear and gets to work. Bumping into a conservationist named Oliver Kind, Jane inquires about Lake Aurora. Weller quickly swipes her away, but not before Oliver gives Jane his card and she gives Weller some serious side eye. Emerging from a sarcophagus in storage, the suspect strangles Patterson and escapes. Jane catches the suspect in a swordfight, but she escapes once again.
Due to Reade’s recent violent streak, Weller orders him to chat with Borden before going back into the field. Borden agrees to help Reade unlock his repressed memories, but says there’s a chance Reade will never truly know what happened. The FBI identifies the suspect as Elizabeth Gubara, a woman who arrived from Cairo to take out people with ties to East Africa. Charles Kessler is next. Waiting at his house, the FBI captures Elizabeth, who claims she’s CIA. After being burned by Kessler, Elizabeth went after her former allies who were profiting off terrorism. Rummaging thru Kessler’s laptop, Zapata finds a photo of him with his and Elizabeth’s supposedly dead daughter, Merida. They track Kessler to a private airfield and shoot him, forcing Merida to turn a gun on the FBI. Jane drops her weapon and convinces Merida to seize the chance to learn if her mom is really alive.
Zapata drops by Reade’s and tells Freddie he should find somewhere else to crash, then Zapata offers Shdwct an off-the-books operation. Roman delivers a truckload of C4 to Shepherd, but it’s only half of what they need. At Sandstorm HQ, Jane learns that Shepherd’s family were victims of Lake Aurora. It sparked Shepherd’s mission to fight against a government that didn’t protect its people. After bonding over a scotch, Nas informs Weller that her asset inside Sandstorm went dark six months ago, but not before revealing that Sandstorm has been watching Weller for twenty years.
While I wouldn’t classify this episode as a “weak” one, there wasn’t much about it that was particularly strong either. However, the character moments, especially between Weller and Nas, Weller and Jane, Jane and Sandstorm, and Zapata and everyone, kept “If Beth” from feeling too much like a filler episode and gave it the jolt that the case of the week lacked. Overall, this episode was rather forgettable, but hopefully manages to set up a few interesting storylines for our future enjoyment.
This week’s tattoo case felt obviously thin and underdeveloped. Most of the minutes spent on the case were spent with the team chasing after one suspect or another. Per the usual, this gave the episode the intense action vibe that Blindspot does so well, but it resulted in little time to explain the corrupt agents’ motivations or their threat to the United States. Speaking of the threat, “If Beth” diverged from the series’ usual high-stakes situations. Instead of the threat being an impending city-wide disaster or a potential mass casualty situation, the danger was limited to the assassinations of a few CIA agents. Not that their deaths would be insignificant or appropriate to brush off, but when we dealt with a bomber last week and a missile strike the week before, this problem pales in comparison.
In addition to the threat being lackluster, the writing team of “If Beth” attempted to include twists and surprises that didn’t amount to anything later on. The fact that Elizabeth was a burned CIA provided a nice act out and allowed the character to have realistic knowledge of other agents’ corruption, but other than that, it didn’t help the team crack the case. Technically, the case was already over by that point. The tattoo was placed on Jane’s body to lead the FBI to capture Shdwct, which the team did pretty early in the episode. The remaining casework with Elizabeth coincidentally related to government corruption. The fact that Nas could not find records to confirm or deny that Elizabeth was a burned CIA agent provided a brief moment of tension that soon fizzled out when Jane admitted to believing her story. The episode ended with no moment of relief, no moment of the FBI saving the citizens of New York City, but rather the death of Elizabeth’s next victim and a teenage girl losing both of her parents.
On the opposite side of things, Jane grew closer to understanding her own mother’s motivations. Watching your family slowly die one by one because of government indifference would motivate anyone to speak out against those who weren’t doing their duties, but Shepherd’s plan seems disproportionally explosive to solely be motivated by a toxic spill. I’m curious to learn what in her personality caused her to jump from exposing one faction’s corruption to destroying all of the government and/or America. Also, does Shepherd view her whole agenda as a revenge mission or as a selfless act? And where are Jane’s flashbacks of Shepherd?
When Nas revealed that her contact in Sandstorm went dark six months ago, are we supposed to assume that it was Jane? She’d be the most obvious answer, but as smart as Nas is, she probably would have already figured it out if her contact were Jane. I’m eager for the series to explore Jane’s time preparing for this mission with Sandstorm. Given her natural inclination to help others, I have a hard time buying that she was ever gung-ho about a mission that involves this much C4. I’d buy that she volunteered to have her mind erase and her body tattooed because she wanted out from under the clutches of Sandstorm. I’d love to see the moment where Jane knew herself better than anyone and knew that she’s oppose Sandstorm’s plan even when she learned about it under different circumstances.
“If Beth” also revealed that Sandstorm has had their eye on Weller for twenty years. Perhaps this had to do with setting Jane up to be Taylor Shaw, but more than likely, there’s more to the story. This gives the writers the wonderful opportunity to explore Weller’s past personal life apart from his relationship with his father and his past professional life before he became an FBI agent.
Reade’s story hasn’t progressed at all since being introduced two episodes ago, but it did unlock a fun, new, over-protective side of Zapata. I’m assuming her mission for Shdwct has to do with helping Reade build a case against Coach Jones. Although Zapata would be doing this for honorable reasons – to help out a friend – I find it surprising that she’s essentially willing to do what Carter and Weitz were doing to her by working around the law to obtain information. Regardless, I’m all for Zapata and Reade carrying out their own side mission and revealing more of their characters’ personalities and histories in the process.
ODDS AND ENDS:
– This title’s anagram is “the FBI” or “the fib.”
– Oh, hello again super large on-screen text. Why was it necessary to have the gala be two days later? Why not tomorrow if they were going to skip the time in between anyway?
– Just giving y’all a heads up, if anything happens to Allie and/or the baby, there’s a good chance there will be an angry rant.
– Patterson: Last night, I was teaching my girls who code students when I started to think about what these two shades would look like to a computer.
Zapata: Ones and zeroes.
Patterson: Yes, girl who codes.
– Jane: It is possible to lie to someone and still love them very much.
– Weller: Everyone she’s ever loved has lied to her. You don’t get over that.
Jane: This is exhausting. You don’t trust me. They don’t trust me. And if I’m being honest, I don’t trust the FBI, and I don’t trust Sandstorm, so I’m stuck here in the middle with no one.