While Reade, Zapata, and Patterson search for the missing Mayfair, Weller sets out to find a body of his own – Taylor Shaw’s. Jane confronts Oscar about everything they’ve been working toward in an episode as magnificent as the season premier. Here is a recap and review of the Blindspot episode “Why Await Life’s End.”
Jane rummages through Oscar’s apartment, but there’s no sign of him. For help tracing a number, Jane drops by the apartment of her almost friend Ana Montes. Jane calls Joey’s Pizza, but Hobbes refuses to cancel her order, so she sneaks into Hobbes’ RV. He notices something’s amiss before entering and releases poison gas, sending Jane jumping out the window. Hobbes gives her the location of a safe house, but since Oscar is too busy to meet her there, Jane fashions a new plan. Ana traces an order of lye – enough to make a whole lot of soap… or break down a body. Jane locates Oscar picking up the order and follows him to an abandoned barn, but he tases her before she can do anything with Mayfair’s body.
Reade and Zapata investigate the site of Mayfair’s murder, then bring Patterson to the crime scene. Having discovered a blanket of Mayfair’s blood, the trio then breaks into Mayfair’s sealed crime scene of a home for clues to what she got caught up in. They manage to open her wall safe and retrieve a flash drive whose contents are protected by a Vigenere cipher. After a bit of work, Patterson solves it. They key is “David,” and the answer is, “I’m sorry.” The drive contains files on Daylight, Orion, and M7G677.
Spinning after their father’s deathbed confession, Weller and Sarah set out to dig up the fort in their old backyard. Weller’s shovel taps something hard. A body? No, just a rock. Having dug quite a nice-sized hole, the Wellers resign to the fact that Taylor isn’t buried there. They decompress over beer, until the well runs dry. Raiding the garage for more, Weller spots a tent that makes him realize they dug up the wrong spot. He speeds to their old camping grounds with cheesy western names. Not slowed by the sudden downpour, Weller digs under the Fort Boone site and unearths an old rain boot with a tiny tibia sticking out. It’s Taylor.
Waking up tied to a chair, Jane learns she isn’t Taylor Shaw. Their organization swapped Taylor’s DNA for hers because replacing Mayfair with Weller was Phase One. It may have been Jane’s idea, but it’s Shepherd’s mission, and Phase Two is about burning the country to the ground to start over. First, Oscar must re-erase Jane’s memory because their relationship is too compromised to continue. Jane head-butts Oscar as he’s about to inject her and knocks over a kerosene lamp that lights the floor ablaze. She flips over and crushes the chair beneath her, wriggling free from her restraints. Furious will all the secrets and lies, Jane wants to bring Oscar into the FBI, but they engage in a brutal fight, which ends with Jane accidentally stabbing Oscar with an ax. With the barn consumed by flames, Jane rushes outside and watches her world burn to the ground.
Returning home, Jane finds that Weller helped himself to a drink. He’s furious that she allowed him to let his father back into his life, to let his child-murdering father around Sawyer. Knowing she lied about what she remembered, he demands to know who she is. She’d like to know that, too. Drawing his gun, Weller orders her to put her hands behind her head and get on her knees. Jane Doe, you’re under arrest.
Who is Jane Doe? Not Taylor Shaw, the missing girl. And just like that, we’re back to where we started, which is not at all a bad place to be for fall’s number one new show.
Similar to pilots, finales are tricky beasts. They have to wrap up a season’s worth of stories while also opening up the world for a new season’s worth of stories without rushing to conclusions or leaving the audience feeling cheated by the final moments. So much of a season, or even a series, is judged based upon the culmination of months of investment, so it has the power to make or break a viewer’s opinion about the show as a whole. When it comes to Blindspot, the season one finale could not have been a more fitting episode.
Ditching the case of the week formula in favor of an intense character episode, “Why Await Life’s End” dug into many of the mysteries that made this series so gripping. Having gone through twenty-two episodes of tattoo cases and antagonists with large-scale, disastrous plans, we’ve earned the chance to take a step back and focus on the characters and their stories that started it all.
After struggling all season to gain the team’s trust, Jane found herself just as trusted as she was when she emerged from that body bag in Times Square. But what’s different this time is that she’s earned the FBI’s skepticism. I’m interested to see how much about her work with Oscar she confesses up front. On the one hand, it could only exacerbate Weller’s anger. But on the other hand, it could be an effective way to show Weller that she understands how he feels after being used and betrayed by someone he trusted.
I don’t mean to imply that this season has been filler because that’s the furthest thing from the truth for a series whose pace moves as rapidly as Blindspot’s, but it feels as if we had to make it through this first season before we could delve into the core ideology behind Jane’s tattoos and amnesia. Sure, they stopped some bad guys and helped Weller gain enough wins to become the FBI’s new assistant director, but Shepherd’s plan is too wide-scale and complex to explore right off the bat. Who is this man and what happened in his past that justifies his plan? How did he bring Jane back from the dead? Where did Jane come from and how was she raised?
Given Bill Weller’s arc this season, his confession certainly came as a surprise, and it kicked off a story with the most concrete answer we’ve received on this show. In light of Jane’s/Taylor’s positive DNA test, young Taylor Shaw’s dead body was unexpected, though not unrealistic once Oscar explained their involvement. Martin Gero promised that this season would have a sense of closure, and the resolution for the Taylor Shaw mystery provides just that, while also burning the core relationship of Blindspot to the ground so it can rise and evolve on real grounds next season.
As much as I wanted Jane to be Taylor for the sake of Weller’s joy, I’d rather see Jane forge her own identity and define her own relationship with him. Weller had romanticized the idea of his childhood friend returning to him that his relationship with Jane became based on a dream of the past and not based on their current interactions. By taking any preconceived notions out of the question, it allows them to truly figure out who they are to one another and how they function as a pair, be it platonic or romantic.
Reade, Zapata, and Patterson’s search for the missing Mayfair followed an ing approach. Since we already knew the answers for the questions they sought, the enjoyment in watching their story came from their emotional entanglement and the thrill of solving puzzles. In some ways, it was reminiscent of Patterson and David’s quest in “Sent On Tour” and exemplified the core aspects of mystery and intellectual investigation that make this series a delight. The only thing this story lacked was the final emotional punch. It felt as if it was building to a moment that never happened. While the massive pile of blood gave Reade, Zapata, and Patterson a pretty good idea about Mayfair’s fate, we never saw the possibility of her death truly sink in, but perhaps that’s a scene for season two.
If the writers felt any growing pains throughout this season, it certainly didn’t show. Although it took them numerous episodes before diving into Reade and Zapata’s individual storylines, understandably focusing on the lead characters first, there was not a noticeable amount of course correcting because something didn’t work. The only noticeable shift was a gradual increase in the serialized aspect once Jane’s relationship with present-day Oscar began to develop. The concept of unraveling Jane Doe’s past naturally lends itself to a more serialized arc, so it was more exciting and more fulfilling to watch this aspect of the series’ mythology unfold and place tension on Jane’s relationship with the FBI once we understood how she functioned within the main team.
It’s clear that the season was planned in detail from the very beginning, which allowed the writers to plant important seeds early on and germinate them over the course of the season. Way back in episode four, the evidence from Jane’s tooth contradicted her DNA evidence, but it wasn’t until episode twenty-three that the explanation became clear. This tactic strengthened the mystery and the series as a whole because it activated viewer participation whenever a new piece of evidence was revealed and allowed the writers to explore more than one option and explanation. The detail with which the first season was planned and effectively executed sets a high bar for the upcoming season two, but it also gives high hope for another outstanding year.
Odds and Ends:
– The full list of anagrams for the second half of the season reads:
In case of emergency,
Follow these instructions:
Stay where you are,
Find a secure line
To contact your handler.
Find what you need
In almost the last place you look.
To begin the sequence,
Focus on the time,
Then wait for the address
To your new safe house.
The final order will be revealed,
When it’s filed away.
– If you’re looking for some Blindspot summer fun, Entertainment Weekly has the details on a tie-in scavenger hunt.
– Blake Neely did an exceptional job scoring “Why Await Life’s End.” From the remixed opening title card to the music during Jane and Oscar’s fight scene, he perfectly complimented the devastating and beautiful tone of the episode. In addition, the score in the final moments where Jane’s on her knees with her hands behind her head called back to the first scene of the pilot where she’s kneeling in Times Square to further drive home how far and how little she’s come.
– M7G677 is the name of a planet in an episode of Stargate: Atlantis written by Martin Gero.
– The Ruggedly Handsome Man finally got a name (Marcos), but Patterson’s first name still eludes us.
– Zapata: We were aiding and abetting a fugitive. We were just trying to keep you out of it.
Patterson: You were aiding and abetting Mayfair. Mayfair! I am happy to aid and abet Mayfair.
– Oscar: Phase Two is about burning it [the country] to the ground, so we can start again. Only from the ashes can we rise.
– Blindspot returns in the fall, Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC! See ya there!