Warning: This interview contains spoilers about tonight’s series finale (Ep. 11 of season 5, “Iunne Ennui”) of NBC/Warner Bros. TV’s Blindspot.
After FBI big baddie Madeline Burke (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) poisoned herself in episode 9 in front of Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza), the Blindspot gang were left with another dangler: Ivy (Julee Cerda), Madeline’s henchwoman, who left a canister of the zip bomb somewhere in New York City. The bomb if activated can take out millions. Kurt (Sullivan Stapleton) convinces newly installed FBI head Arla (Tracie Thoms) that his team is the best to battle Ivy.
But Jane (Jaimie Alexander), having survived one of the memory erasing zip bombs, begins have hallucinations, visions which could ultimately kill her. However, somewhere in Jane’s memory is the location of Ivy’s bomb. She knows it, just needs to search it. She learns from FBI therapist Robert Benton in a vision: “If you want to engage in your present, you must engage in your past…we need to stop demonizing our adversaries. If we listen to them, perhaps we can learn from them.” And so Jane goes down memory lane, getting advice from such people as ex-lover Oscar (Francois Arnaud), Shepherd (the leader of terrorist org Sandstorm played by Michelle Hurd), Hank Crawford (CEO of HCI Global played by David Morse) and even Madeline herself (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) among many others. Nas Kamal (Archie Panjabi), the former head secret NSA wing Zero Division, even shows up (but not as a vision) to help Jane and the team.
Jane ultimately realizes that the bomb is in Times Square, and we’re back at the place where she was found in a body bag in the first episode of season 1, five years ago. As the team storms the area, Tasha finds Ivy and knocks her out.
“She had a detonator, I don’t thinks she triggered it,” says Zapata.
Wrong. Kurt and Jane find the bomb in a garbage can, and it begins to clock down. The square is cleared. Patterson (Ashley Johnson) and Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer) advise on defusing. With five seconds remaining, Kurt and Jane cut the green wires at the same time, and kiss. The screen goes to black, and we see two different realities: one where the team wins the day and goes onto a peaceful life together and another where Jane is being zipped up in a body bag (where we found her five years ago). However, the final shot is of Jane at the head of the dinner table, celebrating with Kurt, Tasha (and her newborn baby), Rich and Patterson.
“Jane are you OK?” asks Kurt. “Yeah, I’m good,” she responds in the final shot.
Here’s our Blindspot exit interview with series creator Martin Gero:
First off, will there be a Blindspot spinoff and will it be with Zapata?
Martin Gero: I’d be super open to it. I mean, Audrey is part of the…she’s a star I think since the beginning, and if anyone wants to do a Zapata P.I. spinoff, they know where to find me. I’d love to do it.
Are you looking to develop a spinoff in the near future?
Gero: Right now we have two things that are about to go into production. You know, I’m executive producing Christina Kim’s reboot of Kung Fu with the Berlanti team. That’s going to air on The CW, and then Brendan Gall and I have created a new NBC half-hour (Connecting) that will start airing in the fall.
So, why was it time to wrap up Blindspot?
Gero: Well, you know, these shows can’t go on forever, especially a show like this, which kind of tries to reinvent itself every year and just burns through plot. You know, we really always had kind of a five-season plan in the back of our minds, and so when it came time to go to NBC and present our vision for the fifth season, we very confidently asked, ‘Could we wrap it up?’ You know, it’s so rare for a network TV show to know it’s ending, and this is a show that was somewhat serialized and really required some architecture to allow it to come into landing. So, we were thrilled that they agreed with us and gave us these very exciting 11 episodes to bring the show in for a landing.
Was this always the ending you had in mind, or was there an alternative one? I thought the season 5 finale (until episode 9) was headed toward Madeline’s demise, but instead it became about stopping Ivy and the bomb.
Gero: No, I mean, for us, you know, Madeline –Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is, like, such a beast. She is such a dominant presence and power in the show and you know, had been a two-season bad guy. So, we really needed to give her a proper ending, and we felt like we wanted the last episode to be more focused on the team, and we couldn’t do that if we were trying to take down the main bad guy of the last two years. So, getting our big boss down earlier allowed us to have the space to have a celebration of, you know, this weird kind of look-back at Blindspot in this final episode.
When did you shoot the final season?
Gero: We started shooting in July, and we finished right before Thanksgiving, and then finished all of post-production right at the end of January. So the show was completely finished before any of the COVID shutdowns happened.
As exhilarating as Blindspot is as a spy show, it echoes the politics that’s going on now. Madeline is this cross between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And then as one watches the series, the whole James Comey of it all and the current situation with the FBI comes to mind. How did you break story in response to the headlines out there?
Gero: For us, the show always needed to feel like an escape, because reality is getting crazy enough. But for us, the show has already been built on the presumption that the predominant force behind government is corruption. And the whole point of Jane originally getting these tattoos and infiltrating the FBI was to take down corrupt branches of government. And so, dealing with corruption and dealing with people who are only interested in their self-interests, as opposed to the interests of the country, is in the DNA of the show. So, while we never dealt with it like the real world, expressly I think there are definitely echoes in there.
So the series ends tonight with two endings: Jane imagining a happy life with her friends and Kurt, and actually winding up sort of full circle where we originally found her: In a bag in Times Square, except this time, she’s dead.
Gero: For us, there’s certainly a clear, quote, unquote, like, “authorial intent,” but part of the reason we did it this way was we wanted the show to be emotionally satisfying, depending on what your emotional needs were in the moment that you watched the show, and what’s incredible about that ending is it really is, like, this 50/50 Rorschach.
Like, you can watch it with a group of people, and half of them are like ‘It’s crazy that you killed her at the end,’ and half of them are like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so glad she got her happy ending in Colorado.’ Both are right. Both are correct reads. You know, we as the writers haven’t chosen one way or the other, but I think part of the way we did it is, we want it to be the ending that you want it to be.
And her return to the body bag in Times Square. Tell me about coming full circle.
Gero: Well, you know, there’s something beautiful. We did this graphic in the opening of the episode where it starts with, you know, 100, and the 100 turns around to 001. For us, we really love the roundness of storytelling, you know? Like, we liked that the beginning feels like the end, the end feels like the beginning. So, that image was always kind of in our minds, that there would probably be a body bag in Times Square — but it’s not the last image. It’s the penultimate image, right? It’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure where the story ends. Does it end in the penultimate shot, or does it end in the final shot?
In regards to shooting again in Times Square, have you thought about how you would’ve been able to pull that off during the pandemic now with all the safety protocols and the extras?
Gero: We couldn’t have done this episode right now. While, there’s a lot less foot traffic in Times Square and it would be slightly easier to clear out, it was only recently that the New York Governor kind of cleared for a safe return to work for film production. So we’re incredibly fortunate that we shot the show when we did.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in crafting this series?
Gero: For a show to survive, at least a show like this, it really does have to reinvent itself every season. The challenge is you want to reinvent it enough so the show doesn’t start to feel boring and repetitive, but you also don’t want to over reinvent it so that the show alienates its core fans who are there for a specific thing every week.
Finding that balance, I think we’ve done to varying degrees of success. You know, I think there are seasons where people felt like, ‘Whoa, this is not the Blindspot I know and love’, and then there are seasons where it’s like, ‘Wow, this is even better than the original.’ So it’s always that kind of calibrating. A show can’t feel like all middle, you know? What we hoped to do with the show was that it always felt like each season was a book in a series of novels you really like. I think the risk of that though is, for all of us who have read a series of novels; you’re like, ‘Didn’t love that one, but love the series.’ And so we hope to at least engage people from one season to the next, even though we’ve kind of changed the tone of the show so dramatically since the first season.
Do you think you’ll ever reboot The L.A. Complex?
Gero: I mean, I tried so hard, man. I really did. I will say there’s no bigger fan of The L.A. Complex than (CW Television Network President) Mark Pedowitz. You know, Mark Pedowitz has really tried. We both have tried. We put our heads together so many times to try to figure out how to do it, and I really thought we had it licked about midway through last year, but just, for whatever reason, we could never get it over the top, and unfortunately, you know, I think CW makes the most sense for it to be its home, and I’ve recently moved away from Warner Bros. and are now at UTV. So, at least for the next handful of years, I think it’s probably on some sort of permanent hold, but it’s too bad. We really wrote a really fun reboot that I thought would’ve been really exciting to do.
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