‘Blindspot’ Review: How Archie Panjabi Might Help Avoid That Sophomore Slump

‘Good Wife’ veteran joins cast just as Jane Doe’s problems are heating up

A still from NBC's Blindspot, which Hulu will stream this year
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Who knew having her body covered in mysterious tattoos would be the least of Jane Doe’s problems when NBC’s “Blindspot” returned for a second helping? Creator Martin Gero did, that’s for sure. The showrunner has long held a second — and third — season plan in his back pocket for the serialized FBI series, and the time has finally come for him to put that plan in motion.

When the series picks back up in a special preview Wednesday, it’s been three months since Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) arrested Jane (Jaimie Alexander), and those months have not been kind to Jane at all. Thanks to some underground CIA operatives there’s been plenty of torture; meanwhile the FBI team under Weller’s leadership has grown complacent and bored–they miss working the tattoos.

It doesn’t take long for everyone to come back together though under new series regular Archie Panjabi, whose NSA character forges a reason to bring Jane back into the mix. Together they create a new, albeit distrustful, unit, one with a common goal involving Jane’s former playmates.

To delve into it all, the show begins to look further into Jane’s actual history. That includes the big premiere reveal in which viewers finally learn her true identity. As the pieces begin to fall in place more memories surface, bringing Jane a little closer to figuring out how she got herself into this mess in the first place.

Second seasons for these types of shows are always hard. When you create a buzz around a high-concept premise like this, it can be a tough order to deliver every week without over-delivering. Take this past summer’s sophomore seasons of “Mr. Robot” or “UnReal,” for example. While the first season is largely meant for finding the right tone and working out kinks, the second season needs to deliver on all those high points while also maintaining an audience base. If it’s lucky, it will pick up more viewers along the way.

That’s in part where Panjabi’s casting comes into play–Gero has been upfront about hoping to bring some of the Emmy winner’s “The Good Wife” fans into the fold for the second season. But more than that the producer is taking some pretty big story swings with this premiere, swings that will pay off for established fans while also serving new viewers in a clever way.

There are fight sequences and adrenaline-fuelled moments aplenty in this first hour back, and enough exposition to catch newbies up about where things went wrong in the first season. The death of Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) doesn’t go unmentioned; in fact there’s indication it will be felt long after the premiere. That should come as a small solace for those keeping track of the “kill your gays” trope that seemed to overwhelmingly take over storylines last TV season.

By the end of the premiere it’s clear that while there will be another sweeping serialized arc a la Daylight or Orion, the show is just as ready to hop back into that tattoo-of-the-week mystery as avid puzzle-solving viewers are. It won’t take long to reestablish that pattern heading into the second episode, but expect a much darker tone this year thanks to some heavy reveals at the outset. It’s all a part of Gero’s big plan. As viewers once again speculate on answers, anagrams and other puzzles, weary viewers should take comfort in knowing that this story plan extends much farther than the end of Season 2. Now we just have to get there.

“Blindspot” returns Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. and moves to its regular time period on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. on NBC.