8:00pm PT by Amber Dowling
'Blindspot' Boss Breaks Down Controversial Death: "It Changes Everything for Jane"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Monday's episode of Blindspot, "If Love a Rebel, Death Will Render."]
A good chunk of Blindspot’s inaugural season was spent on the Daylight conspiracy and cover-up, and it all came to a head in Monday’s penultimate episode of the NBC series. With Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) framed for murder and on house arrest, Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) in charge of the team, the Jane Doe investigation on official hold and Jane (Jaimie Alexander) questioning Oscar (Francois Arnaud) and his group’s real intentions, it was a high-stakes episode unlike any other featured so far this season.
In the end, Mayfair took it upon herself to unveil the conspiracy that got her arrested in the first place, leading her to realize Jane’s part in it all. In the final moments of the episode, just as she was confronting Jane, Oscar swooped in and shot the former FBI head in the back, effectively ending her life. Meanwhile, Kurt’s father (Jay O. Sanders) also succumbed to death at the hospital, but not before admitting that he killed one Taylor Shaw.
THR caught up with showrunner Martin Gero to find out the writers’ reasons behind killing off another one of TV’s gay characters, how Mayfair’s death changes the tone of the show going forward, and what it all means heading into the finale.
Was Mayfair’s death the plan from the start?
There was always a plan in place for Mayfair to be removed from the head of the FBI. That was always going to be in there, and to be honest, it made the most sense for the character to die. I really fought it in my own brain for a long time, because when you have Marianne Jean-Baptiste on your show, you should keep Marianne Jean-Baptiste on your show. She’s so, so amazing. It will make more sense when you see season two, but I came up with some scenarios where she could still be in the show and they just didn’t feel right…. I made Marianne a deal in the beginning that I would give her great stuff to do every episode, and I just felt like I couldn’t do that and have her not be at the FBI. It just made sense for that character, especially leading into the second season. Even though it’s totally insane to remove somebody that great from the cast.
When did she know that was the decision?
It was something I internally resisted admitting to myself was the best thing to do, and I told her that we were going to kill her around episode 16.
Did you ever consider changing that trajectory, following the recent discussions around the trope of killing gay characters off shows like The 100 or The Walking Dead?
By the time The 100 and everything had come out, we were too far down the road to make an adjustment, basically. That’s brought to life something that is definitely a problem, and I think our industry needs to be better. We need to be better, and I’m glad that conversation is happening right now. But for us this felt too engrained in the DNA of the show to call an audible at that point. It was too late.
Looking forward, do you have plans to introduce any other LGBTQ characters?
I can’t talk too much about season two, but it’s definitely something we talk about in the room a lot.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to fans of the show or people in the community who may be upset?
We kill a lot of the people on the show, but this one was the hardest for us as well.
How will Mayfair’s death affect Jane, specifically since she was there?
It changes everything for Jane. The whole series I’ve always said each of these seasons should have a beginning, a middle and an end. We’re nearing the end of this season with the next episode, and this show in many ways is turned totally upside down by the end of the next episode. It affects her a great deal. She’s been able to justify what she’s been doing for her whole organization up until this point, but how lethal and how brutal this group of people is has suddenly become astoundingly clear to her. It’s one thing to oust Mayfair; it’s another thing to murder her in cold blood. She can’t ever trust Oscar again.
Was it in cold blood, or was Oscar trying to save Jane?
He didn’t need to kill Mayfair, but he felt like Mayfair knew about the plan. That’s not something that can ever be explained away. So she had to go. No one person is more important than their plan, and so that group plays fast and loose with human life.
Oscar mentioned Mayfair was just phase one – at what point does phase two come into play?
Phase two is definitely season two, but you’ll get a glimpse into what phase two is at the end of season one.
How will Mayfair’s disappearance and death affect the rest of the team?
Her disappearance and death is going to rock the show to the core. She’s an extraordinarily important character in our universe and one that everybody leans on. It’s something everyone will find out about, and it’s something that is going to affect everything. This event pivots the show in a pretty massive way that allows us to do the story we want to do for season two.
Does that include Weller’s directive to suspend the Jane Doe investigation?
Yes. Heading into the finale, the Jane Doe investigation is no more.
Where does that leave Weller in the finale?
In the next episode both Weller and Jane have immediate pickups. Jane is furious and wants retribution for Mayfair’s death, and Weller is rocked by the revelation that his father may have killed Taylor Shaw. The next episode is really about both of them trying to get to the bottom of those questions. Jane and Weller obviously intersect in the episode, and how Kurt feels about Jane now that Taylor Shaw has been drawn into question makes him pretty paranoid. Obviously how those two feel about each other is a central, emotional story for us.
Is there anything else you want to tease heading into the finale?
We have a really surprising and fun story in store for the finale. We didn’t blow all of our twists in the penultimate episode. It’s a very big episode and is hands down the best performance that Sully and Jaimie have given this year. Anyone who is emotionally involved in the show will find it a very satisfying last episode, and it will hopefully get them really excited about what we’re doing in season two, which is turning the show on its head.
Blindspot airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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