8:00pm PT by Amber Dowling
'Blindspot' Creator Breaks Down Premiere Reveals and "Accelerated" Season 2
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's season two premiere of Blindspot, "In Night So Ransomed Rogue"]
If viewers were feeling antsy heading into Wednesday’s second-season premiere of NBC drama Blindspot, odds are they left feeling pretty damn satisfied. The return picked up three months from where last season’s finale left off, with Jane (Jaimie Alexander) finally escaping the clutches of the CIA’s dark torture room and incoming character Nas (Archie Panjabi) convincing Jane’s former team to reconnect with her in order to bring down the terrorist organization now known as “Sandstorm.”
And that was just the beginning. Before the hour was up viewers learned that Jane Doe’s real name is indeed Alice Kruger (as avid fans deduced), and that Roman (Luke Mitchell), who was previously seen as a younger kid in a flashback, is actually Jane’s brother. Oh, and Shepherd — the supposed mastermind of it all? Turns out she’s actually Jane’s foster mother (Michelle Hurd) and she’s not convinced that Jane isn’t a double agent.
At this point, it’s unclear if Jane herself knows which side she’s on, but to make matters worse, viewers also learned there’s a mole inside the FBI. And it’s one of the show's established characters. Topping it all off were two quick snapshots at the very end: one of Jane in a soldier's uniform, and another of Shepherd and Roman overlooking a giant rocket.
To stop heads from spinning and find out what else could possibly be in store for the second season, THR sat down with creator and showrunner Martin Gero. Here he breaks down the planning that goes into these clues and those types of twists, what fans need to know about the mole, and crafting a midseason finale that may blow everyone’s minds.
How long has Sandstorm been in your back pocket?
Since the beginning, we’ve always known. You can’t do a show like this and not know what’s going on. We always knew Jane’s backstory and the shape of the organization behind her. We didn’t have the name until this year. We kept calling them the Island of Misfit Toys. And then that became The Misfits, but that didn’t sound like a great name for a show like this. And then one of our writers, Chris Pozzebon, came up with that monologue that Nas has about why she gave them that name. It was great; we got to learn a little bit about Nas and it was a badass name.
How far in advance do you actually plan with this show?
We are hyper planners. It’s one of those things you can say and then nobody believes you because mostly that turns out to be a lie. But we start our room about a month and a half before most writers rooms start up. Coming into season two, we spent the first week and a half talking about season three, just so that we make sure we’re teeing everything up properly. There’s an enormous amount planned from the beginning.
Part of that is just the climate. When you’re pitching these shows nowadays you can’t just have a bunch of dangling threads. When I pitched the show they wanted to know, well, who is she? What’s going on? You can’t just say you’ll figure it out; networks have gotten really wise to great pilots that don’t necessarily make great series. At the time, it felt like an exhausting amount of work to do for just a pitch, but now that we’re actually making the show, I couldn’t be more thankful because we’ve had a solid playbook from the beginning.
How do you keep track of all that?
I work with an astoundingly smart group of writers; if you came to our office it would look like we’re planning a massive attack. Every episode is laid out all the way up until episode 22 — working backwards, what plot elements we’re going to reveal and when. And then we have the stuff we need to layer in to make season three work. It’s a big group effort, so it’s not like it’s all stuff that needs to just fit in one person’s head. That’s why all writers rooms are just covered in wipe boards. There is so much information that we’re constantly tracking and trying to fit in and streamline.
How will Jane’s brother and mother factor into the season going forward?
Roman is in every episode. Shepherd is kind of the leader so she’s not in every episode, but she’s certainly in a lot of the opening ones so that we can start to create a relationship between her and Jane. I don’t want to give too much away, but Luke is here for every episode. Jane has been struggling to find an actual, tangible connection with somebody since she came out of that bag in the pilot. Roman is that guy; she has a history with him. They’re blood relatives. That’s a very meaningful moment for us when he gives her his blood. They’re deeply connected, these two. The problem is that he’s a maniac. He’s kind of like her before the memory wipe. She sees him take out six cops without blinking an eye. That’s a terrifying person to suddenly have a connection with. And so she’s got to be careful, but it has an enormous pull on her.
Did having a brother figure also purposefully keep you away from another love triangle?
A love triangle made sense for season one, but it didn’t make sense for season two. We wanted somebody who had a stronger bond than just a fiance. Family is family and that’s what she’s been searching for this whole time, both metaphorically and literally. To just give it to her was a powerful thing to do.
At the end of the episode, was that a nuke Shepherd had underway?
It was a rocket … I’m not going to tell you what kind of rocket it is. There’s no way to know what the payload is. It could be a nuke, but it’s a pretty giant rocket.
How does the coin Alice receives from her brother factor in?
It’s not a massive thing or a plot thing; it’s more of a character thing that we’ll revisit. It’s a memento or totem that’s important to them as characters and something that is between the two of them. It will make more sense as you learn their backstories. It’s something very personal to them.
Is there a metaphor for two-face in it?
The two sides of them is not something that was lost on us. Jane, in a lot of ways, is going to try and save Roman this year, and Roman is feeling like he has to save Jane from herself. So there is a fascinating tension between the two of them. But it starts from a place where they love each other a lot. It makes Jane very dangerous, to be honest. She doesn’t exactly have a great relationship with the American government. The opening of season two is one of the biggest things we’ve ever done production-wise and it gives away a huge piece of Jane’s backstory. It starts to mess with Jane’s head because these bad guys that she has vilified start to make a lot of sense to her. And that makes Nas really nervous.
Is there significance behind the name Alice Kruger?
There’s nothing hidden in that name. For us it’s like Alice through the looking glass kind of thing, and Kruger is just a very common South African name.
Were you surprised fans were able to figure out the name so quickly based on your clues?
Yeah, I was shocked. But to be honest, I’ve stopped being surprised at how smart our fans are. They just invest so much into it and it was just a cool, fun little thing for us to do — scattering the letters out there. They really put it together. We thought a name would be a bit harder but they figured it out. A lot of them, too. You can only ever trust the first couple of responses because then people can be like, copy and paste. But it’s pretty amazing.
Does that weigh on you when you’re creating things like this — how quickly the audience can decipher the clues, or does it challenge you to make them harder?
It’s so exciting. It means they’re engaged. That’s what you’re doing as a storyteller, making them care about stuff. If they care enough to spend hours deciphering titles and little clues, it means they’re really being pulled into the world. That’s very exciting for us. David Kwong is a phenomenal puzzle and magician master. All of us are pretty big puzzlers too so it’s just a really fun thing to do. It’s a show about trying to figure stuff out, so to have these little secret things built into the show makes it more fun.
Another premiere reveal was Jane in the soldier suit. Does that open up the door for flashbacks to that time?
Yeah, we’ll see exactly where that picture comes from.
We now know there’s a mole inside the FBI. Have you always known who that person was going to be and does the actor know?
Oh, yeah. And the actor knows. I’m using the term actor in a genderless meaning of course.
Will there be clues so that the audience can figure it out on their own?
We certainly don’t want people to feel like, “Hey, what the hell? That’s cheating ...” Not only will there be clues, but there have been clues.
Structure-wise, what’s the timeline like on that? Does it follow the first season of one big mystery pre-midseason and another post?
I don’t want to say when we’re giving away big turns, but I will say we give away stuff a lot quicker than you think. And we really do treat our one season like two mini-seasons. The pace of storytelling has accelerated because most shows people are watching now are cable shows or streaming shows. The volume of these six-, 10-, 13-episode shows are everywhere. We don’t want to be seen as a show going at a slower pace than that.
We just submitted the script for episode nine, which will be the midseason finale, and people read it and said, “Are you sure this isn’t the finale?” It is huge. We’re giving away a lot. There’s a ton of stuff happening. It’s going to be a massive episode.
Until then, what kind of structure are you using between mythology and case-of-the-week?
We’ve always liked a balance. We don’t want to mess with what worked last year, so there will be a balance of mythology and case-of-the-week cases. Bringing back old, fun characters like Rich Dotcom and stuff like that. The fun thing is that we’re able to find a greater balance of the mythology and some of the interpersonal stuff this year, so it doesn’t feel like it’s just kind of throw in. It feels more interwoven. It’s not hugely noticeable, but it will make it a little more fulfilling.
Next week, Blindspot moves to its regular time slot on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
What do you think of the premiere? Sound off in the comments below.