After another break, Blindspot is back -- and ready to fill in some blanks. Notice that I didn't write "answer questions." Despite its mystery box origins, the show has done a nice job of parsing down the big questions in Season 2. While it's still unclear exactly how Shepherd (Michelle Hurd) will unveil Phase Two or what exactly she wants with Kurt (Sullivan Stapleton), the stakes are quite clear: There's a big bad, and the team has to stop her.
"Evil Did I Dwell, Lewd I Did Live," amid its significant info-dump, aligned with this more streamlined version of Blindspot. From the opening moments, with Nas (Archie Panjabi) surviving a brutal attack in her car, the episode throttled forward with a clear focus on revealing key -- but momentous -- details about both Shepherd and Sandstorm.
The biggest download came with the reveal of Nas' source, who happened to be a character we already knew: Cade (Tom Lipinski). After a fun little ransom money drop and chase sequence (complete with Jaimie Alexander jumping down a laundry chute), Cade's true-ish intentions were finally uncovered.
Although there's a legitimate argument to be had about moles, leaks, and informants always being characters we already know, it works better this way. For one, the Sandstorm conspiracy is already too sprawling to begin with, particularly everything involving Jane, the tattoos, and whatever is going on with Weller. Adding yet another character, or yet another wrinkle, to an already massive -- and frankly, convoluted -- storyline would be too much.
For two, this hour managed to do something the show couldn't accomplish in all of Season 1: Make me care, if even a little, about Cade. After stuffing the show full of interchangeable soldier/assassin-types last season, Blindspot has at least given the audience a reason to empathize with people like that in Season 2. Roman (Luke Mitchell) and Jane have obviously had their histories filled in -- mostly with trauma -- but the small revelations about Cade here helped smooth out the story.
In fact, those revelations worked on two levels. They filled in the necessary blanks regarding the plot: Shepherd recruited an angry, young Cade into her organization and he turned against her once he realized that the Sandstorm plan was more about mass murder than draining the swamp. While he did indeed try to kill Oscar and Jane for their part in Marcos' death, Cade also worked Sandstorm from the inside to deliver intel to Nas to prevent Phase Two. "Evil Did I Dwell" didn't exactly create a thrilling way for this information to be revealed -- Cade just spilled it all out -- but it was efficient and logical given what we've seen before.
More interestingly, however, was what Cade's backstory meant for Kurt and Shepherd's bigger plans. Part of Cade's truth was the tidbit that his father, a miner, died in a terrible accident that the insurance company and government wouldn't admit. Kurt's uncle? Also a miner. The two shared a brief moment of compassion and recognition, which was surprisingly affecting. Plus, that connection speaks to Shepherd's strategy in recruiting talent: broken soldier types with blue-collar backgrounds. Who knew that Shepherd's ultimate plan to Make America Great Again was to also appeal to the economically frustrated? WEIRD.
The episode's most momentous event came after Cade's intel, but still fit the directive of filling in the blanks -- or, in this case, blowing up a loose end in Borden (Ukweli Roach). While Shepherd's influence was all over this episode, she wasn't exactly around, leaving her latest lieutenant to try to outsmart the team yet again. This time, it didn't go well.
It's always fun when shows suddenly explain away a previously frustrating plot point as this episode did with Shepherd's uncanny ability to be one step ahead of the squad. Turns out, when she tortured Patterson (Ashley Johnson), she also implanted our favorite genius with a tracker. Armed with that information, Patterson and company crafted a plan to lure Borden and his off-brand Sandstorm lackeys into a trap, one that concluded in deadly fashion.
If there's one thing consistent about Blindspot it's how often they use Johnson's Patterson to create palpable emotional moments and the show pulled it off again here. Borden wasn't a fascinating enough character to care about, or care if he blew himself up, but Johnson (and Roach, to his credit) made the final encounter worthwhile. Not only did Patterson refuse to take violent action against a man who betrayed her on every level, but she never let him get the upper hand -- well, until he blew himself up.
Borden had run his course as a semi-conflicted villain, which made this the perfect time to dispose of him. Between his death and the Cade revelations, Blindspot has cleared out the clutter to set the stage for the significant showdown with Shepherd coming around the corner. (This is assuming that the episode's cliffhanger, the tranquilizing of Jane and her boytoy, is connected to Shepherd in some way, which I believe it is.) This a show with its problems -- how anyone thought a drug test C-story was the best way to continue Edgar (Rob Brown)'s journey is beyond me -- but it definitely has fewer of them now than it did this time last year.
Blindspot airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.