NBC’s new crime thriller “Blindspot” has one of the most memorable opening scenes of any recent television series: A woman, played by Jaimie Alexander (“Thor”), emerges naked from a duffel bag in the middle of New York City’s Times Square, her body covered with intricate tattoos.
"The opening just kind of came to me one morning,” creator Martin Gero recalled. “I had lived in Times Square when there was a bomb scare and so I'd seen it emptied out and it was always such an amazing image.”
Gero, who also serves as showrunner, was joined at New York Comic Con by stars Sullivan Stapleton ("300: Rise of an Empire"), Rob Brown ("Finding Forrester"), Audrey Esparza ("Amateurs"), Ashley Johnson ("The Help") and Marianne Jean-Baptiste ("Robocop") to talk with journalists about the new series.
“Blindspot” is a heavily serialized treasure hunt, with the tattoos of Alexander’s Jane Doe serving as the map: They hold clues to possible terrorist attacks. However, complicating matters is that Jane doesn’t remember anything about her past or her tattoos.
"Blindspot" is a heavily serialized treasure hunt with Jaimie Alexander's full-body tattoo as the map. Complicating matters, Alexander's Jane Doe doesn’t remember anything about her life or the tattoos -- nor does she know how she was bundled in a canvas bag and left in New York City’s Time Square.
The series also offers puzzles in the title sequence. To create them, and those on Doe's body, the producers hired The New York Times crossword architect David Kwong.
"We did a thing with the title that people solved immediately, which was really fun,” Gero said. “There's hidden messages in the title that if you put together for the first 10 episodes has a little secret encoded message about the show. We will changeup how we do that from Episode 2 to 11 because people solved them way too quick.”
Doe partners with Stapleton's FBI Agent Kurt Weller, primarily because his name appears on her back. However, their relationship has deeper roots. In fact, Weller may have allowed a young Doe to be kidnapped.
"He certainly holds himself responsible for her," Stapleton said. "I believe that's what drove him to become an agent."
Their relationship will evolve throughout the series. "I think what's great, the emotional complexity of what that means for Weller and her is something really complex,” Gero said, “and we play it through the entire rest of the season.”
That part of Doe's life, and at least one of her former names, Taylor Shaw, is revealed in the first few episodes. But Gero said plenty of mysteries remain to be unraveled. "The thing about Taylor, what she kind of says in Episode 5, she was only Taylor for five years,” he teased. “It's only part of the puzzle."
However, “Blindspot” doesn’t focus entirely on Weller and Doe. NBC gave the drama a full-season order earlier this month, which will allow the writers to explore other members of the FBI team.
"I think that what the writers are doing quite cleverly is although they have the case you have, trying to figure out tattoos, [they] also manage to weave in stuff about the characters and who they are," said Jean-Baptiste, whose character Bethany Mayfair not only has to contend with the enigmatic Doe, but also manage the team.
Playing an FBI agent or technician can be a challenge for the cast, both mentally and physically. Johnson, who portrays tech geek Patterson, constantly worries about jargon. "Every time I see the new stuff, I panic a little, " she said. "With a character like this you have to do a lot of research."
Esparza was equally concerned with the physical training for her role as Tasha Zapata. Fortunately, she received guidance on using guns from elsewhere in the cast. "Sullivan Stapleton is an incredible asset,” she said. “If I'm holding a gun wrong, he'll let me know.”
Patterson, Esparza, Mayfair and the rest of the FBI team will have to look over their shoulders, because this season’s villain, Thomas Carter, is trailing them. "The character of Carter, who you meet at the end of Episode 3, is basically the big bad for the season,” Gero explained. “He's very determined over the next 22 episodes to get rid of Jane. He sees Jane as enormous threat. He doesn’t believe that she doesn't remember who she is. And, he's very nervous because her body has some information that to his mind only three or four people in the world knew about.”
Gero also promises more mysteries and revelations to come. "It's really important for me that shows don't feel like all middle," he said. "You can't dole little bits out and then have one big revelation at the end of the season." In other words, expect major turning points in Episode 10 and again in the season finale.
"Blindspot" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.