Reade: "Behind her right ear, actually."
Here we have yet another high concept series about a mystery/conspiracy involving the FBI. On the surface, this feels like another version of Blacklist without Raymond Reddington (I wouldn't be surprised if the shows existed in the same universe). Yet I found myself engaged with this pilot, which was probably due to the likability of Jaimie Alexander as Jane Doe.
Alexander is a good lead, and Jane is an interesting character from the start. The tattoos are just the beginning of the mystery of her character, who appears to be a secret female Navy Seal trained in advanced hand to hand combat, firearms, and obscure foreign language dialects. But more than that, she is vulnerable. A stranger to the world, and that humanizes the character who would otherwise be your standard bad-ass. She manages to inject a sense of deep violation, isolation, and exposure into her mannerisms. Which makes total sense, given that her whole body has been used as a prop in someone's game, and she doesn't even know where to start to deal with it.
The whole amnesia thing being drug induced is a cool and unique twist. I bet there will be all sorts of complications, and side-effects from that process. Plus it seems it was at least somewhat voluntary on her part. I also really liked the doctor who explained to Jane that even if she never regains her memories, it is her choices that define her, and through those choices she can discover who she is. That could be an interesting journey to take with this character.
I'm not quite as fond of Kurt Weller, who doesn't do much to separate himself from every other square-jawed hero type in every other FBI procedural on the air. That opening scene with the raid on the asshat that was holding those women hostage was supposed to be a character establishing moment for Weller, but I don't think it fully worked. While I got that he was a good guy who can improvise, I didn't get anything particularly special from him.
Speaking of Weller improvising, I bet that is probably going to be a reoccurring thing, because him tearing off some of the C4 to reduce the size of the explosion in the subway scene was pretty damn smart. Plus would it have killed Weller to have dinner with Jane that first night? She was clearly terrified, alone, and in need of human connection. He did seem kind of freaked about the whole situation too, so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on him.
At least the supporting cast seems to be strong. Ashley Johnson (Patterson) was fun as the primary tech who is in charge of figuring out the tattoos (and who also shares Marvel alumni status with Alexander). Then there was Rob Brown (Agent Reade) who had the two best lines in the episode. Audrey Esparza (Agent Zapata) had a nice presence, even if she really only had a couple of lines. Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Director Mayfair) was good change of pace for the typical leader character, yet her secret file with illicit sounding words like embezzlement and murder makes me wonder if she is a good guy. It doesn't look good that the file she seems so concerned about corresponds to a tattoo on Jane's body.
There were some moderately original moments in the episode as well. From the opening shot of an empty Times Square and Jane crawling out of a duffel bag, to the final confrontation inside the head of the Statue of Liberty, it felt like a lot of money was put into this pilot. The primary antagonist was pretty throw away, though, and it was appropriate that he was killed off just as easily as the heroes took him down. I hope the threats in future episodes are more interesting.
Overall I think this was a strong pilot, with a lot to like. Whether the series plays out in the long run is anyone's guess. The show basically rests on Alexander's shoulders, both as the lead and as the central mystery. Even if the story isn't woven properly, and the reveals don't fully pan out in the long haul, she might be worth watching from week to week.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.