Synopsis: A woman (Jane) is found with tattoos covering her body, each one with some hidden meaning, possibly related to a crime-in-progress. One of those tattoos has the name of an FBI agent–Kurt Weller–and no one knows why. She can’t remember anything about who she is, where she learned her skills, or why this might have been done to her.
Series: Pilot just aired.
I’ve Watched: First episode.
Verdict: Has some potential.
Ever since I heard the premise for this show, I’ve been pretty skeptical. That’s probably because the main protagonist serves as a literal message board. Something about that is just inherently creepy for me. And it did kinda sound like an excuse for the camera to focus on the lead actress’ body while hiding under the defense of it being relevant for the plot (though for the most part, I don’t think it actually does that, except maybe in the promo material). I might not have even given this show a shot in the first place, if Ashley Johnson (Critical Role, Much Ado About Nothing) wasn’t part of the cast.
Thankfully, this story appears to be very much Jane’s journey. She’s the one who has to find out who she is and what she’s going to do. She’s the one with the highest emotional stakes. And she’s very much carrying the show.
Jaime Alexander is really doing a good job playing a character in an incredibly vulnerable situation, and is being allowed to express just how emotionally traumatic that is. The show is actually spending time on that and allowing it instead of sweeping it under the carpet, so that’s actually good.
There was this small, powerful moment when Jane was dropped off at a safe house by Agent Weller. He hasn’t exactly been decent emotional support up to this point, and obviously just wants to get rid of her as fast as he can without being actively insensitive. But she still has this moment of ‘wait, you’re leaving?’ Because she came to consciousness with nothing and no one in this world, and now she’s about to lose the reassurance of having anyone–even a total stranger–to connect with.
It’s really the focus on her emotional journey and experiences that’s making for the strong moments of this episode. I especially prefer when she’s on that journey with anyone other than Weller–like by herself, or with Dr. Bordon, who had a nice scene with her. I also appreciate that when Jane’s skills come out reflexively, it isn’t always a good thing. And that lack of control as well as her lack of knowledge about herself just adds on to the things she’s dealing with.
A lot of the supporting cast is interesting, but not well fleshed out yet. There’s promise. Bordon stands out as someone I would really love to have a conversation with, and both of Weller’s coworkers have the makings of fun characters on the surface.
The male lead (Weller) is initially unlikable. The hyper competence he supposedly has is not helping. And I may have actually hated him in the scene where he meets Jane–she’s going through an incredibly traumatic experience, and he’s got the emotional response of a cardboard box. All that matters to him is how she might relate to the case he’s working. He could at least be uncomfortable about not knowing how to engage with her, self-conscious about not being the best person equipped to talk to her. But he just does not care. It wouldn’t be driving me crazy if this was acknowledged in the narrative–yes, some people are like this. And it usually creates a ton of friction between them and the people around them. But Kurt Weller? No, everyone worships him.
It’s not as grating later on, when Jane ends up in more unexpected and unsettling circumstances. Then, it starts being a little bit more welcome that he isn’t easily rattled. But I still like the rest of his team better than him.
He also, by the end of the episode, still thinks of Jane more as an object than a person. That’s made obvious by his criticism of his boss, Mayfair. (Also, dude? Don’t talk to your boss like that.) He refers to her as a resource that Mayfair risked by letting her out in the field. Because the tattoos on her skin, which they need her help interpreting, could help prevent crimes. He’s thinking of her as a pawn instead of a player, despite all the reasons she seems to be important in her own right, and also ignoring the big picture of who did this to her–specifically to her–and why.
It’s also interesting to note that while this entire episode was focused on stopping an act of terrorism, the audience is made aware that it was never really about the crime. The perpetrator was never supposed to succeed, and he even knew that the whole time. This whole plan was really all about Jane. Perhaps about putting her on a certain path, though we don’t know yet. So what’s actually going on?
We’ll see where this goes. I like Jane’s emotional journey. I like what little we’ve seen of most of the agents, excepting Weller. So there’s certainly promise. If it gets bogged down with being a typical procedural, there’s a good chance it’ll lose me. It also has the disadvantage of not being sci-fi, unless you count the magic drug Jane’s dosed with. But I’m going to keep watching for now.