‘Blindspot’ Creator Talks Police Brutality, Surveillance and Trust Issues

Spoiler warning: Don’t read this unless you have seen Episode 8 of NBC’s “Blindspot.”

The evening after it earned an early Season 2 renewal, “Blindspot” delivered one of its most socially conscious episodes of the season. First, fans learned that the mysterious case called Daylight that Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) has been so cagey about centers on one of American citizens’ biggest fears: the threat of national security and exposure. Similarly, the case of the week had the team covering the hot-button issue of police brutality and why officers’ body cameras may end up doing more harm than expected. Creator Martin Gero talks to Variety about these issues and what’s in store for the many new episodes of the show to come.

In Episode 8, Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) have come to a head over her involvement with Daylight. We’ve discussed how much they trust each other before. Is their relationship permanently damaged?

He’s never going to look at her the same way, I don’t think. He’s already got abandonment issues and she was a parental figure for him and he doesn’t have many good ones of those.

What’s interesting to watch now is that Mayfair disappoints him and he engages with his actual parental figure (his dad), whom he realizes might have gotten a bad rap. They’ll still be able to work together, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to trust her again.

The episode ends with her drinking at her desk and him drinking with his dad. Any correlation between those events?

Well, scotch and bourbon are delicious. But yeah, that’s something he would have done with her at some point and now he’s going to try that with his father and see how that feels.

Weller makes a good point that Jane’s (Jaimie Alexander) tattoos may lead to Mayfair. He’s not going to be able to protect her. Is that going to be a concern going forward?

It’s a general concern, certainly. The thing about the tattoos is you don’t ever know where they’re going to lead. It’s something that she (Mayfair) may be able to keep contained, but for how long? Mayfair is approaching it in a fatalistic way — it’s out there now and it’s when they’re going to drop it.

You cover two important social topics this episode: national security and police brutality. This isn’t the first time you’ve brought up social issues. Why do you and the other writers feel this is important?

Part of the fun of having a TV show and having a pulpit this big is we don’t want to be preachy, but we do want the show to feel relevant and of its time. This episode came out of the fact that I read a piece about how cops are against body cams but for all of the reasons you don’t think of: most of their job is people coming up and telling them stuff surreptitiously and gathering information on the down-low. Basic policing requires a certain amount of anonymity for the people interacting with the police. Suddenly putting body cams on these people, while we make sure the brutality goes down because they feel like they’re being watched, it makes it really difficult to police.

How do you think Daylight has reflected our own sentiments about national security?

Let me put it this way: I’m super against a lot of the programs that the NSA is doing and a lot of the programs that Edward Snowden exposed, but let’s say you and I were put into a room and the president came in and said it’s your job to keep the country safe. I just wonder how long it would take us to be like “we should be recording everything!” I think it would happen real quick.

I think the show is trying to explore that gray area where reasonable people are doing unreasonable things for what they see as good reasons. Carter (Michael Gaston) and Mayfair, say what you want, are patriots. Their ways of going about it, in many ways we would disagree, but their beliefs are true. It’s an interesting thing to have a character who we like, like Mayfair, cross a line that’s so big and see what a mistake she’s made. Those are mistakes I think are being made a lot, and they’re being made by decent people who feel overwhelmed by their situation.

I know you only have so much time per episode, but we haven’t heard any more about Orion — the word (and presumable case) that the Navy SEAL-turned-robber whispered to Jane just before he died.

Oh you will. We’ve got a lot of show left.

On that note, we know Zapata (Audrey Esparza) has a gambling problem and lost her partner when she was in the NYPD. Patterson (Ashley Johnson) has trouble keeping a relationship going. We don’t know a ton about the backstory for Reade (Rob Brown) …

There’s some great Reade stuff coming up. It’s tough; with the case and Jane and Weller, you have room for one other character. We just want to spread it around as much as possible. It is a priority of the show to slowly feel like an ensemble drama; it’s just going to take a second.

“Blindspot” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC. Read what Gero has to say about the Season 2 renewal here.

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