‘Blindspot’ Showrunner Martin Gero on Season 3, New Tattoos, Jane & Weller’s Marriage
From creator/executive producer/writer Martin Gero, Season 3 of the NBC series Blindspot has gone global, with new tattoo riddles to solve and new threats to stop. And even though they’ve been apart for two years, the team is back together, but they’re also each hiding secrets of their own that could make things very interesting when they come to light.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, showrunner Martin Gero talked about the need to evolve and reinvent a network TV show, the challenges of going global, whether this team can ever truly be honest with each other, the dynamic between Jane (Jaimie Alexander) and Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), now that they’re married, how Patterson’s (Ashley Johnson) first name became such a big mystery, the new tattoos, what Roman (Luke Mitchell) is really after, how the latest death will affect things, whether viewers might ever see Weller’s family again, the addition of Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer), and what Mary Stuart Masterson adds to the team. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: Congrats on Season 3! This season is really cool because it feels very different, but still feels like the same show.
MARTIN GERO: Yeah, I think that was super important for us. These shows, and especially network television shows, need to evolve and reinvent themselves, all the time, but you can’t mess with the chemistry that people like. If you think about it, we’ve done two seasons, but it’s really like four seasons of a cable show, and that’s the pace of storytelling that people expect and want. So, it was important for us to break some new ground, and have all of the characters that you know and love come back, but in a slightly different context and dynamic.
What have been the biggest challenges in going global this season, and what most excited you about that?
GERO: Logistically, it’s a nightmare to go international. It is nothing but a headache, and it means we really have to be on our game. You just have to be well ahead of where you should be, on a TV show. For instance, when we went to Italy, we shot that two weeks before we even started shooting the first episode. We really had to have our scripts in line, months ahead of where they were supposed to be, which is tricky business for a show that does as much as we do. I have been continually blown away by our cast and crew, and their ability to manage the extraordinary difficulties and still deliver. We’ve shot 45 episodes in New York, which is an extraordinary city, but the New York skyline isn’t wowing our viewers anymore. We really pride ourselves on how good the show looks and how visual it is, so we needed a new playground, visually, as well as story wise. The international stuff really helps us do that.
So, exactly just how bad is what happened in Berlin, especially if Roman can use it to manipulate Weller? And just how shocked will viewers be to learn about what happened in Berlin?
GERO: It’s real bad! It’s the worst. You’ll find out in this half of the season. It’s bad! There’s a lot of stuff that will come out. I think people will initially think it’s one thing, and I think they’ll be wrong. I don’t think anyone will see where it’s going. It’s a really exciting and cool storyline because it tests them.
It didn’t seem to take a lot for Roman to get Weller to do what he wanted, so it has to be bad.
GERO: Yeah, it’s real bad! The second you drop Berlin with Weller, you own Weller, especially when it comes to Jane. It’s no joke!
You’ve said that every single cast member has at least one big secret, and that they will all come out this season. Can this team ever truly be honest with each other?
GERO: Can anyone be truly honest with anyone?! One of the things that was really important for us to do, and it was really tricky, was that with some of the secrets, there’s a real good reason why they didn’t come out. Even Berlin, there’s an emotionally resonant and relatable reason why Weller doesn’t just tell Jane. For us, it’s not about a lack of trust with each other, although that’s certainly something that they struggle with, but sometimes you don’t say things to not hurt other people. Sometimes you keep things a secret because you think someone wouldn’t be able to handle your truth, and then you’re surprised when they can. I think the secrets are really satisfying, but not all of them are necessarily divisive when they come to light, as Roman hoped they would be.
Speaking of secrets, why has Patterson’s first name been such a mystery?
GERO: We don’t really talk about it. It’s a mystery show, and there are some things that are really fun to keep secret. Honestly, I didn’t think it would become such a big deal for our fan base. I think they’re having more fun guessing. We do reference it, a number of times, and you get the idea that everyone else knows what Patterson’s name is. I don’t know. It’s a fun game that I play with a very small group of our fandom. Also, when they gave Kramer’s first name [on Seinfeld], everyone was slightly disappointed. Cosmo Kramer was not the great revelation that everyone hoped it would be. So, we have an idea for what it is, and I even have an idea for who will finally give us that, but it’s not an idea that’s on the books right now.
When you came up with that character, did she have a full name, or has she always simply just been Patterson?
GERO: No, she had a full name. She was originally a very different character. She was an older character who was no-nonsense and really stern, and we just couldn’t find anyone. It wasn’t working. A lot of the time, when it’s not working and you’ve seen 50 actresses, it’s the part that’s not right and isn’t working. Our casting director on the pilot, Barbara Fiorentino, for whatever reason, was just like, “Ashley [Johnson] is the one!” And I was like, “But, she’s totally wrong! She’s too young and the energy is off.” She said, “Just have her come in and read the lines.” Even without changing the lines, Ashley was Patterson, so we just rewrote the part around her.
Now that Jane and Weller have professed their love to each other, how much will that love affect what they’re willing to do now?
GERO: For the most part, this season, it will be a great comfort and strength for them. When they both have bad moments, they have a much better support system. It’s really the only support system we’ve ever seen them have. After a day of saving the world, they can go home to each other and have time to move towards some sort of normalcy in their lives. I think that’s the way to do it. We did the will they or won’t they for two seasons, so it’s great to lean into them being married and what that means. It’s a pretty healthy relationship, all things concerned.
Why did Roman have Jane tattooed with another layer of tattoos, if he was also going to help steer her in specific directions with them? Does that all play into what he’s after?
GERO: Yeah. Roman took a page from his mom’s book, in that he’s realized how useful those tattoos can be. I don’t want to get too far into it, but he very much has a target with those tattoos. He’s going after something or somebody, and he can’t do it alone. It’s a two-pronged effect. Roman has a huge role this season, but it’s outside of the team because they’d arrest him, if he ever got close. But, he has a story that I think people will really love. He’s working the inside while they’re working the outside of the case, and it will take awhile for the audience and the team to figure out what the endgame is. Not only is Roman working towards a goal where he needs their help, but it’s punitive. He’s punishing his sister, as well. He’s put her back under the employee of the FBI and hopes to show her that all of these people that she chose over him aren’t exactly who they say they are.
Would you say that no matter what good things come from solving some of these tattoos riddles, we should always remember that Roman is a bad guy?
GERO: I don’t think that’s ever out of our mind! For instance, Reade is very reticent to follow these tattoos, but they basically save the world because of them. They’re playing a dangerous game, but the upside is so huge. They understand that it’s really important to keep an eye on the context of all of this, and to their credit, they never get as behind as they did on the Sandstorm of it all.
By the end of Episode 302, Stuart became the latest casualty of the team. Is what happened to him connected to the digging he was doing with Jane’s tattoo?
GERO: I think that’s a very safe assumption.
How will his death affect things?
GERO: It will affect things, a great deal. Certainly, Patterson has a renewed vigor to try to figure out what that tattoo is. That tattoo that Stuart was trying to figure out plays a central role in the first half of the season. He had some information that the team doesn’t have, so it takes them a second to figure out what he was onto, but it’s huge. It’s a huge moment in this season.
Does a death like that, so early on, mean that we should be worried about everybody?
GERO: I think you should always be worried about everybody on Blindspot. We have a long, rich history of killing fan favorites. It’s important, on a show like this, for it to feel like no one is safe, and that has always been the case.
Is there any chance that we’ll get to see Weller’s family again?
GERO: It’s possible. We certainly have tried. Jordana [Spiro] is real busy. She’s a popular working actress, and it hasn’t lined up. The few times that we’ve reached out to her, it’s been an issue.
How did it come about that you decided to bring Rich in for more episodes?
GERO: Ennis Esmer, who plays Rich Dotcom, and I have been working together for over 15 years. I’m just such a huge fan of his and I wrote Rich Dotcom for him. It was amazing to watch him flourish in this environment, and it was also an incredibly important character for us. It was the first episode where we could really do a straight-up fun episode. We brought him back twice a season, which felt like the right balance, but we had conversations as early as the second season, about how Rich could join the team. It always felt like it would be so hard to do organically because it would have to be so slow and gradual. We decided that, if we were lucky enough to get a third season, with the two-year time jump, it just made all the sense in the world to back sell it that he’s been working with the FBI for the last year. Reade and Hirst already trust him, and we trust them, so it was a way to vouch for him and get him onto the team. We don’t take these night moves casually. Friday night is a different type of viewing environment than Wednesday night is. For us, we really wanted people to be able to recognize the show, but our fun episodes are some of the best episodes that we do, so that was a big goal this year. We wanted to make Blindspot more fun to watch. What better way to get into the weekend than Blindspot? So, we wanted to meter some of the doom and gloom. And don’t worry, there’s plenty there, but we wanted to have fun this year, as well, and the Rich Dotcom character is a huge part of that.
How does his presence shift the dynamic, this season?
GERO: They all are so different around him, for better or worse, but they’re still themselves. Initially, we were worried because he’s got a lot of overlap with Patterson’s skill set. We didn’t want him to make Patterson less special, but it does the opposite and really shines the lot on how amazing Patterson is. Their relationship is one of the most enjoyable things to watch, this season, I think.
What do you most enjoy about what Mary Stuart Masterson brings to the show, especially in Hirst’s dynamic with Reade?
GERO: Reade went through a rough year, last season. It’s great to have him have a mentor who just really believes in him and is really only looking out for Reade. She’s slightly distrustful of the rest of the team. She brings up the point of, it’s nice to have the band back together, but he doesn’t know these people anymore. It’s been two years. Honestly, Pellington was amazing, but he was always a hard-ass and an antagonist on the show. It’s great to have Hirst back, and Mary Stuart is such a phenomenal and warm presence, both on camera and off. She’s an icon! I went to go talk to her, during the finale of last season, and I just thought, “Oh, my god, you were in every movie I loved, when I was a kid!” It just washes over you, occasionally, and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, you’re a big deal! It’s nice to have you on the show!” She’s also so wonderful. The whole cast is madly in love with her. She’s been an excellent presence.
Blindspot airs on Friday nights on NBC.