From creator/showrunner Martin Gero, the NBC drama series Blindspot is heading into its fifth and final season that will take fans on a roller coaster ride of emotions and action, as the team attempts to carry out a mission that will clear their names and allow them to return to their lives. With Jane (Jaimie Alexander) and the surviving members of the former FBI taskforce on the run without their usual gadgets and tech, they know they must do the impossible and find a way to stop Madeline (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) before she takes them out for good.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, executive producer/writer Martin Gero talked about deciding that Season 5 should be where they wrap up their story, fitting the usual amount of story into half the amount of episodes, why Madeline became such a formidable adversary, how the team will be closer than ever this season, and how close the final season and the series finale are to what he originally envisioned with his five-season plan.
Collider: Being the last season of the show, does it feel both sad and exciting?
MARTIN GERO: Yeah, I think that’s right. We went in and pitched this as the last season. We asked for 11 more episodes to wrap up the story, and we’re so insanely fortunate that they let us do it. I think we were all feeling like a hundred was a round perfect number for this type of show. This type of show can’t run forever.
What would you say to tease how things are for this team and how that plays out, over the season, as we continue to see what they have to endure to succeed in this mission?
GERO: What’s so fun this season is that you get to see the team at their most creative and their most ingenious. The show moves so fast, this year. We’re doing half as many episodes as we usually do, and we’re fitting in just about as much story, so it allows us to not draw things out. They have an idea and they go after it, and it either works or it doesn’t. It’s either a failure or a success. The show moves really, really fast. One of my favorite shows is The Shield, and what I always loved about that show is that they had a plan, but the plan would go so sideways, that they’d immediately have to come up with another plan, and that happens a lot on our show. You think, “Oh, okay, the next three episodes will be about this,” and then that blows up, halfway through that episode,” and they have to immediately pivot. So, watching them react and have to ride out the storm, in the middle of the ocean, all on their own, is very, very fun.
This season, it’s basically the team, or what’s left of the team, against the world, still trying to take down Madeline (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and get their names cleared. Why was she a formidable enough adversary that you wanted to carry her over into this last season and play that out, over the final run?
GERO: Well, for two reasons. One is that we’re always looking to keep our audience on their toes. We don’t want them to guess where we’re going, ever. And we’ve never really had the big bad win. Our approach to the seasons were always novelistic. We always wanted each season to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, which is great for the storytelling, but it also becomes a little predictable when you’re like, “Oh, they’re gonna beat the bad guy, in the last episode.” So, we wanted them to lose. We wanted it to feel like a very different end of the season. And we also were really excited about just a different dynamic in the final season. It’s them on the run, and it shakes up the vibe of the show, which lends itself very well to this vibe of, it’s a show about endings, it’s a season about endings, and it’s a season about saying goodbye. And also, to be totally honest, a big part of it is that Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is so fucking great that we just couldn’t say goodbye.
When you started writing that character, did you know that she would be sticking around as long as she has, or was that something that developed out of it just being too good of a character to say goodbye to, too quickly?
GERO: Yeah, that was the idea. We had made a two-season deal with her because we knew it was not gonna just end, in Season 4. We’re always calling audibles, based on the talent that we bring in, and this really just shored up that it was great decision and a great character to do this with. She was so spectacular.
What do you feel she’s brought to the role, that you hadn’t even necessarily seen for the character?
GERO: She’s just having so much fun. The character and ME are just so devilishly joyous in that performance. She’s so charming and hilarious and really funny. It’s incredibly off-putting to have someone that scary, do it so effortlessly with a smile. She can pivot on a dime. It’s really incredible, and it’s so fun having her around. Obviously, she’s an icon. She’s one of the greatest American actresses, ever, and having her around really elevated everyone’s work.
This team is really all in with each other, at this point, since they don’t have anyone else they can trust and rely on. What will that be like for them? Will that bring them closer together than ever, or will it create more tension?
GERO: It’ll mostly bring them closer together than ever. Our fans, for the most part, understand why our main characters need to have conflict between them, in a regular season, because that’s where story comes from. But at the end of the day, they hate it when our team fights. It’s usually impossible to accommodate that because a TV show needs conflict. However now, because there’s so much external conflict going on, the team is more united than it’s ever been and they need to rely on each other, more than they ever have. They literally have no other friends. There are so many incredible team moments, this year. It’s really beautiful.
Does this season also force Weitz (Aaron Abrams) to become less about saving his own behind and more about the realization that he’s just as much under threat as the team is?
GERO: Yeah, for sure, but I would argue that is about him, as well. He’s always looking out for himself, so he does what is best for him. What’s best for him is helping the team because Madeline may or may not want to kill him soon. Aaron Abrams, the actor who plays that character, and I have been working together now for close to 20 years, and it’s so fun to watch him. He’s so likeably dislikable. Its’ such a fun character to watch because you really know that he’s trying. He really is trying, but he’s got this self-preservation gene in him that’s pretty hard to quell.
How close would you say this final season is to what you thought it might be, when you thought about the final season of the show, and how close is the ending of the series to what you thought it might be?
GERO: The ending of the series is pretty much exactly what I thought it would be, which is really exciting. When you come up with a five-season plan, in year one, the level of detail gets pretty hazy, the further out you go. We knew that, in Season 5, they would be on the run, and we had a vague idea of what the final moments of the show would be. But what’s so incredible about making a TV show is that it’s the most communal group activity that you can do. It’s no single person’s show. We have such incredible writers that add so much. We have this incredible cast breathes insane life into the show. And then, there are literally hundreds of other artisans and creative people that bring the show to life. They so inform where the show goes. So, yes, we had an idea for what the season would be, but it’s so far exceeded, in execution, our hopes. I’m incredibly proud of the last episode. It feels very unique and strange and good, in a Blindspot way. We had to shoot that episode over two and a half months, on and off again, between every episode, for a reason that I can’t go into until you see it. This last season is just an incredible celebration of the show and its fans, and I’m incredibly proud of the work everyone did.
Blindspot airs on Thursday nights on NBC.