Tattooed naked women popping out of bags in the middle of Times Square happens more often than you might think. What is unusual is when one of them has no memory of who they are or how they got there. Then there's the little detail that each tattoo is connected to an overarching criminal conspiracy.
Such is the setup of Blindspot, the action series starring Jaimie Alexander - she of Asgardian fame in the Thor films - as the nicknamed "Jane", who quickly comes to the attention of the FBI and ends up working with them as they attempt to uncover the clues of her tattoos. Although each episode has a strong procedural element, the internal mythology of the tattoos and their significance propels things forward, revealing more about Jane's background along the way. Things culminated at the half-season point with the greatest revelation of all: Jane is shown a self-recording stating that she is the one who had her own mind wiped and sent herself out on this journey. As to why, presumably we'll find out in the second half of the season, though that doesn't mean that series creator Martin Gero and Alexander can't be interrogated for a bit more information on what it all means.
For Alexander, this paradigm shift in the show and the character came as a surprise, largely because she has asked the writers not to reveal anything to her with the exception of stunts that she has to train for.
"This was a shocker," she says. "It's something I thought was possible, for sure, but didn't know if that was the way it was going to go. That was very grounding for me, and exciting as well."
For her, it just makes Jane a richer character and someone she's excited to learn more about, particularly if it turns out that Jane wasn't such a great person in her previous life. "She is such a good person by nature - but what was she nurtured to be in the past?" Alexander ponders. "That remains to be seen. I would love to play that duality. It's really nature versus nurture."
Such a left turn for the character was, she notes, like getting a proverbial punch to the gut - something she's used to delivering on the show, not receiving. As the series goes forward, she believes it will lead to trust issues in that her previous self is telling her to trust the man, Oscar, who is showing her the video. At the same time, the FBI is telling her to trust them - added to which is the fact that because of the video, she doesn't even know if she can trust herself.
"The first half of the first season," she says, "Jane went primarily by gut instinct and intuition. Now with this new info, she's definitely moved up into her mind and she has the duality that we, everyday people, deal with, which is the mind against the heart. That makes for some very complicated situations, and it definitely affects her decision making."
The "shape" of the show, emphasises Gero, remains the same, though there are challenges. The Jane of the first ten episodes was something of a blank slate, which was appropriate considering that was pretty much the state of the audience at the time. "Then", he notes, "when she realises that this was basically her idea, suddenly the dynamic between her and the other characters swings in a way that I think really breathes a new life into the show. Suddenly she has a secret and motives that, in many ways, are in conflict with the rest of the team. For me, this is a character show first and foremost and the inner dynamic with all the characters suddenly gets a shot of adrenaline and gives us so much story to tell in the back half of the season."
Gero describes the show's writers room as looking like a serial killer's lair, filled with photos of tattoos, puzzles, "crazy scrawls" in red pens for one thing, blue pens for another. "These are complicated shows to put together," he says, made somewhat easier by the fact that the split season gave them a sense of crafting two fairly distinct stories. He points to shows like Game Of Thrones and Fargo where the pace of storytelling doesn't require things to stretch out over 22 episodes. "For us", he muses, "this is like two parts of a thrilling novel that can have a beginning, a middle and an end. At the same time, the last three episodes of the season will have major twists in them that reinvents the show again."
Reinvention hasn't been necessary for Alexander, who details that she still goes on her gut instinct, using sympathy and empathy in the crafting of her characters - something that's applied to Jane from the beginning due to the lack of back story. The new info going into the second half of the season does, however, complicate things a bit. Points out the actress: "There's a wider range of emotions that I'm getting to play and am much more involved with all the other characters on the show. She's a little bit of a different person with each character that she encounters. I'm getting to play different sides of Jane's personality, when in the beginning it was a little bit black and white."
One of those sides which has not changed has been Jane's role as an ass-kicker. Fight sequences - an integral element of Blindspot - are certainly nothing new for Alexander, having portrayed Sif in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, and reprising the role in a pair of episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There is a world - and at least $100 million budget - of difference between the mediums she's worked in.
"What takes a film three weeks to shoot, we have half a day when it comes to action," she offers. "We're blowing things up multiple times a day. It's the craziest schedule I've ever been a part of, and it's extremely difficult. It's well worth it, but it takes a toll. TV has been an interesting process. Sometimes I don't get to learn these fights at all, and I have to learn them as I'm fighting. I'll get shown five moves at a time and I'll film those five moves, and then move on to the next five moves. That can be really intense. I've learned how to essentially improv a fight really quickly. Which is great, because anything after this is going to be a cake walk."
Blindspot returns to Sky Living on March 15. It currently airs in America on NBC.