'Blindspot' Season 5 Episode 3 Review: Madeline's murder spree isn't her only win over Matthew and the agents

The trajectory Madeline's torture follows is both amusing and alarming: she propositions Matthew with leverage and then leaves him to crumble


                            'Blindspot' Season 5 Episode 3 Review: Madeline's murder spree isn't her only win over Matthew and the agents
Madeline Burke in episode 3 (NBC)
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Spoilers for 'Blindspot' Season 5 Episode 3 'Existential Ennui'

Despite a stakeout at an absolutely unknown warehouse and being ambushed by one of the terrorists Madeline Burke (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) had helped escape during a staged 'prison transfer', the main threat our rogue agents are battling day after day continues to be the emotional hold the vicious woman exercises on them. She is conniving, ruthless and an unstoppable, evil force of nature who will sink to any length possible to get what she wants. Pretty much following the trajectory of the season so far, Episode 3: 'Existential Ennui' - fitting as the name might be for the agents and Matthew Weitz (Aaron Abrams), it is once again an elaborate documentation of the malicious intent Mastrantonio channels into her character. She might be late into the slew of absolutely poisonous female antagonists with a penchant for acting sweet and coy - you know, the likes of Alicia Sierra from 'Money Heist', or even Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter franchise. But she definitely is worth it.

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The trajectory Madeline's torture follows is both amusing and alarming: she propositions Matthew with leverage while calling him a pawn in her game throughout. There are no facades, no false promises about her intent. Madeline doesn't disguise her ultimate goal or the means needed to get to it. So she uses her employee Brianna's (Amy Margaret Wilson) life as leverage over Matthew, driving him to take out the very speaker who was supposed to die at the science conference Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and Patterson (Ashley Johnson) had ambushed. Matthew has no other option than to cave in and even though he somewhat agrees to execute Madeline's commands, she kills Brianna anyway because there are no taking chances when leading by example. 

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This leaves Matthew pretty shaken and rattled. When he returns to the headquarters and is met with an enthusiastic and worried Afreen (Ami Sheth) trying to plan their next move in helping the agents, Matthew simply refuses to indulge or engage any further. For now, at least it looks like he's done helping them after witnessing the repercussions others have to bear for what he's doing. So that looks like a channel shut off for the agents and with Matthew's much needed and severely beneficial help lacking, one can only imagine how - or if at all - the agents will be able to decipher the mysterious coded tattoo symbols being sent their way. 

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There's yet another symbol sent their way from across the border of Prague, where their hideout is stationed, but their very first steps into the premises of the hidden coordinates in the symbol is telling of how unprepared they are for whatever Madeline's throwing their way. The reason? Emotional trauma from all that Madeline's already plundered and ruined. 

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On one hand, we have Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) constantly having nightmares about Madeline taking away all she loves and holds dear, on the other hand, Madeline's drone attack has left Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) incapable of focusing on missions, constantly panicking, recollecting how she lost Edgar Reade (Rob Brown). For Kurt, it is knowing each passing day probably wipes him out from his little daughter's memory - bit by bit - but the worst is still probably Matthew's situation. As he stays trapped in the FBI, dwelling in the aftermath of being caught helping the very agents Madeline is hunting down, from mortal threat to manipulation, blackmail and eventually, witnessing a cold-blooded murder in front of his eyes - Madeline's tortures, even though not physical, rival that of the CIA black site where Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer) was being held.

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But the question lingers: are the agents strong enough to withstand these blow after blows? The episode's action picks up when one of the captives Jane brings from the warehouse happens to be one of the terrorists Madeline helped escape. After constant back and forth bickering about their decisions and Tasha consistently disagreeing with them, while completely freezing at the moment of action is also telling of the slow but steady relapse these agents are undergoing. The terrorist tries ambushing them but Jane shoots him, but this comes after the rest of the agents suggest they wipe out his memory - something that leaves Jane shaken too.

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In the end, they all come around and see eye to eye in classic procedural slash crime thriller style and their plan of action - sourced from the sewed in memory device under the terrorist's skin. Madeline seems to be orchestrating a chemical gas attack with the help of the mercenaries and that becomes their new mission. Still, Tasha's words from the season premiere still ring loud and clear in our minds: they could have run off after escaping from the FBI and lived their own quiet lives. Is this idealistic 'clearing our name' really worth it? How many more near-death experiences and lost loved ones must they suffer just so the honorable Kurt Weller can go back home with his pride integrity intact? Guess this ongoing final season will tell it all.

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'Blindspot' Season 5 airs on Thursdays at 9 pm only on NBC.