Blindspot has taken Kurt Weller on an unbelievable journey

BLINDSPOT -- "Head Games" Episode 505 -- Pictured: Sullivan Stapleton as Kurt Weller -- (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC/Warner Brothers)
BLINDSPOT -- "Head Games" Episode 505 -- Pictured: Sullivan Stapleton as Kurt Weller -- (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC/Warner Brothers) /

Blindspot has completely changed Kurt Weller over five seasons.

Blindspot‘s Kurt Weller is an interesting character—because it’s incredible how much the NBC show has reinvented him over four-plus seasons.

We’re roughly halfway through Blindspot season 5, and on paper, Weller (played remarkably by Sullivan Stapleton) bears little resemblance to the FBI agent audiences met when the pilot aired in September 2015.

Back then, he was a veteran federal agent leading the Critical Incident Response Group. He was one of the best at his job, and reasonably content in the family unit he’d built sharing a home with his sister Sarah (Jordana Spiro) and nephew Sawyer.

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Now Weller is a fugitive who can’t even be in his own country, let alone have a stable home. He’s gotten married to the once-total stranger he originally investigated, and has a daughter by an ex-girlfriend. Both his ex and daughter are in hiding. His sister and nephew moved to Portland after the first season, and haven’t been seen since.

Weller’s also confirmed that his father was the person who murdered his childhood friend Taylor Shaw, and discovered that his teenage years were manipulated by his wife’s foster mother Ellen Briggs (aka Shepherd), who was the leader of the terrorist group Sandstorm.

Plus, don’t forget the part in Blindspot season 5 where he realized Sandstorm had selected him as one of the parts of its secret continuity-of-government plan in its spiffy hidden bunker.

Any one of these paragraphs would be enough to make someone’s head spin. But all of that is how much change Blindspot has imposed on Weller.

This isn’t surprising. The series itself has changed drastically over the years. What started as a very tightly-written thriller with procedural elements rapidly expanded in scope and number of plot twists to become a global conspiracy show. There have been multiple terrorist groups and moles, fake deaths, corporate takeovers—Blindspot is the buffet of TV crime dramas. It’s got everything.

But the result of all that change, of blowing out the focus so to speak, is that the show moved further away from the Kurt Weller who was so endearing at the start. Weller, on his own merits, was a hell of an agent. You got the sense that he accomplished a lot before Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) ever came into his life, and that there could have been a whole show about him and his team closing cases and it would have been watchable. He was not only a leader, but also paternal, and someone the audience could trust unequivocally.

Blindspot steadily chipped away at his life, and in so doing, understandably changed him. Bringing in the “Jeller” element consistently in season 2, and particularly after they married in season 3, had the effect of making a fair portion of his story about Jane. In the first season, she was someone he investigated and grew to care about, but he had his own life separate from her.

After that Weller and Jane’s romance made it so more of his choices were about her and what he’d do for her; it clouded his judgment a time or two. Then adding things like his daughter and her secret daughter (Kristina Reyes) meant even more time keeping all those personal plates spinning for a guy who had once been so career-oriented.

Speaking of career, Weller lost his station at the FBI as well as his mentor. He was briefly promoted to Assistant Director (even if it was against his will), and like many TV cops, could’ve gone far up the ranks. But by the time the series ends, he’ll be lucky if he’s not still on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. That’s not an easy pill to swallow either.

And where to start with the mess that Blindspot made of his family? Dad’s a child killer (and the show has never offered up a complete explanation of exactly what happened to Taylor Shaw). In season 4, audiences met his mom, who was revealed to be a drug addict. He’s estranged, albeit involuntarily, from his sister, nephew and daughter. The only family Weller has anymore is Jane.

One of the things season 5 has done is remind viewers how Kurt is struggling with not being a father, compounded by his own experiences with his dad. He has consistently kept losing things, while more weight keeps piling on his shoulders, and so it’s no wonder that in “Head Games” he finally broke.

SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this article contains spoilers for the latest Blindspot episode, “Head Games.”

“Head Games” is a fantastic episode because it shows the psychological toll that the entire run of the show has taken on Kurt Weller. Bringing back his dad, as well as giving a visual body count so that he can see how many people his actions have affected, is some intense stuff.

Weller spent a fair amount of time questioning why he became an FBI agent, thinking it was first because of his dad and then because of his mom—so for his ultimate battle to be inside his own head is perfect to gel with all that introspection. Plus, his whole raison d’etre is protecting people, and his faux-Dad is taunting him with all the people that he not only didn’t protect, but actually hurt.

Kurt has carried the weight for a lot of people. He doesn’t speak often about the pressures that he feels. At the same time, he’s constantly been supporting Jane. He’s been there whenever his team members, most recently Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza), have needed solace. But that’s a burden he shouldn’t have to bear, and at a certain point, there’s only so much you can do. The audience saw his sense of responsibility visualized in all those people, and it crushed him.

Granted, the twist ending—Weller revealing that he actually got one over on Ivy (Julee Cerda)—undercut that somewhat. The “gotcha” wasn’t necessary; while there’s a sense of pride in Weller beating Ivy, there’s also a sense of pride in seeing him that vulnerable. Heroes don’t have to be impenetrable; being human is heroic in itself, because it’s honest.

Sullivan Stapleton is an incredible actor. He was marvelous in Strike Back, and he’s been just as good in Blindspot. Like Weller, he’s anchored the show even as it’s gotten wilder every season. He has a certain gravity about him. But because he’s so good and such a badass, he doesn’t get a lot of credit for how much vulnerability he brings to the screen. He’s not afraid to rip the guts out of a character, and that’s what he did Thursday. He delivered something so purely emotional and finally showed the full extent of how Kurt Weller has changed.

What hasn’t changed is that he’s still a good man trying to fight the good fight, and with only a few episodes left, hopefully Blindspot will return him to some sense of normalcy by the time all is said and done. It would be fantastic to have the series end with Kurt able to return to New York, where he can build another home and another career, too.

After everything he lost and how much he has given to everyone else, the appropriate ending would be him getting back something for himself. To be able to focus on himself for once and find something that makes him happy (though, as selfless as he is, that something will probably still be altruistic in nature, like teaching or another law enforcement-adjacent occupation). And to have his sister come back from Portland, even if just for a visit, to meet her niece.

Kurt Weller will never be the same awesome character we met at the beginning of Blindspot, but he can still be a great hero at the end.

Next. Sullivan Stapleton discusses this week's Blindspot. dark

Blindspot airs Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.