Airplane! (Updated)

Note: the original post went up a little bit early. After thinking about the episode more than I should have, I have found other discrepancies worth mentioning. I have edited them into the article below.

Just when I said that current shows just don’t cut it in terms of epic failures, well, turns out Blindspot returned! In the most recent installment (1×11) of NBC’s rather unimpressive tattoo show, there’s just too much wrong to ignore.

It starts with the plot. Now Blindspot was always rather ridiculous in terms of narrative and this episode surely wasn’t the only one with “problems” in the storytelling department, but with so much else going wrong, it felt like they were just taking the piss.

So there’s another tattoo on Jane’s ink-riddled body and of course it’s been decrypted by Patterson, a character that truly annoys me for many reasons. In the puzzle, she found coordinates leading to a tiny island in the Black Sea:

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

The map is actually correct, by the way, although the group of islands doesn’t exist in the real world aka Google Maps. No matter, Jane, KURT (sorry for caps but his voice’s too manly to spell his name any other way) and the gang grab their go-bags and off they go to Turkey, where they are greeted by a guy driving an army Jeep.

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

With British plates and right-side steering wheel. Huh. Wonder what that’s doing in Turkey?

Why there’s an airport on such a small island is another question entirely – according to the narrative, it was built by a mining company in the 80s, so maybe. Anyway, the team finds a MD83 airplane sitting in a hangar – and not just any plane:

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

Sure enough, the tail number is fake as N-numbers can’t have a zero after the N, but the team still recognizes the plane as Pan-Asian Flight 921, a “commercial flight between Istanbul and New York”. Now I’m certainly no aviation expert but it seems kinda wrong to use a MD83 for such a flight as the distance between Europe and the East Coast is way over 3,000 miles and the MD83 can only go 2,350 miles without refueling.

The team quickly gets caught by – you guessed it – terrorists who have an especially devious ridiculous plan: they want to use the plane to get into Earth’s orbit by using a Pegasus rocket attached to the aircraft. Up there, they want to release 3D printed micro-satellites to disrupt the GPS satelites by means of EMP. Yep, it’s buzzword bingo time alright, and if this doesn’t sound like a plot straight from a James Bond movie I don’t know what would.

Because terrorists aren’t usually the brightest tools in the shed, they don’t really have the first idea on how to carry out such a plan, so they also forced an aerospace engineer who was on the abducted flight to do their bidding. Smart idea! However, it would have been much smarter to ask said engineer if the plane would be even able to reach Earth’s orbit in the first place, because, as she tells us way too late, the plane would break apart way before reaching such an altitude. Not to mention that the mere idea of flying into the orbit, opening a door and tossing out the satellites is utterly ludicrious. There’s no oxygen at such a high altitude and it’s really fucking cold, so whoever opens a door would be asphyxiated and frozen solid in no time – and also likely orbiting Earth very quickly thanks to the pressure drop in the cabin.

Also, the GPS satellites aren’t all stationed on the same spot, but are spread around the globe – with the micro-satellites having no way to move on their own, how would they even get close to their targets? Just tossing them out in almost-space would not achieve anything except for polluting Earth’s orbit even more.

So the plan sounds ridiculous and wouldn’t work anyway, but that doesn’t stop the common terrorist. The engineer telling them about the risks probably didn’t convince them to abandon their foolish quest. So what did the abducted passengers do? Well – they built a satellite telephone from scraps laying around the satellite factory. It’s a bit rough and doesn’t transmit audio – just morse code – but it would work, if only they could find a battery. However they came to the conclusion that their design was functional without any way to test it is beyond me, but KURT and the gang quickly decide they’d just need a battery from a cattle prod the terrorists are using and they’d be out of there in no time. Since cattle prods seem to use normal batteries, that might work – except that a satellite phone also needs some kind of SIM card to actually connect to the network, and I highly doubt they also got their hands on one of these. If they did, the card was likely already inserted into a satellite phone, so why not steal that instead and actually call somebody instead of resorting to morse code?

Anyway, of course it works, and of course they are able to call Patterson, and of course Patterson instantly deciphers the morse code in her head and of course she instantly recognizes where it originates from. She may be annoying like hell but she sure is smart! Doesn’t really help KURT much because suddenly the aircraft is on the airstrip and lots of shooting ensues. While the plane is being fueled, we can spot something decidedly odd:

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

On the … thing … below the fuel port, we can clearly read “OPERATED BY AMERISTAR CHARTERS”. Ameristar Jet Charters is a real company that operates executive charter jets in, you guessed it, the USA. And considering that the episode was sponsored by exactly that company:

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

Suddenly it all makes sense. They didn’t use a proper plane that could actually fly the distance between Turkey and the USA because they got the MD83 for free. Who cares for all these logical fallacies if you can stay on budget! Do you know what renting an Airbus would cost?!

No idea what Ameristar Charters got out of that deal – you can hardly see their company name and the jet itself doesn’t sport a logo or anything. Lending their jet to be used in context of a plane hijacking and a terrorist plot also doesn’t scream “great advertising” to me.

However, while we are at it, there’s another company logo in rather plain sight while all the kerfuffle at the airport happens:

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

That’s the logo of Atlantic Aviation, a company specializing in aviation services at many airports in the United States. It makes absolutely no sense on an abandoned airstrip in  Turkey. Sure, the set dressers made sure to put up a few signs in turkish, but that doesn’t fool anyone if the rest of the airport isn’t transformed to look the part.

Oh, and when the plane starts and lands, things get even more obvious:

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

I have no idea what airport this may be, but it’s kinda unlikely to be a small abandoned airfield on an island because it’s simply far too big. There are multiple runways which a mining company would never need because how many planes are going to start or land there per day? Exactly. There’s also a rather large terminal building visible, something you’d not expect on a private airfield.

But before KURT and the gang (hey, this sounds like a really cheesy band name!) are getting back down to earth, they need to somehow stop the terrorists, right? First, we are treated to an exterior view of the plane ascending rapidly.

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

There’s a good reason passengers and crew are required to sit down and fasten their seat belts while ascending – it’s a bumpy ride and people would fall all over each other because they wouldn’t be able to keep standing at that angle. However, when we see our heroes inside the avionics bay they don’t seem to be bothered by gravity at all. None of them is even trying to hold on to something in order not to fall, and there’s barely any movement either.

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

Maybe the plane isn’t ascending as rapidly as they think it is? Well, the altimeter surely tells us different – it’s going up at a brisk pace alright. But when we get a view over the pilot’s shoulder, there’s something we shouldn’t be able to see at all: the ground.

(c) NBC

(c) NBC

Hey – all things considered, this episode wasn’t so bad! Except for the story, the “acting” and all the other nonsense, of course.

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