Blindspotting: Season 2/ Episode 5 “Karate Kiss” – Recap and Review

Title Card - Blindspotting Season 2 Episode 5 Karate Kiss

As Ashley tries to cope with the criticisms she has been dealing with, Janelle’s husband shows up, and Rainey is trying to prepare for her worst-case scenario.

As Ashley tries to cope with the criticisms she has been dealing with, Janelle’s husband shows up, and Rainey is trying to prepare for her worst-case scenario.

Release Date (STARZ) May 5, 2023
Director(s) Blackhorse Lowe
Writer(s) Obehi Janice
Newly Noted Characters and Cast
Mustafa Joe Taslim
Previously Noted Characters and Cast
Nancy Margo Hall
Janelle Candace Nicholas-Lippman
Miles Rafael Casal
Rainey Helen Hunt
Ashley Jasmine Cephas Jones
Teena Katlynn Simone

Plot Recap

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A Days Journey Doesn’t Negate A Year Separated – Nancy, Mustafa, Janelle

From what it appears, Nancy set Janelle up. Mustafa wanted to physically reconnect and talk things out rather than text, and Nancy seemed to be aware and cool with him using the extra room as an AirBNB spot and leaving just when he arrived so her daughter and him could talk.

Mustafa (Joe Taslim)
“Mustafa (Joe Taslim),” Blindspotting, “Karate Kiss,” directed by Blackhorse Lowe, 2023, (Starz)

However, talking isn’t all they do. They fight, physically, though not in a domestic violence way. Mustafa, as he talks about missing her, and Tiarre, his daughter, missing her, they challenge one another. Why? Mustafa believes Janelle has been slipping on her training, and while she hasn’t trained, she wants to prove she still has it. Never mind, they try to parlay some “Fight for your love” scenario in there.

But, as for what happened that led to him growing distant and now traveling for more than a day to try to win Janelle back? It was just him being in mourning. With Tiarre calling Janelle her mom, it hit Mustafa unexpectedly, and it felt like her mother’s death was final, and maybe she was being forgotten. This was hard to face, and in his grief, he closed himself off until Janelle decided and felt she wasn’t welcome anymore and went home.

The hope is that, with him recognizing the hole that was left when she left and the feeling of her love being gone, he can earn her back, and they could be what they once were when they were mutually happy.

It’s Hard to Get Old When There Is No One You Trust – Miles, Rainey, Ashley

Rainey recognizes it is now or never to get her affairs in order, but the problem is, the person she trusts the most, Miles, is in jail. So he can hold onto documents, can’t write anything down, and his advice of going to Ashley? While Rainey knows Miles means well, Rainey knows that isn’t an option. On top of Ashley and her not being close, she doesn’t even feel comfortable with Ashley making decisions on her behalf. Thus leaving Rainey back where she started worrying about the future instead of enjoying the present.

What Happens When The Fun Times Are Over? – Teena, Ashley, Janelle

Being told she is no fun, followed up with being told she is depressed, and then how things are with Miles? The combination has Ashley drinking more and Janelle worried. Especially because Teena isn’t part of the core group and hasn’t been properly vetted, and what Janelle has seen thus far doesn’t sit right with her.

However, Mustafa’s unexpected visits keeps Janelle from a night out with Teena and Ashley, and that’s when we learn, despite Teena’s relationship, she has side pieces. Mind you, usually just for the night, to take the edge off, but nonetheless, she is cheating on her man Chris. Ashley gets sucked into this when she gets too drunk, and nostalgia has her mixing up a random White boy with her White boy, and she feels terrible about it.

But, in a showing of what Rainey and Trish can get away with, but not Teena, when Teena calls Ashley out, Ashley whoops her ass and reminds us of the girl Janelle met back in school. Yet, despite an ass whipping, Teena takes it on the chin, wipes off the blood, and was cool with continuing their night together, but Ashley decided it would be better to tap out. This was of dealing with things, seemingly, she is realizing isn’t healthy.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

Ashley’s Family

I feel like Ashley’s issues go beyond Miles, Rainey, raising her son, and I wonder if we may ever visit what her family, especially her brother, did that plays a role in what we’re seeing now.

Who’s Watching Mustafa’s Daughter, And Does She Know Why Her Dad Is In America?

I understand Mustafa and his ex have family, but it seems odd that he left her behind to pursue Janelle. Granted, bringing her along definitely would come off underhanded, but considering she loved Janelle enough to call her “Mom,” even with knowing who her mom is? I feel like it could be upsetting for her to know her dad went to see Janelle without her.

What Could Happen Next

  1. Ashley revealing she kissed another man
  2. Janelle ending the season with going to Bali
  3. Rainey having a moment where her losing her memories becomes public knowledge


Notable Performances or Moments

The Fight Scenes

Teena (Katlynn Simone)
“Teena (Katlynn Simone),” Blindspotting, “Karate Kiss,” directed by Blackhorse Lowe, 2023, (Starz)

Choreography in season 1 was all about the elaborate and artsy dances that often made you feel like you were on an acid trip. Season 2’s choreography is about you watching people fight, and it looks authentic. Well, Cuddie’s definitely looked a bit rocky, but Janelle and Mustafa, never mind Ashley and Teena? It’s hard to not take note of what was happening, and even with the direction, angles, and sound not giving you “Atomic Blonde” or “John Wick” level winces when blows landed, it was something different and unexpected.


The Challenges Of Coping

It can be very easy to damn Teena for entertaining other men while her husband is in jail, but she deserves grace. The person you love is inaccessible, limited to touching you beyond when a warden, or whoever runs a prison program, says you can touch, and you’re still human. You’ve been open to the idea of intimacy, consistent attention, and all the benefits of a relationship. Worse than a teenager, you are limited to your expression and request for desire fulfillment.

Then for Ashley she’s no different. Miles has been the love of her life for nearly a decade, they have a kid together, and with so much going on that feels like a distraction more than something simply good, she wanted to feel something she could hold onto. Miles has been that thing for so many years, and in pursuit of drunken thoughts to drown out the unhelpful sober ones, enters a nice guy with some of Miles’ qualities, minus his vernacular, and she slipped.

Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones)
“Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones),” Blindspotting, “Karate Kiss,” directed by Blackhorse Lowe, 2023, (Starz)

This is likely to make things worse. For now, the guilt of kissing another man comes into play and having to use that dumb, proverbial excuse of being drunk. Yet, as Teena noted, that led to her getting punched, it wasn’t like Ashley didn’t dress up, flirt, allow a guy to buy her a drink, and more. Which, yes, can be seen as victim or survivor blaming, depending on the circumstances. However, as Teena was pushing for, after a certain point, you have to take accountability for things you set in motion.

Rainey’s Need To Be Able To Trust Someone

As much as people champion getting old and how much it is a privilege, it is also scary. Beyond the sudden pains of the 30s, there are the realizations of the 50s and 60s of your mortality and the dying process. Going quick is always favorable, but some, like Rainey, are damned for a slow decline, and even without all your facilities, you want that decline to be comfortable.

So imagine the only person you know who could handle things, never mind look out for you consistently, being unavailable. You’re left with someone who would likely be overwhelmed and have a breakdown (Trish) to someone who comes off so callous (Ashley) that entrusting them is a huge leap of faith.

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