Sergeant Major Jonas Blane (United States Army, callsign: Snake Doctor) is a fictional character on the CBS television series The Unit. He is portrayed by Dennis Haysbert, and in most cases, he is the main protagonist in the series. He is presumed to be in his 40's and has a daughter named Betsy Blane and a wife named Molly Blane.
Blane is a former Ranger and Green Beret, leading Alpha Team of the 1st Special Actions Group (official cover as the "303rd Logistical Studies Group"). He and his wife, Molly, have one daughter. He is competent in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic, and Persian.
Jonas is Alpha Team's Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. He is frequently referred to as Top by his team, and many members of his team try to do what he would do in any given situation.
During the series pilot of The Unit, Blane takes down a private jet with five terrorists on board, incurring the wrath of the FBI for violating the Posse Comitatus Act. However, Blane and his team are let off the hook. At the end of the 1st episode, when a mechanical speaking toy repeats an Arabic phrase, he pivots around and fires 2 rounds from his pistol into a bedroom mirror, a reaction presumably caused by stress. When the incident is uncovered, his wife states that she fired the rounds in an attempt to eliminate a rat.
In other episodes, Blane and his team recover a radioactive component of a Chinese satellite, rescue American missionaries in Indonesia, rescue the drug minister of Mexico, assassinate a terrorist financier in Spain, bug an Iranian official's car at their embassy in Beirut, recover seven Stinger missiles from Brazilian arms dealers, and the apprehend a Serbian war criminal in the Balkans.
Blane's wife, Molly, becomes the victim of con artists and loses the money of several other Army wives. She recovers some of the money and pays back the victims. She is unable to recover her own money though, and this causes tension between herself and Jonas. Molly urges Jonas to join a private military company in order to help their financial situation, but he states that he is not interested in a job as a mercenary.
While in the Balkans, the war criminal that Blane's team apprehends gets a good look at Blane. When the criminal escapes from UN custody, he tracks Blane back to Fort Griffith, the 303rd's headquarters. When Alpha Team leaves post to celebrate the marriage of unit commander Colonel Tom Ryan, the war criminal kills a few workers and injures Mrs. Ryan and Blane.
A few months later (during the second season), after being assigned to active duty once again, while in Pakistan, Blane and his team prevent the spread of weaponized smallpox by members of al-Qaeda. His team is also responsible for the downfall of the world's foremost illegal weapons dealer.
In the Season 4 episode "Sex Trade", in the midst of an operation to recover weapons-grade plutonium and a Russian arms dealer in Kosovo, Jonas encounters a prostitute named Dava to whom he promises to deliver from her owner if she'll aid him and the team in gathering intel on Petrov the arms dealer. After one unsuccesful attempt to conduct the transaction, they're given another opportunity which results in the teams procurement of the plutonium and the elmination of Petrov, but the prostitute was offered to Petrov in order to complete the transaction and she was taken over the Kosovo border before Jonas could intercept her. Leaving him with a heavy conscience after failing to keep his end of the bargain.
In the two-part episode "Into Hell", Blane learns his daughter Betsy and her team had been ambushed during a security patrol and taken hostage. Alpha team is joined by Colonel Ryan himself and are deployed to Iraq. Once there, they eventually determine that Betsy and the other soldiers were taken across the border into Syria. Determined to rescue his daughter, Jonas decides to violate international law by crossing into Syria and the team volunteer to join him. After infiltrating an asylum where the hostages had been held, the team successfully eliminates their captors but the mission is complicated when Damascus police descend on the hospital. Eventually they are able to ex-fil through a drain pipe and are extracted by an illicitly authorized helicopter flight out of Syria.
In "Shadow Riders" Jonas and the team are deployed to Afghanistan where they're tasked with delivering a young 14-year-old girl as a bride to a 40-year-old man from another village, as this is the Pashtun custom for establishing peace between tribes and villages. They are required to purchase a prized horse at an auction on which the bride will be delivered. Along the way, they encounter trouble when different insurgents pursue them, and a Dutch doctor who had been working in a remote village came across the team and asked for help after evading danger for days. When the horse falls ill, they seek the help of a veterinarian in the nearest village to rehabilitate the horse. Meanwhile, the Dutch doctor protests the young girl being forced to marry an old man and attempts to stop it, ultimately dying in hostile crossfire. When the team finally delivers the bride, the groom inspects her and it's revealed the doctor had secretly changed the girl's clothing to green clothing, which symbolizes impurity. The groom refuses the bride, the treaty is refused, and the mission fails. However, Jonas is able to recover when he offers the prized horse instead, which they accept.
In "Misled and Misguided" Jonas goes over various infiltration plans with the team to determine how to access a chemical weapons facility believed to be producing anthrax. He repeatedly quarrels with Dr. Metz, an analyst who disagrees philosophically with Jonas' instincts and training, and wants them to only trust the intel he's providing them, despite the risk involved. When they eventually deploy on the mission, they find the team that had been previously deployed by Metz had, in fact, not died in their helicopter crash but rather defended themselves for several minutes thereafter and had a functioning radio the whole time, contrary to Metz's account of events. They then infiltrate the facility and find that it's not a chemical weapons facility at all, and one of the previous team members was still alive and being held prisoner. They free him and ex-fil the base.
In "Bad Beat" Jonas and Bob are operating undercover in Macau posing as high stakes poker players in order to get close to a Chinese General named Lau. Working in tandem to gain an edge in the game, Bob was planned to be the victor and ultimately wins an expensive Swiss watch from the General, angering him. The general takes Bob hostage and his men proceed to torture and interrogate Bob to find out who his accomplice is, without success. Lau returns to the table where Jonas must proceed without Bob's help. Sullivan, posing as Jonas' girlfriend, helps deliver intel on the cards and setup another player at the table known to be an international criminal, to be framed as Bob's accomplice when Lau's men find the general's watch in his safety deposit box.
In "Spear of Destiny" Jonas and Mack HALO into Chile but unforeseen weather causes Mack to receive a head injury when landing. Carrying him to a nearby Catholic monastery, Jonas implores them for help saving Mack. While there Jonas learns the monastery is in possession of the Lance of Longinus, the Roman spear believed to have pierced the side of Christ when he died on the cross. Legends believe that whoever possesses the spear was unbeatable, and that it has been both hunted and safeguarded by different people throughout it's 2,000 year history. While Mack has his own mystical experience in which he atones for three separate deaths he feels guilty over, Jonas is tested by the monks of the monastery. He passes, and is shown the spear and told why they protect it. When he's told that U.S. forces won't extract him and Mack unless he takes the spear with him, he retrieves the spear and fights off the abbott of the monastery, despite his warnings. However, as they're exfiltrating, Mack dies, but Jonas decides to leave the spear behind and in so doing, Mack is resuscitated.
In "Hill 60" Jonas is out for a run when he notices several dead birds along the path he's on. He then notices an odd smell and retrieves water and a handkerchief from his pack, dousing the cloth in water and covering his face. Having determined that they're under attack and the weapon is chlorine gas, he goes to Whiplash's residence and establishes contact with Colonel Ryan. They determine the point of origin of the attack, and once they rendezvous with Mack and Bob, the quartet proceed to a remote reservoir where they believe the chlorine is being administered into the water supply. There they discover multiple hostiles, eliminate them, and shut off the chlorine supply.
At the end of Season 4, Molly decides to live away from Jonas after he refuses to retire for her.
Temporary Dismantling of The Unit[edit | edit source]
At the end of season 2, Blane is targeted by the Central Intelligence Agency due to unnamed crimes that he may have committed. These are mentioned to Bob Brown by a CIA handler who wishes to recruit Brown to the Agency. After returning from a mission in Cyprus, Blane and his team find that the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division is investigating Alpha Team, and has shut down the 303rd completely. After finding that the CIA is behind the investigation, Blane fakes his abduction and disappears to Panama City. His official duty status is "Missing" though in reality he is AWOL.
The Season 3 premier has him changing his appearance by shaving his head and growing a goatee (similar to Dennis Haysbert's famous character in the Major League series, Pedro Cerrano). Blane is found out by Brown who has him in sight through the scope of a sniper rifle. Brown is then surprised by a gun to his head by Charles Grey, who himself had gone AWOL upon the Unit being shut down. Grey brought Brown to Blane's boat where Brown insisted he was not trying to kill Blane, despite being caught by Grey in the compromising position he was in. Blane tests Brown by asking him to put a spoonful of rice cereal into his mouth and spit it out if he was not trying to kill him. Brown did this successfully and Jonas believed him, citing that when humans lie, saliva is not produced in enough quantity to spit out rice.
Blane, through his networked contacts, learned about how the Oil Minister of Venezuela was assassinated. Earlier in Season 2, Blane was ordered to kill the oil minister until Colonel Ryan had a change of heart after talking to a Congressman of another political party and realized it was a conspiracy by the big oil lobby to get rid of an actor in the oil market they could not control. Blane and his local CIA contact (whom he actually slept with to preserve his cover) were eventually found out and Blane barely got out of there alive. It was this contact that Blane sought to find out to figure out what happened to the Oil Minister, whom a Congressional Review panel believed was killed by Blane after watching some doctored security footage.
Shortly after Blane found the contact in her apartment, they were visited by a CIA assassin. They barely escaped and decided to link up with a CIA agent who was her contact. On the drive over to the agent's house, she revealed to Blane that there was a thermal imaging map she was supposed to obtain for the CIA. She told Blane that she informed the CIA that he was the one with the map so that they wouldn't kill her for knowing about it. She explained that she used him as the scapegoat because she felt the Unit was secure enough to not have the government go after it and told him that the location of the map was in a secure safe deposit box in Dallas. When they reached the agent's house, the CIA agent shot her and was then subsequently killed by Blane. Blane, assuming the agent's identity, doctored his passport and returned to the United States with the coffins of both bodies.
After returning Stateside, Blane knew he had to use a woman to pose as the girl to retrieve the map. He correctly deduced that Bob Brown's wife Kim was going to be in Texas staying with her parents and contacted her. As Kim went to retrieve the document while Blane waited outside, he was approached by a local police officer who suspected him of being a jewel thief. Blane gave the officer the doctored passport of the CIA agent he had killed as Kim was returning with the documents. When the officer found out the passport was a fake, he tried to take Blane into custody. Blane eventually struggled free before taking the document from Kim and driving off in Kim's car, making it look like he and Kim didn't know each other.
Blane later met up with Grey and Brown and figured out the map was of a location in the ocean off the coast of South America. When the three got there, Blane uncovered a CIA dump site of human bodies.
The Unit later found out that the bodies were of prisoners at the terrorist detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. A rogue group of CIA agents who had ties to the military-industrial complex had been illegally killing the terrorist prisoners and dumping them at this location. The Oil Minister had found out about the grave and thus the rogue group had put in motion the orders that eventually instructed The Unit to do its dirty work by assassinating the Oil Minister originally.
After rescuing Hector Williams and linking up with Colonel Tom Ryan, Blane and the rest of the Unit (without Mack Gerhardt, who was being tortured by the rogue CIA officers) devised a plan to get Mack returned safely. Ryan's wife, Charlotte Ryan, had links to important people in the military industrial complex who wanted to give Tom Ryan a good job and they used the opportunity to meet the man in person at a public dinner where he and the Unit ambushed the man. The two parties struck a deal, allowing the Unit to be reinstated and Mack Gerhardt returned safely in return for the Unit's silence about the grave.
In season 4 Jonas' daughter Betsy Blaine is captured in Iraq whilst serving as an army officer there. He leads a private mission to rescue her and succeeds in doing so. In the last few eps of the season Jonas foils a nuclear attack on Washington.
Characteristics[edit | edit source]
Jonas is Alpha Team's Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. He is frequently referred to as Top by his team, and the members of his team try to do what he would do in any given situation. However he is far from infallible and makes several mistakes during the course of the series. His sidearm of choice is a customized Colt 45 automatic but as an off-duty gun he uses a Smith&Wesson .380 pocket pistol. In tropical climates he wears a distinctive Australian slouch hat which he considers a lucky charm. He is a confidant of 2 different US Presidents who both use him for personal secret missions outside the normal chain of command. His hobbies seem to be collecting antique militaria and fishing. Outside of his teamates his best friend is Ron Cheals, a former member of the Unit who was crippled during a mission and forced into retirement. He is also a friend of Colonel Tom Ryan but this is stretched by Ryan's behaviour in the later seasons. His radio callsign is Snake Doctor which is Southern US slang for a dragonfly (based on the myth that they follow snakes around and heal their injuries). Years of continual combat have left Jonas with numerous injuries including 3 pieces of shrapnel close to the spine that would enable him to retire on full disability benefits should he wish to do so. He refuses to retire however or take up lucrative private security work contrary to his wife's wishes. Jonas' personality is of a hard taskmaster. He effortlessly commands the respect of his men and is extremely patriotic, pushing himself hardest of all. However this self centeredness sometimes alienates people outside The Unit in a detrimental manner. He is also very ruthless, never hesitating to kill in cold blood and nearly always putting the mission first. On three occasions he has tortured enemies for information by shooting them in the kneecap and slashing them in the face with a knife. In the course of the series Jonas kills at least 58 people. His medal ribbons include a Bronze Star and Purple Heart although there were presumably awarded before he joined The Unit who do not seem to receive decorations for their heroism. He also wears the Kuwait Liberation medal meaning that he began his military career as early at the late 1980s.
Season 5 storyline[edit | edit source]
In the provisional storyline outlined by the writers for season 5 Jonas would begin an affair with fellow Unit member Bridget Sullivan. When she is killed on a mission mid-season the combat stress that affected him in the first episode resurfaces. Leaving Mack Gerhardt in charge of the team Jonas works through his feelings with the help of his daughter and father, both of whom also experience post traumatic stess disorder (his father also a soldier who earned the Silver Star during the Korean War), the storyline allowing the series to address the issue of the treatment of traumatised soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The series would end with Jonas reuniting with Molly and retiring from the army to help her in her real estate business. According to an interview executive producer Shawn Ryan gave to The Futon Critic "[David] Mamet and I and our writers, we came up with a lot of great stuff," Ryan said about his pitch to CBS executives for a potential fifth season. "It was going to be a whole new show in the sense that we were going to be training some young people, Bob was going to be training some people for a whole new organization. Jonas was finally going to be seeing his run end. The final season was going to be, I figured the fifth season was going to be the last... It was going to be a long, sort of final mission for Jonas. He's not medically cleared, Mac has to go in and sort of change the medical records so that Jonas can keep on [going on missions]. We had a whole thing planned, it was going to be good."