The Blacklist, Season One (2014)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Each new pilot season brings successes and failures. For NBC, being on the slippery slope of declining ratings has been the normal for many of those new fall lineup seasons, until the little thriller that could came along.

Raymond Reddington (James Spader) is a criminal of epic proportions. Once a patriot navy man and later, government agent, he’s now wanted across the world and is on more than one federal most wanted list. For twenty years he eluded capture and managed to live in the shadows. Today, he’s voluntarily walking into the FBI offices. He has a proposal to make – one that involves his cooperation and the many names on the list of names he’s compiled in his 20 years of being a criminal mastermind. This offer does, of course come with conditions, all of which, if not met, will ensure Reddington walks. One of his requests is a most peculiar one.  

Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is a profiler just out of Quantico, who has been with the bureau for four years, but her recently acquired skill set sees her moving to a new division of the FBI. She and her school teacher, husband Tom (Ryan Eggold) are happily married and preparing for the arrival of their little girl through adoption, plans she cannot imagine anything going wrong with. This first day of her new job is Liz’s last day of normal. Reddington has requested Liz and only Liz as the agent he deals directly with leading everyone to wonder and speculate what his obsession with Agent Keen is. Amid trying to prove herself to her new co-worker (Diego Klattenhoff) and figuring out what Reddington’s end game is, Liz has just become a pawn. 

Another television show fandom I did not need, yet that is exactly what I found when this DVD set hit store shelves (it was too tempting…). Boiling it down to basics, holding tight is really the only thing one can say about this series. It’s the show that for all intents and purposes “saved” NBC with its dynamite ratings – and really, I don’t fault that fandom. This show is… incredible. If you don’t like nail-biting suspense or 24 (impromptu trivia, Keifer Sutherland was considered for the role of Reddington) then you should definitely steer clear of this one. It’s not so much because the action (when it’s there) is terribly violent (though those of you who are squeamish won’t be able to handle what is here), more because the mental what-comes-next is one that keeps the viewer wanting more and honestly did cause me to watch more than one episode in a single sitting. If you like a good political thriller, all I can say is why aren’t you watching this? Those of you interested, let’s talk.

Many shows deserve multiple episodes before the viewer passes judgment because, really, the pilot isn’t the series at its best (case in point, NCIS or Burn Notice) however this show suffered no such fate other than giving us a taste of everything and it will tell you who this show is for in that first hour. The writer’s immediately drew me in and I could tell after those 40-some minutes this was easily going to make my favorites list of new-to-me-2014 shows, because… yeah, it was ah-ma-zing. Kudos to the creator, the writers - or whoever this shout-out should go to, for the incredible story building; each episode completes something while simultaneously dropping hints of new things to come and leave us pondering the “bigger mystery.” One of the plot threads seems an obvious truth, though given the first season leaving open unanswered questions and even more puzzle pieces, perhaps the obvious won’t stand up to be true.  

Putting their best foot forward is the cast. Megan and James have incredible chemistry and their back-and-forth, love-hate relationship is the primary pull to the show’s integral moments. They put the personality in each of their characters and much as I don’t like to have any “love” for the baddies, I cannot help but enjoy James’ portrayal of Reddington. He seems to have lots of “fun” with the role and how he plays him is really close to perfection as it gets – nothing ever seems to ruffle him whether he’s living in the lap of luxury or calmly disposing of a threat to someone he cares about (and yes, he does do this).

Despite the obvious answer to the main mystery arc, having finished season one, I would say, don’t assume the obvious… I’m not convinced what the writers have hinted at is actually the truth. It’s certainly the “easy” way to go, but if they are worth their salt, they’ll stun us as opposed to give in to what everyone assumes. One of the minor issues I do have with the show is that some of the conversations contradict something that may have happened in an earlier scene. Fortunately I didn’t catch this as a “mistake” more than three times which means it’s minor and the slate is wiped clean because there are some fun guest appearances (Jennifer Ehle) in addition to all its pros and the show didn’t end on some kind of torturous cliffhanger. Sure, the curiosity is heightened, but it’s one of the better season one finales I’ve experienced.   
Your turn: have you seen this show? What were your impressions?

(Rated TV14; there are multiple occasions of violence and/or torture. Men are killed with machine guns several times as well as there being more than one shout-out in the course of the cases, some people are shot at point-blank range [the pool of blood is often seen]. A woman’s throat is slit leading to death, others engage in hand-to-hand combat – other scenes result in the suffocation and shooting deaths of recurring characters, a man cuts off his hand [mostly off-camera]. There is at least one scene of torture and one baddie does his work in the nude [the camera avoids anything graphic]. There are two or three sex scenes [non-graphic], and a married couple shower together twice.)


  1. OOH the fact that you mentioned 24 in your review made me think this might be a show for me. I can't get addicted to any other shows at the moment, but as soon as a couple book projects are done, I might have to give this one a try. Sounds fun...and heart-racing. :)

    1. I bet you're one busy bee, Melissa! Thanks for taking a minute to visit - always enjoy chatting with you. :)

      This one is good! I loved the suspense and twists and turns it took - these writers are fantastic. :)

  2. This show is so good! It got a little violent for me in some of them, but I am so hooked. There is such good dialogue and plotting, and the acting is fabulous. I'm really looking forward to it starting up again this coming month! I'm glad you like this one too. I know what you mean about not needing another show to be attached to. ;)

    1. YES! I agree, Tressa. It was addicting and oftentimes I just wanted to keep watching to know what "comes next" yet was also reserved because I wanted it to last a little longer. Either way, I'm eager to see what the writer's do with season 2. It'd best be good. :), yeah, I confess. I am addicted to a few too many shows. ;)

    2. Exactly! I hope season 2 is good. I want to find out more about her husband. Really, that was all so sad. He did love her.

    3. You think so? I hadn't really pondered whether or not he really loved her or not. There was another show/miniseries with something similar involved (cannot remember its name now!) and I went back and forth on whether or not he loved her. In the end, I think I decided he did. Not sure how I feel about Tom still being alive to be honest yet like you, I really want to learn more about him - sometimes the writers ask us to believe too much. But then, I fall further into the "addiction" each time. ;)

  3. I am THRILLED to see you loved this show as much as I did! My first thought after episode one was "oh, yes" and I've been faithfully watching ever since. I am completely hooked! You're right, the writing and character dynamics are fantastic. I think it's the best show on tv right now (right next to Covert Affairs) and I am so curious to see where they take Red and Elizabeth's relationship. I can't wait for season 2. LOVED your review on this one!

    1. I was too, Bekah... usually it takes an episode or two before convincing viewers one way or another. With this one? It was immediate and that seems a sign of good writing. My parent's even thought this one was good - and between the writing, characters and edge-of-your-seat dynamics, I hope this one lasts for a while.

      I'm not sure that Red and Elizabeth will have the relationship they're teasing... but we'll see.

      Yay for Covert Affairs shout-out. Love that show - hope you're liking season five. I've heard some iffy things about it. Thanks for reading!

    2. I hope it lasts too. My older sister and I keep on throwing these crazy theories about who Red is. Yep, I guess we'll see. ;)

      I am really liking season five of Covert Affairs so far, especially with the addition of a certain new *cute* character. I can see why some fans wouldn't love the new season, Annie is definitely a changed person from the events of season four and if you're an Annie/Auggie fan... well, there's not a lot of those adorable scenes we've come to love of them together. Oh, well.

      Can't wait to see where they take both shows!

    3. Theories are always awesome! Who doesn't love a good one? I wouldn't mind if he wound up being where the suggestion is leading... it just seems like the writer's are better than that. :)

      I'm so glad! Someone said they didn't like the romances, so I was curious as to how this new character would play out. I loved Annie and Auggie long before they became romantic interests (as the best of friends, which is what they were) and nothing more. Much as I liked them in a relationship, I detest the breakup because it ruins what they had as friends. Ah, well. I'll live. ;)


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