NBC, Mondays 10/9 Central
Sep 23, 2013
Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) is a rogue ex-government agent turned mercenary, assisting criminals across the globe and becoming one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives in the process. He walks into the FBI building, is instantly arrested and offers up a deal on the spot that the FBI cannot turn down. He can help find a long-time terrorist the FBI thought to be dead. This is the first in a line of criminals—a "blacklist"—the FBI has been after for years, plus a whole host more they know nothing about. Red's only caveat is that he work with Liz Keen (Megan Boone), whose first day on the job as a profiler is the very day he has turned himself in. The reason for this is unknown, particularly to Liz who has never met Red. Upon their meeting, he reveals very personal things about her that haven't even made it to her personnel file, but pinpoint her as the right partner for Red's intentions.
Red trains her to think like a criminal and act accordingly, which she does, all the while maintaining her humanity, something Red gave up long ago. Together they snag the first criminal on the list through highly charged, interlocking events that have big screen action adventure quality: fire, kidnapping, brutality, bombs, all laced with intrigue and surprise. Nothing on Blacklist is gratuitous, not the explosions or the violence or the emotion or the actors' portrayals.
In similar style to the bored and superior teenagers he played at the start of his silver screen career, Spader's Red is smug. As he self-importantly delivers valuable information, there is at least one eye roll per sentence, each word dripping with condescension. His intelligence coupled with his patronizing attitude is a heady combination that makes you grit your teeth as you grin because Red is so great. His other half, Liz, is determined to balance her work and home life—particularly with an adoption pending. She is the polar opposite of Red in that both her soft side and her hard one—she jams a pen into Red's carotid—aren't hidden under snarkiness and conceit.
These two alone are worth watching Blacklist, but the drama's storytelling is powerful enough to make you commit to it from the very first episode. (www.nbc.com/the-blacklist/)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 5/10