Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Blacklist Season 1 - Part 1 (Episodes 1-10)

I rundown the first ten episodes of The Blacklist, starring James Spader and Megan Boone, NBC’s latest action/crime drama.

It’s not often a crime drama can engross me as much as The Blacklist has done. I’ve listed it as among my favourite series of 2013 so far and I’ve been really impressed by what it’s had to offer. The only other crime dramas that I’m following that haven’t either been either cancelled or ended is Sherlock and Castle and whilst The Blacklist may not quite be on that level it’s still one of the most entertaining series that I’ve had the pleasure of watching, not just in 2013 but quite possibly ever. The main plot of Season 1 Part 1features  Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), the world’s most wanted criminal, willingly turning himself over to the FBI in order to hunt down criminals on the Blacklist, a list of men who the Feds don’t even know about. However, the only condition is that Red will talk to Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a rookie profiler on her first day of the job and looking to adopt a baby along with her husband Tom (Ryan Eggold). The developing partnership in the show is between Red and Elizabeth and it’s pulled off exceptionally well – and it’s quite clear that James Spader and Megan Boone have excellent chemistry together, making the season a lot more fun with their interactions. It also helps that Elizabeth Keen is a very well rounded character that doesn’t find herself caught up in a love triangle for added drama. Elizabeth’s connection to Red is although seems obvious at first when Red reveals Elizabeth’s very special to him, suggesting that he’s possibly her father – I got that from the trailer alone, which is basically just a rundown of the best bits of the first episode – however, the ending of Episode 10, the fall finale – opened a whole new amount of potential for the storyline to carry across into the second half of the season with a whole new direction preventing the show from becoming stale and a case of the week. Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess – and one of the delights about The Blacklist is that it has remained as utterly unpredictable as ever. When some parts seem obvious (like the aforementioned thread with Reddington being Keen’s father) it isn’t always as straightforward as it appears with plenty of stuff that will still surprise you.

 James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington

For the most part, I was worried that The Blacklist would follow a ‘Case of the Week’ formula that seems to populate stuff like Castle, but even though it certainly seems like that way following the first episode the final few episodes of the first part of the season have shaken up the show’s structure and it’s made even more predictable as it goes on. This is a show that starts good and gets better – there’s a reason why The Blacklist is one of my favourite dramas of the year and as well as being incredibly addictive (I watched three episodes of this show in one day, and the only other two series that I’ve done that for are Orphan Black and Supernatural – so you know you’re onto a winner) and incredibly fun, The Blacklist has all the great elements for a winner.

The secondary cast is pretty good as well, for the most part. Unlike shows like Arrow (Tommy, Laurel) and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (everybody) there isn’t really anybody who I can’t stand and whilst they may not always be as fleshed out as Elizabeth Keen there are some pretty good characters in there as well. There’s Special Agent Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), a by-the-book man who doesn’t always see eye with Reddington but can’t help argue about the results, and then there’s FBI Director Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) – who plays an interesting figure of authority. We also get involvement with the CIA as well – and Meera Malik (Parminder Nagra) plays the part well rounding up the list of notable characters. For the most part, the guest actors that take up the roles as villain of the week are fun – even if some are better than others – with a notable standout being Anslo Garrick (Ritche Coster) who gets the most exposure in the two-part season finale, and as a result becomes the most memorable of the villains on the Blacklist. Not all may be well developed – but you can’t argue that each of them are interesting, and as this show benefits from some compelling twists and turns you can’t always be a hundred per cent sure on what happens to them.

The show has a pretty high budget and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. Every time you tune in you’re getting a TV equivalent of a summer blockbuster and every episode manages to be different and never real feel the same even in the earlier episodes when the villains are rotated each week, with all being very unique with some fun storylines to boot.

Overall then, The Blacklist is one of the best shows of 2013 so far and should be high on everyone’s watch-list. Fun, addictive and entertaining – I’ve loved what it’s had to bring to the table and can’t wait for the return on Jan 13 next year. It’s going to be a long wait, so now more than ever is the perfect time to jump on board if you’re not up to speed already.


S1x01: Pilot, S1x02: The Freelancer, S1x03: Wujing, S1x04: The Stewmaker, S1x05: The Courier, S1x06: Gina Zanetakos, S1x07: Frederick Barnes, S1x08: General Ludd, S1x09: Anslo Garrick P1, S1x10: Anslo Garrick P2,COMING SOON: S1x11: The Good Samaritan Killer (Jan 13)

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