The Blacklist Season 1 Review “Madeline Pratt”

The Blacklist Episode 14 Madeline Pratt (4)

Through 13 episodes, new NBC drama The Blacklist has already undergone a few iterations. When Red Reddington first walked into FBI headquarters, it appeared the show was aiming at just the right level. It turned loose James Spader and embraced his brand of mischievous creep. Explosions happened, guns went off, and Spader waxed lyrical on topics ranging from good wine to the true worth of a man’s word. It was an entertaining mess of a show. However, the two parter surrounding the Anslo Garrick name on The Blacklist became a fork in the road moment for the series. Suddenly, Red was off on his own show and left FBI agents and the Keen marriage to their drab devices. A show that seemed to know what it had was behaving as if it no longer appreciated it, and the show suffered mightily as a result.

It’s for those reasons I appreciated the return of the show from its Olympics-induced hiatus. With the show’s creative team able to take a breath for a moment, this first episode back seems to indicate a return to the form that made the show a hit for NBC. While tonight’s episode was overly busy, it did what it did best: It injected James Spader into a situation and let him do his thing. Several people didn’t have to turn up dead (with the exception of the shootout with random bad guys at the end) for Red and company to accomplish their mission. Instead, I appreciated the delicacies and the turns of the episode involving Red’s admittedly complicated relationship with Madeline Pratt. Spader was all of the things he usually is when the show is good enjoyable. His work in this week’s episode further underscores his value to the show, and how superior he is to his costars. Megan Boone remains perfectly capable and she looks like a young Meryl Streep next to Diego Klatenhoff’s spot on impression of a block of wood.

That being said, my time away from the show didn’t change my opinion of the state of the Keen marriage. The show played the marriage in this episode as if it was trying to get new viewers up to speed or remind forgetful ones. Anyone who moderately paid attention probably recognized the familiar beats: Tom and Liz plan alone time, work gets in the way, Tom gets mad and complains about what “the job” is doing to their marriage, rinse, repeat. Now Tom is off in Orlando running into the sneaky Jolene at a teacher conference in Orlando. It’s a plotline that was tiresome the moment it started happening. I wish Tom would never return from his probable affair with Jolene, but I know better at this point. Time will tell if The Blacklist finally learns its lesson.

Red Reddington Fashion Rating: 8

Dope tux, Red. Do you think Spader came up with the conceit for him to wear a tux and get into the Syrian embassy? I imagine the conversation went like this:

Spader: I was thinking what if Red somehow got into the embassy… and wore a nice tux?
Writer 1: How does he get in?
Spader: I’m sure you’ll think of something.
Writer 2: We could just have him say he can get in and then not follow up on it at all.
Spader: Now you’re thinking on your feet. I’ll be in wardrobe.

Elizabeth Keen Trauma Watch: Yellow

I’m considering suspending the EKTW. Liz is handling things too smoothly. Either she’s on her way to becoming a ruthless killing machine, or she’ll slowly break down before consuming too many caffeine pills and singing “I’m So Excited” while Ressler tries to hold her down. Is it wrong that I started rooting for that scenario immediately when I thought of it? Should we just move on? Fair enough.

Government Bureaucracy Watch

It has to be horrible to be a good guy who works for the government. At a moment’s notice, someone with a higher pay grade (and their is always someone with a higher pay grade) can swoop in and say they’re now running things. Now, Harold is left to ponder what will happen if he disobeys the orders of someone who is obviously dirty, yet can make his life miserable/ruin his career. Sigh. Being a good guy is The Worst.