The Blacklist Season 1 Review “The Kingmaker”

The Blacklist Episode 20 The Kingmaker (5)

Since the calendar turned over to 2014, The Blacklist has been on a far more serialized run. As mentioned several times before in this space, the show’s obsession with Red’s mysterious partners and the identity of Tom Keen has left very little room for the show to attack the procedural aspect of the series. Now, with the show separating itself (for now) from Liz’s peach of a husband, the show had an opportunity to focus on what made it interesting in the first place: James Spader, shadowy figures, interesting villains, and James Spader again.

The case of the week was one of the more fleshed stories the show has done in weeks. Not only was the Kingmaker given the full Red Reddington Exposition Speech, he actually had a plan that the show clearly articulated. Obviously, a lot of the villain’s various machinations were absurd, but that’s not a problem for the show as long as it develops its characters. I understood the Kingmaker better than any other villain since probably Anslo Garrick. He had marks, motives, and a clarity of purpose. His arc was well constructed and came to a worthwhile conclusion. While that doesn’t seem like high praise, it’s certainly a step up from previous episodes.

This episode also featured an increased focus on Red’s business. The show had gone heavy on the Keen marriage in recent weeks, and we haven’t gotten a real update on the state of Red’s business in awhile, so the diversion was most welcome. The show always does far better by Red than it does by Liz. Part of that is writing, but part of it is Spader’s ability to chew up an entire scene. He had several great scenes tonight with various shadowy figures. Of course, the sit downs with Alan Alda are the ones that resonate the most. Alda is one of the rare guys the show can bring in that brings the same amount of gravitas as Spader. It’s cool to watch Spader in a scene with someone he can’t just run over. Red’s business is definitely a focus going forward, so it’s encouraging to think the show may close with a bang.

Red Reddington Fashion Rating: 4

No real good appearance by the hat. No ridiculous sunglasses. I just can’t vouch for James Spader’s continued determination to not wear ridiculous ensembles.

Elizabeth Keen Trauma Watch: Orange

4 months after the fact, Liz finds out that Red killed her dad. While he’s not being totally forthcoming about what’s going on, watching Liz announce she’s “done” with Red with tears in her eyes is getting a bit tiresome. Red has always been upfront about the fact he can never be upfront. She’s certainly in a rattled emotional state, but her anger seems misdirected.

(That being said, I would be furious if someone knew something about my life they refused to tell me. Repeat: furious. Maybe we should just disregard the previous paragraph. You tell ’em Lizzie!)

Dembe Watch

High Dembe! I’m always fascinated by directors who have to give stage direction like “Act high”. The acting choices people make seem to speak volumes. Dembe looks exactly like I imagine someone would look if they were high. That’s a bad thing, because I don’t know what being high looks like. I don’t think Hisham Tawfiq does either.