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Review – The Blacklist Season 2

The Blacklist Review S02E13

The Blacklist treats us with a slower pace this week, but a well-developed villain and intriguing movement in some overarching storylines more than make up for any loss of full-on action.

The blacklister of the week is The Deer Hunter or, at least, the copycat ex-wife of the original Deer Hunter who has a serious axe to grind with some abusive husbands. Shout out to Amanda Plummer who managed to portray our villain of the week with some seriously intense staring and creepy vibes. It’s rare that The Blacklist manages to write one of their throwaway villains well (with some notable exceptions, of course), and even rarer that they get an actor/actress with the chops to really get into the character, but the show has definitely achieved both these points in this instalment.

It was refreshing to see that Keen appeared to be the driving force behind this case for once. After several weeks of complaining about the lack of serious FBI engagement with the cases they tackle, it is a nice change to see Keen taking charge – even if Red and a random reporter seem to know more about her case and her killer than she does. Seriously, isn’t this woman supposed to be some sort of trained FBI profiler?

That said, however, I was taken a little out of the episode when I released that the whole storyline doesn’t really seem to fit into the overall story premise of The Blacklist: Keen specifically mentions that Red doesn’t really tackle serial killers (too mundane and predictable, apparently), and the whole concept of this killer being on the loose long enough to get onto Red’s list seemed like a long shot: apart from his initial interference with the case, Red definitely takes a back seat in this one, so my believability was stretched a bit that they apparently had not managed to catch either the Deer Hunter or the copy cat before Red came along. It feels a little like this particular case, well-written and acted though it may be, was a little bit of a throwaway, filler case, playing out in order to give Red time to complete his various schemes.

It was also disappointing to see The Blacklist fall back onto their favourite plot device for creating tension. Naturally, an episode is incomplete without a member of the FBI being abducted and Keen was up this time. Apparently, general incompetence and ability to get taken are job requirements for the FBI. I do understand why the writers chose this path – the exploration of the darker side of Liz -, but as a device, abduction is overused for this series and needs to be retired, stat. I’m also not sold on Keen’s dark side. No doubt, she has come far from the baby agent we met in the pilot, but I’m not sure Boone has the chops to carry the descent into darkness, so my vote goes for the show to start steering away from that particular plotline.

As engaging as Plummer was to watch, however, the real stars of this episode was the secondary storylines. Keen’s problems continue as the case against her builds momentum. Although she does entertain the idea of giving herself up for all of about two minutes (only to be shot down spectacularly by Ressler. Four for you, Ressler, you go Ressler!), it once again falls to Reddington to make her problems disappear. I’m hoping this isn’t the end of this particular storyline, however, as we saw a side of the police officer – a genuinely nice guy who wants to help people – that is an engaging contrast to Keen’s morally skewed stance of late.

Reddington, meanwhile, sets up a meeting with his mystery caller man, but ultimately loses his opportunity in favour of helping to save Keen from prison. This episode didn’t shed much light on this situation (the complete opposite, in fact), but I’m interested to see how this unravels, especially if we are treated to more moments where Red must decide between Keen and his mysterious plots.

All in all, this was an engaging episode of The Blacklist, ruined by a predictable, formulaic ‘twist’ that needs to be retired. Although refreshing to see the FBI taking charge, it would be nice to see them take charge and demonstrate competence. Apparently, however, that role firmly belongs to – and will always belong to – Reddington and Dembe, the only characters who ever seem to manage to get stuff done.

Review by Hannah Fitzpatrick.

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