Lately we’ve had a run of serial killers: Criminal Minds, The Following, Hannibal, Dexter, The Mentalist, to name a few.
The Blacklist charts a similar path as a profile fugitive partners with a rookie FBI profiler.
While Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) may not be masked and straight-jacketed like Hannibal Lecter, he’s isolated in a high-security chamber from where he dishes out his demands -all under the guise of helping to catch the enemy.
Things begin ominously when Reddington walks into an FBI building and gives himself up, kneeling on the floor and the American coat of arms. It’s an in-your-face opening that works to great effect. Who is he? Why is he one of the FBI’s most wanted? And why is he surrendering?
Reddington has information, and plenty of it, that keeps him one step ahead of the FBI, led by Harry Cooper (Harry Lennix). In this case it isn’t serial killers that are the primary enemy, but terrorists on home soil. A target they thought was dead is in the country and about to wreak havoc. The enigmatic Reddington, who commands every scenario he is in, holds the key to stopping him, but will only talk to Elizabeth Keene (Megan Boone).
Keene lives a pretty perfect, if predictable, life as a career agent and doey-eyed wife to Tom Keene (Ryan Eggold). When she’s not on the job busting a case, she’s at home swept up in romantic dinners and dreams of family. Thank god Reddington is here to throw all of that out.
Charismatic James Spader owns this series, bringing as much presence and authority to The Blacklist as he did to Boston Legal. It’s hard not to see Hannibal Lecter’s DNA in his performance, but he is a worthy successor of sorts. Partnering crims with cops as a way of fighting crime isn’t new, but Reddington discards all the charms of others such as White Collar.
The action scenes, particularly one involving some bad guys, guns and trucks, puts money on the screen. Are we quite sure they will maintain this standard for the series, or is it just to launch the series?
Reddington’s “blacklist” of uncaptured crims is also not especially new and feels like a ploy by writers to plot out a first season. Each week a different target? Time will tell.
That said, the strength of the first episode is enough to warrant further investigation and a bit of a Hollywood ride.
The Blacklist airs 8:30pm Mondays on Seven.