The Blacklist Review: Scam or Second Chance?

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The opening scene of The Blacklist premiere was the most mesmerizing of the fall season and the show just continued to build from there. It continued to hold my attention until the very end with the compelling characters, performances and twists.

James Spader is captivating as one of America's Most Wanted criminals, Raymond "Red" Reddington, and Megan Boone holds her own next to him as FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen. She's not going to stand by and be Red's appointed apprentice. At times, she may have learned from him, but it was with the goal of gaining information.

When he didn't cooperate, she took matters into her own hands ... literally by putting a pen into his neck.

Catching a Criminal

Why would a renowned and skilled criminal as Red decide to turn himself in? He claimed that it was because he wanted to help them capture a terrorist, Ranko Zamani, though that was just his way in. Instead, it appears that this is all about Liz, the novice FBI agent. What is his connection to her? And why is he determined to work with and seemingly mentor her?

That mystery sucked me in, especially during the initial meeting between Red and Liz. It may have been her first day, but she stayed strong and stood up to Red even when he revealed that he knew deep personal secrets about her. He needs Liz to validate himself for some yet-to-be-revealed reason. He feels an intense connection to her and didn't hide it when he told her, "...if anyone will give me a second chance it's you. The two of us have overcome so much."

When Liz worked out the clues on the board that connected Zamani, Beth, "the Banker" and "the Chemist," Red looked like a proud father who was admiring his daughter's abilities. Red probably knew all the connections, but rather than just tell her he wanted her to figure them out herself.

Red's plan was intricate and allowed him to play both Zamani and the FBI without their knowledge. It was shocking to find out that Red was behind Zamani's attack on Tom. As the series progresses, it will be intriguing to see if Liz uses his need to connect with her to her advantage. It's unclear exactly how much he knows about her. How did he know that Liz's husband, Tom, had a secret? Could he be Red's source of information? Tom would know about Liz's past, their plans to adopt a baby and most likely about her scar.

I doubt Red ever expected Liz to come at him and stick a pen in his neck. In that moment, she showed immense strength. Red would be disappointed if she wasn't a challenge. He honestly respects her. Though, his intentions remained a mystery throughout the entire episode.

Even as a viewer watching Red's interactions with both Zamani and the FBI, his ultimate goal wasn't obvious. Since Liz was with Beth and the bomb, he didn't want the bomb to go off, but was his intention to get the bomb for himself and/or the Ukrainian? Or was he telling the truth that it was just payment for preventing a devastating chemical disaster?

In the end, Zamani was dead and the bombing was stopped. It was a win for the FBI and provided Red's entrance into the FBI to continue his plan of bringing down criminals on his blacklist. I doubt it is that simple with Red, he has a hidden agenda and it's all about Elizabeth Keen. 

What is their connection? Who is Tom Keen? Is he working with Red? Or, is he potentially a threat to Liz? Is he there to help "Lizzie"? Or, further his own criminal goals?

Odds and Ends

  • Raymond Reddington was in the Navy and being groomed for Admiral. He disappeared leaving his wife and daughter behind. Where are they now? Will they show up?
  • Given their new circumstances, will Liz and Tom continue with the adoption? Or give it up?
  • The "Post Office" was an awesome location. I hope they continue to use that as the black site.
  • Red had a sweet deal at the hotel. His information was worth the expense ... this time. Will he continue to be worth it?
  • How did Liz get the scar? It didn't sound like she was abused by her father. And, she takes strength from it. That will be a story to find out.
  • Tom was hiding money, many passports from different countries under various names, and a gun. He's definitely more than just a teacher.
  • "99 problems and a bitch ain't one."

Did you get sucked into the story too? Will Red be an ally or adversary within the FBI? Any speculation about whether Tom is working with Red? Or is Red working against Tom?



Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (195 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Love James Spader, great to see him back! The show has huge potential, as long as the writers keep producing, he'll follow suit. He's most definitely her father. (as for missing Sleepy Hollow, invest in a PVR it's also showing promise)


I think Ray is her Dad, or something like a Godfather? Really like this new series, it has the action and thrill.
The husband is either CIA or has some connection to Red


@Boyd Crowder - I'm not sure that you can quantify FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen as a total rookie. She's got (according to dialog) 4 years of experience. She just graduated Quantico a month ago as a profiler. I assume her previous four years experience was in the field. I liked this show, I hope that writing stays fresh and intense.


Being commercial tv , I'm not expecting pay cable drama ...the chick is hot and I'm a Spader fan . But the chick came on way too badddd azz for a rookie, and that was tedious to watch at times was the sugar/spice scenes with the hubby ....
Shoot til you miss probation !


Well, it's never going to be easy recording everything I want to watch until I finally a the new TIVO that records four shows at one; then and only then will I be satisfied. Last night, I had to eliminate "Sleepy Hollow" to watch The Blacklist. I'm certainly not going to pass up an opportunity to watch James Spader in anything...and though I found his "new look" a little disturbing (and perhaps that's the point),nothing was disappointing about James Spader in the first hour of the Blacklist.The new show lived up to all the hype and Liz was a pleasant surprise as a rookie agent suddenly thrown into a dangerous, complicated situation on her first day...and she was late! I think she got the hint when the helicopter landed in her backyard and she knew her first day was not going to be a walk in the park. This episode should have been called, Surprise Party, for the number of surprises pushed upon first-time viewers, one after the other. The biggest one may have been "the husband's involvement in more than even Liz was aware, and the scene at home where Zemani surprised Liz with her husband bound, gagged and bleeding profusely. Talk about a bad first day at work...and for all she knew at that point, her husband was an innocent victim of this ruthless terrorist who thought nothing of jamming his Bowie knife into his leg, just to get a little information that she didn't know. Earlier that morning they were talking babies and adoption and then the picture changed dramatically to one of life or death. Spader is an interesting actor, but I, too, hope that he finds more of those quirky nuances that aren't so reminiscent of his work on Boston Legal. But we shall see and I'm hooked so far and eagerly waiting for the next episode. There's a lot about The Blacklist that struck me as unique from all the other crime shows and I hope that the writers can stick with that and maintain the energy and roguish style of the pilot. Things will either get even better from here or slow down into the same ole same ole...but as a lover of television, I certainly hope not! No, this was far from terrible and if you missed it, you'll need to find it and watch this exciting and important intro to the season. I think it's going to be a good one!


I absolutely loved this! It had twists and turns and a compelling story that kept me drawn in for the entire hour. I'm convinced that Elizabeth is actually Red's daughter; it would explain why he's so obsessed with her. I also did not see the bit about her husband at the end coming until right before it happened. They opened up enough mysteries to keep me tuning in next week.


missed ti last night - watching Castle - will get it soon. Like james spader in most shows, and this looks like it has potential

Beverly brooks

Haven't watched it yet. Looking forward to it as I love to watch James Spader in most things.

Sarah silva

This was a pretty good pilot.
I knew I would like the show as it is one of the few new shows I am going to watch this season. However if H50 was still on CBS at the same time I may not have watched this show.
I want to know what Tom is hiding, is he a con man, is he CIA?
I think Ray is her father but then that may be way to obvious so then I was thinking he may have killed her mother OR he may be Tom's father.
I can not wait to see how this season progresses!


I really liked the show and can't wait to see where it goes. I think he is her real father. James Spader is great and looks like he is having fun. I liked Liz but that wig she had on was driving me crazy. I did not see the thing with her husband. That was a shock, to see if he really is a spy or if "Red" is putting doubuts in Liz head. Loved it when she stabbed him in the neck with the pen.

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The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Cooper: You have my attention.
Red: Were you wrong?
Cooper: I was wrong.

Man: It must be good to be home again, sir.
Red: Yeah. Well, we'll see about that.