The Blacklist Review: Duplicity

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"The Freelancer" was the next check box on Raymond Reddington's blacklist, but the shiny fast paced continuation of the pilot's setup was full of its own intrigue and excitement, along with James Spader acting ingeniously cunning, weirdly charming and being just plain fun to watch.

Spader's character is clearly the highlight of The Blacklist, and he's used to full effect. He's got that Hannibal Lecter vibe (without the fava beans or people eating) playing a game where he's always one step ahead even if it seems like he's tagging along.

Red Goes Undercover

Clearly, the FBI, CIA or other government acronym can't control or contain him. Delay his demands, sure, but he'll get what he wants eventually. But what is his end game? Why is he so keen on Elizabeth Keen?

I keep getting a feeling that he could possibly be her father, especially because her family past seems so cloudy. And it would make sense in his interest specifically in her, fresh out of Quantico. He even told her to pretend to be his daughter, but maybe that's not pretend at all.

It's odd because he carries himself off as potentially duplicitous. Is he really a good guy catching bad guys without a catch? Is he a bad guy worming his way into the system for nefarious means?

He doesn't like the duplicity of the humanitarian who actually enslaved children, but he's not so black and white in his approach either.

And that's what helps make Raymond a compelling character, aside from his quips and that creepy know-it-all laugh. He draws you in, fools you... and then reveals he was on your side all along. At least for now.

Elizabeth is still growing on me, but I'm glad that she's willing to take action, even if she feels conflicted over everything that's suddenly been dumped in her lap.

Her world is no longer simple or concerned about adopting babies. She has to worry about a person who she loves possibly not being who he says, dealing with Raymond and his agenda, saving the day from a variety of villains and trying to make it out in one piece physically and emotionally.

It's a lot to handle - and she's doing a pretty good job. But there's no way she can just bury the passports and money. It's going to come out eventually and I'm sure Raymond will be there to grin and witness the fallout.

One thing I didn't get for Elizabeth was why she chose to yell out "Stop, FBI" when trying to catch the assassin instead of being a little more stealthy. I guess it did allow for a chase scene and interrogation where the new CIA member was willing to twist some legs to get answers.

I'm looking forward to exploring those side characters a little more as well.

And the episode was full of fantastic music choices from The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" to Nina Simone's "Sinnerman." It adds not only to the pacing of the scenes and episode, but makes the hour feel bigger than just a TV show. I hope using music like this continues throughout the season.

The Blacklist is mysterious and compelling without being too over the top and complicated. There's enough entertainment, fun, action and the blossoming of some very interesting characters to keep you hooked. And this might just be the comeback role for James Spader in a definite NBC hit for the fall season.


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (239 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I intended to comment on the following awhile ago. Liz looks so much better episode 2 and out. They must have changed wigs because suddenly her hair was brown and longer with bangs. She looks great -- much better than in Episode 1. In real life, she would not have had time for a great makeover -- with her husband in the hospital and all that went down.


Unlike some commenters here I thought the second episode was better than the first. I also did not see the twist coming where the humanitarian turned out to be both the bad guy and, in the end, dead. I think this is a great show with a great lead actor and an intriguing supporting cast. The little nuggets involving Elizabeth's husband and her relationship to Reddington just add to the story. Really looking forward to more.


That also showed in the episodes's twist, as well as a couple of minor other details, like Elizabeth's husband, for example. Spader is great, which was to be expected, because if The Blacklist has any chance of working, it is entirely down to him. Boone grew into the role in the second episode, which is good news. Not sure of some of the secondary casting choices. Parminder Nagra as a CIA agent just didn't seem right to me. There was a scene where she was supposed to be badass, but couldn't pull it off. Overall, definitely intrigued by what they've set up so far. It remains to be seen how they can build on it in the coming weeks.


This is one of those shows I might personally enjoy a lot. From the looks of it, the actual episodic content might not be very interesting, judging from the two so far. This one was telegraphed and very predictable, in terms of the twist towards the end. You could see it from a mile away. However, what will make this show worth a watch is the arcs of the characters, their growth throughout the season, and the interplay between them. I love shows like that (Castle, HIMYM). I also loved that the show had a sense of fun about it. It showed in Spader's acting, and the music choices. I especially loved the latter, as pointed out in the review. That is an eclectic collection of songs you don't get in a TV show. I absolutely love it. The concept of the show seems to be people are not what they seem. Red makes it explicitly clear, "What if I told you everything you knew about yourself was a lie?" That also showed in the episodes's twist, as well as a couple of minor other details, like Elizabeth's husband, for example. Spader is great, which was to be expected, because if The Blacklist has any chance of working, it is entirely down to him. Boone grew into the role in the second episode, which is good news.


I really hope that Red is Liz's father. I like their developing relationship and the opportunity for her to give him a "second chance." The back story on this will continue to evolve and will give a great dimension to the story once the relationships are revealed and he becomes even more vulnerable as she is put in danger's way during their work together.


I want to like the show. Spader is great in the roll and it has such potential. But It is so obvious what is coming that there is no surprises or wow factor. The major issue for me is the casting of the lead actress. Whoever cast her should get fired and find a new career. She is so unbelievable and uninteresting and is that a wig she is wearing?


I was skeptical about this show, but I was wrong. It's a good show. I hope that the writing stays fresh and NBC doesn't blow it by canceling it too soon if the ratings are not way up there.


This will be a hit for NBC


I enjoy this show a lot. It's also a show that leaves me thinking about what's going on -- like only realizing now that he took 2 names off the list by hiring, thus setting up, the freelancer, besides the evil slaver hypocrite he was also after.

Sarah silva

While I did not love this as much as the premiere it was still a good episode.
The twist at the end was good. I guess there was no proof he was behind the poisoning. Elizabeth knows he poisoned her but she will not anyone. Which to me is very interesting.
I thought Elizabeth was his daughter but then when he made a joke of it at the restaurant it may be the writers playing with us. Time will tell.
Same with whether Raymond is really good OR if he will build up trust and then one day disappear for good while they are out on a case.
I think Elizabeth made the best choice, pretending for now that she has no idea that her husband may be shady.

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The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

Elizabeth: So you want to go to the party?
Raymond: I thought you'd never ask.

What is it with you and hotel rooms and pens in people's necks?