The Blacklist

Mondays 10:00 PM on NBC
The blacklist
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The Blacklist Review: A Whole Lot of Gray

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The Blacklist took what appeared to be a case about an escaped criminal seeking revenge for his capture and twisted it into something much more complex.

The show is one of my favorites because the writers never slack off and take the easy route. Instead, they build complicated and layered stories and characters that feel authentic.

People rarely live their lives entirely in the "right" or in the "wrong." They shift along the spectrum based on their circumstances.. And, what may be wrong in one case is entirely justified in another.

Team Discusses New Target - Mako Tanida
Red brings the FBI a new target, Mako Tanida, a crime lord.

Raymond Reddington was introduced as a criminal who was coming into the FBI to help them capture bad guys. While he does assist them in bringing down people on his Blacklist, he continues to work outside without any hindrance when it suits him.

Yet, he's sympathetic at the same time. That's an amazing feat.

On The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 16, the concept of right and wrong was continually at the forefront, but it was handled with an odd subtlety that showcased the characters and each of their motivations and moral codes. Mako Tanida escaped from prison and his first target was an FBI agent. He was the villain killing someone that appeared to be an innocent.

Next, Tanida headed to the United States and took out FBI Agent McGuire. He appeared to be seeking revenge against those who put him behind bars. Only that wasn't his motivation for killing the agents, instead it was personal and about family.

The FBI wrongly believed that Tanida's brother took over the criminal enterprise and then expanded it beyond what Tanida had established. Tanida's revenge killing spree was in retribution for the death of his innocent bookworm brother. Tanida not only wanted retribution for his brother's killing, but to take out the person who took over his criminal enterprise. 

Does that make Tanida's killings justified? No. Does it make them understandable? Definitely. When Audrey was killed by Tanida, she was an innocent just like Tanida's brother. Was Ressler justified in killing Tanida for her death? Makes you think, right? What is right? It's a complicated issue.

After Ressler found out the truth about his best friend, Jonica, the issue was raised again. Depending on your point of view, Jonica was just as responsible for Audrey's death and those of the other agents as Tanida. In the end, Ressler couldn't kill either Tanida or Jonica, though they both ended up dead.

Jonica killed himself rather than suffer the torture of being in prison. And, Tanida was taken out by Reddington. Both deaths provided some relief for Ressler, but neither would bring Audrey back. Ressler would have to suffer that loss forever, though it would get easier each day as Reddington wrote to him.

Ressler's observation that  his worst enemy  brought Audrey back into his life, while his best friend took her away was an insightful moment. As much as Reddington and Liz's relationship is the core of the show, I'm finding the developing connection between Reddington and Ressler to be more compelling.

Ressler spent years chasing Red, lost his fiance due to that pursuit, and hated the man. Now that they are getting to know each other personally, they have developed an unlikely connection that will only grow stronger now that they have both suffered a tragic loss of a loved one.

The final scene at the ballet cut with Ressler getting Red's message and the head in a box was beautifully tragic. A villain and a hero, but I was left feeling empathy for both of them. That's what makes The Blacklist such a  joy to watch over other procedural-like shows.

And, of course the mysteries and questions. Whoa, Tom! He's not the kind school teacher and husband that Liz believes him to be. He's quite a scary guy. And creepy, especially when he did the simple action of taking off his glasses and then putting them back on. Red definitely has a reason to be concerned for Liz.

Given the complex nature of characters, I'm not going to peg Tom as a bad guy ... yet. It's still possible that he has a good reason for what he's doing, but I doubt it.  He referenced "Berlin" as his contact, so perhaps he works for a foreign government. Or, it could just be a criminal enterprise.

Regardless, it was disturbing to see Liz get into the shower with her bloody husband. I'm not sure how she didn't see the blood, but maybe she was distracted by his embrace and kiss. Depending on how thorough their shower is, she may end up finding out when she finds blood on her own back.

From start to finish, the hour was intense and took unexpected turns. Will Liz begin to have doubts about her husband again? Or, will Tom be able to keep up the charming husband act? I'm sure Red will make sure to do everything possible to break that cover. We'll just have to keep on watching to find out.

What shocked you the most?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (57 Votes)

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

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Well Red was right about Tom but him being that bad - yikes. Felt bad for both Red (thinking of his daughter) and Ressler. What really annoyed the heck out of me is the lipsynching for Tanida (the actor who plays Job on Banshee). Why not use his voice but someone else's?

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Don't really care for Ressler, but yes the evolving connections between the Red-Liz-Ressler trio is interesting.

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I didn't like Tom from the beginning, something just didn't sit right with me. I really want for Liz to find out about Tom already. And, speaking of Liz, I don't think that Megan Boone is a very good actress. I wish that they had cast someone else. Thank God for James Spader, he is always brilliant!

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I had high hopes for this show, but it's really been slipping. James Spader is great and he carries the show. Character development for the rest of them is very weak. Characters do things that make no sense simply to advance the plot. Liz went from being a rookie profiler to someone who leads the front line of raids and gun battles? The writing has become very amateurish and lazy.

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Tom was sooooo bad ass this ep. Creepy as heck that he took his glasses off to kill Jolene, but kept them on to kill the cowboy. This show is amazing. Liz is horribly written. I hate a weak female cahracter who is supposed to be the lead in a show. Everyone on this show has more sense than Liz.
Red, as usual, broke my heart this ep. I really wanna learn more about him. I honestly can't imagine what happened to hurt him so deeply. He's twisted, dishonest, manipulative, and just a plain ole bad guy. But he has moments if honesty, tenderness, even gentleness. He's very protective if Liz, and I can't wait to find out why. I love all the layers to red

Martinelli

I knew Tom is not just a school teacher. Deep down I knew it and I have a feeling that there is more there. A hell of an FBI agent Liz is. Great job Liz, you have no idea who your husband is :)