The Blacklist Season 1: Grade It!

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NBC had a ratings win with The Blacklist. It ended the 2013-14 season as NBC's top scripted show, ranked number-8 overall. 

The reason The Blacklist Season 1 was so successful can be easily identified as due to James Spader's portrayal of Raymond "Red" Reddington. From the moment he walked into FBI headquarters to turn himself in, it was all about Red. He was absolutely captivating any time he was on screen.

It was a thrill ride each week as Red worked with the FBI to bring down each of the individual blacklisters. They were each unique and had an aspect that was entirely new to television. More importantly, they provided a framework for Red and Liz's story to unfold.

Red is plenty mysterious, but Liz's background is an even bigger secret. The morsels that were revealed kept the intrigue high from week-to-week until the finale when some answers were given while more were introduced.

Overall, it was an outstanding freshman season, check out our report card for the entire season.

Red Talks to Liz

Best Episode: In The Blacklist Midseason Report Card, the two-part raid of the Post Office by Anslo Garrick was my pick for the best episodes. That was just beat out when the show eclipsed itself with the two-part finale surrounding Berlin's arrival in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 21 and The Blacklist Episode 22.

The entire season led up to Berlin arriving in New York to deal with the threat to his business. There were several unexpected twists that sustained the chase for Berlin over two hours. The most shocking was that he cut off his own hand to sell his cover as a guard. Berlin effectively used proxies around town added to the mystery. Meera's death was sudden, brutal and demonstrated the danger the agents face every day. In the end, Berlin believed his cover was secure with the FBI and Red believing Berlin was dead.

Worst Episode: None of the episodes were bad enough to be noteworthy. Two of the episodes that felt more procedural in nature were the investigation of the scientist Frederick Barnes in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 7 and The Alchemist in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 12.

Best Villain: The Stewmaker and the Courier were the creepiest and scariest villains as mentioned in the previous report card. Overall, for the season, I have to go with Raymond "Red" Reddington. He's not a hero, even though he's working with Liz and the FBI. All along he was using the Blacklist to help him uncover Berlin. He manipulated Liz at will and killed people to satisfy his own vendettas. The show wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if there wasn't this evil and mysterious side to Red.

Most Unsatisfying Storyline: Tom Keen married Liz to get to Red. Beyond that we don't really know much about his motivation for helping Berlin, what truths he knows about Red and Liz's background, and what his "last breath" statement about Liz's father really meant. His body wasn't there when the police showed up, so it's possible he's still alive. I hope he is just because his story feels incomplete at this point. If he's really dead, his story was left unfinished.

Best Reveal: Red finally told Liz a little bit about how she ended up with Sam after the fire at her house. That wasn't the best, but it provided the background necessary to understand the best reveal. In the final moment of the finale, Red's scarred back was shown and with that single shot the likely connection between Red and Liz was unveiled. He's the man who saved her from the fire. 

Hopes for The Blacklist Season 2:

  • At NBC Upfronts, Megan Boone spoke with TV Fanatic and her natural hair was shoulder length. I hope that means she plans on ditching the wigs next season. The hair department did a better job with the wigs as the season progressed, but they never quite looked natural on her.
  • Tom is alive. I'm not sure how plausible that his survival would be, but I don't care. Tom's story isn't finished. 
  • The second half of the Season 1 lacked the over-the-top Blacklisters like the Stewmaker and the Courier. Over the hiatus, the writers should dream up more criminals that push the limits.
  • While the search for Berlin will definitely be a part of next season,I'd like to see it be an arc that plays out over the first half of the season. The show was built on taking down the worst of the worst criminals and that should remain the focus.
  • The identity of Liz's father -- please reveal at least his name towards the beginning of season 2 and then begin to unravel his mystery throughout the season.
  • It's been announced that Amir Arison will be a series regular as Aram. That's a good move. He's an asset to the team and that could signal a greater emphasis on using technology to track and search for Berlin and Blacklisters.

Overall Grade: A.

Your turn! What grade to you give The Blacklist Season 1?

If you've missed any episodes, make sure to catch up and watch The Blacklist online now!

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

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The Blacklist Quotes

People say youth is wasted on the young. I disagree. I believe wisdom is wasted on the old. All you can do is part with it.

Red

Is it just me or is the human race armed with religion, poisoned by prejudice, and absolutely frantic with hatred and fear, galloping pell-mell back to the Dark Ages? Who on Earth is hurt by a little girl going to school or a child being gay?

Red