The Blacklist Midseason Report Card: A

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The Blacklist  has been one of the best new series of this fall, with ratings to match.

James Spader is perfect in the role of the charismatic criminal mastermind, Raymond "Red" Reddington. He's a killer, manipulator, but he also has a softer side, especially for Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). This dichotomy has made Red mesmerizing to watch and makes Red's actions extremely unpredictable. The only thing that's given is that he will do anything to protect Liz.

Check out our Blacklist season 1 report card for the first 10 episodes.

Red and Lizzy Talk

Best Episode: This was a tough call. The show has aired only 10 episodes so far, but there were a few contenders for the best episode. The premiere was certainly one of the best of all shows this season, but I have to pick the two-part midseason finale for the top prize. In particular the second part, The Blacklist season 1 episode 10

The episode was intense due to the ambush and lives were on the line. We saw a different side of Red when he helped save Donald Ressler's life and then turned on the agent when it served him. Though, the best part was the character revelations and questions that were answered. The Apple Man revealed, the introduction of Mr. Finch, Red's answer about being Liz's father, Red's warning about Tom, and the mystery of the FBI mole. Clues were provided, which intensified the interest in the story.

Worst EpisodeThe Blacklist's worst episode was better than much of what's on television. It feels wrong to even use that moniker, but that's what a report card is all about. The Blacklist season 1 episode 7, "Frederick Barnes," gets the honor due to the procedural tone of the hour of chasing down the source of the mysterious illness, identifying the scientist, and figuring out his motive for killing so many people. The highlight of the episode was the end when Red showed up at his newly purchased home, reminisced and then blew it up. 

Best Villain (tie): I'm cheating and making this a tie between the unique and creepy villains: the Stewmaker and the Courier. The Stewmaker was downright scary especially given the music and camera angles used to show him at work. He was meticulous in the disposal of bodies. He was more of criminal sanitary worker than a killer. Though, when his life and freedom was at risk, he didn't hesitate to torture Liz. He would have killed her if Red didn't save her. Creepy, crazy, and brilliant.

The Courier was another well-designed criminal as the moderator of an exchange. His strict code of honor guaranteed compliance by both parties. If either reneged, then both parties would be killed. That's definitely incentive to follow-through with the exchange. Robert Knepper was perfectly cast in the role of the criminal that couldn't feel pain, wouldn't talk, and even implanted items within his body. Creepy, though a criminal with a strong code.

Best Mystery: Tom! Who the heck is Tom? Yes, I'm interested in knowing more about Liz's family history, but I'm more intrigued by Tom and Red's fixation on him. Red has been correct up until now, so it seems highly likely that Tom is not just a teacher, but who is he? Red has gone to great lengths to get him out of Liz's life. He had Tom taken hostage and stabbed, planted the box in the floor, set him up for a killing, and planted evidence of an affair.

None of it worked. If anything, Red's actions brought Liz and Tom closer together. Red's final words to Liz before he disappeared were to warn her about Tom. Will she start looking more closely at him?  At this point, I have to wonder if Tom's working for Mr. Finch. He seemed very interested in Liz. Of course, anything's possible on this show. Maybe Red just wants Liz to himself and is making it all up. I doubt it, but it's possible.

Hopes for the Rest of The Blacklist Season 1:

  • With the exception of one episode, the tracking down of criminals didn't have a procedural feel at all. The tone and feel of the show shifted from week-to-week depending on the criminal being hunted and the revealing of personal information about the main characters. This needs to continue. It's what makes the show unique.
  • Morsels! I usually want all the answers right away. On The Blacklist, I've enjoyed the slow, yet consistent reveals. I want the pace of answers being revealed and new questions being raised to continue.
  • The Mole: Ideally I'd like the identity to be revealed quickly and move on. Not a fan of a mole at the FBI. With everything else going on, it's not necessary. Though, it also makes sense that the criminals would be able to buy someone off or use blackmail for information.
  • More Mr. Kaplan! She was awesome and worked well with Liz. It would be intriguing to see Liz pulled between her loyalty to law and order with the FBI and working outside the law with Mr. Kaplan and Red.
  • Red on the run ... It would shake up the show's format, but it could be fun to see Liz having to hunt him down instead of working with him. 

I gave the show an "A," now it's your turn! How do you grade The Blacklist season so far?

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

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The Blacklist Quotes

Just because you’ve been bumped up to first chair in the orchestra doesn’t mean you can compose a symphony.


Raymond: You know it occurs to me if we can find the counterfeiter who created this, we might be able to recover the entire set of original nesting caskets for ourselves.
Dembe: And make a flagrant profit.
Raymond: That's the spirit. Lemons to lemonade, Dembe. Lemons to lemonade.