The Blacklist Review S02E12
The Blacklist hits all the squares on the creepy cult bingo this week, with creepy woods, creepy incest, creepy dolls creepily strung up, creepy indoctrination and creepy kids.
Red sets the FBI on the case of the Kenyon family, led by Justin Kenyon, who believes his descendants and himself will reign fire and gore down upon Earth and cleanse it for his followers. Not only has Kenyon got himself a nice little militia, he’s also acting as Storage King for the worst of the worst. Naturally, while the FBI becomes hell-bent on finding Justin, Red runs behind the scenes and tries to get a peek in what is being stored.
The main theme for this episode appears to be the old adage of ‘you reap what you sow’. Kenyon’s little incest-y ‘love’ circle had one major flaw: the ratio of boys to girls. So naturally, he decided to sacrifice some of the boys into the deep dark woods that surround the Kenyon base. Naturally, those boys survived, and then helped other boys survive, and then became Kenyon 2.0, hell-bent on fulfilling their father’s prophecy. This stretched the logic a little, given that these boys seemed to survive to adulthood on the Kenyon mountain, and were known to some of the Kenyon children in the main compound, but were never found by Kenyon himself.
Despite that, this was possibly the most interesting and engaging part of this main storyline; the discarded sons of Justin Kenyon are so far brainwashed into the Kenyon beliefs that they still want to live according to their ‘religion’. Kudos is due to all the younger actors and actresses in this particular episode, who all nailed the dead-eyed, creepy ‘I know more than you’ stare and out-acted most of the series regulars (except James Spader, who is of course, a god amongst mere mortals).
The FBI doesn’t really do much with regards to the Kenyon’s. Ressler and Keen storm the compound (too late, everyone’s dead), go for a walk in the woods, Ressler gets kidnapped, they lose their key witness (kudos creepy little girl!), Keen gets kidnapped, and then they somewhat rescue themselves in time with the rest of the FBI storming their little hidey-hole. This lack of FBI driving force isn’t a new thing for The Blacklist, and I’d definitely be down for an episode where the FBI actually does something. I realise that this is The James Spader Hour, but seriously – how many episodes can you have where the FBI is merely window dressing?
Despite this, the villain-of-the-week was a strong and engaging enough storyline, although it was definitely not the star of the episode. Instead, we seemed to jump in leaps and bounds (or at least, as close to leaps and bounds as possible in The Blacklist) with regards to some of the other plotlines for the season. Cooper continues to battle his mystery illness, trying to get into a super-secretive medical trial on the wishes of his wife (Kudos to Valarie Pettiford for her performance). He fails, but eventually gets in because it helps to have friends in high places.
Meanwhile, Reddington decides to make haste on Fitch’s last pieces of advice. He recruits his DMV buddy, Glen, to star in what could possibly be a great comedy duo: Red as the exasperated veteran who just wants his information, thank you very much, and Glen as the computer-smart, but street-dumb screw-up who likes to mess with Red. After a few screw-ups (read: ransacking the wrong apartment), they end up finding what they are after: a mysterious phone number. And then, in true The Blacklist style, Red drops around to the Kenyon family farm, pops into a presidential limo stored there and pulls out a briefcase before calling the mysterious number. I’m sure this could’ve been handled in a way that wasn’t quite so confounding (really, show? A presidential limo that no one realised was missing? I’m no Secret Service agent, but I’m pretty sure those would at least be lo-jacked), but I am eager to see where both the number and the briefcase lead.
All in all, the episode had a solid base that, unfortunately, seemed to get lost a little in The Blacklist’s tedious relationship with logic and common sense. If the show-runner spent a little more time teasing out the logic of their storylines, and a little less in trying to figure out how many ways Red and Keen can have the ‘never again’ discussion, then the show could be great. Until then, suspension of disbelief continues to be the order of the day.
Review by Hannah Fitzpatrick.