The Blacklist Review S02E09
Red’s baaaaaaaack….in the not-so-safe hands of the American Government in this week’s mid-season premiere of The Blacklist.
This is definitely one of the fastest episodes of The Blacklist that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and although the story logic is a little (read: a lot) sketchy at times, it truly is an enjoyable hour of television.
This week’s Blacklister is Luther Braxton, played by the wonderful and formidable Ron Perlman, who has designs on the Fulcrum, that mysterious piece of Intel that is keeping Red in one (more or less) piece. Braxton is being held at the Factory, the CIA black site where the torture US enemies for information and which, conveniently, Red ends up at when he is taken into FBI/CIA custody. Clearly, the Fifty Shades of Grey hype has swept up even the US government, as this facility is seriously rocking a BDSM vibe, complete with chains.
While I was able to suspend my disbelief for the most part of Braxton’s escape attempt, I found it impossible to believe that the CIA-trained guards at the facility would be taken out quite so easily – Braxton kills one or two, locks the rest behind a door, and all they seem to do is watch through bulletproof glass as Braxton releases his conveniently placed team of expert thieves/escape artists. I went full eye-roll when it is revealed that The Factory is not only home to the worst of the worst, who are carrying some serious grudges against the US government, but is also a Level Six intelligence black site, with links directly into the Pentagon. I mean, seriously, did no one in the CIA stop and think that, maybe, just maybe, the time lag between torturing the information out of the prisoners and getting it to the Pentagon was worth the extra precaution of not housing hostiles and sensitive information on the one ship? Has no CIA agent watched TV or gone to the cinema? Like, ever?
Despite these shortcuts taken in creating realistic story logic, the episode has quite a few high points, including; the return of the buddy cop duo of Red and Keen as they attempt to stop Braxton, Reddington admitting that he is not a good guy, and Red proving once and for all that The Blacklist is all about James Spader when he goes waltzing through corridors of escaped prisoners in order to save Keen.
We also get some movement on the history between Liz and Red, with Reddington telling Keen that she is the key to the Fulcrum. I’m really hoping that we get a little more than that, because right now I’m failing to see why, if that is Liz’s use to Red, he would endanger the one person who is the key to his continued survival by partnering up with her and making her a target for all the bad people in his life. Wouldn’t it be safer for all involved if he had just left her alone back in Season One?
It’s also refreshing to see the main characters be put in a situation that could actually have some sort of serious effect on their lives. I’ve felt with some of the latest episodes that all the action seems to be happening around them, by and large not affecting them in any meaningful way, apart from the cat and mouse game that Red and Liz play with the truth. At no point does this episode ever make me fear for the lives of any of the characters (even Navabi or Ressler, whose early kidnapping felt more like a move to get them out of the way than to actually instil fear for their wellbeing), but there is a sense that there could be lasting, real damage to both Red and Keen (especially given the preview for the next episode).
As a few small side notes to round off this review: I’d like to give a shout out for the show runners for portraying Allah as a forgiving, peaceful saviour, which is particularly brave in this climate of hate and fear mongering with regards to Islam.
On the other hand, I’d like to request that Director Joe Carnahan take a step back from his JJ Abrams and Michael Bay fanboyism and lay off the lens flares. We get it. It was an action episode. A movie-style hour of television. The proof is in the lens flares. But seriously, maybe a little less next time? Or, you know, a lot less?
Review by Hannah Fitzpatrick