Last night was NBC‘s premiere of their new fall show ‘The Blacklist’ and things got off to a very promising start indeed! First, I just want to give an honorable mention to the most important cast member of the show, James Spader‘s epic bitch face. I’m rather confused as to why it hasn’t been recognized in the credits, it’s that incredible. Dear Bitch Face, I see you and the work you do, okay?! YOU ARE APPRECIATED.
The episode starts off with master criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington (Spader) moseying on in to FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., offering himself as a sacrificial lamb after 20 years on the run. As the powers that be, specifically FBI head Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix), confirm Red’s identity, we learn he wasn’t always what we see now. Turns out he’d been well on his way to Navy admiralty when he went turncoat, simultaneously deserting his wife and daughter to start leaking US government intel to other countries. He immediately starts volunteering info the FBI didn’t know it needed, about myriad terror threats, so as to whet their appetite. How much knowledge has Red amassed in his two decades on the “other side”? All questions would be answered only if they produced brand new profiler Elizabeth Keen. So, naturally, Harold is all, “give the man what he wants”! Not really, but really. I mean, they fetch Elizabeth via helicopter. The only thing that could have made it better would have been producing her out of a top hat.
I can’t even start talking about Elizabeth (Megan Boone) without highlighting the awfulness of her wig. I CANNOT. Or maybe it’s not that bad and I’m just picky?! Either way, I kept getting distracted by her hairline which I hate because, Liz is awesome. Megan Boone has managed to portray her perfectly; slightly sweet and innocent with the core of steel necessary for her chosen career. It just so happens that she and her husband are in the midst of trying to adopt a child which, you know, is kinda bad timing. But, as we learn a little later, Liz’s childhood was pretty shit and even she’s aware that she’s trying to fix her past by creating a specific future. Girrrrrrrrl. I have a feeling you need more therapy than you’ve had to date.
I have to say, the first meeting between Liz and Red is hilarious, at least to me. She’s taken to the super-secret-hideout warehouse where he’s being kept and he’s basically “Magnetoed” out to her i.e. mechanically pushed out of his cage so that no one has to make physical contact. *ZOMG, HE’S SO DANGEROUS, GUYS.* Right off the bat, we get an idea of exactly why Red is so interested in a baby profiler with mainly her instincts to bring to the table. We see Elizabeth try to play it cool, to keep control of the situation, but Red hits her where it hurts, calling her “Lizzy” and referencing a somewhat shady past that completely escaped FBI vetting. HOW? That is some serious fail right there. *Side note: The aforementioned fail is never acknowledged or corrected by the end of this episode.* Soooooooooooo. Elizabeth has an absentee criminal dad and a mom who died from “shame”, leaving her to primarily raise herself. And Red deserted his wife and daughter to become a career criminal. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? I’m sure you do.
Running with Red’s shiny new info about a possible kidnapping, Liz acts to protect said kid when all hell breaks loose. Yup, the FBI gets topped and the kidnapping is successful, so it’s good that we’ve already established their ability to suck. At least on TV. *Omg, I’m gonna be on a watch list now, aren’t I? Oh, bother, let’s get back to the ballad of Liz and Red.* Now that the Feds are screwed, Liz is left having to pander more info from Red who’s all about that tit for tat. What does he want? To know about the scar on her hand. *blink blink* He wants to see it and know how she got it and…yeah, I know this sounds pervtastic as hell but I swear it’s not. All the body language going on here is ace and it’s like Red is wearing a neon sign saying “Daddy is sorry he left you, please let me kiss your booboo and fix all the hurts I wasn’t there to, wahhhhhhhh”. Then he tells Liz that she needs to think more like a criminal to catch their guy, Zamani, as it’ll come easier than she thinks. I’m not ashamed to say I had a lot of feels here. Btw, let me note how happy I am that this isn’t going to be a romantic situation the way the promos hinted. I’m also thinking that the father-daughter connection is being made obvious so that we can squirm over how understandably clueless everyone else is. When will it come to light? Where will the show go from there? That sort of thing.
While Red is getting his cocky mofo walk on into his favorite hotel, on the government’s dime, poor Elizabeth is coming home to find her husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold), beaten and strapped to a dining room chair. Oh, hey, there’s Zamani! He tries to make Elizabeth spill intel she doesn’t have so he stabs innocent Tom in the femoral artery and ribs. LIZ.IS.PISSED. This is where we really get to see that lovely core of steel I mentioned earlier. In confronting Red, she essentially “shows her teeth”…by jamming a pen into his neck. Red isn’t sure whether to be impressed, pleased, or scared. I’m thinking proud is somewhere in there too. But his words here, about Liz needing to know the truth about her husband, come back in a big way. Apparently, Tom is pretty sketchy himself.
You know what’s coming up now, don’t you? THE FBI FUCK UP AGAIN. Red escapes the hospital to meet up with Zamani! Where they discuss their plan for Tom’s beatdown in hopes of exposing him?! Because they’re apparently bros?! Wtf is going on here?! Just WHO is the bad guy?! We knew Red was playing both sides but damn. Of course, being as wily as he is, the FBI tracker that’d been injected into Red somehow finds its way onto Zamani and, at this point, the lines are so blurred that we don’t know if this was part of the plan as well or just Red toying with the FBI some more. You know, like you do. Agent Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) gives chase on the pseudo!Red aka Zamani while actual!Red swoops in to save the day, essentially rescuing both the kidnapped general’s daughter as well as the woman we now suspect is his own (Liz).
By now, Zamani is dead and Red re-apprehended though we’ve learned that this doesn’t really hinder him at all. Just as Cooper is about to lock up shop and dismiss “class” for the day, Red drops the bomb. You thought Zamani was all he had for you? Au contraire, mon frere, for Mr. Reddington has a burn book full of crooks the FBI would LOVE to get their hands on! Okay, not a burn book but a “blacklist”, hence the name of the show. For whatever reasons, Red is on a mission to help take all these fugitives down alongside him, permitting his continued possession of “Lizzy” as his special handler.
Meanwhile, at Elizabeth’s apartment of horror and bloody carpets, a well-deserved cleaning session is taking place. As bright as she is, it takes awhile for Liz to realize that there’s no way in hell that much blood will succumb to a scrub-brush. Cue carpet ripping! Cue hidden floorboards! Cue a box full of unmarked bills, various passports for aliases, and firearms. Welp. Looks like Red DOES know more about Tom and his apparent illegal activities than Liz does. Awkward? Not really. Tom is still on a respirator and Liz is now ready to listen to Red’s not-so-tall tales.
My opinion based on this pilot is that NBC is knocking it out of the park again, just as suspected. I can’t wait to rewatch this ep in anticipation for next week’s. Did you watch ‘The Blacklist’? What are your thoughts?