Despite its inconsistencies throughout season one, I’ve found myself compulsively watching The Blacklist. How does it fare going into S2?
Let’s bitch it out…There’s something strangely addictive about The Blacklist that I’ve never been able to put my finger on. It’s got a compellingly magnetic lead performance by James Spader as Reddington, which if unfortunately often contrasted by Megan Boone’s wooden performance as Lizzie. Even though Boone (and her atrocious wig) have improved over the course of the twenty-two episodes this season, many of the issues I had with the series when it began remain in play. The cases aren’t that compelling, the case of the week and the overarching mysteries are awkwardly integrated and the secondary cast are either awful (Diego Klattenhoff, Parminder Nagra) or poorly used (Harry Lennix, Parminder Nagra again). Basically the writers could have killed everyone except Red and Aram (Amir Arison) in this finale and I would have walked away happy. Imagine my surprise, then, when they actually do kill off Nagra’s Meera! (Side Note: clearly Lennix’s Cooper isn’t going anywhere or else he would have been confirmed dead. Plus let’s be realistic. They’re clearly not going to gut the cast; just get rid of the least valuable member of the team).
Meera was easily one of the most frustrating characters on the series. Parminder Nagra is a famous face but she was given nothing to do until mid-way through the season when Red discovered Meera was the mole who sold him out. For some reason because she was acting under duress, she was left alone and her betrayal, which resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen agents, was never made public (or really ever mentioned again). Perhaps this is why the writers thought it was okay to slit her throat in the finale? That answer might satisfy, except that it’s clearly not the intention because the rest of the episode is spent mourning her, as though viewers are meant to grieve her departure (?!). Let’s be honest: we knew nothing about this woman apart from the fact that she was a mother and had CIA contacts*. Regardless, Meera’s dead and it’s all very sad – the music, the manipulative picture of Meera’s kids and Megan Boone’s moon face all tell us that we should be feeling feelings. Well sorry, The Blacklist, but I feel nothing.
*We know all about the CIA contacts (despite never meeting them) because once an episode Meera would loudly tell everyone that she would touch base with them for information. You just know near the end of the season those contacts were screening their calls, like “Oh shit, guys, Meera’s calling again! Tell her I’m at the dentist!”
Unfortunately my general ambivalence applies to the rest of the episode, as well. I think ‘Berlin: Conclusion’ was meant to be some kind of high-octane finale, filled with questions and cliffhanger-y “oh no they didn’t” twists, but honestly this is pretty tame. Red is Lizzie’s dad? Check (we’ve been calling that since episode one). After spending the series teasing the duplicitous husband/secret agent bit, Lizzie just shoots Tom (Ryan Eggold) and he dies in a completely anti-climatic fashion. The Task Force is allowed to remain in power because Fitch (Alan Alda) brokers a deal because heaven forbid we bid goodbye to the titular list. Oh yeah, and pretty much everyone is calling “Keyser Soze” on Red’s arch-enemy Berlin turning out to be the guard (Peter Stormare). I mean, that’s just an epic failure of Elementary-proportions. Never, ever cast a recognizable actor in what appears to be a bit role because that just inevitably means that they’re the villain. One would have hoped that the Task Force would have figured out who they were dealing with after the random guard just happens to know the entire fucking backstory of the mysterious man they’re tracking. I mean, seriously, the fact that the Task Force takes until the end of the episode to figure it out is some The Following-level stupid shit. Are cops on TV thrillers nowadays required to pass some kind of idiot exam?
So yeah, season one ends with a bit of a whimper, but I say that recognizing that fans of the show won’t care and episodes like ‘Berlin: Conclusion’ enable the writers to maintain the status quo. That makes sense given that this show is NBC’s highest rated new series and clearly people like it. I just wish that The Blacklist would treat its viewers with a little more respect.
- Quite a few commenters are making light of the casual indifference of New Yorkers considering a plane full of foreign convicts crashed into the island. You’d think there’d be panic, but it’s mostly still coffee, jogging and cameos by Matt Lauer.
- I should probably feel less vitriol about the Lizzie/Tom conclusion considering it falls well within the new “TV death” parameter: no body, no death. I personally hope that Tom returns because his storyline has been the best aspect of this first season, but I can just as easily see the series not wanting to have an evil ex-husband lurking around the fringes.
- Finally, can we all agree that the whole “Lizzie being done with Red” storyline is played out and it needs to be jettisoned? Whenever the protagonist of the series threatens to quit and/or leave, it’s such a waste of time because they never do…cause then there’d be no show.
Your turn: were you happy with The Blacklist‘s finale? Did you cheer or jeer when you saw Red’s scars? Did you figure out that the guard was Berlin? Are you sad Meera (and maybe Tom) are dead? And what do you want to see change for S2? (I want to see that wig get its own spin-off!) Sound off below.
The Blacklist has finished airing its first season on NBC. It will return on Mondays in the fall.