Never fear Blacklisters, Red (James Spader) is back. Oh…he brought Lizzie (Megan Boone), too. Well you can’t win ’em all!
Let’s bitch it out…
It’s a nifty trick to have an unwitting “villain” with Dissociative Identity Disorder be the “case of the week” because it introduces something a little abnormal into an otherwise rote kidnapping case, which is unfortunately what the season premiere of The Blacklist turns out to be. Compared to the episodes that closed S1, ‘Lord Baltimore’ suffers from a surprising lack of energy – it’s as though the burden of setting the show up for a new season forces the creative to decide between interesting and functional and they opted for the latter. Aside from an opening that offers the usual Red quips and over the top unnecessary violence (Lizzie even whines about the missiles – kill joy), ‘Baltimore’ feels unevenly paced as it divides its time between unraveling the mystery of Lord Baltimore’s identity, aka Rowan and Nora Mills (Krysten Ritter), and Red’s personal history with Berlin (Peter Stormare).
Aside from the revelation that Red was married (something I feel like we know and I just forgot?), the abduction of Naomi (Mary-Louise Parker) feels like a given from the offset. The show has ill-used guest stars in the past, but when Parker turns up around the forty minute mark, it’s clear that she’ll be sticking around for more than a single episode. You don’t hire Nancy Botwin to do a fifteen minute stint. As for the “cliffhanger ending”, I have to put it in quotes because duh, of course Berlin would go with an eye for an eye approach to revenge (REVENGE!). It’s the biggest thriller/kidnap cliché around, so naturally the episode ends with an image of Naomi’s amputated finger. It was either that or her ear, amirite? YAWN. Call me when Red gets a head in a box, then we’re talking.
Basically the amputation is the cherry on top of the meh/shoulder shrug that this premiere delivers. ‘Lord Baltimore’ is an episode that can’t be bothered to do much more than reintroduce the characters and set things up, and while that’s fine, it also feels rather lazy and a wee bit uninspired. I’ve been hard on the show in the past, come on, The Blacklist, you can do better than this!
- At one point Red is abducted by Massad agent Samar Navabi (Mozhan Marnò) but the issue is resolved before it even begins. This seems like the foundation for a much larger storyline, so look for Samar to come back into play at a later date.
- Is it bad of me that when Naomi’s house is attacked by Lord Baltimore, I hoped that Lizzie would get shot, not tased? I mean, how convenient is it that all of the other agents are killed, but she’s only zapped? I’m just going to assume that she probably peed her pants a little. Let me have this.
- Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) dodging his psych evaluation = I. Don’t. Care. Klattenhoff seems incapable of delivering anything more than dull and stoic (see also: Mike from Homeland) and trying to juice up Ressler with guilt-induced angst only makes me hate him more. Hard pass on this new development.
- Side Note: Can we all agree that Ressler would totally be suspended for confronting the shrink in public? Crazy people do shit like that.
- What was up with that “everyone in a line, slow-walking like the opening credits of Law & Order” entrance when Harold (Harry Lennix) returns to work? That was super weird.
- Also: Harold has some kind of “diagnosis”? The Blacklist needs to stop pretending that it cares enough about the supporting cast to give them back stories – we know that you can’t commit (cough Agent Meera cough), so just don’t bother.
- I literally laughed myself off the couch when the random dude hand-delivers Lizzie her divorce papers and asks why she’s keeping her name. This feels so authentically true to life…oh wait – no it’s completely false. This folks is a scene that has been included solely so that Lizzie can wax philosophically about the duplicitous nature of her
- Also, stalker hoodie dude is obviously Tom (an unseen Ryan Eggold). Why not just show his face? Who else is hanging out outside Lizzie’s dive motel with binoculars? Oh wait, do you think it’s the adoption agency?
- Finally I breathed a huge sigh when Lizzie cuts the incredibly fake extension / weave / squirrel’s tail they were trying to pass off as as a ponytail. It looks like Boone’s hair has grown long enough that she can actually go wig-free this season! Small victories, folks – though I will miss our bitchy wig updates…
- Red (when Harold insists he’s not coming back): “There’s no shame in being a cripple.” Meow!
- Naomi (telling Lizzie about being married to Red): “You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a man like Raymond Reddington turn your life upside down.” A little too on the nose, The Blacklist.
Your turn: are you excited to have The Blacklist back? Did the pacing feel off to you? Did making Krysten Ritter a two-people-in-one-body make for a nice twist? Were you expecting more from
Nancy Naomi? Do you care if Ressler or Harold get personal stories? And what body part should Berlin send to Red next? Sound off below.
The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10pm EST on NBC