The Blacklist
The Stewmaker
Season 1, Episode 4 ~ A Surprise Favorite


Red, knotted mind jpgJames Spader | © NBC Universal

I expected to love two new shows this year: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Almost Human. I had been looking forward to them for months and couldn't keep the excitement contained. I adore the first so far (and still do! //1.22.18). The second premieres on November 17, so I can't make a judgment just yet. (It had great potential, but it was canceled after only 13 episodes. //1.22.18) But I didn't even know The Blacklist existed until I saw NBC's fall preview not long before it premiered. I put it off for the first few weeks and I'm just now getting caught up. Still need to watch the fifth episode, but it's already very high on my list of must watch series. This James Spader-led thriller came out of nowhere and surprised me tremendously, and it reminded me why I missed him so much when Boston Legal ended.

The story begins with Raymond Reddington, former naval officer and one of the government's most wanted, turning himself in to the FBI. Over the years since he disappeared, Red built a vast criminal network and sold government secrets, getting himself branded a traitor. Now he's setting the FBI after those in his way, making a deal to cooperate in taking down the worst of the worst only if he's guaranteed to work with brand-new agent Elizabeth Keen. An intriguing start for sure.

I love the mystery of who Lizzy is to Red. In just four episodes, the show has dropped a lot of hints and Spader, as usual, has been superb, giving plenty of insight into a morally murky, conflicted character who works for himself, selling secrets and brokering deals with anyone willing to pay, damn loyalty or patriotism. He's one of the government's most wanted men for a reason. I can't wait to find out what made him that way. The higher ups will tolerate and use him for now, but that won't last forever. Red is very intelligent, so he must know he may not get out of this - or an escape has been planned to be undoubtedly saved for the end of the series.

But it seems Red wants more than the satisfaction of putting away the worst of the worst, and those in the way of his criminal enterprise, or whatever other hidden agenda he may have. He requested Keen to get close to her for some reason. To make up for a wrong in his past? When Elizabeth calls him a monster, he agrees with her without hesitation, but you can tell he wasn't always that way, that he regrets some part of the things he's done, the things he's had to do. No matter how far he may have fallen, he obviously has a heart for the innocent. The evil of the world disgusts him. Spader is playing my favorite kind of bad good guy, or is it good bad guy? Either way, he's a complicated character in a very dark grey area and he's fantastic and fascinating to watch.

Catch up on Hulu Plus,, your OnDemand channel, or Amazon Instant Video (Pilot [HD]). I already know I'm going to buy The Blacklist: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] when it's released.


  1. Thanks for the tip about Almost Human. I wasn't aware of it, but just found it on Hulu, and it looks great (based on the brief previews that are there). I wonder if it'll venture into absurdity, with the robot being "too" human. But we'll see. Looks great, and I subscribed. And with Wyman and Abrams producing, I guess it's the successor to Fringe. Should be good!

  2. You're welcome. I think Wyman and company can keep Almost Human out of absurd territory, along the lines of Fringe which often had some out there concepts made more feasible by excellent writing and performances. This is supposed to be a cop drama set in the near future, so I wouldn't expect time travel or alternate universes. Dorian being too human is possible, but however it goes it looks like Michael Ealy can handle it.

    In case the first doesn't grab you, I hope you give it at least a few episodes. I know someone who said today that she gave up on The Blacklist. She didn't like Elizabeth, but she might give it another shot because of my Tumblr post. Woohoo!

  3. Yeah, Elizabeth was definitely different in the first episode. I've learned to give series at least three episodes to prove themselves (unless I don't care; then I won't bother -- like Michael J. Fox's new show: I watched 5 minutes, decided it was too stupid, and moved on). So, yeah, I'll definitely give it a few episodes, especially since: 1) It's from the Fringe team! 2) It's sci-fi 3) The trailer and concept looked cool. :-)

  4. I can't believe I have found another new show to love just a few episodes in. That hardly ever happens. I am ecstatic that Spader is back on TV. Ugh, the way he delivers a line. I really missed that.

    The Michael J. Fox Show we're still watching for some reason. I think it's just to fill time until the next show. Not too good, though there are a few laughs. But if I was the only one here or we watched everything online, I'm betting it would be dropped.

  5. That's one of the reasons I got rid of my TV. Didn't like how I would watch one thing, and then just watch what "came on after" that thing. That's why I do online video only - so I pick and choose what I want to watch and when.

    And, sure, you could accomplish that with a DVR. But then you'd have to DVR everything you want to watch. And the temptation to just "turn on the TV and watch what's on" would still be there. That's a big temptation for me - just turn off the brain and watch whatever the TV feeds you.

    Thus, I like online video much better.

    BTW, are you going to look into the new Google Chromecast (or did I ask you that already)?

  6. Not having a TV wouldn't work for us. We use the big, beautiful things for Netflix, Hulu, and games. But cancelling cable? Not sure we would ever do that, though it would save a lot. Being in front of the TV from 8 to 11 for live TV is too comforting and familiar. And I would have to forever avoid my Twitter timeline and turn off all notifications for fear of my favorite shows being spoiled. And I would have to remember to record everything manually to the PC, which never works out. Also, we love randomly finding things to watch, like Groundhog day this morning, and some of us need sports and news. Then there are shows that are never available until the season is over and out on DVD. When everything can be seen by the next day and all shows are available, sports are live, and PlayLater has an auto record function, only then will we shed cable.

    As for Chromecast, we have a PS3 in the living room and an Xbox 360 in another, and those get Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. And the PS3 we use for PlayLater. So right now we get most shows we want and anything else gets put on a wishlist for later. Chromecast is unnecessary. I like it, though, especially the price. Reminds me of PlayNow and Roku.


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