The Blacklist Redemption
Last week The Blacklist Redemption officially premiered on NBC. The spinoff starring Famke Janssen and Ryan Eggold has been hotly anticipated since rumors first circulated. For many fans of The Blacklist the news did come as a surprise. The hit show starring James Spader is often a hit-or-miss affaire and Ryan Eggold’s depiction of Tom Keen has been a fan favorite since the beginning. Why dilute what needs fixing?
So far not so good…
Anyway, last week’s premiere episode of The Blacklist Redemption didn’t quite hit it home for me. Pilot episodes too often need to do too much and I had trouble getting invested in the premise. Let me start what the premise exactly is. Essentially Tom now starts to work for his mother Susan ‘Scottie’ Hargrave as an operative. Scottie runs a large security company specializing in black ops. Consider her as a Raymond Reddington on high heels, but with sexy looks. Scottie first made her entrance in The Blacklist during which Tom discovers she is his mother. She doesn’t know that and still thinks her son was abducted as a child.
Tom’s father, Howard Hargrave – whom just like his mother never knew Tom existed as he was abducted at a young age – was recently ‘killed’ in a crash. However, Howard manages to survive and hide. He contacts Tom and provides the impetus for Tom to go work for his mother. Howard warns his son he thinks his mother was behind his attempted assassination. It is up to Tom to find the truth. Ooh and discover what happened 25 years when he was abducted – and discover what Raymond Reddington has against his mother. If the premise sounds a bit ludicrous – that’s because it is. I suppose four seasons of The Blacklist backstory will do that. That the pilot episode piled even more onto this felt wrong.
This week’s episode can be considered the first episodic story. Tom and his newly founded team of specialists: Matias Solomon, Nez Rowan and Dumont, need to retrieve a journalist from a little dictatorship in the Caucasus. The viewer quickly realizes that the journalist, Kevin Jensen, is a CIA spy. Scottie doesn’t know this and insists that the journalist be rescued. She later reveals that she is friends with Kevin’s parents because Kevin was a close childhood friend of Tom. Something Tom doesn’t acknowledge.
The methods to retrieve Kevin shows that The Blacklist Redemption is different from its stablemate. There is now more focus on spy craft, gadgets (that fail), fake identification (that doesn’t hold up) and bribery. Last week all this felt wrong, it felt fake. Instead all I remember is Famke Janssen looking sexy in a cocktail dress while her character flirted way too much with her son. I suppose that tension between the two will always be there, until she knows the truth. In this episode there is a better balance between the running, shooting and drama. Suffice it to say Kevin doesn’t make it out alive, his mother can never know he was a spy (on the orders of the CIA) and for some reason I really don’t care.
A short conclusion
The Blacklist Redemption is fighting a uphill battle for my excitement. The parts are all there. Exciting characters, lots of backstory, but it is muddied by its convoluted premise, lack of urgency and the fact that it cannot really measure up to James Spader’s performance on The Blacklist. I will give the show a few more episodes to develop, but I am not holding my breath.