The Blacklist Pilot Episode Review

blacklist4Meet Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), the “concierge of crime” and part of the FBI’s Most Wanted. Calm, calculating, and unfathomable, he surrenders himself to the FBI for reasons unknown and insists that he’ll speak to no one but Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a brand new profiler. And so begins The Blacklist which quickly moves from questions about Reddington’s motives to the more immediate matter of a general’s kidnapped daughter, a crime that Reddington assisted in.

The pilot of The Blacklist moves fast, packing a movie’s worth of drama into an hour of TV time. Is it the most original thing I’ve ever seen? Not exactly. It’s a familiar formula. Find the bad guy. Catch the bad guy. Sprinkle in hints of drama to come. Repeat until the end of the season. But do I mind? Not really. James Spader brings charm to a character that could have been truly unlikable. Elizabeth is given an interesting bit of back story and her actions cemented my affection for her before the halfway point of the episode. Add in some interesting side characters and I was more than happy to offer up an hour of my time.

In the end The Blacklist knows where it shines. It quickly sets up the interplay between Reddington and Elizabeth (The comparisons to Silence of the Lambs are apt, at least for now) and the many questions that surround them. Why is Reddington fixated on Elizabeth? Does Elizabeth know more than she lets on? And what does Reddington stand to gain by helping the FBI track down what he calls his “blacklist” of top criminals? I look forward to finding out the answers to the dozen or so questions the pilot raised. Mark me down as intrigued.

All images and properties copyright The National Broadcasting Company. 

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