The Blacklist s1 ep 8

It’s entirely due to coincidence that, in the UK, The Blacklist airs immediately after Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on another channel. It’s not, however, a juxtaposition which does S.H.I.E.L.D. any favours at all; particularly this week, when another unsatisfactory outing for the Agents is followed by a very strong Blacklist. Within four minutes James Spader is dominating the screen, as if to say: now this, bitches, is what a network drama should look like eight episodes in. It’s the cure for what ails ya.

In fact, this week’s villain probably isn’t a bona fide Blacklister, nor is it really a person: “General Ludd” is more of a collective movement, inspired by the Luddites, falling somewhere between OWS, Wikileaks, and the Unabomber, and dedicated to bringing down capitalism. The show hedges its bets just a little on whether there might be something to what General Ludd are saying, which is probably fair enough.

Anyway, after a plane is blown out of the sky Agent Cooper is prepared to do a deal with Red to get his assistance, and Red obliges, pointing Keen and Ressler towards Nathaniel Wolfe (Justin Kirk from Weeds) as the founder of General Ludd. I can only assume that the writers are keen to encourage Keen/Ressler shipping, because despite this presumably being the very highest priority case in the whole of North America, it’s only the two of them who get sent out to possible home addresses, sightings, and so on.

While this plot is twisting and turning – and it has a couple of nice stings in its tail – Keen finds out that her father Sam (William Sadler) is in hospital. Because of General Ludd’s activities all commercial flights have been grounded, so she can’t fly out to see him – but Red can, and the two of them plainly have an extensive shared history.

In all of this Spader gets to do some proper acting: he has an entertaining showdown with Andrew Dice Clay, playing a corrupt plastic surgeon – the only type we see on TV, of course; he then goes toe-to-toe for a couple of excellent scenes with William Sadler; and he winds up evincing some genuine menace in a conversation with Tom, from which we can surmise, I think, that Tom – whoever he is – plainly doesn’t recognise Red.

A good Case of the Week, a genuine OMG! moment, and longer arcs which keep you hooked. There’s even room for a moment which verges on the meta when Keen, annoyed by Red’s enigmatic revelation that he knows Keen’s father to be ill, snaps: “I am not doing this, playing this game – what you know and how you know it.” Which would make this the final episode, I suppose, if she means it. But The Blacklist knows what it’s about. I thought this was terrific entertainment.


15 thoughts on “The Blacklist s1 ep 8

  1. CJ Cregg November 22, 2013 / 11:39 pm

    I thought Tom did recognise Red actually – at least by the end of the “chat” anyway. Or at the very least recognised him as a threat.

    Anyway, I agree it was very good indeed, but I thought all the shouting Red did in the plastic surgeon scene was a bit too silly tbh, it didn’t really work for me. The “pillow” scene had me screaming at the tv. They’re really not shy about showing us how amoral Red is, are they?

    I know we’re supposed to think Red is Keen’s father now, but is that too obvious? And would that mean the girl Red was looking at in VICAP was Keen’s sister? She did look incredibly similar – I could easily accept she was her twin, but again, too obvious?

  2. e November 22, 2013 / 11:40 pm

    Haven’t watched yet — wanted to wait until you saw it first to see if it was worth pushing through another ep. Thanks!

  3. Jed Bartlet November 23, 2013 / 12:01 am

    I liked it, e, but I’ve been more enthusiastic than you generally about this show. So – mileage, vary, etc.

    • CJ Cregg November 23, 2013 / 12:44 am

      There have been episodes I liked better, but I liked it too.

  4. Jed Bartlet November 23, 2013 / 12:02 am

    My guess is that, although we’re very clearly being steered towards Red as biological father, that would indeed be way too obvious.

    Tom certainly recognised the threat by the end of the chat. I was shivering a little myself.

  5. e November 24, 2013 / 8:44 pm

    Okay, just finally watched it. Rather liked the ep, although I am still sick of Lizzie and need Tom to be more openly evil. (Or more openly dead. I’m okay for either one.)

  6. CJ Cregg November 24, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    I’d like Tom to just come out and be evil too, e. It would be so easily done too: a few shifty looks at camera, some sinister gaslighting shenanigans to try and make Lizzie think she’s losing it when we know she’s not … that type of thing. Come on, Blacklist! Unleash Evil Tom!

  7. Jed Bartlet November 24, 2013 / 11:10 pm

    I quite like what they’re doing with Tom, and it shows just how much they’ve got going on that they can hold the Tom weapon back.

    Keep Tom in reserve, Blacklist! Unleash him later!

  8. Tim November 29, 2013 / 11:20 pm

    I’m with Jed – I thought this was very strong. From the cold open with bits of plane falling out of the sky – I liked the fact the father and son were killed, this ain’t a kids’ show, folks – to the relationship between Red and Keen’s dad and an interesting villain-not-blacklister-of-the-week. Rollicking good fun.

    *Joins the queue to bump off Tom*

  9. Capt. Harold Dobey December 4, 2013 / 8:32 pm

    I thought her dad was dead.

  10. Jed Bartlet December 4, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    He is now. Or is he…?

  11. CJ Cregg December 4, 2013 / 10:30 pm

    Did she not have another dad who died in a fire? Or did he….?

  12. e December 4, 2013 / 10:48 pm

    I’m losing track of her dads. I thought he died in a fire too.

    (And would you guys just please watch the final ep, so we can talk about it?)

  13. Jed Bartlet December 4, 2013 / 10:51 pm

    Showing here on Friday, e, and review the same night.

    • e December 4, 2013 / 11:30 pm

      Why did I have Wednesday stuck in my mind? I waited until today to watch… 😦

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