When reviewing season 1 episodes, I made the (obvious) point that The Blacklist was a success because, unusually, it was a show which had both its Cases of the Week and longer story arcs firing on all cylinders. Conversely, ’The Deer Hunter’ is a good example of just why season 2 Blacklist isn’t quite working at the moment.
This week’s Blacklister arguably shouldn’t be on the list at all, in fact, since he’s not an international terrorist committing crimes so huge yet secret that the Government isn’t even aware of them (or whatever it was). The Deer Hunter is an anus-binding, crossbow-wielding serial killer who stalks his prey – well-built men – and shoots them with said crossbow, then disembowels them (ew) and takes a bite out of their liver (EW EW EW). The show doesn’t begin to pretend that Red should be remotely interested in standard serial killer fare, so there needs to be an inducement for him to get involved; he’ll trade Deer Hunter info for Liz giving up The Fulcrum. Although the information he provides on the Hunter is hardly case-breaking, as it happens. Liz gets kidnapped again, of course, but will prevail.
Meantime, Red is working on two fronts on topics that do actually interest him. There’s the new Big Bad at the other end of the phone, and for now this really hasn’t grabbed me at all. And I’m not buying into the Aram/Samar near-anagrammatic ship, although Aram’s very evident man-crush on Red is quite sweet. On the other hand I’m still invested in Liz and the death of the harbourmaster, which requires Red to exert a bit of pressure to ensure that the Samoan won’t speak up. There’s a curious exchange between Liz and Kessler, though, when she is about to admit everything to Detective Wilcox, and he urges her to consider how many people are still alive because of the work of the Red Task Force: 50, 100 perhaps? Given that in one episode alone they prevented the death of the entire human race I think they’re underselling themselves.
It’s good. It’s watchable. But season 1 felt essential, and I’m not sure we’re at that level this time round.