Everyone’s favourite mild-mannered teacher turned international criminal turned loving husband and father, Tom Keen off of The Blacklist – for it is he – has, of course, in recent episodes of the show been wondering about his background, in particular the way in which he, as Christopher Hargrave, disappeared when he was three, subsequently reappearing under his present name. This interest was only heightened when his birth father Howard died in a plane crash.
So when Tom gets a phone call summoning him to New York City for discussions about his late father’s estate, he goes, only to be diverted towards a clandestine meeting with… his father (Terry O’Quinn, normally a byword for paternal authority, but twitchy and paranoid here), not dead after all, but accusing his wife – widow? – Scottie (Famke Janssen) of having conspired to kill him. And Tom’s mission, which he accepts with remarkable alacrity, is to go to work for Scottie at Halcyon Aegis, her private black-ops-for-hire company, and find out what the hell she’s up to, while not letting her know that he’s her son.
And we’re off. Halcyon is already mid-case when he gets there: they’re trying to find Anna Copeland, a CIA operative who has been abducted along with her young son. I didn’t catch who hired Halcyon for the case, but presumably it was someone with very deep pockets, because you get plenty of bang for your buck – there’s Scottie herself, and her team: our old friend Matias Solomon (Edi Gathegi), Nez (Tawny Cypress), and Dumont (Adrian Martinez). There’s also plenty of blingy technology, a private jet, and the ability, if necessary, to remove a bomb from your stomach cavity without anaesthetic, then defuse it.
The Blacklist: Redemption is hardly original; in fact, there are times when it feels like a sort of Greatest Hits of the contemporary American procedural. As well as the multi-ethnic team with in-house tech geek, there’s a Mysterious Word (“Whitehall”); a Conspiracy Wall; some torture porn of sorts; and more than enough Secret Pain to go round. It’s perhaps a little more hi-tech than its parent show – I loved loved loved the ocular camera, and the little rolling transponder thing was adorbs – but there isn’t much here that’s new, unless you count the somewhat incesty vibe between Scottie and Tom. Assuming she’s his mother, that is, which I don’t for a second, any more than I think Howard is definitely Tom’s father. I must admit, though, that I was kind of swept along by the pace and absurdity of it all. It doesn’t have the bulletproof high concept of its parent show, and it almost certainly won’t have its staying power either, but I expect to watch eight weeks of it happily enough.