Public Service Announcement 17 of 2017: The Blacklist

Now that The Blacklist: Redemption has finished its run, The Blacklist is returning, with Dembe the Blacklister of the Week in the next episode. Given what happened before the hiatus I can’t see that ending well.

As for Redemption: it hasn’t been renewed, and I can see why not. I watched it all. I quite liked it. The characters were interesting, as were the plots. But it stubbornly refused to take off. That does give the main show’s writers a few opportunities, though, particularly given that Redemption’s final episode was clearly designed to open up the possibility of a second season. It’s been announced that Ryan Eggold is returning to the parent show, and Scottie and Solomon have already been Blacklisters, so the crossover is in place. Moreover Howard Hargrave (Terry O’Quinn) hasn’t yet featured, nor has quantum computing genius Richard Whitehall (Clarke Peters), and given that The Blacklist itself has been renewed for another season I wouldn’t be surprised to see Halcyon Aegis featuring again (Wednesday 24 May, 9pm, Sky 1).

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The Blacklist: Redemption s1 ep 1

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.