Not for the first time, it’s worth remarking that The Blacklist isn’t scared to get weird every now and again: this week’s cold open features home invaders wearing monkey masks forcing a wealthy businessman to drink poison from a flask. The deceased, Harris Van Ness, was one of Red’s allies, and Red breaks off from his ongoing court case to alert the Task Force. Which, of course, springs into action, as it always does when Red’s interests are threatened.
But the actual problem lies elsewhere. Van Ness left all of his wealth to his son, one Tim Peterson, whose existence was unknown to the rest of Van Ness’s relatives. Tim works in a bowling alley, seems to move in somewhat more trailer-park-adjacent circles than the rest of his newly-discovered family, and has just got engaged to Deidre, a charming school teacher. None of it quite adds up, though, and a brief investigation reveals that Deidre isn’t what she seems. She’s an actor, provided by an agency named Alter Ego, which “fills vacancies”: a wife, a family, whatever. (It all reminded me a little of this astonishing piece in The New Yorker.) And a baddie.
Meantime Red is in court, arguing that the search which yielded the gun found on him was illegal, that the gun is inadmissible in evidence, and that therefore he hasn’t breached his immunity agreement. As he’s representing himself, that means we get the pleasure of James Spader cross-examining a witness and making legal submissions. (I’ve never seen The Practice or Boston Legal, and I’m kind of regretting that now.) Even more pleasingly – for those of us who care about these things – the show actually pays the viewer the compliment of providing a reasoned, nuanced decision on Red’s motion to suppress. No doubt the judge will be revealed, in due course, to be in someone’s pay. For now, though, I’m liking her.
As with last week, the supposed Blacklister – Alter Ego itself – isn’t much of a villain at all; in fact Ressler, who has a family wedding to go to and needs a plus-one, consults them at the end in order to hire a partner. But, again as with last week, that’s very much beside the point, because The Blacklist is on terrific form at the moment.