‘The Blacklist’ season 1, episode 2 review: Was James Spader’s new drama a one-hit wonder?

The Blacklist logo any seasonWhen you look at “The Blacklist,” the question going into episode 2 was simply one of stability. It was obvious that the pilot was sensational, and the best of the best for the network fall TV schedule. James Spader in particular was wonderful, and reminded us much more of his days on “Boston Legal” than his days on “The Practice.”

Now, the issue that comes for the rest of the series is trying to figure out just how to preserve the balance between a procedural, and a story with a longer story in mind. The case of the week involved a “humanitarian” who was really hiding a terrible secret, and exploiting young girls from other countries by making their lives into hell reincarnate. Spader’s Reddington was the only man who knew this, and we saw an elaborate scheme born in order for him to get her in a position to expose her. Oh, and it should also be mentioned that he killed her. Reddington is effective at getting what he wants, and making others miserable in the process.

But, he continues to see something in Elizabeth Keen, and this relationship is what pushes the show forward. The long-term storyline appears to be revolving around her husband Tom, and whether or not he is the great man that she wants him to be. The file discovered by her at the tail end only complicates things further, since it does seem to paint Tom in a much more positive light than anything below the floorboards ever did. The complicated balance here is figuring out how to justify Reddington’s obsession with Keen in a way that is interesting, and not obvious that he is just her father. (Please, don’t let that be the case.)

While not as strong as the pilot, “The Blacklist” proved that it can be an extremely strong weekly story, and a mile above the sort of procedurals that are airing on other networks. It just needs to ensure that it does not lose track of the larger story in the midst of it. This week was perhaps a little too much about the individual case.

Photo: NBC

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