‘The Blacklist’: The Man in the Black Hat

Published 7 months ago by

James Spader in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 15 The Blacklist: The Man in the Black Hat

[This is a review of The Blacklist season 1, episode 15. There will be SPOILERS.]

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It should be noted that while The Blacklist works to find a consistent level of interest and intrigue from week to week, the writer and producers are at least aware the power of a familiar face. The series has welcomed many a guest star since the beginning of the season, and while few have stuck around for much longer than it takes for Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington to spoon feed Agent Keen the necessary information she’ll need to either arrest someone or justify shooting them, the presence of a recognizable star generally affords the series a sense of validation it otherwise would not have.

This time around, ‘The Judge’ welcomes two-time Academy Award-winning actress Diane Wiest to the show, as one of two familiar faces used to augment a rudimentary story about elaborate vigilantism taking a corrupt legal system. And while it’s terrific to see Wiest in a somewhat morally complex role (or as complex as things get on The Blacklist), the show’s writers and producers should be commended for pulling out all the stops and also recognizing the power that is Lance Reddick in a gigantic cowboy hat worn without the slightest hint of irony.

Known by the clever moniker of the Cowboy, Reddick’s role isn’t terribly involved, but the lack of spotlight shone on his Stetson-wearing investigator – because any investigator worthy of Red’s attention has to at least have a visual gimmick of some kind – means that he’ll likely be around for one more episode, providing the series with all sorts of gravelly-voiced intrigue and…finding of things. Next week, Red loses his car keys and the Cowboy is the only man he can turn to! Actually, this time around, Red has tasked the Cowboy with tracking down the recent travel history of Lucy Brooks, a.k.a. Joelene (Rachel Brosnahan), in the hope of figuring out what she’s up to, and, of course, uncovering the truth behind her interest in Lizzie’s husband, Tom.

Diane Wiest in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 15 The Blacklist: The Man in the Black Hat

To be quite honest, the entire episode could have consisted to Lance Reddick rummaging through dresser drawers in that Stetson and ‘The Judge’ probably would have been about as entertaining. Wiest brings some respectability to the role of Ruth Kipling, a woman who listens to the pleas of innocent people who have been wrongly convicted by corrupt lawyers, judges, or detectives, and repays their erroneous sentence onto the wrongdoer. The premise is very much in keeping with The Blacklist. The Judge – as Wiest’s character is called – is another figure of the underworld that the FBI has zero knowledge of, but has been avenging those wrongly convicted long enough to become legendary.

This time, though, her targets are Agent Cooper and Tom Connelly, for their role in coercing a confession from a known traitor, which later results in his execution. The nonchalant manner in which the series approaches a character being sentenced to death is one of several things the show just doesn’t get right, but such concerns are quickly swept aside as Red predictably swoops in to save Cooper and Connelly’s lives, only to use that as leverage to get what he wants later on – which of course he refuses to elaborate on. And that’s what The Blacklist excels at: teasing the progression of plot while constantly providing as little as possible, just to keep people watching. The show is the exact opposite of Rachel Brosnahan’s other series, House of Cards, which is essentially all about watching how much plot and scenery Kevin Spacey can consume in the span of 13 episodes.

At least Brosnahan’s Joelene manages to get a confession out of Tom that confirms Red’s allegations against him. If nothing else, outing Tom as some sort of deep cover agent or assassin will put an end to the listless back-and-forth between him and Lizzie regarding their wafer-thin marriage and his incessant need to adopt a child. When it comes to procedural television series, the allusion to change can be a good thing; but in the case of The Blacklist, it’s completely necessary.

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The Blacklist continues in 2 weeks with ‘Mako Tanida’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below:

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13 Comments

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  1. Oh, come on! Tom is a deep cover agent? He’s been with Liz for several years. Who could possibly target her for so long? She didn’t even know Red that long ago. This show keeps stretching and stretching. Also, who can buy the idea that an agent/hitman pretends to be Liz’ partner 24/7 so good that he’s in character every single second of screentime. Beyond ridiculous.

    • Who can buy the idea that an agent/hitman pretends to be Liz’ partner 24/7 so good that he’s in character every single second of screentime? Probably people who have to live deep cover 98% of their actual lives. That’s why it’s called “deep cover”.

  2. Lame & expected. This show is becoming ridiculous… and if this $hit gets 2nd season and Almost Human doesn’t… well, fug it! Not fair!

  3. Almost Human is complete garbage… as bad as AoS, two lame shows that TRY to be sci-fi with a peanut budget so Bad that the effects look like my 13 y/o son is the effects supervisor!!

    The Blacklist has many holes as well but I for one am tired of these lame ass tries at Sci Fi when they have NO PLACE on Tv

    • As bad as AOS? Almost Human is boring but it is not in the same ball park as AOS, the premise of that show is beyond ridiculous.

      • I am kinda liking this show (Blacklist). I also like Almost Human. Neither are that fantastic, but both are mildly entertaining.

  4. So we all suspect that Keen is Red’s daughter, if true, that means whoever Tom is aligned with was probably playing the long game for Red.

    This is certainly an enemy of Red’s that he knows about and will require the FBI to help him.

    The question is who, as it’s not Alan Alda’s group… I think it’s interesting.

    • Tom does not know who Red is, he received advise from Red as they shared a park bench once on an earlier episode. Liz is Tom’s target and Red knows it; perhaps that is the reasons Red surfaced.

      • @Becton_D:

        Or… Tom knows who Red is and pretended he didn’t.

        People were already thinking that Red framed Tom but now we know the truth.

        The question is, is Jolene with the same group as Tom? Doesn’t seem like it based on the preview.

  5. Why does everyone assume that Tom is a “bad” agent? Could he not just as easily be a “good” guy? Maybe he targeted Lizzie because of her connection to Redd. Guess we’ll all find out

  6. By now Every connected writer and exec in town (Hollywood) knows The Blacklist is the luckiest show in ages because of James Spader. By now the wird is out: the creator, Jon Bokenkamp, doesn’t have a clue what this show is, doesn’t know where it’s going, and ep Eisendrath is too busy counting his checks to care. That’s why the show specializes in teasing false answers. NBC is just hoping to get the numbers while they last. by the end of 1st season, no later than the middle of the 2nd season this show’s house of cards falls down and the entire ep team is dumped.

  7. This episode of The Blacklist left me wondering when the hell is the season finale, I just want it to be over. Guess I’m not enjoying it then.

    Almost Human is enjoyable, not great. I like the characters. I don’t mind if it’s cancelled or not tho.

    Intelligence is so gonna be cancelled but I was wondering if anyone could comment on it. I’ve only seen terrible reviews out there. But for me so far it was enjoyable. Thoughts anyone?

    Btw, POI was great this week :D I can say good things about a show too!

  8. I think there is a connection between Jolene and Liz. They seem to be the same age. Red indicates his relationship with Jolene goes way back. Maybe the ladies knew each other as kids. Maybe Jolene is Red’s daughter. Maybe she holds all the cards. Maybe they both are his daughter. Good stuff. Ressler showing toughness recently shows he is becoming protective of Liz, as well.

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