‘The Blacklist’: Everyone Deserves A Friend Like Red

Published 7 months ago by

Megan Boone and James Spader in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 20 The Blacklist: Everyone Deserves A Friend Like Red

[This is a review of The Blacklist season 1, episode 20. There will be SPOILERS.]

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As it proved with the surprisingly effective arrival of Anslo Garrick during the mid-season finale, The Blacklist is better off cooking up a story line based around the idea of an action of consequence taking place in the present or very near future, rather than constantly obfuscating events that happened in the past for the purpose of generating tension between its primary protagonists.

For all its effort, ‘The Kingmaker’ isn’t quite that kind of episode, but it’s close. Mostly, the latest chapter in the fuzzy saga of Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington acts as a kick-starter for the season finale, wisely shifting the focus away from Elizabeth’s somewhat (and likely unintentionally) detached perspective regarding the reveal of Tom’s true identity, and placing it exactly where it needs to be: on Red and whatever myriad interests he has that are being threatened by some mysterious entity.

Of course, we only know this because of a long opening sequence where Red and an associate sit poolside to discuss the whispering of their mutual “friends” who are concerned about the losses suffered on Reddington’s end. What losses, exactly? Well, there’s a politician in Prague Red apparently had some stake in, but why he or the murder scandal he winds up embroiled in are really important to the Concierge of Crime isn’t really established. The scene perfectly encapsulates the essence of The Blacklist: two men talking about what unseen people are saying offscreen. Like everything else on the series, things are only significant because characters say they are, not because the writers have successfully shown the audience why – an element that continues when Red contacts Fitch (Alan Alda) to seek the Alliance’s help in rooting out the faceless enemy and stopping him or her before more damage can be done to his “interests.”

Linus Roach in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 20 The Blacklist: Everyone Deserves A Friend Like Red

*Sniff*

Red’s approach with the Alliance is to threaten them with the evidence that will reveal their nefarious plan to the world. What the evidence is, and what the Alliance is really up to, however, remains unknown, asking the question: Why should anyone care? So far, The Blacklist is all just world building using matchsticks and tissue paper – the thinnest material possible – or, if you prefer, it has assembled an entire plot line with global implications that hinges on little more than characters repeatedly saying, “Because I said so.”

In that regard, ‘The Kingmaker’ continues to dance around the details by offering a distraction in the form of Linus Roache as the titular blacklister, who is making it possible for a low-level politician named Patrick Chandler to make the bold move into the upper echelons of politics. After a prearranged car wreck leaves Chandler’s wife dead, Red points the FBI at the sudden media sensation, telling them it’s the work of the Kingmaker. For what it’s worth, Roache gives a Spader-like performance, imbuing another stock criminal with enough exaggerated eccentricities that he’s at least interesting to watch. You may not remember what he was trying to accomplish, but you will remember the sniffing.

As is the series’ MO, the biggest revelation comes in the last five minutes. Here, Elizabeth, guided by the photos she recovered from Tom’s safety deposit box, tries to ascertain what Red was doing at a hospital in Nebraska when her father died. After some prodding, Red admits to Liz he killed her father in an act of mercy, to end his suffering. To the episode’s credit, this exposure paves the way for Liz to stop by Ressler’s apartment for a beer and some light newspaper reading– you know, since they’re both single, now – but also, by further inserting Red into aspects of Agent Keen’s personal life, it may work to provide the show’s far more interesting B story with the foundation it needs to become next season’s primary focus.

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‘Berlin,’ the penultimate episode of The Blacklist season 1, airs next Monday @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below:

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  1. your constant bashing of a good show killed the commenters on here. way to go, ya jack wagon

  2. No, he’s just pointing out truths, the show quality really fell off

  3. This show is OK, and I will watch it in it’s entirety. James Spader can be entertaining at times. It is not a great show, though, just fairly good.

    • It’s could certainly be worse, and it’s certainly got potential. But as it currently stands, James Spader continues to be the only interesting thing about it.

  4. With out Spader this would be tat.

    All the intrigue and stuff would be much more interesting if we had the smallest inkling as to what the stakes are.

    Is it world domination Hydra style, taking over from within – (MCU)

    Is it crime profiteering CIA drugs/arms running style – Crime etc. is gonna happen so we might as well run it and use the money from it to buy a new house, err sorry fight the bigger fight. – (Burn Notice / NCIS etc.)

    Is just corrupt congressmen and industrialists trying to get a bigger slice of the pie. – (West Wing / House of Cards etc.)

    The Red / Liz relationship should be played out obliquely but some of the behind the scenes stuff we need a bit more of a reveal here and there to give a damn otherwise your just waiting for Red to “do his thing” on Liz’s behalf again.

    Red is far and a way the most interesting thing on the show, both in terms of character and performance. Liz is only interesting because of the implied connection to Red.

    Secrets that have secrets that are mysteries that are also puzzles can only stretch so far before the audience demands a reveal….. the Lost backlash should be a warning to everyone.

    • That’s a bit or a harsh rant, I should make it clear I enjoy the show, I watch each week and Spader is fantastic

      Doesn’t stop me not caring about 60-70% of each episodes run time while I’m waiting for the interesting characters to be interesting.

      The show is about Red, not Liz, regardless of what the original intent was this is about Red.

      Yes his connection to Liz is part of things but Raymond Reddington is the focal point to which all others orbit and the best episodes have been where Red and his agendas and conflicts have taken centre stage.

  5. I watched two episodes of Agents of Shield tonight. The first episodes I have seen in a while. I did so because a couple of reviews at screenrant suggested the show has taken a turn for the better.

    As it turns out the show is just as silly and juvenile as it ever was so needless to say as I value my time I won’t be watching again.

    The reason being because I prefer to do stuff I like with my time.

    Perhaps you get paid for writing the reviews in which case I would implore someone at SR to let this poor guy out of the weekly viewing hell that this show is putting him through, show some mercy.

    If you are doing it to yourself make a list of better things you can do with your time. Call your mum, wash the dishes, walk the dog, anything more appealing.

  6. Kevin….in all seriousness, if you do not like the show, please ask to be taken off the reviewer list…..Please.

  7. I watch it. I enjoy it. I think you collectively look too far into it. Its TV. Is getting better.

  8. Blacklist needs to start answering some of the questions posed by the show. We are almost at the end of the first year and we know hardly anything. Reddington won’t answer any of Lizzie’s questions. I wonder how long they can drag out explaining why Red and Lizzie are somehow tied together.

    • They can drag it out for another two episodes.

      Just looking at the next episode’s synopsis, it seems like Liz will crack and tell the FBI everything she knows and by the season finale, she (as well as the audience) will find out the truth about their relationship.

      In fact, I don’t see why people complain. We knew (or at least, I knew) that we’d be led through various paths towards the eventual reveal in the finale but it seems people seeing this on the other side of the Atlantic are a little too impatient and wish they’d revealed the connection in episode 2 or something.

      Red’s protecting Liz from something and that’s why he’s been reluctant to tell her who he is and what connection they have to each other. I dunno, I still see this as a great show and one of the highlights of my viewing week (the only other shows I rate more highly in my viewing week are Game Of Thrones and Arrow).

      I agree with Chris Fawkes that Agents Of SHIELD is still as dumb and pointless as it was back in the beginning and I also agree with those who say that perhaps Kevin should be spared from reviewing The Blacklist because it’d be like asking me to review a show I’m not enjoying and would rather avoid and receiving a half-hearted article that struggles to find things I enjoy and fails to make suggestions on what it could improve upon.

      It’s not Kevin’s fault at all but hopefully next season, a more neutral voice can review the show to give him a break and avoid the usual “this is a horrible review” comments that seem to plague the site. I’d offer to volunteer for the final two episodes but my Tuesday will be spent catching up on Bates Motel and The Tomorrow People online then busying myself with demo recording. Besides, this episode aired and recorded on Friday for me and I only just managed to find the time in the past hour to watch it so who knows what my free time is like.

      As for my own review of this episode, I’d say that Linus Roache continues to shine as an actor (more than his much more famous father Bill, at least famous in the UK anyway after playing Ken Barlow in a British soap opera that airs three times per week since it’s very first episode back in 1963).

      The sniffing was annoying after a while but it was one of his character quirks and helped give him away to prevent a silent assassination and also allow him the typical (and cliched) villainous monologue that detailed his plans.

      It also seemed a little too easy to catch him, a major problem with this show’s use of the blacklist. I wouldn’t have minded if the show made this a two part episode to better show off The Kingmaker’s character and explore more about his methods and the group that Fitch is a part of, as well as Red’s connections in Prague.