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The Blacklist, Ep. 1.05, “The Courier” starts to hit its stride

The Blacklist, Ep. 1.05, “The Courier” starts to hit its stride

The Blacklist - Season 1

The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 5, ‘The Courier”
Written by John C. Kelley
Directed by Nick Gomez
Airs Mondays at 10pm ET on NBC

At its core, James Spader is the driving force of The Blacklist. Spader is an extremely talented actor, but he is not enough to keep the show interesting week-to-week. What will, however, is the involvement of villains that are at least intriguing as Reddington working in conjunction with Spader. Last week’s “The Stewmaker” showed this and “The Courier” demonstrates it even further.

“The Courier” continues the creepy serial killer vibe from “The Stewmaker” with this week’s Blacklister, The Courier (Prison Break‘s Robert Knepper), dumping a man, still alive, into an open casket. Elsewhere, Keen (Megan Boone) continues to struggle with the identity of her husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold) and how she’ll ever confront him about it. Red (James Spader) meets with an unknown associate and is told that a package he needs is being held by The Courier. It’s time to bring in his lackeys the FBI, because clearly they’ll do anything he tells them to without a second thought.

There’s an amazing line in this week’s episode- when Keen accuses Red of  not telling her everything, Red quips back with, “I’m never telling you everything”. That right there is the total epitome of his relationship with Keen and the rest of the FBI. It’s never been more clear that Red has a secret agenda. He’s either not willing to tell the FBI about it or he’s simply using them to meet his own ends. As revealed at the end of the episode, Red is doing all of this because he has some long-term plan in motion to defeat an “adversary” of his. This begs the question- just what exactly does Red’s endgame entail? It apparently involves Keen now, but to what extent?

As mentioned before, the villain this week is really solid. While not quite as compelling as last week’s The Stewmaker, Knepper’s The Courier is equally as menacing as The Stewmaker. Being incapable of feeling pain isn’t necessarily a new character quality, but it is enough to raise him above being a generic villain (like some of the previous Blacklisters) into something a bit more complex. A normal person acts in certain ways and would avoid paths that would lead to their own detriment. The Courier doesn’t have that hang up. He can do insane things to himself, like physically placing evidence under his skin, because it makes no difference to him. Of course, if you push the body too far it will eventually give out. The episode mentions numerous times that The Courier is fundamentally broken inside, as if there’s an unconnected wire somewhere. Coupling that with his insensitivity to pain makes The Courier an intensely dangerous and interesting villain.

Robert Knepper is disturbingly amazing as The Courier. Dropping his sinister accent and tone from Prison Break strangely makes him feel even more threatening. The Courier isn’t as fun a role as T-Bag (Knepper’s character on Prison Break) and Knepper mainly just glares at all of the other characters, but he still manages to shine. Knepper seems to just have one of those faces that implies a certain degree of moral perversion, be it The Courier or T-Bag or even a despicable movie director, as he played on The West Wing. Diego Klattenhoff is slowly becoming more and more enjoyable with each passing episode. He is particularly helped by the improved recent writing for his character. Actual growth is being shown, or at the very least, some subtle insight into who his character is or used to be.

The Blacklist is a show that started off rather rocky, but is gradually becoming one that audiences can both enjoy and have at least a conversation about later. It seems that, for the moment, The Blacklist has hit its stride, balancing the show’s greater mysteries and investigating the Blacklisters week-to-week. Hopefully it can keep this up going forward.