The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 15: “The Judge”
Directed by Peter Werner
Written by Jonathon Shapiro and Lukas Reiter
Airs Mondays at 10pm ET on NBC
The Blacklist is a show that manages, somehow, to have a lot going on throughout and still feel astoundingly empty. As with most things The Blacklist does, this in no way works to its benefit. More and more, it seems that the show has an abundance of style, but little in the way of substance. On the base level, this episode works, but it’s like drinking salt water: the initial satisfaction and thirst quenching eventually leads to physical sickness the longer time goes on. In the case of The Blacklist, “The Judge” satisfies, but the foundation of the episode crumbles the more that time and thought are weighted against it.
“The Judge” does some things right. In fact, that’s the point: things are done right, but not anything substantial by the end. In any case, what the episode does exceedingly well is how it paints The Judge and her black-and-white morality. Early on in the episode, it seems that The Judge is little more than a crazy person that locks away or kills those that have imprisoned the wrong people. It makes for an incredibly nuanced yet morally simple character that isn’t interested in, as Red (James Spader) puts it, “blind justice”, but more desires to reset the scales at its rightful equilibrium. It’s still a system that is intrinsically insane and downright unsustainable, but there’s a moral righteousness to it that demands respect despite its inherent ludicrousness.
Another great and unexpected route this episode goes down is the long-awaited revelation on whether Tom is who he says he is or if he’s simply playing everyone. At first, many thought that he was in cahoots with Red, but that was succinctly debunked when Tom had a conversation after Keen’s (Elizabeth Keen) father died and the two talk as if they’d never met before. Now it appears that Tom might be in league with the same people that abducted Red from The Post Office, or perhaps Red’s yet-unnamed mysterious enemy. Assuming either of those is true, it would seem that Jolene (Rachel Brosnahan) works for the very same people and has been sent to check on Tom, all the while, it would seem, tracking Red.
On a parallel note, Lance Reddick of The Wire and Fringe fame guest stars this week as a people finder (think the short-lived series The Finder), decked out with a Raylan Givens hat and a Texas accent, and is tasked by Red to gather information on Jolene, specifically where she’s been recently. Reddick is a great addition to any cast and this show would benefit greatly from keeping him around in the future, and, let’s face it, we could all use a little Reddick in our lives.