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The Blacklist Ep. 1.20 “The Kingmaker”: Weak Story Brings Out Strong Performances

The Blacklist Ep. 1.20 “The Kingmaker”: Weak Story Brings Out Strong Performances

The Blacklist

The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 20:  “The Kingmaker”
Written by J. R. Orci & Lukas Reiter
Directed by Karen Gaviola
Airs Monday nights at 10 pm EST on NBC

Last week The Blacklist gave audiences a file folder with evidence to prove Red Reddington was really someone Liz Keen should hate.  This week the evidence in that folder is revealed and it, like the episode, is completely underwhelming.

My problem with this show is that it sets wonderful ideas up but fails to pay them off in a timely manner.  The show sets up in the pilot that Tom Keen is a bad guy and they don’t pay off that idea until episode 15 or 16 of the season.  Another plot thread that has been neglected is the one involving Red’s secret that the government is so afraid of.  What is the problem with letting the audience in on what Red’s bargaining chip is?  Once that secret is out the show has literally hundreds of thriller based stories it could tell.

The best part of the episode is Linus Roache as the Kingmaker.  While he is still very much a villain with an agenda, he is more subtle about his actions, making it much harder for the team to stop his plan.  The idea that the Kingmaker would kill a senator for the sheer purpose of someone else controlling power in government is far from absurd.  The writer of this episode is smarter than others because he explains through exposition that the actual event of murdering the senator took years to plan.  This helps the audience believe that the Kingmaker wasn’t acting as a hired hit and that the act is something he truly believed in.

Special attention needs to be given to the location scouts and set designers of this show, especially this week with the secret club hidden inside the pawn shop.  I mean, how in this world does a club that nice stay hidden inside such a scruffy looking exterior?  The conversation Liz has in the club with Red also shows that Megan Boone is no acting slouch and can hold her own against a veteran like James Spader.  The way the two actors play off each other is just magic.  That magic is fully shown in their final conversation of the episode, when Liz asks Red whether he killed her father.  Spader’s cold and slow delivery showing his vulnerability gives the audience every reminder they need as to why Spader is one of Hollywood’s best actors and showmen.

The one problem this show has is it fails to get to the point.  The show waited far too long to reveal that Red is the person who killed Keen’s father.  The audience has also not been allowed the opportunity to know any of the secrets Red buries, and that puts a wall between him and the viewers at home.  The audience needs answers and I hope they get good ones soon, because if they don’t, viewers won’t pay attention much longer.

– Chike Coleman