×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Blacklist’ Season Finale Stays Cryptic Until the Bitter End (SPOILERS)

Not to place undue pressure on “The Blacklist” season finale, but with NBC having made the show the linchpin of its 2014-15 hopes and dreams, it would seemingly have behooved the drama — still a toddler by TV standards — to go out on a strong note. Yet what NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt described as a “game-changer” during Monday’s upfront presentation really represented little more than a flick of the “Reset” button, setting up a new villain for season two and continuing to play cryptic (and increasingly, tiresome) games with the question of why James Spader’s suave killer, Raymond “Red” Reddington, is so preoccupied with the young FBI agent he took under his wing.

Frankly, even at this late date, it’s hard to escape a sense that the series remains James Spader and the Seven Dwarfs — essentially two shows wrapped in one, with Spader’s ruthless anti-hero feeling like a pay-cable protagonist, wedded to a more mundane broadcast procedural that involves hunting down the nefarious personalities who populate his list.

The finale, meanwhile (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched), brought the carnage home to the task force of which Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is a part, resulting in the death of one member and serious injury of another. Elizabeth also put a couple of bullets into the belly of the spy who loved her, her husband Tom (Ryan Eggold), which certainly had to be cathartic for her, as well as everyone who can feel better, relatively speaking, about their own failed first marriages.

The series has also pushed the envelope in its violence quotient, with a penchant for torture that would do Jack Bauer proud. Here, that included Reddington shooting one guy in both hands and tossing a knife in another’s thigh. (No dogs, mercifully, were harmed in either exchange.)

All told, NBC has put a lot of eggs in the basket of a show that relies so heavily on one character, and has yet to develop a supporting cast — or story lines — to match. In hindsight, commercially speaking, the key stretch for the series came during January, when NBC tested its strength without “The Voice” as its lead-in and ratings held up reasonably well. A strong push through the spring behind the music competition cemented the fact that the series would be asked to go out and anchor a night in its sophomore year.

At this point, the business story surrounding “The Blacklist” — and how much NBC has riding on it — is more interesting than the program itself. That includes the decision to move the show at midseason using the Super Bowl to launch it, and making the series the de facto blueprint for the network’s drama development. Moreover, NBC’s scheduling plans ensure the network will throw an ungodly amount of resources at its return, so don’t expect to watch “Sunday Night Football” in the fall without seeing multiple “Blacklist” plugs dancing across the screen.

Ultimately, “The Blacklist” entails the smallest of wrinkles on the CBS crime formula, a series that involves hunting down different criminals every week, with a modest mythology to string along the audience with the deferred promise of something bigger.

So far, in crass bottom-line terms, so good. But when it comes to the delicate game of playing keep-away with the show’s back story, like some of those knife and bullet wounds, there isn’t a big margin for error.

 

 

More TV

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

  • Jon Snow Arya Stark Game of

    'Game of Thrones' Final Season Vegas Odds Reveal Wild Theories

    With “Game of Thrones” hype at an all-time high, Las Vegas may be raking in as much money as the Iron Bank. HBO’s fantasy masterpiece has seized the gambling world’s attention nearly as much as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. Fans spew countless theories on social media, such as which characters will be axed [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content