The Blacklist Season 2 Ep 2 (TV Show Review)
NBC’s The Blacklist kicked off its second season last week on a very good note. With the introduction of the Berlin plotline last year, the show gained on a very personal, very emotional aspect that came to the fore by the end of the season when we learned that Berlin wanted Red because Red had had his daughter killed. And in last week’s season two premiere we saw that Berlin upped the stakes of his mission for revenge by kidnapping Red’s estranged wife. The character interactions and the tone of the new season were all pretty damn strong and this week’s follow-up episode builds on all of that.
The promos at the end of the first episode promised a meeting between Red and Berlin in this week’s episode. That was pretty mind-blowing in itself and something to really look forward to this week. In a game of cat-and-mouse that has all been about leverage from day one, Red gains the upper hand on Berlin this week, despite the fact that the latter is holding Red’s wife hostage and is breaking her apart piece by piece (a finger last episode, a tooth this episode). And in the midst of all this are Elizabeth and Donald, trying to keep ahead of the game of deception that Red is playing with everybody. And as a friend said, this week’s episode floored me.
Despite all the status up changes in the season one finale and even in the second season premiere, things are slightly getting back on track, especially since Assistant Director Harold Cooper is now back in-charge of the Reddington Task Force. In this week’s episode we see that the Warsaw branch of the Monarch Douglas Bank, the clearing house and bank-of-choice for criminals all over the world, is the subject of a bank heist and people like Red and Berlin are understandably concerned about everything that went down there.
The mystery of why the bank was targeted, when it is the last bank any bank robbers would want to stage a heist at, given the implications of doing so, is a big twist in and of itself. Red strings the FBI along on the whole process and he uses this as an opportunity to gain some leverage on Berlin, thus facilitating the release of his wife. There’s a long and nicely drawn-out subplot to this effect in the episode and I confess that I was blown away. Especially once Red and Berlin do meet and have a nice little chat full of veiled threats and promises of revenge and more.
Together on-screen for the first time in this series, the meeting between Red and Berlin is quite a momentous event, especially since James Spader and Peter Stormare play their parts perfectly. They see themselves in each other, and are more than a match for the other it must be said. That’s what I love so much about this show. In the first half of the debut season Red was taking down bad guys with the FBI’s help left and right. But then slowly, he was outgunned and outmatched by others, the kind of people that he facilitates all over the globe, people with even more power than him. But since he held the keys to the kingdom, they couldn’t really stick it to him and he came out on top eventually. But Berlin is a whole different ball-game, an unknown quantity at first that kept thwarting him at every turn and who made his life hell in some ways.
And now, they finally meet. The show has been building up to something like this for a good while now and it was something I really wanted to see. I’ll admit that it happened a bit too soon for my tastes and that the ending between Berlin and Red did not entirely satisfy me, but I’ll take what I can get because along the way, the relationships that Red has with Harold, Donald and Elizabeth got a solid chance to develop. But that’s not everything though.
We already know that Donald is suffering from some psychological problems from the first season, given that his fiancee was killed in front of him and that he got dragged down the wrong end of the stick again and again because of his association with Red. Now he is haunted by the fears of everything, and is even avoiding the task force’s designated shrink. More on that in this episode, when he freezes in the field and it is something that Elizabeth gives him a lot of grief over even. Their relationship, as friends and colleagues, was one of the best things last season and this season too the writers remain committed to expanding on it further. That’s a good thing.
With Elizabeth herself, her life is still a mess in the wake of Tom’s betrayal, but she is bouncing back, and where she kind of got started as being a very morally right person, the shades of grey that began creeping into her character last season are now becoming more pronounced. We still don’t know what exactly her connection to Red is, that is, why Red came to her in the first place in the season one premiere, but we do know that they have grown attached to one another and that sometimes Eizabeth has to make a wrong call for the right reasons. Red even warns her about that in this episode and I thought it was a neat little touch, to make the character self-aware. Sure, he kind of forces her hand, as he has done before several times, but things were much more personal this time, and I guess that’s where the hook comes in.
Oh and Mr. Kaplan makes an appearance once again and it was fantastic. In his hunt for Berlin, Red has been torturing and killing people week-in and week-out, and it falls to Mr. Kaplan to clean up his mess. She was one of the most understated and yet most awesome aspects of the first season and the fact that she is back, even if for just a 2-3 minute cameo, it gets the heart racing. Especially when you see Red yell out at her because of his frustrations and his lack of success in sussing out Berlin. That was excellent. More so since he even broke down and used her real name. That was mind-blowing.
The season premiere started off great, and the follow-up has raised the stakes further. The status quo has changed once again for the characters and where the writers go from here is anyone’s guess, but I’m definitely along for this fantastic ride!
Posted on October 1, 2014, in Review Central, The Blacklist, TV Show Reviews and tagged Amanda Kate Shuman, Amir Arison, Aram Mojtabai, Berlin, Betrayal, CIA, Conspiracy, Crime, Crime Drama, Daniel Knauf, Dembe, Diego Klattenhoff, Donald Ressler, Drama, Elizabeth Keen, Espionage, FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Female Protagonists, Female-Led TV Shows, Global Conspiracy, Harry Lennix, Hisham Tawfiq, Intelligence Drama, James Spader, Jon Bokenkamp, Kristen Reidel, Mary-Louise Parker, Megan Boone, Monarch Douglas Bank, Mr. Kaplan, Naomi Highland, NBC, Peter Stormare, Politics, Raymond Reddington, Review, Rowan Mills, Spies, Terrorism, The Blacklist, The Blacklist Season 2, The Blacklist Season 2 Episode 2, Thriller, TV Show, TV Show Review, Women in SFF, Women in Television. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.