Like the big game itself, any TV show following the Super Bowl has to go big or go home. For The Blacklist, which returned after a long winter’s break tonight following the New England Patriots’ hard fought victory over the Seattle Seahawks, not only is there the ongoing weight of expectations from fans, but the powerful need to convince enough people watching after the game to come home to the show’s new timeslot on Thursdays, a gambit on the part of NBC to bolster what was once their biggest night of the week. Fortunately, the show put on a clinic, displaying all the things it does best: great action, smart casting and letting James Spader be Spader-ific!
This being the post-Super Bowl episode and presumably there being millions of viewers unfamiliar with the show, we quickly re-establish the premise through a fascinating development: Red gets busted! Even though the “Concierge of Crime” has immunity, that’s not exactly an open secret, so when Red gets picked up in Hong Kong (wearing a handsome tux, naturally) he’s sent to a black site even more blacker than the “Post Office.” Black-bagged and sent to “The Factory,” a level 10 detention facility, a government goon tells Red, “You don’t exist.” “Well, that’s a load off,” retorts Reddington with a smile. Clearly, everything’s going according to plan.
Left out of that plan is Red’s FBI friends who frantically try to find out exactly where the CIA is taking their beloved asset. Now I know that Red, Liz and the gang have been through a lot together, and that the show was trying to move swiftly to get past all the set up and on to the main action, but their concern was almost too touching. Red is a criminal after all, and he’s made no small a secret that his own agenda comes first and they all (with the exception of Liz) come a distant second. It just might have been nice if someone said, “Hey, Red’s going to jail. Big whoop.”