Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
What’s It About?
Still reeling from the sudden death of the father he never knew he had, former company man turned family man Tom Keen tries his hand at a normal life. Well, as normal as it can get with a Blacklister mother and Raymond Reddington for a pseudo father-in-law. Ready to take on a gig as an elementary school teacher, Tom is notified about his father’s will and heads to New York. Only problem is, he’s actually being led on a merry chase by his not-quite-so-dead dad, Howard Hargrave. It turns out Howard believes his wife, Scottie, sabotaged his plane so she could take over his business; so he went ahead and faked his death, because why not?
What does this have to do with Tom? He wants Tom to take the job Scottie offered him a while ago; a job working for her. Against his better mind and to help his dad, Tom takes on one case with Scottie and her crew: Matias Solomon, Nez, and Dumont. Although there’s bad blood between Tom and Matias, at least on Tom’s side, they let it go to work together. Their task: to find and rescue CIA operative, Anna Copeland, and her son, Maddox, both of whom were kidnapped by ex-CIA and all-around bad guy, Leland Bray. Having swam in the same waters, Tom knows both Anna and Bray, and concocts a plan to get Bray’s lady friend to lead the team to his location. Of course, Tom’s plan works, and, of course he knows how to get into Bray’s compound, which requires the team stealing blueprints from a museum in London.
On the white cliffs of Dover, where Bray’s compound stands, Bray tortures Anna, as Tom, Nez, and Matias set about their rescue. Seven dead bad guys later, Tom gets Anna to a hospital, while Matias and Nez retrieve Maddox. Only problem is, Bray implanted a bomb inside Anna, so she can kill her CIA team—the team she sent to kill him. Yep, tangled webs and all that. Matias, Nez, and Tom stop her before she can turn her team into pink mist, but somehow the bomb activates and the only way to save Anna is to, you know, cut it out of her. Under The Major’s tutelage, Tom learned how to speak different languages, teach elementary school, and surgically remove bombs from people’s body cavities. In the words of Big Red, what does this guy don’t do? With the help and patience of his “team”, Tom defuses the bomb, saving Anna and everyone else in proximity.
During the mission, Tom uses every chance he gets to chat up his parents to learn more about them. A conversation with Scottie about Howard and her words over his grave have Tom doubting Howard’s insistence that she was behind the sabotage to his plane, but the manila folder and evidence wall—red string and push pins and all–in Howard’s apartment tell another story. The fact that she has Tom, er Christopher, declared legally dead to have Howard’s company put into her trust doesn’t help much. With Howard’s obvious paranoia and Scottie’s machinations to get her hands on the company, Tom doesn’t know what to believe. But it’ll come out in the wash because Howard thinks the man to find out what’s really going on, is his long lost, former operative son. At Howard’s renewed insistence, Tom ditches his wife and child to play spy games with his mother.
- The cast has great chemistry, even when it’s clear a couple of them want to kill each other; maybe more so because they want to kill each other. Ryan Eggold and Edi Gathegi shine in their scenes together, playing off one another like any great pair in a buddy cop movie. Tawny Cypress and Adrian Martinez add their own flavor to the cast and left me wanting to know more about them. It goes without saying, Famke Janssen and Terry O’Quinn are awesome, as they usually are.
- The characters; Matias Solomon impressed me from his very first scene on The Blacklist. He was my favorite Blacklister and I’m glad the bullet Tom left in him didn’t sour his disposition even a little bit. He is still deliciously wicked and I love him and his witty banter. All the things that make Tom awesome on The Blacklist are here; his keen (pun intended) intelligence and ruthlessness are at full throttle and I’m here for all of it. Dumont is a lot like Aram in that he’s very computer smart, but lacking in social skills. But for some reason, it looks better on Dumont; maybe because he seems to own his awkward. We don’t get much from Nez, but I like what we did get.
- Redemption’s style; the split screens used to convey how plans are put into action, how the team works together, and how the mission is completed are genius. No need for a cut away or faux flashback, it’s all happening as we watch and it’s impressive. It even looks a bit like a comic book panel.
- Not much is bad, but what’s bad is kind of awful. Scottie’s sexual advances toward Tom are cringe-worthy and vomit-inducing. Sure, she doesn’t know he’s her son, but he and the audience do, and it’s gross. His deer in the headlights reaction to her don’t make the situation any better either. This is something that needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later, because ew.
- The overall plot; according to every promo I saw, three Blacklisters are looking for redemption. Matias seemed to be going with the flow; as we know, he can be good or bad, depending on who’s paying. Tom seems to be looking for answers from his parents more than redemption and Scottie looks to be a deceitful liar. How then, are they looking for redemption? Methinks someone at NBC should look up the definition.
- Tom and Scottie; I don’t like the mystery of Liz’s parents on The Blacklist so Scottie not knowing who Tom really is, with the addition of whether or not she’s actually a nefarious character leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It would be great if the reveal for both of those mysteries could present themselves right away.
Yeah. The Blacklist: Redemption is slick, fun, and action-packed without the stuffiness of the FBI and laws to abide. But, buyer, beware: this is from the same folks who gave us The Blacklist, so who knows how long it’ll be good.
Watch This If You Like:
Leverage; a great show about criminals doing bad things for good. Also, season one of The Blacklist.
The Blacklist: Redemption S1E1
The Blacklist: Redemption-S1E1-“Leland Bray”| Starring Ryan Eggold, Famke Janssen, Edi Gathegi, Adrian Martinez